"Lo these gray hairs,"--This story the Master told while dwelling in Makhadeva's mango park, near Mithila, about a smile. One day at eventide, the Master with a large company of Brethren was walking up and down in this mango park, when he espied a pleasant spot. Being desirous of telling his behavior in former times, he allowed a smile to be seen on his face. When asked by the Reverend Ananda why he smiled, he answered, "In yonder spot, Ananda, I once dwelt, deep in ecstatic meditation, in the time of King Makhadeva." Then at his request, he sat down upon an offered seat, and told a story of the past.
"Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Videha, and in the city of Mithila, a certain Makhadeva was king. Four and eighty thousand years he took his pleasure as a young man, four and eighty thousand years he was viceroy, eighty and four thousand years he was king.
"Now he told his barber to be sure to inform him as soon as ever he should see gray hairs on his head. When by and by the barber saw gray hairs, and told him, he made the man pull them out with a pair of tongs, and to lay them upon his hand, and seeing death as it were clinging to his forehead, 'now,' thinks he, 'is the time for me to leave the world.' So he gave the barber his choice of a village, and sending for his eldest son, he told him to undertake the government, since he was himself about to renounce the world. 'Why, my lord?' asked he. The king replied:
"'Lo these gray hairs that on my head appear
"With these words he made his son king with the ceremonial sprinkling, and leaving him directions to act thus and thus, he left the city; and embracing the life of a Brother, through eighty-four thousand years he fostered the Four Excellencies, and he was then reborn in Brahma's heaven.
"His son also, in like manner, renounced the world, and became destined to Brahma's heaven. So also his son again; and so one royal prince after another, to the number of eighty and four thousand less two--each as he saw a white hair in his head became an ascetic in this mango park, and fostered the Four Excellencies, and was born in Brahma's heaven. The first of all this line to be there born, King Makhadeva, standing in Brahma's heaven looked down upon the fortunes of his family, and was glad at heart to see that four and eighty thousand princes less two had renounced the world. He pondered: 'Will there be nirvana now, or not?' Seeing that there would not, he resolved that he and no other must round off his family. Accordingly, he came from thence and was conceived in the womb of the king's consort in Mithila city. On his name-day, the soothsayers looking at his marks, said, 'Great king, this prince is born to round off your family. This your family of hermits will go no further.' Hearing this, the king said, "'he boy is born to round off my family like the hoop of a chariot-wheel!' so he gave him the name of Nemi-Kumara, or Prince Hoop.
"From his childhood upwards, the boy was devoted to giving, to virtue, to keeping the Sabbath vow. Then his father, as usual, saw a white hair, gave a village to his barber, made his son king, became a hermit in the mango park, and was destined for Brahma's heaven. King Nimi, in his devotion to almsgiving, made five almshalls, one at each of the four gates of the city, and one in the midst of it, and distributed great gifts: in each of the almshalls he distributed a hundred thousand pieces of money, that is five hundred thousand each day; continually he kept the Five Precepts; on the moon-days he observed the Sabbath; he encouraged the multitude in almsgiving and good works; he pointed out the road to heaven, and affrighted them with the fear of death, and preached the Law. They abiding by his admonitions, giving gifts and doing good, passed away one after another and were born in the world of gods: that world became full, hell was as it were empty. Then in the Heaven of the Thirty-three, the company of gods assembled in Sudhamma the divine hall of assembly, crying aloud--'Hail to our teacher, King Nimi! By his doing, by the knowledge of a Buddha, we have attained to this divine enjoyment infinite!' Thus they sang the virtues of the Great Being. Even in the world of men that sound of praise was spread, as oil spreads over the surface of the great deep.
"The Master explained this to the assembled Brethren in the following lines:
"'It was a marvel in the world how good men did arise
"'Alms gave Videha's monarch, the conqueror of his foes;
"At that moment Sakka's throne became hot. Sakka pondering the reason, saw him reflecting there. 'I will solve the question,' he said; and going about, and swiftly, he made the palace one blaze of light, and entering the chamber, stood there glowing; and at the king's request, made all clear.
"To explain this, the Master said:
"'The mighty monarch of the gods, he of the thousand eyes,
"Great Nimi spake to Vasava, and all his flesh did creep:
"'Who art thou? or a demigod or Sakka's self must be:
"Then Vasava to Nimi spake, knowing his flesh did creep:
"'Sakka, the king of gods, I am; to visit you I'm here;
"Then Nimi spake to Vasava, this invitation made:
"'Most puissant lord of all that breathe, this question solve for me:
"'Then Vasava to Nimi spake, solving his question so,
"'He's born a Khattiya, who lives holy in the third degree:
"'Not easy are these states to win by any charity,
"By these verses he illustrated the great fruitfulness of a holy life, and then recited others, naming the kings who in times past had been unable to get beyond the domain of sense by giving great gifts:
"'Dudipa, Sagara, Sela, Mucalinda, Bhagirasa,
"'Yea, kings and Brahmins, Khattiya chiefs, many and many a one,
"Having thus explained how much greater was the fruitfulness of holy life than that of almsgiving, he described those ascetics who by the holy life had passed the Peta world to be born in Brahma's heaven, and said:
"'These holy hermits who had left the world,
"So far, he described by tradition the great fruit of a holy life; but now he went on, declaring what he had himself seen:
"'Sida's a river in the north, unnavigable, deep:
"'With creepers filled and fragrant plants river and hills as well.
"'Noble am I, who kept the vow of temperance, self-control,
"'Caste or no caste, the upright man I would attend at need:
"'Apart from righteousness, all castes are sure to sink to hell:
"After this, he said: 'But, great king, although holy living is more fruitful by far than almsgiving, yet both these are the thoughts of great men: do you be watchful in both, give alms and follow virtue.' With this advice, he went to his own place.
"Then the company of gods said: 'Sire, we have not seen you lately; where have you been?' 'Sirs, a doubt arose in the mind of King Nimi at Mithila, and I went to resolve the question, and to place him beyond doubt.' And then he described the occurrence in verse:
"'Listen to me, Sirs, one and all that here assembled be:
"'There is King Nimi, wise and good, the better part who chose--
"'And as these bounteous gifts he gave, behold this doubt arose:
"So he spoke, without omission, telling the king's quality. This made the deities long to see that king; and they said, 'Sire, King Nimi is our teacher; by following his admonitions, by his means, we have attained to the joy of godhood. We wish to see him--send for him, Sire, and show him to us!' Sakka consented, and sent Matali: 'Friend Matali, yoke my royal car, go to Mithila, place King Nimi in the divine chariot and bring him here.' Matali obeyed and departed. Whilst Sakka was talking with the gods, and giving his orders to Matali, and sending his chariot, one month had past by men's reckoning. So it was the holy day of the full moon: King Nimi opening the eastern window was sitting on the upper floor, surrounded by his courtiers, contemplating virtue; and just as the moon's disk rose in the east this chariot appeared. The people had eaten their evening meal, and sat at their doors talking comfortably together. 'Why, there are two moons to-day!' they cried. As they gossiped, the chariot became plain to their view. 'No, it is no moon,' they said, 'but a chariot!' In due course there appeared Matali's team of a thousand thoroughbreds, and the car of Sakka, and they wondered whom that could be for? Ah, their king was righteous; for him Sakka's divine car must be sent; Sakka must wish to see their king. So in delight they cried out:
"'A marvel in the world, to make one shiver with delight:
"As the people talked and talked, swift as the wind came Matali, who turned the chariot, and brought it to rest out of the way by the sill of the window, and called on the king to enter.
"Explaining this, the Master said:
"'The mighty Matali, the charioteer
"The king thought, 'I shall see the gods' dwelling-place, which I never have seen; and I shall be showing kindness to Matali,' so he addressed his women and all the people, and said--'In a short time I shall return: you must be watchful, do good and give alms.' Then he got into the car.
"The Master said, to explain this:
"'Then with all speed, Videha's king arose,
"At this the king thought--'I have never seen either of these places before, and I should like to see both.' He answered:
"'Matali, charioteer divine, both places I would see:
"Matali thinking, 'One cannot see both at once; I will question him,' recited a stanza:
"'Which first, great monarch, noble king--which place first would you see,
"Then the king, thinking that go to heaven he would in any case, and that he might as well choose to see hell, recited the next stanza:
"'I'd see the place of sinful men; please let me go to hell;
"Then he just showed him Vetarani, the river of hell.
"To explain this, the Master said;
"'Matali showed the king Vetarani,
"The king was terrified when he saw creatures thus sorely tormented in Vetarana, and he asked Matali what sins they had done. Matali told him.
"This the Master explained:
"'Then Nimi, when he saw the people fall
"Thus did Matali answer his question. And when the king had seen the hell Vetarana, he caused this place to disappear, and driving the chariot onwards showed him the place where they are torn by dogs and other beasts. He answered the, king's question as follows.
"This the Master explained:
"'Black dogs and speckled vultures, flocks of crows
"His other questions are answered in the same way.
"'Their bodies all ablaze they lie prostrate,
"'Others lie struggling in a pit of coals,
"'Blazing and flaming, all one mass of fire,
"'They wring them by the neck and cast them in,
"'There flows a river, deep, with shallow banks,
"Then answered Matali the charioteer,
"'With spikes and spears and arrowheads they pierce
"'Who are these fastened by the neck I see,
"Then answered Matali the charioteer,
"'Yon lake of filth and ordure, stinking foul,
"'Yon lake is full of blood, and stinking foul,
"'That tongue see, pierced with a hook, like as a shield
"'Yon women, bent and broken, stretching their arms
"Then answered Matali the charioteer,
"'Why do they seize yon persons by the legs
"With these words, Matali the charioteer made this hell to disappear also, and driving the chariot onwards, showed him the hell of torment for heretics. On request he explained it to him.
"'Many and various causes I have seen
"Now in heaven the gods were sitting in Sudhamma. Hall, looking for the king's coming. 'Matali is a long time away,' thought Sakka; and he perceived the reason, so he said, 'Matali is going the round as guide, showing all the different hells to the king and telling him what sin led to each hell. So calling to him a young god, very swift, he said to him--'Go tell Matali to bring the king quickly hither. He is using up King Nimi's life; he must not go round all the hells.' With speed the young god went, and gave his message. When Matali heard it, he said, 'We must not delay'; then showing to the king at one flash all the great hells in the four quarters, he recited a stanza:
"'Now, mighty monarch, thou hast seen the place
"With this speech he turned the chariot towards heaven. As the king went towards heaven he beheld in the air the mansion of a goddess, Birani, with pinnacles of jewels and gold, ornamented in great magnificence, having a park and a lake covered with lilies, and surrounded with trees worthy of the place: and there was this goddess seated upon a divan in a gabled chamber towards the front, and attended by a thousand nymphs, looking out through an open window. He asked Matali who she was, and Matali explained it to him.
"'Behold yon mansion with five pinnacles:
"With these words, Matali drove the chariot onwards and showed him the seven golden mansions of the god Sonadinna. The other, when he saw these and the glory of the god, asked an explanation, which Matali gave.
"'There are seven mansions, shining clear and bright,
"Thus he described the deeds of Sonadinna; then driving onwards his chariot, he showed a mansion of crystal: in height it was five and twenty leagues, it had hundreds of columns made of the seven precious things, hundreds of pinnacles, it was set about with lattices and little bells, a banner of gold and silver flew, beside it was a park and grove full of many bright flowers, with a lovely lake of lilies, nymphs cunning to sing and to make music were there in plenty. Then the king seeing this asked what were the deeds of these nymphs, and the other told him.
"'Yon mansion built of crystal, shining bright,