"Thee flawless,"--This story the Master told, while dwelling in Jetavana, about a backsliding Brother. The occasion will be explained under the Kusa Birth. Again the Master asked the man, "Is it true, Brother, that you have backslided, as they say?" And he replied, "Yes, Sir." Then he said, "O Brother, why are you backsliding from a religion such as ours, that leads to salvation, and all for fleshly lusts? Wise men of old, who were kings in Surundha, a city prosperous and measuring twelve leagues either way, though for seven hundred years they abode in one chamber with a woman beauteous as the nymphs divine, yet did not yield to their senses, and never so much as looked at her with desire." So saying, he told a story of the past.
"Once upon a time, when king Kasi was reigning over the realm of Kasi, in Surundha his city, neither son nor daughter had he. So he bade his queens offer prayer for sons. Then the Bodhisattva, passing out of Brahma's world, was conceived in the womb of his chief queen. And because by his birth he cheered the hearts of a great multitude, he received the name of Udayabhadda, or Welcome. At the time when the lad could walk upon his feet, another being came into this world from the world of Brahma, and became a girl child in the womb of another of this king's wives, and she was named with the same name, Udayabhadda.
"When the Prince came of years, he attained a mastery in all branches of education; more, he was chaste to a degree, and knew nothing of the deeds of the flesh, not even in dream, nor was his heart bent on sinfulness. The king desired to make his son king, with the solemn sprinkling, and to arrange plays for his pleasure; and gave command accordingly. But the Bodhisattva replied, 'I do not want the kingdom, and my heart is not bent on sinfulness.' Again and again he was entreated, but his reply was to have made a woman's image of red gold, which he sent to his parents, with the message, 'When I find such a woman as this, I will accept the kingdom.' This golden image they dispatched over all India, but found no woman like to it. Then they decked out Udayabhadda very fine, and confronted her with the image; and her beauty surpassed it as she stood. Then they wedded her to the Bodhisattva for consort, against their wills though it were, his own sister the Princess Udayabhadda, born of a different mother, and sprinkled him to be king.
"These two lived together a life of chastity. In course of time, when his parents were dead, the Bodhisattva ruled the realm. The two dwelt together in one chamber, yet denied their senses, and never so much as looked upon one another in the way of desire; nay, a promise they even made, that which of them soever should first die, he should return to the other from his place of new birth, and say, 'In such a place am I born again.'
"Now from the time of his sprinkling the Bodhisattva lived seven hundred years, and then he died. Other king there was none, the commands of Udayabhadda were promulgated, the courtiers administered the kingdom. The Bodhisattva had become Sakka in the Heaven of the Thirty-three, and by the magnificence of his glory was for seven days unable to remember the past. So he after the course of seven hundred years, according to man's reckoning, remembered, and said to himself, 'To the king's daughter Udayabhadda I will go, and I will test her with riches, and roaring with the roar of a lion I will discourse, and will fulfil my promise!'
"In that age they say that the length of man's life was ten thousand years. Now at that time, it being the time of night, the palace doors were fast closed, and the guard set, and the king's daughter was sitting quiet and alone, in a magnificent chamber upon the fine terrace of her seven-storied mansion, meditating upon her own virtue. Then Sakka took a golden dish filled with coins all of gold, and in her very sleeping-chamber appeared before her; and standing on one side, began speech with her by reciting the first stanza:
"'Thee flawless in thy beauty, pure and bright,
"To this the princess made answer in the two stanzas following:
"'To this battlemented city, dug with moats, approach is hard,
"'Not the young and not the mighty entrance here can lightly gain;
"Then Sakka recited the fourth stanza:
"'I, fair beauty, am a Goblin, I that now appear to thee:
"On hearing which the princess replied by repeating the fifth stanza:
"'I ask for none, since Udaya has died,
"Hearing her lion's note, he stood not, but made as though to depart; and at once disappeared. Next day at the same hour, he took a silver bowl filled with golden coins and addressed her by repeating the sixth stanza:
"'That chiefest joy, to lovers known completely,
"Then the princess began to think, 'If I allow him to talk and prate, he will come again and again. I will have nothing to say to him now.' So she said nothing at all. Sakka finding that she had nothing to say, disappeared at once from his place.
"Next day, at the same time, he took an iron bowl full of coins, and said, 'Lady, if you will bless me with your love, I will give this iron bowl full of coins to you.' When she saw him, the princess repeated the seventh stanza:
"'Men that would woo a woman, raise and raise
"The Great Being, when he heard these words, made reply, 'Lady Princess, I am a wary trader, and I waste not my substance for nought. If you were increasing in youth or beauty, I would also increase the present I offer you; but you are fading, and so I make the offering dwindle also.' So saying, he repeated three stanzas
"'O woman! youthful bloom and beauty fade
"'Thus, glorious daughter of a king, before my gazing eyes
"'But if, O daughter of a king most wise, it pleases thee
"Hereupon the princess repeated another stanza:
"'The gods are not like men, they grow not old;
"Then Sakka explained the matter by repeating another stanza:
"'The gods are not like men: they grow not old;
"When she heard the beauty of the world of gods, she asked the way to go thither in another stanza:
"'What terrifies so many mortals here?
"Then Sakka explained the matter in another stanza:
"'Who keeps in due control both voice and mind,
"When the princess had heard his words, she rendered thanks in another stanza:
"'Like a mother, like a father, Goblin, you admonish me:
"Then the Bodhisattva repeated another stanza:
"'I am Udaya, fair lady, for my promise come to thee:
"The princess drew a deep breath, and said, 'You are King Udayabhadda, my lord!' then burst into a flood of tears, and added, 'Without you I cannot live! Instruct me, that I may live with you always!' So saying she repeated another stanza:
"'If thou art Udaya, come hither for thy promise--truly he--,
"Then he repeated four stanzas by way of instruction:
"'Youth passes soon: a moment--'tis gone by;
"'If the whole earth with all her wealth could be
"'Mother and father, brother-kin, and she
"'Remember that this body food shall be
"In this manner discoursed the Great Being. The lady being pleased with the discoursing, rendered thanks in the words of the last stanza:
"'Sweet the saying of this Goblin: brief the life that mortals know,
"Having thus discoursed to her, the Bodhisattva went back to his own place.
"The princess next day entrusted her courtiers with the government; and in that very city of hers, in a delightsome park, she became a recluse. There she lived righteously, until at the end of her days she was born again in the Heaven of the Thirty-three, as the Bodhisattva's handmaiden."
When the Master had ended this discourse, he declared the Truths and identified the Birth: (now at the conclusion of the Truths, the backsliding Brother was established in the fruit of the First Path:)--"At that time Rahula's mother was the Princess, and Sakka was I myself."