King Fruitful and Queen Sivali
[Chapter 1. Rebirth of the Bodhisatta]
Once upon a time in the city of Mathila, there was a king who had two sons. The older one was named Badfruit, and his younger brother was called Poorfruit.
While they were still fairly young, the king made his older son the crown prince. He was second in command and next in line to the throne. Prince Poorfruit became commander of the army.
Eventually the old king died and Prince Badfruit became the new king. Then his brother became crown prince.
Before long, a certain servant took a disliking to Crown Prince Poorfruit. He went to King Badfruit and told a lie – that his brother was planning to kill him. At first the king did not believe him. But after the servant kept repeating the lie, the king became frightened. So he had Prince Poorfruit put in chains and locked up in the palace dungeon.
The prince thought, “I am a righteous man was does not deserve these chains. I never wanted to kill my brother. I wasn’t even angry at him. So now I call on the power of Truth. If what I say is true, may these chains fall off and the dungeon doors be opened!” Miraculously the chains broke in pieces, the door opened, and the prince fled to an outlying village. The people there recognised him. Since they respected him `they helped him, and the king was unable to capture him.
Even though he lived in hiding, the crown prince became the master of the entire remote region. In time he raised a large army. He thought, “Although I was not an enemy to my brother at first, I must be an enemy to him now.” So he took his army and surrounded the city of Mithila.
He sent a message to king Badfruit – “I was not your enemy, but you have made me so. Therefore I have come to wage war against you. I give you a choice – either give me your crown and kingdom, or come out and fight.” Hearing of this, most of the city people went out and joined the prince.
King Badfruit decided to wage war. He would do anything to keep his power. Before going out with his army, he went to say goodbye to his number one queen. She was expecting a baby very soon. He said to her “My love, no one knows who will win this war. Therefore, if I die you must protect the child inside you.” Then he bravely went off to war and was quickly killed by the soldiers of his enemy brother.
The news of the king’s death spread through the city. The queen disguised herself as a poor dirty homeless person. She put on old rags for clothes and smeared dirt on herself. She put some of the king’s gold and her own most precious jewellery into a basket. She covered these with dirty rice that no one would want to steal. Then she left the city by the northern gate. Since she had always lived inside the city, the queen had no idea where to go from there. She had heard of a city called Campa. She sat down at the side of the road and began asking if anyone was going to Campa.
It just so happened that the one who was about to be born was no ordinary baby. This was not his first life or his first birth. Millions of years before, he had been a follower of a long-forgotten teaching “Buddha” – a fully “Enlightened One”. He had wished with all his heart to become a Buddha just like his beloved master.
He was reborn in many lives – sometimes as poor animals, sometimes as long-living gods and sometimes as human beings. He always tried to learn from his mistakes and develop the “Ten Perfections”. This was so he could purify his mind and remove the three root causes of unwholesomeness – the poisons of craving, anger and the delusion of a separate self. By using the perfections, he would some day be able to replace the poisons with the three purities – non-attachment, loving-kindness and wisdom.
This “Great Being” had been a humble follower of the forgotten Buddha. He goal was to gain the same enlightenment of a Buddha – the experience of complete Truth. So people call him “Bodhisatta”, which mans “Enlightenment Being”. No one really knows about the millions of lives lived by this great hero. But many stories have been told – including this one about a pregnant queen who was about to give birth to him. After many more rebirths, he became the Buddha who is remembered and loved in all the world today.
At the time of our story, the Enlightenment Being had already achieved the Ten Perfections. So the glory of his coming birth caused a trembling in all the heaven worlds, including the Heaven of 33 ruled by King Sakka. When he felt the trembling, being a god he knows it was caused by the unborn babe inside the disguised Queen of Mithila. And he knew this must be a being of great merit, so he decided to go and help out.
King Sakka made a covered carriage with a bed in it, and appeared at the roadside in front of the pregnant queen. He looked just like an ordinary old man. He called out, “Does anyone need a ride to Campa?” The homeless queen answered, “I wish to go there, kind sir.” “Come with me then,: the old man said.
Since the birth was not far off, the pregnant queen was quite large. She said, “I cannot climb up into your carriage. Simply carry my basket and I will walk behind.” The old man, the king of the gods, replied, “Never mind! Never Mind! I am the cleverest driver around. So don’t worry. Just step into my cart!”
Lo and behold, as she lifted her foot, King Sakka magically caused the ground under her to rise up! So she easily stepped down into the carriage. Immediately she knew this must be a god, and fell fast asleep.
Sakka drove the cart until he came to a river. Then he awakened the lady and said, “Wake up, daughter, and bathe in this river. Dress yourself in this fine clothing I have brought you. Then eat a packet of rice.” She obeyed him, and then lay downs and slept some more.
In the evening she awoke and saw tall houses and walls. She asked, “What is this city, father?” He said, “This is Campa.” King Sakka replied, “I took a short cut. Now that we are at the southern gate of the city, you may safely enter in. I must go on to my own far-off village.” So they parted and Sakka disappeared in the distance, returning to his heaven world.
The queen entered the city and sat down at an inn. There happened to be a wise man living in Campa. He recited spells and gave advice to help people who were sick or unfortunate. While on his way to bathe in the river with 500 followers, he was the beautiful queen from a distance. The great goodness of the unborn one within gave her a soft warm glow, which only the wise man noticed. At once he felt a kind and gentle liking for her, just as if where were his own youngest sister. So he left his followers outside and went into the inn.
He asked her, “Sister, what village are you from?” She replied, “I am the number one queen of King Badfruit of Mithila.”
He asked, “Then why did you come here?” “My husband was killed by the army of his brother, Prince Poorfruit,” she said. “I was afraid , so I ran away to protect the unborn one within me.” The wise man asked, “Do you have any relatives in this city?” She said, “No sir.” Then he said, “Dont worry at all. I was born in a rich family and I myself am rich. I will care for you just as I would for my own young sister. Now you must call me brother and grab hold of my feet and cry out.”
When she did this, the followers came inside. The wise man explained to them that she was his long lost youngest sister. He told his closest followers to take her to his home in a covered cart. He told them to tell his wife that this was his sister, who was to be cared for.
They did exactly as he had said. The wife welcomed her, gave her a hot bath, and made her rest in bed.
After bathing in the river the wise man returned home. At dinnertime he asked his sister to join them. After dinner he invited her to stay in his home.
In only a few days the queen gave birth to a wonderful little baby boy. She named him fruitful. She told the wise man this was the name of the boy’s grandfather, who had one been King of Mithila.
[Chapter 2. Gaining Power]
The baby grew into a little boy. His friends took to making fun of him for not being of high-class birth like they were. So he went and asked his mother who his father was. She told him to pay no attention to what the other children said. She told him his father was the dead King Badfruit of Mithila, and how his brother, Prince Poorfruit, had stolen the throne. After that, it didn’t bother him when the others called him “son of a widow.”
Before he was 16, the bright young Fruitful learned all there was to know about religion, literature and the skills of a warrior. He grew into a very handsome young man.
He decided it was time to regain his rightful crown, which had been stolen by his uncle. So he went and asked his mother, “Do you have any of the wealth that belonged to my father?” She said, “Of course! I did not escape empty-handed. Thinking of you, I brought pearls, jewels and diamonds. So there is n need for you to work for pay. Go directly and take back your kingdom.”
But he said, “No mother, I will take only half. I will sail to Burma, the land of gold, and make my fortune there.” His mother said, ‘No my son, it is too dangerous to sail abroad. There is plenty of fortune here!” He said, “I must leave half with you, my mother, so you can live in comfort as a queen should.” So saying, he departed by ship for Burma.
On the same day that Prince Fruitful set sail, his Uncle King Poorfruit became very ill. He was so sick that he could no longer leave his bed.
Meanwhile, on the ship bound for Burma there were some 350 people. It sailed for seven days. Then there was a violent storm that damaged and weakened the ship. All except the prince cried out in fear and prayed for help to their various gods. But the Bodhisatta did not cry out in fear; the Enlightenment Being did not pray to any god for help. Instead he helped himself.
He filled his belly with concentrated butter mixed with sugar, since he didn’t know how long it would be before his next meal. He soaked his clothes in oil to protect himself from the cold ocean water and help him stay afloat. Then when the ship began to sink, he went and held on to the mast, for it was the tallest part of the ship. As the deck sank underwater, he pulled himself up the mast.
Meanwhile his trembling praying shipmates were sucked underwater and gobbled up by hungry fish and huge turtles. Soon the water all around turned red from blood.
As the ship sank, Prince Fruitful reached the top of the mast. To avoid being devoured in the sea of blood, he jumped mightily from the tip of the mast – in the direction of the kingdom of Mithila. And a t the same time as he saved himself from the snapping jaws of the fish and turtles, King Poorfruit died in his bed.
After his mighty leap from the top of the mast, the prince fell into the emerald-coloured sea. He body shined like gold as he swam for seven days and seven nights. Then he saw it was the fasting day of the full moon. So he purified his mouth by washing it out with salt water and observed the “Eight Training Steps”.
Once upon a time in the very distant past, the gods of the four directions had appointed a goddess to be the protector of the oceans. They had told her that her duty was to protect especially all those who honour and respect their moths and other elders. All such, who did not deserve to fall into the sea, were to be protected by her.
It just so happened that Prince Fruitful was one who deserved the protection of the ocean goddess. But for the seven days and seven nights that he had been swimming through the sea, the goddess had not been pay8ing attention and doing her duty! She had been too busy enjoying heavenly pleasures to remember to keep watch on the oceans.
Finally she remembered her duty and looked over the oceans. Then she was the golden prince struggling in the emerald sea after seven days and seven nights of swimming. She thought, “If I let this Prince Fruitful die in the ocean, I will no longer be welcome in the company of the gods. For truly, he is the Enlightenment Being!”
So she took on a form of splendour and beauty, and floated in the air near him. Wishing to learn Truth from him, she asked, “Without seeing the shore of the ocean, why are you trying to reach the ocean’s end?”
Hearing those words the prince thought, “For the seven days I’ve been swimming, I have met no one who can this be?” When he saw the goddess above him he said, “Oh lovely goddess, I know that effort is the way of the world. So as long as I am in this world, I will try and try, even in mid-ocean with no shore to be seen.”
Wishing to learn more from him, she tested him by saying, “This vast ocean stretches much farther than you can see, without reaching a shore. Your effort is useless – for here you must die!”
The prince replied “Dear goddess, how can effort be useless? For he who never gives p trying cannot be blamed, either by his relatives here below or by the gods above. So he has no regrets. No matter how impossible it seems, if he stops trying h causes his own downfall!’
Pleased with his answers, the protecting goddess tested him one last time. She asked, “Why do you continue, when there really is no reward to be gained except pain and death?”
He answered her again, like a teacher to a pupil, “It is the way of the world that people make plans and try to reach their goals. The plans ma succeed for fail – only time will tell – but the value is in the effort itself in the present moment.
“And besides, oh goddess, can’t you see that my actions have already brought results? My shipmates only prayed and they are dead! But I have been swimming for seven days and seven nights – and low and behold
here you are, floating above me! So I will swim with all my might, even across the whole ocean, to reach the shore. While I have an ounce of strength I’ll try and try again.”
Completely satisfied, the ocean goddess who protects the good said, “You who bravely fight the mighty ocean against hopeless odds, you who refuse to run from the task before you,` go wherever your heart desires! For you have my protection and no one can stop you. Just tell me where I may carry you to.”
The prince told her he wished to go to Mithila. The goddess gently lifted him like a bouquet of flowers and laid him on her chest, Like a loving mother with a newborn babe. Then she flew through the air, while the Enlightenment Being slept, cradled against her heavenly body.
Arriving at Mithila, she laid him on a sacred stone in a garden of mangoes, and told the garden goddesses to watch over him. Then the protector goddess of the oceans returned to her heaven world home.
The dead King Poorfruit had left behind only a daughter, no sons. She was well educated and wise, and her name was Princess Sivali.
When the king was dying, the ministers asked him, “Who will be the next king?” King Poorfruit said, “Whoever can satisfy my daughter Sivali; whoever recognises the head of the royal square bed; whoever can string the bow that only a thousand men can string; or whoever can find the 16 hidden treasures.”
After the funeral of the king, the ministers began searching for a new king. First they looked for one who could satisfy the princess. They called for the General of the Army.
Princess Sivali wished to test him, so Mithila could be ruled by a strong leader. She told him to come to her. Immediately he ran up the royal staircase. She said, “To prove your strength, run back and forth in the palace.” Thinking only of pleasing her, the general ran back and forth until she motioned for him to stop. Then she said, “Now jump up and down.” Again the general did as he was told without thinking. Finally the princess told him, “Come here and massage my feet.” He sat in front of her and began rubbing her feet.
Suddenly she put her foot against his chest and kicked him down the royal staircase. She turned to her ladies in waiting and said, “This fool has no common sense. He thinks the only strength is in running around and jumping up and down and following orders without thinking. He has no strength of character. He lacks the will power needed to rule a kingdom. So throw him out of here at once!”
Later the general was asked about his meeting with Princess Sivali. He said, “I don’t want to talk about it. She is not human!”
The same thing happened with the treasurer, the cashier, the keeper of the royal seal and the royal swordsman. The princess found them all to be unworthy fools.
So the ministers decided to give up on the princess and find someone who could string the bow that only a thousand men can string. But again they could find no one. Similarly, they could find no one who knew the head of the royal square bed, or who could find the 16 treasures.
The ministers became more and more worried that they could not find a suitable king. So they consulted the royal family priest. He said to them, “Calm down, my friends. We will send out the royal festival carriage. The one it stops for will be able to rule over all India.”
So they decorated the carriage and yoked the four most beautiful royal horses to it. The high priest sprinkled the carriage with holy water from a sacred golden pitcher. He proclaimed, “Now go forth, riderless carriage, and find the worthy one with enough merit to rule the kingdom.”
The horses pulled the carriage around the palace and then down the main avenue of Mithila. They were followed by the four armies – the elephants, chariots, cavalry and foot soldiers.
The most powerful politicians of the city expected the procession to stop in front of their houses. But instead it left the city by the eastern gate and went straight to the mango garden. Then it stopped in front of the sacred stone where Prince Fruitful was sleeping.
The chief priest said, “Let us test this sleeping man to see if he is worthy to be king. If he is the one, he will not be frightened by the noise of the drums and instruments of all four armies.” So they made a great clanging noise, but the prince just turned over on his other side, remaining asleep. Then they made the noise again, even louder. Again the prince simply rolled over from side to side.
The head priest examined the soles of the feet of the sleeping one. He said, “This man can rule not only Mithila, but the whole world in all four directions.” So he awakened the prince and said, “My lord, arise, we beg you to be our king.”
Prince Fruitful replied, “What happened to your king?” “He died,” said the priest. “Did he have any children?” asked the prince. “Only a daughter, Princess Sivali,” answered the priest. Then Prince Fruitful agreed to be the new king.
The chief priest spread jewels on the sacred stone. After bathing, the prince sat among the jewels. He was sprinkled with perfumed water from the gold anointing bowl. Then he was crowned King Fruitful. The new king rode in the royal chariot, followed by a magnificent procession, back to the city of Mithila and the palace.
Princess Sivali still wished to test the king. So she sent a man to tell him she wished him to come at once. But King Fruitful ignored him, simply continuing to inspect the palace with its furnishings and works of art.
The messenger told this to the princess and she sent him back two more times with the same results. He reported back to her, “This is a man who knows his own mind, not easily swayed. He paid as little attention to your words as we pay to the grass when we step on it!”
Soon the king arrived at the throne room, where the princess was waiting. He walked steadily up the royal staircase – not hurrying, not slowing down, but dignified like a strong young lion. The princess was so impressed by his attitude that she went to him, respectfully gave him her hand, and led him to the throne. He gracefully sat on the throne.
Then he asked the royal ministers, “Did the previous king leave behind any advice for testing the next king?” “Yes lord,” they said, “Whoever can satisfy my daughter Sivali.” The king responded, “You have seen the princess give me her hand. Was there another test?”
They said, “Whoever recognises the head of the royal square bed.” The king took a golden hairpin from his head and gave it to Princess Sivali, saying, “Put this away for me.” Without thinking, she put it on the head of the bed. As if he had not heard it the first time, King Fruitful asked the ministers to repeat the question. When they did, he pointed to the golden hairpin.
“Was there another test?” asked the king. “Yes lord,” replied the ministers, “Whoever can string the bow that only a thousand men can string.” When they brought the bow, the king strung it without even rising from the throne. He did it as easily as a woman bends the rod that untangles cotton for spinning.
“Are there any more tests?” the king asked. The ministers said, “Whoever can find the 16 hidden treasures.” These are the last tests.”
“What is the first on the list?” he asked. They said, “The first is the treasure of the rising sun.” King Fruitful realised that there must be some trick to finding each treasure. He knew that a Silent Buddha is often compared to the glory of the sun. So he asked, “Where did the king go to meet and feed Silent Buddhas?” When they showed him the place, he had them dig up the first treasure.
The second was the treasure of the setting sun. King Fruitful realised this must be where the old king had said good-bye to Silent Buddhas. In the same manner he found all the hidden treasures.
The people were happy that he had passed all the tests. As his first official act, he had houses of charity built in the center of the city and at each of the four gates. He donated the entire 16 treasures to be given to the poor and needy.
Then he sent for his mother, queen of the dead King Badfruit, and also for the kind wise man of Campa. He gave them both the honour they deserved.
All the people of the kingdom came to Mithila to celebrate the restoration of the royal line. They decorated the city with fragrant flower garlands and incense. They provided cushioned seats for visitors. There were fruits, sweets, drinks and cooked foods everywhere. The ministers and the wealthy brought musicians and dancing girls to entertain the king. There were beautiful poems recited by wise men, and blessings chanted by holy men.
The Enlightenment Being, King Fruitful, sat on the throne under the royal white umbrella. In the midst of the great celebration he seemed as majestic as the heavenly god, King Sakka. He remembered his great effort struggling in the ocean against all odds, when even the ocean goddess had abandoned him. Only because of that almost hopeless effort, he himself was now as magnificent as a god. This filled him with such joy that he spoke this rhyme –
“Things happen unexpectedly, and prayers may not come true: But effort brings results that neither thoughts nor prayers can do.”
After the wonderful celebration, King Fruitful ruled in Mithila with perfect righteousness. And he humbly gave honour and almsfood to Silent Buddhas – enlightened ones living in a time when their teachings could not be understood.
In the fullness of time Queen Sivali gave birth to a son. Because the wise men of the court saw signs of a long and glorious life ahead of him, he was named Prince Longlife. When he grew up, the king made him second in command.
[Chapter 3. Giving Up Power]
This story happened very long ago, at a time when people lived much longer lives, even 10,000 years! After King Fruitful had ruled for about 7,000 years, it just so happened that the royal gardener brought him an especially wonderful collection of fruits and flowers. He liked them so much that he wanted to see the garden. So the gardener arranged and decorated the garden, and invited him to visit.
The king set out on a royal elephant, followed by the entire court and many of the ordinary people of Mithila. When he entered through the garden gate he saw two beautiful mango trees. One was full of perfectly ripe mangoes, while the other was completely without fruit. He took one of the fruits and enjoyed its delicious sweet taste. He decided to eat more of them on his return trip.
When the people saw that the king had eaten the first fruit, they knew it was all right for them to eat. In no time at all the mangoes had been eaten. When the fruits were gone, some even broke the twigs and stripped the leaves looking for more.
When King Fruitful returned he saw that the tree was stripped bare and nearly destroyed. At the same time the fruitless tree remained as beautiful as before, its bright green leaves shining in the sunlight.
The king asked his ministers, “What has happened here?” They explained, “Since your majesty ate the first fruit, the people felt free to devour the rest. Searching for more fruits they even destroyed the leaves and twigs. The fruitless tree was spared and remains beautiful, since it has no fruit.”
This saddened the king. He thought, “This fruitful tree was destroyed, but the fruitless one was spared. My kingship is like the fruitful tree – the more the power and possessions, the greater the fear of losing them. The holy life of a simple monk is like the fruitless tree – giving up power and possessions leads to freedom from fear.”
So the Great Being decided to give up his wealth and power, to leave the glory of kingship behind, to abandon the constant task of protecting his position. Instead he decided to put all his effort into living the pure life of a simple monk. Only then could he discover lasting deep happiness, which would spread to others as well.
He returned to the city. Standing next to the palace gate, he called for the commander of the army. He said, “From now on, no one is to see my face except a servant bringing food and a servant bringing water and toothbrush. You and the ministers will rule according to the old law. I will live as a simple monk on the top floor of the palace.”
After he had lived for a while in this way, the people began to wonder about the change in him. One day a crowd gathered in the palace courtyard. They said, “Our king is not as he was before. He no longer wants to see dancing or listen to singing or watch bull fights and elephant fights or go to his pleasure garden and see the swans on the ponds. Why does he not speak to us?” They asked the servants who brought the king his food and water, “Does he tell you anything?”
They said, “He is trying to keep his mind from thinking about desirable things, so it will be peaceful and wholesome like the minds of his old friends, the Silent Buddhas. He is trying to develop the purity of the ones who own nothing but good qualities. Once we even heard him say out loud, “I can think only of the Silent Buddhas, free from chasing ordinary pleasures. Their freedom makes them truly happy – who will take me to where they live?”
King Fruitful had been living on the top floor of the palace trying to be a simple monk for only about four months. At that point he realised there were too many distractions in the beautiful kingdom of Mithila. He saw them as only an outer show keeping him from finding inner peace and Truth. So he decided, once and for all, to give up everything and become a forest monk and go live in the Himalaya Mountains.
He had the yellow robes and begging bowl of a monk brought to him. He ordered the royal barber to shave his head and beard. Then early the next morning, he began walking down the royal staircase.
Meanwhile Queen Sivali had heard about his plans. She gathered together the 700 most beautiful queens of the royal harem and took them up the staircase. They passed King Fruitful coming down, but didn’t recognise him dressed as a monk. When they got to the top floor, Queen Sivali found it empty, with only the king’s shaven hair and beard still there. Instantly she realised the unknown monk must be her husband.
All 701 queens ran down the stairs to the palace courtyard. There they followed the king-turned-monk. As Queen Sivali had instructed them, they all let down their hair and tried to entice the king to stay. They cried and cried, pleading with him, “Why are you doing this?” Then all the people of the city became very upset and began following him. They were weeping as they cried out, “We have heard that our king has become a simple monk. How can we ever find such a good and fair ruler again?”
The 700 harem queens, wearing all their lovely veils and rich jewellery, crying and begging, did not change the mind of the Enlightenment Being. For he had made his decision and was determined to stick to it. He had given up the gold anointing bowl of state, which had passed the power of the royal family to him. Instead he now carried only the plain clay-begging bowl of a humble monk, a seeker of Truth.
Finally Queen Sivali stopped crying. She saw that the beautiful queens from the harem had not stopped her husband. So she went to the commander of the army. She told him to set a fire among the slum houses and abandoned buildings that were in the king’s path. She told him to set fires of brush and wet leaves in different areas of the city, to make a lot of smoke.
When this was done she fell to the ground at the king’s feet and cried, “All Mithila is burning, my lord! The beautiful buildings with their valuable art works, precious metals and jewels, and treasures are all being destroyed. Return, oh king, and save your riches before it is too late.”
But the Enlightenment Being replied, “All these things belong to others. I own nothing. So I’m not afraid of losing anything. And losing things can’t make me sad. My mind is at peace.”
Then he left the city through the northern gate, still followed by all 701 queens. According to Queen Sivali’s instructions, they showed him villages being robbed and destroyed. There were armed men attacking, while others seemed wounded and dead. But what looked like blood was really just red dye, and the dead were only pretending. The king knew it was a trick, since there were no actual robbers and plunderers in the kingdom in the first place.
After walking still farther, the king stopped and asked his ministers, “Whose kingdom is this?” “Yours, oh lord,” they said. “Then punish any who cross this line,” he ordered, as he drew a line across the road. No one, including Queen Sivali, dared to cross the line. But when she saw the king continuing on down the road, with his back to her, she was grief-stricken. Beating her breast she fell across the line. Once the line was crossed, the whole crowd lost its fear and followed her.
Queen Sivali kept the army with her as the entire crowd kept following King Fruitful. He continued for many miles, heading for the Himalayas in the north.
Meanwhile, there was a very advanced monk named Narada, who lived in a golden cave in the Himalayas. He was a very wise man. By great mental effort he had gained supernatural powers that only the highest holy men are said to have. After meditating in a wonderful trance for a full week he suddenly shouted, “What happiness! Oh what happiness!”
Then, using his special powers, he looked out over all India to see if there was anyone who was sincerely seeking that same happiness, free of all the distractions of the world. He saw only King Fruitful, the Bodhisatta who would some day become the Buddha. He saw that he had given up all his earthly power. And yet he was still blocked, still hindered by the obstacle of the crowd following him from his previous worldly life. In order to help and encourage him, he magically flew through the air and floated in front of the king.
He asked King Fruitful, “Oh monk, why is this crowd with all its noise following you?” The king replied, “I have given up the power of kingship and left the world for good. This is why my former subjects follow me, even though I leave them happily.”
The holy monk said, “Don’t be too confident, oh monk. You haven’t succeeded in leaving the world quite yet. For there are still obstacles inside of you. These are the ‘Five Hindrances’ – the desire for ordinary pleasures of sight, sound and so forth; the desire to harm others; laziness; nervous worrying; and unreasonable doubts. Therefore, practice the Perfections, be patient, and don’t think either too much or too little of yourself.”
He finished by saying, “I give you my blessing – may goodness, knowledge and Truth protect you on your way.” Then he disappeared and reappeared back in his golden cave.
Due to this wise advice, King Fruitful became even less concerned with the crowd outside, realising that the greatest obstacles, or hindrances, are the ones inside.
Meanwhile Queen Sivali fell at his feet once again. She pleaded, “Oh king, hear the wails of your subjects. Before leaving them for good, comfort them by crowning your son to rule in your place.”
He replied, “I have already left my subjects, friends, relatives and my country behind. Have no fear, the nobles of Mithila have trained Prince Longlife well, and they will protect and support you both.”
She continued, “Oh king, by becoming a monk you are leaving me without a husband. What a shame! What am I to do?”
He said, “Only be careful to teach the prince no unwholesome thoughts, words or deeds. Otherwise you would bring painful results to yourself.”
As the sun set, the queen made camp while the king went into the forest to sleep at the foot of a tree. The next day she continued to follow him, bringing the army with her. They approached a small city.
It just so happened that a man in the city had bought a fine piece of meat from a butcher. After cooking it he placed it on a table to cool, when a stray dog grabbed it and ran off. The man followed the dog as far as the southern gate of the city. There he gave up because he was too tired to continue.
The escaping dog crossed the path of King Fruitful and Queen Sivali. Frightened by them, he dropped the meat on the road. The king saw that it was a good piece of meat and that the real owner was unknown. So he cleaned the meat, put it in his begging bowl, and ate it.
Queen Sivali, who was used to eating the delicacies of the palace, was disgusted. She said to him, “Even at the point of death a high class person would not eat the leavings of a dog! Eating such disgusting food shows you are completely unworthy!” But he replied, “It is your own vanity that keeps you from seeing the value of this meat. If rightfully obtained, all food is pure and wholesome!”
As they continued to approach the city, King Fruitful thought, “Queen Sivali keeps following me. This is a bad thing for a monk. People say, ‘He has given up his kingdom, but he can’t get rid of his wife!’ I must find a way to teach her she must go.”
Just then they came upon some playing children. Among them was a girl with one bracelet on one wrist and two on the other. Thinking she was a wise child, the king asked her, “My child, why does your one arm make noise with every movement, while the other does not?”
The little girl replied, “Oh monk, it’s because on one arm there are two bracelets, while on the other there is only one. Where there are two, it’s the second that clangs against the first and makes noise. The arm with only one bracelet remains silent. So if you would be happy, you must learn to be contented when alone.”
The Bodhisatta said to the queen, “Do you hear the wisdom of this child? As a monk I would be ashamed to let you stay with me in front of her. So you go your way and I’ll go mine. We are husband and wife no more – good-bye!”
The queen agreed and they took separate paths. But she became grief-stricken again and returned to follow the king. They entered the city together, so he could collect alms food.
They came to the house of an arrow maker. They watched him wet the red-hot arrow, and straighten it while sighting down the shaft with only one eye open. The king asked him, “Friend, to make the arrow perfectly straight, why do you view it with one eye open and the other shut?”
The arrow maker answered, “With both eyes open, the wide view of the second eye is distracting. Only by concentrating my view in one eye can I truly see the straightness of the arrow. So if you would be happy, you must learn to be contented when alone.”
The king collected alms food and then they left the city. He said to the queen, “Did you hear the same wisdom again from that craftsman? As a monk I would be ashamed to let you stay with me in front of him. So you go your way and I’ll go mine. We are husband and wife no more – good-bye!” But still she followed him.
Then the Great Being cut a stalk of tall grass. He said to Queen Sivali, “Just as the two pieces of this stalk of grass cannot be joined again, so I will not join you again in the marriage bed! We two can never be joined together again. Like a full stalk of uncut grass, live on alone, my ex-wife Sivali.”
On hearing this the queen went crazy with shock and grief. She beat herself with both hands until she fell to the ground – completely unconscious. Realising this, the Bodhisatta quickly left the roadway. He erased his footsteps and disappeared into the jungle.
First he had given up the power and wealth of a king. Now he had given up the power and desire of a husband. At last he was free to follow the path of a Truth-seeking wandering monk. He made his way to the Himalayas and in only one week he was able to develop special mental powers. Never again did he return to the ordinary world.
Meanwhile the royal ministers, who had been following at a distance, reached the fainted queen. They sprinkled water on her and revived her. She asked, “Where is my husband the king?” They said, “We don’t know. Don’t you know?” In a panic she ordered, “Search for him!” They looked and looked, but of course he was gone.
When Queen Sivali recovered from her fear and grief, she realised she felt no anger, jealousy or vengeance towards the monk Fruitful. Instead she admired him more than at any time since the day they met, when she gave him her hand and led him to the throne.
She had monuments erected to honour the courageous King Fruitful on four sites: where he had spoken with the floating holy man Narada, where he had eaten the good meat left by the dog, where he had questioned the little girl, and also the arrow maker.
Beside the two mango trees in the royal garden, she had Prince Longlife crowned as the new king. Together with the army and crowds of followers, they returned to the city of Mithila.
In spite of herself, Queen Sivali had learned something by following, and finally losing, her husband King Fruitful. She too had tasted freedom!
The wise lady gave up her royal duties. She retired to meditate in the garden by the mango trees. With great effort, she gained a high mental state leading to rebirth in a heaven world.
The moral is: It’s easier to gain power than to give it up.