The story of Buddha

The eyes of the Prince Kunala

Update: 13/01/2008
Once upon a time in India, there was a king named Ashoka who was famous for his fairness. When he was young, he used to get irritable, but gradually he became more gentle and tender. He taught the people to treat others courteously and show compassion towards the miserable by his moral examples and instructions. The typical of these are: he had the hospitals built to treat patients, had the park built so that people and animals could take a rest there, had the wells of water dug to help pedestrians and animals from thirst and had fruit trees planted and herbs for medicine planted along the roadsides.

The eyes of the Prince Kunala


His first son's eyes were as beautiful and gentle as those of the bird Kunala, so people called him Kunala and the King loved him very much.

The Queen, the prince's mother whose name was Padmavati, died early, so the King loved him more and entirely trusted him. The people loved and respected him for his compassion, gentleness and humility. His wife, whose name was Madhavi, was gentle, too and always pleased him.

After the queen died, Ashoka married a haughty and cruel woman called Tishyarakshita. After her son was born, she wished he would succeed to the throne instead of Kunala, and although she didn't show negative towards the Kunala, her stepson, she hates him terribly.
While the king was seriously ill and all the physicians could not cure him, she managed to do it. The king wished to repay a debt of gratitude to her by rewarding her with what she desired. Beyond the King's expectation, she would like her son to succeed to the throne. The King was in a real dilemma at that time. He was very sad because he could not satisfy her, his savior. Then, he reiterated his promise to his former wife before her death - he would pass the throne to the Prince Kunala only. He asserted that: "I would rather give up the throne than break my promise".

Finding out things were out of her expectation, she asked the King to let her govern the country in only one day and he accepted. In her mind, she tried to take advantage of the occasion to fulfill her evil intentions.

In the country, there was a citadel known as the Ðắc Xô Thi La where people usually revolted against the oppression of the mandarins here. The Queen Tishyarakshita herself was also involved in the uprisings. Indeed, firstly, she gave the money to the mandarins and told them to impose extremely high tax on the people; then she incited the people to riot against the government. Next, she incited them to ask the king to assign the prince to govern that citadel. She argued that it was only the fair prince that could suppress the rebellion. The next morning, the delegates of the citadel Soviet Ðắc Xô Thi La arrived to suggest that to the king. At the same time, Tishyarakshita asked for freedom to use the King's seal that was used to seal dispatches. The King accepted the suggestion and obviously, she was in power that day.

Then the Queen agreed to the delegates' request. She told the king that only the Prince who was admired by people, so he could certainly bring peace without violence in the area. The King looked confused, because he suspected the Queen had evil intentions. He said, "It is dangerous to assign the prince to a rebellious citadel".
Seeing the King's anxiety, she said: "If you don't completely trust me, I won't come up with any suggestions from now on." Then she pretended to return the seal to the king, but she well knew that the king could not bring himself to do it. Indeed, Ashoka honored the promise and decided not to take the seal back. As for the Prince, he also insisted on going, so the King might as well accept the idea. Anyway, to be on the safe side, he ordered a troop to escort the Prince. However, the Prince refused it because he wanted to avoid bloodshed. He reckoned that the problems had to be solved as soon as possible. He decided it was not a good idea to assign a troop to follow him because it would take a lot of time. He said: "Escorted by a lot of armed troops and hearing the sound of horse neighing, elephant roar, horse-drawn carriages, drums, trumpets and things like that cannot make me feel safer".

The King had no idea about the Prince's arguments. Then, the Prince left the King and his wife, rode a rare white horse away quickly to the citadel. He didn't know that he was followed by a horseman who galloped, too. It was a man that was loyal to the Queen. He brought the King's seal with him to execute the secret mission.

The Prince was riding so fast that the villages, mountains, forests, green rice paddies along the roadsides seemed to move backwards. But the news that he would come was faster because the people here were looking forward to seeing him. Everything was ready to hail him. Some were scattering flowers on the road while others were picking fruits to offer the Prince. A great cheer went up from the crowd wherever he came. People asked the Prince to pardon them. They said that they participated in the rebels not because they revolted against the king; they revolted against the corrupt mandarins. After hearing the explanation he felt sorry and forgave them. Then, he entered the citadel and was welcomed with the sound of music. Then, a fair tax adjustment was made. The people were happy and sent the delegates to report it to the king, to express their loyalty to the Royal's Court, and praised the Prince for his pacifying the area.

The people in the citadel were happy when suddenly some horsemen who secretly followed the Prince came and delivered the officials a decree. Everybody was shocked and scared when it said" The Prince Kunala, the king's dangerous enemy who defame the Royal family, so his eyes must be pulled out". It also said that after the penalty implementation, nobody was permitted to save him and his name must not be mentioned anywhere.

The mandarins did not dare to reveal that inhuman edict to the Prince. After a night of worry, they discussed: "It is dangerous to disobey the order. Even the Prince, who is kind to everyone, is punished by the King, let alone us."

However, the next day they decided to offer the Prince the edict. Having finished reading it, he said: "This is the king's genuine order because it was sealed, so just execute the command ".

He well knew that his father never issued that cruel edict but it must have come from the Queen. Everyone had to obey the sealed edict.

The edict was believed to be executed on a piece of land in the center of the citadel. By the time of execution, the executioners were ordered to pull the Prince's eyes out, but they just joined palms together reverently and refused to do it. They said: "None of us is brave enough to do that."

The Prince took off his necklace and gave the executioners. He said: "This is a bonus for you to fulfill your duties", but they refused it, too. Finally, a man with a weird shape asked for permission to do it in place of them. But he was not brave enough to pull the Prince's eyes out with his fingers alone, either. He lit a big fire and heated an iron bar until it was red-hot. At that moment, the Prince sat comfortably for having his eyes burnt with the red-hot iron bar. The sight was so horrible that thousands of people at the scene cried.

After the execution was complete, the Prince leaned on the executor's shoulder with one hand while signaling everyone to keep silence with the other hand. The Prince advised them to stay away from him and not to rescue him and call out him in accordance with the edict. They bowed walking away and crying while the Prince was lying on the ground. Feeling hot by sunshine, he dragged himself to a shady place for a rest.

It was quiet for a very long time around him when he suddenly heard the sound of horse hooves stomping and crying bitterly.

Recognizing his horse, he said: "You should also stay away from me. Go away!"

The horse moved around there a few times and then went away out of the city, came back to the way he had fun with his owner alone.

When the Sun set some people were moved and intended to help him, but they did not dare to disobey the order. They just stood in the distance looking at each other and shaking their heads. Some time later a poor old woman approached him, washed the wound and bandaged it with the weed. Then, she helped him stand up and get out of the village entrance. After that, she came back, sighing on her way home.

While the Prince was suffering, the representatives of the Ðắc Xô Thi La were given a warm welcome by the King. They said that the Prince were hailed and respected there, so his wife, Madhavi felt less worried about her husband who had to suppress the rebellion.

Anyway, a few days later, feeling anxious, she decided to go to where her husband said goodbye to her. On the third day, she suddenly saw the Prince's horse returning alone. A thought of a disaster befalling her husband was in her mind; Then she fell unconscious as if a tree were cut down at its foot.

Waking up, she thought that her husband might have been killed in the uprisings. "Is my husband still alive?" she wondered. If the message is not sure, it is a good idea to look for my husband. So as not to waste any minutes, she came back to the palace, took off all the jewelry, dressed as civilians and fled the palace to find her husband without informing the King. She thought that he might prevent her search for the Prince as he was afraid something wrong could happen to her on the journey.

While walking alone to the citadel of Ðắc Xô Thi La, she was in emotional distress and asked whomever she met the same question: "Have you seen the Prince recently?" on the way but no news about him was heard.

One morning just after leaving the shelter, she met a farmer who was sowing the rice seeds. He told her that while he was going through a small forest at dawn he saw a young blind man dressed as the Prince. Then he gave the young man some fruit trees he picked up in the forest and a bowl of water.

Madhavi immediately came to the place where she saw Kunala sitting alone on a rock. She was really in agonizing pain when she found that his eyes were pulled out. She burst into tears, knelt before him choked with emotion and kissed his hand. Feeling hot tears dripping on his hand, he was touched, guessing that it was Madhavi, but he did not believe right away that it was her until he heard her voice. He told her to sit down and expressed overwhelming joy to see her, his beloved wife.

Then, the Prince recounted to his wife what happened and she helped him stand up, led him to come back home to meet his father.

As for Ashoka, he had been worried since it was said that the Prince's horse returned to the palace alone without the Prince and Madhavi ran away. At once, he sent an envoy to the Ðắc Xô Thi La to inquire information about the couple. The People in the citadel realized that they were cheated into the executing the king's edict before when they found the King was anxious for the Prince. Having been afraid of being severely punished, they tried to trick the envoy, saying that the Prince had come back to the court alone. The people here did not take risk of revealing the information to him, either as they must have beenseverely penalized if they had told them the truth. The envoy suspected that the people here had killed the Prince, but he might as well come back as no evidence was found.

Meanwhile, the unlucky young couple were on their way to the Royal capital. At that time, the Prince had taken off his posh clothes and wore torn clothing because he supposed that in that situation the jewelry on the clothes would hurt them more. They passed the villages, singing in clear and tender voice which touched the villagers' hearts and they supported the couple with some food.

Finally, they managed to reach the Royal Palace one day. The guards saw them dressing in shabby clothes, so the guards prevented them from entering the palace at first. However, on the second thought, the guards felt pity for them and let them stay in a chariot place. Feeling tired, the couple fell asleep right away. The next day, Ashoka was distressed while thinking of his son, when he heard the some familiar voice singing the songs coming from the chariot place. The King realized his son's voice, but he was still afraid that he might have misheard. Then, he sent out a courtier to find out who was singing there. He told the King that it was the voice of a blind beggar who was accompanied by his wife. The king immediately asked the couple to be led to the court in front of the royal palace. At first, seeing a ragged man, the king was not sure whether he was his son, but taking a closer look, he recognized his son with a gentle and kind face.

Moreover, he recognized Madhavi although she was poorly dressed. Then he embraced both of them and sobbed.

A long time later, the king regained his composure and asked the prince the reason why he had to suffer. After understanding the reason, the king got angry, asking: "How dare someone use my seal to commit heinous crimes?". The Prince said nothing, because he feared that the Queen would suffer strict punishment. At last, Mahdavi spoke after the king's close questioning. She reminded the King that he used to let the Queen Tishyarakshita use the court seal for a day. For a long time, the King suspected her enmity towards the Prince. He assumed the Queen just cherished the hope that her son would succeeded to the throne, so she would get rid of the Prince Kunala sooner or later. Now, the obvious facts are such and he ordered that the queen come immediately.

As for the queen, since she played dirty tricks on the Prince, she had always been in anxiety; whenever she tried to get a wink of sleep, the sight of the prince suffering from the savage punishment was in her mind and whenever she got up she felt worried. She worried that her crime would be uncovered one day. She imagined that everybody ranging from kings, officials and soldiers to civilians could perceive what she was thinking and what she had done, causing her to be more anxious .

Upon hearing the request to ask her to come to the Royal Court, she believed that her crime was discovered. She regretted over her past sins and could not say a word, directing her eyes down, waiting for the verdict. Her attitude was apparently a confession.

King Asoka got angry and ordered that the Queen have to suffer more physical torture prior to being executed. The Prince king made an appeal for the penalty mitigation, but the king did not change his mind. Then, the Prince knelt down saying, "Your Majesty! It is partly because of her fault but it is mainly due to my sins in the previous life, so I have to undergo retribution now. I have tried to recall what sins I committed for a long time, but I can't until last night... "

The King interrupted him, "You can't have committed any sins. You are the best in the world!" The Prince was touched and replied: "A virtuous person is not necessarily innocent. He may do good deeds in the present life now, but he might have done evil deeds in his previous life, so his suffering karma retribution is inevitable. Next, he told his father the following story. Long ago, one day a hunter spotted fifty wild goats in the mountains and he immediately caught all of them. He thought that if he had killed all of them, he could not have sold all the meat. Instead, he would catch and take one after another to the town for sale. Then, he did not hesitate to pull their eyes out with his hands and let them move to the caves. The hunter was me in the past life. He tortured fifty sentient beings and now he had to repay his karmic debts.

While the king was moved by the story but still hesitant to believe in it, the Prince sat cross-legged, joined palms together in front of his chest and prayed:

"If my words are true, may Buddha witness and bring light to me, please."

Hardly had his prayers stopped when suddenly his eyes healed and he could see the light. Ashoka and Madhavi were overjoyed with the wonderful sight.

At that moment the King's anger had subsided and he granted an amnesty for Tishyarakshita and forced her to repent her sins at somewhere peaceful. From then on, the King remained on the throne for many years and the Prince was officially bestowed the title "The Crown Prince" to succeed to the throne and Madhavi would be the queen some time later.

Prince Kunala was the former rebirth of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Translated into English by Mr. Tran Xuan Thanh, layman.

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