The Exemplary Tale of Sumāgadhā

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The Exemplary Tale of Sumāgadhā

The Exemplary Tale of Sumāgadhā opens at Prince Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park, in Śrāvastī, where the Buddha is staying. At the time, Anāthapiṇḍada’s daughter Sumāgadhā is married off to Vṛṣabhadatta, the son of a nirgrantha merchant in the distant city of Puṇḍravardhana. After arriving at the home of her in-laws, Sumāgadhā is repulsed and disheartened on encountering the nirgrantha mendicants. When her mother-in-law asks why she seems despondent, Sumāgadhā tells her about the Buddha. At her mother-in-law’s request, she invites the Buddha and the saṅgha of monks for a meal, and she does so by preparing an offering and calling out from the rooftop. When Ānanda inquires about this invitation, the Buddha announces that all monks with miraculous powers must take a tally stick and travel to Puṇḍravardhana. As the śrāvakas arrive with their miraculous displays, Sumāgadhā relates a brief story about each of them. Finally, the Buddha arrives and converts the people of Puṇḍravardhana with his own miraculous display. When the monks ask how Sumāgadhā’s marriage has benefited so many beings, the Buddha relates the story of her past life as the princess Kāñcanamālā during the time of the Buddha Kāśyapa and, in turn, Kāñcanamālā’s past life as the virtuous wife of a farmer, explaining that she has performed buddha activity in the past and continues to do so. This sūtra also contains the popular account of the ten dreams of King Kṛkin, which are interpreted by the Buddha as foretelling the future decline of the Dharma.

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The Exemplary Tale of Sumāgadhā



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