Life of the Buddha

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(Part Two) 9. Magandiya's Grudge

Magandiya was such a beautiful girl that many wealthy men wanted to marry her. Her Brahmin parents always turned down the suitors, finding none of them good enough for her. Even when her parents found a suitable man for their daughter she refused to agree, saying she would marry nobody less than a king. Magandiya was determined to use her beauty to marry well.

One day, as the Buddha was surveying the world, he noticed that Magandiya’s parents were spiritually developed. All it needed was one statement from him to open their eyes to truth. The Buddha went to the place where the Brahmin was making fire sacrifice outside his village.

When Magandiya’s father saw the Buddha coming, he was moved with wonder by his physical beauty, calmness and noble manner. There could not be a better person to give his daughter to in marriage, the Brahmin thought. “Don’t go away, O monk,” he called out excitedly. “Wait here until I bring my daughter to see you. You are an ideal partner for her, and she for you.”

The Buddha did not speak and remained silent. He did not stay either, but stamped his footprint on the ground and went away. Very pleased with what he thought would happen, the Brahmin rushed home to tell his wife. “Dress her up quickly, dear,” he said. “I have seen a man worthy of our daughter.” When the three of them came back to the spot, the Buddha was nowhere to be seen. The only sign he was ever there was the footprint.

The wife, who was familiar with signs, read the print and said, “I don’t think this is the print of one who would marry our daughter. It belongs to a person who has given up worldly pleasures.”

“You and your signs again,” grumbled her husband. “You see crocodiles in a water pot, and robbers in the middle of the house. Look, there he is sitting under the tree. Have you seen, my dear, anyone so marvelous? Come along, daughter. This time your suitor is so perfect that you cannot complain.”

The family rushed over to the Buddha and the father called to him, “Monk, I’m giving my daughter in marriage to you.” The Buddha turned down the offer, explaining that he had overcome all his worldly pleasures. He told how he had given up household life with all its enjoyment, and how he could not be tempted by even the beautiful daughters of Mara. He said that however beautiful the body may be, it is still full of impurities.

Hearing this, the Brahmin and his wife understood immediately that the worldly life is miserable and not something to be attached to, no matter how nice it may appear. Both of them attained anagami, the third stage of sainthood.

Unfortunately, proud Magandiya, who was not spiritually developed, could not understand the real meaning of these words. She thought the Buddha was insulting her beauty. “How could this monk insult me when so many men have fallen for my beauty at first sight? Even if he doesn’t want to marry me, he shouldn’t declare that my body is full of dirt.” Clenching her fists, she whispered under her breath, “You just wait, O monk. When I marry a husband who is powerful, I shall teach you a lesson.”

Later, Magandiya was married to the King of Udena. When she heard that the Buddha had entered the city, her hatred of him rose again and she bribed and instigated the people to insult the Buddha and drive him away.

Ananda, who was with the Buddha, did not want to stay on and endure the insults, but the Buddha advised him to practice tolerance and patience. The Buddha said, “As an elephant in the battlefield withstands the arrows shot from a bow, even so will I endure abuse of irreligious people.” The Buddha said that the abusive talk would not last long, for such is the power of the Buddha. They stayed on in Udena, and all the abuse ended shortly.