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When Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of
Yasodhara, became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining
the same distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being
disappointed in his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a
jealous hatred, and, attempting to excel the Perfect One in
virtue, he found fault with his regulations and reproved them as
too lenient.

Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu, the
son of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for
Devadatta, and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to
severe rules and self-mortification.

Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha and
stayed at the Veluvana vihara.

Devadatta called on the Blessed One, requesting him to sanction
his rules of greater stringency, by which a greater holiness
might be procured. "The body," he said, "consists of its
thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is conceived in
sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to pain
and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of
karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the
dwelling-place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly
discharge disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal
the charnel house. Such being the condition of the body it
behooves us to treat it as a carcass full of abomination and to
clothe it in such rags only as have been gathered in cemeteries
or upon dung-hills."

The Blessed One said: "Truly, the body is full of impurity and
its end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined
to be dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of
karma, it lies in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not
of evil. It is not good to indulge in the pleasures of the body,
but neither is it good to neglect our bodily needs and to heap
filth upon impurities. The lamp that is not cleansed and not
filled with oil will be extinguished, and a body that is unkempt,
unwashed, and weakened by penance will not be a fit receptacle
for the light of truth. Attend to your body and its needs as you
would treat a wound which you care for without loving it. Severe
rules will not lead the disciples on the middle path which I have
taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented from keeping more
stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so, but they should not be
imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary."

Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta's proposal; and Devadatta
left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of the
Lord's path of salvation as too lenient and altogether

When the Blessed One heard of Devadatta's intrigues, he said:
"Among men there is no one who is not blamed. People blame him
who sits silent and him who speaks, they also blame the man who
preaches the middle path."

Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father
Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be
subject to him; Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower
where he died leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son

The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he
gave orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the
murderers sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their
wicked deed, and became converted as soon as they saw him and
listened to his preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice
upon the great Master split in twain, and the two pieces passed
by on either side without doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild
elephant let loose to destroy the Lord, became gentle in his
presence; and Ajatasattu, suffering greatly from the pangs of
his conscience, went to the Blessed One and sought peace in his

The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the way
of salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of
a religious school of his own.

Devadatta did not succeed in his plans and having been abandoned
by many of his disciples, he fell sick, and then repented. He
entreated those who had remained with him to carry his litter to
the Buddha, saying: "Take me, children, take me to him; though I
have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For the sake of
our relationship the Buddha will save me." And they obeyed,
although reluctantly.

And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose from
his litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his
feet burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted
a hymn on the Buddha, died.

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