Vasavadatta





There was a courtesan in Mathura named Vasavadatta. She happened

to see Upagutta, one of Buddha's disciples, a tall and beautiful

youth, and fell desperately in love with him. Vasavadatta sent an

invitation to the young man, but he replied: "The time has not

yet arrived when Upagutta will visit Vasavadatta."



The courtesan was astonished at the reply, and she sent again for

him, saying: "Vasavadatta desires love, not gold, from Upagutta."

But Upagutta made the same enigmatic reply and did not come.



A few months later Vasavadatta had a love-intrigue with the chief

of the artisans, and at that time a wealthy merchant came to

Mathura, who fell in love with Vasavadatta. Seeing his wealth,

and fearing the jealousy of her other lover, she contrived the

death of the chief of the artisans, and concealed his body under

a dunghill.



When the chief of the artisans had disappeared, his relatives and

friends searched for him and found his body. Vasavadatta,

however, was tried by a judge, and condemned to have her ears and

nose, her hands and feet cut off, and flung into a graveyard.



Vasavadatta had been a passionate girl, but kind to her servants,

and one of her maids followed her, and out of love for her former

mistress ministered unto her in her agonies, and chased away the

crows.



Now the time had arrived when Upagutta decided to visit

Vasavadatta.



When he came, the poor woman ordered her maid to collect and hide

under a cloth her severed limbs; and he greeted her kindly, but

she said with petulance: "Once this body was fragrant like the

lotus, and I offered thee my love. In those days I was covered

with pearls and fine muslin. Now I am mangled by the executioner

and covered with filth and blood."



"Sister," said the young man, "it is not for my pleasure that I

approach thee. It is to restore to thee a nobler beauty than the

charms which thou hast lost.



"I have seen with mine eyes the Tathagata walking upon earth and

teaching men his wonderful doctrine. But thou wouldst not have

listened to the words of righteousness while surrounded with

temptations, while under the spell of passion and yearning for

worldly pleasures. Thou wouldst nor have listened to the

teachings of the Tathagata, for thy heart was wayward, and thou

didst set thy trust on the sham of thy transient charms.



"The charms of a lovely form are treacherous, and quickly lead

into temptations, which have proved too strong for thee. But

there is a beauty which will not fade, and if thou wilt but

listen to the doctrine of our Lord, the Buddha, thou wilt find

that peace which thou wouldst have found in the restless world of

sinful pleasures."



Vasavadatta became calm and a spiritual happiness soothed the

tortures of her bodily pain; for where there is much suffering

there is also great bliss.



Having taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,

she died in pious submission to the punishment of her crime.





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