Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Jataka (previous lives)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 50213)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha, Previous Life Stories (Sanskrit: jataka. Tibetan: kye rab): from the famous Indian text presenting 34 morality tales drawn from the previous life stories of the historical buddha, Shakyamuni.

#23 The Wise One

A Tale of Teaching

The Bodhisattva once became a wise ascetic who wandered throughout the land teaching the spiritual truths to all who would listen. He eventually reached the land of a king whom took a great liking to him and invited him to the capitol to give daily discourses. The Kings affection for the Bodhisattva continued to grow.

The royal ministers, seeing how fond of the Bodhisattva the king was, started to feel threatened. They began to plant seeds of distrust in the king's mind, telling him that the Bodhisattva was a spy sent by a rival king. The king's affection for the Bodhisattva began to fade. Noticing this, the Bodhisattva left the kingdom and returned to the forest to continue his ascetic practice.

While meditating in the woods, the Bodhisattva had a vision and saw that the king was being misled by his advisors. He saw that each of them had a different outlook on the world and how the king should rule, and that none of these views were in accord with the Dharma. One minister denied cause and effect, one believed in an all powerful supreme being that ruled and controlled everything, one believed that free will and personal initiative have no power over the laws of karma, and one minister was a hedonist, who believed that sensual pleasure is all that mattered.

The Bodhisattva decided he needed to free the king from such advisors and proceeded back to the capitol. He created the illusion of a monkey skin shawl out of thin air and when he returned to the king, the ministers started to insult him for wearing it. He explained that their disapproval of the garment contradicts each of their own philosophies, and that if the views they were pushing on the king were true, they would not have a problem with it. They were hypocrites. They abandoned their ideologies and requested the Bodhisattva teach them. Thus, the Bodhisattva led the king, his attendants, and the entire kingdom, away from their false paths and showed them the true spiritual path.

Monty McKeever 9-2005

Key Events in the Story

1. King befriends ascetic teacher

2. Royal ministers slander the ascetic

3. The ascetic points out wrong views

View other items in the Thematic Set: Collection of Zanabazar: Jataka Stories