Aaron’s Extras | Aaron’s Home Page
Search | New | Flash! | Rights | Contact | Subscribe

About Aaron Shepard’s

How Violence Is Ended
A Buddhist Legend


For more treats and resources, visit Aaron Shepard at
www.aaronshep.com

Copyright © 1996, 2005 Aaron Shepard. All rights reserved.


Here is background info for my story.—Aaron

The full story is found in the tenth chapter of the Mahavagga, an ancient Buddhist text concerned with monastic discipline. Pieces and summaries of the story are found in the Jataka, a collection of fables, and in the Dhammapadatthakatha, a commentary by Buddhaghosa on the Dhammapada.

Brahmadatta is a legendary king mentioned in many Buddhist tales. Dighiti and Dighavu seem to be characters created just for this story, since their names describe their conditions—Dighiti meaning “long-suffering” and Dighavu meaning “long-lived.” Dighiti’s queen, here called Deva, is unnamed in the sources.

I was first introduced to this tale in the late 1970s by Paul Carus’s The Gospel of the Buddha. Key references for my retelling included:

Vinaya Texts, Part 2, translated by T. W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg, Oxford University, 1882 (Volume 17 of The Sacred Books of the East, edited by F. Max Muller), pp. 291–306 (from the Tenth Khandhaka of the Mahavagga).

The Jataka, or Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births, Volume 3, translated by H. T. Francis and R. A. Neil, edited by E. B. Cowell, Cambridge University, 1897, pp. 139–140 (#371) and 289–291 (#428).

Buddhist Legends (translation of Buddhaghosa’s Dhammapadatthakatha), translated by Eugene Watson Burlingame, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1921 (Volume 28 of the Harvard Oriental Series, edited by Charles Rockwell Lanman), pp. 176–177.

The Gospel of the Buddha, compiled and retold by Paul Carus, Open Court, Lasalle, Illinois, 1915, pp. 104–108 and the glossary.

The legend described in the introductory note comes from:

The Jataka, or Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births, Volume 5, translated by H. T. Francis, edited by E. B. Cowell, Cambridge University, 1897, pp. 219–220 (#536).

For help with this retelling, I would like to thank the many students, teachers, and librarians who took part in my Internet program Works in Progress during the first half of 1995. The comments I received were invaluable in guiding my revisions.