Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

058 – The Story of The Dumb Prince

Chanda Devi, the wife of the king of Kashi had no son. This filled her life with misery. Sakka, the king of the devas, when saw her grief he decided to help her because she was a virtuous lady. So, he persuaded the Bodhisatta, who was then born in the realm of the Tavatimsa to prepare for his descent in her womb for the sake of her happiness.

The Bodhisatta then entered the womb of the queen. When born, there was a heavy rain-fall in the city. As he was born wet he was called Temiya.

When Temiya was one month old and was lying in his father’s lap, he overheard the father’s harsh sentence meant for some bandits. This made him remember one of his births when he was the king of Varanasi and reigned there for twenty years for which he suffered for twenty thousand years in the Ussada Niraya (a kind of hell). So, he loathed the idea of being a king for the second time. As he was conversant with the deities of the higher world he received the advice from one of them to pretend to be dumb and inactive to avoid the inheritence of the kingdom. He took the advice and accordingly pretended to be dumb and inactive for sixteen years.


BabyTemiya in the king’s lap

Owing to his pretence he was declared unfit as a prince or a future king and was eventually handed over to the royal charioteer Sunanda to be taken to the cemetery to be clubbed to death and buried there.

When Sunanda was digging the grave to dispose off the dead body, Temiya stealthily sneaked behind him and confided his resolve to him. Impressed, Sunanda then wanted to be an ascetic like him. But Temiya asked him first to inform his whereabouts to the king and his mother; and then become an ascetic. The king, queen and others then soon arrived there. Temiya gave them a sermon to praise the ideals of asceticism. All the people, including the king and the queen, were highly impressed by his sermon and became ascetics. Soon, the fame of Temiya spread all over the place, which made the citizens of the three kingdoms adjacent to Varanasi his followers.

Temiya standing behind Sunanda in the cemetery, who is digging the grave.

Ascetic Temiya giving discourse to the people.

(Temiya’s parents are identified with Suddhodana and Mahamaya; and Sariputta as Sunanda)

Mugapakkha (also called Temiya Jataka) Jataka Pali No.538; cf. Temiyachariya, Chariyapitaka iii.6; Buddhavamsa Atthakatha 51.