[from V. The Third Recital]

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[Murder in the Monastery]
545-576 ≠ Mhv 236-255

Having heard that, the Great King Dhammāsoka, of great fame, sent a minister to the supreme Asokārāma, saying: “Go there and please settle this dispute and have the Observance carried out for the Community of monks in my monastery.”

That minister, being unable to ask the King about that deed, It is not clear here, but maybe he felt he didn't have the right to question the King's order.01 when another minister had approached, made this statement: “Noble Sir, the King has sent me to go and settle the dispute about the Observance and I am to make them hold the Observance. Now how can I settle this dispute?”

When it was made known to him, the minister answered: “As in the border countries thieves are killed, so you must set your mind on the death of the monks.”

He went and assembled the monks, and the fool conveyed the King's message, saying: “Hold the Observance.”

“We do not hold the Observance with the sectarians,” the Community of monks said to that minister, confused in mind.

That minister successively cut off the head of some of the Elders with a sword, saying: “Hold the Observance.”

The Kings' brother, the Elder Tissa, after seeing that deed and going quickly, sat down on a seat near him. Seeing the Elder the minister left, and informed the King: “Great King, I have felled some of the monks with a sword, but after the arrival of the Elder Tissa, what should I do?”

Hearing the news the Lord of the World grew feverish, and after going quickly, he questioned the Community of monks with agitated mind: “Through the doing of this deed, for whom will there be evil consequence?”

Some who were not wise said to him: “The evil consequence is yours,” but some said: “For both of you,” but the wise said: “There is no evil consequence for you.” Hearing that the Great King said: “Is there no monk who can settle my doubts, and having dispelled them, can uphold the Dispensation?”

“There is the Elder Tissa Moggaliputta, O Best of Charioteers, after dispelling your doubt, he will uphold the Dispensation.” The Community said this to the King, and the King sat down right there.

Having chosen four Elders who were Dhamma preachers, and surrounding each of them with a thousand monks, and four ministers together with a thousand men, he sent them immediately, with the words: “Go with the Elders and bring the Elder back here.”

Those Elders went there and requested the Greatly Wise One to come. The Elder heard their word but he did not come; those people came again to the King and informed him.

Again, the Lord of the World sent eight Dhamma preachers and eight ministers together with sixteen thousand men. But to them also he spoke, saying: “I will not go.”

Having come again all those people told it to the King, and the King asked the Community of monks, saying: “Twice he sent them back, venerable Sir, why does the Elder not come?”

The Community said this to him: “Because it is said: ‘The King summons you.’ ”

The King asked: “How can the Elder be made to come?” The monks said there had to be a good reason for the Elder to come, so say: “ ‘Venerable Sir, you should be a support to uphold the Dispensation,’ when this is said, Great King, he will come.”

Yet again the King sent sixteen Elders and sixteen ministers each with a thousand men, and he said: “Is he elderly, venerable Sir, or is he youthful?” It is curious that here Asoka does not seem to know the Elder's age, although earlier in the story he has already been in close contact with him.02

“Great King, the Great Elder is elderly, and has destroyed the pollutants. But even though the Elder is elderly he will not mount a vehicle.”

“Where does the Elder reside, venerable Sir?” he asked.

“God-King, he resides on the upper Ganges, on what is called mount Ahogaṅga.”

“Having bound together a wooden raft, friend, please lead him to us.”

They went into his presence and spoke the King's message. Hearing that the Great Elder joyously said this: “After going-forth, I came here for my own benefit, This is not quite in harmony with what was said above (vs. 542), about Ven. Moggaliputta already being a leader of the monks.03 now the time has arrived to uphold the Awakened One's Dispensation.”

Then he stood up, beat his leather water-jar and departed.