Ja 26 The Story about Mahiḷāmukha the Mad Elephant

In the present a monk ordained under the Buddha is easily persuaded to partake of Devadatta’s good food, rather than go on almsround. He is brought to the Buddha who tells a story about an elephant named Mahiḷāmukha who was easily led astray by bad company, and reformed by good company (full story).

1. Purāṇacorāna’ vaco nisamma,
Mahiḷāmukho pothayam-anvacāri,
Susaññatānañ-hi vaco nisamma,
Gajuttamo sabbaguṇesu aṭṭhā ti.

Considering the former thieves’ word, Mahiḷāmukha roamed round lashing out, considering the word of the restrained, the elephant supreme was established in all virtues. There is too much information in this line to be got across, and I exceed the syllabic count.

In this connection, considering, having heard, recently having heard the word of the thieves, this is the meaning.

Mahiḷāmukha means having a face the same as the face of a female elephant. Mahiḷāmukha is a name and an epithet meaning lady-face. Just as when looked at from the front a woman looks beautiful, but not from the back, so he, when looked at from the front, was beautiful. Therefore Mahiḷāmukha Lady-Face was his name.

Roamed round lashing out means he roamed round lashing out, killing. This is another reading.

The restrained means extremely restrained, virtuous.

The elephant supreme means the supreme elephant, the auspicious elephant.

Established in all virtues means being grounded in all the virtues of old.