A Jataka Tale: Angati the King of Videha

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Today, I’d like to retell a Jataka Tale which is also called ‘The Story of Mahanaradakassapa’ and deals with Angati, the King of Videha. I’ve come across this tale in the book ‘Folk Tales of Thailand’ by P.C. Roy Chaudhury. For a better understanding, Jataka tales are stories about the previous lives of the Buddha. These are tales with a moral in which the Buddha shows some virtue.

A Jataka Tale: Angati the King of Videha

Angati was the King of Videha who summoned three of his ministers on a beautiful full-moon night in spring. Thus, he asked them for their suggestions how to spend such pleasant hours best. Hence, the ministers gave different kind of advice. One of them said the best way is to indulge in earthly pleasures whereas another suggested listening to the teachings of a wiseman. However, the minster named Alata said they should rather ask the ascetic Guna for advice.

Wat Suwannaram, Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand (photo Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org)

The Jakata tale of the appearance of the Boddhisatva in form of Narada is depicted at  Wat Suwannaram, Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand (photo: Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org)

Nonetheless, the King was disappointed by Guna’s advice because he did not seem wise. The King longed for advice on what to do to earn merits in order to get to heaven. Foolishly, Guna said that there were no consequences of sinful behaviour and that no other realms existed. The King Angati, however, believed Guna and thus went on indulging in his life of earthly pleasures.

The King had a clever daughter called Ruja. She advised her father against Guna’s misleading instructions. However, the King would not listen to his daughter. Thus, Ruja prayed vehemently to the Gods that they might change his father’s mind. This was when the great Boddhisattva disguised himself as the ascetic Narada. He went to see the King and thus finally, the King could be converted by Narada’s counsel.

Mural of Vessantara Jataka, 19th century, Wat Suwannaram, Thonburi district, Bangkok,Thailand (photo Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org

Mural of Vessantara Jataka, 19th century, Wat Suwannaram, Thonburi district, Bangkok, Thailand (photo: Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org)

Finally, we may note that this Jataka tale, the appearance of the Boddhisattva in form of Narada, is depicted in a mural at Wat Suwannaram in Thonburi district, Bangkok. If you have the chance to visit this temple, I recommend you take a look at the amazing murals 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference: P.C. Roy Chaudhury, Folk Tales of Thailand, SterlingPublishers, 1976)

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