Teaching Narrative intro-slide
Teaching Narrative

Moral Tales from Kshemendra’s Collection

Eastern Tibet; 18th century
Pigments on cloth
F1996.1.3 (HAR 426)

Many Buddhist stories are morality tales that teach
about Buddhist notions, such as karma and the merit
accumulated from good and bad actions, from the
perspective of many life times.

This painting illustrates three different teaching stories,
from the previous lives of Buddha Shakyamuni:

The Fall of King Mandhata
The Gift of King Chandraprabha
Travels to the Island of Badara

 

Click the painting to learn more about its details

Teaching Narrative kingmandhata badara chandraprabha
Teaching Narrative

Moral Tales from Kshemendra’s Collection

Eastern Tibet; 18th century
Pigments on cloth
F1996.1.3 (HAR 426)

Many Buddhist narratives are morality tales that teach
about Buddhist notions, such as karma and the merit
accumulated from good and bad actions, from the
perspective of many life times.

This painting illustrates three different teaching stories,
from the previous lives of Buddha Shakyamuni:

The Fall of King Mandhata
The Gift of King Chandraprabha
Travels to the Island of Badara

 

Select a narrative from the painting to begin.

Teaching Narrative mandhata-1 mandhata-6 mandhata-2 mandhata-4 mandhata-3 mandhata-5 badara-frame chandraprabha
Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

This story teaches of the consequences of selfishness and pride.

 

Click the scenes to follow the narrative of King Mandhata through this painting.

Teaching Narrative mandhata-2
Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

King Abhaduposadha was a great king with extensive
wealth and glory, but he was unsatis”ed as he was
unable to have a son. He decides to seek the help of
mystical sages in the forest.

The sages give him enchanted water, and when he
drinks it a boy springs from his head. Abhaduposadha
names his son Mandhata.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

Mandhata eventually succeeds his father, becoming a
wise king who has gained his throne through merit. He
is characterized as a chakravartin, or an ideal universal
ruler, as evidenced by his possession of the seven
treasures of this extraordinary group of kings: a wheel,
horse, gem, elephant, queen, minister, and general.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

One day, as King Mandhata traveled through a distant
forest, he came across a fock of flightless birds whose
feathers had been taken by mystical sages for use in
magical practices. Vowing to protect the birds, King
Mandhata promised to “put out the “re of anger with
the water of patience” and rid the land of any sages
that would harm other living beings. The sages,
humiliated, sailed for the Island of the Golden
Mountain, home of the gods.

The boat seen here is repeated at the lower right
corner of the painting, which depicts the story “Travels
to the Island of Badara,” visually tying these two
narratives together.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

After expelling the sages, King Mandhata and his army
traveled through the sky in all four directions. By the
end of their trip, they had conquered all of the
continents of the human realm and began moving to
conquer the gods who lived on Mount Meru.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

Mandhata and his army were initially meant with
resistence from the gods, who sent rolling oceans and
other obstacles against them. However, when they
heard the Buddha’s teachings from the king they were
converted. They erected a golden palace for Mandhata
and the King of the Gods, Shakra, granted him rule over
half of Shakra’s kingdom.

This wondrous palace became the new abode for King
Mandhata, whose reputation of being a meritorious,
powerful king helped him rule over the land in piece for
a very long period of time.

Yet over time Mandahata was conquered by sel”shness
and pride. Attachment to his position eroded his
prominence and hatred vanquished his goodness. As a
consequence, Mandhata fell from his position, losing
all that he knew. He was reborn in the human realm,
where he had first gained all of the merit he
subsequently lost.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Fall of King Mandhata

The Buddha, who tells the story of Mandhatal, recalls
the king’s actions in a previous life as a reflection of
his rise and fall.

Mandhata was once once a merchant in the city of
Bandhumati. One day he was approached by Buddha
Vipasyin for alms. Mandhata’s mind was full of
devotions devotion, and he grabbed a handful of grain
to give to the buddha. But as he gave his offering he
felt no joy and four pieces of grain fell to the earth.

By the merit of his offering made with devotion,
Mandhata would go on to be a great universal ruler,
but the grain that fell to the ground, a symbol of his
lack of joy and hesitance, ripened his own future fall
from an exalted position.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Gift of King Chandraprabha

This story looks at the selfless generosity and sacrifice
of Chandraprabha.

Click the scene to follow the narrative of King
Chandraprabha in this painting.

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Teaching Narrative

The Gift of King Chandraprabha

North of Mount Kailash stood a town called Bhadrasila,
where the people enjoyed great fortune and prosperity.
Among them was a king named Chandraprabha, who
would exhibit his kindness on the “fteenth day of each
lunar month by the giving of whatever was asked of
him. He even gave the crown off of his head to show his
respect for his subjects.

Jealous of the king’s reputation and kind acts, a
cunning, wicked man known as Raudraksa created a
plan to end the king’s fame for good: he would ask for
the king’s head.

Dressed in the clothes of a mendicant, Raudraksa
approached the king’s palace but was stopped at its
gates. The guards and goddess of the land,
Rupinisuradevata, pleaded with the king not to meet
the tricky Raudraksa, warning that “If he takes your
head, he will harm all beings.”

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

The Gift of King Chandraprabha

But King Chandraprabha responded, “It would not feel
right to turn away any mendicant who now comes to
me. Permit him to enter.” Entering the palace Raudraksa
executed his plan and asked for the king’s head.

Chandraprabha knew that he must give his head to the
wicked man, but the guards warned him again.
Chandraprabha reassured them: “If I can fulfill others’
desires by giving even my life or body, it will be well.”
The king then stepped out into the courtyard to begin
the giving of his head. But before he “nished this
selfless act, Chandraprabha stated, “May there appear
here a stupa of the Buddha, capable of liberating all
beings.” At that moment, the king cut off his head and
achieved nirvana, avoiding all unfavorable states of
existence in his next life. Upon his enlightenment, a
stupa appeared as he requested, clearing away any
darkness for all beings.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

Travels to the Island of Badara

This story teaches about the pure giving and effort of a
generous seafarer.

In the city of Varanasi lived a wealthy seafarer named
Priyasena who had a son. After Priyasena’s passing, his
son inherited his wealth and decided to share the
comforts he had with everyone. Realizing that he did
not have the means to fulfill this goal, he decided to
travel to the Island of Gems.

Click the scenes to follow the narrative of a seafarer’s
travels to the island of Badara.

Teaching Narrative badaraforward
Teaching Narrative

Travels to the Island of Badara

On the seafarer’s return trip home from the Island of
Gems, he came upon a group of merchants who were
being beset upon by robbers. The seafarer saved the
merchants by giving the robbers jewels equal in
wealth to that which they planned to steal.

This happened six times during his return, and when
the seafarer arrived at his home he had no jewels
left. He was upset that he would be unable to fulfill
his goal of fulfilling everyone’s wishes, but a goddess
appeared to him in a dream and told them that with
intelligence and mastery he could accomplish his
goal. She told him he must travel to the island of
Badara, where he could find one gem that could
satisfy the wishes of everyone. He happily sailed to
sea.

The boat seen here is repeated at the upper left of
the painting, which depicts the story “The Fall of
King Mandhata,” visually tying these two narratives
together.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

Travels to the Island of Badara

After encountering many hardships and visiting many
lands along the way, as prescribed by the goddess in his
dream, the seafarer finally came to the island of Badara.
While there he entered a house of lapis lazuli, in which
a group of fairies offered him a wish-fulfilling gem that
would provide everything needed to the people living
within an enormous area.

Teaching Narrative
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Teaching Narrative

Travels to the Island of Badara

After the seafarer was given several more wishful-fulfilling
gems by the fairies, a magical horse instantly
carried him back home. When the king of Varanasi
died, the wise men of the land named the seafarer the
new king. On the fifteenth day of his rule, he raised up
a gem given to him by the fairies and everything
everyone needed rained down from above, thus
fulfilling his wish. The seafarer ruled the land happily
for a hundred years.

Teaching Narrative