Second Perfection: Morality (Virtue).
Many years ago the kingdom of Rajagaha was ruled by a righteous king named Magadha. When his son, Prince Duriyodha (the Bodhisatta) came of age, King Magadha handed over the kingdom to Him. He then took the life of an ascetic and dwelled in a hermitage in the palace compound.
Prince Duriyodha, who was extremely fond of his father, visited him three to four times a day and showered him with gifts and luxuries. Feeling that the life of a true ascetic was not possible while living in the palace compound, the old king moved away. He moved to a far-away city named Mahinsaka and dwelled in a rock cave beside a beautiful lake named Sankhapala.
Before long the old king was respected by all as a great teacher. A Naga King who lived nearby in a beautiful and luxurious kingdom often visited the former king to hear his teachings. One day when prince Duriyodha visited his father, He met the Naga King and his entourage. Accepting the Naga King’s invitation, the Prince visited his beautiful kingdom. A strong desire arose in Him to live in this beautiful kingdom. At death Prince Duriyodha was reborn in the Naga Kingdom as a king by the name of Sankhapala.
King Sankhapala (the Bodhisatta) often dressed in simple robes and meditated in the nearby forest. One beautiful day, King Sankhapala changed his royal attire and dressed as a simple ascetic. He then ventured deep into the forest to meditate near the beautiful Sankhapala lake amidst the flowering blooms.
Some hunters who had been hunting for days without finding any game, came across the king deep in meditation. Not recognising the King, they decided that they would kill Him and eat His flesh as they had been without food for many days. Piercing Him with their pointed stakes, they took Him prisoner. They then tied His feet and hands together, and hung him on a long stick by his feet. Placing the stick on their shoulders, they carried him back to their camp.
The King’s head, which dragged amidst the passing rocks and shrubs, was bruised and torn. His body, hacked by their hunting knives and stakes, burned with pain. Knowing that they had not recognised Him and that this was an act performed due to extreme hunger, the Bodhisatta remained calm. Radiating compassion and loving kindness towards His captors He bore His pain with calm, uttering not one word of anger or ill-will.
It was thus that a merchant by the name of Alara, who was travelling through the forest with his carts and oxen, saw the Bodhisatta. Filled with compassion on seeing the calm yet wounded “ascetic”, Alara gave the hunters gold and merchandise for his release. Alara then revived him by gently washing and caring for his wounds. The King then explained to Alara that He was none other than King Sankhapala and took him back to the Naga kingdom to reward him for his kindness and compassion. In observing the precepts throughout his ordeal, showing neither anger nor ill-will, the Bodhisatta completed the perfection of morality, whereupon he joyfully exclaimed:
“They pierced me through with pointed stakes,
They hacked me with their hunting knives.
Notwithstanding such clumsiness, raged I not,
But kept the precepts to perfection.”
Continue to Third Perfection: Renunciation.