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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas



Excerpts from PTS, The Dictionary of Pāḷi Proper Names, pp 31ff: Ajātasattu: Son of Bimbisara, King of Magadha ... he succeeded his father to the throne. Ajātasattu grew up to be a noble and handsome youth. Devadatta was, at this time, looking for ways and means of taking revenge on the Buddha, and seeing in the prince a very desirable weapon, he exerted all his strength to win him to his side. Ajātasattu was greatly impressed by Devadatta's powers of iddhi and became his devoted follower. He built for him a monastery at Gayasisa and waited upon him morning and evening carrying food for him, sometimes as much as five hundred cartloads with five hundred cooking pans.

Devadatta incited him to seize the throne, killing his father if necessary. When Bimbisara learnt of the prince's intentions he abdicated in his favor, But Devadatta was not satisfied till Bimbisara, who was one of the Buddha's foremost supporters, was killed.

Ajaatasattu helped Devadatta in several of the latter's attempts to kill the Buddha. Later he was filled with remorse for these past misdeeds as he confesses himself ... It is noteworthy that the Buddha greets the king cordially on his arrival and makes no mention whatever of the king's impiety. Instead, when Ajātasattu expresses his repentance at the end of the discourse, the Buddha accepts his confession ... But after the king had departed the Buddha tells the monks how the king's misdeeds had wrought his undoing both in this world and the next, for if he had not been guilty of them, the Eye of Truth (Sotapattimagga (mo: according to the commentary, but I would have this as the ear for the way, and have Dhamma Cakkhu as the Eye of Dhamma)) would have been opened for him on the occasion of this sermon. Henceforth the king became a loyal adherent of the Buddha's faith ...

See also: Devadatta.

Note: Consider in this story the comparison with Angulimala, the bandit who had killed 999 people before becoming a Bhikkhu and an Arahant and one sees the position in which parentacide was placed relative to murder of other sorts. Now compare to this society in which some forms of parantacide are even considered justified (or at least we are to infer this from the sympathetic way in which these individuals are portrayed) by the media (as in the case of a father who sexually molests his female child, or a father or mother who is abusive or even just annoying (do I need to say — I suppose I do — that I am not justifying these acts or habits; I am simply saying that they do not compare in terms of the murder of one's parents.)). Here today (USA 2001) we have completely reversed the moral standard and hold parents in debt to their children for having brought them into life. We have been completely seduced by the logic of the state in it's desire to have produced and to protect (for the sake of the gains of commerce) the largest number of the most productive individuals at the least possible cost to itself.