Dear Members,My dear friend Dr.Han Tun gave me the book "KING ASOKA AND BUDDHISM"..I read it days/nights
... I found some amazing stories about King Asoka's past lives..please let me share with you all.
**************The Gift of Honey and the Gift of Dirt
[King Asoka book]
The Gift of Honey
The tale of Aśoka’s act of merit in a past life that resulted in
his being reborn as a great king is told in slightly different
terms in the Mahāvaṃsa and the Aśokāvadāna. The Sri Lankan
chronicle’s version of the story recounts the monarch’s gift of
Once in time past, there were three brothers, traders in honey;
one used to sell the honey, two would go to get it. Now a certain
paccekabuddha was sick from a wound; and another paccekabuddha,
who, for his sake, wished for honey, came even then to
the city on his alms round. A maiden who was going for water
to the riverbank, saw him. When she found out that he was
looking for honey, she pointed with outstretched hand and said:
“Yonder is a honey store, sir, go there”.
The paccekabuddha went there and the trader, with believing
heart, gave him a bowlful of honey, so that it ran over the edge.
And as he saw the honey filling the bowl and flowing over the
edge and streaming down to the ground, he, full of faith, made
a wish: “May I, for this gift, come by undivided sovereignty
over Jambudīpa, and may my command reach forth a yojana
upward into the air and a yojana downward under the earth.”
He then said to his brothers: “To a man of such and such a
kind I have made an offering of honey; agree thereto since the
honey is also yours.”… Wishing to share in his merit-making, his
brothers gave their sanction. Then the maid who had pointed
out the store wished that she might in the future become the
royal spouse of the trader.
The story then goes on to identify the main characters
involved: Aśoka was the merchant who gave the honey, his
brothers who approved the gift became the novice Nigrodha
and the Sri Lankan king Devānampiya Tissa, and the maiden
who pointed out the honey store became Aśoka’s chief queen
the Gift of Dirt
A somewhat similar story is told in the Aśokāvadāna:
One morning, when the Blessed One was dwelling at Kalandakanivāpa
in the Veṇuvana near Rājagṛha, he put on his robes,
took his bowl and entered the city for alms…. Soon he came to
the main road where two little boys were playing at building
houses in the dirt. One of them was the son of a very prominent
family and was named Jaya, while the other was the son of
a somewhat less prominent family and was named Vijaya. Both
of them saw the Buddha whose appearance is very pleasing, his
body adorned with the thirty-two marks of the Great Man. And
young Jaya, thinking to himself “I will give him some ground
meal,” threw a handful of dirt into the Buddha’s begging bowl.
Vijaya approved of this by making an añjali…. After presenting
this offering to the Blessed One, Jaya then proceeded to make
the following resolute wish: “By this root of good merit, I would
become king, and, after placing the earth under a single umbrella
of sovereignty, I would pay homage to the Blessed Buddha.”
The text then goes on to make clear the identification between
Jaya and King Aśoka and also between his friend Vijaya and
Aśoka’s subsequent prime minister Rādhagupta.
How are we to interpret the differences between the two
versions of this story? In the one, the offering that is made is
of honey needed for a sick pratyekabuddha. In the other, the
gift is of dirt, an impure substance, unneeded and perhaps
unwanted by the Buddha. In the one, the giver is accompanied
by a woman who is to become his queen and by his two
brothers. In the other, the boy is joined by his companion who
is to become his prime minister.
According to the Dasavatthuppakarana,
it then goes on to relate a different
story of Aśoka as a king in a past life who made a vast
number of statues of the Tathāgata at the time of the previous
The Dasavatthuppakarana, however, does not stop there.
Soon after his gift of honey, the merchant passes away and is
reborn as a god in one of the heavens. Then, after some time
there, he dies and is reborn as a young boy playing in the dust
of the road in Rājagṛha at the time of the Buddha. And here the
text relates the episode of the gift of dirt much as it is found
in the Sanskrit tradition, except without the negative implications.
Indeed, this time the dirt is put to a practical use: the
Buddha asks Ananda to mix it with water and make a sort of
plaster out of it to use to repair some cracks in the monastery
walls. In time, then, it may be said that Aśoka’s gift of dirt,
though still recalled, came to be reinterpreted and placed in a
more positive light than it had previously held.
The legend associated with the emperor goes that his birth
had been predicted by Buddha, in the story of 'The Gift of Dust'.In the
Aśokāvadāna Aśoka is said to be physically ugly, to have rough
skin, and to be disliked by his father and the women of his
harem. Significantly, the text attributes this ugliness and
harshness specifically to the dubious nature of Aśoka’s act of
merit in a past life — to his gift of dirt. Thus later, when Aśoka
meets the Elder Upagupta and notices that the Elder’s skin is
soft and smooth while his own is coarse, rough, and unpleasant
to the touch, Upagupta does not mince words in explaining
the karmic reasons for this: “That is because the gift I gave
to the Buddha was very pure and pleasing;
I did not offer the Tathagata a gift of dirt like you!”
One of the legends in the text describes an incident the previous birth of Ashoka, when he was named Jaya. It states that Jaya met Gautama Buddha as a young boy, and gifted him a bowl of dirt, dreaming that the dirt is food. The Buddha then predicted that several years after his parinirvana, the boy would be born as a chakravarti king ruling from Pataliputra.
The Ashokavadana states that Ashoka's father Bindusara did not like him, because he was ugly. Ashoka killed his step-brother and the legitimate heir by tricking him into entering a pit with live coals, and became the king. He became notorious for his bad temper, and had 500 of his ministers killed because he believed that they were not loyal enough. He also had the women in his harem burnt to death when some of them insulted him. He built an elaborate torture chamber, termed as the "hell on earth".Once he encountered a Buddhist monk, who is not troubled by any of the sufferings. Impressed by the monk, Ashoka converted to Buddhism, became a pious man and built 84,000 stupas.
According to the text, Ashoka started gifting away his empire's resources to the sangha during his last days. His ministers denied him the access to the state treasury amidst fears that he would empty it. Ashoka then gifted away all of his personal possessions and died in peace.