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Buddhism and Tarot: Angulimala, the Bandit, Knight of Swords
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2002

Bhaggawa was an advisor to the King of Kosala. He had a wife name Mantani and son named Ahinsaka. At the time of Ahinsaka's birth all of the weapons in Kosala glowed brightly. This was disturbing to the King of Kosala and he asked Bhaggawa to discover the reason why the weapons shone. Bhaggawa told his king that his wife, Mantani, had given birth to a son and that the glowing weapons were a sign that his son would become a bandit who would act on his own. The king wanted to kill Ahinsaka immediately but his father assured the king that since Ahinsaka would be acting alone, he would be easily captured.

When Ahinsaka was of age, he was sent to school in Takka Sila. He was strong, bright and obedient. Ahinsaka drew the envy of the other children and they turned his teacher against him. Upon the completion of his schooling, his teacher demanded payment from Ahinsaka of one thousand human fingers but he was not to collect to right hand fingers from the same person. Ahinsaka promised to pay his teacher, took his sword and retruned to Kosala.

Ahinsaka hid near a road in the jungle and attacked passers by, cutting off their fingers and hanging their bodies from a tree so that the vultures and crows would consume them. He made a garland out of the bones from the fingers and wore it around his neck. People started to call him Angulimala which meant finger garland.

The King of Kosala decided to send an army to stop Angulimala as he had killed 999 people. Mantani loved her son more than she loved herself and she begged her husband to intervene. Her husband told her that their son was changed and would probably kill even his own father. Mantani set off to find her son on her own and to save him.

Angulimala only needed to kill one more person to complete his payment. He had lived long without proper food, shelter or comfort and was anxious to pay his teacher and live a good life. He swore that even if his mother came he would kill her.

Buddha was comtemplating on who in the world needed his assistance and saw Angulimala and his mother. Buddha set out for the jungle and all the people of the village tried to discourage him from going - warning him of the great danger three times.

As Mantani entered the jungle, Angulimala pitied her but decided to kill her anyway. Suddenly the Buddha appeared between them - Angulimala decided to kill the Buddha instead and ran at him with his sword. Buddha walked slowly and Angulimala ran and ran towards the Buddha but was unable to catch him and became so weak from the exertion he collapsed. Angulimala shouted at the Buddha to stand still to which the Buddha replied that he was standing still, could Agulimala not stand still too. Angulimala couldn't understand how the Buddha could stand still and still run faster than him. Buddha replied that as he was merciful to all living things he could stand still but since Angulimala was merciless to all living things, he could not. Angulimala threw down his sword and knelt before the Buddha. The Buddha blessed him and took him to the monastery where Angulimala became a monk.

The King and five hundred soldiers and horses were waiting for Buddha to arrived to bless them before they attempted to subdue Angulimala. Tired of waiting for Buddha, they went to the monastery to seek him out. Buddha asked the King what it was that troubled him and the King told him that he wished to stop the bandit Angulimala from killing any more people. The Buddha asked the King what he would do if he met Angulimala with his head shaven and wearing the yellow robes of a monk. The King assured the Buddha that he would worship him. The Buddha called to Angulimala and when he appeared the soldiers were very frightened and tried to run away. The Buddha assuaged their fears by teaching the Dharma to them all.

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This page was created on October 28, 2002.