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Bhuridatta Chadok (ภูริทัตชาดก)

Thai-Sanskrit. ‘Jataka of the Godly Datta’. Name for one of the Totsachat, i.e. life stories of the ten last incarnations of the Buddha, in which the bodhisattva was born as Bhuridatta, Prince of the Nagas. In the story, Bhuridatta ascends daily from the realm of nagas to the human world, where he coiled himself around a termite mound, which he uses as a seat for meditation. One day, a hunter and his son saw Bhuridatta meditating and since the latter wanted to keep then from revealing his place of meditation, he had invited him and his son to return with him to the naga kingdom, to dwell there in great ease and luxury. They initially agreed and went along, but after a year, the hunter longed to return to the world of men. Trying to persuade him to stay, Bhuridatta offered him great riches, as well as a Jewel That Grants All Desires. Yet, the man refused and said he wanted to become a ascetic. Later, the Jewel That Grants All Desires got stolen by Alambayana, a Brahmin snake charmer, who −as the faithful servant of a reusi− had been granted a magic snake charm, which the hermit had been given by a Garuda, who accidently had destroyed the hut in a banyan tree, where the hermit lived. The hungry Garuda, the natural enemy of snakes and nagas, had captured a naga and flew off with him. As he swept over the Himaphan forest, clutching the head of the great snake in his claws, the naga was able to coil himself around a tall banyan tree, hence destroying the hermit's dwelling. In order to make up for the damage, the Garuda rewarded the hermit by telling him the words of a magic snake charm of great power and gave him a fan behind which to chant it, but, since he had no need for it, the hermit had passed it on to his faithful servant. When the latter came across some naga youths who had with them the precious jewel of the nagas, i.e. the Jewel That Grants All Desires, they trembled with fear as they heard the Brahmin muttering the magic spell of the Garuda, and fled into the water, leaving the gem behind. Now, when the hunter saw the magic jewel in the hand of Alambayana, he regretted not having accepted it when Bhuridatta had offered it to him and determined to get hold of it, but he could not convince Alambayana to part with it. Then Alambayana told him that his purpose was to find and capture a mighty naga, which would win him fame and fortune. Hence, against the advise of his son, the hunter said he could inform him of the whereabouts of such a snake and in return for the magic jewel he led Alambayana through the forest to the great termite mound around which Bhuridatta was coiled. Anxious to capture the great serpent, Alambayana hastily handed the hunter his reward, but as the hunter grabbed it, it slipped through his fingers and disappeared through a crack in the earth, to be reclaimed by the naga world from where it came, leaving the foolish hunter with nothing, whilst Alambayana captured the Bhuridatta chanting the magic spell while holding the fan. After this, Alambayana put Bhuridatta in a snake basket and performed with him on the market of Benares in order to make money. Here, Bhuridatta was seen by his brother Sudassana and his sister, who −disguised as an ascetic and a frog, respectively− had set out to search for him. After showing off their powers, Alambayana was easily persuaded to release the naga prince, who quickly assumed a radiant form and stood before the multitude in all his glory. Upon this, the Brahmin crept away and was never seen again. See also POSTAGE STAMPS.