The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Kambala was crowned king of Kankarama after his father passed away and at the same time, his mother disappeared. Despite his double loss, Kambala ruled his kingdom with great wisdom and virtue, and within a short time, the kingdom prospered. After 2 years, his mother returned and instead of being overjoyed with his great success, she began to cry. Sadden to see his mother cry, the king asked what was his mother upset about, and she said she was sad to see her son engaging in the wretched business of government. Upon hearing that, the young king gave his throne to his younger brother and took up residence in a monastery.
After sometime, his mother came to the monastery, again she cried when she saw him, saying she was disappointed to see him still living like a king and ordered him to leave the luxury of the monastery and go into the jungle alone and meditate.
Kambala followed her instruction. He entered the jungle and took residence there, but the local villagers soon aware of his presence, visited him and gave a lot of offerings. Once again his mother wept when she saw his condition. At that, he abandoned the jungle and took the path of a yogin, wondering from land to land. His mother appeared yet again, however this time she was floating above him in midair and he recognized at last her true dakini form. She gave him the Samvara initiation and instructed him in meditation, then vanished from sight.
The yogin king wondered for 12 years, sleeping in cremation grounds and practiced his sadhanas until he attained mahamudra-siddhi. He levitated into the sky and there he saw his mother, eyes swollen from weeping for he has not used his gifts for the benefit of others. The yogin then came back down to earth with the intent of selfless service, he set a residence in the cave on the Panaba cliffs.
One day, dressed in the black blanket that was his sole covering, he went to town to beg for food. There, he met Padmadevi who asked him to lend his blanket to her, which he gave out of kindness. Wanting the power of the siddha, the queen tear the blanket to tiny pieces, and the dakini witches ate a piece of the blanket until only one small piece was left, which they threw into the fire. On the way back, Kambala asked if he may have his blanket back, but the queen tried to give him a new blanket instead which he refused. They even offered him gold, but again he refused. Furious, he returned to town to complain to the king and insisted for the witches to return his property. However, despite all effort the king couldn’t do anything.
So the yogin went back to his cave and meditated. The witches then plotted to defeat the master, but Kambala got wind of their intention and hatched a counter-plot, chanting a powerful mantra and turned them into a flock of sheep. The war between the master and the witches brought the business of the kingdom to a halt. Finally, the king decided to put an end to this and summoned both of them to his court. But when the witches still remained unrepented, the master, in a voice like thunder said “Vow to protect the truth or I will send you this very instant to Dharmaraja, Lord of Death.”
In fear, the witches vowed to do as they were told. The master then warned if they were to break their vow, they will be transformed into a cart horse. The witches then took refuge in Buddha, swearing to abide by his precepts. When they were given a ceremony of purification they all vomited up scraps of the master’s blanket. Happy to have his one piece of clothing returned to him, he gathered the scraps and sewed them back together, except for the small part which was burnt is forever gone.