On the Immediate Reward of the Destitute Princess' Devotion to the Image of Kichijo-tennyo

A tale from the Nihon Ryoiki
of the Monk Kyokai

Kichijo-tennyo and her children

In the reign of Emporer Shomu, twenty-three members of the imperial family agreed to give banquets and provide entertainment by turn. There was a poor princess among them. She had no means to give a banquet when the rest of the group had already done so. Being ashamed of her poverty, the effect of her past deeds, she went to Hatori-do on the East Side of Nara to worship the image of Kichijo-tennyo. In tears she said, "As I planted the seed of poverty in my former existence, I reap the fruit now. I went to the baquets, and, after consuming the food of others, I have no means to invite them in return. I implore you to bring me a fortune."

At that moment her child ran to her in haste and said, "A great amount of food has been sent from the former capital." She ran out and found her former wet nurse saying, "I heard you had received guests and brought you food." The food and drinks were incredibly delicious and fragrant. Nothing was missing. The metal tableware was carried by thirty men.

All the princes invited to the banquet came and were delighted. There was twice as much food as for the preceeding banquets, and she was praised as a rich princess. Each one said, "If she were poor, how could she prepare such an extravagant banquet? It is better than the one I made before." The songs and dances were as extraordinary as the heavenly music. Some gave away their robes, some their skirts, and others coins, silk, cloth, cotton, etc. The princess, in her joy, gave the robes to her wet nurse to wear, but later, when she went to temple to worship the sacred image, she found the statue wearing them. Filled with doubt, she went to inquire to her former wet nurse who answered, "I do not know anything about your banquet."

Now it was evident that the bodhisattva had helped the princess out of sympathy. She acquired a fortune and henceforth escaped poverty. This is an unusual event.

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Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition: The Nihon Ryoiki of the Monk Kyokai. Translated and edited by Kyoko Motomochi Nakamura. First published in 1973 by Harvard University Press: MA. This edition published by Curzon Press: Surrey, Great Britain. Copyright 1997. For non-profit educational use only. ISBN:0-7007-0449-3
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