Once upon a time when the Buddha was alive...
In those days, India was, unlike it is today, composed of 16 major countries and several other countries.
Among these major countries, Magadha in the South and Kosala in the North were growing strong enough to oppress the other countries.
The country of the Shakya clan was located in the Northern India and it was one of the small countries under Kosala domination. (The Buddha was from the Shakya clan.)
King Bimbisara of Magadha was an enthusiastic follower of the Buddha and he donated the Bamboo Grove to the Buddha. He also made his wife Khema a nun.
In his last years, he lost his power by a coup carried out by his son Prince Ajasatatru.
And Prince Ajasatatru's mother was a sister of King Pasenadi of Kosala.
King Pasenadi, persuaded by his wife and retainers, gradually believed in Buddhism and later he came to visit the Buddha every day.
One of his princes, Jeta, convinced by a wealthy man Sudatta, also donated Jeta's Grove (Jpn: Gion-shoja) to the Buddha.
Thus, the Buddhism spread in Kosala and a lot of Buddhist students were there.
At the castle in Savatthi (the capital of Kosala), the officials donated excellent foods to the Buddhist students, but they did not stay long at the castle.
Instead, they felt comfortable eating at the houses of the believers at Buddhism.
One day King Pasenadi came up an idea.
"What if I accept a new wife from a noble family of the Shakya clan?
If so, the Buddhist students will feel comfortable staying here like Buddhist families' homes.
The Shakya clan is historically of noble birth and this will also enhance the dignity of my royal family.
It must be a good idea."
Then he immediately sent a messenger to Kapilavastu (the capital of the Shakya clan).
In the royal family of the Shakya clan, however, no one welcomed the proposal.
It was because the Shakya clan had a lot of pride, as they were descendants of the legendary Holy King back in the Veda era (1500BC - 600BC).
Even though Kosala was the Shakya clan's dominant country, they looked down on King Pasenadi as an upstart.
But they could not decline the proposal.
"We have to give him a bride," said one.
"Then Pasenadi will take over us," said another.
The members of the royal family of Shakya were lost in thought.
Then Mahanama said,
"I have a good idea.
I had my servant (slave) give birth to a girl, Vasabhakhattiya, who is now marriageable and she is so beautiful that it is as if she were from a noble family.
How about giving her to him as the bride from the Ksatriyas (one of the caste ranks)?
For me, as her father, in fact she is from the Kasatriyas anyway."
"Well, let's do it," all said.
As soon as they agreed, they said to the messenger from Kosala, "We have chosen the bride from our loyal family. Please take her with you."
When Vasabhakhattiya arrived at Savatthi, King Pasenadi was very pleased and held a huge ceremony.
He loved her so much that he made her the first wife.
Soon after she became pregnant and she gave birth to a baby boy who was radiant.
The boy would become Prince Virudhaka (Crystal One).
He healthily grew up and when he was 16 years old, this sensitive young man wanted to see his mother's homeland.
"Mother, I'd like to see your father," he said.
"Oh, why do you want to go there suddenly?
Why don't you make an official request, then visit there?" said his mother.
"I really want to go there. I also asked my father about it. Whatever it takes, I will definitely visit to see him."
As she realized that she could not stop him, she sent an urgent secret letter to the Shakya clan:
"I have an easy life in this country. I'd like to ask you all not to leak to him any secret about my background."
The people in the Shakya clan started discussing bewilderingly.
"Hey, the son of that woman will visit us from Kosala.
We, honorable Shaka clan, cannot show such a guy our respects.
Let's move all our children to the countryside."
When the Prince Virudhaka and his men arrived at Kapilavastu the capital of the Shakya clan, all of his relatives already gathered in the public hall.
"This one is your grandfather."
"That one is your uncle."
As being introduced one by one, Prince Virudhaka bowed back to each one of them and greeted politely.
But weirdly no one greeted him properly.
"Why did not anybody greet me properly?" He asked one of the relatives.
"Well, in this country the younger must greet politely the elders.
Today, all the people younger than you went to the countryside.
I'm sorry, but please accept their regards, too."
Prince Virudhaka felt that somewhat he was not welcomed.
He stayed there without satisfaction for several days and then started heading home.
Then one of his men went back to the city because he had left something there.
At the public hall, some servants (slaves) were washing the chair Virudhata had sat on with milk-mixed water for purification.
They said, "This is the chair the son of a slave Vasabhakhattiya had sat on."
The soldier was surprised when he heard that they were speaking ill of Virudhata hatefully.
He spied more and finally he learned of the conspiracy.
He returned quickly and he told the other soldiers about it.
"Vasabhakhattiya was in fact a daughter of a slave woman.
She was not from the Ksatriyas at all."
Soon they all got upset.
The story reached the Prince's ears.
He was shocked when he became to know about the secret of his birth.
"Shakya clan, if you all say the chair I sat is dirty and wash it with milk, then when I am crowned, I will cut all of your throats, collect your blood, and wash my chair with it for purification too," he said.
He was trembling as he vowed deeply in his heart.
They returned to Savatthi, the King heard the story and became very mad.
"Ugh! The Shakya clan gave me a daughter of a slave."
He grabbed Vasabhakhattiya and Virudhaka, and shut them up within a room for servants (slaves).
"You deserve this for your rank."
The King could not help but doing so due to consideration of the public.
But after this unfortunate incident, the Buddha visited Sarvatthi.
The King told him about the incident and how he felt.
The Buddha admitted the Shakya clan's fault.
Also he explained the justification of Virudhata and his mother and persuaded the King that his action was wrong.
The King's mind at last became clear when he understood the Buddha's heart.
"Yes, I only need to consider Virudhaka's father's lineage."
The King pulled himself together and gave back Virudhaka and his mother the original positions and put their life back to what it was before.
But Virudhaka's heart was never clear.
He hated his father and mother. He hated the Shakya clan the most.
His mind was degenerating and his wild temper became violent.
However, among the people who were discontent with the aging King and Prince Jeta, who became docile by believing in the Buddha, there were quite a few who had sympathy on Virudhaka.
One day, King Pasenadi, on the way home from an expedition, felt like he was eager to see the Buddha, so he held an army camp near the Grove and visited the Buddha with a few of his men.
"Well, the Buddha, I'm very glad to see you again.
We are both almost 80 years old. We need to take care of our health..."
While they were talking for hours an army commander stole the King Flag and gave it to Virudhaka, then Virudhaka retrieved the army.
"He's such an ungrateful child. Thus, I will ask my nephew Ajasatatru to send his army and catch Virudhaka."
Pasenadha now under the circumstances, and then he headed for Rajavatti using all his effort for several days.
When he finally reached the gate of the castle, he was so exhausted that, also due to the emotional shock, he became delirious with fever and died.
After Virudhaka gained the throne, he expanded the army, and then he and his huge army went to the state of the Shakya clan as his heart was burning for revenge.
"I will kill all of the Shakya clan, none shall live."
The Buddha, meditating during his morning routine in his garden (the Bamboo Grove), sensed that evil feeling and saw the actions of Virudhaka by his clairvoyance.
"Unfortunately, the time finally has come. I have to stop him."
He stood up and headed in a hurry to the road that led to Kapilavastu from Kosala.
When he reached the border, he sat under a dying tree even though there were many tree with a lot of leaves in the Kosala side.
Soon after, King Virudhaka and his army approached.
As the King noticed the Buddha, he stopped his army, walked toward the Buddha, and prayed in front of him because he had not lost all respect and gratitude to the Buddha.
"The Buddha, even though the sun is shinning brightly, why are you sitting under such a dying tree that has only a few leaves? Please sit under that nigroda tree that have enough leaves."
When Virudhaka politely asked the Buddha, he received unexpected answer:
"King Virudhaka, please do not mind me. Even though the tree has only a few leaves, it is cool enough under the homeland's tree."
This stunned the King.
"I see. The Buddha was sitting there to protect the Shakya clan."
When he realized it, he prayed for the Buddha and returned to Savatthi with his army.
A few days after this, however, his feeling for revenge came back and he moved his army for invasion.
But again when he found the Buddha sitting under the dying tree, he retrieved the army.
And several days passed, Virudhaka started the third attempt of invasion of his army.
However, the Buddha was again sitting under the dying tree.
When Virudhaka saw the Buddha, he could not help but returning.
Then at the fourth time he moved his army as he was moved by an unstopping need for revenge.
At that moment the Buddha in the Grove went into a deep meditation and observed in details what the Shakya clan had done.
He saw that the fruit of the bad deeds that the Shakya clan had committed since long ago, like killing many animals and humans, had ripened enough (to the limit).
The Shakya clan were the outstanding people, but they were also snobbish and despised others, thus this kind of karma had not been purified.
Even the Buddha could not change the law of karma just for his personal reason.
This time he did not move his body (to save the Shakya clan).
Kosala's huge army finally crossed the border and invaded the Shakya Clan's territory and went up to the capital and started killing the people.
When the army broke into the castle, Mahamaha stood in front of Virudhaka because he felt a huge responsibility by facing his clan's tragedy.
"King Virudhaka, as you know, your mother is my daughter," Mahamaha said.
"Thus, I am your grandfather. Please stop any more killings for my sake."
"No. If I stop killing the Shakya clan, I will have to live in shame. I cannot stop this. But I spare your life. Just go away anywhere you want."
"Please accept my wish then."
"What is it? Tell me."
"I am going to dive into this pond. Please stop all your soldiers from killing until I come up to the surface of the pond"
"All right. As soon as you come up, I will kill them all."
Mahanama quickly jumped into the pond and he tied up the roots of a tree at the bottom of the pond with his hair.
5, 10, 20 minutes passed... He had not come up to the surface yet.
"What is going on? Take a look at under the water."
Mahamana was already dead at the bottom of the pond. But during this, a large number of the people were able to escape.
Soon the massacre restarted.
This is the tragedy that happened during the late years of the Buddha, possibly a year before he passed away.
The Shakya clan became almost extinct. Survivors were a few who scattered away mostly lay follower students and woman students (nuns).
Through this sad incident, the Buddha meditated harder and harder.
He realized that it is necessary that his teachings be such that they enable not only the Buddhist monks, but also for the lay followers, to practice cutting bad karma and achieving enlightenment.
"It may be difficult in this era, but there will be a time where everyone can practice."
His compassionate eyes had perceived the people in the distant future.
Thus, the Buddha made his mind firmly to expound Mahaparinirvana Sutra.
The Buddha started his final journey toward the sala grove in Kushinagana, quietly gazing at the future.