Story of Ajatasattu

Ajatasattu was the son of Bimbisara, the king of Magadha state, a devoted follower of the Buddha. The young prince, Ajathasattu fell into the clutches of the evil minded Devadatta who misused his psychic power for his selfish ends.

Turning himself into a boy with a snake coiled around his waist, he appeared before Ajatasattu and then showed himself as a bhikkhu. The prince was deeply impressed by Devadatta’s miracles and held Devadatta in high esteem and soon became his devoted follower. Devadatta told the prince that since people did not live long, he (the prince) should kill his father king Bimbisara and become the king while he was still young.

At the same time Devadatta would kill the Buddha himself so that he would become the head of the monks. Prince Ajatasattu was persuade by Devadatta to imprisone his father and starved him to death. The queen was the only person who was permitted to visit the prison and see the king. She secretly brought food for the king by various means and at last she was forbidden to visit the prison.

From that day, the king had nothing to eat but he still managed to keep himself in good physical condition by pacing up and down the floor. Then Ajatasattu ordered a barber to cause injury to the feet of his father, so as to make it impossible for him to walk. The barber pierced the king's feet with a knife, then pour salt and hot oil on the wound. When this was done the king died.

On the very day of his father’s death, Ajatasattu’s wife gave birth to a son. On hearing the news, he became excited and was overwhelmed with great affection for his child. This reminded him of his father, and he immediately ordered to release the imprisoned father, but it was too late. When later on he learnt from his mother how much he was loved and cared for by his father in his childhood, he was seized with remorse. His life became wretched and miserable. He spent his sleepless nights, haunted by the visions of hell and smitten by conscience of his crime of torturing and killing his father,