Maha-Ummagga (Mahosodh)
Perfection of Wisdom

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King Videha of Mithila, who has four sages in his court, dreams that a fifth and wisest of all is about to be born. This is Mahosodh whose gifts become apparent at the age of seven when he teaches carpenters how to build a large hall.

This lengthily Jataka story tells of many tests of wit and wisdom, by which four jealous sages criticize and disapprove of Mahosodh. One of these trials is reminisant of the King Solomon story of Judaic history.

Two women claim a child as their own, Mahosodh orders them each to take the child, each with a hand and a foot, and try to pull him over a line. When the child cries out in pain the real mother lets go.

Other examples are more in the nature of riddles or clever tricks. The king asks for a white bull with horns on its legs, a hump on its head and voice which calls out three times. Mahosodh sends a crowing cock.

When he is asked to replace a thread running in an octagonal course through a large gem, he smears one end with honey, ties a fine thread to an ant and sets him free at the opening at the other end.

The major episode of the Jaataka is the plot of a neighboring ruler, Brahmadatta, to conquer all the surrounding kingdoms. He attacks and lays siege to Mithila but Mahosodh cleverly frustrates him. Brahmadatta then sends poets to sing the praises of his beautiful daughter, Pancalacandi, knowing that King Videha will come to ask for her hand and thus be captured. Mahosodh is ordered to make arrangements for the marriage. The sage knows there must be a plot and sends a parrot to make friends with Brahmadatta’s mynah and learn the details. Forewarned, he digs a tunnel from the mouth of the river into Brahmadatta’s palace. During the feast of celebration, Mahosodh kidnaps Brahmadatta’s mother, the Queen Mother Talata, his Queen and daughter Nanda.

Later, the Queen Mother, Queen and Princess are returned and their families are reconciled. When King Videha dies, Mahosodh goes to the court of Brahmadatta as his counselor.