Nalagiri was a very ferocious elephant. It consumed eight pots of alcohol everyday and used to stamp on human beings.

Devadatta had harboured a grudge against the Buddha with regard to the conferment of the right and the left chief disciples. He wanted to kill the Buddha and be the leader of the Samgha (Order 0f Bhikkhus). First, he sent archers to kill the Buddha, but his plan failed. Secondly, he dislodged a huge rock from the top of Gijjhakuta Mountain. But the rock did not hit the Buddha; nevertheless, it caused a small chip of rock to fly to the big toe of the Buddha causing a slight bruise. Thirdly, with the permission of King Ajatasatthu, he asked the mahout to give sixteen pots of alcohol to the ferocious elephant Nalagiri and send it after the Buddha when he came into Rajagaha city.

The people of Rajagaha, who knew Devadatta’s plan, waited on buildings, trees and house-tops to see how the Buddha would subdue the wild elephant.

When the Buddha came into Rajagaha with His diciple bhikkhus in procession, Nalagiri, the wild elephant was set free to attack the Buddha. It ran to the Buddha, with its tail and trunk raised, destroying houses and carts on its way.

Venerable Sariputta and the eighty great disciples asked the permission from the Buddha to drive away the elephant. But the Buddha did not permit them to do so. His younger brother Ananda, who loved and respected the Buddha so much, went and stood in front of the Buddha at the risk of his own life. The Buddha asked him to move away three times. Venerable Ananda still stood before the Buddha, so the Buddha removed him by His psychic power.

Meanwhile a frightened mother with a suckling baby dropped her baby between the Buddha and the elephant. Nalagiri chased that woman first. However, as it could not catch her, it turned towards the baby.

The Buddha suffused the elephant with all His loving-kindness which He usually disseminated all over the world. Then He said to the animal gently: “Nalagiri, you have been given sixteen pots of alcoholic drink to kill me, not to kill others. So come to me”.

Now, Nalagiri felt the power of the Buddha’s loving-kindness in its heart. And it also saw the splendid appearance of the Buddha on account of the most benevolent love, the most pleasant voice and the most remarkable appearance of the Buddha, the animal’s temper calmed down and it became docile.

Nalagiri put his trunk down. It advanced slowly towards the Buddha and knelt down at his feet. The Buddha put put His hand on Nalagiri’s head and admonished the elephant to disseminate loving-kindness towards others and not to do evil deeds.

Onlookers shouted joyfully in praise of the Buddha’s marvellous performance. They threw their ornament and jewels at Nalagiri. The elephant was almost covered with the ornaments and jewels. Since that time Nalagiri came to be known as Dhanapala.

Nalagiri paid homage to the Buddha. It went backward slowly and returned to its stable.

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