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The Buddha Tree

    Nigrodha was the son of Sumana a pregnant widow who found refuge among outcastes. Nigrodha, who became a Buddhist monk saw King Asoka one day and, unaware that the monk was his nephew, treated him with respect. Nigrodha converted the sinful emperor to Buddhism.

    Buddhist texts give many different stories on his pre-conversion wickedness. The Sri Lankan legends in Dipavamsa and Maha-vamsa say that Nigrodha, the posthumous son of Sumana, converted him. The Indian legend contained in Divyavadana says that an ascetic named Balapandita unwittingly entered the gilded prison run by Asoka's sadistic executioner. The monk survived the tortures mira-culously and this news reached the emperor. The emperor went to see him, listened to him and got converted.


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