Friday, March 18, 2011


Generally I don't stop at National television channel while surfing. But I don't know why that Sunday I did that! It was the movie F.C. Mehra (1966). This post is not a just another movie review, but what forced me to pen down this is the ultra enigmatic character of this movie that is Amrapali! Yes,I am smitten by her pursuit of the truth! I do have her few references from the book "Buddha". May be that's the reason why I glued to this movie.

Amrapali was one of the most beautiful women of the history. Her ancestral record was not available in history and it was believed that she was found under the mango tree and hence named as Amrapali!! She belonged to some 500 BC era. She was the patriot of Vaishali- a democratic city of that time. There is quiet an ambiguity on her affair with Magadh king. Some refers to Ajatshatru whereas some refers to Bhambhasara.

She possessed magnificent beauty which became a curse for her. As she grew up every young noble of republic desired her and wanted to marry her. Being the democracy, Vaishali parliament didn't want to loose their city unity for a beauty. So to avoid confrontation among her suitors, they took a very harsh decision then. they declared Amrapali as "Nagarvadhu" that means state courtesan. It was the trend then that most beautiful women would become courtesan and it was a respectable profession then. Only kings, princes, generals used to visit her.

Amrapali, the exquisitely beautiful lady nursed injured warrior Ajaatshatru, the emperor of Magadha. Unknown of the fact of his identity she was deeply in love with him. But when she realised the truth she didn't want to be a traitor of Vaishali and hence she left him. Ajaatshatru invaded Vaishali to possess Amrapali legally. He did conquer but he lost her as she couldn't believe that thousand of innocent people were killed for a selfish achievement! She renounced the world and joined Buddha.

There is a second dimension to this story. When Buddha and his disciples visited Vaishali, Amrapali noticed one of the monks with the begging bowl and fell in love with him for his grace, dignity, awareness. She offered him food and invited him to stay at her palace for next four months of rainy season. Jealous and angry fellow monks reached Buddha and narrated the incident. But Buddha permitted his monk to stay there for four months. He was very confident about his monk's consious. He knew that this monk would change Amrapali instead! Four months passed and that monk returned to Buddha followed by Amrapali. She said, " I tried my best to seduce your monk but he seduced me.He convinced me by his presence and awareness that the real life is at your feet. I want to give all my possessions to the commune of your monks."

There is a third dimension too. After renouncing all material pleasures Amrapli requested Buddha to let her join his disciples. But Buddha didn't approve of it as there was no bhikkuni (female monk) till then. It made her furious and disappointed. She asked Buddha," Why there is no provision for women in your commune? Is spirituality forbidden for females?" he simply said,"Its not forbidden for females.Only becasue it may harm sanity of my monks because you are so beautiful" She replied," Are your monks so weak that they can't stand my beauty?" This made Buddha to accept her as his disciple and she became the first bhikkuni.

Out of all the above stories the common factor is she joined Buddha as his disciple. Being one of the most sought after female, she left everything after the realisation of the shallowness of material world. She realized that her beautiful body is transitory. and everything for that matter around her was transitory. She couldn't hold anything permanently..her possessions, her beauty, her palace nothing! It was an illusion...nothing more that that. But we get so engrossed in these illusions that we start believing it to be the reality and get lost.....

Amraplai was one of the few disciples of Buddha who got enlightened. So truth is not forbidden for any cast or commune or gender...its accessible for everybody...every Amrapali can become Buddha...then why not you and me?