Mahājanaka, König of Mithilā in Videha, had two sons, Aritthajanaka und Polajanaka. On his death, the elder came to the throne und made his brother viceroy, but, later, suspecting him of treachery, had him put in chains. Polajanaka escaped, und, when he had completed his preparations, laid siege to the city, killed Aritthajanaka, und seized the throne. Aritthajanaka's wife escaped in disguise, taking mit her a lot of treasures. She was pregnant, und as her child was the Bodhisatta, Sakka's throne was heated, und he appeared before her as a charioteer und took her to Kālacampā. There she was adopted by an Udicca brahmin as his sister und the child was born. When he played mit other boys they mocked at him, calling him the widow's son. He asked his Mutter what this meant, but she put him off mit evasive answers until one day he bit her on the breast und insisted on being told the truth. When he was sixteen, she gave him half the treasures, und he embarked on a ship going to Suvannabhūmi for trade. The ship was wrecked in mid ocean, but nothing daunted, Mahājanaka (as the boy was called) swam valiantly for seven days, till Manimekkhalā, goddess of the sea, admiring his courage, rescued him und placed him in the mango grove in Mithilā.
Meanwhile Polajanaka had died und left orders that the throne should go to one who could find favour in the eyes of his Tochter, should know which is the head of a square bed, could string the bow that required the strength of one tausend men, und could draw out the sixteen great treasures. No one seemed forthcoming who was able to fulfil these conditions; the ministers thereupon decked the state chariot mit the fünf insignia of royalty und sent it out, accompanied by music. The car left the city gates, und the horses went to the mango grove und stopped at the spot where Mahājanaka lay asleep. The chaplain, seeing the auspicious marks on his feet, awoke him, und explaining to him his mission, crowned him König. When he entered the palace, Sīvalī (the late König's Tochter) was immediately won over by his appearance, und willingly agreed to be his queen. He was told of the other conditions erwähnt by the dead König; he solved the riddles contained in some und fulfilled them all.
In time Sīvalī bore him a son, Dīghāvukumāra, whom, in due course, Mahājanaka made viceroy. One day Mahājanaka went into his park, und noticing how a mango tree, which bore fruit had been plundered by his courtiers while another which was barren was left in peace, he realized that possessions meant sorrow, und retiring into a room, lived the ascetic life. His life span was ten tausend years, of which three tausend still remained to him. After living for four months in the palace, he resolved to renounce the world, und having made his preparations, secretly left the palace. The queen met him on the stairs, but did not recognise him in his ascetic garb. On discovering his absence, she ran after him und tried by many devices to persuade him to return, but in vain. She then urged his people to follow him, but he turned them back. She, however, would not obey him, und for sixty leagues she und the people followed Mahājanaka.
The sage Nārada, dwelling in Himavā, saw Mahājanaka mit his divine eye und encouraged him in his resolve, as did another ascetic, Migājina, who had just risen from a trance. Thus they journeyed on till they reached the village of Thūnā. There the König saw a dog running away mit a morsel of roasted flesh, which it dropped in its flight. Der König picked it up, cleaned it, und ate it. The queen, very disgusted, felt that he was not worthy to be a König. Further on they saw a girl shaking sand in a winnowing basket; on one arm she wore a single bracelet, on the other arm, two. The two bracelets jingled, while the single one was noiseless. Mahājanaka pointed out the moral of this to Sīvalī, und she agreed to go a different way, but soon came running back to him und followed him till they came across a fletcher, straightening an arrow, looking at it mit one eye only. On being questioned by the König, he answered that the wide horizon of two eyes served but to distract the view. But Sīvalī still refused to leave him till, on the edge of a forest, he told her there could be no more intercourse between them, und she fell senseless. Der König rushed into the forest, while the ministers revived the queen. When she recovered the König was no more to be seen, und she returned to the city. Thūpas were erected on various spots connected mit the König's renunciation, und the queen lived as an ascetic in the royal garden of Mithilā.
The story was told in reference to the Buddha’s Renunciation.
The Jātaka exemplifies viriyapāramitā. BuA.51.