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Alāta

A minister and general of Aṅgati, King of Videha. He is described as wise, smiling, a father of sons and full of experience. When Aṅgati consulted his ministers as to ways and means of finding diversion for himself and his subjects, Alāta’s counsel was that they should set out to battle with a countless host of men. The suggestion of another minister, Vijaya, was that the king should visit some samaṇa or brahmin, and this idea it was that won the king’s approval. Thereupon Alāta persuaded Aṅgati to visit the Ājīvika Guṇa of the Kassapa family, who evidently enjoyed Alāta’s patronage. When Guṇa taught his doctrine that good and evil actions were alike fruitless, he was supported by Alāta, who stated that in a previous birth he had been Piṅgala, a cow-killing huntsman in Bārāṇasī, and that he had committed many sins for which, however, he had never suffered any evil consequences.

Later, Aṅgati’s daughter Rujā explains that Alāta’s present prosperity is the result of certain past acts of righteousness and that time will eventually bring him suffering on account of his evil deeds. Alāta himself, she says, is not aware of this because he can remember only one previous birth, while she herself can recall seven. See the Mahānāradakassapa Jātaka (J.vi.222 ff).

Alāta was a previous birth of Devadatta (J.vi.255).

In the text he is sometimes (e.g., pp.221, 230) also called Alātaka, perhaps for the purposes of metre.

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