Devadatta impresses Prince Ajatasattu with some psychic powers to win him over

The Buddha's first visit to Kapilavatthu inspired many of the Sakyan princes to leave the home life. Among them, those that are well known even now are Prince Ananda, or Venerable Ananda, Upali the barber, and Prince Devadatta.

Devadatta was the older brother of Princess Bimbayasodhara. In other words, he was the brother-in-law of Prince Siddhattha, the future Buddha. All of those who went forth with Devadatta attained enlightenment [the Path and Fruit], but Devadatta attained only mundane jhana [absorption concentration], but even so the level of jhana that he attained enabled him to exercise psychic powers, such as flying through the air.

One day the Buddha with a large company of monks, Devadatta included, went to the city of Kosambi. The townsfolk came out to receive him and brought many offerings, giving some of them to the Buddha and some to the Order of monks. The townsfolk were making offerings to individual monks, walking along the line asking, "Where is our Sariputta?" "Where is our Moggallana?" When they found the monk they were looking for they would present the offerings to him. However, none of them was asking "Where is our Devadatta?"

That was the beginning of Devadatta's dissatisfaction and the cause of his later committing many an evil deed [kamma].

Devadatta entered the mundane jhana concentration state and appeared as a young prince with bracelets of seven snakes coiled about him-one coiled around his head like a turban, four more around his wrists and ankles, another around his neck and another draped over his shoulders-floating in the air in the palace. He sat down on the knee of Prince Ajatasattu, Crown Prince and son of King Bimbisara, the King of Magadha. Devadatta planted the idea in Prince Ajatasattu's mind to kill his father the king and usurp the throne, while he would kill the Buddha and take over as a new Buddha, declaring a new religion.

When he went to see Prince Ajatasattu Devadatta flew in the air, but on his way back he could no longer manage to fly, and had to walk, as the unwholesome thoughts in his mind had damaged the jhana state he once had, and it disappeared from him from that day on.

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