There lived a king by the name of Sanjaya and his queen Phusati who bore him a child with special powers. Upon his birth, the infant prince is said to have asked his mother, “Mother what could I gift you?” The gods too took notice of this special child, who was soon named Vessantara.
When he was eight, the prince once again surprised everyone by saying that he wished to donate something that was entirely his own, not gifted by anyone else. He wanted to give away his eyes, flesh or even his heart. The gods were further impressed. The years passed, the prince grew up, completed his education and married the princess of a neighbouring kingdom, Princess Maddi. The kingdom prospered and soon a son and a daughter were born to the young couple.