Manoratha ［摩羅他・如意］ (n.d.) (; Manurata or Nyoi): A monk of Gandhara in northern India thought to have lived around the fourth or fifth century; the teacher of Vasubandhu. He was well versed in the three divisions of the Buddhist canon and was widely respected for his learning and eloquence in preaching. According to Hsüan-tsang’s Record of the Western Regions, King Vikramāditya of Shrāvastī, famed for his generosity, gave a hundred thousand coins to a person who looked for and captured the wild boar the king had missed while hunting. On the other hand, Manoratha gave the same amount of money to a person who simply shaved his head. This incurred the king’s abiding displeasure.
One day the king conceived the idea of humiliating the monk in the presence of a great audience. He recruited a hundred non-Buddhist scholars to debate with Manoratha. Prior to the debate, the king said, “If the Buddhist monk wins, I will convert to the Buddha’s teaching, but if he is defeated, he will be put to death.” The monk defeated ninety-nine of the scholars. The last scholar looked down upon the monk and argued with him violently. When they took up the topic of “fire and smoke,” the king joined the scholar and together they insisted that the monk was wrong. When Manoratha began to explain, he was shouted down. Humiliated, he bit off his tongue, admonished his disciple Vasubandhu not to debate with persons who rely on their number or discuss the truth among the ignorant, and then died. Shortly thereafter King Vikramāditya lost his throne and kingdom. When the new king restored the country, Vasubandhu asked him for the chance to vindicate his teacher. The king praised his resolution and sponsored a debate between Vasubandhu and the hundred non-Buddhist scholars who had argued with Manoratha. Vasubandhu won, and the scholars admitted their defeat.