Relatives and Disciples of
Sudatta, a wealthy merchant, (better known
as Anathapindika because of his generosity to the destitute), was visiting
his brother-in-law in Savatthi when he noted that a celebration was being
organized. When he inquired as to whom they were honouring, he was
informed that the Buddha was visiting Savatthi and that the celebrations
were in honour of the Exalted One. Upon hearing the name Buddha,
Anathapindika became transformed with fervour and vowed to see the Blessed
Early next morning he set off to see the
Buddha. The Buddha, realizing that His chief lay disciple was on his way
to see Him, went to meet Sudatta. Seeing Sudatta in the distance, the
Buddha greeted him by name. Realizing that he was in the presence of the
Blessed One, Sudatta fell down at the Buddha’s feet and honoured Him.
Then, overwhelmed by the Buddha’s presence, Anathapindika inquired if the
Blessed One had slept well. Anathapindika glimpsed the real stature of the
Buddha when he heard His reply to this question of courtesy. The Buddha
"Always indeed He sleeps well,
The Brahmin who is fully quenched,
Who does not cling to sensual pleasure,
Cool at heart is that acquisition.
Having cut off all attachment,
Having removed desire from the heart,
The Peaceful One indeed sleeps well,
For he has attained peace of mind."
The Buddha then introduced Anathapindika to
the Dhamma by using the method of graduated teaching known as
anupubbikatha. He started with generosity and the benefits of giving. He
then moved on to virtue and the benefits of virtue, and followed this with
the bliss found in the heavenly realms. The Buddha then advised
Anathapindika on the perils of vanity and the dangers of sense pleasures
and introduced him to renunciation. Then, sensing that Anathapindika’s
mind was uplifted and serene, the Buddha taught him the Four Noble Truths
which are the unique Teaching of every Buddha. On hearing the Buddha,
Anathapindika, who was spiritually advanced, reached the first stage of
sainthood, Sotapanna. Inspired and wanting to hear more, Anathapindika
invited the Buddha to his brother-in-law’s house for His noonday meal.
After the meal Anathapindika questioned the
Buddha on a suitable place for His residence. On hearing that the Buddha
was seeking a quiet place for His retinue and Himself to spend the rainy
season, Anathapindika looked for a suitable park to make available to Him.
The park which Anathapindika chose for the
Buddha was the lush garden of Prince Jeta (King Pasenadi Kosala’s son).
The Prince, however, was not selling his beautiful park. When the
persistent Anathapindika would not relent from his request to buy the
park, the exasperated Jeta said, "Cover the entire garden with 100,000
gold coins." This was an unreasonably high price even for a park as
beautiful as his. To his surprise, Anathapindika accepted and soon carts
arrived bearing thousands and thousands of gold coins that he strew all
over the garden. His curiosity now aroused, Jeta asked Anathapindika the
reason for which he needed the park. On hearing that it was for the Buddha
and His retinue he relented and handed over the park to Anathapindika.
The Vinaya Pitaka describes the quarters
Anathapindika built as a vast complex with monasteries, attendance halls,
meditation cells, bathrooms, lotus ponds and walkways - a beautiful
complex that would be worthy of the Buddha. In honour of the two men
responsible for the compound, it was named Jetavana Anathapindikarama (Anathapindika’s
monastery in Jeta’s grove ). Anathapindika asked the Buddha the
appropriate way to gift the monastery to Him. The Buddha then requested
Anathapindika to donate the park by dedicating it to the Sangha of the
present and the Sangha of the future. The Buddha then encouraged others in
the building of monasteries by highlighting the benefits of such a gift to
the Sangha. He said:
"They (monasteries) ward off cold and
heat and beasts of prey,
Creeping things, gnats, and in the wet season, rain.
When the dreaded hot wind arises, it is warded off.
To meditate and obtain insight in a shelter, at ease
A dwelling place is praised by the Awakened One,
As a chief gift to the Order.
Therefore a wise man looking for his own weal,
Should have dwelling places built, so that
Learned Ones can stay therein.
To the upright, with mind purified,
Food, drink, robes, and lodging, he should give,
Then they will teach him Dhamma, dispelling every ill,
He, knowing the Dhamma attains Nibbana - canker free."
-- (Vinaya Pitaka)
Anathapindika then provided the Sangha with
rice gruel, alms bowls, robes and medicine and invited the monks to his
seven-story mansion daily, to partake in the noonday meal. He also
provided food and gifts for the townsfolk as part of the great donation.
His mansion was thus a blaze of saffron robes enveloped by the soothing
and calming Dhamma.
Every time the Buddha visited Savatthi,
Anathapindika visited Him. At times, however, the Buddha was in residence
elsewhere or was away helping another in distress. Anathapindika
approached ananda and informed him of the disappointment of other devotees
and himself who came to visit the Buddha. He informed ananda that he would
like to build a shrine so that devotees would have a symbol of the Buddha
to use to strengthen their minds.
When ananda reported this to the Buddha He
said that there were three types of shrines that could be used as a symbol
of the Buddha. The first type was generally built after the Buddha’s
Parinibbana and was a stupa that contained relics of the Blessed One. The
second was an object that had a connection with the Enlightened One and
had been used by Him such as a robe or an alms bowl. The third was a
visible symbol of the Buddha such as a picture or a statue. The first was
not appropriate during the lifetime of the Buddha and so it was decided to
use an object that had helped the Enlightened One. Statues of the Buddha
seem only to have became popular as a symbol worthy of reverence about 300
years after His Parinibbana.
The Bodhi tree in Uruwela, Buddha Gaya,
seemed appropriate and so it was decided that a sapling of the tree would
be brought and planted in Savatthi. Maha Moggallana, using astral travel,
brought the sapling and Anathapindika planted it at the Jetavana Park.
Devotees at the time of the Buddha as well as present-day devotees honour
the Bodhi Tree as they would honour the Buddha and use this object to
strengthen their minds. It should be noted, however, that it is only
saplings or branches that are offshoots of the original Bodhi tree under
which the Buddha attained enlightenment that are worthy of respect.
Buddhists, however, have extended this to other trees of the same species,
and made the Bodhi Tree (Religiose Faicaso tree), a symbol of the Buddha
and His enlightenment.
Anathapindika and his wife Punnalakkhana had
three daughters and one son. Two of his daughters, Big Subhadda and Little
Subhadda, followed in their parents’ footsteps and were devoted disciples
of the Buddha. They were both happily married and, like their father, had
attained the first stage of sainthood, Sotapanna. Their youngest daughter
Sumana surpassed the others in wisdom and attained the second stage of
sainthood, Sakadagami. She did not marry but this was not because she had
renounced the lay life. In fact when she saw the happiness of her two
elder sisters she was overcome by depression and her spiritual strength
could not sustain her. She wasted away, eating hardly anything, and passed
away at a young age. She was reborn in the Tusita heaven as a goddess
amidst great comfort and pleasures. The text did not specify why she had
problems in finding a suitable partner. As arranged marriages were the
norm it should not have been difficult to find a suitable partner for one
who was so wealthy and spiritually advanced.
Anathapindika’s only son, Kala, was known as
the dark one. He did not care for the Dhamma but immersed himself
completely in affairs of business. He was completely absorbed in
accumulating wealth. Anathapindika decided to trick his son into listening
to the Buddha. He offered Kala one thousand gold pieces if he would
observe the religious holiday with his family. Kala consented and soon
found that it was relaxing to take one day off from business in the
company of his family to observe religious rites. Then his father offered
him another thousand gold pieces if he would visit the Buddha at the
monastery, listen to the Dhamma, and learn a stanza of the Dhamma.
Kala agreed. He went to the monastery,
saluted the Buddha respectfully and sat down to listen to the Dhamma. The
Buddha, realizing that Kala was spiritually ready for the Dhamma, used His
powers to make him misunderstand what he had learned. Just as Kala thought
that he had mastered the teaching he had a doubt. He listened repeatedly
with keen attention. Before long Kala was inspired by the Dhamma. He
listened, enraptured by the teaching, and attained Sotapanna. After this
he too, like his father, was absorbed in the practice of generosity and
the Dhamma and was often called Little Anathapindika.
Anathapindika, who was totally committed to
the Dhamma, influenced many persons to follow the Buddha by his example.
He did not force his ideas or beliefs on them, but seeing his devotion,
kindness and generosity, many of his friends and business associates
adopted his ways. His home became a centre of generosity and kindness and
his example spread to the surrounding areas.
The Buddha spent sixteen of the forty-five
rainy seasons at the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi. Because of this, many
significant events took place and many discourses were dispensed by the
Buddha at the Jetavana. When the Buddha was in residence Anathapindika
visited the monastery twice a day to hear the Dhamma. He did not, however,
feel that he should get any special treatment from the Buddha because he
was His chief male lay benefactor. As such he often visited the Buddha and
sat quietly awaiting instruction from the Buddha without question. If the
Buddha was not forthcoming with the Dhamma he would relate an incident
from his life and his response to it and wait for the Buddha to comment on
the appropriateness of his actions. In this way Anathapindika related the
day-to-day happenings to the Dhamma and ensured that he lived the Dhamma
in all aspects of his life.
The Buddha often dispensed to Anathapindika
teachings suitable for the lay devotees. On one occasion the Buddha
dispensed a sutta on the four kinds of bliss to be won by a house- holder.
He said they were:
- The bliss of ownership: Wealth gained by
hard work and energetic striving that was lawfully earned. And when he
reflects on the ownership of such wealth he feels bliss and happiness.
- The bliss of wealth: Wealth should be
enjoyed by the householder and he should enjoy sharing his wealth with
others. And when he does he feels bliss and happiness.
- The bliss of debtlessness: He should not
be in debt to anyone and as such would have no burdens or worries
associated with repayment of debt. And when he reflects on his freedom
from debt he feels bliss and happiness.
- The bliss of blamelessness: He should be
blameless because he is free of blameless actions of body, speech and
mind. And when he reflects on his blameless life he feels bliss and
The Buddha also declared to Anathapindika
that there were five desirable, pleasant and agreable things to a
householder which are rare in this world. They are long life, beauty,
happiness, fame and rebirth in a heaven. He then said, "But of these five
things, householder, I do not teach that they are to be obtained by prayer
or by vows. If one could obtain these by prayers and vows then who would
not do so?"
"For a noble householder who wishes to have
long life, beauty, happiness, fame and rebirth in a heavenly realm it is
not befitting that he should pray for long life, beauty, happiness, fame
and rebirth in a heaven or take delight in doing so. He should rather
follow a path of life that is conducive to long life, beauty, happiness,
fame and rebirth in a heaven. By doing so he will obtain long life,
beauty, happiness, fame and rebirth in a heaven". (Anguttara Nikaya)
The Buddha also instructed Anathapindika on
the way in which one obtains long life, beauty, happiness, fame and
rebirth in a heavenly realm. He said that one obtains these not by prayer
but by perfection of confidence (in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha),
perfection of virtue, perfection of generosity and perfection of wisdom.
And so we have in simple language a
fundamental concept of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha did not encourage
His devotees to pray and take vows. Instead, He encouraged them to lead a
moral, virtuous, and generous life in wisdom. The householder would then
receive long life, beauty, happiness, fame and rebirth in a heavenly
realm. The Buddha declared that Devas (Divine beings such as gods and
angels) were compassionate beings who enjoyed helping the virtuous just as
humans enjoyed doing so. They could not, however, change the kamma of any
The Buddha also explained to Anathapindika
the effects of gifts given carelessly and with a lack of respect. The
Buddha said: "Whether one gives coarse or choice alms, if one gives
without respect and politeness, not with one’s own hand, gives only
leftovers, and gives without belief in the result of actions, then when
one is reborn, as a result of giving alms in this manner, one’s heart will
have no inclination for fine food and clothing, for fine vehicles, etc. A
man will find that his wife, children and servants will not obey him, nor
listen to him, nor pay respect to him. And why is that so? It is because
that is the result of actions done without respect."
At one time Anathapindika had given all his
wealth away and due to some unexpected misfortune did not have rich food
as was customary to give to the Sangha and the needy. He continued,
however, to give away whatever he had. The Buddha then addressed
Anathapindika, who was rich in wisdom, and encouraged him in meditation by
explaining the various benefits of wholesome actions. Comparing
Anathapindika to a rich merchant named Velama of past eras who was equally
generous, the Buddha said: ?More beneficial than large donations to the
unworthy would be a single feeding of a noble disciple who is a Sotapanna.
And progressively more beneficial than a single feeding of a Sotapanna is
the feeding of a noble disciple who has attained Sakadagami, Anagami and
Arahanthship. And even more beneficial than alms to a noble disciple who
has attained Arahanthship would be the feeding of a Pacceka Buddha. And
even more beneficial than feeding a Pacceka Buddha would be the giving of
alms and building of monasteries for a Supreme Buddha. But better yet than
gifts to the Buddha would be taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and
Sangha in confidence and observing the five precepts to perfection. And
still more beneficial than taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha
and observing the precepts to perfection would be one moment of
all-encompassing radiation of compassion and loving-kindness to all living
beings. Best of all, however, would be to cultivate, even for the time of
a finger snap, insight into the impermanence of all things (insight
meditation). And thus the Buddha explained the benefits of wholesome deeds
and the supremacy of meditation on insight.
This also illustrates the Buddha’s graduated
method of teaching where He started a householder on generosity and moved
him gradually to virtue, meditation on loving-kindness, and finally to
insight. Without first mastering generosity and virtue and the
all-encompassing meditation of loving-kindness one cannot contemplate the
impermanence of all phenomena, for in the peace and quiet that is required
for insight, pangs of conscience and other dark thoughts may arise.
The Buddha emphasized the importance of
mental culture on another occasion. Anathapindika, together with one
hundred noble men, had visited the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery,
saluted Him, and sat respectfully awaiting His Teachings. The Buddha
addressed them and said, "Be sure you householders provide the monastic
community with clothing, food, shelter and medicine. But you should not be
satisfied with that. May you also from time to time strive to enter and
abide in the joy of (meditative) seclusion."
The Buddha also emphasized the necessity of
virtue before one could embark on mental culture. He said, "If the heart
is corrupted then all actions, words, and thoughts are tainted. Such a
person will be carried away by his passions and will have an unhappy death
just as the gables, rafters and walls of a badly roofed house, being
unprotected, will rot when drenched in rain." (Anguttara Nikaya)
On another occasion the Buddha explained to
Anathapindika the attainment of Sotapanna, the first stage of sainthood.
He explained that when the five fearsome evils have completely disappeared
in a person, the four attributes of stream entry are present, and the
noble method is wisely understood, a person could regard himself as a
Sotapanna. The Buddha then elaborated on this brief statement. He
explained that one who kills, steals, indulges in sexual misconduct, tells
lies and takes intoxicants generates five fearsome evils both in the
present and future and experiences pain and grief in mind. Whosoever keeps
away from the five vices, for him the five fearsome evils are eliminated.
The person possesses the four attributes of stream entry when he has
unshakeable confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, observes the
precepts flawlessly and has penetrated the noble method known as the
doctrine of dependent origination. (Anguttara Nikaya)
Anathapindika had a long and happy life in
the Dhamma. One day when he was sick and in great pain, he requested the
monks to visit him at his home. Sariputta and ananda, out of compassion
for the great benefactor of the Sangha, visited him. Sariputta calmed
Anathapindika’s mind by reminding him that he was a Sotapanna, and as such
on the path to enlightenment. He could not fall away from the Dhamma or
obtain rebirth in one of the unhappy plains.
"When one has confidence in the Tathagata,
Unshakable and well established,
And good conduct built on virtue,
Dear to the Noble Ones and praised,
When one has confidence in the Sangha,
And views that have been corrected,
They say that one is not poor,
That one’s life is not in vain.
Therefore the person of intelligence
Remembering the Buddha’s teaching,
Should be devoted to confidence and virtue,
To confidence and vision of the Dhamma."
-- (Samyutta Nikaya)
Through the strength of this contemplation
Anathapindika recalled his virtues and his confidence in the Buddha,
Dhamma and Sangha. These thoughts relaxed Anatapindika’s mind and gave him
great happiness. The excruciating pain disappeared.
Anatapindika was nearing death. Having great
respect for Sariputta and confidence in him, Anatapindika requested his
presence ?out of compassion." Sariputta, accompanied by ananda, gave an
inspiring sermon on non-attachment. Anathapindika was moved to tears by
the profound discourse, the likes of which he had never heard before.
Sariputta then informed him that such profound discourses were usually
taught to the Sangha, not to white-clothed lay disciples. Anathapindika
then urged Sariputta not to restrict the advanced teachings just to the
Sangha. He said, ?Let such talks on the Dhamma be given to white-clad lay
disciples also, for there are those with just a little dust in their eyes.
If they do not hear such teachings they will be lost. Some may be able to
understand.? Shortly after Sariputta and ananda left, Anathapindika died
and was reborn in the Tusita heaven as a Deva. His gratitude and reverence
for the Buddha were so great that he was drawn to Jetavana where the
Buddha was residing. That night he came in splendour to Jetavana to praise
the glory of the Buddha, His Teaching, and His chief disciple. Saluting
the Buddha he said:
"This indeed is that Jeta’s Grove,
The resort of the Order of Seers,
Dwelt in by the Dhamma King,
A place that gives joy to me.
By action, knowledge and righteousness,
By virtue and an excellent life,
By this are mortals purified,
Not by clan or by wealth.
Therefore a person who is wise,
Out of regard for his own good,
Should carefully examine the Dhamma,
Thus he is purified therein.
Sariputta truly is endowed with wisdom,
With virtue and with inner peace,
Even a monk that has gone beyond,
At best can only equal him."
The Buddha declared Anathapindika to be His
chief lay male benefactor. His generosity, virtue and exemplary behaviour
are an example to all lay disciples. Many Buddhists emulate his lifestyle
and use him as a role model.
In the City of Bhaddiya, in the kingdom of
Magadha, there lived an extremely rich merchant named Mendaka. In a
previous birth, during the time of a famine, he and his family had given
their last provisions to a Pacceka Buddha. Resulting from this heartfelt
gift, Mendaka and his family, (whom kamma had brought together again) had
provisions in their home which could not be exhausted despite the fact
that they still continued to practise generosity to the extreme. His son,
Dhananjaya, and daughter-in-law, Sumanadevi, had an exquisitely beautiful
daughter named Visakha. They lived in extreme wealth and comfort and were
well-known for their generosity, which they practised to all.
One day, when Visakha was seven years old,
the Buddha visited Bhaddiya with a large retinue of monks. When Mendaka
heard of the Buddha’s arrival he called his young granddaughter and
instructed her to gather her maidservants and go out to greet the Buddha.
Visakha did as she was told. She paid homage to the Buddha and prepared to
listen to His teaching. The Buddha instructed Visakha on the Dhamma and
established her and her entourage of 500 maidservants in the first stage
of sainthood, Sotapanna. Mendaka, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and many
other servants of the household who were present, also attained the first
stage of sainthood.
The kingdom of Magadha was ruled by the
righteous King Bimbisara. King Pasenadi Kosala, feeling that such a
generous and well-respected family would be an asset to his kingdom, asked
his friend, King Bimbisara, if Dhananjaya and his family would move to
Kosala where they could be an example to his subjects. King Bimbisara
complied with his friend’s request. Dhananjaya and his family moved to
Kosala where they lived an exemplary life whilst practising the Dhamma.
Visakha grew up in luxury with the opportunity to practise generosity and
the Dhamma, to which she listened frequently.
At that time, there lived in Savatthi a rich
merchant named Migara who had a son named Punnavaddhana. Despite his
parents’ pleas, Punnavaddhana had refused to marry, insisting that his
bride should be an exquisite beauty who possessed the five maidenly
attributes: beauty of hair, teeth, skin, youth and form. Her hair had to
be glossy and thick, reaching down to her ankles. Her teeth had to be
white and even like a row of pearls. Her skin had to be of golden hue,
soft and flawless. She had to be in the peak of youth, about sixteen. She
had to have a beautiful, feminine figure, not too fat and not too thin.
Migara, in desperation, sent a team of Brahmins to search throughout the
kingdom for one who possessed all of his son’s requirements.
At this time, the exquisitely beautiful
Visakha, accompanied by her maidservants, was on her way to the river to
bathe when they were caught by an unexpected storm. The maids ran for
shelter while Visakha walked calmly and gracefully to the shelter.
Migara’s Brahmins, seeing the graceful Visakha, questioned her as to why
she had not run to avoid getting wet. Visakha informed Migara’s men that
it was not appropriate for a maiden in her fine clothes to run, just as it
was not appropriate for a king in royal attire, a royal elephant dressed
for the parade, or a serene monk in robes, to run. Pleased with her reply
and her exquisite beauty they went back and informed Migara that a
suitable bride had been found for Punnavaddhana.
Both families were happy with the
arrangement. And so it was that Visakha, with great ceremony, was given in
marriage by her father to Punnavaddhana. Her father, who was devoted to
her, provided Visakha with many gifts and an exquisite jewelled headdress
that reached all the way down her long hair to her feet, as a wedding
gift. He also advised her on the appropriate conduct for a married woman.
The advice he gave his daughter was as follows:
1. As long as you live with your in-laws you
should not tell the faults of your husband and in-laws to outsiders.
2. If any of your neighbours speak ill of
your husband or in-laws it should not be encouraged or repeated to them.
3. Lend money and articles to those who will
4. Do not lend anything to those who will
not return them.
5. When a relative or friend is in need you
should help them without seeking repayment.
6. When you see your husband or in-laws
approach you should stand up with respect.
7. You should not eat before your husband or
8. You should not go to bed before your
husband or in-laws.
9. You should regard your husband and your
in-laws as a flame; carefully and with respect.
10. You should look up to and respect your
husband and in-laws as divinities.
Whilst this advice that Dhananjaya gave to
his daughter would not be acceptable to most modern women, it was what was
expected of women at the time of the Buddha. Visakha, who abided by this
advice and instruction, was considered a model wife.
As Visakha’s beauty and generosity were
well-known many well-wishers came to honour the beautiful bride and shower
her with gifts. With her love for generosity,Visakha distributed these
gifts to the needy in Savatthi. So pleased were the people with her act
that she soon became everybody’s favourite. As was the custom at that
time, Visakha lived with her husband’s family.
Visakha’s father-in-law, Migara, was a
devotee of a clan of naked ascetics. Even though the Buddha and His
disciples lived in a monastery close to their home, they were not invited
to Migara’s house. One day Migara invited the naked ascetics and asked
Visakha to attend to their needs. Visakha was horrified at their lack of
modesty and refused. This caused much anger among the naked ascetics who
condemned Migara for bringing a female devotee of the Ascetic Gotama into
Shortly after this incident, when Migara was
eating rich rice pudding in a golden bowl, a Buddhist monk came for alms.
Even though Migara could see the monk he ignored him and continued with
his meal. Visakha, who was fanning her father-in-law, requested the monk
to leave by saying, ?Pass on, Venerable Sir, my father-in-law eats stale
Migara, who ate rich, fresh food in a golden
bowl, was furious at these words which he felt were an insult. He
commanded Visakha to leave his house and go back to her parents. Instead,
she called in an independent mediator to judge her conduct. She explained
to the adviser that the rich food her father-in-law was eating were
benefits resulting from his past good deeds. As such, instead of
performing wholesome deeds which would ensure continued prosperity, he was
"eating stale fare".
When Migara understood the meaning of
Visakha’s words he asked her forgiveness. Visakha, however, decided that
she no longer wished to live with her husband’s family. This was not the
first time that she had been accused wrongfully by Migara. She decided to
go back to her parents. Migara, who had finally realized the noble
qualities of his daughter-in-law, was horrified. He begged her to remain.
Visakha agreed to remain if she was allowed to invite the Buddha and His
retinue to their home for meals. When Migara agreed, Visakha invited the
Buddha and His retinue of monks for their meal and made arrangements for
the preparation of rich food.
After the meal the Buddha dispensed the
Dhamma. Migara and his wife, who were both spiritually developed as a
result of past meritorious effort, both attained the first stage of
sainthood, Sotapanna. After this, Migara, who was deeply grateful to
Visakha, called her Migara Mata, or mother of Migara, and respected her as
he would his own mother. He also became a devotee of the Buddha.
In great joy, Visakha continued to perform
generosity to the Buddha and His retinue of monks. She had ten sons and
ten daughters whom she brought up in the Dhamma. Being fond of beautiful
clothes and ornaments, Visakha indulged herself, always dressing her best
in exquisite garments. One day she accidentally left her priceless
jewelled head-dress at the Jetavana, the monastery in which the Buddha was
residing. Feeling that an item left in the monastery should not be taken
back, she offered it to the Buddha. On being told that priceless treasures
were of no value to His retinue of monks, Visakha offered the jewelled
head-dress for sale with the idea of building monasteries and providing
the requisites with the money generated. Unable to find a buyer who could
afford the exquisite jewelled head-dress, she bought it herself and used
the money to build the Pubbarama Monastery (also known as the Mansion of
Migara’s Mother) to support the Buddha and His retinue of monks and nuns.
Visakha was overjoyed with her gift to the
Buddha. On the day that she gifted the monastery to the Buddha, she sang
songs of joy and walked around the Pubbarama together with her children
and grandchildren. The Buddha informed the people that Visakha was singing
songs of joy because she had just fulfilled an aspiration made many world
cycles ago to be the chief female lay disciple of the Buddha.
The Buddha spent nine rainy seasons at the
Pubbarama Monastery, during which time He dispensed many Suttas and helped
many persons. On one occasion, He was residing at the Pubbarama when a
disturbance attracted His attention. He saw a dishevelled Visakha in wet
clothes running towards Him in tears. Visakha was bathing in the river
when the news of the death of her favourite grandchild, Datta, reached
her. Unable to control her grief, she ran to the Buddha for solace and
The Buddha questioned her as to the cause of
Visakha’s grief and was told that it was because her beloved grandchild
had died. She went on to explain how much happiness the child had brought
her. The Buddha then asked her if she would be happy if she had as many
grandchildren as there were citizens in Savatthi. Visakha confirmed that
she would indeed be very happy as her grandchildren brought her untold
happiness. The Buddha then asked Visakha how many of Savatthi’s citizens
died each day. Visakha replied that many died each day. The Buddha then
explained to her the impermanence of life. "Death," he said, ?comes to all
living beings. Think then how unhappy you will be, for you will have so
many more grandchildren, some of whom will die each day. Surely then you
will be coming like this to me for comfort many, many more times."
Visakha reflected on the Buddha’s words and
realized that the stronger her attachment, the greater would be her grief
at separation. Understanding through realization that all component things
are impermanent, she composed herself and left the Buddha. Visakha was
able to understand this because she had reached the first stage of
sainthood, Sotapanna, at a young age after listening to the Buddha’s
Visakha also helped many noble ladies in the
Dhamma. Once when she took a large gathering of ladies to hear the Dhamma
she was horrified to see that they had consumed large quantities of
intoxicants and behaved in an unladylike manner. She then asked the Buddha
how humans had first become involved with intoxicants. The Buddha then
dispensed the Kumbha Jataka, where a man had found fermented fruit and
water in the crevice of a tree and started to consume the fermented liquid
to obtain a false feeling of well-being.
The Buddha also helped Visakha on another
occasion, when she was upset at some unfair taxes that had been levied
upon her. Visakha had mailed a parcel to some relatives and the border
guards had charged an unreasonably high levy on the goods. Visakha had
complained to the king but, due to pressures of state affairs, he had
ignored her complaint. Annoyed and angry, Visakha visited the Buddha for
solace. The Buddha calmed her mind by saying:
"Painful is all subjection,
Blissful is complete control.
People are troubled by common concerns,
Hard to escape are the bonds."
These words of wisdom from the Buddha helped
Visakha put this minor irritation in perspective. The Buddha’s advice is
as valid today as it was 2,500 years ago. So strong are the bonds of
craving and attachment that often we are angered and affected by small
issues, quite a number of which are outside our control and trivial when
compared to other issues of greater consequence that afflict mankind.
Visakha often questioned the Buddha on
subjects that interested her, and the Anguttara Nikaya contains three
suttas that the Buddha dispensed to her in answer to her questions. In one
instance Visakha asked the Buddha what qualities in a woman would enable
her to conquer this world and the next. The Buddha replied:
"She conquers this world by industry,
care for her servants, love for her husband and by guarding his property.
She conquers the other world by confidence, virtue, generosity and
The Buddha also instructed Visakha on the
appropriate way to observe the religious holidays (uposatha). Visakha had
observed the religious holiday and come to Him for instruction on the best
way to observe the holiday. After first informing her of the wrong ways of
observing the holidays, the Buddha informed her of the correct way by
saying that she should observe the eight precepts, reflect on the
greatness and good qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, reflect on
the virtues of the Devas, and reflect on her own virtues. The Buddha then
went on to describe the happy and carefree life of the Devas and concluded
by saying, "Miserable is the glory of the humans compared to such heavenly
bliss." The Buddha described the wonders of heavenly birth as He knew that
Visakha, who was a Sotapanna, would at death enjoy such heavenly bliss.
One day when the Buddha was residing in the
Pubbarama, Visakha approached the Buddha and asked for eight boons. The
Buddha informed her that The Perfect One was beyond the practice of
granting boons. She then informed Him that these boons would be of great
benefit to the Sangha and that they were allowable boons. With the
Buddha’s consent, Visakha asked the Buddha to be allowed to give the
following gifts to the Order:
1. Robes for the rains, as monks trying to
preserve their robes sometimes ran half-naked in the rains, which was not
2. Food for arriving monks, as monks who had
arrived in Savatthi after a long journey were tired and did not know the
town. As such seeking alms would be difficult for them.
3. Food for monks setting out on a journey,
so that they would be strong and well-fed for the journey ahead.
4. Medicine for sick monks, as sick monks
were in pain and suffering.
5. Food for sick monks, as sick monks were
not in a position to seek alms.
6. Food for monks tending the sick, as they
often did not get food because they went on the alms round after tending
the sick and were late for their alms round.
7. Regular distribution of rice gruel for
the morning, as it was healthy and nourishing for the Sangha who do not
partake in food after noon.
8. Bathing robes for nuns to bathe in the
river, as nuns who did not have bathing robes often had to expose their
bodies while bathing, which was not appropriate.
The Buddha then questioned Visakha on what
inner benefits she expected from the giving of these gifts. Visakha
replied that often the Sangha who have spent the rains at different
locations come to the Buddha and ask Him about a monk (or nun) who has
passed away and question Him as to the place of rebirth. The Blessed one
will then explain his (or her) attainment and place of rebirth. I shall
approach the monk and ask, ?Lord, did that Bhikkhu (Bhikkhuni) ever come
to Savatthi? And if he answers yes, I shall conclude that surely a rains
cloth will have been used by this Bhikkhu, or visitors’ food, or food for
one going on a journey, or food for the sick, or food for those tending
the sick, or rice gruel. And when I reflect thus, I shall be glad and
happy. When my mind is happy my body will be tranquil. When my body is
tranquil I shall feel pleasure. When I feel pleasure my mind will become
concentrated. This will result in the development of the spiritual
faculties and powers and the enlightenment faculties. This, Lord, is the
benefit that I foresee for myself."
Praising Visakha for asking the eight boons,
the Buddha granted her permission to give gifts to the Sangha as
requested. The manner in which Visakha gives gifts is noteworthy. Not only
is the intention intense but she holds the intensity during the time of
preparation (before), during the time of giving and when reflecting on the
gift (after) the act of generosity. This intense happiness or volition
before, during, and after the act of generosity ensures maximum results.
Giving with the intention of purifying oneself, developing one’s mind, and
attaining Enlightenment is the proper way to give a gift and we should all
learn from Visakha, the Buddha’s chief female lay benefactor, on the
appropriate way to practise generosity.
Because of her generosity to the Buddha, the
Dhamma, and the Sangha, the Buddha declared that Visakha was His chief
female lay benefactor. In addition to providing the requisites to the
Buddha and the Sangha, Visakha also helped with issues and disputes that
arose among the nuns. She led a long and healthy life and passed away at
the age of 120. Visakha, who possessed the five attributes of maidenly
beauty, was said to have been exquisitely beautiful to the end, retaining
her youthful form and beauty throughout her latter years.
Citta was a wealthy merchant who owned a
small hamlet named Migapathaka and a forest named Ambarukkhavana. He
presented the Ambarukkhavana to the Buddha and His disciples and built a
monastery for the Noble One to use as a residence. Citta was one of the
Buddha’s model lay disciples. Just as the Buddha encouraged His monks to
emulate Sariputta and Moggallana, He encouraged young men to emulate Citta,
by saying, "Should a devoted mother wish to encourage her beloved only son
in a proper way, she may tell him to emulate the householders Citta and
Hatthaka. They are the guiding students for my lay disciples."
When deciding on the Noble One foremost in
expounding the Dhamma, the Buddha appointed the Bhikkhu Punna Mantaniputta
(who helped ananda attain Sotapanna) and the nun Dhammadinna. Likewise,
among the laity, the householder Citta was appointed by the Buddha as the
lay disciple foremost in expounding the Dhamma.
This was not Citta’s first encounter with
the Buddha. The Jataka stories relate that they were closely associated in
a former birth. Citta was the Bodhisatta’s servant in a past birth and
followed his master into renunciation (Jataka 488). He was a disciple of
Maha Kacchana and had learned analytical and organizational skills, which
helped him to expound the Dhamma in a manner that people could very easily
Citta paid great respect and reverence to a
certain Bhikkhu named Sudhamma who had entered the Noble Order after
hearing the Dhamma from Citta. One day Sariputta, Moggallana, Anuruddha,
ananda and several other great disciples arrived at Macchikasanda, the
city in which Citta lived. Citta approached them and listened to the
Dhamma. Sariputta dispensed a profound discourse, which resulted in
Citta’s attaining the second stage of sainthood, Sakadagami. Citta
immediately invited the distinguished elders for the following day’s
meals. Afterwards he realized that he had left out Sudhamma, to whom he
had previously extended his hospitality consistently. Approaching Sudhamma,
he let him know of the invitation.
When Sudhamma found out about Citta’s
invitation to others he was suffused with jealousy and reprimanded Citta
for not having informed him earlier. Even though Citta had since invited
him, Sudhamma scornfully declined. However, he could not refuse Citta’s
invitation. He joined the others as if nothing had happened and praised
Citta’s hospitality. But then he showed his true jealousy by adding
scornfully that the meal would have been complete if Citta had offered
cream cakes. Citta replied that his favourite monk’s behaviour reminded
him of a story of a hybrid of a cock and a crow. The story illustrated the
fact that jealousy and the refusal of the invitation were inappropriate
behaviours for a monk. And criticizing the food showed poor manners
towards a householder. Sudhamma was insulted by this comparison and left
abruptly. Citta asked him to visit the Buddha and explain what had
Sudhamma went to the Buddha and complained
to Him about the unfavourable comparison made by Citta. The Buddha,
however, admonished Sudhamma by saying that his behaviour was
inappropriate for a Bhikkhu. Not only was it inappropriate for him to have
refused Citta’s invitation through jealousy, but it was also inappropriate
that he should have insulted his generous host by complaining about the
food served. The Buddha asked, "How could you insult a faithful lay
disciple like Citta?" At a meeting of the Sangha where the Bhikkhus’
transgressions were discussed it was decided that Sudhamma should ask
Citta’s forgiveness for his behaviour.
Sudhamma then set out to beg forgiveness but
on reaching Citta’s house turned back in embarrassment. When the Buddha
heard that Sudhamma did not apologize to Citta He had another monk
accompany Sudhamma to give him the confidence required to own up to his
From this incident we see a very significant
aspect of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha always encouraged persons who
had done wrong deeds to ask for forgiveness. But forgiveness was asked
from those whom one had wronged. The Buddha realized that people make
mistakes and even Bhikkhus from time to time behave badly. He did not
grant forgiveness for such deeds. Forgiveness for such deeds could only be
granted by the person who had been wronged. The wrongdoer reduces the
negative effect of his wrong act by genuine regret. But forgiveness can
only be received from the wronged. Whilst one may feel better about the
misdeed when admitting wrongdoing to a friend or colleague, they cannot
reduce or mitigate the wrong. That can be done only through true regret to
the wronged. The wronged should then graciously accept the apology and
Forgiveness from the Buddha, Dhamma and
Sangha that Buddhists ask for in their daily reciting is a forgiveness for
wrongs done to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Buddhists observe the
precepts (modes of conduct) daily but often break the vows they have
taken. As these vows are taken of their own free will Buddhists ask for
forgiveness from the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha when they break the
precepts. Forgiveness that Buddhists request is for transgressions of the
precepts they take daily and for other wrongful deeds they may have
committed against the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Buddhist do not ask the
Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha for forgiveness for wrongful deeds they may have
done to another person. Forgiveness for these should be obtained from the
person to whom the wrongful deed was done.
The first documented teaching by Citta
relates an event where some senior Bhikkhus were sitting together in the
entrance of the monastery discussing whether fetters and sense objects are
one and the same. Some of the monks felt that they were the same, while
some felt that they were not. Citta joined the gathering and the monks
asked him his opinion. He declared that in his view fetters and sense
objects were different not only in name but also in meaning.
Citta then used an example to illustrate his
viewpoint. He said that just as a pair of black and white oxen tied to a
cart were not fetters to each other but were both fettered by a single
rope or yoke strap, the sense faculties do not bind the external objects.
Instead, they are bound or yoked by craving. The Bhikkhus praised Citta’s
understanding of the Dhamma and said that he must surely possess the eye
On another occasion a Bhikkhu named Kamabhu
recited a stanza dispensed by the Buddha and asked Citta for its meaning.
The stanza with which he needed help was as follows:
"The faultless chariot with its one axle,
And white canopy rolls.
See him coming without blemish,
Without ties, the one who has crossed the stream."
After some reflection Citta explained that
the Buddha was referring to an Arahanth, who, without blemish or ties, has
crossed the stream. He has done away with greed, hatred and delusion and
is safe from the ocean of craving. The chariot is the body, the one axle
is mindfulness, the smooth, frictionless holding together of the parts
(faultless) is virtue and the white canopy is the final deliverance of
emancipation. Impressed by his explanation, the Bhikkhu Kamabhu thanked
Citta and praised him by saying that he had surely achieved great wisdom
to be able to explain such complex teachings.
One day after some Bhikkhus had partaken of
alms at Citta’s house, he accompanied them back to the monastery. It was
an extremely hot and dusty day and the monks were perspiring freely. The
youngest Bhikkhu, Mahaka, remarked that it was very hot and that wind and
rain would certainly be welcome. In this instance Mahaka was not just
making an observation. He, who had supernormal powers, was asking
permission to use these powers to activate rain. When permission was
granted and Mahaka did procure rain to refresh his companions, Citta was
Citta then approached Mahaka and asked him
to demonstrate more of his supernormal powers. The Buddha had specifically
forbidden monks to show off their supernormal powers to the householders
for purposes of impressing them or creating awe. Mahaka, however, was very
young. Enjoying the praise and attention he was receiving, he placed his
coat on a bale of hay and went inside his meditation cell. Then, closing
the door, he created a tremendously powerful beam that penetrated through
the keyhole and burnt the hay while it left the coat untouched.
Impressed by the powers of one so young,
Citta offered to support Mahaka for life. Mahaka, however, realized that
he had disobeyed the instruction of the Buddha by showing off his powers.
Refusing Citta’s generosity, he left the city in search of a place where
he would not be known.
Citta used his knowledge to help both
believers and non-believers. A naked ascetic by the name of Kassapa, who
was a family friend, decided to visit Citta when he visited Migapathaka.
Citta questioned him as to how long he had practised this form of
asceticism. His friend replied that he had been an ascetic for thirty
years. Citta then asked Kassapa if he had attained any superhuman states
of bliss or supernormal insight. Kassapa replied that he had not, that all
he had done was to go about naked, shaving his head and dusting his seat.
Kassapa then questioned Citta on how long he
had been a follower of the Buddha. When Citta replied that he had been a
lay disciple for thirty years, Kassapa asked him if he had attained any
superhuman states. Citta replied that he had most certainly attained the
four Jhanas of mental ecstasy and that if Kassapa questioned the Blessed
One He would confirm that no fetters bound him to the sense spheres.
Kassapa immediately realized that Citta was Anagami or non-returner, for
it was only those who had attained the stage of Anagami who were assured
of birth in a non-sense sphere Brahma world. Kassapa was also surprised
that his friend, who was a householder, had attained such a high stage of
spiritual development when he himself, worn out through the practice of
extreme austerities, had gained none.
Reflecting on his friend’s achievements,
Kassapa asked Citta to help him take the robes under the Blessed One. He
was duly ordained and before long attained Arahanthship. Other friends of
Citta’s such as Sudhamma, Godatta, and Isidatta also became Bhikkhus after
discussing the Dhamma with him. They all attained the supreme bliss of
Arahanthship and surpassed Citta who reached only the third stage of
sainthood. The text does not specify as to why Citta had not considered
joining the Noble Order when he had encouraged many of his friends to do
so. It is assumed that it is because of his personal life and some
obligations he had that necessitated that he remain as a householder.
The laymen, Bhikkhus and Devas respected
Citta as a great teacher. When he fell ill just prior to his death, the
Devas appeared to him and urged him to aspire to be a world monarch in his
next life. Citta then informed them that he was seeking something nobler
and higher than to be a world monarch in his next life. He was aspiring
for the unconditioned Nibbana. The Devas were obviously not aware that
Citta had reached the third stage of sainthood. Those who attain Anagami
are reborn in the Suddhavassa Brahma Realm where they eventually attain
Citta’s relatives, unable to view the Devas,
thought that he was delirious as it seemed as if he was talking to
himself. He reassured them by affirming that he was talking to invisible
divine beings. Then, at the request of the Devas, he gave his last advice
to those gathered. Citta requested them to have trust and confidence in
the Buddha and the Dhamma and to remain unswervingly generous to the
Rohini was one of the Buddha’s cousins and
the sister of Anuruddha. When the ladies of the court decided to follow
Pajapati Gotami and join the order of nuns, Rohini declined.
When Anuruddha visited Kapilavatthu with a
large retinue of monks, all his relatives came to the monastery to pay
their respects. Rohini, however, did not come. When Anuruddha inquired as
to why his sister had not come he was informed that she was embarrassed to
face people as she was suffering from an unsightly skin rash. Anuruddha
asked that she be brought to his presence. Rohini came with her face
covered by a veil.
Anuruddha asked Rohini to construct an
assembly hall for the monks and nuns, as her affliction was of kammic
origin. As she did not have the money needed to construct an assembly
hall, she decided to sell her jewels to obtain the required funds. With
the help of her Sakyan cousins and under the guidance of the Ven.
Anuruddha, an assembly hall was built for the Buddha and His retinue. Upon
the completion of the structure, Rohini’s unsightly rash disappeared.
Rohini then invited the Buddha and His retinue for a meal.
The Buddha, having asked on whose account
the assembly hall was built and who had provided the meal, was informed of
Rohini’s surprising story. He then informed her of the cause of her
unsightly rash. Many births ago she had been the chief consort of the King
of Benares. She had had a falling out with one of the king’s dancing
girls, whom he favoured. Rohini, who was jealous of the dancing girl, had
secured scabs from an infected person, crushed them to a powder and spread
them on the bed and over the face of the dancing girl. This had led to an
infection that had caused an ugly rash on the skin of the dancing girl.
The kammic effect of this unwholesome act was the ugly rash that Rohini
had. The wholesome effects of the building of the assembly hall had helped
to nullify the effects of this evil kamma.
After listening to the Dhamma, Rohini
attained the first stage of sainthood, Sotapanna. She became a supporter
of the Buddha and His monks and continued to perform many meritorious
deeds. At death she passed away to the Tavatimsa Heaven where she was born
as the very beautiful consort of Sakka, the king of the Tavatimsa Heaven.
Prince Abhaya, the son of King Bimbisara,
was riding through the city when he saw a flock of crows circling and
cawing loudly around a small bundle. Stopping his carriage, he
investigated the sound and found a newborn baby boy who had been left to
die amongst the garbage on the roadside. Upon inquiry he learned that a
courtesan had discarded her illegitimate son whom she felt was a burden,
and had left him to die.
Prince Abhaya was transfused with compassion
for the newborn babe that still clung to life despite its ugly
surroundings. He decided to adopt the baby as his own. The baby was named
Jivaka Komara Bhacca – Jivaka, meaning ‘life’, because of his will to
live, and Komara Bhacca, which meant ‘adopted by a prince’.
Jivaka led a privileged life in the palace.
His friends, however, often teased him as he had no mother. Jivaka, who
was embarrassed by the teasing, questioned his father about his origin.
When he heard about his origins and his will to live he decided that he
would one day grow up to be a preserver of life. He felt that he had no
real heritage or family as he was only the adopted son of the prince.
Physicians, however, were treated with great respect. Determined to earn
the respect he felt he lacked due to his birth, Jivaka decided to go to
the University of Taxila to become a physician.
Jivaka approached Disapamok, a well-known
scholar, for his training. At this time Sakka, the King of the Heavens,
was observing the world. He realized that it was time for Jivaka, who had
in past births aspired to be the physician of the Buddha, to begin his
training. Sakka, however, wanted to ensure that Jivaka had more than just
the best training available in India. This was the young man who would
have the privilege to be the physician of the Buddha. Sakka decided to
take a hand in the training of young Jivaka so that he would have
celestial knowledge in the art of medicine. With this in view, He entered
the body of Disapamok. Jivaka excelled in his studies. Disapamok, however,
soon realized that the training that he was providing was being influenced
by celestial beings. The knowledge that was being imparted through him far
excelled his knowledge of medicine. Jivaka quickly learned medicines and
cures of which Disapamok himself had no knowledge. Jivaka completed in
seven years the physicians training which usually took eleven years.
Realizing that Jivaka’s education was
complete, Disapamok asked him to go forth and bring back a plant, herb or
root that could not be used for medicinal purposes for the preservation of
life. After travelling far and wide Jivaka returned to his teacher to
inform him that no such plant, herb, or root existed. All of nature’s
treasures were beneficial for the preservation of life. The joyous teacher
then praised his pupil by informing him that his education was complete.
Jivaka had surpassed his teacher in knowledge.
Jivaka decided to go back to Rajagaha to his
adoptive father. On the way he stopped to rest in a city named Saletha. He
soon heard that the young daughter of the city’s wealthiest nobleman was
sick. Despite the ministering of many well-known physicians, she had
suffered from severe headaches for seven years. Jivaka approached the
nobleman, as he was confident that he could cure the maiden. The maiden,
however, was not impressed by the very young man who claimed he could cure
her when older, well-known physicians had failed. Offering his services
for free, Jivaka continued to declare boldly that he could cure her.
Gathering herbs and roots, Jivaka prepared
the medicine which he then administered to her through her nostrils.
Before long the maiden’s headaches disappeared. The grateful nobleman
showered Jivaka with gifts and gold and provided him with a golden
chariot. Jivaka approached Prince Abhaya’s palace in great style.
Handing over his newly earned wealth to his
adoptive father, Jivaka thanked him for his love, compassion, and caring.
Prince Abhaya, however, returned all the wealth to Jivaka and informed him
that he owed him naught as he was his true son and heir. He then told him
that during his absence he had found out the full story of his origin. His
mother, Salawathi, was the sought-after courtesan of the kings and
nobility. Wanting to retain her freedom, she had discarded the baby whom
she felt would be a burden to her. Prince Abhaya had unknowingly adopted
his own child as he had loved his son dearly even prior to knowing that he
was in fact his own child. Prince Abhaya built a palace to serve as
Jivaka’s residence and provided him with many servants.
Jivaka’s second patient was none other than
his own grandfather, King Bimbisara. The king had a huge growth in his
stomach that bled from time to time on his royal robe. So prominent was
the growth that his consorts had started to tease the king by saying that
he was with child. The king had been treated by all the great physicians
of the country to no avail. Prince Abhaya informed Jivaka of his
Diagnosing the disease sight unseen, Jivaka
immediately prepared the suitable medicine. Then hiding it on his person,
he visited the king. After examining the king he administered the medicine
that he had brought with him. Before long the king’s growth shrank and his
wound healed. The grateful king called his entourage of five hundred
consorts who had teased him unmercifully by asking if his first-born was
to be a boy or a girl, and commanded them to give all their jewellery as a
gift to Jivaka. Before long a mound of precious jewellery higher than
Jivaka himself was placed at his feet. However, Jivaka refused this
payment and requested permission from the king to return the ornaments
back to his consorts. Even more impressed by Jivaka’s deportment, the king
showered him with wealth, gifted him with the royal mango grove and made
him the royal physician.
Jivaka’s reputation as a great physician
grew quickly. He was the physician of kings, noblemen and the Buddha. The
text mentions that he operated and successfully removed two tumours from
the brain of a rich merchant who was a good friend of King Bimbisara. He
also operated successfully to remove a blockage in the intestines of a
nobleman. In one instance when the Buddha was afflicted with stomach
problems, Jivaka prepared the medicine, and applying it on a blue lotus
flower, offered it to the Buddha. Jivaka then asked the Buddha to inhale
the essence emanating from the flower. The medicine which Jivaka had
prepared with devotion and presented so beautifully, cured the Buddha’s
Jivaka had in one instance risked his life
to attend a very cruel and vicious king named Chanda Pradyotha. One of the
King Pradyotha’s subjects had offered him a shawl that had been dropped by
a Deva in the forest. Admiring the very beautiful shawl, the king had
reflected that he should gift it to Jivaka who had risked his life to save
him. Jivaka, however, felt that there was only one person worthy of such a
shawl. He in turn offered it to the Buddha. The Buddha accepted the
celestial shawl and, as requested by Jivaka, dispensed a sermon on the
giving of robes. After listening to the discourse, Jivaka attained the
first stage of enlightenment, Sotapanna. The Buddha felt that keeping such
a valuable shawl in the monastery would attract thieves, which would
endanger His monks. Addressing ananda, he requested that the shawl be cut
into strips and resewn so that it would be of little value to thieves.
This custom of wearing patched garments still remains among the Sangha.
Even their new robes are made of strips of material that are sewn together
so that even the robe they wear would help them in the practice of
Jivaka built a monastery in his mango grove
so that he could be close to the Buddha when attending to His needs. It
was Jivaka who attended to the Buddha’sfoot when it was cut by the sliver
of rock that Devadatta rolled down the hill at Gijjhakuta. It was also
Jivaka who treated the Buddha in His last days, when He was overcome by
The Buddha dispensed the Jivaka Sutta when
Jivaka questioned him on the controversial question of the kammic effects
of eating meat. The Buddha explained that the eating of meat was not in
itself an unwholesome act if the following conditions were met:
Adittha: One has not seen the
slaughtering of the animal.
Asuta: One has not heard that it was
killed for his or her consumption.
Aparisamkita: There should be no
doubt at all in the mind of the person consuming the meat that the animal
was not killed for the purpose of his or her consumption.
The Buddha said:
"Taking life, beating, cutting, binding,
stealing, lying, fraud, deceit, pretence at knowledge, adultery; this is
uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men are rough and harsh, backbiting,
treacherous, without compassion, haughty, ungenerous and do not give
anything to anybody; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism,
hypocrisy, envy, ostentation, pride of opinion, interacting with the
unrighteous; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of flesh.
When men are of bad morals, refuse to pay
their debts, are slanderers, deceitful in their dealings, pretenders, when
the vilest of men commit foul deeds; this is uncleanliness and not the
eating of flesh.
When men attack living beings either
because of greed or hostility and are always bent upon evil, they go to
darkness after death and fall headlong into hell; this is uncleanliness
and not the eating of flesh.
Jivaka, I have declared that one should
not make use of meat if it has been seen, heard or suspected to have been
killed on purpose for a monk. I allow the monks meat that is quite pure in
three respects: if it has not been seen, heard or suspected to have been
killed on purpose for a monk." -- (Amagandha Sutta)
The Buddha’s teaching is known as the middle
path. He did not go to extremes or command anyone to do anything. While he
gave permission for His monks to be vegetarians if they so wished, He did
not state this to be a discipline rule as he felt that doing so would
cause unnecessary hardship to His monks.
Buddhists should refrain from eating meat
that has been seen, heard or suspected to have been killed for them.
Buddhists should also refrain from killing, instigating others to kill or
from a livelihood that involves the breeding of animals for killing. Monks
have also been instructed in the Vinaya Pitaka to refrain from eating
certain types of meat such as snake and elephant flesh, because wild
animals are attracted to the smell of such flesh and tend to attack those
who have partaken of such meat.
The Buddha has declared that kamma is
intention. As such one should not condemn a person just because he
is eating meat to sustain himself. This is not the same as a person who is
eating meat as a result of intense greed for meat and enjoyment in killing
for the palate. Neither should one discourage those who have chosen to
refrain from eating meat. A balanced diet can be achieved without meat.
Many Buddhists have opted to become vegetarians as it assists them in the
practice of loving-kindness.
It was also at Jivaka’s request that the
Buddha established that monks should sweep the compound of the monastery
and attend to other duties that would exercise their bodies. Jivaka,
seeing the benefit of exercise for a healthy life, requested this and
other mild duties to be performed by the monks to ensure their health.
With foresight, love and compassion the devoted Jivaka took care of the
physical health of the Buddha and His Sangha.
The books that contain higher teachings of the
Buddha that require penetration or realization for full
Third stage of spiritual development
Meditation on breathing awareness
The doctrine of no soul
The doctrine of impermanence
One who has realized the Truth using the
teachings of a Buddha
One With Wisdom, The Enlightened One
One on His way to perfection (name given to a
Truth or the Law
Divine or celestial beings
Birth stories of the Bodhisatta
Intentional or volitional actions (also known
as the cause)
Compassion and kindness to relieve others’
Goodwill and loving-kindness
Sympathetic joy in the progress of others
The Buddhist goal; the total destruction (or
absence) of suffering
One who realizes the truth but cannot teach it
Language spoken by the Buddha
Worldling; one who has not attained even the
first stage of sainthood
Confidence through study and understanding
Sympathetic joy in the progress of others
The Buddhist goal; the total destruction (or
absence) of suffering
One who realizes the truth but cannot teach it
Language spoken by the Buddha
Worldling; one who has not attained even the
first stage of sainthood
Confidence through study and understanding
Second stage of spiritual development
Meditation on mindfulness
The cycle of birth and death
Order of the monks and nuns
Dispensation of the Buddha
Modes of discipline or precepts that the Buddha
laid out for His followers
First stage of spiritual development (One who
has entered the stream of Nibbana)
A Fully Enlightened One who realizes the Truth
and then teaches it for the benefit of men and gods
The books that contain the majority of the
teachings of the Buddha
Discourses of the Buddha
Craving to cling to pleasant sensations and
avert unpleasant sensations. Tanha is the strong feeling that leads
to "I want" for my happiness.
Elders, a term used for male Arahanths
Elders, a term used for female Arahanths
Day when monstic discipline is recited, later
known as a religious holiday
Books that contain the code of ethics and
discipline for the sangha
The result of intentional actions (also known
as the effect)
Meditation on insight
Bodhi Bhikkhu, Maha Kaccana - Master of Doctrinal Exposition,
Kandy, Sri Lanka: Wheel Publications, 1995.
Gnanavimala Kirialle Pandit, Pujavaliya, Colombo,Sri Lanka: M.D.
Gunasena, reprinted 1986.
Jootla Susan Elbaum, Inspiration from Enlightened Nuns, Kandy,
Sri Lanka: Wheel Publications, 1998.
Khantipalo Ven., Buddhist Stories from the Dhammapada Commentary,
Part I, II, III and IV, Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication
Norman K.R., The Elders’ Verses I Theragatha, Great Britain:
Pali Text Society of Oxford,1995.
Norman K.R., The Elders’ Verses II Therigatha, Great Britain:
Pali Text Society of Oxford,1995.
Nyanaponika Ven. and Hellmuth Heckler, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi,
Great Disciples of the Buddha, Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication
Pemaratana P. Ven., Stories for Students, Penang, Malaysia:
Mahindarama Sunday Pali School, 1981.
Pemaratana P. Ven., The Way to the Buddha, Penang, Malaysia:
Mahindarama Sunday Pali School, 1983.
Sarada Weragoda Ven., Treasury of Truth - Dhammapada Illustrated,
Taiwan: Corporate Body of the Buddha Education, 1993.
Serizawa Keisuke, The Ten Disciples of Buddha, Japan: Ohara
Museum of Art, 1982.
Somasiri Mapalagama Ven., Sivali the Great Arahanth, Sri Lanka,
Kandy; Buddhist Book Printers, 1996.
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Update : 01-05-2002