Sự tích 16 vị La-hán được
chép trong sách Pháp Trụ Ký. Sách này do vị Đại A-la-hán Nan Đề
Mật Đa La (Nandimitra) trước thuật và Tam Tạng Pháp sư Huyền Trang
(600-664) dịch ra chữ Hán.
Nan Đề Mật Đa La (còn có tên là Khánh Hữu) người Tích Lan, ra
đời khoảng năm 800 năm sau Phật Niết bàn. Theo Pháp Trụ Ký
(Fachu-chi), thì Ngài chỉ lược thuật lại kinh Pháp Trụ Ký do Phật
thuyết giảng mà thôi. Sách này trình bày danh tánh, trú xứ và
sứ mệnh của 16 vị La-hán. Các Ngài đã đạt được Tam minh, Lục
thông và Bát giải thoát, vâng thừa giáo chỉ của Phật, kéo dài
thọ mạng, trụ tại thế gian tại thế gian để hộ trì chánh pháp và
làm lợi lạc quần sanh. Mỗi khi các tự viện tổ chức lễ hội
khánh thành, làm phúc, cúng dường trai Tăng, các Ngài cùng với
quyến thuộc thường vận dụng thần thông đến để chứng minh, tham
dự, nhưng chúng ta không thể nào thấy được. Hiện nay, tuổi thọ
trung bình của loài người là 80 tuổi. Tuổi thọ này - theo Pháp Trụ
Ký - sẽ giảm dần còn 10 tuổi là giai đoạn cuối cùng của kiếp
giảm. Sau đó, sang giai đoạn kiếp tăng, tuổi thọ con người từ 10
tuổi tăng dần đến 70000 tuổi. Bấy giờ các Ngài sẽ chấm dứt
nhiệm vụ và nhập Niết bàn. (Bởi vì khi tuổi thọ loài người
đến 80000 tuổi thì đức Phật Di Lạc sẽ ra đời).
Danh tánh và trú xứ của các Ngài như sau:
Tân Đâu Lô Bạt La Đọa Xà (S: Pindolabharadvàja), vị tôn giả này
cùng 1000 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Tây Ngưu Hóa châu.
Ca Nặc Ca Phạt Sa (S: Kanakavatsa), vị tôn giả này cùng với 500 vị
A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại phương Bắc nước Ca Thấp Di La.
Ca Nặc Ca Bạt Ly Đọa Xà (S: Kanakabharadvàja), vị tôn giả này cùng 600
vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Đông Thắng Thân châu.
Tô Tân Đà (S: Subinda), vị tôn giả này cùng với 700 vị A-la-hán,
phần lớn cư trú tại Bắc Cu Lô châu.
Nặc Cự La (S: Nakula), vị tôn giả này cùng 800 vị A-la-hán phần lớn
cư trú tại Nam Thiệm Bộ châu.
Bạt Đa La (S: Bhadra), vị tôn giả này cùng 800 vi A-la-hán, phần lớn
cư trú tại Đam Một La châu.
Ca Lý Ca (S: Kàlika), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1000 vị A-la-hán, phần
lớn cư trú tại Tăng Già Trà châu.
Phạt Xà La Phất Đa La (S: Vajraputra), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1100 vị
A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Bát Thứ Noa châu.
Thú Bát Ca (S: Jìvaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 900 vị A-la-hán,
phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Hương Túy.
Bán Thác Ca (S: Panthaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1300 vị A-la-hán cư
trú tại cõi trời 33.
La Hỗ La (S: Ràhula), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1100 vị A-la-hán, phần
lớn cư trú tại Tất Lợi Dương Cù châu.
Ma Già Tê Na (S: Nàgasena), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1200 vị A-la-hán,
phần lớn cư trú tại núi Bán Độ Ba.
Nhân Yết Đà (S: Angala), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1300 vị A Lan Hán,
phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Quảng Hiếp.
Phạt Na Bà Tư (S: Vanavàsin), vị tôn giả này cùng 400 vị A-la-hán,
phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Khả Trụ.
A Thị Đa (S: Ajita), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1500 vị A-la-hán, phần
lớn cư trú tại trong núi Thứu Phong.
Chú Trà Bán Thác Ca (S: Cùdapanthaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 600
vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú trong núi Trì Trục.
khi Pháp Trụ ký được dịch sang chữ Hán, Thiền sư Quán Hưu
(832-912), vốn là một họa sĩ tài ba đã vẽ ra hình ảnh 16 vị
A-la-hán. Tương truyền, nhân Thiền sư nằm mơ cảm ứng thấy được
hình ảnh của các Ngài rồi vẽ lại. Những hình ảnh này ngày nay
người ta còn tìm thấy tàng trữ nơi vách tường Thiên Phật động
tại Đôn Hoàng thuộc tỉnh Cam Túc, Trung Quốc. Sau Thiền sư Quán Hưu
còn có hoạ sĩ Pháp Nguyện, Pháp Cảnh và Tăng Diệu cũng chuyên
vẽ về các vị La-hán.
Vì sao 16 vị La-hán trở thành 18 vị?
khi có hình ảnh 16 vị La-hán, các chùa thường tôn trí hình ảnh của
các Ngài, và từ con số 16 người ta thêm tôn giả Khánh Hữu
thành 17 và tôn giả Tân Đầu Lô thành 18 (nhưng không biết ai là
tác giả đầu tiên của con số 18 này).
ra tôn giả Khánh Hữu (tên dịch nghĩa ra chữ Hán) vốn là Nan Đề
Mật Đa La (tên phiên âm từ chữ Phạn), người đã thuyết minh
sách Pháp Trụ Ký; còn Tân Đầu Lô chính là Tân Đầu Lô Bạt La
Đọa Xa2, vị La-hán thứ nhất trong 16 vị. Do khômg am tường kinh điển
và không hiểu tiếng Phạn mà thành lầm lẫn như thế!
sau, Sa môn Giáp Phạm và Đại thi hào Tô Đông Pha (1036-1101) dựa
vào con số 18 này mà làm ra 18 bài văn ca tụng. Mỗi bài đều có
đề tên một vị La-hán. Rồi họa sĩ Trương Huyền lại dựa vào 18
bài văn ca tụng của Tô Thức mà tạc tượng 18 vị La-hán, nhưng
lại thay hai vị 17 và 18 bằng tôn giả Ca Diếp và Quân Đề Bát Thán.
Do thế mà từ con số 16 lần hồi trở thành con số 18. Từ đời
Nguyên trở đi, tại Trung Quốc cũng như Việt Nam, con số 18 này
được mọi người mặc nhiên chính thức công nhận, con số 16 chỉ
còn lưu giữ trong sổ sách mà thôi. Nhưng, tại Tây Tạng, ngoài 16
vị trên, người ta thêm Đạt Ma Đa La và Bố Đại Hòa Thượng; hoặc
thêm hai tôn giả Hoàng Long và Phục Hổ, hoặc thêm Ma Da Phu nhân và
Di Lặc để thành ra 18 vị.
Ngoài ra, còn có hai sự tích khác về 18 vị
Sự tích thứ nhất được kể trong tập sách viết bằng chữ Hán
của thầy Giáo thọ Hoằng Khai, trụ trì chùa Càn An, tỉnh Bình Định,
vào năm Tự Đức thứ tư (1851). Theo sách này thì nước Triệu có
nàng công chúa tên là Hy Đạt, vốn rất chí thành mộ đạo, nàng
chuyên niệm danh hiệu đức Phật A Di Đà. Năm 15 tuổi, nàng ăn một
đóa hoa sen vàng rồi hoài thai đến 6 năm mới sinh ra 18 đồng tử.
Các đồng tử ấy về sau được đức Quan Âm hóa độ và thọ ký
để họ trở thành 18 vị La-hán.
dung sự tích này khá lý thú, tương đối có giá trị về mặt văn
chương, nhưng cốt truyện lại pha trộn tinh thần Phật, Khổng, Lão nên
ít có giá trị về mặt lịch sử.
Sự tích thứ hai: tương truyền ngày xưa tại Trung Quốc có 18 tên
tướng cướp rất hung hãn. Về sau họ hồi tâm cải tà quy chánh,
nương theo Phật pháp tu hành và đắc quả A-la-hán.
tích này tương đối có ý nghĩa, nhưng lại có tính cách huyền
thoại, do đó ít được người ta chấp nhận.
- Phật Quang
Đại Tư Điển, tr.359, 394, 4791, 6787;
- Phật học
Đại Tư Điển, tr. 2844-2845;
- Pháp Trụ
Ký, Hán tạng tập 49 tr.12;
- Phật Tổ
Thống Kỷ, quyển 33, Hán tạng tập 49, tr. 319;
- Phật Thuyết
Di Lặc Hạ Sanh Kinh, Hán tạng tập 14, tr.421
The Eighteen Lohans of Chinese Buddhist
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society,
you enter the chief hall of a Buddhist temple in China you cannot fail to notice two rows
of large yellow figures -- one along the east and the other along the west wall. These
figures, which are usually numbered and labelled, are called the Eighteen Lohan, and if
you ask your guide what they are he will probably reply "belong jess." This
answer may not be deemed satisfactory, but further inquiry will only elicit the
information that these are images of Buddha's eighteen great disciples. The names,
however, show that this information is not quite correct, some of them being unknown to
the original Buddhist canon. If you go on to Korea and visit the curious old Buddhist
temples in that country, you will find that Buddha's Hall has rows of similar figures, but
sixteen in number. If you continue your journey and visit Japan, you will find there also
Sixteen Rakan lining the side walls of the Buddhist temples. Lohan and Rakan are for
A-lo-han, the Chinese way of expressing the Sanskrit word Arhan for Arhat. Suppose you
could go back and travel to Lhassa, there also you would find Sixteen Arhats, or as they
are called there, Sthaviras, in the Chief Hall of Buddha's temples. Tibet, however, seems
to have also its Eighteen Lohan, imported from China apparently in modern times.
we examine the Buddhist literature preserved in the libraries of the great monasteries in
China, we find in it mention of only sixteen great Arhats, the number eighteen being
apparently unknown even to the comparatively modern native treatises. As for the pictures
and images of these sixteen, they are mainly derived from the works of one or two painters
of the T'ang dynasty. About the year 880 an artist named Kuan Hsiu made pictures of the
Sixteen Lohan, which were given to a Buddhist monastery near Ch'ien-t'ang in the province
of Chekiang. These became celebrated, and were preserved with great care and treated with
ceremonious respect. In the reign of Kien-lung of the present dynasty an official, while
on duty in the district, had copies of these pictures made by competent artists and sent
them to the emperor. His Majesty had further copies made, and ordered them to be printed
and distributed. It was found that wrong names had been given to several of the figures,
so the emperor ordered that all the names should be compared with the original and
correctly transcribed according to the new system. But the question remains, who are these
Arhats? and the answer is to be found in the Buddhist scriptures. They are patrons and
guardians of Sakyamuni Buddha's system of religion and its adherents, lay and clerical.
early mention of spiritual protectors of Buddha's religion after his decease is found in
the "Sutra of Sari putra's Questions," No. 1,152 in Mr. Bunyio Nanjio's
Catalogue. We do not know when or by whom this book was translated or when it Teas brought
to China, but its translation has been referred to the fourth century of our era. In this
treatise the Buddha is represented as com mitting his religion to the protection of Sakra
and the four Devarajas. He also entrusts the propagation of his system after his death to
four "Great Bhikshus." The names of these are given as Mahakasyapa, Pindola, Kun
te-pan-t'an, and Rahula. These men were to remain in existence and not experience final
Nirvana until the advent of Maitreya as Buddha. Three of these names are well known, and
the unknown one is apparently the Kun-t'ou p'o-han of the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching
" (ch. 23). These characters evidently represent the Pali name Kundo-vahan, which
means Mungoose-bearing, a name to be remembered in connection with what follows. The
composition of this sutra may probably be referred to the end of the last century B.C.
Then in a sastra, the name of which is restored as " Arya-Vasumitra-bodhisattva-
sangiti-sastra," Nanjio, No. 1,289, we find mention of sixteen "Brahmans"
over whom Buddha is lord. These are probably the Sixteen Arhats, although a note added to
the text gives the name of the second one as Ajita- Maitreya. This treatise, which was
probably composed in the first century of our era, was translated in the year 384.
another treatise called the "Ju-ta-sheng-lun," the "
Mahayanavataraka-sastra" of Nanjio, No. 1,243, we have further mention of guardians
of Buddhism. Here we have ninety-nine lakhs of " great arhats" and also sixteen
called "Great Sravakas." Of these only two names are given, Pindola and Rahula,
the reader being supposed to be acquainted with the sutras from which the author quotes.
These guardians of Buddha's religion are dispersed over the world, the names of some of
their spheres being given. Among these are Purva-Videha, the Wheat (Godhuma) region, the
Chestnut (Priyangu) region, the Lion (Simha) region, and the "Bhadrika place."
This sastra was corn posed by the learned Buddhist Sthiremati, and translated into Chinese
by Tao-t'ai and others about A.D. 400.
test, however, from which all our knowledge of the names of the Sixteen Arhats or Lohan of
Buddhist temples in China, Japan, and Korea may be said to be derived is that entitled
" Ta-A-lo-han-Nan-t'i-mi-to-lo-so-shuo-fachu-chi." This means "The record
of the duration of the law, spoken by the great Arhat Nandimitra." The treatise,
which was translated by the celebrated Yuan-chuang (Hiouen Thsang), is No. 1,466 in
Nanjio's Catalogue. The name of the author is not known, but he must have lived long after
the time of Nandimitra, and apparently he was not a native of that arhat's country. There
seems to have been also a previous translation of the same or a similar original, and to
it Yuan-chuang and other writers appear to have been indebted.
book begins with the statement that according to tradition within 800 years from Buddha's
decease there was an arhat named Nandimitra at the capital of King Sheng-chun in the
Chih-shih-tzu country. Nanjio took Sheng-chun to be Prasenajit and Chih-shih-tzu to be
Ceylon according to the Chinese notes in the " Hsi-yu-chi." But Prasenajit's
capital was Sravasti in Kosala, and we do not find any king with that name in the annals
of Ceylon. The " Chih-shih-tzu " country of this passage is probably the
Shih-tzu-kuo which we know from the 16th chapter of the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching "
was in the Vrijjian territory. The original home of the Aryan immigrants into Ceylon was
not far from this district, and the name Simhala-dvipa may have been derived from this
Lion-country. The words Sheng-Chun may stand for either Prasenajit or Jayasena. (1)
sutra then proceeds to narrate how the great Arhat Nandimitra answered the questions of
his perplexed and desponding congregation about the possible continued existence of
Buddhism in the world. He tells his hearers that the Buddha when about to die entrusted
his religion to sixteen great Arhats. These men are to watch over and care for the
religious welfare of the lay-believers and generally protect the spiritual interests of
Buddhism. They are to remain in existence all the long time until Maitreya appears as
Buddha and brings in a new system. Then, according to Nandimitra, the Sixteen Arhats will
collect all the relics of Sakyamuni and build over them a magnificent tope. When this is
finished they will pay their last worship to the relics, rising in the air and doing
pradakshina to the tope. Then they will enter an igneous ecstasy and so vanish in
remainderless nirvana. At his hearers' request Nandimitra gives the names of these
Protectors of the Faith, their homes or spheres of action, and the numbers of their
retinues. These Arhats are the Sixteen Rakan of the Japanese and Koreans and constitute
sixteen of the Eighteen Lohan of the Chinese. They have incense burnt before their images,
but generally speaking they are not worshipped or consulted like the gods and P'usas of
names of the Sixteen Arhats or Lohan, together with their residences and retinues, are now
given according to this sutra of the Duration of the Law and in the order in which that
work gives them. Variations as to the names which have been noticed in other lists and in
different temples are also given. But as to the pictures and images of the Sixteen we must
remember that these, whether merely works of art or consecrated to religion, are not
supposed to be faithful representations of the men indicated by the names attached. The
pictures and images are to be taken merely as symbols or fanciful creations. (2)
1. Pin-tu-lo-Po-lo-to-she, Pindola the Bharadvaja.
has a retinue of 1,000 arhats, and his place is the Godhanga region in the west. Sometimes
the name of this arhat is transcribed Pin-tou-lo, and sometimes he is styled Bharadvaja
simply. Pindola was one of Buddha's great disciples, became an arhat, and was
distinguished as a successful disputant and defender of orthodoxy, with a voice like the
roar of a lion. (3) But he had a weakness for exhibiting his magical powers before all
sorts of people, and sometimes for unworthy objects. On one occasion, according to the
Pali and other editions of the Vinaya, in order to show his superhuman powers, he rose in
the air, took a sandal-wood bowl off a very high pole, and floated about with it for a
time over the heads of an admiring crowd. This proceeding brought a severe rebuke from the
Master, and was the occasion of a rule prohibiting the use of sandal-wood bowls. (4) The
Buddha also on this occasion announced to Pindola that he was not to "take
Nirvana," but was to remain in existence protect Buddha's system until the coming of
Maitreya. (5) We read also of Pindola working a miracle with a hill in order to go to a
breakfast given by Sudatta's wife, and some make this to be the occasion on which Buddha
rebuked him and told him he was to remain in existence to foster Buddhism until the advent
of Maitreya to bring in a new system. (6) But Pindola sometimes wrought miracles for good
purposes, and his exhibition of magical powers at Rajagriha led to the conversion of an
unbelieving lady. (7)
has been living ever since Buddha's time, and he has appeared on several occasions to
pious workers for Buddhism. In India it was once the custom for lay believers when giving
an entertainment to the Buddhist monks to " invite Pindola." The arhat could not
be seen, but the door was left open for him, and it was known by the appearance of the
flowers or the condition of the mat reserved for him whether he had been present. (8) When
King Asoka summoned his great assembly Pindola was living on the Gandhamali (or
Gandhamadana) mountain with a company of arhats 60,000 in number. Called to the assembly,
he flew swan-like to the place of meeting, and on account of his undoubted seniority he
was chosen president. He was then a very old man with white hair and long eyebrows, which
he had to hold back with his hands in order to see." (9) As he often has very long
eyebrows in his pictures and images, the Chinese have come to know him popularly as the
"Ch'ang-mei-seng" or "Long-eyebrowed Monk." But Lohans with other
names also have this characteristic in the fancy portraits which adorn temples and
the seventh century Pindola came to China and appeared to Tao-hsuan, the great Vinaya
doctor and signified his approval of the work which that zealous monk had been doing. (10)
find the name Pindola explained in Chinese com mentaries as meaning Pu-tung or Unmoved,
but this cannot have been intended for a translation of the word. The Tibetans give
"Alms-receiver" as the equivalent, connecting the name with pinda, but it may
have been derived from the name of a place transcribed Pin-t'ou in Chinese. This was a
town or village in the Kosala country in Buddha's time. In a far-back existence Pindola
had been a bad son and a cruel man, and owing to his bad Karma he had to suffer in hell
for a very long period. Here his food was "tiles and stones," and even when he
was born to be a pious arhat of wonderful powers, he retained a tendency to live on
"tiles and stones." (11) We cannot wonder that he was thin and ribbed.
pictures and images represent Pindola sitting and holding a book in one hand and his
alms-bowl in the other; others have him holding a book reverently in both hands; and
sometimes we find him with an open book on one knee and a mendicant's staff at his side.
2. Ka-no-ka-Fa-tso, Kanaka the Vatsa.
arhat is appointed to Kashmir with a retinue of 500 other arhats. He was originally a
disciple of Buddha, and it was said of him that he comprehended all systems good and bad.
(12) The Tibetans, in their usual manner, have translated the name literally "Gold
3. Ka-no-ka-Po-li-tou-she, Karaka the Bharadvaja.
arhat's station is in the Purva-Videha region and he has 600 arhats under his authority.
He is sometimes pictured as a very hairy old man, and some paintings give him a small
disciple at his side.
4. Su-p'in-t'e, Subhinda.
sphere of action is the Kuru country in the north, and he has a retinue of 800 arhats.
This name does not occur in several of the lists, but it is found in the temples in China,
Korea, and Japan. Instead of it we find occasionally Nandimitra, and the new recension and
the Tibetan give A-pi-ta, which may be for Abhida. The Tibetan translation of the name is
inseparable or indissoluble, and this seems to point to an original like Abhinda or
arhat appears as a venerable sage with a scroll in his right hand, or as sitting in an
attitude of meditation. He is also represented as sitting with an alms-bowl and an
incense-vase beside him, holding a sacred book in the left hand, while with the right he
"cracks his fingers." This gesture is indicative of the rapidity with which he
attained spiritual insight.
5. No-ku-lo, Nakula.
sphere of this arhat's action is Jambudripa, that is, India, and his retinue is composed
of 800 arhats.
name is found in the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese temples, but in some lists instead of
it we find Pa-ku-la or p'u-ku-lo, that is, Vakula. This was the name of one of Buddha's
great disciples, often mentioned in the scriptures. Vakula became an arhat, but he led a
solitary, self-contained life; he never had a disciple and he never preached a word. He
was remarkable for his wonderful exemption from bodily ailments and for the great length
of life to which he attained. When King Asoka visited his tope and showed his contempt for
Vakula by offering a penny, the arhat was equal to the occasion and refused the coin. (l3)
must, however, go by Yuan-chuang's text and read Nakula. This word means Mungoose, and we
remember the arhat called Kundo-vahan or Mungoose-bearer already mentioned. We read also
of a Nakula's father, in Pali. Nakula-pita, who became a devoted lay adherent of Buddha's
teaching. Nakula was a Vrijjian resident at Uruvilva, but we do not find much about him in
the scriptures. He may be the same person with Nakulapita converted when he was 120 years
old, but made young and happy by Buddha's teaching. (14)
is often represented, as in the Tibetan picture, with a mungoose as his emblem, and
sometimes instead of that animal he has a three-legged frog under his left arm. Sometimes
he is represented as meditating or as teaching with a little boy by his side.
6. Po-t'e-lo, Bhadra.
arhat was appointed to T'an-mo-lo-Chow, that is, Tamra-dvipa or Ceylon, and he was given a
retinue of 900 other arhats. We sometimes find him called Tamra Bhadra, apparently from
the name of his station.
Bhadra of the Buddhist scriptures was a cousin of the Buddha and one of his great
disciples. He was a good preacher, and could expand in clear and simple language the
Master's teaching. Hence he is often represented as expounding the contents of a book
which he holds in one hand. He took his profession very seriously and aimed at spiritual
often appears in pictures and images accompanied by a tiger which he soothes or restrains,
but he is also represented without the tiger and in an attitude of worship.
7. Ka-li-ka, Kalika or Kala.
arhat has 1,000 other arhats under him and resides in Seng-ka-t'a. This has been supposed
to be Ceylon, but it is evidently the name of some other region. The Chinese characters
may stand for Simhata, and something like this may have been the name of the "Lion
country " in the Vrijjian territory already mentioned. (l5)
arhat is apparently the great disciple called "Lion King Kala", who attained
arhatship and was honoured by King Bimbisara. (16) He is represented as studying a scroll
or sitting in meditation, or holding a leaf of a tree, or he has extremely long eyebrows
which he holds up from the ground.
8. Fa-she-lo-fuh-to-lo, Vajraputra.
has 1,100 arhats and resides in the Po-la-na division of the world, that is, in
some temples and lists of the Lohan the name is given as Vajriputra. This may be the
Vajjiput of the village of the same name who became a disciple and attained to arhatship.
(17) He is represented as very hairy, or as very lean and ribbed.
9. Shu-po-ka, Supaka perhaps.
arhat is stationed on the Gandhamadana mountain and has an establishment of 900 arhats.
Instead of the character for Shu we find in some places Kie, that is Ka, making the name
Kapaka, but this is evidently wrong. In the new transcription we have Kuo-pa-ka, that is,
Gopaka. The Tibetans have the two Chinese transcriptions Kapaka and Supaka, but their
translation is Sbed-byed, which requires the form Gopaka (or Gopa), meaning protector. We
do not know of any disciple of Buddha named Supaka, but we read of one named Gopaka, a
sthavira at Pataliputra.
representations of this arhat often show him with a small figure of a saint above his
right shoulder or close to his side, but he also appears with a book or a fan in his hand.
10. Pan-t'o-ka, Panthaka or Pantha.
arhat's sphere is the Trayastrimsat Heaven, and he is attended by 1,300 arhats.
is sometimes called simply Pantha or Panthaka, and sometimes Ta or Maha-Panthaka, Great
Panthaka, to distinguish him from his young brother, who is No. 16 of this list. The name
is explained as meaning way or road, or "born on the road," and a legend relates
how it was given to the two boys because their births occurred by the roadside while their
mother was making journeys. (l8) But we find the name also explained as meaning
"continuing the way," that is, propagating Buddhism, and the Tibetan translation
gives "doctrine of the way" as its signification. But this explanation belongs
rather to the younger brother, who also is frequently styled simply Pantha or Panthaka. We
occasionally find in books Pa (or Sa) -na-ka for Pan- thaka, apparently a copylst's error.
Pantha is also found transcribed Pan-t'a, and for the second syllable we find t'u or t'e.
was distinguished as among the highest of Buddha's disciples, who " by thought aimed
at excellence." (19) He was also expert in solving doubts and difficulties in
doctrine for weaker vessels, and he had extraordinary magical powers. (20) He could pass
through solids and shoot through the air, and cause fire and water to appear at pleasure.
He could also reduce his own dimensions little by little until there was nothing left of
him. (21) These magical powers were called into request by Buddha when he made his
expedition to subdue and convert the fierce dragon-king Apalala. (22)
various pictures and images represent Panthaka as sitting under a tree or teaching from an
open book, or as holding a scroll, or as sitting in profound meditation with his arms
folded. He is also frequently depieted in the act of charming a dragon into his alms-bowl.
Panthaka is not to be confounded with the Upasaka of the same name who accompanied Mahinda
in his mission for the conversion of Ceylon.
11. Lo-hu-lo, Rahula.
Rahula was assigned the Priyangu-dvipa, a land of aromatic herbs, (23) and he had a suite
of 1,100 arhats.
the son of Buddha, was distinguished as a disciple for his diligent study of the canon and
his uncompromising thorough strictness in carrying out the rules of his profession. He is
often represented in pictures and images as having the large "umbrella-shaped"
head, prominent eyes, and hooked nose which some books ascribe to him. But in many cases
he is apparently represented without any distinctive features or attribute. It is his lot
to die and return to this world as Buddha's son for several times, and he is not to pass
finally out of existence for a very long time.
12. Na-ka-si-na, Nagasena.
arhat was appointed to the Pan-tu-p'o or Pandava Mountain in Magadha, with a retinue of
is, I think, the disciple called Seni in the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching " and the
"Fen-pie-kung-te- lun." In the former this bhikshu is selected for praise as an
orthodox expounder of the principles or essentials of Buddhism. The latter treatise also
calls him first in exposition. It adds that he was a bhikshu thirty years before he
attained arhatship, because he made the laying down of dogma the one chief thing
postponing to this release from sin, that he was skilled in analysis and the logical
development of principles, and that he left a treatise embodying the results of his
this Se-ni is, I think, the Nagasena who composed the original work which was afterwards
amplified into the '" Questions of Milinda." In the " Tsa-pao-tsang-ching
" We have this Nagasena, called also Se-na, a man of commanding presence, proud and
learned, subtle-minded and ready-witted, and he is put through a severe ordeal by a king
called Nan-t'e or Nanda. (25) Then these Nanda and Nagasena are evidently the Min-lin-t'e
and Nagasena of one translation of the '' Abhidharma-kosa-vyakhya-Sastra '' and the
Pi-lin-t'e and Lung-chun, Dragon-host of the other translation. (26) They are also the
Mi-lan and Na-hsien of the " Na-hsien-pi-chiu-ching " (27) and the Milinda and
Nagasena of the " Questions of Milinda." (28)
Nagasena was, or was taken to be, a contemporary of the Buddha and Sariputra, although he
is also supposed to be living long after Buddha's time. He is called arhat by the author
of the introduction to the "Questions," but in the body of the book he is not an
arhat. In this treatise he defends against his cross-examiner the unity and consistency of
Buddha's teachings, and explains and expands hard doctrines with great learning and
richness of illustration. He became the head of the Church in Milinda's country to watch
over and maintain Buddhist orthodoxy. His treatise must have existed in various lands and
in different forms from a comparatively early period. The " Abhidharma-kosa-sastra
" and the " Tsa-pao-tsang-ching " quote from a text which is neither the
"Na-hsien-pi-chiuching" nor the "Questions," and these two last differ
13. Yin-kie-t'e, Angida.
arhat's station is the mountain called Kuaug-hsie or Broad-side, that is, Vipulaparsva,
and he has a retinue of 1,300 arhats. In one place I have seen Mu instead of Yin, and the
Tibetans have Angija, but all other tran- scriptions are apparently either Angida, or
of Buddha's great disciples was named Angaja, and he was noted for the cleanness and
fragrance of his body. (29) Another great disciple was Angila, who was described as being
perfect in all things. (30) These two names may possibly indicate only one person.
Lohan called Angida is sometimes the fat, jolly creature who is supposed to be Maitreya or
his incarnation. Other pictures or images make him a lean old monk with a staff and a book
containing Indian writing. This latter is the old traditional representation handed down
from the period of the T'ang dynasty.
14. Fa-na-p'o-ssu, Vanavasa.
Korean temple has Fa-lo-p'o-ssu, giving Varavasa, but all the other transcriptions seem to
arhat, who has a retinue of 1,400 other arhats, is stationed on the K'o-chu or Habitable
Mountain. He is sometimes represented sitting in a cave meditating with eyes closed, or
his hands make a mudra, or he nurses his right knee.
15. A-shih-to, Asita or Ajita.
characters do not represent Yuan-chuang's ordinary transcription either for Asita or
Ajita, and it is probable that here he adopted the transcription of a predecessor. The new
authorized reading gives Ajita, and it is so in the Tibetan. But Ajita is Maitreya, and
that Bodhisattva, according to all accounts, remains in Tushita Paradise until the time
comes for him to become incarnate on this earth.
he cannot properly be a guardian of Sakyamuni's system, which must have passed away before
he can become Buddha.
arhat, whom we may call Asita, resides on the Gridhrakuta Mountain, and has 1,500 arhats
in his suite. It cannot be that he is the old seer Asita who came from his distant home to
see the newly-born infant who was to become Buddha. The images and pictures generally
represent the arhat as an old man with very long eyebrows, nursing his right knee or
absorbed in meditation.
16. Chu-ch'a, (t'a) -Pan-t'o-ka, Chota-Panthaka.
first part of the name is also given as Chou-li or Chu-li. These transcriptions stand for
the Sanskrit Kshulla and Pali Chulla (or Chula), and Chota is a dialectic form still
preserved in the vernacular. The words mean little, small, and this Panthaka received the
above name in order to distinguish him from his elder brother already noticed. He is also
called Hsiao-lu or Little Road, the elder brother being Ta-lu or Great Road.
has a household of 1,600 arhats, and his station is the Ishadhara Mountain, a part of the
great range of Sumeru. As a disciple Little Pantha was at first and for a long time
exceedingly dull and stupid, the result of bad Karma. He could not make any progress in
the spiritual life, being unable to apply his mind or commit to memory even one stanza of
doctrine. (31) He was accordingly slighted by the Brethren and their lay patrons, but the
Master always had pity and patience. On one occasion the King invited Buddha and the
disciples to breakfast, but Little Pantha was excluded. When Buddha discovered this he
refused to sit down to breakfast until the despised disciple was bidden to the feast. (32)
And when Little Pantha was expelled by his elder brother as being incorrigibly dull and
stupid, Buddha brought him back and would not allow him to be expelled. He comforted the
sorrowing disciple and gave him the words "Sweeping broom" to repeat and keep in
mind. In the effort to do so the intellectual faculties of the poor dullard were
stimulated, and he came to see that the two words meant that all attachment to things of
this world was defilement and to be swept away by the broom of Buddha's doctrine. (33)
Having entered on the good way he went on towards perfection, and became noted as one of
the first disciples in "mental aiming at excellence"; he was chiefly occupied
with the mind and mental contemplation. (34) By his determined perseverance he attained a
thorough insight into religious truths, and expounded these with such power and eloquence
that even giddy nuns, who came to laugh and mock, remained to be impressed and edified.
(35) In process of time Little Pantha attained arhatship, with the powers of flying
through the air and of assuming any form at pleasure. He had also other miraculous powers,
and on one occasion he produced 500 strange oxen and proceeded to ride one of them. (36)
arhat is sometimes pictured as an old man sitting under and leaning against a dead tree,
one hand having a fan and the other held up in the attitude of teaching. He is also
represented as a venerable sage sitting on a mat-covered seat and holding a long staff
surmounted by a hare's head.
17 and 18.
does not seem to be any historical account of the first introduction of the Lohan into the
Halls of Buddhist temples, nor can it be ascertained when the number of these guardians
was raised from sixteen to eighteen in Chinese temples.
some of these, down to the present time, the number of the Lohan is still sixteen, e.g. in
the Pao-ning-ssu, near Mount Omi, visited by Mr. Baber. (37) Some Chinese have supposed
that there were formerly eighteen gods regarded as protectors of Buddhist temples, and
that the Lohan took their places. But we know nothing about these gods, and the
supposition need not be taken into consideration. Another suggestion, and one which seems
not improbable, is that the Buddhists in this matter imitated a certain Chinese
we read the history of the reigns of T'ang Kao Tsu and T'ai Tsung, we find the record of
an event which may have given the idea of grouping the Lohan in the Chief Hall of a temple
and of raising their number to eighteen. In the year 621 T'ai Tsung instituted within the
palace grounds a very select college composed of eighteen members. These dons were
officials of high standing, of sound learning and good literary attainments, and faithful
adherents and personal friends of the founder. Among them were such famous men as Tu
Ju-mei and his friend Fang Hsuan-ling; Yu Chi-ming, learned scholar and loyal statesman,
who wrote the preface to Yuan-chuang's " Hsiyu-chi "; Lu Te-ming, and K'ung
Ying-ta. The members took their turns in batches of three in attending on duty, and while
in the college they were liable to be visited and interrogated by the emperor. He had
portraits of the members made for the college, and each portrait was furnished with a
statement of the name, birthplace, and honours of the original. The merits of each were
described in ornate verse by one of the number, Chu Liang. These favoured men were called
the Shih-pa-hsue-shih or Eighteen Cabinet Ministers, and they were popularly said to have
teng-ying-chou, to have become Immortals. It is this Hall of the Eighteen which I think
may have led to the installation of the Eighteen Arhats in Buddha's Hall. The names of
these venerable ones are given, and sometimes their stations and retinues are added. There
are also temples in which the Lohan are arranged in groups of three.
these Eighteen Lohan have never received authoritative recognition, and they are not given
even in the modern accepted Buddhist treatises. We find them, however, occasionally in
modern Chinese works of art. The South Kensington Museum has a pair of bowls on which they
are painted, and the British Museum has them on an incense-vase. This vase is remarkable
for departing SO far from the established doctrine of the Lohan as to represent three of
the eighteen as boys or very young men. The modern Chinese artist, followed by the
Japanese, apparently takes the Lohan to be Immortals, and he shows them crossing to the
Happy Land of Nirvana or leading lives of unending bliss among the pines of the misty
to the persons who should be admitted as guardian Lohans of Buddha and his religion, there
has been a great diversity of opinion, and consequently different worthies have been added
in different places. In many old temples we find the 17th and 18th places given
respectively to Nandimitra and a second Pindola. This Nandimitra, in Chinese Ch'ing-yu, is
the arhat already mentioned as describing the appointment and distribution of the Sixteen
Arhats. As one of the additional Lohans we sometimes find the well-known Imperial patron
of Buddhism, Liang Wu Ti (A.D. 502 to 550), or Kumarajiva, the great translator who
flourished about A.D. 400.. In some temples we find Maitreya or his supposed incarnation
the Pu-tai-ho shang, or Calico-bag (cushion) Monk. This monk is said to have lived in the
sixth century A.D., but he was not honoured as a Lohan until modern times. He is the
special patron of tobacco-sellers, and his jolly fat little image often adorns their
shop-fronts. Another interesting person sometimes found among the Eighteen Lohan is the
Indian Buddhist Dharmatara (or Dharmatrata), in Chinese Fa-Chiu. This is perhaps the
Dharmatara who was a great master of Dhyana and learned author, and lived about the middle
of the first century of our era probably. He is sometimes called a great Upasaka, and is
represented as receiving or introducing the Sixteen (or Eighteen) Lohan. Writing about
Lhassa the learned Mr. Chandra Das has the following: "In the Na-chu Lha Khang Chapel
erected by one of the Sakya Lamas named Wang Chhyug Tsondu, were the most remarkable
statue-like images of the Sixteen Sthaviras called Natan Chudug, arranged to represent the
scene of their reception by Upashaka Dharma Tala, one of the most celebrated and devout
Buddhists of ancient China." (38) In Tibet the Sixteen Arhats are called Sthaviras,
and "Natan Chudug" means Sixteen Sthaviras. Then "Dharma Tala" is for
Dharmatara, who was Indian, not Chinese. He is also now one of the Eighteen Lohan in Tibet
as in China. Another illustrious personage installed as one of these Lohan in many temples
is Kuanyin P'usa. He appears as such in his capacity as Protector of Buddhism and
The " Chih-shih-tzu-kuo" of this sutra and the " Shih-tzu-kuo" of the
" TSeng-i-a-han-ching" are probably the Simhadvipa of Schiefner's " Tara-
natha," S. 83. This last cannot be Ceylon, and the mention of the Lusthain. in it
reminds us of the garden in the Shih-tzu-kuo. In the Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 8, we
have mention of a Shih-tzu district which lay between Sravasti and Rajagriha.
For illustrations and details of the Lohan see Anderson's "Catalogue of Japanese and
Chinese Paintings in the British Museum"; Pandar's "Das Pantheon d. Tschangtscha
Hutuktu, " S. 83f.; Hsiang-chiao-p'i-pien, ch. 2.
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3 (Bun., No. 543, tr. A.D. 385) ; Fo-shuo-a-lo-han-chu-te-ching
(Bun., No. 897, tr. about 900).
Vinaya Texts, iii, p. 79.
Ch'ing-Pin-t'ou-lu-ching (or-fa) (Bun., No. 1,348, tr. 457).
Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 23 (Bun., No. 544, tr. between 420 and 479).
Tsng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 20.
Divyavadana, p. 402; Burnouf, Introd., p. 397; Tsa-a-han-ching, l.c.
Ken-pen-shuo-i-ch'ie-yu Vinaya Yao-shi, ch. 16 (tr. by I-ching about 710)
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, chs. 3, 23.
Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 5; A-lo-han-chu-te-ching.
In the Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 8, we find mention of the "Lion Town" which
lay between Sravasti and Rajagriha.
Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 17.
Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 29.
Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch. 5 (Bun., No. 1,290, tr. perhaps about 200).
Abhidharma pa-kan-tu-lun, ch. 27 (Bun., No. 1,273, tr. 383).
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3.
But the Chinese pilgrims were taught that priyangu was the Indian name for the chestnut.
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3; Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch. 5.
Tsa-Pao-tsang-ching, Ch. 9 (Bun., No. 1,329, tr. 472).
Abhidharma-kosa-vyakhya-sastra, ch. 22 (Bun., No. 1,269, tr. 565) ;
Abhidharma-kosa-sastra, ch. 30 (Bun., No. 1,267, tr. 652).
Na-hsien-pi-chiu-ching (Bun., No 1,358, tr. between 317 and 420).
" The Questions of King Milinda Milinda," translated from the Pali by T. W. Rhys
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3.
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch 11; Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch 5; Sarvata Vinaya Yao-Shih, ch. 17.
Compare the account of Chulla-Panthaka in Jataka (Chalmers), p. 14, and see note at p. 20.
Fa-chu-pi-yu-ching, ch. 2 (Bun., No. 1,353, tr. about 300) ; Ch'u-yao- ching, ch. 19
(Bun., No. 1,321, tr. 399).
Abhidharma-pa-kan-tu-lun, ch. 27 (Bun., No. 1,273, tr. 383) ; Abhidharma- fa-chih-lun, ch.
18 (Bun., No. 1,275, tr. about 660).
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, chs. 3 and 22.
" Travels and Researches in Western China," p. 31.
"Narrative of a Journey to Lhasa," p. 145.
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