Apadana commentary (Atthakatha)

by U Lu Pe Win | 216,848 words

This is the English translation of the commentary on the Apadana (Atthakatha), also known as the Visuddhajana-Vilasini. The Buddhist stories known as apadanas refer to biographies of Buddhas, Buddhist monks and nuns. They are found in the Pali Canon (Khuddaka Nikaya), which is the primary canon of Theravada Buddhism. Alternative titles: Visuddhaja...

Buddha finds disciples and starts his order

3.9. On that occasion, two merchants, named Tapussa and Bhallika, as they went with five hundred carts from the district of Ukkala to the middle country (Majjhima desa), had their carts blocked by a divinity, who was formerly their own blood-relative and being urged by the divinity to provide food to the Master, took along with them rice-cake (mantha) and honey-food (madhupiṇḍika), and saying: "Venerable Sir! May the Glorious Buddha accept this foodoffering, having compassion for us', offered the same to the Master and stood by. The Glorious One thought: "Not, indeed, do the Tathāgatas accept offerings in Their hands; where-in, indeed am I to receive the gifts," because of the fact that His bowl had disappeared on the very day when he accepted the offering of milk-rice. Then, on knowing his thought, the four divine kings from the four directions, came and offered bowls made of sapphire-gem. The glorious Buddha rejected them. Later, they offered four begging bowls made of bean-coloured stone. By way of having regard for the faith of the four great divine kings, the glorious Buddha accepted all the four bowls, put them one above the other and willed thus:- "Let them become one." The four bowls became a medium sized single bowl, forming visible seams, at the rim. In that new bowl made of stone, the glorious Buddha accepted the food, made a meal of it and made his statement of thanks. Those two brother-merchants went as their refuge to Buddha and Dhamma and became lay-devotees according to two-fold formula. Then, the glorious one touched His own head with His right hand, and made a gift of his hair-relics to them who asked for an object of worship. They put in a gold casket those relics and enshrined them in a temple (cetiya).

3.10. The Omniscient Buddha, however, rose up from there, went again to the very goatherd banyan tree and sat himself down at the foot of the Nigrodha tree. Then, as and when he was seated there and reflecting upon the profundity of the dhamma, which he himself had acquired and understood, such a thought as had attained the stage of not desiring to preach to others arose in him, saying: "Indeed, with hardship have I acquired and understood this dhamma", which happened to be the habitual practice of all Buddhas. Then, the Brahmā Sahampati, saying to himself: "Indeed! Alas! The world is ruined! Indeed! Alas! The world is ruined!", took along with him Sakka, Suyāma, Santusita, Nimmānarati, Vasavatti and Brahmās from the ten thousand cakkavālas, went to the presence of the Mast and made his request for the preaching of the Dhamma in this way and with this a request "Venerable Sir! may the glorious Buddha preach the Dhamma."

3.11. The Master, having given him his promise, thought over thus: "To whom, indeed, shall I preach the dhamma first?" and this idea came up in His mind: "Aḷāra is learned; he will understand this dhamma quickly." On surveying again, He came to know of the fact that he had passed away since the last seven days and he thought about Udaka. When he found out that he also had passed away on the previous night, he fixed his thought over the group of five monks (pañcavaggiya): "Indeed, the group of five monks were of much help to me" and reflecting upon them thus: "Where, indeed, are they staying at present?", He came to know that they were staying in Benares at Isipatana, in the Migada forest. Buddha dwelt on for a few days, wandering about for alms-food in the environs of the terrace of the Bodhi tree and saying to himself: "I shall go to Benares and turn the wheel of dhamma on the full-moon day of Āsālhi month", took his bowl and robe opportunely after getting up again when the night broke into day on the morning of the fourteenth waxing half of the month, entered upon a journey of eighteen yojanas, met on way, a naked ascetic, (ajīvaka), named Upaka, informed him of it is having become Buddha and arrived at Isipatana in the on that very day.

3.12. The group of five Bhikkhus, on seeing the Tathāgata coming from a far-off place, made mutual commitments thus: "Friends! This monk Gotama comes; having gone back toward abundance of requisites his body has become fully filled up, fat-limbed and golden-coloured in complexion; we shall not do any such honour to him as bowing down in adoration, etc.; however, since this one is the product of a great family, He is worthy of a seat being offered to him; therefore, we shall just prepare a seat for him." The glorious Buddha, with his ability to know the mind and behaviour of the people of the world together with the world of devas reflected upon what they were thinking about and came to know what they had planned mentally. Then, he heaped together thoughts of loving kindness which are capable of permeation all over celestial and human beings in general and pervaded his loving kindness in over the group of five bhikkhus. They, being permeated by thoughts of loving kindness of the Glorious one, became unable to stand firmly by their own individual commitments when the Tathāgata went near them, welcomed Him and performed all kinds of duties such as paying homage to Him and so on. Not knowing, however, the fact that he had become omniscient Buddha, they went about addressing Him by name as well as friend (āvusa).

3.13. Then the Glorious One let them know of His having become Buddha saying: "O monks! Do not habituate yourselves by addressing the Tathāgata by (my) name or as your friend; O monks! The Tathāgata is now a worthy one, a self-accomplished Buddha, took His seat surrounded by eighteen crores of Brahmās on the excellent Buddha-seat prepared for Him and preached the incomparable Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta, which arouses the activity of six kinds of knowledge, with its three-fold circle and twelve attributes, addressing the group of five theras (pañcavaggiya) as and when the conjunction of Uttarāsāḷha nakkhatta was taking place. Amongst them, the thera Koṇḍañña, sending forth his intelligence along the sequence of Buddha's preaching, became established along with eighteen crores of Brahmā in the fruition of the first stage in the path to nibbāna at the end of the Sutta. The M:aster spent His lent at Isipatana and on the next day remained seated in that very monastery giving religious instruction to Vappa thera. The remaining four theras wandered about for alms-food. The thera Vappa attained the fruition of stream-winner (sotāpatti), even early the next morning. By means of this self-same arrangement, the thera Bhaddiya, the next day, the thera Mahānāma on the fourth day and lastly on the fifth day the thera Asajji, all became established in the fruition of the stage of stream winner (sotāpatti). On the fifth day of the waning half (of the moon) Buddha had all the five theras assembled and preached to them the Anattalakkhaṇn sutta. discourse on the characteristics of Anatta. On the completion end of the discourse the five theras became established in arahatship. Then the Master, seeing the upanissaya (suffering qualification) of Yasa, son of a good family, summoned him, who had come away abandoning his home with disgust that night, saying: "Come Yasa". On that very night, He has Yasa established in the fruition of the stage a stream-winner (sotāppatti), and on the next day, had him established in Arahatship. Subsequently also, Buddha let the fifty four young people, associates of that Yasa to become monks by means of summoning: Come! Monks! and made them attain arahatship.

3.14. In this way, when the number of arahats in the world rose to sixty-one, the Master, having spent His lent, performed the pavāraṇā ceremony of confessions and apologies, sent out in all directions the sixty bhikkhus saying: "O Bhikkhus! Wander forth on your journeys! and going Himself to Uruvela, converted, on His way there, thirty princely young men in their good group, Bhaddavaggi, in the dense cotton-forest. Amongst them the last of all became a streamwinner (sotāpanna); the highest of all became a never-returner (anāgāmī). All of them also were made monks by being summoned as Come! Monks! sent out in all directions but he himself went to Uruvela, exhibited three and a half thousand miracles, converted the three plaited-hair ascetic brothers who had a retinue of a thousand ascetics with plaited hair (jaṭila), made them monks by summoning them: Come! Bhikkhus! let them sit down at the head of Gayā, (Gayāsīsa), made them establish themselves in arahatship with his preaching to them of Burning Sermon, Ādittaparivāya, to them went to the park of Laṭṭhivana in the outskirts of the city of Rājagaha, surrounded by a retinue of those thousand arahats, saying to himself: "I shall redeem by pledge give to king Bimlisāra." On hearing from the garden keeper that the M:aster had arrived, the king, surrounded by twelve nahutas of brahmins and wealthy householders approached the Master, when the rising splendour of His resembling a gold-sheeted canopy of a variegated circle, was being released fell himself down with his head at the feet of the Tahtāgata and sat down on one side together with his retinue.

3.15. Then, indeed, this idea occurred to brahmins and wealthy householders: "How is it, indeed? Does the great monk lead the holy life under Uruvela Kassapa or does Uruvela-kassapa lead his holy life under the great Monk? The glorious Buddha came to know what was revolving in their mind by means of his own mind and addressed Uruvela Kassapa by means of a stanza:-

"O you who dwelt at Uruvela! Seeing what, did you abandon the fire by following the instruction of whom? I ask you this matter, O Kassapa! Why has your fire-sacrifice been forsaken?

The thera also, knowing the Glorious One's desire, recited this stanza:

"Visible objects, audible objects and then palatable objects as well as sensual pleasure and woman are said to be brahmanic sacrifice (Yañña). Knowing this as stainful impurity in the roots of sorrow (Upadhi), I therefore do not do any sacrifice to be free from impurity."

Having recited this stanza, he placed his head on the back of Tathāgata's feet in order to demonstrate the sate of his being the disciple of the Tagthāgata saying. "Venerable Sir! The glorious Buddha is my Master; I am your disciple", went palm trees, three palm trees up to the height of seven palm trees, came down, paid homage to the Tathāgata and sat down on and side. Seeing that miracle, the big body of men spoke about the virtuous qualities of the master only, thus: "Indeed Buddhas are mightily powerful; in this way, indeed, even such an ascetic as Uruvelakassapa, who, because of his strong views, considered himself as being an arahat himself has been converted with his tangle of wrong views broken up by the Tathāgata." The Glorious one remarked: "Not only now have I converted Uruvela Kassapa; long ago also, this one was converted by me, related the Mahānāradakassapa birth-story (jātaka) which contained his biography and propounded the four noble truths. The king, along with eleven nahutas of his retinue, became established in the fruition of the stage of a stream-winner (sotāpatti). He informed his retinue of one nahuta of their having become devotees. While yet seated in the presence of the Master, the king declared the five comforts (assāsaka) proceeded to take refuge in Buddha, invited the Master to the next-day meal, rose up from his seat, circumambulated the Glorious one and departed.

3.16. The next day, those who had seen the Glorious one the previous day, as well as those who had not seen him, they all who also were citizens of Rājagaha, people numbering eighteen crores, being desirous of seeing the Tathāgata, went to the Laṭṭhi grove garden early in the morning, from the city of Rājagaha. The road-space of three gāvutas was not adequate for all of them. Without any intervening space, the entire Laṭṭhi grove garden was overflowing with them. The big body of people could not be contented in spite of the fact that they had seen the body of Dasabala, who had attained the height of proper proportion and excellent beauty. To them the Buddha they saw was the embodiment of beauty, worthy of praise. Indeed, n such places as these, the entire glory of the physical body, classifying categorically his major and minor characteristics, of the Glorious one should be praised. When, in this way, both the garden and the road way were without intervening space, overflowing with the big body of people who were having a look at the body of Dasabala, who had attained good proportion and excellent beauty, there was no exit for a single bhikkhu even. It is said that on that day the meal for the Glorious one would have been cut off. Therefore, the celestial seat of Sakka showed sign of being hot so that such a matter would not occur.

On reflecting the incident, Sakka came to know its cause, transformed himself into a young man and reciting poetry of praise, properly connected with Buddha, dhamma and saṃgha, descended in front of the Dasabala, made room by means of his divine power and went forward in front, reciting the praise of the Master with these stanzas:-

The Glorious One, the tamer, converter, together with the converted former ascetics of plaited hair, the perfectly emancipated, together with these whom He helped to be fully emancipated, with His complexion of pure gold entered the city of Rājagaha. The emancipated personage together with those whom He helped to get emancipated:P: The crossed-over together with those, whom He helped to get crossed over:P:. The peaceful together with those whom He helped to become peaceful:P:. The Glorious One entered the city of Rājāgaha. The Glorious One, possessor of ten residence (dasavāso) ten powers, the knower of ten dhammas, being also endowed with ten, that Buddha surrounded by a retinue of ten hundred entered the city of Rājagaha.

Then the big body of people, on seeing the graceful beauty of the young man, considered thus: "Indeed, this young man is exceedingly handsome; never, indeed, have we seen, however, such a one," and asked: "From where is this young man? Or whose is this?" On hearing their question, the young man recited a stanza thus:-

"I am the serving attendant of that personage who is wise, the tamer in all respects, the pure One, the peerless, the worthy object of worship, the speaker of excellent words conducive towards reaching nibbāna in the world.

3.17. The Master entered upon the journey rendered possible by sakka and entered the city of rājagaha surrounded by a thousand Bhikkhus. The king, after offering a great charity to the clergy headed by Buddha and saying: "Venerable Sir! I shall not be able to live without the three Gems; at the proper time or otherwise I wish to come to the presence of the Glorious One; the Laṭṭhi grove garden, namely is too far away;this bamboo-grove garden of ours, however, is neither too far nor too near; it has egress and ingress worthy to become the monastery of Buddha; Venerable Sir! Let the Glorious One accept this", brought gem-coloured water, scented sweet with profusely perfumed flowers in a ceremonial vessel of gold, and poured down the water of ceremonial libation on to the hands of Dasabala duly dedicating the bamboo-grove garden as offering to the Buddha. As and when the garden-monastery was accepted by Buddha, the great earth quaked to indicate: "The roots of Buddha's dispensation have been driven down." Indeed, on the surface of the Jambu island, there was no acceptance of any other monastery causing the great earth to quake, except the Veḷuvana. In the island of Tambadīpa also, except the great monastery (Mahāvihāra) there was no acceptance of monastery after causing earthquake. The Master accepted the offering of the monastery of Veḷuvana (bamboo grove) made thanks giving to the king, rose up from His seat and went to Veḷuvana, surrounded by the congregation of bhikkhus.

3.18. On that occasion, indeed, however, two wandering ascetics (paribbājaka), Sāriputta and Moggallāna were taking up their abode, depending upon the city of Rājagaha in their quest for immortality. On seeing the thera Asajji entering the city for alms-food, Sāriputta, became full of faith in his heart, went and attended on the thera and on hearing the stanza (gāthā), beginning with the words: "All phenomena originate owing to their causes", became established in the fruition of a stream winner (sotāpatti) and recited that very same stanza to his own associate, Moggalāna also. That associate also became established in the fruition of sotāpatti. Both of them also, gave Sañjaya a look-up and became monks in the presence of the Glorious one together with their own retinue. Out of them, Moggalāna attained arahatship in seven days. Sāriputta did the same in half a month. The Master placed both of them in the position of His chief disciples. On the very day Sāriputta attained arahatship He convened a meeting with the thera Sariputta.

3.19. While, the Tathāgata was dwelling in that self-same bamboo-grove garden, the great king Suddhodana heard thus: "It is said that my son, having practised a course of difficult deeds for six years, attained the supreme enlightenment by becoming Buddha, turned the excellent wheel of Dhamma and has been at the bamboo-grove, (Veluvana)", and addressed and said to a certain minister thus: "Come! my man! You go to Rājagaha surrounded by a thousand men and saying on my behalf: "Your father, the great king Suddhodana is desirous of seeing his son" and come back bringing my son". That minister took the royal order by bowing down his head, saying also "Even so, Your majesty!, went on journey, sixty yojanas long, rather quickly, surrounded by a thousand men, sat down in the midst of four assemblies of Dasabala entered the monastery at the time of preaching the dhamma. That minister, saying to himself: "Let the royal message sent by the king stand for the time being", stood at the extremity of the assembly, listened to the preaching of dhamma by the Master, attained arahatship together with his thousand men, while still standing and asked for monkhood. The Glorious One stretched out His hand summoning: Come! Monks! At that very moment, all of them became bearers of bowl and robe which sprang up magically and were like unto sixty year-old theras. Beginning from the time of attainment of Arahatship, however, that minister said to himself: "Noble saints (ariya), should have equanimity" and did not speak to Dasabala of the royal message sent by the king. The king sent another minister in the self-same manner with the same purpose saying: "Neither has the one who went, come back nor has any return message been heard". That second minister also went to the Buddha, attained Arahatship together with his retinue, but remained silent. Again the king sent seven subsequent ministers in the self same way with the same purpose, saying: "Come! My men! You (go) and you also go!" All those nine ministers accompanied by nine thousand men, having finished doing what ought to be done for themselves, became silent and stayed on there (even).

3.20. The king not getting any intimation that should be brought to him by way of message also, considered thus: "So many of my men, because of absence of affection for me, did not bring back any information by way of a message; who indeed will now act as my messenger?" and surveying the entire royal army, saw Kāḷudāyi. It is said that he accomplished all benefits for the king, was a confident, exceedingly trusted minister, who was born together with the Bodhisat on one and the same day, an associate who was a player with soft earch in the company of the Bodhisat. Then the king addressed him thus:- "Dear Kāḷudāyi! Because I;am desirous of seeing my son, I despatched nine ministers with nine thousand men;not a single one of them has come back; there is no (Pg.155) one who comes and gives me any news (even) difficult to know, it is, indeed, as to the danger to my life; while I am still living, I should like to see my son; will you be able, indeed, to show me my son?" Kāḷudāyi replied: "Your Majesty! I shall be able to do so, if I get permission to become a monk." The king reacted: "My dear! Whether you become a monk or not please show me my son." He, kāḷudāyi, saying: "Very well! Your Majesty!", took the royal message from the king, went to Rājagaha, stood at the extremity of the assembly at the time of dhamma-preaching by the Master, listened to the dhamma, attained arahatship along with his men, became monks by being addressed thus " Come! Monk!" and took up his residence there.

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