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 returns to his father's Kingdom and initiates his son Rahula

3.21. The Master, having become Buddha, resided at Isipatana, the whole of first rainy season and on the expiry of the lent, celebrated the pavāranā ceremony, went to Uruveḷa, where, while living for three months converted the three ascetic brothers who wore braided hair, went to Rājagaha on the full moon day of Phussa month surrounded by a retinue of a thousand bhikkhus and dwelt there, two months. So far, after the departure from Benares five months had lasted. The whole cold season has passed. Seven or eight days had gone by since the day of arrival of the thera Kaludayi. On the full moon day of the month of Phagguna, the thera thought: "Winter is now over; spring season has come. Roads for travelling have been given by men after they have harvested their crops from every direction one faces; the earth is now well covered with green grass; dense jungles are well-flowered in beautiful bloom; roads are now worthy of journey; time it is for the Dasabala to do favour to His kinsfolk."

Then the thera approached the Glorious One and spoke in praise of the nature of the journey to go to the family city of Dasabala with not less than sixty stanzas:-

"Since they are in full bloom, trees are now crimson coloured, Venerable Sir! Forsaking their foliage of leaves they are beginning to bear fruit. As if aflame they are shining. Time it is, O Great Hero! for the sharing of their flavour. The weather is neither too cold nor too hot; there is neither extreme scarcity of alms nor famine; the ground is grassy and green. This is the time, O Great Sage!

Thereupon the Master said to him: "O Udāyi! why, indeed, is it that you sing the praise of going on a journey with your sweet voice?" Udāyi replied: "Venerable Sir! Your father, the great king Suddhodana is desirous of seeing you, kindly do favour to your relatives". Buddha agreed saying: "Very well, Udāyi! I shall favour my relatives; inform the congregation of Bhikkhus, they will completely fulfil the duties of going on a journey". On hearing Buddha's response, the thera Udāyi said: "Very well, Venerable Sir", and informed the bhikkhus accordingly.

3.22. The Glorious One left Rājagaha surrounded by ten thousand sons of resident families of Anga and Magadha, and ten thousand residents of Kapilavatthu, all together twenty thousand bhikkhus who had destroyed their cankers (āsava) and became arahats and went on His journey, covering the distance of a yojana every day. Saying to Himself: "Kapilavatthu is sixty yojanas away from Rājagaha, I shall reach there in two months", Buddha made His departure to enter upon a leisurely journey. The thera Kāludayi also, saying to himself: "I shall inform the king about the departure of the Glorious One," went up to the sky and made himself visible in the royal residence. The king saw the thera, became joyful at heart, invited him to get seated on the pallañka; and offered a bowlful of best flavoured food of different kinds prepared for himself. The thera got up from his seat and showed signs of his going. The king requested saying: "Please sit down and eat, Sir'. The thera replied saying: "O great king! I shall go back to the presence of the Master and take my meal." The king then asked: "Where is the M:aster, sir?" The thera answered: "O great king! He has come out on His journey, surrounded by twenty thousand bhikkhus for the purpose of seeing you". Delighted at heart, the king said: "Please enjoy this meal; until my son reaches this city, up to that time kindly collect alms-food for Him from here only."The thera agreed to it. The king entertained the thera hospitably 'shampooed' the begging bowl with perfumed powder, filled it with most excellent eatables and delivered it into the hands of the thera saying: "Kindly offer it to the Tathāgata". While all the audience kept looking on, the thera threw up the bowl into the sky, went up himself into the atmosphere, brought the alms-food and placed the same in the hands of the Master. The Master enjoyed that meal. In this manner only, the thera brought alms-food every day. The Master also, throughout His journey, took His meals provided as alms-food by the king alone. The thera also everyday at the end of his taking his meal, gave information as: "Today the Glorious one has come so many yojanas nearer;now, He has covered so much distance: and aroused the entire royal family to become full of faith in the Master without seeing Him even, with his religious discourse on matters relevantly connected with the qualities of Buddha. For that reason even the Glorious one conferred upon him one of the top-most positions, declaring: "O monks! Kāḷudāyi is he, who takes the top place among bhikkhus who are my disciples who make members of my family to have faith in me."

3.23. When the Glorious One arrived, the Sakiyans also, indeed, saying to themselves: "We shall see out best relative", assembled together, and on thinking over the dwelling place for the Glorious One, earmarked the grove of the Sakiyan Nigrodha as being delightful, had all the preparatory arrangements executed, held in their hands sweet scented flowers, sent ahead first of all young and junior boy and girl citizens well adorned with all kinds of adornments by way of welcoming Him. Later, they sent ahead royal princess and royal princesses. In between them, they themselves, performing acts of honour to the Glorious One with perfumes, flowers etc, took Him and went to the Nigrodha grove. There, the Glorious One, surrounded by two thousand arahats, sat Himself down on the excellent seat prepared for Buddha. Sākiyans, were congenitally proud and highly conceited. They considered thus: "Prince Siddhattha is younger than we are; He is our youngest cousin, nephew, son, grandson" and said to the young and junior royal princes thus: "You all pay homage to Him; we shall sit down behind you all."

3.24. When they were seated thus without doing adoration to Him the Glorious One found out their intention saying: "My kinsfolk do not pay homage to me; look! I shall now make them adore me", entered upon the fourth jhāna, rose up thence, went up to the sky, and performed a miracle similar to the twin miracle made at the foot of Kaṇḍa's mango tree as if scattering down His feet dust on their heads. The king, on seeing that aweful act said: "Venerable Sir! On your birthday I bowed down in adoration at your feet as soon as I saw them turn the other way round, and got established on the head of the brahmin sage when on your feet you were made to approach in order to worship kāladevala. This was my first adoration to you. On the day of the ploughing ceremony also, I worshipped your feet as soon as I saw the not changing round of the shade of your Eugenia tree when you were lying asleep on the auspicious bed in the shade under . This was my second salutation to you. Now, when I see such a miracle as I have never seen before, I worship your feet. This is my third adoration." When, however, the Glorious One was worshipped by the king, there was not a single Sākiyan, who could remain, without adoring Him. All of them paid their respective homage naturally.

3.25. Having thus made His relatives worship him, the Glorious One descended from the sky and sat Himself down on the seat prepared for Him. When the Glorious One became seated there was the getting together of crest-fallen relatives. They all sat down having become onepointed in thought. Thereafter a massive rain-cloud showered down a lotus-shower Copper coloured rain--water came down making sound. It wetted only those who wanted to be wet. On the body of anyone who did not desire to be wet, not a single drop fell. On seeing that phenomenon, all became surprised and astonished heart and soul and made this remark: "Indeed, it is wonderful! Indeed, it is strange"The Master responded: "No only now, does the lotus-rain shower down on the assembly of my relatives, formerly also it had rained", and preached the Vessantara birth-story (jātaka), to illustrate this statement. Having heard the preaching of dhamma, all the Sākiyans rose (up), paid their homage and departed. There was, not a single individual, whether the king himself or his ministers who said before going away: "Tomorrow, kindly accept our meal-offering".

3.26. On the next day, the Master, accompanied by a retinue of twenty thousand bhikkhus entered the city of Kapilavatthu for alms-food. Him nobody went and;invited. Neither did anybody take hold of His begging bowl. The Glorious One, while still standing near the pillar of the city gate reflected thus: "How did, indeed, the previous Buddhas wander about to collect alms-food in their family city. Did they go to the houses of the reigning rulers in the order of precedence? Otherwise did they practise the dhutanga practice of going from house to house?" Thereafter, not seeing that any of the previous Buddhas went to their royal relatives for food, he said to himself: "I also should maintain this tradition of theirs now; in future also, my disciples, following my self-same example will thoroughly fulfil the duty of going about for alms-food", and Himself went about on his begging round for alms-food beginning from the house he had entered at one extremity. Big bodies of people were occupied with getting a good look each, at him after opening the lion-cage-like windows in their palatial apartments of two storeys; three storeys, etc., saying to themselves: "They say that our lord Prince Siddhattha goes about collecting his alms-food."

3.27. The mother of Rāhula also opened her apartment window, saying to herself: "It is said that our young lord having previously gone about in this very city in great royal splendour on gold palanquins, etc., is now walking about for alms-food, having shaven off His hair and beard, put on yellow robes, with a begging bowl in His hands; is it, indeed, becoming?", looked out to see, came to find out the Glorious One, shining brilliantly with the peerless glory of Buddha, adorned with thirtytwo characteristics of a great personage, radiant with eighty minor members of His limbs, well displaying His fathom-length rays, lighting up the city-streets with the radiance of His body resplendent with absence of all kinds of lust (rāga) or resplendent with dyes of various colours (virāga), consequently sang the praise of the Glorious One beginning from the crown of his head down to the soles of his feet with ten man-lion stanzas (narasīhagāthā) thus:-

"The lion is with charmingly blue soft wavy hair; His forehead resembles the stainless surface of the sun, His nose is proportionately prominent, soft and long; His blaze of rays radiate extensively,

and informed the king thus: "Your Son goes about to collect His alms-food". The king became agitated in mind, adjusted his garments with his own hand, went out of his palace in great hurry speedily approached the Glorious one, stood in front of Him and asked: "Venerable Sir! When, indeed, do you disgrace us? For what purpose do you go about to beg your alms-food? Why did you not let us know that it is not possible to obtain meals for so many bhikkhus?" The answer was: "O great king! This alms food begging is our hereditary practice". The king responded: "Venerable Sir. Is not out lineage known as mahasammata Khattiya? In our tradition there is no such thing as a single Khattiya who goes about begging alms-food".

Buddha, while still standing within the street, made His retort: "O great king! Your family, namely, is this Khattiya race; Our lineage, however, comprising: 'Dīpaṅkara, Koṇḍañña Kassapa' is this, namely, the lineage of Buddha; these as well as many thousands of other Buddhas made their living only by going about begging alms-food", and recited this stanza:-

"You must exert yourself;you should not be negligent; you must practise dhamma so as to make it good practice; one who practises dhamma lives (seti) happily, in this world as well as in his subsequent existence".

At the end of the recitation of the stanza, the king became established in the fruition of Sotāpatti. On hearing this another stanza:

"Practise dhamma so as to make it good practice; it should not be practised so as, to make it a bad practice; one who practises dhamma lives happily in this existence as well as here- after,"

The king became established in the fruition of Sakadāgāmi, the one who would return to human existence only once again. On hearing the Mahādhammapāla birth-story, the king became established in the fruition of one who is never to return to the human world (anāgāmi). When he was near unto death, the king attained arahatship while still lying down on his graceful royal bed under the white umbrella. The king had no such thing as performance of devotedly applying himself to austerely deep meditation by living in a forest. As soon as he had realised the first stage of sanctification (Sotāpatti), the king caught hold of the Buddha's bowl, invited the Glorious One together with His retinue to ascend his palace and entertained all of them with excellent eatables, both hard and soft. When the meal-eating was over, all women-folks except the mother of Rāhula, from the royal mansion of women came and paid homage to the Glorious One. Although she was being told by people round her: "Please go; please pay your respects to the Young Lord", she did not go saying: "If I have the qualification, the Young Lord will come to my presence of His own accord; only as He comes I shall pay my homage to Him."

3.28. The Glorious one handed over His begging bowl to the king, went to the graceful chamber of the royal princess, accompanied by his two chief disciples and sat himself down on the seat prepared for Him saying: "Nothing should be said as and when the princess pays her homage according to her desire". She came speedily, caught hold of His ankles, dropped her head on the roof of his feet and worshipped him according to her own inclination. The king spoke about the princess's attainment of such qualifications as her affection and veneration for the Glorious one thus: "Venerable Sir! My daughter, on hearing that yellow robes, upper and lower, have been worn by you, from that time onwards she has become one who put on upper and lower yellow garment; when she heard about the fact that you were eating one meal only, she became in the same way a single-meal eater; as and when she heard that you had discarded luxurious bed for sleeping, she began to sleep only on a bed of one strip of cloth; when she came to know that you abstained from garlands, perfumes, etc., she began to abstain also from garlands and perfumes; although her own relations sent messages saying: "We shall look after you", she did not look at a single one even, amongst them; Venerable Sir! In this manner my daughter has attained her qualification". Buddha replied: "Great king! This matter is not queer, now that under your protection, when her wisdom is mature, the princess could look after herself; formerly this one, though she had to wander about unprotected at the foot-hill and her wisdom was not yet mature, did look after herself" So saying, Buddha related the Kinnarā birthstory, (jātaka0, rose (up) from his seat and departed.

3.29. On the next day, when the ceremonial feasts were being held for the royal prince Nanda over the inaugural entry into a new house and nuptial performance, Buddha went to his house, made the royal prince hold His begging bowl because of His desire to let him become a monk, made a ceremonial speech, rose up from His seat and departed. The royal princess Janapada Kalyāṇī, on seeing the royal prince going away, said to him: "Quickly, indeed, my young lord! you should come back" and looked on towards him stretching her neck. Being incapable of saying to the Glorious one: "Please take back your bowl", he went along till the arrival at the monastery. Without this being willing, the Glorious One made him a monk, Thus, on the third day of His arrival at Kapilavatthu city, the Glorious One made prince Nanda a monk.

3.30. On the seventh day, the mother of Rāhula also, dressed up and decorated the young prince and sent him to the presence of the Glorious One with these words: "My dear son! Look at this monk, who has the bodily complexion of a brahmā, who is of golden colour, surrounded by twenty thousand monks; He is your father; He has abundant treasure of gold; we have not seen Him beginning from the time of His renunciation; go and ask for your inheritance from Him saying! 'My dear father! I, your royal son, having been anointed shall become a world-king; I am in need of wealth; please give me money; indeed, the son is the owner of father's belongings." As soon as the young prince reached the presence of the glorious One, he received the paternal affection, became gladdened at heart, saying: "O Monk! Happy is your shade" and stood telling many other things appropriate to himself. When He had finished taking His meal, the Glorious One made thanks-giving speech, rose (up) from His seat and departed. The young prince also followed the Glorious One saying: "Oh Monk! Please give me my inheritance; do give me my inheritence; do give me my heritage." The Glorious One did not make the young prince turn back. The surrounding body of people also could not let the young prince, who was going together with the Glorious One turn back. Thus, the young prince went to the monastery only, together with the Glorious One.

3.31. Thereafter, the Glorious One thought to himself: "Whatever wealth that belongs to the father, this one desires, that is conducive towards rounds of rebirths and accompanied by destruction; now, I would give him the holy wealth of seven different kinds which was achieved by me at the terrace of the Bodhi tree; I would make him the owner of super-mundane inheritance," and addressed the venerable Sāriputta thus: "Well then, indeed, Sāriputta! let Rāhula become a member of the monk's order". The thera made him a novice. When the young prince had become a novice, there arose severe suffering to the king. Being unable to endure that misery, the king went to the presence of the Glorious One and asked for a favour: "Venerable Sir! It will be good if my Lord would not initiate a son without the approval of his parents. The Glorious One gave him the favour and on the next day, after He had taken His meal in the royal residence, when the king, who was seated on one side, said: "Venerable sir! At the time you were doing difficult deeds, a divinity approached me and said: 'Your son is dead'. Not believing his words, I rejected his news saying: 'My Son would not die without attaining perfect enlightenment by becoming Buddha'", the Glorious One replied: "How could you believe such a story now, since formerly also you did not believe the people who showed the bones with the story that your son is dead?" and related the Mahādammapāls birth-story (jātaks), for this incident. At the end of the discourse, the king became established in the fruition of a non-returner (anāgāmi)

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