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...

Commentary on the Biography of Puṇṇa thera, Son of Mantānī

3-5.1. Stanzas starting with Ajjhāyako mantadharo, constitute the biography of the thera Puṇṇa, son of Mantāṇī, the brahmin lady. This One also, who had done devoted service and aspiration in the presence of previous Buddhas, accumulating merit conducive towards freedom from the rounds of repeated rebirths, was reborn in the family of a largely wealthy brahmin Glorious One Padumuttara, and in due course, he attained the age of intelligence. Subsequently, when the Glorious One Padumuttara arose and was preaching dhamma to those worthy of awakening, he went to the monastery together with a large number of people in the manner already (heṭṭhā) stated, sat himself down at the extreme end of the audience and as he listened to the dhamma, he noticed the Master, placing at topmost position, a bhikkhu amongst preachers of dhamma; he thought to himself thus: "It is proper for me to become like this one, in future", approached the Master when the audience rose up at the end of the preaching, invited Him, made a great offering of honour in the manner already aforesaid and performed his prayer by; saying in this manner: "Venerable Sir! By means of this service, I do not wish for any other achievement of prosperity, but just as that bhikkhu was placed at the topmost position amongst preachers of dhamma by You, seven days ago, in the same way, I would like to become chief amongst preachers of dhamma in the dispensation of a Buddha, in future. The Master looked through to future, saw the state of materialisation of his wish, and prophesied thus: "In future a hundred thousand aeons (kappa) ahead, Buddha named Gotama will appear; having become monk in His dispensation, you will become chief of preachers of dhamma".

3-5.2. Having done good deeds as long as he lived, he passed away thence, and loading himself with the load of meritorious deeds for a hundred thousand aeons (kappa), he wandered round the rounds of repeated rebirths, and was reborn as a nephew of Aññasikoṇḍañña thera, in a wealthy high-status brahmin family in a brahmin village known by the name of Donavatthu, not far from the city of Kapilavatthu at the time of our Glorious One. They gave him name as Puṇṇa. When the Master had attained the great self-enlightenment and was dwelling depending on Rājagaha in due course as He set turning the excellent wheel of dhamma, he became a monk in the presence of Aññāsikoṇḍañña. Having obtained the upasampadā ordination, he consistently devoted himself to his strenuous effort (padhāna), brought to top-perfection in the performance of all the duties of a monk, reached the presence of the Master, together with his thera-uncle, saying to himself: "I shall go to the presence of Dasabala", stayed behind in the environs of kapilavatthu, and doing deeds by being mentally wise, he attained arahantship but shortly afterwards making himself eager over his exercise towards spiritual enlightenment.

3-5.3. In the presence of that thera Puṇṇa, however, there were five hundred young men of good families who had become monks. The thera admonished them with ten kinds of basic preaching (kathāvatthu). All of them also, being admonished by means of ten foundations of preaching (dasakathāvatthu) became established in the thera's advice, attained arahantship, came to know that they had reached the highest level of their own monk's duties, approached their spiritual teacher and said thus:- "Venerable Sir! We have reached the highest limit of whatever should be done by us as monks; we are also gainers of ten foundations of preaching (kathāvatthu); time it is, now, for us to see Dasabala. Having heard what they said, the thera pondered thus: "The Master is aware of my gain of the ten foundations of preaching (kathāvatthu); in preaching dhamma, I do so without omitting the ten foundations of preaching (kathāvatthu);when I go also, all these bhikkhus as well, will go surrounding me; it is improper for me to go together with a large number in this way;and see Dasabala. He, then, said to them thus: "My friends! You all go ahead and see Dasabala; on my behalf you should pay your homage at the feet of the Tathāgata; I also shall come by the road gone by you all". Those theras also, all of whom were residents of the native-soil kingdom of Dasabala, who all were cankerless arahants, who all had gained the ten foundations of preaching (kathāvatthu), kept intact the advice of their spiritual teacher, paid homage to their thera, went on their wandering round, covered a journey of more than sixty yojanas, proceeded to the great bamboo-grove monastery of Rājagaha, paid their homage at the feet of Dasabala, and sat themselves down on one side. Constant practice, indeed, however, is this of Buddhas, the Glorious Ones, to properly gladden, personally, together with guests; the Glorious One, having made sweet conversation with them in such a way as: "O monks! How do you do? Are you well?" and so on, asked thus: "O monks! From where have you all come?", and again, on being told by them that they had come from their birth-place of His native soil, He asked about the bhikkhu who had gained the ten foundations of preaching thus:- "O monks! Who, indeed, is he in his native soil, having thus well-developed, 'he being himself one of few desires, does make to the bhikkhus the preaching of little want', amongst fellow-monks of his native soil, amongst bhikkhus leading, like him, a noble life of chastity?" They also informed Buddha thus: "Venerable Sir! he is the venerable son of Mantaṇī, known by the name of Puṇṇa."

3-5.4. Having heard what they said, the venerable thera Sāriputta became desirous of seeing the thera. The Master, then, went from Rājagaha to Sāvatthi. The thera Puṇṇa also heard of the coming of Dasabala there, went, saying to himself: "I shall see the Master", and properly arrived at Tathāgata inside the fragrant chamber even. The master preached to him the dhamma. The thera listened to the dhamma, paid homage to Dasabala, went to the dark forest (Andhavana), for the purpose of lonesome retreat (for solitary relaxation) and sat himself down at the foot of a certain tree to spend the day there. The thera Sāriputta also, having heard about his coming, went looking attentively for Puṇṇa thera, marked properly the opportunity, approached him, seated at the foot of the tree, performed hearty greetings together with the thera and asked him the serial succession of purity. The thera Puṇṇa answering every question of the thera Sāriputta, won the latter's heart exceedingly, resembling the relay of chariots.

434. Seated subsequently then in the midst of the congregation of bhikkhus, the Master placed that thera at the topmost position thus:- "O monks! Among my disciples of bhikkhus who are preachers of dhamma, this one, namely, Puṇṇa, is the chief". He, having remembered his previous performances, uttered this stanza, starting with Ajjhāyako, clearly developing the good deeds done by himself by way of being mentally pleased. There, ajjhāyako (a scholar of the brahmanic texts) teacher and trainer of many a brahmin; mantadharo (bearer of mantras) the repository of mantras (or charms); thus, is the meaning. One who bears (or preserves) by way of learning scholarly, listening to, and imparting of the fourth veda reckoned as veda; thus, is the statement made. Tinnam vedānam (of the three vedas) has gone to the all-round end and to the other shore in the treatises of the three vedas, in such learning which had gained the name: "Veda, learning" because of the fact that it ought to be borne by means of intelligence (or wisdom), of the three vedas, reckoned as Iruveda, Yaju veda and Sāmaveda; thus, is the meaning. Purakkhato 'mhi sisehi (I am front-placed by my pupils), I am surrounded by my pupils who become my constant company. Upagacchim naruttamam (I approached the best of men) I approached the Glorious One, went near Him; thus, is the meaning. The rest is but easy even.

438. Abhidhammanayaññū ham (I was the knower of Abhidhamma method), I, then, at the time of that Buddha, an expert in the Abhidhamma method; thus, is the meaning; kathāvatthu visuddhiyā (in the purity of kathāvatthu) for the clearness of the treatise known as kathāvatthu, I was an adept; (or I am a specialist) in the ten foundations of preaching in such preaching as few desires, contentment preaching and so on;by means of that clarity of preaching foundation (kathāvatthu); sabbesam (to all) to wise monks and men; viññāpetvāna (having let know) having enlightened (or awakened) anāsavo (devoid of cankers) devoid of depravity;viharāmi (I live) I took up my (or made my) residence.

439. Ito pañcasate kappe (five hundred aeons hence) five hundred aeons from this present excellent aeon (bhaddakappa), adorned with five Buddhas; suppakāsakā (well known) well renowned, in the four islands of Jambudīpa and so on, being endowed with such seven sorts of gems as wheel-gem, and so on; issara (rulers) main men, caturo (four) become four world-kings; thus, is the meaning. The rest is but in the manner aforesaid.

The commentary on the Biography of the thera Puṇṇa, the son of Mantānī has ended.

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