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 the thera Ānanda

3-10,1. Stanzas starting with Ārāmadvārā nikkhamma constitute the biography of the venerable thera Ānanda. This One also, having done devoted service toward former Buddhas, accumulating meritorious deeds, conducive towards escape from rounds of repeated rebirths (vaṭṭa), was reborn as a younger brother from a different mother of the Master, in the city of Haṃsavatī at the time of the Glorious One, Padumuttara. He was named Sumana. his father, however, as known as king Nanda. When his own son, the young prince Sumana came of age, the king gave him a wealthy city situated at a distance of twenty yojanas from the city of Haṃsavatī. Sometimes, now and then, the young prince would come and see the master as well as his father. At that time, the king, personally and respectfully attended upon the Master as well as the clergy of bhikkhus a hundred thousand in round number; he did not allow others to attend upon them.

3-10,2. On that occasion his border rose against the king. The young prince did not inform the king about the state of that rebellion but he himself, however, put a stop to it. Having heard about it, the king was delighted in mind, and said thus: "My dear Son! I give you reward, take it". The young prince replied thus:- "I am desirous of making my life unbarren by serving devotedly the master and His clergy of bhikkhus for three months". The king replied thus: "This is not possible; ask for another reward". Their young prince persisted saying: "Your Majesty! To princely warriors, there is no such thing as two different telling; please give me this; I do not desire any other; if the Master gives His approval, I should but be given even". The young prince went to the monastery saying to himself: "I shall find out and know myself the mind of the Master". On that occasion also, the Glorious One had entered His fragrant chamber. The young prince approached the bhikkhus and said thus:- "Venerable Sir! I have come to see the Glorious One; please usher me (or guide me) to Him". The bhikkhus replied: The thera, named Sumana is the attendant of the Master, please go to his presence". The young prince went to the presence of the thera and said thus:- "Venerable Sir! Please guide and usher me to the Master". There the thera dived himself down into the earth while the young prince was still looking on, approached the Glorious One and said thus: "Venerable Sir! The king's son has come to see you". Buddha replied: "O Bhikkhu! well then, make my seat ready outside the monastery. Again, also, the thera, having caught hold of the seat of Buddha, dived down inside the fragrant chamber, made himself manifest outside the monastic compound while the young prince was still looking on and prepared the seat for Buddha in the compound of the fragrant chamber. The young prince having seen it roused up his mind thus: "Indeed! This bhikkhu is of great might!"

3-10,3. The Glorious One also, having come out of His fragrant chamber, sat Himself down on the seat prepared for Him. The king's son, paid his homage to the Master, had conversation with Him and said thus: "Venerable Sir! This thera, methinks, is a favourite in your dispensation". Buddha replied: "O Prince! Yes, he is the favourite". The prince enquired thus: "Having done such meritorious deeds as offering charity and so on". The prince offered meal at his camp for seven days to the clergy headed by Buddha, saying: "Venerable Glorious One! I also am desirous of becoming a favourite in the dispensation of a future Buddha like unto this thera". On the seventh day the prince said thus: "Venerable Sir! A reward of the privilege of feeding you for three months has been gained by me from my father; please agree to your spending the lent, three months of rains with me".

When he came to know the approval of the Master, the prince took the Glorious One along with His retinue, had monasteries suitable for residence of the Master and clergy of bhikkhus built at each and every yojana requested them to dwell in this and that monastery of his and near his own residential site, in the garden, known as Sobhana, bought at a price of a hundred thousand, he had a monastery worth a hundred thousand built and requested the master and His clergy to enter that monastery and poured libation water in dedication thus:-

“At a price of a hundred thousand, purchase was made by me; at an expenditure of a hundred thousand, the monastery was built; O Great Sage! kindly accept the garden named Sobhana.”

On the day of commencement of lent-residence, the prince promoted a great charitable offering to the Master, assigned the duty of whatever should be done in that charity to his wife, children and ministers saying: "You all should offer charity by bringing about this service". The prince himself, staying but near the residential place of the thera Sumana, attended on the Master for three months thus, in his own residential place. When, however, the day of invitation for criticism (pavāraṇā) drew near, the prince entered the village, promoted a great charity for seven days; on the seventh day, he deposited sets of three robes at the feet base of the master and the clergy of bhikkhus, paid his homage to the master and made his wish, thus:- "Venerable Sir! This meritorious deed done by me beginning from my camp, has been done not for such benefits as the prosperity of Sakka and so on; on the other hand, indeed, like unto the thera Sumana I also should like to become a favourite attendant of a Buddha in future. The Master saw his state of having no interval, made the prophecy and took His departure.

3-10,4. He did meritorious deeds in that period of appearance of Buddha (Buddhuppāda) for a hundred thousand years and subsequent to that period also; having accumulated meritorious deeds of immense character in this and that existence, he was reborn in a house of a family at the time of the Glorious One Kassapa as he wandered round his repeated rebirths (saṃsāra), amongst divine and human beings. When he attained the age of intelligence, he made reverential offering of his upper garment for the purpose of catching hold of the begging bowl of a certain thera, who was wandering about for alms-food. Again, he was reborn in heaven, and passing away thence, he became king of Benares, saw eight silent buddhas, fed them, had eight leaf-huts built in his own auspicious garden, prepared eight pedestals made of all kinds of gems for them to sit down, as well as a gem pulpit, and performed service for ten thousand years; these are obvious.

3-10,5. Accumulating meritorious deeds for a hundred thousand aeons, however, in this and that existence, he was reborn, together with our Bodhisatta in the heavenly city of Tusita, and having passed away thence, he was reborn in the house of Amitodana, the Sakyan, and since he was born making all relative delighted, he gained the name even as Ānanda. In due course, he came of age, and renounced the world together with Bhaddiya and so on, who had renounced to become monks for the purpose of becoming the retinue of that Glorious One, who was making His departure from the city of Kapilavatthu where He had gone for the first time as He proceeded turning the excellent wheel of dhamma, after He had attained self-enlightened Buddhahood in the wake of His great renunciation. Ānanda became a monk in the presence of the Glorious One, listened to the preaching of Dhamma in the presence of the Venerable Puṇṇa, son of the brahmin lady Mantāṇī, and became established in the first stage of sanctification (Sotāpatti).

3-10,6. At that time, there had been no permanent attendant of the Glorious One for twenty years after His first full enlightenment (bodhi). At one time, Nāgasamāla thera would take his bowl and robe and wandered about attending on Buddha; at one time Nāgita, at another time, Upavana, still at another time, Sunakkhatta, again another time Cunda, Samaṇuddesa, later at another time Sāgata, still at another time Meghiya; they generally did not win the heart of the master. Then, one day, the Glorious One, seated on the excellent buddha's seat prepared for Him in the compound of His fragrant chamber, surrounded by His clergy of monks, addressed the bhikkhus thus:- "O Monks! I am now getting old, when some bhikkhus are told by me that I would go by this road, they go by another road; some bhikkhus throw down on the ground my bowl and robe; you all should find for me and let me knew a bhikkhu who would attend on me permanently. Having heard about it there arose spiritual remorse to the bhikkhus. Then the Venerable Sir! I shall attend upon you". The Glorious One rejected him. By this means, all the major disciples, making Mahā moggallāna, the beginning, rose up, leaving aside the Venerable Ānanda, and said thus respectively:- "I am going to serve, I shall attend upon you". Them also, the Glorious One rejected.

3-10,7. Ānanda, however, sat himself on in silence. Then the bhikkhus said to him thus: "Friend! You also might apply for the post of an attendant on the master". "What is it like, namely, gaining of service after having applied for it? If He so desires, the Master does speak out but by himself"; was his reply Then, the Glorious One said thus: "O Monks! Ānanda should not be made to exert by others; he, himself, even, will come to know and attend upon me". Thereafter, the bhikkhus prompted him thus: "O Friend Ānanda! Please get up and make your request for the position of an attendant upon the master". The thera stood up and said thus: "Venerable Sir! If the Glorious One would not give me excellent robe obtained by Himself, if He would not give me excellent alms-food, would not allow me to live in one and the same fragrant chamber, would not go taking the invitation; in this manner I shall attend upon the Glorious One. The four rejections are for the purpose of escape from condemnation in this light: "What is burden for attending upon the master, to one who gains so much qualities?" Venerable Sir! If the Glorious One would go in answer to the invitation taken by me; if I am allowed to usher in presently each and every one who has come from various places, when doubt arises in me I can immediately approach the Glorious One and obtain the opportunity of asking Him; if the Glorious One were to relate to me again the truth (dhamma) preached by Him in my absence; in this way, I shall attend on the Glorious One; these four requests are for not only for the purpose of escaping the condemnation in such words as: "he does not obtain even this much sympathetic consideration in the presence of the Master", but also for the purpose of all-round filling up the state of the custodian of the treasure of truth (dhamma)";thus, having taken hold of these eight stipulations, Ānanda became a permanent attendant on Buddha. He attained the fruition of the perfections fulfilled throughout a hundred thousand aeons (kappa) for the benefit of gaining that self-same ranking position even.

3-10,8. Beginning from the day he obtained the post of attendant, he served Dasabala with two kinds of water, three varieties of dental stick (or tooth brush), all-round work regarding hands and feet, all-round work of buddha's back, sweeping of the compound of the fragrant chamber; thus, attending upon Buddha in this manner and so on with regard His affairs, he became on who went about in His presence during the day thus:- "It is proper for the master to get, namely, this; it is befitting for Him to do, namely, this deed." At night, he would take a big lighted stick and would go round and round nine times in the compound of the fragrant chamber, in order to dispel sloth and drowsiness to enable him to give his reply as and when the master summoned him. Then, seated amidst the assembly of nobles in the Jetavana monastery, the master praised him in many a manner and placed him at the topmost position among bhikkhus who were much learned, possessed of mindfulness, in perfect behaviour (or speaking good words) (gati), possessed of firmness and of devoted attendants.

3-10,9. this great thera, who was thus placed in the five top-most positions, who was endowed with four wonderful and strange phenomena (dhamma), who was the guardian of granary of dhamma of the Master, was just but a stream-winner of the first stage (sekha) when the master entered parinibbāna; being enthused by bhikkhus, and made to become selfremorseful by a divine-being in the manner stated already (heṭṭhā) he said to himself thus:- Now, the reciting together of dhamma (dhammasaṅgīti) ought to be done but by tomorrow even it is not appropriate for me, however, indeed, to go to the assembly to recite the dhamma, together with the theras who had become asekha (arahants) which I should do myself, who am but a stream winner at the first stage (sekha); his exertion well sprung up, he made himself established to attain spiritual insight (vipassanā) performing the work of getting clear insight during the abundant portion of the night and not getting the tranquillity of exertion in the cloister, thereafter, he entered the monastery, sat himself down on his bed and being desirous of lying down he turned his body about. He attained clear emancipation of the mind from the cankers (āsava) unattached, in this interval of time, namely, his head had not reached the pillow below and also his feet had just gone off free from the ground; he became an arahant with six sorts of higher knowledge.

644. Having thus attained the topmost position (etadagga) with such qualities as devoted serving attendant, (of devoted service) and soon properly adorned with such qualities as six sorts of higher knowledge and so on, he remembered his own former deeds and uttered a stanza starting with Ārāmadvārā nikkhamma, showing the deeds done in former existences by way of being mentally delighted. there Ārāmadvārā (from the door of the ashram) having come out from the monastery door for the purpose of preaching dhamma to all living-beings; mahāmuni (the Great Sage) the Self-enlightened Buddha, named Padumuttara, seated on the well-prepared excellent Buddha's seat in the middle of the pandal that had been built, near the outside of the gate;vassanto amataṃ vuṭṭhim (raining down the shower of immortal peace) (Amata), raining down the shower of truth (dhamma) with the preaching of truth (dhamma) bearing immortal bliss (mamta) nibbāpesi mahājanam, sent the multitude of men to nibbāna, nibbāpesi (cause to blow out) extinguished the fire of depravity which had gone into the sequence of mind of big mass of people made many men attain the condition of coolness and calmness by means of the immortal drink to many men; thus, is the meaning.

645. Satasahasam te dhīra, those firmly wise one hundred thousand, this he said in order to show the prosperity of retinue;mahiddhikā (of high magical powers) those firmly wise hundred thousand cankerless arahants, endowed with six sorts of higher knowledge, and such shares of knowledge as different kinds of magical power and so on, and who because of being endowed with such magical powers as would enable them to go in a moment all over many a hundred thousand universes (cakkavaḷa) were of high magical powers; chāyā va anupāyinī, followers like a shadow, parivārenti (surround) having surrounded that self-enlightened Buddha, the Glorious One Padumuttara, like unto a shadow that never went outside anywhere, and listened to His preaching of truth (dhamma); thus, is the meaning.

646. Hatthikkhandhagato āsim, I was one who had gone up the back of elephant, at that time of the Glorious One's preaching of the truth (dhamma); āsim, I was seated on the back of my elephant; thus, is the meaning. Setacchattam varuttamam, the most excellent white umbrella, I was seated on my elephant's back with the wishable most excellent white umbrella borne over my head; thus, is the connection. Susārurūpam disvāna (having seen the well delightful form) seeing the self-enlightened Buddha preaching the truth (dhamma), which is good, delightful and possesses such a form as is appealing to the heart, me, my; vitti, joy, udapajjatha (arose) there arose my contentment (or satisfaction) and mental delight; thus, is the meaning.

647. Oruyha hatthikkhandhamhā, having descended down from my elephant's back, having seen that Glorious One seated, oruyha, I descended from the back of my elephant, narāsabham upagacchim (I approached the big bull-man) I went near the bull-man, Buddha; thus, is the meaning. Ratanamayachattam me (my umbrella, made of gems) I held above the most excellent Buddha my umbrella, adorned with gems; thus, is the connection.

648. Mama saṅkappamaññāya (having come to know my intention) that buddha Padumuttara, who had become great amidst ascetics, having come to know my intention which had arisen with clear piety;tam katham ṭhapayitvāna (having placed that preaching) having put aside that preaching of truth (dhamma) which was being preached by Himself, abhāsatha (spoke) uttered this stanza in order to prophesy my future;thus, is the meaning.

649. If asked: how? He said so starting with Yo so (whoever = he) that prince, who held the umbrella, adorned with gold ornaments above (or over) my head; thus, is the connection. Tamaham kittayissāmi (I shall announce him) I shall make manifest and clarify that prince; suṇotha mama bhāsato (listen to me while I am speaking) please listen with down-placed ears, and bear in mind my word when I am speaking: thus, is the meaning.

650. ito gantvā ayam poso (this man, having gone hence) this prince, having passed away from this world of human beings and gone to Tusita heaven; āvasissati (will live) he will dwell there; there he will accordingly experience the prosperity of Tusita divine mansion, surrounded and followed by divine maidens; thus, is the connection.

651. Catuttimsakkhattum (thirty four times) having passed away from the Tusita mansion and sprung up in the Tāvatiṃsa mansion, the divine sovereign will reign in the divine kingdom for the thirty fourth time; thus, is the connection. Balādhipo aṭṭhasatam (a hundred and eight times, a king of might) having passed away from the Tāvatiṃsa heavenly mansion, he sprung up in the world of human beings, and having become a regional monarch in one hundred and eight births, had been the main commander-in-chief of his army of four divisions; vasudham, earth, āvasissati (will live) he will dwell on this earth which would yield to him many an excellent gem; thus, is the meaning.

652. Aṭṭhappaññāsakkhattum (fifty-eight times) he will become world-king in fifty-eight births; thus, is the meaning. Mahiyā (on earth) on the land of the whole Eugenia-tree island. (Jambudīpa); Vipulam (prosperous) he will reign as a regional sovereign for innumerable periods of time.

654. Sakyānam kulaketussa (of the flag of the Sakyan family) he will become a relative of Buddha, who had become the banner of the family of Sakyan kings; thus, is the meaning.

655. Ātāpī (the burner) possessor of exertion; nipako (mature) endowed with wisdom or knowledge reckoned as maturity; bāhusaccesu (among the vastly learned) amongst the bearers in memory of the three piṭakas; who have become vastly learned; kovido (knower of who) clever, expert; Nivāte (wont to be humble) not showy or conceited (anavannattiko); (not stiff) abstaining from such stiff state as being bodily bold (Kāyapaggabbohiya) and so on;sabbapāṭhī (one who had read all) he will become one who had borne in his memory the entire three piṭakas; thus, is the connection.

656. Padhānapahitatto so (he whose self is directed towards strenuous effort) that thera Ānanda, whose mind had been sent towards making exertion; Upasanto nirupadhi (being tranquil he became without any substratum of existence) being bereft of the substratum of lust, substratum of anger, substratum of delusion, he became physically and mentally calm;having become tranquil due to having got rid of all the foresakable forms of depravity, by means of the noble path of sotāpatti, the first stage of stream winning.

657. Santī āraññakā (there are forest-dwellers) came into being in the forest, born in the thick forest;saṭṭhi hāyanā (dwindlers at sixty) their vigour would diminish at the time of sixty years of age tidhā pabhinnā (burst out three times) burst-out rut (or madness) from three places reckoned as eyes, ears and sheath (of penis); Mātaṅga (Mātaṅga species) born in the family of Mātaṅga; Īsadantā (axle teeth) his tusks resemble the axle of a chariot; urūḷhavā (possessor of riders) royal transport; just as there are and there exist elephant kings, elephants reckoned as kuñjara, so also (or likewise), there are elephant arahants of high magical powers, and wisdom, reckoned as a hundred thousand in number of cankerless personages; na honti paṇidhimhi te (they are not in self-resolution) they are not like that in self-resolution. Why? All of them, being afraid of danger are not able to stand well in their own condition; thus, is the meaning. The rest is but clear due to the said manner.

The Commentary on the Biography of the Thera Ānanda has ended.

So far the first commentary on Buddha section, (Buddha vagga), has ended.

The First Portion is finished.

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