Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “story of the bhikshu losaka-tishya” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Appendix 3 - The story of the bhikṣu Losaka-tiṣya

Note: this appendix is extracted from Chapter XXVI, part 1:

“The bhikṣu Losaka-tiṣya, although he was an Arhat, begged for his food for seven days without receiving anything and returned with empty bowl; then he burned his own body in the fire of rapture and attained parinirvāṇa”.

The Mppś will return to this individual later (k. 30, p. 278c):

The bhikṣu Lo p’in tcheou (Losaka-tiṣya), a disciple of Śariputra, observed morality, and exertion, and begged for his food. For six days, he was unable to get anything. On the seventh day, he had not much longer to live. One of his colleagues begged for food for him and gave it to him, but a bird stole it immediately.

Then Śāriputra said to Maudgalyāyana:

“You have great miraculous power; watch over his food so that he can get it.”

Maudgalyāyana took some food and went to offer it to Losaka-tiṣya; but as soon as the latter wanted to put it into his mouth, it changed into mud. In turn, Śāriputra begged food for him; but when he gave it to him, Losaka-tiṣya’s mouth closed up by itself. Finally, the Buddha came, took the food and offered it to him; this time, thanks to the immensity of the Buddha’s merits, Losaka-tiṣya was able to take the food. When he had eaten it, he experienced great joy and redoubled his faith and reverence.

Then the Buddha said to him: “All conditioned dharmas (saṃskṛtadharma) are suffering”, and preached the four truths to him. Immediately the bhikṣu’s impurities were destroyed (kṣīṇāsrava) and his mind was liberated (suvimuktacitta): he obtained arhathood.

The story of Losaka is unknown to other sources, but, with some modifications, it has passed into the Pāli Jātaka, no. 41, I, p. 234–236:

After an unhappy childhood, at the age of seven, Losaka was ordained by Śāriputra. But his alms-tours were not fruitful and he received hardly enough to sustain him. When he became an arhat and his life was almost at an end, Śāriputra wanted to give him a proper meal; he went to Śrāvastī to beg, but nobody paid any attention to him. Śāriputra took Losaka to the monastery, begged food for him and sent it to him by way of messengers, but the latter ate the food themselves. Śāriputra then went himself to the king’s palace, received a bowl filled with the four sweets (pattapūra catumadhura) and brought it himself to Losaka.

He asked Losaka to eat this food at once, saying:

“Venerable Tissa, I will stay by you and hold this bowl in my hand; you must sit down and eat, for if I don’t hold the bowl, I am afraid that something will happen.”

Losaka then ate a substantial meal, but he died the same day and entered parinirvāṇa.

Note: The following is extracted from Chapter XLVI 2.2:

Thus, a disciple of Śāriputra, the monk Lo-p’in-tcheou (Losaka-tiṣya?) observed discipline (śīlavat) zealously (vīryavat). When he begged for alms, he was unable to get anything for six days. When the seventh day came, there was only a short time for him to live. A colleague begged for food and gave it to him but a bird carried it away.

Then Śāriputra said to Maudgalyāyana:

“With your great magical power (ṛddhibala), watch over his food so that he can eat it.”

Then Maudgalyāyana took some food and went to offer it to Losaka-tiṣya; but as soon as the latter tried to bring it to his mouth, it changed into mud. Śāriputra in turn begged for food and presented it to him, but Losaka-tiṣya’s mouth closed up by itself. Finally, the Buddha came with some food and offered it to him; by means of the Buddha’s immense merit (puṇya), Losaka-tiṣya was finally able to eat it. After having eaten, the monk developed joy and increased faith and veneration.

The Buddha said to the bhikṣu: “All conditioned dharmas (saṃskṛtadharma) have suffering as their nature”, and he preached the four noble truths to him. At that very moment, the bhikṣu’s impurities (āsrava) disappeared and his mind opened: he became an arhat.

Lo-p’in tcheou has already been mentioned above, p. 931–932F. His story, as it is found here, is told in the same words in the Tsa-p’i-yu king, T 207, p. 525b9–19 (transl. in Chavannes, Contes, II, p. 22–23), but attributed to the monk Lo-yun-tchou. Another basically related tale, differing in details, is in the Pāli Jātaka, no. 41, I, p. 24–236 and is about the thera Losaka Tissa: it is summarized above, p. 932 note.

Lo-p’in-tcheou has traits in common with many other individuals ugly by nature, especially with Lavaṇabhadrika (cf. p. 1439F, n. 4). On this subject, see Lin Li-Kouang, L’Aide Mémoire de la Vraie Loi, Appendix IV, p. 278–290.