by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Singular Opportunity of Living in an Age when a Buddha appears contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as rare Appearance of a Buddha. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
The wealthy Anāthapiṇḍika, who was to become the donor of Jetavana monastery, was on his visit to Rājagaha when he saw the Buddha for the first time, having heard the word “Buddha” from his wealthy brother-in-law in Rājagaha. As soon as he heard the sound “Buddha”, he exclaimed, “Ghoso’ pi kho eso gahapati dullabho lokasmim, yad idaṃ
‘Buddho Buddho’ ti”, meaning “Friend, rare indeed it is in the world even to hear the utterance, 'Buddha, Buddha’.”
While the Buddha was staying in the market town of Āpaṇa, in the country of Aṅguttarāpa, Sela, a leading brahmin teacher, heard from Keṇiya the matted-hair ascetic, the word “Buddha”. As soon as he heard the sound “Buddha”, it occurred to him thus: “Ghoso’ pi kho eso dullabho lokasmiṃ yad idaṃ ‘Buddho Buddho’ ti”, meaning “Rare indeed it is in the world even to hear the utterance, ‘Buddha. Buddha.’ ” Not long after, together with three hundred followers, he gained ehi-bhikkhu monkhood, and seven days thence he attained arahantship with them.
In the light of these canonical extracts, it is very rare and difficult in the world even to hear the word, “Buddha, Buddha”; inexpressibly and extremely more so indeed is the appearance of a Buddha.
In this respect, it may be noted that the utterance, “diamond”, may refer to a genuine diamond or a fake. Likewise, because rumours of a coming Buddha had been widespread prior to the Buddha’s appearance, both Anāthapiṇḍika and Sela must have heard before, the false claim of six heretical teachers to be “Buddhas.” But just as the sound (of the word) “diamond,” only when spoken of a genuine one, would please one who can differentiate between a genuine diamond and a fake; so also, to such men of highly developed intelligence as Anāthapiṇḍika and Sela, the utterance, “Buddha”, could have been delightful only when spoken of the true Buddha.
Just as taking a fake diamond to be genuine by unworthy persons of poor intelligence is a wrong notion, even so taking their masters (the six heretical teachers) to be genuine Buddhas by those who followed them was a wrong and harmful conclusion (micchādhimokkha).
In order to appreciate more profoundly the rare phenomenon of a Buddha’s appearance in the world, it is important to know briefly (at the beginning) the following (matter) concerning a Bodhisatta and a Buddha:
(1) Bodhisatta: A Being destined to attain Enlightenment, i.e. a future Buddha.
(2) Bodhisatta-kicca: Daily duties of a future Buddha.
(3) Buddha: A Supreme Being who has fulfilled the duties of a future Buddha and has consequently attained Enlightenment.
(4) Buddha-kicca: Daily duties of a Buddha.
Footnotes and references:
A merchant of Sāvatthi and a staunch supporter of the Buddha and His Sangha. Anāthapiṇḍika means “one who feeds the destitute". His personal name was Sudatta. He came to Rāiagaha on business and found his brother-in-law making elaborate preparations to treat the Buddha and His bhikkhus to a meal. It was on this occasion during the first year of the Buddha’s Enlightenment that he heard the word Buddha for the first time. Ref: the Senāsanakkhandhaka of the Vinaya Cūḷavagga.
They were related as each had married the other’s sister.
He visited his friend Keniya who was then preparing to shower his lavish hospitality on the Buddha and His Order of Bhikkhus, an incident similar to that of Anāthapiṇḍika. Both were filled with joy on hearing such a great name as Buddha. Ref: Sela Sutta of the Majjhima-paṇṇāsaof the Majjhima Nikāya.
Literally, “Come bhikkhu!” It was the command made by the Buddha in order to bring a deserving person to the Order of the Buddha’s followers in the yellow robe. Accordingly, it formed the oldest formula of admission to the Order.
Cha-satthara in Pali simply means “six teacher”. They were Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambala, Pukdha Kaccāyana, Nigaṇtha Nātaputta and Saṅjaya Belaṭṭha-putta. They were all non-Brahmanical teachers and contemporaries of the Buddha but older in age.