The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes The Offering of Ghana Milk-Rice by Sujata 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 the Attainment of Buddhahood. 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).

Part 3 - The Offering of Ghana Milk-Rice by Sujātā

After dreaming the Five Great Dreams and having himself interpreted their meanings, the Bodhisatta concluded: “It is true that I will certainly attain Buddhahood this very day.” Then, when day-break came (on the morning of the Full-moon day), he cleansed his body and departed from that place and when he reached the banyan tree which was visited every year for worship by Sujātā, the daughter of a wealthy man, he stopped and sat at the base of the tree, facing east, waiting for the time to go for alms-round. Thereby the whole banyan tree shone brilliantly with his body radiance.

At that time, in the market town of Sena, in the locality of Uruvelā forest, Sujātā, the daughter of a rich man by the name of Senānī, on coming of age, had prayed at the foot of the banyan tree thus: “O, guardian deva of the banyan tree, if I be married into a rich family of the same caste, I will pay homage to you with the offering of Ghana milk-rice.” The prayer of Sujātā had been fulfilled. As a result, she had been paying homage to the guardian deva of the banyan tree with Ghana milk-rice on the full moon day of Vesākha every year.

(N.B. When reading the account of the offering of milk-rice by Sujātā, readers are generally apt to think, if care is not taken, that Sujātā paid homage for fulfilment of her prayer to the guardian deva of the banyan tree with the offering of milk-rice for the first time on that Full-moon day of Vesākha, the day on which the Bodhisatta was to attain the Buddhahood. In fact, the prayer had been fulfilled and the guardian deva of the banyan tree had been worshipped with offering of milkrice since about twenty years before that day, for the said son of Sujātā was in fact the wealthy young man, Yasa, and in the year when the Buddha was to appear, Yasa was already a married man, enjoying the luxury of a well-to do family. In view of this fact, it should be noted that Sujātā, had been paying homage to the guardian deva of the banyan tree with the offerings of Ghana milk-rice every year on the full moon day of Vesākha over the past twenty years when her prayer for a first born son was answered.)

Preparations made by Lady Sujātā to make offerings to the guardian deva of the banyan tree on that full moon day of Vesākha, when the Bodhisatta had completed six years practice of dukkaracariyā, were: (1) She first let one thousand milch cows graze in the wood of liquorice;and the milk obtained from these one thousand milch cows was fed to other five hundred milch cows. (2) The milk produced by these five hundred cows was fed to other two hundred and fifty cows. (3) Again, the milk produced by the said two hundred and fifty cows was fed to other one hundred and twenty-five cows. (4) Then the milk produced by these one hundred and twenty five cows was fed to other sixty-four cows. (5) Then the milk from these sixty-four cows was fed to other thirty-two cows. (6) Then the milk from these thirty two cows was fed to other sixteen cows; (7) Then the milk from these sixteen cows was fed to other eight cows. In this manner, Lady Sujātā took the above step-by-step procedure of transfer of milk in order to obtain thick savoury and nutritious cow’s milk to prepare milk-rice. (This account is as narrated in the Jātaka Commentary.)

According to the Jinālaṅkāra Tika, Lady Sujātā first let one hundred milch cows to graze in the wood of liquorice. Then she let the hundred milch cows born of the first hundred cows graze in the same wood. Then again she let the hundred milch cows born of the said second hundred, the third hundred, the fourth hundred, the fifth hundred, the sixth hundred milch cows graze in the pasture of liquorice wood. In this manner, she milked the seventh generation milch cows and made preparation to cook Ghana milk-rice.

With the intention, “I will make the sacrificial offering of Ghana milk-rice early today.”, Lady Sujātā rose early in the morning on the full moon day of Vesākha and had the above said eight milch cows milked. The calves (without having to tie them with rope) did not come near the dugs of their mother milch cows. What was strange was that, even as the milk bowl was placed closely under the udder, the milk flowed down continuously in profusion without being drawn. Lady Sujātā, on seeing such a wonderful event, personally conveyed the automatically flowing milk and pouring it into a new pot, and kindling the fire by herself to cook the Ghana milk-rice.

Assistance rendered by Devas and Brahmas.

When the Ghana milk-rice was being cooked, (1) big froths appeared in large numbers, turning clockwise, and not even a drop spilled out; (2) smoke did not, in the least, rise above the oven;(3) the Four Deva Kings, the guardians of the world, came and stood guard at the oven; (4) the great Brahmā provided an umbrella to cover over the pot of Ghana milk-rice; (5) Sakka arranged the faggots evenly and set fire to them to burn in a blaze; (6) by their supernormal powers, devas collected the nutrients, which were suitable for devas, and humans living in the Four Continents surrounded by two thousand small islands. They did so as if they were gathering honey from honey combs hanging from branches. Then they poured the nutrients so collected into the pot of Ghana milk-rice.

N.B: At other times, devas put the aforesaid nutrients, suitable for devas and humans, into each and every morsel of food as the Buddha was preparing to put it into His mouth. On two special occasions, however, the day the Buddha attained Buddhahood and the day he passed into Parinibbāna, devas poured the said nutrients into the pot.

Having seen in one single day many things of wonder at the place where the Ghana milkrice was being cooked, Lady Sujātā, called the maid servant, Puñña by name and ordered her thus: “Dear girl, Puñña, today our guardian deva of the banyan tree appears to be in good mood. For the past twenty years, I have never seen such wonderful things. Make haste, go and clean up the banyan tree, the residence of the guardian deva.” The maid servant thus made haste and was near the banyan tree where she saw the Bodhisatta sitting at its foot facing east and also the whole tree shining golden yellow with the radiance emitted from the Bodhisatta’s body. Frightened and thinking: “Today, the guardian deva of the banyan tree has come down the tree. It seems to me he is sitting there to receive the offering with his own hands,” she hurried back home and reported the matter to Lady Sujātā.

On hearing the words of the maid servant, Lady Sujātā felt very happy and saying, “From today, be an elder daughter of mine,” bestowed upon her all the apparel and ornaments befitting a daughter.

It is customary (dhammatā) for a Bodhisatta to be offered the alms-food of Ghana milkrice on the day he is to attain Buddhahood; and it is proper to receive that food only in a gold cup worth one lakh. The Lady Sujātā, intending, “I shall put Ghana milk-rice in a gold cup,” had one worth one lakh taken out from her chamber. She then poured the cooked Ghana milk- rice into the cup, tilting the pot. Thereupon, all the Ghana milk-rice flowed into the cup to the last drop, like water drops gliding down from a Paduma lotus leaf. The entire Ghana milk-rice was just enough to fill the cup to the brim, no more or less.

Lady Sujātā covered the gold cup full of Ghana milk-rice with another gold cup and wrapped them up with a piece of clean white cloth. Then, having adorned herself in full attire and carrying the gold cup on her head, she went to the banyan tree with great pomp and grandeur. She was overjoyed on seeing the Bodhisatta and mistaking him to be the guardian deva of the banyan tree, she proceeded in a respectful manner from where she saw him. She then lowered the gold cup from her head and opened it and carrying a golden jar of water perfumed with all kinds of fragrant flowers, approached the Bodhisatta and stood nearby.

The earthen alms-bowls, which had been offered to the Bodhisatta by Ghaṭīkāra Brahmā at the time of Renunciation and which had remained with him during the whole six years of dukkaracariyā, disappeared inexplicably just at the time when the rich man’s wife Sujātā came to offer the alms-food of Ghana. Not seeing the bowl, the Bodhisatta spread out his right hand to receive the water. Lady Sujātā offered the alms food of Ghana in the gold cup, placing it in his hands. He looked at Lady Sujātā, who, understanding perfectly well the way the Bodhisatta looked, addressed him: “O Venerable One, I have offered you the Ghana milk-rice in the gold cup; may you accept it together with the gold cup and go anywhere you like.” Then uttering words of prayer: “My heart’s desire is fulfilled. So too, may your heart’s desire be fulfilled!” she departed without showing the least concern for the gold cup which was worth one lakh, as if it were a withered leaf.

The Bodhisatta also rose from his seat and, after circumambulating the banyan tree, proceeded to the bank of River Nerañjarā carrying with him the gold cup containing the Ghana milk-rice. At the Nerañjarā river there was a bathing ghat, by the name of Suppatitthita, where many Bodhisattas went down and took bath on the day they were to attain Buddhahood. The Bodhisatta left the gold cup at the bathing ghat and, after taking bath, came up and sat facing east under the cool shade of a tree. Then he prepared exactly forty-nine morsels of Ghana milk-rice, each about the size of the seed of a ripe Palmyra nut (not about the size of a Palmyra nut) and ate the whole lot without water. The Ghana milk-rice, which was taken after being made into forty-nine morsels, served as nutrient (āhāra) to sustain him completely for forty-nine days (sattasattāha), while he was residing in the vicinity of the Bodhi tree after his attainment of Buddhahood. During these fortynine days, the Buddha passed the time absorbed in the peace of jhāna and of Fruition, without having any other meal, without taking bath, without washing His face and without making His body and the limbs clean.

After he had partaken of the alms food of Ghana milk-rice offered by Sujātā, the Bodhisatta made the resolution while holding the gold cup: “If I would attain Buddhahood today, may this gold cup float upstream; if I would not attain Buddhahood today, let it float downstream with the current.” He then let the gold cup float in the channel of the Nerañjarā. The gold cup cut across the current and went straight to the middle of the river and then floated upstream from there with the speed of a fast running horse for about eighty cubits and sank in a whirlpool. On reaching the mansion of the Nāga King, Kāḷa, it hit all the three gold cups used by the three previous Buddhas, namely, Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana and Kassapa, on the day they were to attain Buddhahood, producing the (metallic) sound of ‘kili, kili’ and came to rest under the said three gold cups.

On hearing the sound, Nāga King, Kāla, said: “It was only yesterday that a Buddha appeared; today, another Buddha appears.” and then he rose uttering words of praise in many verses. (The period of time intervening the appearance of Buddha Kassapa and our Buddha was so long that in the meantime the Great Earth had risen by one yojana and three gāvutas. But as for Kāḷa Naga, it was so very short that he could say of these appearances as happening ‘yesterday and today.’)

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