The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Yasa, Son of a Rich Merchant, becoming a Bhikkhu 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 great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Chapter 12 - Yasa, Son of a Rich Merchant, becoming a Bhikkhu

While the Buddha was taking up His residence at Isipatana Deer Park near Bārāṇasī for His vassa-observance after His teaching of the Dhammacakka-pavattana and Anattalakkhaṇa Suttas to the Pañcavaggī monks and the Nalaka Sutta to the Venerable Nalaka Thera and had thereby brought about their emancipation, there lived one Yasa of high birth, son of Sujātā of Sena Nigama (the giver of the Ghana milk-food to the Buddha), and the wife of a rich merchant of Bārāṇasī. Besides being gentle and tender in deed, speech and thought, Yasa possessed a large amount of wealth and a great number of followers.

The rich merchant’s son, Yasa, owned three mansions: one for residence in winter, another for summer and the third for the rainy season. As it was then the rainy season (when the Buddha was staying in the Deer Park), Yasa was residing in the mansion suitable for the period. During the whole of the four rainy months, he was surrounded by dancers skilled in music, dancing and singing. There was not a single male person in the whole mansion! All the inmates, the door-keepers and entertainers included, being women, he remained indulging in the exceedingly grand luxury of sensual pleasures inside the mansion, without even going downstairs. (His wealthy father intending “My son who is enjoying the luxury of this much grandeur should not at all become abhorrent and frightened by the sight of any male person”, appointed and assigned only women to attend to many and diverse duties inside that huge mansion.)

One day, while thus indulging with relish in the grand luxury of sensual pleasures, only with womenfolk who were playing the five kinds of musical instruments, singing and dancing, Yasa fell asleep early. Since there was no need for them to entertain and comfort him while he was asleep, the dancers themselves also went to sleep, some embracing or hugging their respective instruments and others using them as pillows. The inside of the main theatrical hall was illuminated brilliantly with the light from the oil-lamps which were kept ablaze throughout the night.

When Yasa woke up from his sleep before others, he saw his retinue of dancers fast asleep most abominably, as if in a graveyard, some hugging the harps, some with the muyo drums slung over their shoulders, some embracing the pharsi drums, some with their hair dishevelled, some with saliva trickling out from their mouths and the rest mumbling deliriously. On seeing them, the disadvantageous nature (ādīnava) of sensual pleasures (kāmaguṇa) became apparent to him. Thus, he gradually felt increasingly bored by such pleasures.

Thereupon, being very much overcome with saṃvega, he breathed forth all by himself the udāna thus: “Upadddutaṃ vata bho! upassatthaṃ vata bho!— Oh! All kinds of kilesa are hurting and oppressing the wretched body, this large source of dukkha of all, including myself, Oh! All kinds of kilesa are tormenting and oppressing the wretched body, this large source of dukkha of all, including myself!”

Yasa (being tired of his own experience with sensual objects), rose from his sleeping couch (without letting anyone know), put on his golden footwear and left his residence. On reaching the door of the house, he quite easily took his departure from the house as devas had kept the door open in advance, intending: “Let no one obstruct Yasa’s way to monkhood.” In the same manner, the guardian devas of the town had kept the town-gate open, so that Yasa could quite easily left the town without any trouble or hindrance and proceeded on his journey and eventually arrived early at the Deer Park near Bārāṇasī. Yasa, approaching from a distance, left the walk and sat in the place suitably prepared for the Buddha. Thereupon, on getting close to the Buddha, Yasa again breathed forth the very words of the saṃvega-udāna he had uttered before.

Thereupon, the Buddha addressed him with words of welcome and of encouragement thus: “My dear son Yasa, this Dhamma of Nibbāna, which, I, the Buddha, already know is the Dhamma which is not tormented and oppressed by any kind of kilesa. My dear son Yasa, come! and sit here. I, the Buddha, will teach you, the good Dhamma leading to Nibbāna.”Thereupon, Yasa was pleased and delighted that “This Dhamma of Nibbāna, realised by the Buddha, is the Dhamma free of torment and oppression from a variety of kilesa.” So, taking off his golden footwear from his feet, he approached the Buddha respectfully made obeisance and took his seat at an appropriate place.

Thereupon, the Buddha taught Yasa, the course of moral practices leading to the Path and Fruition (magga-phala):

(1) the Dhamma relating to charity (dāna-kathā),
(2) the Dhamma relating to morality (sīla-kathā),
(3) the Dhamma relating to happy destination such as celestial abode (sagga-kathā) and
(4) the Dhamma relating to the good path and line of conduct for the realization of magga-phala and Nibbāna (magga-kathā).

(1) Dāna-kathā

Dāna-kathā, the Dhamma concerning charity: a good deed of dāna is the cause of happiness in the present existence, in the next existence and of the bliss of Nibbāna. It is the primary cause of all kinds of pleasures of devas and humans. It is also the source of material sense objects (ārammaṇa-vatthus) and the wellbeing resulting from the use of these objects. For beings endangered by misfortune, it is also a good guardian, a place of safety, a resort and refuge. In the present existence, as well as in the next, there is nothing like dāna to lean on, to stand on, to cling to as a good guardian, a place of safety, a resort, and refuge.

Truly, this deed of dāna is like the gem-studded Lion Throne, for it is to lean on; like the great earth, for it is to stand on; like the rope for the blind to hold on as a support, for it is to cling to. To continue: This meritorious act of dāna is like the ship for crossing over the misery of suffering (apāyabhūmi-duggati). It is also like an army commander of valour in the battle-field since it can ward off or give relief from the danger of the enemies such as lobha and macchariya, etc. It is also like a well-guarded city since it can give protection from the danger of poverty. It is also like a lotus-flower (paduma) since it is not smeared with the dirt of unwholesomeness (akusala) such as jealousy (issā) and stinginess (macchariya). It is also like fire since it can burn the rubbish of akusala such as issā and macchariya. It is also like a poisonous snake since it is of difficult access to the unwholesome enemies. It is also like a lion king since it can free one from fear. (The donor has no need to be afraid of any enemy in the present existence, much less so in the next.) Being of enormous strength, it is like a large elephant. (The donor is blessed with good friends and associates in the present existence. He is also one who will have great physical and mental strength in the next existence.) It is like a bull (usabha) of pure white colour since it is considered by learned persons as a sign of auspiciousness auguring extreme and particular prosperity both here and hereafter, it is also like a king of aerial horses (valāhaka sindhava) since it can transport one from the evil ground of four misfortunes (vipattis) to the danger-free good ground of four fortunes (saṃpattis).

“This deed of dāna is also the good and true Path which, I, the Buddha, have walked on. It is also the one, with which, I, the Buddha, have been related to. I have performed great acts of charity, such as those of Velama, those of Mahāgovinda, those of Mahāsudassana, and those of Vessantara, when I was practising and fulfilling the Perfections (Pāramīs). In my existence as the virtuous hare, a Bodhisatta, I had completely won the hearts of the donees by giving away in charity my own body in the blazing heap of fire.” (Here, Sakka, the deva king, in the guise of a begging brahmin, had his mind fixed continually on the courage shown by the wise hare, the Bodhisatta, in his performance of generous act without any distraction. Hence the Buddha’s words, “I had completely won the hearts of the donees” is a rhetorical way of indirect saying (vaṅkavutti) that politely implies Sakka’s contemplation of the Bodhisatta’s boldness in dāna. Here, by means of the words: “By giving away in charity my own body,” the Buddha gave the advice thus: “The Bodhisattas, knowing too well about the merit of dāna, even gave away their lives in charity. In view of this, should the wise have attachment to an external object, bāhira-vatthu? Certainly they should not.”)

“Furthermore, the merit of dāna is capable of bringing the luxury of a Sakka, the luxury of a Māra, the luxury of a Brahmā and the luxury of a Universal Monarch (cakkavatti) in the mundane world. It is also capable of bringing the Enlightened Knowledge (Bodhi-ñāṇa) of a sāvaka, of a Paccekabuddha and of the Supreme Buddha in a Supramundane world.”

In this manner, the Buddha taught the rich merchant’s son, Yasa, the Dhamma concerning dāna.

(2) Sīla-kathā

(Since only dāna performers can observe sīla, the Buddha taught sīla-kathā immediately after dāna-kathā. To elucidate: Dāna is giving away in charity of one’s own property for the welfare of the donees or in order to honour them. This being so, he who practises dāna is a noble individual who really desires the welfare of beings and there can be no reason at all for him to kill another or to steal another’s property. And so, since only he, who practises dāna, can, in fact, observe Sīla, the Buddha’s sīla-kathā immediately follows dāna-kathā.)

Sīla-kathā, Dhamma words concerning Morality: “The good deed of sīla is for beings to lean on, to stand on, to cling to, to be well guarded by, to be shielded by, to approach, and to take refuge in. This good deed of sīla is the one, with which, I, the Buddha, have been related to. I have observed and guarded it without any breach and interruption in the endless and infinite number of existences, such as the existence as Saṅkhapāla Nāga King, Bhuridatta Nāga King, Campeyya Nāga King, King Sīlava, Mātuposaka Elephant King and Chaddanta Elephant King and others.”

Truly, for the welfare of this present existence and of the next, there is nothing like sīla for leaning on, standing on, clinging to, for being guarded by, for being shielded by, and for taking refuge in. There is no ornament like the ornament of sīla, no flower like the flower of sīla, and no perfume like the perfume of sīla. Furthermore, all humans, together with devas, are never tired of seeing one bedecked with the flowers of sīla, scented with the perfume or sīla and adorned with the ornaments of sīla.

In this manner, the Buddha taught the rich merchant’s son, Yasa, the Dhamma concerning sīla.

(3) Sagga-kathā

(In order to show that happiness in the abode of devas is the result of good deeds of sīla, the Buddha taught the Dhamma concerning the abode of devas (saggakathā) immediately after sīla-kathā.)

Sagga-kathā, Dhamma words concerning the abode of devas: The Abode of devas is desired and adored by everybody. It heartens and exhilarates all. In the abode of devas, one can have constant joy and bliss. Cātumahārājika devas enjoy the divine bliss for nine million years, calculated in human terms. Tāvatiṃsa devas enjoy it for three crores and six million years (36 million years).

In this manner, the Buddha taught the rich merchant’s son, Yasa, the Dhamma concerning the bliss of the abode of devas. In fact, divine bliss is so enormous that Buddhas could not make full justice to it in describing it.

(4) Magga-kathā

After teaching the bliss of the divine abode, the Buddha was to teach immediately magga-kathā, the Dhamma concerning the noble path, ariya-magga, in order to show that even divine bliss is perpetually oppressed by kilesa such as rāga, and to show that, since the ariya-magga is entirely free from kilesas, it cannot be oppressed by it. So, for teaching the magga-kathā, the Buddha taught initially the Dhamma, describing the defects of sensual pleasures (Kāmānaṃ ādīnava-kathā) together with the Dhamma describing the advantages of Renunciation (Nekkhamme ānisaṃsa-kathā), beginning with monkhood that leads to freedom from kāmaguṇas and ending with Nibbāna, as both Kāmānaṃ ādīnava-kathā and Nekkhamme ānisaṃsa-kathā form the means of realisation of the magga.

Kāmānaṃ Ādīnava and Nekkhamme Ānisaṃsa-kathā

The Buddha, after having enchanted the rich merchant’s son, Yasa, with the Dhamma relating to the divine bliss, taught him (as a man who decorates a large elephant to make it most beautiful and then cuts off its trunk abruptly) as follows: “This so-called bliss of the abode of devas also has the nature of impermanence (anicca). It has the nature of instability (addhuva). One should not have desire and attachment for such bliss. The material objects of sensual pleasure are, in fact, more of misery than of pleasure. These material objects of sensual pleasure are made up of pleasure, which is the size of a guñjā seed, but they are full of defects which is the size of Mount Meru.”

(As already reflected upon and realized by Him at the time of His renunciation of the world,) the Buddha elaborated thus on the defects of sensual pleasure, on the vulgar state of things adhered to by ignoble persons but avoided by noble ones, and on the way beings were oppressed and made miserable by sensual pleasure.

And then, inasmuch as there was abundance of defects in sensual pleasure, the Buddha also elaborated on the merit of the absence of defects and the paucity of suffering in renunciation (nekkhamma) beginning with monkhood and ending in Nibbāna.

Yasa becoming A Sotāpanna

Having taught the Dhamma on dāna and other virtues, the Buddha knew that Yasa’s mind had become firm, adaptable, soft, free from hindrances, elated, gladdened, and pellucid, so He taught the Dhamma originally discovered by Him (Samukkaṃsika dhamma) of the Four Truths, namely, the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha-sacca), the Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Samudaya-sacca), the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha-sacca) and the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering (Magga-sacca).

(To elucidate: it means to say that after the Buddha had taught Yasa the Teachings in series beginning with Dāna-kathā, the mind continuum of Yasa became free from the mental blemishes such as lack of faith, indolence, unawareness, restlessness and doubt, and that he was therefore in the frame of mind receptive to the profound Dhamma of the Four Truths. Being free from the defilements of diṭṭhi, māna, etc., his mind became soft and pliable like Jambu-nada pure gold. It was devoid of the five hindrances. It was accompanied by great joy and happiness (pīti-pāmojja) in the excellent Path to Nibbāna. Being endowed with faith (saddhā), his mind was very clear. Only then did the Buddha taught him the profound Dhamma of the Four Saccas of Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha and Magga by the method of approach employed only by Buddhas in accordance with the desires and dispositions of beings, enabling them to realize the magga-phala.)

On being thus taught, to cite a worldly example, as the cloth washed and thoroughly cleansed of dirt would well absorb the laundryman’s dye in yellow, red, etc., and turn bright, so the Insight Knowledge of the Dhamma (Dhamma-cakkhu-vijjā), which is the Insight Knowledge of sotāpatti-magga, arose instantly and clearly in the mind continuum of Yasa, for he had paid attention presently to Nirodha-sacca, Nibbāna, and eradicated the dust of the defilement, such as rāga, etc.;for he had completely eliminated the defilement of diṭṭhi, vicikicchā and kilesa that lead to woeful states; for he had understood with strong conviction (which could not be checked by others) that “All conditioned things are subject to destruction and disappearance”; and because he was endowed with quick Insight Knowledge (Vipassanā-ñāṇa), sharp intelligence, easy practice and ability to have rapid realization (Sukha-paṭipadā-khippabhiññā). All this means that Yasa was established as a sotāpanna.

(Herein, if the laundryman dyed the soiled and dirty cloth in yellow, red, etc., there would be no effect because the dye would not remain fast on such cloth. In the same way, though the minds of beings stained with the dirt of hindrances, such as sensual desire, malice, etc., were dyed with the dye of the Four Noble Truths, there could be no desired effect, no lasting result. If the laundryman, only after cleaning the dirty cloth, by placing it on the surface of a stone slab, dousing it with water, and applying soap, cow-dung and ash to the stains and rubbing and washing, gives it any colour he wants, the result will be the bright colour of the cloth newly dyed. In the same way, the Buddha (the laundry-master of the Four Saccas, so to say,) also made the mind continuum of Yasa which had been like the cloth soiled with the dirt of kilesa, clean and free from the nīvaraṇa-kilesa by placing it on the surface of the stone slab of successive Dhamma discourses (anupubbi-kathā) and by dousing it with the pure water of His saddhā and rubbing and washing it with His sati, samādhi and paññā. Thereafter, when the cloth of his mind continuum was given the colour of the Dhamma of the Four Noble Truths, that is, when the Dhamma of the Four Noble Truths was taught, sotāpatti-magga-ñāṇa arose in Yasa’s mind. That is to say, the dye of the Dhamma of the Four Noble Truths became so fast on Yasa’s mind that nobody else could undo it.

Yasa’s Father becoming A Sotāpanna

Sujātā, Yasa’s mother and the wife of the rich merchant, rose from her bed early in the morning and went to Yasa’s mansion, and looked around. Not seeing her son, she became worried and reported to Yasa’s father: “Sir, l do not see your son Yasa!” Thereupon, the father hurriedly sent out skilful horse-men in the four directions, as for himself, he set out in the direction of Isipatana Deer Park and, finding, on the way, the prints of the golden footwear worn by his son, he followed the trail of these prints.

The Buddha saw Yasa’s father from a distance, and thinking: “It would be good to have Yasa hidden by my supernatural power so that the father cannot see him,” thus He kept Yasa out of his father’s sight.

The rich merchant came to the presence of the Buddha and addressed Him: “Glorious Buddha, have you seen Yasa the clansman?” Thereupon, the Buddha replied: “Rich merchant, if you want to see your son, you just sit at this place. Even while sitting here, you will be able to see your son just seated close by.” Thereupon, the rich merchant was delighted with the thought: “I am going to see my son Yasa just seated close by, even while I am sitting here!”. After making obeisance to the Buddha with due respect and devotion, he remained sitting at an appropriate place. When he was thus sitting, the Buddha taught him progressively in the way as aforesaid: (1) the Dhamma relating to charity (dāna-kathā), (2) the Dhamma relating to morality (sīla-kathā), (3) the Dhamma relating to happy destination (sagga-kathā) and (4) the Dhamma relating to the good Path and line of conduct for realization of magga-phala and Nibbāna (magga-kathā). When the Buddha knew that the merchant’s mind had become adaptable, soft, hindrance-free, elated, gladdened, and pellucid, He taught the Dhamma of the Four Truths originally discovered by Him, and the rich merchant was established in sotāpanna (Yasa’s father, the wealthy man, was the first among laity to become a sotāpanna, the noble disciple, in the dispensation of the Buddha.)

Then Yasa’s father addressed the Buddha thus: “So delightful is it, Glorious Buddha! So delightful is it, Glorious Buddha! As what is placed downward has been turned over, so goes a worldly simile, as what is covered has been disclosed, as a man losing his way has been guided in the right direction; as a lamp has been lighted in the dark with the thought, ‘those who have eyes may see various shapes of things’; so the Buddha has clearly taught me the Dhamma in manifold ways. Glorious Buddha, I recognize and approach the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha for refuge and shelter. May you, Glorious Buddha, take me as a devotee with the threefold refuge from today onwards till the end of my life!” Thereafter, he took supramundane refuge. (Yasa’s father, the rich merchant, was the first sotāpanna among lay noble devotees with the full set of the three-worded refuge, Te-vācika saraṇa-gamana, in the world.)

Yasa becoming An Arahat

Even while the Buddha was teaching the Dhamma to his father, Yasa realised the three higher maggas and became an arahat by reflecting on the Four Noble Truths in accordance with the course of practice that had already been known to him since his attainment of sotāpatti-magga. Thus Yasa became entirely free from attachment for any thing through craving and wrong view (taṇhā-diṭṭhi) as ‘I’, ‘Mine’ and became completely emancipated from the āsavas which ceased by way of non-arising.

Yasa’s Father inviting The Buddha and Yasa to A Meal at His House

Thereupon, the Buddha put an end to what He had created by His supernatural power of not letting the son and the father to see each other, thinking: “With āsavas extinct, the clansman Yasa has indeed become an arahat. He will not slip to the world of householders and in any way indulge in sensual pleasure as formerly. This being so, it would be good if I withdraw the miracle that has prevented the son and the father to see each other!” He made the resolve that they should now see each other.

Suddenly, seeing his son sitting near him, the father was very much delighted and told him thus: “My dear son Yasa! Your mother has fallen into a state of anxiety and grief and is crying for not seeing you. Save your mother’s life!”

Thereupon, Yasa (without replying to his father) looked up to the Buddha and He asked the rich merchant thus: “Rich Donor, how will you consider the question I, the Buddha, am going to ask you now? He, who has embraced the Four Truths with his intelligence of a learner (sekkha-ñāṇa), as you have done yourself, attains sotāpatti-magga; and after reflecting upon and realizing the Four Truths through the course of practice that has been known to him since his attainment of sotāpatti-magga, he reaches the three higher Paths successively and should become an arahat with his āsavas gone. Will he, having become an arahat, ever slip to the household-life and indulge in sensual pleasure as he had done before?” The rich merchant replied: “He will not, Venerable Buddha.”

Again, the Buddha (in order to make His words more explicit) addressed the rich merchant: “Rich Donor, your son Yasa, who has understood the the Four Truths with his intelligence of a learner (sekkha-ñāṇa), as you have done yourself, attains sotāpatti-magga; (even before you came here); and after reflecting upon and realizing the Four Truths through the course of practice that has been known to him since his attainment of sotāpattimagga, he reaches the three higher Paths successively and becomes an arahat with his āsavas gone. Rich Donor, the clansman Yasa will never slip to the household-life and indulge in sensual pleasure as he had done before.” Thereupon, the rich merchant said: “Glorious Buddha! since the mind of Yasa has been entirely freed from attachment for any thing through craving and wrong view as ‘I’, ‘Mine’ and emancipated from the āsavas, he has well availed himself of happiness and gain; and he has also had full benefit of his existence as a human. Glorious Buddha! In order that I may gain merit and have delight, may you kindly accept my offering of a meal with the clansman Yasa as a companion following behind you.” On thus being invited, the Buddha remained silent, signifying His acceptance of the rich merchant’s invitation to the morning meal.

Thereupon, knowing quite well that the Buddha had accepted his invitation, the rich merchant rose from his seat and returned to his house after making obeisance to the Buddha with due respect and circumambulation.

Yasa became A Monk

Then, soon after the rich merchant had left, Yasa made obeisance to the Buddha respectfully and requested ordination: “Glorious Buddha! May I receive going forth or admission (pabbajjā), and ordination (upasaṃpadā) in your presence.” And, the Buddha stretched out His golden hand and called out: “Ehi Bhikkhu! svākhāto Dhammo;cara Brahmacariya sammā dukkhassa, antarikiyāya.–Come, monk! receive the admission and ordination you have asked for. The Dhamma has been well-taught by Me. Strive to take up the noble practices which form the moral training in My dispensation, till you reach your last thought moment and dying consciousness in total extinction (parinibbāna-cuti-citta).” No sooner had the Buddha uttered thus, Yasa was transformed into a full-fledged monk, like a thera of sixty years' standing, readily dressed and equipped with the eight requisites created by supernatural power (iddhi-maya-parikkhāras), each in its proper place; he was then in a posture of respectfully paying homage to the Buddha. [The utterance by the Buddha: “Ehi Bhikkhu”, served as ordination for the Venerable Yasa. There was no need to undergo the now normal ordination procedure involving a Sima. (At the time when the Venerable Yasa became a monk, there were seven venerable arahats among men in the world, namely: The Buddha, the Five Pañcavaggī Theras and the Venerable Yasa.)]

Yasa’s Mother and His Ex-wife becoming Sotāpannas

After He had ordained the rich merchant’s son, Yasa, as an ehi-bhikkhu, the Buddha proceeded in the (following) morning to the house of the rich merchant father, after adjusting His robe and carrying His alms-bowl, and with the Venerable Yasa as a followermonk and upon arrival, He sat cross-legged in the noble place readily prepared. Thereupon, the rich merchant’s wife Sujātā, who was the mother of the Venerable Yasa, and the exwife of Yasa approached the Buddha and, after making obeisance to Him with due respect and devotion, took their seats in their respective appropriate places.

When they remained seated, the Buddha taught the mother and the ex-wife the course of moral practice leading to the Path and Fruition (magga-phala): (1) the Dhamma relating to charity (dāna-kathā), (2) the Dhamma relating to morality (sīla-kathā), (3) the Dhamma relating to happy destination, sugati, (sagga-kathā) and (4) the Dhamma relating to the good path and the line of conduct for the realization of magga-phala and Nibbāna (maggakathā) and showing the demerits of sensual pleasures and the merits of renouncing the household life. Thereafter, when the Buddha knew that the mind of both of them had become adaptable, soft and free from hindrances, eager, gladdened, purified and pellucid, He taught the Dhamma originally discovered by Him (Sāmukkaṃsika Dhamma Desanā) of the Four Truths. Then Yasa’s mother and his ex-wife became established in sotāpatti-phala. Thereupon, Yasa’s mother, Sujātā, and his ex-wife received the Supramundane Refuges, Lokuttara saraṇa-gamana, by addressing the Buddha thus: “So delightful is it, Glorious

Buddha! So delightful is it, Glorious Buddha! As what is placed downward has been turned over, so goes a worldly simile, as what is covered has been disclosed, as a man losing his way has been guided in the right direction, as a lamp has been lighted in the dark with the thought, ‘those who have eyes may see various shapes of things’; so the Buddha has clearly taught us the Dhamma in manifold ways. Glorious Buddha, the two of us recognize and approach the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha for refuge and shelter. May you, Glorious Buddha, take us as female lay-disciples from now on till the end of our lives.” (In the world, the rich merchant’s wife, Sujātā, and the ex-wife of Yasa were the Noble Disciples (ariya-sāvakas) who were the first the female lay-devotees to be established in the three-worded refuge, Te-vācika saraṇa-gamana, in this world.

Then the mother, the father and the ex-wife of the Venerable Yasa Thera served the Buddha and the Venerable Yasa with hard and soft food of excellent quality with their own hands (sāhatthika) and, on knowing that the Buddha had finished the meal, they took their appropriate seats, which were free from the six faults. Thereupon, the Buddha rose from His seat after teaching the Dhamma to the mother, the father and Yasa’s ex-wife and left for Isipatana, Migadaya.

(Here, it should be noted that the Buddha first taught the Dhamma to the mother and the ex-wife of the Venerable Yasa before taking the alms-food because otherwise they would not have been able to perform the charity joyfully, with the spite of sorrow piercing the bodies as caused by Yasa’s joining monkhood: and also because this would have caused their displeasure with the Buddha to the point of being unable to gain the Path and Fruition. The Buddha accordingly took the almsfood after first teaching them the Dhamma in order to allay their sorrow).

     ——Vajīrabuddhi Tika——

Yasa’s Fifty-four Old Friends entering Monkhood

In Bārāṇasī, there were four rich merchants' sons, by the names of Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji and Gavampati, who were descendants of rich ancestors and were old friends of the Venerable Yasa while he was a layman. On hearing that their friend Yasa had become a monk after relinquishing his enormous wealth and property, these four rich merchants' sons reflected and considered thus: “Our friend Yasa has given up family life and the world and entered monkhood by shaving his head and beard and putting on the robe. Therefore, the Doctrine and Discipline (Dhamma-vinaya) of the Buddha cannot be inferior. (It will certainly be superior.) Nor can the state of monkhood be inferior. (It will certainly be superior.)” And so, they went and approached the Venerable Yasa Thera and, after making obeisance to him with due respect and devotion, they remained standing at an appropriate place.

Thereupon, the Venerable Yasa Thera took them, who were his old friends while he was a layman, to the Buddha and after making obeisance to Him with due respect and devotion and taking his seat at an appropriate place, he requested the Buddha: “Glorious Buddha! These four rich merchants' sons, by the names of Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji, and Gavampati, are of high birth and descendants of rich ancestors in Bārāṇasī. They are also my old friends while I was a layman. Glorious Buddha! May you kindly instruct and exhort these four old friends of mine.”

Then the Buddha taught them in the way as aforesaid, the course of moral practice leading to the Path and Fruition (magga-phala): (1) Dhamma relating to charity (dānakathā), (2) Dhamma relating to morality (sīla-kathā), (3) Dhamma relating to happy destination, sugati, (sagga-kathā) and (4) Dhamma relating to the good path and the line of conduct for the realization magga-phala and Nibbāna (magga-kathā). Thereafter, when the Buddha knew that the minds of four of them had become adaptable, soft and free from hindrances, eager, gladdened, purified and pellucid, He delivered the Dhamma originally discovered by Him (Sāmukkaṃsika Dhamma Desanā) of the Four Truths; and the four rich merchants' sons, who were the old companions of the Venerable Yasa, became established in sotāpatti-phala.

After the four rich merchants’’ sons had been established in sotāpatti-phalas, they requested the Buddha that they may be ordained as monks thus: “Glorious Buddha! May we receive going forth or admission (pabbajjā), and ordination (upasaṃpadā) in your presence.” And, the Buddha stretched out His golden hand and called out thus: “Etha Bhikkhave, etc.,—Come, monks! Receive the admission and ordination you have asked for, my dear sons! The Dhamma has been well taught by Me. You, My dear sons! strive to practise the three higher maggas in order to bring about the end of the Round of Suffering.” No sooner had the Buddha uttered thus, the four rich merchant’s sons turned into full-fledged monks, like senior Theras of sixty years standing, readily dressed up and equipped with the eight iddhi-maya-parikkhāras, each in its proper place, paying homage to the Buddha with due respect. The forms of laymen disappeared miraculously and they were transformed into the forms of monks. (Just uttering by the Buddha of words “Etha Bhikkhave” served as ordination for the four of them. There was no more need to be ordained in an ordination hall.)

After they had been ordained as ehi-bhikkhus, the Buddha instructed and exhorted them with words of Dhamma. On being thus instructed and exhorted with words of Dhamma, the four monks, before long, became arahats with their āsavas being extinct. At the time when the four rich merchants' sons had became arahats, there were altogether eleven venerable arahats among men in the human world, namely, the Buddha, the five Pañcavaggī Theras, the Venerable Yasa, the Venerable Vimala, the Venerable Subahu, the Venerable Punnaji and the Venerable Gavampati.

Yasa’s Fifty Friends becoming Monks

The fifty old companions of the Venerable Yasa, while he was a layman, who were descendants of noble ancestors and who were living in rural areas, on hearing that their friend Yasa had become a monk after relinquishing his enormous wealth and property, reflected and considered thus: “Our companion Yasa has given up family life and the world and entered monkhood by shaving his head and beard and putting on the robe). It cannot therefore be that the Dhamma-vinaya Sāsana of the Buddha will be inferior and ignoble (It will certainly be superior and noble). It cannot be that the state of monkhood will also be inferior and ignoble (It will certainly be superior and noble).” And so, the fifty old companions approached the Venerable Yasa Thera and, after making obeisance to him with due respect and devotion, they remained standing at an appropriate place.

Thereupon, the Venerable Yasa Thera took the fifty men of the countryside and of high birth, who were his old companions while he was a layman, to the Buddha and, after making obeisance to Him with due respect and devotion and taking his seat at an appropriate place, he addressed the Buddha thus: “Glorious Buddha! These fifty residents of the countryside are descendants of rich ancestors. They were also my old companions while I was a layman. Glorious Buddha! May you kindly instruct and discipline these fifty sons of high birth who are my old companions.”

The Buddha taught them in the way as aforesaid, the course of moral practice leading to the Path and Fruition (magga-phala): (1) Dhamma relating to charity (dāna-kathā), (2) Dhamma relating to morality (sīla-kathā), (3) Dhamma relating to happy destination, sugati (sagga-kathā) and (4) Dhamma relating to the good path and line of conduct for realization of magga-phala and Nibbāna (magga-kathā) as well as kāmānaṃ-ādīnava-kathā together with nekkhamma-ānisaṃsa-kathā in a progressive manner. Thereafter, when the Buddha knew that the minds of the fifty sons of high birth had become adaptable, soft and free from hindrances, eager, gladdened, purified and pellucid, He delivered the Dhamma originally discovered by Him (Sāmukkaṃsika Dhamma Desanā) of the Four Truths; and the fifty sons of noble birth, who were the old companions of the Venerable Yasa, became established in sotāpatti-phala.

After they had been established in sotāpatti-phala, they requested the Buddha that they may be ordained as monks thus: “Glorious Buddha! May we receive going forth or admission (pabbajjā), and ordination (upasaṃpadā) in your presence.” And, the Buddha stretched out His golden hand and called out (in the same way as before): “Etha Bhikkhave, etc.,” - Come, monks! Receive admission and ordination you have asked for; my dear sons! The Dhamma has been well taught by Me. You, my dear sons, strive to practise the three higher Maggas in order to bring about the end of the Round of Suffering.” No sooner had the Buddha uttered thus, the fifty men of noble birth instantly turned into full-fledged monks, like senior theras of sixty years standing, readily dressed up and equipped with the eight iddhi-maya-parikkhāras, each in its proper place, paying homage to the Buddha with due respect. The forms of laymen disappeared miraculously and they were transformed into the forms of monks. (Just uttering by the Buddha of words ‘Etha Bhikkhave’ served as ordination for the fifty clansmen. There was no more need to be ordained in an ordination hall.) After they had been ordained as ehi-bhikkhus, the Buddha instructed and exhorted them with words of Dhamma. On being thus instructed and exhorted with words of Dhamma, the fifty monks of noble birth, before long, became arahats with their āsavas being extinct At the time, when the fifty sons of high birth became arahats, there were altogether sixty-one venerable arahats, including the previous eleven among men in the human world.

Acts of Merit of Venerable Yasa and Others In The Past

Once upon a time, fifty-five companions formed an association of volunteers for performing acts of merit. They carried out the work of cremating, at free of charge, the dead bodies of those who died in destitute. One day, finding the dead body of a pregnant woman who had died in destitute, they took it to the cemetery for cremation.

Out of the fifty-five volunteering companions, fifty of them went back to the village after asking the other five companions to take up the duty: “Only you do the cremation.”

Thereupon, as the young man (the future wealthy son Yasa), who was the leader of the remaining five, carried out the cremation by piercing and rending the corpse with a pointed bamboo pole and causing it to turn over. In so doing, he gained the perception of the impure and loathsome nature of the body (asubha-saññā). The young man, the future Yasa, advised the remaining four companions thus: “Friends, look at this unclean, and disgusting corpse.” The four companions also gained asubha-saññā from the corpse (utuja) by following Yasa’s advice.

When the five companions returned to the village after having finished the work of cremation and related what they had found and known of the asubha to the fifty associates who had returned to the village, the latter also gained asubha-saññā.

Besides relating the matter to the companions, the young and leading man, the future Yasa, recounted the facts regarding asubha also to his parents and his wife on reaching home; and so his benefactor-parents and his wife also gained asubha-saññā.

These fifty-eight persons, headed by the future wealthy son Yasa, continued to practise and develop meditation on the impurity and loathsomeness of the body (asubha-bhāvanā) based on the asubha-saññā they had gained. These, in fact, were the past deeds of merit of these fifty-eight persons.

By virtue of the past deeds of merit, in the present existence as the son of the rich merchant of Bareness, there appeared to the Venerable Yasa the asubha-saññā, the impression of a cemetery on seeing the conditions of the dancers. The realisation of magga-phala by the fifty-eight persons was due to their possession of the supporting (upanissaya) merit resulting from asubha-bhāvanā practised and developed in the past existence.

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