by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Sending out Sixty Arahats 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).
Summary: The Buddha Sending Out Sixty Arahats on Missionary Work.
While staying there till the full moon of the month of Assayuja, the Buddha, one day, sent for the sixty venerable and asked them to go on missionary work as thus:—
“Bhikkhus, I, the Buddha, have achieved complete freedom from all the snares of such impurities as craving (taṇhā) and greed (lobha), namely, the snare of craving and greed for sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans, bhikkhus, you also have achieved complete freedom from all the snares of such impurities as craving and greed, namely, the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans.
“Bhikkhus, go out in all the eight directions for the mundane and supramundane welfare, prosperity and happiness of many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, (covering a distance of one yojana a day at the most). Let not two of you travel together for each journey, for if two take the same route, while one is preaching, the other will remain idle, just sitting in silence.
“Bhikkhus, teach the Dhamma that is full of virtuous qualities in all its three phases, namely, the beginning, the middle and the end; and endowed with the spirit and the letter. Give the devas and humans, the threefold training of sīla, samādhi and paññā which is perfect in all aspects and free from the dirt of wrong conduct (duccarita).
“Bhikkhus, there are many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmās, who have little dust of impurity in their eyes of wisdom. Through not hearing the Dhamma, they will suffer a great loss of the extraordinary Dhamma which is the Path and the Fruition. There will appear clearly some devas and humans who will realize the nature and meaning of the Dhamma perfectly and thoroughly.
“Bhikkhus, I, the Buddha, too (will not remain in this Migadāya, which have excellent dwellings built for Me, and receiving the treatment and comfort with the four requisites given by My attending donors, but) will proceed to Uruvelā forest of Senā Nigama to teach the Dhamma and to convert the hermit brothers of one thousand ascetics.”
[Note: Of the above mentioned five paragraphs of the Buddha’s speech, the words “the Dhamma that is full of virtuous qualities in all its three phases, namely, the beginning, the middle and the end” occurring in the third paragraph refer to the two good qualities (kalyāṇa): the good quality of the Dispensation (sāsana), and the good quality of the Teaching (desanā).]
(Of the said two categories of good qualities, sīla forms the quality at the beginning of the sāsana; samatha, vipassanā and fourfold magga form the quality at the middle of the sāsana;fourfold phala and Nibbāna form the quality at the end of the sāsana. Alternately, sīla and samādhi as the beginning, vipassanā-ñāṇa and magga-ñāṇa as the middle and phala and Nibbāna as the end are the good qualities. Another alternative, sīla, samādhi and vipassanā-ñāṇa as the beginning, the fourfold magga as the middle and the fourfold phala and Nibbāna as the end, are the good qualities.
As regards the good qualities of the desanā, in a four-footed verse, the first foot as the beginning, the second and the third feet as the middle and the fourth foot as the end are the good qualities. If a verse has five or six feet, the first foot as the beginning, the last (the fifth and the sixth) feet as the end and the remaining (third foot and fourth foot) as the middle, are good qualities. In a Sutta with only one contextual connective (anusandhi), the introduction (nidāna) of the Sutta as the beginning, the group of words, Idam avoca and so on, as the end and the remaining group of words as the middle, are the good qualities. In a Sutta with many anusandhis, the nidāna as the beginning, the group of words, Idam avoca and so on, as the end and the group of words with many anusandhis as the middle, are the good qualities. By Sutta is meant is that which shows one or two or three good qualities of the Teaching.
Māra’s Visit and Deterrence
When the Buddha was thus addressing and sending out the sixty arahats as missionaries, Māra thought to himself: “As if planning to wage a big war, this monk Gotama is sending out sixty arahats, the military commanders of the sāsana, by saying: ‘Do not travel in twos for each journey. Disseminate the Dhamma.’ I feel uneasy even if anyone of these sixty messengers preaches the Dhamma. How will I be if all the sixty arahats preach the Dhamma as planned by the Monk Gotama? I shall even now deter the Monk Gotama from doing so!” So he approached the Buddha and discouraged Him by saying thus:
“O Monk Gotama! You are bound and caught in all the snares of impurities such as craving (taṇhā) and greed (lobha), namely, the snare of craving and greed for sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans. You are tied down in the bondage of kilesa in the prison of the three existences. O Monk Gotama! you will not (for that reason) be able to escape, in anyway, from my domain of the three existences.”
So Māra said thus with the hope, “On my speaking thus, the great Monk will not endeavour to emancipate other beings from saṃsāra.”
Thereupon, the Buddha, (in order to show that what Māra had spoken and the actual event of the Buddha were quite far apart, as the sky and the earth and that they were directly opposed to each other as fire and water), addressed Māra in these bold words:-
“You Evil Māra, heretic and murderer! I, the Buddha, am, in fact, one who have been completely freed from all the snares of such impurities as craving (taṇhā) and greed (lobha), namely, the snare of craving and greed for sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans. I am also truly one who have escaped, once and for all, from the bondage of kilesa in the prison of the three existences. I have totally vanquished you in this battle of kilesa. (You have in fact suffered total defeat.)”
Thereupon, Māra again repeated prohibitory words thus:—
“O Monk Gotama! such a snare as passion (rāga) is generated in the minds of beings and is capable of inescapably binding down even the individuals who possess abhiññā and can fly through the air. I shall bind you and kill you by means of that snare of passion. O Monk Gotama! In no way will you escape from my domain of the three existences.” Thereupon, the Buddha addressed Māra in these bold words:-
“You, Evil Māra, heretic and murderer! (In this world,) there are evidently clearly the five objects of sensual pleasure, namely, various sights, various sounds, various tastes, various odours and various contacts, which can delight and give pleasure to the devas and humans. (Your snare of passion will be able to bind down only those who are not free from craving and greed for attachment and enjoyment of the said five objects of sensual pleasure.) I, the Buddha, have been entirely free from craving, greed, desire and passion for attachment and enjoyment of these five objects of sensual pleasure. (In this battle of kilesa therefore), I have totally vanquished you.(You have, in fact, suffered total defeat.)”
Māra was at first dissuading the Buddha and hoping “May be He will give up thinking that a powerful deva has come and dissuaded” but since the Buddha had addressed him saying: “You, Māra! I have totally vanquished you.” he became sad and dejected and saying: “The Glorious Buddha has known me for what I am! The Buddha of Good Speech has known me for what I am,” and he disappeared from that very place.
The Buddha’s Permission to ordain through The Three Refuges.
(At the time of the first rain season (vassa) when the Buddha sent the monks on missionary work, He had not yet enjoined the monks to observe the rains-retreat.) And so the monks brought to His presence of persons who were eager to be admitted as sāmaṇeras and ordained as bhikkhus from various places and various districts with the thought that “These prospective persons will be admitted as sāmaṇeras and ordained as bhikkhus by the Buddha himself”; when they were thus brought, the monks as well as these prospective candidates suffered much trouble and fatigue.
(When the missionary bhikkhus taught the Dhamma, not only those who were endowed with past meritorious kamma to become ehi-bhikkhus but also those, who were not so endowed with such kamma, would aspire after admission and ordination. The Buddhas usually did not confer monkhood on those of the latter kind. But, when there were mixed crowds of aspirants, both deserving or not deserving ‘Ehi Bhikkhu’ proclamation, the Buddha being desirous of laying down the procedure for ordination also of those persons not deserving of ehi-bhikkhu ordination, considered thus: “At the present moment, the monks are bringing to my presence prospective persons wishing for admission, wishing for ordination, from various places and various districts as they are under the impression that ‘These candidates will be admitted and ordained by the Buddha himself and thereby the monks, as well as the prospective persons, suffer much trouble and fatigue.’ It would be good if I, the Buddha, give permission to the bhikkhus thus: ‘Monks! you yourselves may now admit, may now ordain prospective persons at any place and in any district.’ ”
Thereafter, the Buddha emerged from seclusion and gave the monks a Dhamma talk, introductory to His consideration. He related fully what had occurred to Him while He was remaining alone in the day time: “Bhikkhus! You yourselves may now admit, may now ordain prospective persons willing to become sāmaṇeras and bhikkhus at any place and in any district. I, the Buddha, do allow admission and ordination by yourselves, my dear sons, at any place and in any district.”
“Bhikkhus! You should admit, and ordain a candidate in this manner: first his hair and beard should be shaved. Then he should don the monk’s robe. And then, let him cover one shoulder with the robe and make obeisance at the monk’s feet; let him squat down and raise his hands joined together, and ask him to repeat (after you) the Three Refuges:
Dutiyampi Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi;
Dutiyampi Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi;
Dutiyampi Sanghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchcāmi.
Tatiyampi Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi;
Tatiyampi Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi;
Tatiyampi Sanghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.
“Bhikkhus! I, the Buddha, allow you to confer admission and ordination by the said Three Refuges.”
(Here, conferment of admission and ordination consists in these three: (1) the shaving of the candidate’s hair and beard, kesacchedana; (2) the donning of monk’s robe on him, kāsāyacchādana;and (3) the granting of the Three Refuges.)
Mara’s Second Visit and Deterrence
After the Buddha had taken residence for four months of the rainy season until the full moon of the month of Kattikā, in Isipatana, Migadāya, He assembled the monks and addressed them thus:
“Bhikkhus, my dear sons! I, the Buddha, have attained the incomparable and supreme arahatta-phala through right and proper mindfulness, as well as through right and proper effort. (I have been absorbed in arahatta-phala-samāpatti without interruption.) Bhikkhus, my dear sons! You also endeavour to gain and achieve the incomparable and supreme arahatta-phala through right and proper mindfulness, as well as through right and proper effort. Realise the incomparable and supreme arahatta-phala. (Be absorbed in arahatta-phala-samāpatti without interruption.)”
(The Buddha gave this advice with these objects in view: Not to let them falter on account of the faulty tendency (vāsanā) which had taken root ever since the time of their existence as worldlings (puthujjana-bhāva) thinking: “We are now arahats with the āsavas dried up. What benefit will accrue to us by the practice of the meditation? There will be none”; and to make them spend their time developing phala-samāpatti in forest-dwellings on the outskirts of towns and villages; and thus to make other bhikkhus see and follow their example (diṭṭhanugati) of being absorbed in phala-samāpatti.)
Thereupon, Māra came to where the Buddha was and spoke in deterrent terms:
ye dibbā ye ca mānusā.
na me samaṇa mokkhasi.
“Monk Gotama! You are bound and caught in all the snares of impurities such as craving (taṇhā) and greed (lobha), namely, the snare of craving and greed for sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans. You are tied down in the bondage of kilesa in the prison of the three existences. Monk Gotama! You will not (for that reason) be able to escape in any way from my domain of the three existences.”
Thereupon, the Buddha, (in order to show that what he had spoken and the actual event of the Buddha were quite far apart, as the sky and the earth and that they were directly opposed to each other, as fire and water), addressed Māra in these defiant words:-
ye dibbā ye ca mānusā.
nihato tvamasi antaka.
“You, Evil Māra! I, the Buddha, am, in fact, one who have been completely freed from all the snares of such impurities as craving (taṇhā) and greed (lobha), namely, the snare of craving and greed for sensual pleasure of devas and the snare of craving and greed for the sensual pleasure of humans. I am also truly one who have escaped once and for all from the bondage of kilesa in the prison of the three existences. I have totally vanquished you in this battle of kilesa (You have in fact suffered total defeat.)”
Whereupon, Māra Deva became sad and dejected, saying: “The Glorious Buddha has known me for what I am. The Buddha of Good Speech has know me for what I am,” and he disappeared from that very place.
Here ends the episode of Māra’s second visit and deterrence.
The Thirty Bhaddavaggī Princely Brothers entering upon Monkhood
(Buddhas dwelling in any one place never felt uneasy and unhappy because of it being devoid of shady spots and water, of its miserable living conditions and of the people there having little or no such virtues as faith. When they stayed in a place for a long time, it was not because there were enough shelters and water and the inhabitants had faith, so that they found joy and comfort there, thinking: “We can live in this place happily!” In fact, Buddhas stayed at a certain place because they would like to have beings established in the welfare and prosperity of the Three Refuges, morality, monkhood and the Path and Fruition, provided they were prepared to take the Refuges, to observe the Eight and Ten Precepts, to enter monkhood and provided they had their past acts of special merit to serve as supporting condition (upanissaya-paccaya) for their realization of the maggaphala. It was the usual way of Buddhas to emancipate beings worthy of emancipation and, if there were no more to emancipate, They make the departure for another place.)
The Buddha remained at Isipatana, Migadāya near Bārāṇasī until His desire to emancipate the five Pañcavaggī bhikkhus and others had been fulfilled, He then set out all alone, carrying His alms-bowl, to Uruvelā Forest. On the way He entered a woodland by the name of Kappāsika and remained seated at the foot of a certain tree.
At that time, the thirty princely brothers by the name of Bhaddavaggī (so called because they possessed grace and beauty, and good temperament, and they habitually went on tours in group) happened to be indulging in an orgy in the Kappāsika woodland, accompanied by their respective spouses. One of the princes, however, brought a harlot as he had no wife. While the princes were carelessly enjoying themselves with drinks, etc., the harlot stole their belongings and ran away.
Then the princes, in order to help their companion, wandered about the woodland in search for the harlot and came upon the Buddha sitting under a tree. They went up to Him and (without being yet able to make obeisance to the Buddha), addressed Him thus: “Glorious Buddha! Has the Blessed Buddha seen a woman?” When the Buddha asked them: “Princes! What business have you with the woman?” they replied: “Glorious Buddha! We, the thirty princely companions, happen to be amusing ourselves inside this Kappāsika woodland in company with our respective spouses. One of our companions has no wife and so he has brought a harlot. But, while we were carelessly enjoying ourselves, the harlot stole our belongings and ran away. In order to help him out, we are going about in this Kappāsika woodland to look for this woman.”
Thereupon, the Buddha asked: “Princes! What, in your opinion, is better for you, seeking a missing woman or seeking your own self?” They replied: “Glorious Buddha! It is better for us that we seek ourselves.” The Buddha then said: “Princes! Then sit down. I, the Buddha will teach you the Dhamma.” and the princes replied: “Yes, Glorious Buddha!” And then, after making obeisance to the Buddha with due respect and devotion, the thirty Bhaddavaggī princely companions remained seated at an appropriate place which were free from the six faults.
The Buddha taught them in the way, as aforesaid, the course of moral practice leading to the Path and Fruition, (magga-phala): (1) Dāna-kathā, (2) Sīla-kathā, (3) Sagga-kathā and (4) Magga-kathā as well as Kāmānaṃ ādīnava-kathā, Nekkhamme ānisaṃsa-kathā in instructional succession. Thereafter, knowing that the thirty princes’ minds had become adaptable, soft and free from hindrances, eager, gladdened, purified and pellucid, the Buddha taught the Dhamma which was originally discovered by Him (Sāmukkaṃsika dhamma-desanā) of the four Truths, and, as a result, the thirty Bhaddavaggi princely companions became established, some in sotāpatti-phala, some in sakadāgāmi-phala and others anāgāmi-phala. (Not a single one of them remained puthujjanas.)
After the thirty Bhaddavaggī princely companions had been established severally in sotāpatti-phala, sakadāgāmi-phala and anāgāmi-phala, they requested the Buddha that they be ordained as bhikkhus: “Glorious Buddha! May we receive 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) thus: “Etha Bhikkhave” and so on, meaning “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 engage in the practice of the higher maggas in order to bring about the end of the round of suffering.” Instantly the thirty Bhaddavaggī princes turned into full-fledged bhikkhus like senior theras of sixty years' standing, readily dressed up and equipped with the eight supernaturally created requisites each in its proper place, paying homage to the Buddha with due respect. Their state of laymen disappeared miraculously, as they were transformed into bhikkhus.
(The very utterance by the Buddha, ‘Etha Bhikkhave’ meant a process for the thirty princes to become accomplished ehi-bhikkhus. There was more need to be ordained in an ordination hall.)
(Here, the thirty princes had been the thirty drunkards in the Tuṇḍila Jātaka of the Chakka Nipāta. At that time, they properly observed the five precepts after hearing the words of admonition given by Mahātundila the Boar King, the Bodhisatta. Their deeds of merit, through their observance of the five precepts, was the cause originated in the past of their simultaneous discernment of the Four Noble Truths in the present existence. Besides, having observed the Five Precepts together in unison, they had obviously done many meritorious deeds with a view to be free from the round of rebirths (vivaṭṭanissita) by listening to the good Dhamma, taking the three refuges, performing acts of charity, observing the Precepts and practising Concentration meditation and Insight meditation severally during the Dispensations of the former Buddhas. For these reasons, they had such fortunes as the realization of the lower magga and the lower phalas and of becoming ehi-bhikkhus, etc., on the very day they met the Buddha.)
The thirty Bhaddavaggī Theras were the half brothers of King Kosala, having the same father but different mothers. As they usually lived in Pāveyya City, in the western part of Kosala Country, they were known by the name of Pāveyyaka Theras in the texts. It is in connection with these Theras that the Buddha, at a future date, permitted (the making and offering of) Kaṭhina robes. The thirty Pāveyyaka Bhaddavaggi Theras became established in arahatta-phala after hearing the Discourse of Anamatagga (on the Round of Existences which have no beginning) while the Buddha was dwelling in Veḷuvana Monastery in Rājagaha.
——3-Tiṃsamatta Sutta, Dutiyavagga of the Anamatagga saṃyutta——