The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Story of the Wealthy Man Anathapindika 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 Six Princes achieved different Attainments. 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 - Story of the Wealthy Man Anāthapiṇḍika

The Buddha granted permission to bhikkhus to make use of the monastery as a requisite, in compliance with the request by the wealthy man of Rājagaha, who made it through the bhikkhus while He was residing there during the second vassa[1].

The wealthy man of Rājagaha and the wealthy man, Anāthapiṇḍika of Savatthi, were brothers-in-law because they married each other’s sister. On the occasions when the wealthy man of Rājagaha found the prices of goods in Rājagaha were far below those currently at Savatthi, he would buy the goods and went to Savatthi with five hundred carts loaded with such goods for sale. One yojana before his arrival at Savatthi, he would send intimation of his arrival to Anāthapiṇḍika who would then arrange a grand reception for his brother-in-law, and the two would enter the city together in the same carriage. If the goods found a ready market in Savatthi, the rich man of Rājagaha disposed them at once. In case they did not find a ready market, he left them in the house of his sister and went back. The wealthy man, Anāthapiṇḍika, also did likewise.

At the time when the Buddha was observing His second vassa in Rājagaha, the wealthy man, Anāthapiṇḍika of Savatthi, had five hundred carts loaded with products of Savatthi and left for Rājagaha. He sent a written intimation of his arrival to the wealthy man of Rājagaha from a distance of one yojana (as on the many previous occasions).

The wealthy man of Rājagaha could not, however, give any heed to his intimation for he had just returned from the reclusive monastery of Sitavana where he had listened to a discourse by the Buddha and having invited Him and His Sangha to partake alms-food the following day, he was busily engaged with the work of making necessary arrangements for the reception and provision of food.

Anāthapiṇḍika approached the city thinking all the way that a grand reception would await his arrival as on previous occasions, but he found no reception, even on his reaching the door of the house of the rich man of Rājagaha. On entering the house, there was not much of an effusive speech of welcome on the part of his host, but only, “Wealthy man of Savatthi, how are your children? Are they in good health? I hope you have had an easy and comfortable journey.” And he kept himself busy with the work in hand.

As stated above, the wealthy man of Rājagaha could only extend these few words of welcome to Anāthapiṇḍika. He was giving priority to the ceremonial functions and he went on giving instructions to his men: “Mind that you get up early on the morrow and get busy with boiling the broth, cooking rice and curry, and preparing mixed salad dishes, all replete and in time for the Buddha and His Sangha.”

It crossed the mind of Anāthapiṇḍika: “The wealthy man of Rājagaha used to leave aside all other business and talked with me enthusiastically on previous occasions, but now he is full of anxiety about holding a grand feast for one reason or the other. Is he doing all this with his servants to bring some one’s daughter here to get married to his son (āvāha) or give away his daughter in marriage with some one’s son (vivāha) or else, has he invited King Bimbisāra and his retinue of soldiers to a feast tomorrow?”

When everything had been arranged, the wealthy man of Rājagaha came to Anāthapiṇḍika and engaged himself in conversation with him enthusiastically as ever before. Whereupon, Anāthapiṇḍika asked him:

“Wealthy man, you used to leave aside cares of business and speak with me joyfully on all previous occasions. But now you seem to be anxious about holding a food-offering ceremony, giving priority to making arrangements with your men in preparation for the ceremony to be held tomorrow. Is it for an āvaha ceremony to bring someone’s daughter to your house for marriage to your son, or for a vivāha ceremony to give away your daughter in marriage to someone’s son? Are you preparing for a great alms-giving ceremony or have you invited King Bimbisāra and his retinue of soldiers to a feast tomorrow?”

The wealthy man of Rājagaha replied:

“Wealthy man, I will not be holding Āvaha or Vivāha ceremonies. Nor have I invited King Bimbisāra and his retinues to a feast. In reality, I have been making necessary arrangements for a grand alms-giving ceremony. I have invited the Buddha and His Sangha for the performance of meritorious deed tomorrow.”

When Anāthapiṇḍika heard the word “Buddha” uttered enthusiastically by the wealthy man of Rājagaha, his entire body was pervaded throughout with five grades of joyful satisfaction (pīti), namely, slight sense of interest (khuddakā-pīti), momentary joy (khanikāpīti), absorbing interest with flood of joy (okkantika-pīti), interest amounting to thrilling point (ubbegā-pīti) and fully developed, intensive rapture or zest suffusing the whole body and mind (pharanā-pīti).

Anāthapiṇḍika experienced these five fold rapturous joys which overwhelmed him from head to instep and again from instep to head; they spread from the side of his body to the middle and from the middle to the sides. Feeling these five kinds of ecstasy without intermission, he asked the wealthy man of Rājagaha: “Wealthy man, did you say the ‘Buddha’?” Thrice he asked and thrice he received the same reply: “Yes, I did say the ‘Buddha’.”

Anāthapiṇḍika then inquired about the Buddha: “In this world, it is rare indeed even to hear the word ‘Buddha’. Would it be possible for me now to go and pay homage to the Buddha, the Homage-Worthy, the Perfectly-Self Enlightened?”

The wealthy man of Rājagaha deliberated: “It is as difficult to approach the Buddha as it is to go close to a venomous snake. The Buddha’s reclusive monastery where He is residing is close to the cemetery and it would be impossible for him to go there late in the evening.” He therefore made this reply:

“Wealthy man, there is no time now for you to go and pay homage to the Tathāgata, the Homage-Worthy, the Perfectly Self-Enlightened. You will be able to go and pay homage to the Tathāgata only early tomorrow morning.”

Upon hearing this, Anāthapiṇḍika thought to himself: “I shall be able to pay homage to the Buddha only early in the following morning” and he went to sleep with no other thought or object in mind except that of the Buddha. To explicate: Anāthapiṇḍika was no longer interested in the merchandise that he had brought and the attendants at his service from the moment he heard the word, ‘Buddha’. Forgoing his dinner, he went up to the topmost chamber of the seven-storey mansion and laid himself on well-laid out and decorated bed and fell asleep, muttering: “Buddha, Buddha”.

When the first watch of the night was over, Anāthapiṇḍika got up to contemplate on the attributes of the Buddha time and again. His sense of deep devotion towards Him became exceedingly great (balavasaddhā), so much so that his body emitted a radiance through pīti. It was as if a thousand oil lamps were lit or the sun or the full moon rose in the sky, thereby dispelling the darkness of the night. He then thought to himself: “I have been so forgetful of the passing of time. Even the sun has risen,” thus he murmured and got up. But when he saw the moon still in the sky, he realised that two more watches of the night had yet to pass before dawn. So he laid down on his bed once again.

Thus he passed the two watches of the night, getting up at the end of each watch. At the close of the last watch, immediately before dawn, he walked along the rails of the balcony till he reached near the main entrance door. He found the entrance doors of the seven storey mansion already opened by themselves. He went down the seven storeys and walked along the main street in the city.

As he went near the city gate, named Sivaka, the guardian devas (who were ariyas) kept the gate open in advance. They considered: “This wealthy man has come with the intention of paying homage to the Buddha and serving Him. This rich man, on his worshipping the Buddha for the first time, will be established in the sotāpatti-phala, and surpassing all others will become the noblest of disciples in rendering service to the three Gems of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. He will build a magnificent, matchless monastery, the doors of which he will keep open to all ariya-sanghas from the four directions of the world. It would not be proper to close the door against him.”

As Anāthapiṇḍika went out of the city, the radiance emitting from his body disappeared and darkness reigned, with the result that fear and trembling arose in him and the hair of his body stood on end. Therefore, he felt like retreating even from that very spot. (Rājagaha was a cosmopolitan city with a population of eighteen crores: nine crores within the city and nine crores without. The city gates were closed after dusk and the bodies of those who died at unearthly hours during the night were thrown over the walls around the gate. Blinded by the darkness, Anāthapiṇḍika accidentally trod on a freshly discarded dead body and tripped against another corpse with his insteps. This caused the flies on the decomposed bodies to rise with a roar and buzz about him and the foul smell from the dead bodies rushed into his nose. As a result, his devotional faith towards the Buddha began to weaken which, in turn, resulted in the disappearance of the radiance from his body which was emitted because of the rapturous joy he felt within. Darkness fell. Fear and trembling arose and his hairs stood on end. He, therefore, felt like retreating even from that very place).

A celestial ogre, intending to make the wealthy man exert himself to continue his journey, approached Anāthapiṇḍika without making himself visible and addressed him with a voice as sweet as the tinkle of a small golden bell.

Satam hatthi satam assā
satam assatarīrathā
satam kaññā sahassāni
ekassa padavītiharassa
kalan nāgghanti solasiṃ

O! wealthy man of great fame, one hundred thousand royal elephants worthy of kings, one hundred thousand royal horses worthy of kings, one hundred thousand royal chariots drawn by special breed of horses, assatara, and one hundred thousand royal maidens bedecked with priceless jewels are not worth two hundred and fifty-sixth (1/256) part of the good volition (cetanā) behind each step that takes you on your way to the monastery to pay homage to the Tathāgata, to listen to the discourse, and to render service to the Sangha.

O! wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍika, go forward. Proceed on your way. Only your going ahead will be noble and worthy of praise. Your retreat will be ignoble and not worthy of praise.

On hearing this Anāthapiṇḍika considered: “I thought I was all alone, but I now find there are some companions with me. Why should I be afraid?” He became bold and courageous. His powerful devotional faith in Buddha began to strengthen once again. Therefore darkness disappeared, and there was light, and fear and trembling were dispelled.

He was on the road once again, on the fearful journey through the cemetery, with dead bodies in varying states of decomposition scattered all over. The voices of domestic dogs and jackals disturbed his mind with the result that light disappeared and darkness fell as on the previous occasion. Here again, the celestial ogre, Sivaka, came to his aid and he was on the road again.

When for the third time, as on the previous occasions, he encountered the disheartening circumstances of disappearance of light, the Sivaka ogre, by making him nurture his devotional faith in the Buddha again and again, helped him overcome all the dangers.

Continuing on his journey, he eventually arrived at the forest grove of Sitavana. It was about day-break and the Buddha was walking up and down the passage in the open space.

As Anāthapiṇḍika was walking along an idea crossed his mind: “In this world, Purana Kassapa and other sectarian teachers have declared themselves as Enlightened Buddhas.

This being so, how should I know whether the Buddha is the truly Self-Enlightened One?” Then again in his mind the thought occurred: “All the people know me as Anāthapiṇḍika for my generosity in feeding the destitute. But the name given to me by my parents is ‘Sudatta’, which no one knows except myself. If the Buddha is the truly Self-Enlightened

One, He will call me by the name given by my parents, ‘Sudatta’.”

On seeing Anāthapiṇḍika from a distance, the Buddha came down from the passage way and sat on the seat reserved for Him. As Anāthapiṇḍika came nearer to Him, having read his mind, He addressed him: “Come, dear Sudatta.” Anāthapiṇḍika was rejoiced when he heard the Buddha calling him by the name given by his parents. He approached Him and paid homage, prostrating himself at the feet of the Buddha and addressed the Blessed One: “Most Exalted Bhagava, have you enjoyed a sound sleep?” The Buddha said in reply:

Sabbada ve sukhan seti
brahmano parinibbuto
yo na 1impati kāmesu
sitibhuto nirūpadhi

(O! Wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍika), The arahat, who is not besmeared with desire for sensual pleasures, being free from burning passions, is calm and serene. He is also free from the three upadis, namely, defilement (kilesa), accumulated kamma (abbisankhara) and sensual passion (kāmaguṇa). Having expelled all evil and all defilements having been eradicated, all sorrow has ended and as such that arahat, at all times, night and day, truly sleeps and lives in ease of mind and body.

Sabbā āsattiyo setvā
vineyya hadaye daraṃ
upasanto sukhaṃ seti
santiṅ pappuyya cetasā

(O! wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍika) The arahat, who has got the five sensual pleasures cut off by means of the four-fold arahatta-magga, and extinguished the flames of defilements, has frequently entered the tranquil state of Nibbāna by way of arahatta-phala-samāpatti. Having extinguished the blazing fire of defilement, he sleeps and lives with ease and tranquillity.

Having thus explained how He lives with ease and comfort in all the four postures of the body, the Buddha taught Anāthapiṇḍika the course of moral practice leading to the Path and Fruition (as stated before), namely, (1) Dāna-kathā, (2) Sīla-kathā, (3) Sagga-kathā, (4) Magga-kathā, kamanaṃādinava, nikkhame-ānisansa-kathā in correct sequence of His Teaching. When He knew that the mind of Anāthapiṇḍika had become adaptable, soft, and free from hindrances, eager, gladdened, purified and pellucid, He taught the Dhamma which was originally discovered by Him (Sammukkamsika-dhamma-desanā), the Four Noble Truths. Eventually, Anāthapiṇḍika became established in sotāpatti-phala.

Then Anāthapiṇḍika addressed the Buddha thus:

“So delightful is it! Glorious Buddha! So delightful is it! Glorious Buddha! As what is placed downwards has been turned, 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 the 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 Glorious Buddha, take me as a devotee with the Three-fold Refuge from today onwards, until the end of my life. Having thus taken refuge in the three Gems, the wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍika extended an invitation to partake of a meal, saying: “Glorious Buddha, in order that I may gain merit and have delight, may you accept my offering of a meal together with the Sangha tomorrow morning.”

The Buddha remained silent, signifying His acceptance of the invitation to the next morning meal.

Whereupon, Anāthapiṇḍika joyously rose from his seat and after paying respect to the Buddha by circumambulating Him clockwise, left for the residence of his host, the wealthy man of Rājagaha.

Wealthy Man of Rājagaha, Merchants’ Association and King Bimbisāra offered to render Their Services

The news of the Buddha’s acceptance of Anāthapiṇḍika’s invitation to a meal instantly spread all over the city. The wealthy man of Rājagaha, on hearing the news, offered to render service, saying: “I have heard the news that you have invited the Sangha headed by the Buddha to a meal tomorrow in order to gain merit. You happen to be a visitor here; may I offer you assistance with provisions and payment for services?” Anāthapiṇḍika refused the offer saying that he would be able to manage the affair with what was in his own possession.

Members of the merchants' association of Rājagaha also came forward to help by way of supplying provision and payment of services in the same way as the wealthy man of Rājagaha. Their offer was also not accepted in like manner.

King Bimbisāra also offered to render help in the same way as the others, and his request was also refused in the same way: “Your Majesty, I need no such help. I should be able to hold the feasting ceremony with what I have.”

On the following day, Anāthapiṇḍika held the food-offering ceremony at the residence of his brother-in-law, the wealthy man of Rājagaha, serving food of great worth and delicacies. He then sat at a suitable spot and respectfully presented an invitation to his home town of Savatthi: “Most Exalted Buddha, may I humbly request you? Please keep the vassa in our town of Savatthi, together with all Your bhikkhus.” The Buddha gave the reply: “Devotee Anāthapiṇḍika, Fully Self-Enlightened Buddhas are pleased to reside in secluded places.” Anāthapiṇḍika replied: “Glorious Buddha who always speaks good words (sugata), your devotee understands full well, your devotee understands full well.” Then after speaking words of Dhamma to Anāthapiṇḍika, the Buddha returned to the monastery.

Construction of Temporary Monasteries at Every Yojana between Rājagaha and Savatthi

At that time, Anāthapiṇḍika was a person who had a great many friends, and his word was respected by many. He had his merchandise disposed hastily and returned to Savatthi. On his way home, he urged the inhabitants at the intermediate stations:

“Plant gardens, build shelters for rest and lodging. Build monasteries and keep reserves of provisions for alms-giving. A Buddha has blossomed forth in the world. That Buddha will be coming to your place along this way at my request.”

In response to Anāthapiṇḍika’s exhortation, all his wealthy associates and childhood friends, at the intermediate stations, built shelters, parks and gardens, kept provisions for alms-giving at their own expense without accepting any assistance from him, while the needy ones took the responsibility of building shelters and monasteries and set up reserve provisions for alms-giving with the money that they received from him.

Anāthapiṇḍika contributed one lakh in cash and in kind, such as timber and construction materials, to the value of one lakh to accomplish the project of constructing a shelter and a garden at each yojana along the route between Rājagaha and Savatthi, a distance of fortyfive yojanas. He returned to his home town of Savatthi after completion of the work.

The Selection and Purchase of The Site for Jetavana Monastery by Anāthapiṇḍika

On arrival at Savatthi, Anāthapiṇḍika searched the surrounding localities for a suitable site for a monastery; a site which must meet the following five conditions: (1) being not too far from the city, (2) being not too near the city, (3) being communicable by roads, (4) being of easy access for everybody at any required time, and (5) being free from noise of the city, village and people clamouring for five sense objects. He found that the Prince Jeta’s garden land met the said conditions and so he went to the prince and offered to buy it: “Your Highness, I wish you to sell me your garden at a certain (agreed) price.” Prince Jeta’s replied: “Wealthy man, I cannot give you my garden even if you were to lay gold coins edge to edge, over it.”

(Note that if Prince Jeta had said: “I cannot sell my garden,” it would not be tantamount to fixation of a price. But he happened to say: “I cannot give you my garden even if you were to lay gold coins, edge to edge, over it.” That was tantamount not only to fixation of a price but also quoting an exorbitant price for it.)

Anāthapiṇḍika took advantage of Prince Jeta’s commitment in his speech and demanded: “Your Highness, you have already quoted your terms for the sale of your garden.” Prince Jeta’s denied saying: “I have not said a word about the sale of my garden.”

Anāthapiṇḍika contended that the prince had to sell his garden while the prince argued that he had never said a word about the sale of the garden and the two finally agreed to secure the judgment of a Court of Law. The ministers who were judges passed the judgment: “Your Highness, because your Highness happened to have quoted (an exorbitant) price with the words ‘even if gold coins were laid edge to edge’ you have committed yourself to negotiations for the sale of your garden.” (This is a worldly statement which is subtle and delicate and, as such, it requires to be pondered over with much wisdom for correct interpretation.)

Having thus won the case at the Court of Law, Anāthapiṇḍika ordered cartloads of gold coins taken out and transported and laid them edge to edge over the surface of Prince Jeta’s garden. For the spaces which could not be laid over with gold coins such as those occupied by trees and ponds, he had the dimensions of their girth or areas measured and placed the gold coins, edge to edge, over equivalent areas at other places. In this way, the rich man, Anāthapiṇḍika, spent eighteen crores of gold coins, which he had put aside for emergency use, in buying the site for the monastery.

With the first batch of cartloads of gold coins, it was found that there were enough gold coins to cover much of the garden-land when placed edge to edge except for a small area earmarked for the construction of an archway. Anāthapiṇḍika ordered his men: “O men, go and bring more cartloads of gold to cover this space for archway constructions.” Prince Jeta donated An Archway for The Monastery

On seeing that Anāthapiṇḍika’s face grew brighter and brighter as he went on giving away his enormous amount of wealth, the Prince reflected: “The abandonment of immense wealth in gold coins by the wealthy man for a good cause such as this must be a noble act of charity.” With this thought, he requested Anāthapiṇḍika: “Enough,..... enough..... please do not lay any more coin on that plot. Please be so good as to leave it for me to donate an archway for the monastery.” Anāthapiṇḍika thought to himself: “This Jeta Prince is a famous person, well known to all. Showing devotional faith in the Teaching of the Buddha by such a famous personage will be greatly beneficial.” So he left the required plot to the Prince who proceeded to build an archway with tiered roofs for the monastery.

Construction of Jetavana Monastery by Anāthapiṇḍika

Having bought the garden of Prince Jeta at a cost of eighteen crores of gold coins, Anāthapiṇḍika spent another eighteen crores to create a magnificent monastery on it. First he had unwanted trees felled, leaving the desirable ones for the sake of shade and natural beauty. The perfumed chamber (Gandhakuti) for the accommodation of the Buddha was surrounded by dwellings for bhikkhus together with the stately seven tiered archway were constructed at a selected place. Assembly halls with terraced roofs for the Sangha, small buildings to store allowable articles, lavatories, passage ways with roofing, water wells complete with roofs over them, bath rooms for both cold and sweat baths in separate buildings, square water tanks and pavilions were constructed within the sacred precincts of the monastery, leaving nothing which would be needed.

The Site of The Monastery.

The location of the Jetavana monastery was not only the site of the monastery of this (Gotama) Buddha alone; it was also the location of the monasteries of the preceding Buddhas, such as Buddha Kassapa, etc., as elaborated below:

(1) During the time of Buddha Vipassī, a wealthy man, named Punabba Sumittā, bought a piece of land at this very site (of Jetavana monastery), then measuring one yojana, by paying with golden bricks placed edge to edge on it. Constructing a huge monastery on it, he donated it to the Sangha.

(2) During the time of Buddha Sikhī, a wealthy man, Sirivattha, bought a piece of land at the same site by paying (according to Jātaka commentary) with golden teeth of ploughs placed tip to tip; or with golden staffs placed end to end (according to Vinaya commentary) and donated it, measuring three gavutas, after constructing monasteries on it, to the Sangha.

(3) During the time of Buddha Vessabhū, a wealthy man, Sotthija, bought a piece of land in the same site by paying with golden blocks moulded into the shape of elephant legs (Jātaka commentary); or golden teeth of ploughs (Vinaya commentary) placed end to end and donated it together with all the buildings on it, to the Sangha. The plot measured half a yojana or two gavutas.

(4) During the time of Buddha Kakusana, a wealthy man, Iccuta, bought a piece of land in the same site, then measuring one gāvuta, by paying with gold bricks (according to Jātaka commentary); or gold blocks made into the shape of elephant legs (according to Vinaya commentary) placed end to end all over the land and donated it to the Sangha together with all the buildings on it.

(5) During the time of Buddha Konaguna, a wealthy man, Ugga, bought a piece of land in the same site by paying with golden tortoises (according to Jātaka commentary); or golden bricks (according to Vinaya commentary) placed end to end on the land measuring half a gāvuta and donated it together with all the buildings constructed on it, to the Sangha

(6) During the time of Buddha Kassapa, a wealthy man, Sumangala, bought a piece of land in the same site by paying with gold blocks (according to Jātaka commentary); or golden tortoises (according to Vinaya commentary) placed edge to edge all over the land, then measuring two (units of land measure) pias, and donated it together with the monasteries constructed on it, to the Sangha

(7) Now in the time of our Buddha, Gotama, the wealthy man Sudatta, also known as Anāthapiṇḍika, bought a piece of land in the same site, measuring eight pias by paying with gold coins placed edge to edge on it and donated it after building the Jetavana monastery, to the Sangha.

Saṃvega (Sense of Religious Urgency)

Reflecting seriously on the varying extent of land and the price paid for the site of the monastery at the time of the seven Buddhas, one should arouse in oneself the sense of religious urgency that “all the worldly attainments of success and prosperity are subject to deterioration” and thus now is the appropriate time for strenuous effort to free oneself from attachment to these worldly attainments through developing weariness and disenchantment on them.

Buddha’s Journey to Savatthi

When the delightful and pleasant Jetavana monastery had been constructed at a cost of eighteen crores of gold, on an enchanted plot costing another eighteen crores of gold, Anāthapiṇḍika sent a special messenger to the Buddha with his respectful invitation. The Buddha, upon receipt of the invitation through the messenger, decided to proceed to Savatthi, (partly because He foresaw that Savatthi would become one of His residences for the greater part of His life, and partly because it would also serve as a favourable “victory ground” for Him to save devas, humans and Brahmās, by millions, from the slough of suffering). With that end in view, He left Veḷuvana monastery in Rājagaha for Savatthi, accompanied by His Sangha, stopping one night at the shelters of each station, located at intervals of one yojana along the route, as arranged by Anāthapiṇḍika in advance.

When Buddha arrived at Vesali on the way to Savatthi, He resided at the monastery with terraced roofing in the Great Grove (Mahāvana). At that time, He laid down the rule for the appointment of a monk, with the consent of the community (nakammavaca) to take charge of the repairs (navakamma) necessary for monastic dwellings donated by the public. Then, after leaving Vesali and proceeding towards Savatthi, pupils of the group of six monks, Chabaggi, having gone along ahead of the Order of Bhikkhus with the Buddha at its head, took possession of good dwelling places, good sleeping places, saying: “This will be for our preceptors, this will be for our teachers.”

Whenever the Buddha went on a journey accompanied by the Sangha, Venerable Sāriputta, though he could selfishly claim the privilege of staying close to the Buddha as the right-hand Chief Disciple, would never do so and leave other monks to shift for themselves, but would follow at the tail end of the procession, personally caring and seeing to the comfort of aged and sick monks.

Such being the case, on this occasion also, having followed at the very end of the procession, he arrived late and all beds and places being taken up by the chabbaggi. Having no where to sleep, he had to spend the night at the foot of a tree. The Buddha, coming to know of this incident, considered: “If, while I am still living, monks behave without respect for and showing deference towards one another, what would they do when I pass away into Parinibbāna?"

Being filled with great concern (dhammasamvega), He caused an assembly of monks to be held in the morning and asked: “Bhikkhus, is it true that bhikkhus of the chabaggi group, having gone along ahead of others, took possession the good dwelling places for themselves, denying suitable resting place for the elder bhikkhus?”

On being replied that it was true, the Buddha rebuked chabaggi group and, after having given a reasoned Dhamma talk, asked the bhikkhus: “Who, bhikkhus, is worthy of priority concerning place, water (for washing), and food?”

Some bhikkhus replied: “Bhikkhus of the royal blood have prior claim to a place, washing water and food”;some said: “Bhikkhus of the brahmin class have the priority concerning a place, washing water and food”; others again said: “It was bhikkhus of the wealthy householder class who are worthy of being offered first a place, washing water and food,” while others maintained: “One well versed in Vinaya, or a Dhamma teacher (Dhamma kathika), one possessed of the first jhāna,..... the second jhāna..... the third jhāna..... the fourth jhāna..... is worthy of the first offer of a place, washing water and food.” Finally, there were those who opined that "one who is a sotāpanna..... sakadāgāmin..... an anāgāmin.....a sukkha vipassanā arahat (without abhiññās),.....a tevijja arahat (with threefold wisdom)..... a chalabhiñña arahat (with six-fold superknowledge)..... is worthy of the best seat, the best water (for washing), the best alms.”

Then the Buddha addressed the monks:

Bhikkhus, in dealing with the matter of priority right to a place, water (for washing) or alms-food, in my Dispensation, consideration of birth, blood, caste, social status is of no importance, nor of being a Bearer of Vinaya, of Suttanta, of Abhidhamma; nor of being possessed of the first jhāna, etc., nor of being a sotāpanna, etc.

“In reality, dear bhikkhus, those within my Dispensation should live paying due to respect, rising up and greeting with both palms together in salutation, giving proper homage according to seniority;the best seat, the best water (for washing), the best alms should be accorded in order of seniority. In the matter of receiving the best seat, etc., only seniority in age, seniority with regard to the duration of monkhood is of consequence. Thus the bhikkhu with such seniority is worthy of such priority.

“At the present time, bhikkhus, Sāriputta is the chief Disciple on my right. He keeps the Wheel of Dhamma taught by Me in motion; he is one worthy of my place when I am no more. That Sāriputta had to spend the whole of the previous night walking or sitting under a tree (for want of a place to rest). Bhikkhus, when there are such acts of disrespect and lack of consideration on the part of bhikkhus even during my life time, how will the members of the Order behave in the time to come (after I have passed into Parinibbāna).”

Then the Buddha, in order to exhort the bhikkhus, told them (the story of three friends, a partridge, a monkey and an elephant) the Tittira Jātaka of Kulavaka Vagga in Ekakanipata. “Bhikkhus, in ancient times, even animals came to an understanding: ‘It is not proper to be disrespectful and disobedient to one another; we will determine first who is the oldest amongst us and then we will show due respect and pay homage to him.’ Then having chosen the oldest of them, they honoured him and obeyed him, thus cultivated the practice of ‘Paying respect to the elder’ (vuddhapacayana) which led them to rebirth in the devaworld.

Ye vuḍḍhamapacāyaṅti
narā Dhammassa kovidā
diṭṭhe Dhamme ca pāsaṃsā
samparāye ca suggati

Those who are wise in the practice of paying respect to the illustrious and the aged, choose among the three categories of birth, virtue and age, those who are both virtuous and senior in age to honour and show respect. Such people are worthy of praise, even in this life and have prospects of becoming celestial beings in future existences.

Bhikkhus, even these three animals, a monkey, an elephant and a partridge could live together for mutual benefit, courteous, deferential and polite to one another. If you, who have gone forth and received ordination through faith (saddhapabbajita) in My sāsana, which dispenses righteous instructions, live without mutual benefit, without courtesy, without regard for one another, can such behaviour be seemly or proper? (Indeed, it cannot be). Such conduct, lacking due respect and humility also cannot arouse respect and esteem for this sāsana in those who are still outside it....... etc.”

After teaching the discourses extensively on the importance of mutual respect and reverence, by way of rebuking the chabaggi monks, the Buddha proclaimed the following rule of Discipline:

“I allow bhikkhus, paying due respect, rising up and greeting with both palms together in salutation, giving proper homage according to seniority; the best seat, the best water for washing, the best alms should be accorded in order of seniority. Bhikkhus, in the matter of monastic dwellings and sleeping places belonging to the whole Order, Saṅghika, one should not hinder their occupation according to seniority. Whoever should do so, there is an offence of wrong doing (dukkata- apatti).”

Ten Kinds of Individual Unworthy of Veneration

Having thus laid down the two rules, one concerning what was allowable, anuñātā, and the other concerning what is not allowable, paṭikhita, the Buddha continued to address the monks saying: “dasayime bhikkhave, avandiyā, etc.,——there are these ten individuals enumerated here, who should not be worshipped:”

(1) A bhikkhu ordained earlier should not worship another who received ordination later.

(2) A bhikkhu should not worship anyone who is not a bhikkhu.

(3) A bhikkhu should not worship anyone belonging to a different communion (sanvāsa), who speaks what is not Dhamma (adhammavādi), even if he is more senior.

(4) A bhikkhu should not worship a woman.

(5) A bhikkhu should not worship a eunuch

(6) A fault-free bhikkhu (pakata) should not worship a bhikkhu under suspension from association with the rest of the Sangha (parivāsa).

(7) A fault-free bhikkhu (pakata) should not worship a bhikkhu who has been judged to undergo the stages of penance again, starting from the first stage of parivāsa for having transgressed one of the Sanghadisesa offences which are expiable [while observing the parivāsa penance; while undergoing a further period of penance, manatta, for six days to gain approbation of the Sangha; while having undergone manatta penance is about to be reinstated (abbhana).]

(8) A fault-free bhikkhu should not worship a bhikkhu, who, having observed the parivāsa penance, has been judged to undergo the mānatta penance.

(9) A fault-free bhikkhu should not worship a bhikkhu who is undergoing the mānatta penance.

(10) A fault-free bhikkhu should not worship a bhikkhu who, having undergone mānatta penance, is about to be reinstated (abbhāna).”

Having thus explained the ten kinds of person not worthy of homage, the Buddha continued to give an enumeration of three types of individuals who deserve to be venerated.

Three Kinds of Individual Worthy of Veneration

Bhikkhus, these three types of individual are worthy of veneration. They are:-

(1) A bhikkhu ordained earlier is worthy of veneration by one ordained later.

(2) A senior bhikkhu belonging to a different communion if he speaks what is Dhamma (Dhammavadi) is worthy of veneration.

(3) In the world of sentient beings with its devas, humans and Brahmās, the Homageworthy, Perfectly Self-Enlightened, Exalted Buddha is worthy of veneration by all beings.

Ruling relating to The Occupation by Senior Bhikkhus of Pavilions, Temporary Sheds meant for The Sangha but which have not yet been formally consecrated

All along the route by which the Buddha travelled to Savatthi in the company of the

Sangha, local people built pavilions, temporary sheds furnished with mattings and Assembly Halls in anticipation of their visit. Here again, disciples of the chabaggi group went ahead and occupied the dwelling places as on the previous occasion and, as a result, the Venerable Sāriputta was obliged to spend the night under a tree as he arrived with the group at the end of the procession. The Buddha investigated into the truth of the matter and rebuked the chabaggi bhikkhus and prescribed a set of additional ruling for observance by the Sangha.

Na bhikkhave udissakatampi yathāvuḍḍaṃ paṭibāhitabbaṃ, yo patibaheya apatti dukkatassa

Bhikkhus, (even before formal consecration), pavilions and temporary sheds, etc., meant for the whole of the Sangha can be occupied without hindrance by the Sangha in order of seniority. Whoever should hinder such occupation in order of seniority, there is an offence of wrong doing (dukkata apatti).”

(N.B. Concerning the Chabaggi monks, Vajirabuddhi Tika says that chabaggi monks made their appearance only when the Buddha had completed the first twenty years of His Buddhahood. And there is the statement in Majjhima Nikāya, 1, 175, “Ārādhayiṃsu me bhikkhu cittaṃ.... etc.” which means, “During the first Bodhi period of twenty years, the bhikkhus had behaved so well as to give much delight to the Tathāgata.” It is a matter for consideration here that the account given above of the chabaggi monks can be reconciled with those given in the Vajirabuddhi Ṭika and the Majjhima Nikāya only by assuming that the story given here of the chabaggi monks' behaviour was taken from the account of the journey to Savatthi on a later occasion. This is just to highlight the rulings made by the Buddha on some types of offences.)

Ruling concerning Decorated Furnishings at The Alms-house in The Village

Now at that time, village people appointed ‘elevated places’, uccussayana, and ‘exalted places’, mahāsayana in the alms-house of the village and furnished with a 1ong-furred carpet, a many-coloured wool coverlet, a white wool coverlet, a wool coverlet with floral designs, a cotton quilt, a woollen carpet decorated with animal forms, a carpet with furs on both sides, a carpet with furs on one side, a coverlet with gold embroidery, a silken coverlet, a large size woollen carpet, an elephant rug, a horse rug, a chariot rug, rugs of black antelope hide, a coverlet of bear skin, a fancy red ceiling, a couch with red cushions at either end. Bhikkhus, not being certain whether they are allowable did not sit on them.

When the matter was related to the Buddha, He made the following ruling concerning them:

Anujanāmi, bhikkhave, thapetvā tīṇi āsandiṃ pallaṅkaṃ tūlikam...., etc.—

Bhikkhus, with the exception of three things, a couch with very long legs, an altar or divan a cotton quilt, I allow you to sit on what is appointed by the people as elevated places, exalted places but not to sleep on it.”

In the village, in the same alms-house, people provided a low bedstead quilted with silk cotton on both upper and lower sides; Bhikkhus, being meticulous, did not use it. The Buddha made a ruling also in this matter:

Anujānāmi, bhikkhave, gihivikatam abhinisīditum, na tveva abhini pajjitum

—I allow, bhikkhus, to sit on the bedstead quilted on both sides, provided by the people, but not to sleep on it.”

Buddha being conducted by Anāthapiṇḍika to The Jetavana Monastery with A Grand Reception Ceremony

As stated above, Buddha, accompanied by many bhikkhus, set out on His journey from Rājagaha towards Savatthi and in due time arrived at the boundary of the Savatthi region. The wealthy man, Anāthapiṇḍika, having attended to preparations for a grand ceremony to make the formal offering and dedication of the monastery to the Buddha with the symbolical pouring of water, made arrangements to conduct the Buddha to the monastery on a grand scale as described below:

Princess Sumana

King Pasenadi Kosala had a daughter, named Sumana, who, during the time of Buddha Vipassī, she was the daughter of a wealthy man and was known as Saddha Sumana. Being quick-witted and intelligent, she took the opportunity of offering Ghana milk-rice, which was prepared with pure unadulterated milk to Buddha Vipassī before anyone. Having made her offering to the Sangha headed by the Buddha, she made this wish: “Glorious Buddha, wherever I am reborn throughout the long journey of the saṃsāra, may I never have to earn my living in want and with great difficulty; and may I be reborn as a much loved and charming lady for offering this garland of Jasmine flowers and be known as Sumana.” Her wishes were fulfilled as she was never reborn in the planes of misery. She was born only either in the plane of the devas or the humans throughout the past ninety-one world-cycles. In all these existences, because showers of Jasmine flowers fell almost knee-high at her birth, she had always been named "Sumana". (For full particulars, reference may be made to Anguttara Commentary Vol. 3.)

At the time of present Buddha Gotama, she was born as the daughter of King Pasenadi Kosala by his Chief Queen.

At the time of her birth, there was a shower of Jasmine flowers, spreading nearly knee- high all over the palace. She was, therefore named Sumana by her royal father. There were also five hundred girls who were born simultaneously with Princess Sumana. The Princess and her five hundred connatals were brought up in luxury. As insignia of office and trappings of rank, the Princess was provided with five hundred coaches; and whenever she moved out from the palace, she was accompanied by her five hundred birth mates each in her own coach.

Throughout the whole of Jambudipa, one of the Four Great Continents, there were only three young women who were provided, as symbols of rank and office, by their fathers with five hundred attendants, each with a coach. They were: (1) Princess Cundi, daughter of King Bimbisāra, (2) Visakha, who later became the donor of the Pubbayum Monastery, daughter of wealthy man, Dhanancaya and (3) Sumana, daughter of King Pasenadi Kosala.

Princess Sumana was seven years old when the Buddha went to Savatthi to accept the Jetavana Monastery. Anāthapiṇḍika went to King Pasenadi Kosala and made the request: “Your Majesty, the coming of Buddha to our town of Savatthi is a blessing for us and, as well as a blessing for your Majesty. I would like to request you to send your daughter, Princess Sumana, together with her five hundred attendants, each carrying a pot filled with water and scents and flowers, for the reception of the Buddha. The King agreed saying: “Very well, Wealthy man,” and made necessary arrangements to comply with Anāthapiṇḍika’s request.

As ordered by her father, Princess Sumana set out together with her attendants, in full insignia befitting a princess, to take part in receiving the Buddha. They offered scents and flowers to the Buddha and then took seats at appropriate places. The Buddha taught Dhamma to Sumana with the result that she and her five hundred attendants attained the sotāpatti-phala. At the same time, five hundred other young women, five hundred elderly women, and five hundred laymen devotees also attained sotāpatti-phala.

Thus two thousand persons achieved the stage of sotāpatti ariyas while the Buddha was still on His way to the Jetavana Monastery that day. (From Anguttara Commentary Vol. 3)

Anāthapiṇḍika’s own Welcoming Arrangements

Anāthapiṇḍika had not only arranged for Princess Sumana’s participation in conducting the Buddha to the monastery, but also for his son and five hundred attendants, who were sons of wealthy men of Savatthi. In compliance with his father’s wishes, Anāthapiṇḍika’s son and his five hundred attendants in their five-hued ceremonial dress, each holding a bright streamer, took their positions in front of the Buddha and led the procession right up to the monastery.

Next to their brothers, came the two daughters of Anāthapiṇḍika, Cula Subhadda and Mahā Subhadda, with their five hundred female attendants, who were daughters of wealthy men of Savatthi, and each carrying a pot full of water.

Then came the wife of Anāthapiṇḍika, Punna Lakkhaṇa, in full ceremonial dress and bedecked with jewellery, accompanied by the wives of five hundred wealthy men, each holding a gold or silver cup full of sweet scents and other offerings.

At the end of the procession to welcome and receive the Buddha came Anāthapiṇḍika himself in a newly made dress of a wealthy man, accompanied by his party of five hundred wealthy men, all in newly made dresses of wealthy men.

Led by the long procession, the Buddha proceeded, attended by many bhikkhus, causing the surrounding forest to glow golden, as liquid golden yellow orpiment, with the aura of His presence. Then with the infinite grace and glory of an Omniscient Buddha, He entered the precincts of Jetavana Monastery.

Formal Donation of The Jetavana Monastery to The Sangha

(At the conclusion of the reception ceremony), Anāthapiṇḍika approached the Buddha and respectfully invited Him and His bhikkhus to a meal offering ceremony at his residence, the following day. Having made all arrangements for a sumptuous meal of hard and soft food at his house the next morning, Anāthapiṇḍika sent a messenger to the monastery, informing: “Most Exalted Buddha, it is time to partake the meal; the food offering is ready.” The Buddha, accompanied by His Sangha, went to his house and took seats at the places reserved for them. Anāthapiṇḍika personally attended to the Buddha and His bhikkhus by offering delicious food to them with zealous devotion and sat at a suitable place. He then addressed the Buddha: “Most Glorious Buddha, may I know as to how the Jetavana Monastery should be dedicated.”

The Buddha then gave this instruction to Anāthapiṇḍika: “It should be proper for you to dedicate the monastery to all bhikkhus who have arrived, are still arriving and may arrive from the four directions.” Guided by the instructions of the Buddha, Anāthapiṇḍika dedicated the Jetavana monastery to the Sangha who have already arrived, are still arriving and may arrive from the four directions, (Agatanagata catuddisa Saṅghika), by pouring ceremonial water as a token thereof.

Five Verses of Appreciation for Donation of The Monastery

Having accepted the formal offer of Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha delivered a discourse in five verses to express appreciation for the donation of the monastery.

1) Sītan unham paṭihanti
tato vālamigāni ca
sarīsape ca makase
sisire cāpi viṭhiyo

(The monastery which you have donated) provides sufficient condition for protection from the dangers of extreme cold caused by internal disturbances of elements or external inclemency of weather; the danger of heat caused by wild forest fires; the danger of wild beasts, such as lion, leopards, tigers; the danger of reptiles and creeping creatures, such as snakes, scorpions, lices; the danger of gnats, mosquitoes, flies whose bites harm concentration; the danger of biting cold from week long unseasonal rains during the period of two months (sisiraratu) from 1st waning moon of Phusso to the full moon of Phagguno; and the danger of torrential rains during the rainy season.

2) Tato vātātapo ghoro
sañjāto paṭihanati
lenatthañca sukhattaṅca
jāyituñca vipassitum
vihāradānaṃ sanghassa
aggaṃ buddhena vannituṃ

(The monastery which you have donated) provides sufficient condition for protection from violent and fearful seasonal winds of great velocity and intense heat: it enables bhikkhus to live in solitary seclusion without mental distraction; it enables them to live without danger, with happiness; it enables them to cultivate jhānic practices; it enables them to practice Insight meditation (vipassanā). (Those who donate monasteries should make it a point to bear in mind such benefits rendered to the Sangha by the monastery they have donated). Buddhas, past and present, have extolled the donation of a monastery to the Sangha, as being noble.

3) Tasma hi pandito poso
sampassaṃ atthamattano
vihāre kāraye ramme
vāsayettha bahussute

Therefore, a wise man of good birth, who considers well and perceives the benefits for him in the human world and for Nibbāna, should build monasteries for Sangha to live with ease and comfort of body and serenity of mind. Having built them, he should dedicate them to bhikkhus who are wise and virtuous and have the necessary qualities and qualifications to control and look after them as a Presiding Monk, namely, (1) one who has full ten years (vassa) of bhikkhu's life; (2) one who is well acquainted with two sections of Vinaya, viz., Bhikkhu-vibhanga and Bhikkhunī-vibhanga;(3) one capable of administering and performing various acts pertaining to Sangha according to the Vinaya Rules, Sangha-kamma; (4) one with the knowledge of the aggregates and (5) one versed in the analytical knowledge of nāma and rūpa. It is necessary to select a thera with these qualifications to be appointed a Presiding Monk of these monasteries.

4) Tesam annañca paññāñca
vattha senāsanāni ca
dadeyya ujubhutesu
vippasannena cetasā

To the inwardly upright, virtuous and knowledgeable residents of the monastery, the donors should offer alms-food, soft drinks, robes and lodging with a mind full of faith in the Three Jewels and in the beneficial results of good deeds. (With this verse the Buddha instructs the donors of monasteries to support the resident monk with four requisites also).

5) Te assa Dhammam desenti
yam so Dhammam idhaññāya

The learned bhikkhus, who reside in the monasteries, should, in return, preach with compassion and loving-kindness the Dhamma which would lead to emancipation from all the sufferings of the cycle of rebirth for the benefit of donors of these requisites. In my Dispensation with eight-fold wonders, the donor of the monastery, endowed with pure faith, hearing such Dhamma discourse from the resident monks and practising them according to their instructions, will become enlightened, and with complete eradication of āsavas and cessation of suffering became arahats.

The Buddha, after delivering this discourse on the benefit of donating a monastery (viharanisamsa), in appreciation of Anāthapiṇḍika’s dedication, returned to the Jetavana Monastery.

Nine-Month Celebrations for The Successful Dedication of The Monastery

The ceremony held for the successful donation and dedication of the monastery started from the second day (of the arrival of the Buddha) and lasted nine months. The ceremony held by Visakha (wife of a wealthy man) on the occasion of the dedication of the Pubbārāma Monastery lasted only four months. The cost of the nine month’s celebration consisting of offering of various alms amounted to eighteen crores.

Thus, as a measure of support to the sāsana, Anāthapiṇḍika spent altogether fifty-four crores (five hundred and forty millions in gold), namely, eighteen crores for the cost of the site, eighteen crores for the construction of the monastery and eighteen crores for the celebrations for the successful dedication of the Monastery.

End of the story of Anāthapiṇḍika.

Footnotes and references:


For full particulars, reference may be made to Burmese translation of Senāsanakkhandhaka of Vinaya Cūḷa Vagga.)

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