The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Expounding of Parosahassa Jataka 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 Buddha’s Seventh Vassa. 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).

Expounding of Parosahassa Jātaka

The Buddha then proceeded to propound thus: “Sāriputta has not exceeded the average level of intelligence only now, but he had also excelled others in the matter of knowledge and wisdom, in the past existences,” making a reference to Ekata Nipatta, Litta Vagga, and Jātaka Commentary. He then related the Parosahassa Jātaka in its abridged form.

Once upon a time, there lived in a forest, at the foot of a hill, more than one thousand hermits who lived on herbs, fruits and roots. Once their teacher fell sick, and the most senior disciple went out in search of medicine, leaving instructions with his juniors to attend on their teacher with due care and diligence.

The great teacher passed away before the return of the senior disciple. Upon a request being made by the disciples regarding jhāna-samāpatti on the verge of his demise, the old sage told them: “Naṭṭhi kiñci” meaning “There is none”, implying the third jhāna, Akiñcaññayatana. Anyone wishing to abide in the third arūpa-jhāna known as Akiñcaññayatana-jhāna termed “Jhāna-samāpatti” must first and foremost contemplate on the concept of “non-existence” of the first arūpa-jhāna repeatedly. This in fact was what the great master had in his mind when he said: “Naṭṭhi kinci.”)

But the disciples had missed the point and utterly misunderstood the great master and looked down upon him as one who had not attained any stage of jhāna-samāpatti and they did nothing about the burial rites concerning his remains.

(N.B. The great sage was accomplished in akiñcaññayatana-jhāna (by which incorporeal Brahmā realm is attainable) but when asked by his disciples he simply said: “Natṭṭhi kiñci” and passed away to be reborn in Ābhasara (corporeal) Brahmā realm which is attainable by the second rūpavacara-jhāna. This is because the four Arūpa Brāhma realms are not befitting of the Bodhisattas, abhabba.)

On his return with suitable medicine, the senior disciple was told that the great teacher had passed away. He asked his juniors if they had asked him anything. They replied: “Aye.... we had; “Naṭṭhi kiñci” was his reply, and he must, therefore, have gone without attaining any jhāna whatsoever.”

The senior disciple explained to them thus: “You have no idea of what the great master meant. Our great teacher is endowed with akiñcaññayatana, the third arūpa stage of jhāna.” He thus gave them a correct interpretation again and again to convince them.

But his correct answer simply fell on deaf ears. When the great teacher, the Bodhisatta then an Ābhasara Brahmā, came to know about the unhappy situation, he contemplated that he should reveal the truth by removing the doubt entertained by those ignoramuses, who were groping in the dark. Therefore, the great sage descended from the Ābhasara Brāhma Loka to the world of humans. Poising himself high above the roof of the hermitage with great power, and wishing to praise the senior disciple’s wisdom, he uttered the stanza:

Parosahassampi samā gatānam
kandeyyuṃ te vassasataṃ apaññā
ekova seyyo puriso Sapañño
yo bhāsitassa vijānāti atthaṃ

Those without any knowledge may cry for a hundred years (they will have no idea whatsoever of what their master meant to say). The only person, among an assemblage of over a thousand persons, capable of understanding what was meant, is worthy of praise.

The great teacher returned to the world of Brahmās after preaching the discourse. All the hermits attained jhāna-samāpatti as a result of his visit, and they were reborn in Brāhma-Loka after death.

In winding up the discourse, the Buddha revealed that Sāriputta was then the senior disciple and He was the Great Brahmā in the realm of Ābhassara Brāhma Loka.

(This is an abridged form of Parosahassa Jātaka; for full particulars please refer to Ekatanipatta Jātaka Vatthu.)

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