The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Story of Cincamana (Cincamanavika) 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).

Part 4 - Story of Cincamana (Cincamanavika)

Buddha was calumniated by A Female Wandering Ascetic named Cincamanavika

As stated in the preceding paragraphs, the Buddha, after emancipating five hundred disciples of the Venerable Sāriputta and thirty crores of devas and humans through realization of the Four Noble Truths, proceeded to Savatthi to take up residence at the Jetavana monastery and to resume preaching Dhamma to rational beings who went there.

It was at that time, a lowly, wily, female wandering ascetic by the name of Cincamanavika made a malicious, slanderous charge against the Buddha. The following is an account of that calumniatory attack.

The number of disciples of the Buddha increased by leaps and bounds, like a rising tide, during the first twenty years of His Dispensation, termed Paṭhama Bodhi or The First

Period of Enlightenment. And the number of devas, humans and Brahmās who attained the Four Stages of Fruition (ariya-bhūmi) also increased with time; and the attributes of the Buddha, such as Araham, spread right up to the roof of the world; the volume of offerings made to the Buddha and the Sangha grew so much while the power of heretics waned and the offerings made to them dwindled to a vanishing point, just like the diminishing glow of fire flies as the sun rises up in the morning.

The sectarian stood at road junctions and made attempts to induce or court the people to make offerings to them, saying:

“Lay devotees.... Bhikkhu Gotama is not the only one who has attained Buddhahood; we have attained Buddhahood, as well!... Is merit gained by making offerings to the Recluse Gotama only? You can gain merit by making offerings to us as well. Therefore, you should make offerings to us also.”

Their appeals were of no avail, and they, therefore, assembled for a secret meeting “to devise ways and means to calumniate Recluse Gotama, so that people might not make offerings to Him through lack of respect and esteem.”

At that time, there lived in Savatthi, a wandering female ascetic by the name of Cincamanavika. She was so named because she was born of a moisture-laden tamarind tree; hence she was popularly known as “damsel who takes conception in a tamarind tree, Cincamanavika.” She is said to be as pretty and gracious as a celestial maiden and her body emitted radiation that spiralled around her body.

As the discussion was in progress, a cruel, stupid sectarian put forward a plot to slander the Buddha and bring about His destruction by employing Cincamanavika as an instrument to achieve their selfish ends. This plot was approved and accepted as an effective device for cutting off the flow of gifts to the Recluse Gotama.

When the wandering ascetic woman, Cincamanavika, went to their parks and stood before them in a worshipping posture, she was totally ignored by the heretics. She was anxious to know what was held against her. She, therefore, addressed them: “Good Sirs,... I worship you three times, what wrong have I done to you and what is my offence? What is the cause of your silence?”

This was their censorious reply: “Sister Cincamanavika... don't you know that the Recluse Gotama has been going round and doing harm to us by depriving us of our gifts?”

Whereupon, Cincamanavika said: “I know nothing about this. What can I do for you in this matter?” They gave her this express reply: “Cincamanavika.... if you have our welfare at heart, you might calumniate the Recluse Gotama by using your personal charm as an instrument to destroy His fame, honour and gifts.” She was thus charged with the task of performing a dirty job.

Cincamana’s Wily Tactics

Cincamana pledged boldly: “Very well, good Sirs,... you may rest assured that I will accomplish the task entrusted to me. Have no more worries over this matter,” and she left the park of the heretics. She then started to bring her wily tactics into action. She dressed herself in a costume that was as red as the colour of a flying insect and made her way towards Jetavana monastery with a bouquet in her hand, at about the time when people were leaving the monastery after hearing the discourses. People casually asked her: “Where are you headed for?” she replied: “What would you gain when you know my destination?” arousing people’s suspicion on her. She actually went her way into the parks of heretics in the proximity of Jetavana monastery and spent her nights there. At the time people were arriving from the city of Savatthi to pay an early homage to the Buddha, she prepared herself to look as if she had spent the night at the Jetavana monastery and was making her way back to Savatthi. When asked as to where she had passed the night, she gave a similar answer: “What would you gain when you know where I slept last night?” to create suspicion in their minds.

She went on keeping the same routine everyday. After a lapse of one and a half month she began her campaign of imputation by replying: “I passed the night with the Recluse Gotama in His Scented Chamber.” That caused the ordinary people to wonder whether she might be speaking the truth. Some three or four months later, she pretended pregnancy by tying her abdomen with rags and covering herself with red dress. And she started telling people that she got pregnant by the Recluse Gotama, an accusation wrongly believed by unthinking people.

Foul Accusation In Front of Four Kinds of Audience

After a lapse of eight or nine months, Cincamanavika tied a disc of wood, which was cut into the shape of half of an egg, round her body and wore a red costume to assume the form of a pregnant woman. She struck her hands and feet with the jaw bones of a cow to appear like a worn out fatiguing expectant mother. She then made her way one evening to where the Buddha was sitting on the Throne of Dhamma and preaching to four kinds of audience.

She stood right in front of the Buddha and made the following malicious accusation:

“Big Recluse,.... You have been calmly preaching to the people keeping compressed lips! As for me, I have become an expectant mother through association with You. You have a heart to remain without thinking about arrangement’s for confinement or for collection of butter-oil. If You don't care to do such things Yourself, You should have charged King Kosala or Anāthapiṇḍika or to Visakha, the donor of the monastery with the task to do the needful for me. You have remained irresponsible and callous towards Your own blood, but You know how to amuse Yourself by sensual pleasures.”

Cincamana thus levelled a malicious accusation against the Buddha in the presence of a huge congregation like a stupid woman trying to destroy the moon with a lump of faeces in her hand!

Whereupon, the Buddha suspended His preaching and, like a lion king, refuted her charge with a raised voice:—

“Sister Cincamana.... Only you and I know whether what you have just said is true or false.”

Cincamana was not to be daunted, she made another wave of attack by these words: “Truly enough, big Recluse.... this is a matter between You and I only, this advanced stage of pregnancy.”

Sakka descended to solve The Problem

Whereupon, the emerald throne of Sakka began to grow warm causing him to deliberate as to its cause; he perceived that “Cincamana had made a malicious allegation against the Buddha.” Thinking: “I will go and thresh out the matter myself in the presence of the people,” he therefore descended, accompanied by four devas, to where the Buddha was preaching. These four devas transformed themselves into four rats and bit off the strings on the wooden disc, and as the wind blew off Cincamana’s clothes upwards, the wooden disc dropped right on top of her ten toes, breaking them severely.

Cincamana swallowed up by A Fissure appearing in The Earth

All those present condemned her and spat on her; holding stones, spears and sticks, they dragged her out of the precincts of the monastery. Once she was out of sight of the Buddha, the earth split into two to claim her body. She was soon wrapped up in the flaming tongues of Avīci fires that swallowed her into the bottom of the great Hell, Mahā Avīci.

When the people saw the heretics in their true colours, they made lesser offerings to them, while the alms received by Buddha grew without limitation.

Propounding of Mahā Paduma Jātaka

On the following day, all the bhikkhus assembled in the Central Hall and were discussing the topic of the day: “Friends... Cincamana had been ruined for her false allegations against the most glorious Buddha, who is worthy of Homage that the world could make.” The Buddha went to their place and asked: “Bhikkhus... what is the subject of your discussion?” On being informed by the bhikkhus that they were discussing the fate of Cincamana, the Buddha recounted her past story making reference to Mahā Paduma Jātaka saying: “This is not the first time that she had made false allegation against Me and suffered in consequence thereof,” and proceeded to propound the Mahā Paduma Jātaka.

[Mahā Paduma Jātaka of Dvadassa Nipata]

The Buddha proceeded to reveal the fact that, there is no immoral act that a liar dare not commit: “Bhikkhus... one who has abandoned the course of telling the Truth and pursued the course of telling lies, has also forsaken the advantages of attainment of Nibbāna and rebirth in the worlds of devas and humans, and as such, there is no immoral act that they loath to perform!”

Ekaṃ dhammaṇ atītassa
masavādissa jantuno
nathi pāpaṃ akariyaṃ

Bhikkhus... one who has breached the course of not telling lies has also forsaken the advantages of Nibbāna and rebirths in the realms of devas and humans, and as such, there is no immoral act that these people, destined for planes of woes, will not dare to perform.

At the conclusion of the discourse, a large multitude of beings attained sotāpatti fruition state, etc.

[The Original Cause of Wicked Cincamana’s Accusation]

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