The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Story of Brahmin Magandhi 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 Ninth Vassa at Kosambī. 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 2 - Story of Brahmin Magandhi

Brahmin Magandhi and His Wife attained Emancipation

The Buddha, on his way to Kosambī, in the company of many bhikkhus, perceived that Brahmin Magandhi and his wife were predestined to attain arahatship. He, therefore, diverted His route from the main road towards the direction of the market-town of Kammasadamma in Kuru country.

Brahmin Magandhi returned early after spending almost all night outside the village in offering lights, according to their custom. On his way to the village to receive food in the morning, the Buddha noticed Magandhi coming from the opposite direction at a distance. He grasped the opportunity of making His presence known to the old Brahmin. On seeing Him, Magandhi thought to himself: “I have all along been looking for my daughter a suitable bridegroom, who is as charming as she is, and assuming the form of a recluse.

This recluse is charming and good looking, He is a match to my daughter.” With this idea, he went back straight to his house.

(There was a link in the chain of Magandhi’s births, being a recluse in one of his existences. Therefore he had a natural inclination towards a recluse.)

Old Magandhi told his wife: “Dear one, I’ve never seen such a recluse before. The one whom I’ve seen has golden colour. He has the appearance of the Great Brahmā. He is really a match to my daughter (Magandhi). Get my daughter Magandhi dressed up hurriedly.” As they were busy with dressing up their daughter, the Buddha had left a pair of foot-prints (Pada ceti) at the spot where He had first seen the old Brahmin, and entered the town to receive alms-food.

(N.B. The impression of foot-prints of the Buddha stands on the spot of His own choice but not on any other place. At the same time, His foot-prints are visible only by the privileged persons and nothing could stand in their way of seeing them: no bull elephant, no torrential rain, no violent destructive storm could destroy these foot prints)

     ——Dhammapada Commentary——

The old Brahmin, his wife and daughter went to the place where he had caught sight of the Buddha, but they could not see Him as He had gone into the village by that time. Old Brahmin grumbled at the way in which his wife had taken so long in dressing their daughter that the recluse had gone away. The wife asked the Brahmin: “Let Him be gone, but do tell me to which direction has He gone?” The old Brahmin retorted: “He’s gone that way,” and eventually they found the foot-prints of the Buddha. The old man said: “Here are His foot-prints, He must have gone towards that direction.”

On seeing the foot-prints, the old Brahmin’s wife thought: “This brahmin is really ignorant. He is not intelligent enough to know the intricacies of the treatise of Veda,” and to ridicule her husband, she made this caustic remark: “O Brahmin, you are such a fool as to have said that you would give away our daughter to this person whose foot-prints are quite different from those of worldlings who have stains of passion (rāga), malice (dosa) and delusion (moha). Brahmin, look at His foot-prints which characterize those of a Fully Self-Enlightened Buddha, who had broken open the enveloping dome of defilements; just look at those foot-prints with care:”

Rattassa hi ukkuṭikaṃ padam bhave
duṭhassa hoti avakaḍḍhitaṇ padaṃ
mūṭassa hoti sahasāmupiḷitan
vivaṭaccha dassa imīdisaṇ padaṇ

- the foot-print of one with strong lust does not touch the ground in the middle;

- the foot-print of one with great amount of anger is more marked at the heels;

- the foot-print of one with great amount of delusion is marked by impression of its toes and heels

The foot print, we are seeing, is free from all these and it is therefore evident that it belongs to the Omniscient One who had done away with all forms of defilements.

The old Brahmin felt uneasy in his mind by his wife’s caustic remarks and complained:

“O woman, you are rude and aggressive.” While they were thus engaged in arguments, the Buddha had taken the meal in the company of bhikkhus and He made His appearance at a place where the Brahmin could easily see Him.

When Brahmin Magandhi saw the Buddha coming from a distance, he scolded his wife and said: “The person whom I spoke of is He,” and so saying he approached the Buddha and made things plain to Him:

“O recluse! I have been looking for You all over the places since the earlier part of the day. There is no one in the whole world who is as pretty as my daughter, and there is no one in the world as beautiful as Yourself. I wish to give You my daughter to attend upon You as a housewife.”

The old Brahmin spoke directly and simply. Whereupon, the Buddha said, in response to his offer:

“O big Brahmin, I had no desire whatsoever for the three charming daughters of Mara of the celestial plane of Vasavatti, who stood by my sides and wooed and tempted Me by love-making talks full of sweet charms and (you might imagine) how could I have any desire for your daughter, Magandhi!” and He recited the following verse:

Disvāna Tanhaṃ Aratiṃ Ragañca
nāhosi chando api methuna samiṃ
kimevidam muttakarīsa punnaṃ
pādāpi naṃ sanphusituṃ na icche

Although the three charming daughters of King Mara, namely, Taṇhā, Arati, and Raga approached Me under the banyan tree, ‘ajapala’ with firm determination to tempt Me to enjoy filthy sensual pleasure by mutual cooperation with them, I had not the least desire to yield to their wishes nor there was the slightest taint of sensual passion in Me. In the same way, I have not the slightest taint of sensual desire on seeing this young Magandhi whose physical body is full of filth such as excreta, urine, etc. I have not the slightest desire to touch her even with My feet.

The Buddha uttered this stanza as though He was communicating not with the Brahmin but with a different person.

Young Magandhi harboured Resentment

Magandhi, the daughter of Brahmin Magandhi, haboured resentment towards the Buddha for insulting her by comparing her physical body with a collection of fifth such as ordure, urine and what not. “He should have rejected me in a simple manner that does not affect my dignity. I vow to revenge this insult, as and when opportunity occurs, hereafter.” Thus Magandhi had sowed the seed of enmity against the Buddha.

Brahmin Magandhi and His Wife attained Arahatship

The Buddha did not give any heed to the resentment harboured by the young lady, Magandhi, and proceeded to preach the Dhamma to the old Brahmin, Magandhi, in harmony with his disposition [for full particulars, please refer to Suttanipatta Pāli Text (Burmese translation), Magandiya Sutta]. Magandhi and his wife attained anāgāmī ariyaship at the conclusion of the discourse. In due time, the couple considered that no useful purpose will be served to continue on living the household life (after attainment to the exalted state of anāgāmī) for any length of time, and they entrusted their young daughter, Magandhi, to her paternal uncle, Magandhi, before they received ordination. They fully attained arahatship free from āsavas by virtue of observance of precept for bhikkhus.

Buddha accepted the Offering of Three Monasteries

After emancipating Magandhi and his wife, the Buddha resumed His journey to the country of Kosambī and arrived there eventually.

When the three rich men heard of the arrival of the Buddha in the company of bhikkhus, they arranged for His reception on a grand scale and conducted Him to the monasteries. On arrival at the monasteries, they sat at appropriate places and after paying their respects, addressed the Buddha: “Most Exalted Buddha... the three monasteries which have been built, are intended to be offered to all the members of the Noble Order. We humbly request for favour of Your acceptance of the three monasteries for use by Your Sangha arriving from four quarters of the compass.” The Buddha was pleased to accept them, as requested by the donors. The three rich men then invited the Buddha for the performance of feasting ceremonies the next day and then they made their departure.

(As a matter of course, facts connected with slave girl Khujjuttara, Queen Sāmāvatī, and Queen Magandhi need to be included here to complete the picture. But facts connected with Khujjatara and Sāmāvatī will be given when we come to the ‘Jewel of Sangha’ later. Full account of Magandhi may be referred to Dhammapada Commentary (Burmese translation). It is proposed to deal here only with certain pertinent facts that warranted inclusion in these chapters)

The Buddha stayed in the monasteries donated by the three rich men and observed the ninth vassa in the country of Kosambī.

Magandhi’s Evil Acts

At the time the Buddha was observing the ninth vassa in Kosambī, the young woman Magandhi had become the Chief Queen of King Udena. This will be clarified: Magandhi was left by her parents, to the care of her paternal uncle, Cula Magandhi, before they received ordination. King Udena made her his queen after consultation with her uncle Cula Magandhi. A separate chamber with five hundred maids of honour was allotted to her by the King. Magandhi had thus been a Queen of King Udena by the time. The Buddha kept the ninth vassa at Kosambī!

Having come to understand that the Buddha had arrived at Kosambī, she caused all the wrecked, reckless, starving drunkards to be summoned, and she bribed and instigated them to call the Buddha by several names as taught by her. When the Buddha entered the city on the following day, in response to the invitation of the three rich men to a feasting ceremony, the wrecked, reckless drunkards reviled the Buddha by calling Him several ill names as taught by Magandhi.

The Venerable Ānanda implored the Buddha to leave the place: “Most Exalted Buddha... let us not continue our stay at a town where we have been abused. Let us go to another town!” Whereupon, the Buddha replied: “Dear Ānanda... Buddhas are totally indifferent to the eight worldly vicissitudes and all those boisterous and abusive noises are bound to die off within a period of seven days and no more. The abusers will be liable to pay for their own demerit. You need not fret and bother yourself by such short-comings!”

(This is an abridged form of exposition in Aṅguttara Commentary. Dhammapada Commentary, 2:23 Nāga Vagga, preface to Atta daṇḍa vatthu gives more detailed exposition).

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