by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Buddha’s Twelfth Vassa in Veranja City 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).
Having thus spent the eleventh vassa at the brahmin village of Ekaṅala, giving discourses such as Kasibhāradvāja Sutta and others to those who were worthy of conversion including Kasibhāradvāja, the Buddha set out from the village at the end of the vassa, distributing the cool medicinal water of deathlessness among devas and humans, and eventually reached the city of Verañjā, He then took up residence with five hundred monks, who were of highly noble birth, in terms of virtue, near the neem (nimba) tree, which was occupied by a demon, Naleru by name, off Verañjā city.
The Brahmin Verañjā’s Visit to The Buddha
Then the Brahmin Verañjā heard the good news (as follows): “Friends, the Monk Gotama, the Sakyan prince who has become an ascetic, is staying together with five hundred highly virtuous monks near the neem tree which is occupied by the demon Naleru near our city of Veranjā.
The good reputation of the Venerable Gotama goes up to Bhavagga, overwhelmingly spreading all over thus:
“That Buddha is called Arahaṃ because He is worthy of special honour;
“He is called Sammāsambuddha because He understands all phenomena perfectly by Himself;
“He is called Vijjācaraṇa-sampaññā because He is endowed with wisdom and practice;
“He is called Sugata because He speaks good words;
“He is called Anuttaro purisa-dammasārathi because He is an incomparable tamer of those who ought to be tamed;
“He is called Buddha because He realizes the Four Truths by Himself and let others realize them;
“He is called Bhagavā because He is endowed with the sixfold glory.
“That Exalted One comprehends the world of space (okāsa-loka) with its devas, māras and Brahmās, as well as the world of beings (satta-loka) with its monks and brahmins, princes and commoners, through His peculiar wisdom, and teaches them.
“The Exalted One proclaims the Dhamma that is good in all its three phases, the beginning, the middle and the end, and that is also complete with the letter and the spirit. (Nothing new is to be added.) He taught the noble practice that is perfect and pure all round. (There is no flaw to be taken out.) The sight of such a sage, arahat, is indeed wonderful.”
Thus learned the Brahmin.
Thus the Brahmin Veranja visited the Buddha and exchanged words of joy with Him. Having thus exchanged words of joy and words worthy of remembrance, the Brahmin took his seat, which was free from the sixfold fault; thereafter, he began to censure the Buddha:
“O Venerable Gotama, I have heard that the Monk Gotama neither bow nor give a welcome nor extends an invitation to seats to old, aged, mature brahmins of previous generations who are nearing the end of their lives. O Venerable Gotama, what I have heard happens to be true. Indeed you, Venerable Gotama, neither bow nor give a welcome nor extend an invitation to seats to old, aged, mature brahmins of previous generations who are nearing the end of their lives. O Venerable Gotama, doing no reverential act, such as bowing, etc., is indeed outright unfair.”
Being untainted with the two defects of exalting oneself (att'ukkaṃsana) and humiliating others (paravambhana) but with His calm heart sprinkled with the clear water of great compassion (mahā-karuṇā), and desiring to dispel the Brahmin’s ignorance and to point out fairness on His part, the Buddha said:
“O Brahmin, in the world of space with its devas, māras and Brahmās and in the world of beings with its monks and brahmins, princes and commoners, I see nobody who deserves My respect, My welcome, or My invitation to seats. Should I even casually pay respect, give a welcome or extend an invitation to seats to somebody, then his head will break off and fall to the ground.”
Despite such a reply by the Buddha, Verāñjā, being unwise did not grasp that the Buddha was the greatest in the world; instead he became irritated at the words rightly uttered by the Buddha, so he accused:
(1) “The Venerable Gotama is a man of tasteless nature”
In order to soften the Brahmin’s heart, the Buddha did not give a directly opposite answer and, in order to show that there was reason for Him to be called in a way ‘a man of tasteless nature,’ He said:
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me, ‘The Monk Gotama is a man of tasteless nature’ (The reason is this:). O Brahmin, pleasure in forms, pleasure in sounds, pleasure in odours, pleasure in tastes, and pleasure in touch - all these pleasures I have rejected. O Brahmin, for this reason, let one speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a man of tasteless nature.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein what the Brahmin meant was: “bowing, welcoming, raising folded palms and paying respect in the world are styled sāmaggī-rasa. (the taste that creates harmony between one another). That sāmaggī-rasa was totally absent in the Venerable Gotama. That was why he accused the Buddha saying: “The Venerable Gotama is a man of tasteless nature,” i.e. He is entirely devoid of sāmaggī-rasa.
(On the other hand, the Buddha meant that pleasure in forms, pleasure in sounds, pleasure in odours, pleasure in tastes, pleasure in touch, each of these five can be called sāmaggī-rasa, for each comes into being only when such factors as object, sense, etc. combine harmoniously. As all this sāmaggī-rasa had been uprooted by Him, He was free from all these five kinds of sāmaggī-rasa. With that meaning in mind, one might label Him a tasteless man if one so desires, but He declared: “We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(In this connection, Why did the Buddha assert: “We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”? Did not this amount to acknowledging the supposition that Buddhas should observe sāmaggī-rasa (such as bowing, etc.) as meant by the Brahmin? Such a question may arise.
(The answer is that it did not. Explanation: He, who should but did not observe sāmaggī-rasa (bowing, etc.) meant by the Brahmin, deserved the label, ‘a man without good taste,’ for he showed no sāmaggī-rasa though he was required to do so. As for the Buddha, He even had nothing whatsoever to do with sāmaggī-rasa
(bowing, etc.) meant by the Brahmin (for He was the greatest in the three worlds). Therefore, in order to point out the fact clearly that He was above such an observance, the Buddha declared: “We do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”)
Being unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus for his lack of sāmaggī-rasa demanded by him, the Brahmin willingly brought another accusation:
(2) “The Venerable Gotama is a useless person”
In order to show that there was different reason for Him to be called as such, the Buddha said:
“O Brahmin! There is reason for speaking of Me, ‘The Monk Gotama is useless.’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, use (paribhoga) of forms, use of sounds, use of odours, use of tastes and use of touch, with lust and greed, all these uses I have rejected. O Brahmin, for this reason (absence of paribhoga, use of the five sense objects with lust and greed) let one speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a useless person.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein what the Brahmin meant was: Bowing and other acts of respect shown to one’s elders are recognized in the world as sāmaggī-paribhoga, use for harmony; as there was no making of such use on the part of the Buddha, He was accused, saying: ‘The Monk Gotama is a useless man.’
(According to the Buddha, He had done away with use of the five sense objects, namely, forms, sounds, odours, tastes and touch with lust and greed. As such, He was thus free from such enjoyment. He approved therefore that, with that meaning in mind, one might speak of Him as a useless man.)
Being also unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus, the Brahmin willingly brought another accusation:
(3) “The Venerable Gotama is a believer in non-action”
In order to show, as before, that there was different reason for Him to be called as such, the Buddha said:
“O Brahmin! There is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The monk Gotama is a believer in non-action!’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, I declare that the three physical evils, the four verbal evils, the three mental evils, and all the remaining unwholesome deeds should not be done. For this reason (of my declaration that evil deeds should not be done, which is belief in non-action), let one speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a believer in non-action.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein what the Brahmin meant was: All the people in the world practise kulacāritta, the practice of clansmen, such as bowing before one’s elders and so on. As the Buddha did not practise that He was labelled ‘a believer in non-action.’ (The Buddha, however, meant that He taught that evil deeds should not be committed, which might be taken as akriya-vāda. He approved therefore that, with that meaning in mind, one might speak of Him as ‘a believer in non-action.’)
Being also unable to blame the Buddha thus, the Brahmin willingly brought another accusation:
(4) “The Venerable Gotama is a believer in annihilationism”
In order to soften the Brahmin’s heart, the Buddha desired, as in the previous explanations, to show that there was different reason for Him to be called as such and said:
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The Monk Gotama is a believer in annihilationism.’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, I give instruction to annihilate passion (rāga), to annihilate hatred (dosa), to annihilate delusion (moha), (and also) to annihilate other evil deeds. O Brahmin, for this reason (instruction as to the annihilation of passion, hatred, delusion and other evil deeds, which is annihilationism), one may speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a believer in annihilationism.’
But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein as the Brahmin did not see the Buddha’s act of respect, such as bowing, etc., shown to old people, he thought: “The worldly tradition of paying respect had been destroyed on account of the Monk Gotama” and labelled Him ‘an annihilationist.’)
(The Buddha, however, taught people to do away with greed, hatred and delusion and other evil acts by means of their respective kinds of Path-knowledge. He approved, therefore, that, with that meaning in mind, one might speak of Him as ‘an annihilationist.’)
Being also unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus, the Brahmin willingly brought another accusation:
(5) “The Venerable Gotama is a man having the nature of loathing”
In order to show, as before, that there was different reason for Him to be called as such, the Buddha said:
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The Monk Gotama is a man having the nature of loathing.’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, I loathe the three physical evils, the four verbal evils, the three mental evils, and other evil deeds. O Brahmin, for this reason, (loathing of the evil deeds) one may speak of Me if one so desired: ‘The Monk Gotama is a man having the nature of loathing.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein the Brahmin thought that the Buddha did not follow the practice of clansmen, kula-cāritta, such as bowing before one’s elders and so on, only because He loathed them. Therefore, the Brahmin labelled Him, ‘a man having the nature of loathing.’
(The Buddha, however, meant that He loathed the evil deeds and approved therefore that, with that meaning in mind one might speak of Him as ‘a man having the nature of loathing.’)
Being also unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus, the Brahmin, willingly brought another accusation:
(6) “The Venerable Gotama is a destroyer”
In order to show, as before, that there was different reason for Him to be called as such, the Buddha said:
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The Monk Gotama is a destroyer.’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, I give instruction to destroy passion, to destroy hatred, to destroy delusion, (and also) to destroy other evil deeds. O Brahmin, for this reason, (instruction as to the destruction of passion, hatred, delusion and other evil deeds,) let one speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a destroyer.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein as the Brahmin did not see the Buddha’s act of respect, such as bowing, etc., shown to old people, he thought the Buddha was a great destroyer of this greatest practice of paying respect to an elder, vuddhapacāyana, and labelled Him ‘a destroyer.’
(The Buddha, however, taught people to remove and eliminate passion, hatred, delusion, (and the remaining) evil deeds. He approved therefore that, with that meaning in mind, one might speak of Him as 'a destroyer'
Being also unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus, the Brahmin willingly brought another accusation:
(7) “The Venerable Gotama is a tormentor”
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The Monk Gotama is a tapassi, eliminator of tormenting things.’ (The reason is this:) O Brahmin, I proclaim that the three physical evils, the four verbal evils, the three mental evils, and all (the remaining) unwholesome deeds are tormenting things tapaniya dhammas (things causing sorrow to all humans and other beings).
Brahmin, I declare that one, who has eliminated these evil deeds, is a tormentor of tormenting factors. O Brahmin, I, who am a good wayfarer like former Buddhas, have eliminated these evil deeds. O Brahmin, for this reason (of eliminating the tormenting evil deeds called tapa), let one speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is a tormentor’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein what the Brahmin meant was this: Those who perform an act of respect, such as bowing, etc., delighted old people. Those, who did not, tormented the hearts of the latter. The Buddha did not perform that. Therefore the Brahmin thought the Monk Gotama was a tormentor to the aged and labelled Him as such. (The Buddha, however, called evil deeds tormenting factors, tapa-dhammas, because they tend to torment the world of beings. The elimination of these evil deeds had been done on His part. “He who has done away with evil deeds is a tapassī,” so goes a definition ("Tape assī ti tapassī''). He therefore approved the label given to Him: ‘an eliminator of tormentors,’ or rather ‘a tormentor of all evils’ known as tapa.)
Being also unable to put the blame on the Buddha thus, the Brahmin willingly brought the last accusation:
(8) “The Venerable Gotama is a man far from rebirth in the Deva world”
As the Buddha had got rid of all four forms of future rebirth, He desired to show, in a different manner, that He was free of rebirth (apagabbha), and said:
“O Brahmin, there is reason for speaking of Me: ‘The Monk Gotama is far from rebirth.’ (The reason is;) O Brahmin. I proclaim that one (an arahat) who has rejected the four ways of birth that would take place in future is an apagabbha person, one beyond rebirth. O Brahmin, I, who am a good wayfarer like former Buddhas, have utterly destroyed all these four ways of rebirth. O Brahmin, for this reason (of having uprooted all means of birth in future), one may speak of Me, if one so desires: ‘The Monk Gotama is an apagabbha person, a man beyond rebirth.’ But We Buddhas do not absolutely have the kind of reason meant by you.”
(Herein, what the Brahmin meant was this: paying respect to one’s elder, such as bowing, etc., was a meritorious act that was conducive to rebirth in the divine abode. Believing thus he labelled the Buddha “a man far from rebirth in the devaworld!” for he saw Him doing nothing of that respectful gestures. Therefore, the Buddha had no chance to attain the celestial realm; instead He would abide in the womb of a mother in the human world in future which was disgusting.
(The Buddha, however, meant that He had no future birth whatsoever. He therefore approved the label given to Him: ‘a man away from rebirth.’)
Though the Brahmin Verañjā had thus condemned the Buddha with the eight accusations, such as ‘a man of tasteless nature,’ and so on, but from the outset of his meeting Him, the Buddha set His both eyes on him with tranquillity, out of compassion. Just as the round full moon rises in the cloudless sky, just as the sun shines high in autumn, even so the Buddha, being Omniscient, became desirous of dispelling the darkness of ignorance that lay in the Brahmin’s heart. Thus, He had turned those charges made by the Brahmin into words of honour to Him.
Now, the Buddha was to show the magnificence of His compassion and the earth-like mind that was unshaken by the eight conditions of the world and the calm heart, undisturbed however much others would abuses Him, He reflected:
“This brahmin thoughtlessly believes that he is senior (to me, the Buddha) only on account of the conventional marks of his old age, such as grey hair, broken teeth, wrinkles of the skin, and the like. He knows not even a bit that he is being followed closely by the danger of rebirth, besieged by the danger of old age, overwhelmed by the danger of ill- health, threatened by the danger of death; nor does he realizes that as a stump in saṃsāra he would die today and would become a child (a messenger of the King of Death) lying on its back tomorrow. However, he came to me with great effort. Let his visit to me be a beneficial one.”
In order to make clear that He was peerless, eldest, and foremost among beings, the Buddha elaborately delivered His discourse in the following manner:
“O Brahmin, suppose a hen has eight eggs, (or) ten, (or) twelve. Suppose the hen does her three jobs: she sits well on the eggs, provides them well with heat, and imbues them well with her odour. (Of all the chicks that lie in the eggs so treated) one comes out first with ease after breaking the shell with its claws and beak. Would you call it senior or junior?” asked the Buddha. “O Venerable Gotama, it should be called senior. Of all the chicks, the little one (that has come out first after breaking the shell) is the oldest (as its making of appearance is the earliest),” answered the Brahmin.
Then the Buddha said: "O Brahmin, in the same way, of all beings lying in the shell of ignorance (avijjā) and being wrapped up all round by the shell of ignorance, I alone in the world have realized first the unmatched, supreme Path Knowledge of Arahatship and Omniscience after breaking through the shell of ignorance. O Brahmin, I (therefore) am the oldest of all existing in the world of sentient beings.”
(Herein an explanation of the simile may be made as follows. Now with reference to the part of the upamāna, the second part of the comparison, which is the little chicks: the eggs do not rot because the mother-hen treats them in three ways, namely, by sitting on them, by providing heat to them and by imbuing them with her odour. The wet outer membranes then dry up The egg-shells also become thinner and thinner day by day. The claws and the beak of the chicks grow bigger and harder. The little birds get stronger. Since the shells become thinner and thinner as days go by, the light outside the shells penetrates them. Then the chicks think: “For a long time we have stayed in the confinement with our legs and wings cramped. The light appears outside. We shall live outside comfortably where the light is.” Desirous of coming outside, they kick the shells with their legs. They also forcefully stretch out their necks. Therefore the eggs are broken into halves. The chicks then emerge from the shells, flapping their small wings and chirping for the moment. Of all these chicks, the one which comes out first should be the seniormost.
With reference to the upameyya, the first member of the comparison which is the Buddha (it will be explained not separately but in relation to the upamana): The three forms of the hen’s treatment, namely, sitting, heating and imbuing with her odour, may be likened to the Buddha’s three acts of contemplation (anupassanā) on impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and non-self (anatta) under the Mahābodhi tree while as a Bodhisatta. The egg’s being unrotten due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the non-shrinkage of the Bodhisatta’s Insight Wisdom (vipassanā-ñāṇa) due to his threefold contemplation. The drying up of the wet outer membrane of the egg due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the cessation of the Bodhisatta’s craving (nikanta-taṇhā) for the three existences due to his threefold contemplation. The shell’s gradual thinning day after day due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the thinning of the shell of ignorance step by step on the part of the Bodhisatta due to his threefold contemplation. The growing bigger and harder of the claws and the beaks of the chicks due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the growing sharper, firmer, clearer and more confident of the Bodhisatta’s Insight-Wisdom due to his threefold contemplation. The time of the growth of the chick’s claws and beak due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the time of maturity, the time of development and the time of perfection of the Bodhisatta’s Insight-Wisdom which was due to his threefold contemplation. The moment of the happy emergence of the chick, flapping its small wings after kicking the shell with its legs and striking the shell with its beak and thus breaking open the shell which was due to the hen’s threefold treatment may be likened to the moment of the Bodhisatta’s realization of the attributes of a Buddha with ease, after attaining the Insight-Wisdom and breaking open the shell of ignorance by means of the Path of Arahatship which was won eventually and flapping the wings of Psychic Powers—all this being due to his threefold contemplation.)
Therefore, in order to continue to show that “By this practical means, I have attained the stage of incomparable supremacy,” the Buddha elaborately related how He endeavoured in meditation through the fourfold diligence at the Mahābodhi Mandala; how He gained, as a result, mundane (lokiya) jhānas; how He acquired the Psychic Power (abhiññā) of remembrance of His former existences (pubbenivāsañāṇa) as a result of meditation based on the mundane jhānas in the first watch (of the full moon of Vesakha, in the year 103 Mahā Era) and was born first by noble birth (ariya-jāti), later, with the beak-like Psychic Powers breaking open the shell of ignorance that had concealed the series of His past bodies, how He had acquired the Psychic Power of the Divine Eye (dibba-cakkhu) in the middle watch of that night and was born for a second time, by noble birth after with the beak-like Psychic Powers, breaking open the shell of the ignorance that had concealed His rebirths after death (cuti-paṭisandhi);how He had acquired the Path Knowledge of arahatship (the third enlightening Knowledge) named Asavakkhaya in the last watch of the same night and was born for a third time, by noble birth after with the beak-like Psychic Powers breaking open the shell of ignorance that had concealed the Four Noble Truths. (A more detailed account may be read in the Myanman translation of the Pārājikakaṇḍa Pāli where the life of Verañjā is discussed.)
Verañjā Taking Refuge
In this way, when the Buddha, out of great compassion for the Brahmin Verañjā, had thus related His being great by noble birth through the discourse, clearly describing the threefold Knowledge, the Brahmin became rapturous both physically and mentally, came to know the greatness of the Buddha and reproached himself: “I have wrongly accused the Omniscient Buddha, who is thus supreme among the three worlds of individuals and endowed with all virtues, by saying that ‘He has failed to show respect to old people!’ Ignorance, friends, is disgusting indeed!”
Being convinced that ‘this Gotama is the foremost, for He was born first by noble birth in the world; unique in all virtues, He is also the best,” the Brahmin supplicated to the Buddha as follows:
“The greatest in the world indeed is the Venerable Gotama! The best in the world indeed is the Venerable Gotama! It is very delightful indeed, O Venerable Gotama! It is very delightful indeed, O Venerable Gotama! To use a worldly simile, just as what was turned upside down has been turned upside up; just as what was covered has been uncovered; just as one following the wrong path has been told the right path; just as a torch has been lighted in the dark so that those who have eyes will see a variety of things; even so the Venerable Gotama has taught me the Dhamma in many ways. I approach, O Venerable Gotama, and recognize the Venerable Gotama, the Dhamma and the Sangha, as my shield, shelter and refuge. From today onwards, O Venerable Gotama, kindly take me as a lay devotee (upāsaka) established in the threefold refuge for life!”
Having taken refuge, the Brahmin begged, saying: “May the Venerable Gotama observe the vassa together with the community of monks in Verañjā, as an act of kindness done to me!” Keeping silent the Buddha agreed to do as requested by the Brahmin. Clever in behavioural studies, the Brahmin reflected: “If the Venerable Gotama does not accept my word, He should have rejected it by deed or by word, now that He assumes no appearance of refusal, but of consent, He must have accepted it in His heart.” Having known the Buddha’s acceptance, he stood up from his seat and paid obeisance to Him from the four quarters and encircled Him three times, keeping Him at his right. Though he had accused the Buddha, since His arrival, for showing no signs of reverence to elders, he was not content at all in repeatedly doing homage to Him in all three manners—physically, verbally and mentally now that he had analytically understood His virtues. Placing his folded hands on his head and facing in the direction of the Buddha as far as he could see, he withdrew, walking backward. It was only at the point where he lost sight of the Buddha that he finally made obeisance to his heart’s content and departed.
At the request of the Brahmin Verañjā, the Buddha observed the twelfth vassa in the city of Verañjā with His five hundred monks.
Famine in Verañjā City
At that time Verañjā was short of food. It was hard to make a living there. There were white bones all over the city. People had to draw lots for food ration. (Therefore) it was not easy for the monks to get enough food by going round with alms-bowl in their hands. The horse-merchants of the Uttarāptha Northern Region were then staying with five hundred horses in Verañjā to take shelter from showers of rain during the rainy season. At the horse-yards the merchants made a regular donation of one pattha of barley to each monk. When the monks entered the city in the morning for alms-food and did not get any, they went to the horse-yards and each received one pattha of barley which they brought to the monastery and pounded in small mortars and ate it.
(N.B. Travelling was impossible on account of heavy rains during the four months of the rainy season in Verañjā. Hence the horse-merchants' stay there to take shelter from the rains. They had lodges and stables built and enclosures made on unflooded grounds outside the city for such a stay. These sites of the horsemerchants were known as horse-yards.
(They brought the barley which they had steamed to make it last long and free from worm-holes and which they had husked so that they might use it as horsefood where grass and such fodder were not available. These merchants (of the Uttarāptha) were not faithless like the people of the Dakkhināpatha. They had faith and cherished the Triple Gem. One morning, when they went into the city on business, they found the monks in groups of seven or eight going about for alms but getting nothing. And so, they discussed among themselves: “These good monks are observing the vassa depending on this Verañjā City. But there is famine here. Not getting a bit of food, they are immensely troubled. Since we are visitors, we are not capable of providing them with rice gruel and food daily, but our horses get food twice a day, once at night and once in daytime. It will be good to take one pattha of barley out of the morning fodder of each horse and give it to each monk. If we do so the good monks will not be hard pressed; and the horses will still have enough food.” They then went to the monks and informed them of their decision, they also requested them, saying: “Venerable Sirs, please accept one pattha of barley and make it into food in a befitting way and eat it.” Hence their regular offering of one pattha of barley to each monk every day.
(When the monks entered Verañjā in the morning for alms-food and went round the whole city, they did not get, in the least, a word of excuse, let alone food. When they reached the horse-yards outside the city, each of them was given one pattha of barley and brought it to the monastery. Since there were no lay attendants to make gruel or food for them and as it was not proper to do the cooking by themselves, they formed groups of eight or ten and pounded the barley in small mortars. Each consumed his share after adding water to it, for they thought: “In this way we shall have light livelihood (sallahukavutti) and be free from the wrongdoing of cooking by oneself (samāpaka-dukkaṭa āpatti). After having eaten, they engage in ascetic practices without worry.)
For the Buddha, however, the horse-merchants donated one pattha of barley and the proportionate amount of butter, honey and molasses. Venerable Ānanda brought the offerings and ground (the barley) on a stone slab. Anything prepared by a man of merit and intelligence is naturally delightful. Having ground the barley, he mixed it with butter, etc. and offered it to the Buddha. Then devas put ambrosia into the ground barley. That same ground barley the Buddha partook and spent the time by engaging in phala-samāpatti. Since the arrival of famine, the Buddha had not moved about for alms.
(Herein it may be asked whether the Venerable Ānanda was an attendant (upatthaka) to the Buddha during the vassa period in Verañjā. Answer: He was, but he had not held the post yet. Explanation: During the first Bodhi period (the first twenty years of His ministry) the Buddha had no permanent personal attendant. Sometimes He was served by Thera Nāgasamāla, sometimes by Thera Nāgita, sometimes by Thera Meghiya, sometimes by Thera Upavana, sometimes by Thera Sāgata, sometimes by Sunakkhatta, a Liccavi prince before his ordination. These monks waited upon the Buddha of their own accord and left Him when they so desired.
When the aforesaid monks were serving, the Venerable Ānanda remained unconcerned, and he personally performed all his duties big and small on their departure. The Buddha also accepted him, for He thought: “This worthy relative of mine, Ānanda, is the best to serve Me in all these matters of such nature though he has not secured the post of My personal attendant.” Hence Venerable Ānanda’s preparation and offering of the barley mixed with butter, honey and molasses as there were no other attendants in Verañjā during this vassa, and the Buddha’s engagement in phala-samāpatti took place after partaking of the food. In this connection, the following questions and answers should particularly be noted:
Question: Is it true that people normally tend to struggle much to do deeds of merit at a time when food is scarce? Is it true that they think they themselves should not enjoy things but give them to monks in charity? Why then none of these people offered even a ladleful of food while the Buddha was keeping vassa in Verañjā? Why did the Brahmin Verañjā was not mindful of the Buddha’s presence though he had very earnestly requested the Buddha to spend the rainy season there?
Answer: The negligence on the part of the people and the Brahmin was due to Māra’s magical control and deception of them. Explanation: Māra possessed the
Brahmin as soon as he left the Buddha. He also did the same thing to the citizens of Verañjā and the people in the environs of the city, the environs covering a distance of one yojana, within which, the monks on their morning alms-round could move about, going and coming. Māra confused all these people and made them forget about the Buddha and His community of monks and went away. Nobody, therefore remembered even to show respect to the Buddha.
Question: Did the Buddha keep the vassa without anticipating Māra’s magical control?
Answer: No, not without anticipating: He kept it though He foresaw Māra’s act of magic.
Answer: In that very year, in that very period, even if the Buddha stayed in the Northern Continent of Uttara-kuru or in the Tāvatiṃsa Abode of devas, the possession by Mara would take place all the same, let alone in Campā, Sāvatthi, Rājagaha or anywhere else. In that year Mara was overwhelmed with malice, illwill and hatred against the Buddha. In the city of Verañjā, however, it is also foreseen by the Buddha that the horse-merchants would come to the monks' honour and relief. Hence His vassa-observance only in Verañjā.
Question: Was Mara not able to control the horse-merchants magically?
Answers: Yes, Māra was able to do so. But it was only after his attempt to control and deceive the citizens by magic that they arrived in Verañjā.
Question: Though they arrived only after Māra’s attempt, why did not he come
back and exercise his magical influence on the merchants?
Answer: He did not because he was powerless to do so. Explanation: By no means can Māra do harm to three things meant for the Buddha: (1) the meal cooked and brought as an offering; (2) the offering of food decided to be a constant duty by those who think “we shall give the Buddha throughout such and such period,” and (3) an object brought to the monastery and offered by word of mouth saying: “This is a thing for the Buddha’s use as part of the four requisites.”
(Further explanation: The following are the four things that nobody can do harm: (1) the food that is brought and about to be offered and the four requisites intended to be permanent offering and deposited for the Buddha; (2) the life of the Buddha that usually is four-fifths of the human life span of the period in which He appears (that is to say that no one could disrupt the life of our Buddha Gotama before He was eighty which was four-fifths of a hundred, the normal life span of people in His period); (3) the Buddha’s major and minor marks and His body-light; in fact, the light of the moon, the sun, devas or Brahmās disappears on coming to the place where the Buddha’s marks and light shine; and (4) the Buddha’s Omniscience. Therefore it may be taken that the barley to which harm could not be done by Māra was consumed by the Buddha and his five hundred monk disciples.)
The Buddha’s Past Kamma that caused Him to meet with Famine
The Buddha’s past kamma which caused Him to meet with such famine along with His five hundred monks in Verañjā, was this: ninety-two kappas ago, during the dispensation of the Buddha Phussa, the Bodhisatta became a man of bad character on account of his association with wicked friends. He then wrongfully uttered to Buddha Phussa’s disciples such unwholesome words as “You had better bite coarse barley food and eat it but do not eat good sāli rice!” That evil past kamma was the reason for His encounter with famine as
He was keeping the vassa in Verañjā. (In the Apādāna Pāli the story is directly told.)
The Buddha’s Bestowal of Blessing
The Buddha heard the pounding in small mortars.
Buddhas ask though they know.
They know and do not ask. (There is nothing that they do not know).
They know opportune time and ask.
They know opportune time and do not ask.
They ask what is connected with benefit; they do not ask what is not connected with benefit. (They do not ask what will be beneficial and they do not ask what will not be beneficial.)
What is not connected with benefit, they do away with through the Path-Knowledge. They ask monks for two reasons, either to give a discourse or to lay down a rule for disciples.
The Buddha then asked the Venerable Ānanda: “What does, dear son Ānanda, the sound from the small mortars mean?” The Venerable Ānanda replied, stating what has been told above. At that moment the Buddha uttered:
“Excellent, Ānanda excellent! You, Ānanda, who are of good moral character, have overcome sāli rice cooked with meat (by not yielding to scarcity of food, by not wanting and by not at all letting yourself to be led astray by evil desires). The meaty rice that you have thus overcome will also be looked down upon by future generations.”
Venerable Moggallāna’s Bold Words
The Venerable Moggallāna was one who reached the height of his perfection of knowledge as a disciple on the seventh day after he had become a monk. He was also placed by the Buddha as the foremost among those who possessed supernatural powers.
Depending on his supernatural powers he thought: “Food is scarce in Verānjā now. Monks are having much trouble. What if I were to turn over the earth and give for food the essence of the earth form the bottom layer.” Then he continued to reflect: “As I am staying in the presence of the Master, it does not befit me to do so without seeking His permission. Such an action would be tantamount to rivalry.” So he went to the Buddha and bowed low before Him and took his seat at an appropriate place.
Then he addressed the Buddha thus:
“Exalted Buddha, Verānjā is short of food now. It is hard to stay there. There are white bones all over the city. Lots are drawn for making a living. It is not easy to get enough food by going round with alms-bowls in hands. The bottom layer of the earth is pleasant for its sweetness, like honey that is free from bees and bee-eggs. Pray, Exalted Buddha, let me turn up the soil of this great earth so that the monks may enjoy its essence from the bottom layer.”
Then the Buddha asked: “Dear son Moggallāna, how would you treat the beings living on the earth?”
The Venerable Moggallāna answered:
“Exalted Buddha, I will change my one hand into something like the earth. Then I will transfer the beings, from the natural earth on the the hand that is changed into the earth. With the other hand, I will turn up this natural earth."
Then the Buddha uttered words of rejection: “No, dear son Moggallāna, it not proper. Do not wish to turn up the earth. It may lead to misunderstanding among living beings.”
(Herein what should be noted with regard to the word “It may lead to misunderstanding among living beings.” is this: Famine occurs not only now. It will occur also in future. From where can monks get a fellow monk endowed with supernatural power like you then? Though future monks may be sotāpanna, sakadāgāmin, anāgāmin, ‘dry-vision’ (sukkha-vipassaka) arahats, only those who have attained jhānas (but not Psychic powers) and even arahats of Analytical Knowledge, yet as they lack supernatural powers, they will approach the house of their lay devotee for food.
Then it may occur to the devotees thus:
“Monks during the dispensation of the Buddha are accomplished in the threefold training. In that Buddha’s lifetime, they had the benefits of their abhiññā and when there was famine they could turn up the earth and enjoyed the earth’s essence. Nowadays there are no monks who have fully taken the threefold training. If there were such monks, they would do the same (as did those of the Buddha’s time). They would not let us eat anything that is raw or cooked. (They will give us only the earth’s essence.)” This thought will make them misunderstand about the Noble Ones themselves that “there are no Noble Ones!” Those, who condemn the Noble Ones on account of their misunderstanding, will be reborn in woeful states. Hence the Buddha prohibited the turning up of the earth’s soil.)
At that time, as the Venerable Moggallāna failed to get permission, he desired to change his request and said:
“Pray, Exalted Buddha, let all monks go to the Northern Continent!”
The Buddha again uttered forbidding words as before: “Dear son Moggallāna, it is not proper. Do not desire to make them all go to the Northern Continent!”
(Herein though it was not said directly that “It may lead to misunderstanding among living beings,” it should be known that the Buddha rejected the idea of going on alms-round in the Northern Continent on the very grounds, for it had been explained before. Note should be taken as in the previous manner.
(How would have he done if the Buddha were to give him permission? Through his supernatural powers he would have turned the great ocean into a small ditch that could be crossed over by a single stride and paved a new road straight from Naleru Neem tree to the Northern Continent; he would also have created the Continent like any village, which they have frequented for food, with streets for going and coming so that monks could be in and out conveniently.)
This indeed was the bold words of Venerable Moggallāna.
Venerable Sāriputta’s Request to lay down Disciplinary Rules
At that time the Venerable Sāriputta, who was alone in seclusion, wondered: “Whose dispensations among Exalted Buddhas did not last long and whose dispensations did?” With this query he emerged from his seclusion in the evening and approached the Buddha and bowed low before Him and took his seat at an appropriate place.
Then he asked the Buddha:
“Exalted Buddha, while I was staying in seclusion, I wondered: ‘Whose dispensations among Exalted Buddhas did not last long and whose dispensations did?’ ”
(Herein it may be argued: “Was not the Venerable Sāriputta able to answer his own questions?” Answer: “He was able to do so in some cases and unable to do so in others.” Explanation: He could decide: “The dispensation of these Buddhas did not last long and the dispensations of these Buddhas did.” But he could not decide: “They did not last long for these reasons and they lasted long for these.”
(Mahā Paduma Thera, however, states: “It was not difficult for the Chief Disciple, who had reached the height of the sixteen-fold wisdom and knowledge, to decide the reasons. But deciding by himself, though he was living with the Buddha, would be like discarding the balance and weighing something by the hand. Hence his question was put to the Buddha.”)
At that time, being desirous of answering the Venerable Sāriputta’s question, the Buddha said: “Dear son Sāriputta, the dispensations of the Buddhas Vipassī, Sikhī and Vessabhū did not last long (through successive generations of disciples). Those of the Buddhas Kakusandha. Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa lasted long (through successive generations of disciples)”
Then Venerable Sāriputta continued to ask:
“Exalted Buddha, why the dispensations of the Buddhas Vipassī, Sikhī and Vessabhū did not last long?”
The Buddha answered:
“Dear son Sāriputta, the Buddhas Vipassī, Sikhī and Vessabhū did not bother to give discourses to Their disciples elaborately. Their teachings of nine divisions, such as Sutta, Geyya, etc., were so few. Nor did They prescribe disciplinary rules for them. Nor did They recite the (Authoritative) Pātimokkha rules. When They passed away and when Their immediate disciples passed away, the later generations of disciples, who were of diverse names, clans and births, let the dispensations become extinct rapidly.
“Dear son Sāriputta, just as flowers of different kinds placed on a wooden board without being strung are scattered, blown away and destroyed by the wind for the very reason that they are not strung; even so, when these Buddhas and Their immediate disciples passed away, Their Teachings were caused to disappear fast by later disciples of diverse names, clans and births.
“Dear son Sāriputta, the other (three) Buddhas, knowing the intentions of Their disciples with Their minds, bothered to exhort them.
“Dear son Sāriputta, there took place an incident in former times. In a certain terrible forest, Buddha Vessabhū knew the minds of His thousand monks with His mind and exhorted them:
‘Cultivate these three wholesome thoughts: the thought of renunciation (nekkhamma-vitakka), etc. Do not cultivate these unwholesome thoughts: the thought of sensual pleasure (kāma-vitakka), etc. Bear in mind that they are impermanent (anicca), miserable (dukkha), unsubstantial (anatta) and unpleasant (asubha). Do not bear in mind that they are permanent (nicca), happy (sukha), substantial (attā) and pleasant (subha). Abandon the unwholesome thoughts! Abide developing the wholesome thoughts!’
“Dear son Sāriputta, the thousand monks who had thus been exhorted by Buddha Vessabhū became arahats, free from āsavas. The minds of these thousand monks, therefore, were entirely cut off from grasping of anything through craving and wrong view that ‘This am I, this is mine!’ They were totally emancipated from āsavas that had now come to complete cessation, (cessation in the sense of not arising again). With regard to the terrible forest, the terror of the forest was such that those who were not free from passion generally had gooseflesh upon entering it.
“Dear son Sāriputta, what has been said is the reason for the short-lived dispensations of the Buddhas Vipassī, Sikhī and Vessabhū.”
(N.B. With reference to the statement that the three Buddhas “did not bother to give discourses to Their disciples elaborately,” They did not do so not because They were idle. In fact, there is no such thing as indolence or lack of industry on the part of Buddhas. Explanation: When Buddhas teach, They do so with the same degree of effort whether They are to teach a single person or two persons, or the whole universe full of beings. They do not reduce Their energy when seeing that the audience is small; nor do They increase Their effort when seeing that the audience is big. Just as the lion, king of animals, goes out in search of food after seven days (spent in the den), chases and catches his preys with the same speed, whether they are big or tiny, because he is resolved that his speed should not be inadequate, even so when Buddhas deliver Their sermons to Their listeners whether They form a multitude or only an inconsiderable gathering, They do so with equal industry, for They have a noble purpose not to decrease Their respect for the Dhamma.
(Unlike our Buddha, who taught in detail as though He were to fill the ocean, these three Buddhas, in fact, did not elaborate Their Teachings. The reason was that, in those times, beings had little dust of defilement in their eyes of wisdom. Explanation: In the lifetimes of these three Buddhas, beings enjoyed longevity, and the amount of dust that covered their eyes of wisdom was also slight. Beings in those days were therefore instantly converted on listening just one stanza connected with the Four Truths. It was therefore not necessary to preach to them elaborately. Hence the Teachings of these Buddhas in nine divisions were so meagre.
(In the time of these three Buddhas, since Their monk-disciples were wholly free from wrongdoings, no Authoritative Disciplinary Rules (Āṇā-Pātimokkha) associated with the seven portions of offences had to be promulgated.
Only the recitation of the Exhortative Pātimokkha (Ovāda-Pātimokkha) was known to them. Even that Pāṭimokkha, they did not recite fortnightly. (The two kinds of Pāṭimokkha have been dealt with in detail in the Chapter 25.)
(These long-lived Buddhas had two generations of disciples to follow them: (1) the immediate disciples and (2) the later disciples who were monks ordained by those immediate disciples. At the time when the later disciples, under the second category emerged, since there had been no disciplinary rules from the outset and since the disciples, who were of diverse names, clans and births, did not feel obliged to protect and preserve the small amount of discourses but remained careless as though they shirked their duty, saying: “Such and such Thera will do it, such and such Thera will do it,” they did nothing for safeguarding the Teachings by holding Councils (Saṅgāyanās). Hence the rapid disappearance of their dispensations.
(With regard to the statement: “The dispensations of the long-lived Buddhas did not last long,” it originally meant to say that Their dispensations did not last long for many generations of disciples. The life of Buddha Vipassī, however, was eighty thousand years 1ong; the life span of His immediate disciples also was eighty thousand years, so was the life span of the last generation of later disciples who were ordained by the immediate disciples. Therefore, the dispensation with the two generations of disciples lasted for one hundred and sixty thousand years after the demise of the Buddha. In terms of generations of disciples, however, there were only two, and this small number of generations was meant, in speaking of “the short dispensation”; it was spoken, one should particularly remember, not in terms of years.)
Having heard thus of the reasons for the short-lived dispensations (in terms of generations of disciples) of the three Buddhas: Vipasī, Sikhī and Vessabhū, the Noble Thera Sāriputta, being desirous of hearing the reasons for the long-lived dispensations of the other three Buddhas: Kakusandha. Konāgamana and Kassapa, continued to ask the Buddha:
“Exalted Buddha, why did the dispensations of the Buddhas Kakusandha, Konāgamana and Kassapa last long?”
The Buddha answered:
“Dear son Sāriputta, the Buddhas Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana and Kassapa cared to give elaborate discourses to their disciples. Their teachings of nine divisions, such as Sutta, Geyya, etc., were numerous. They prescribed disciplinary rules for them. They recited the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha. When they passed away and when their immediate disciples passed away, therefore, the generations of their later disciples, who were of diverse names, clans and births, caused the dispensations to last long.
“Dear son Sāriputta, just as flowers of different kinds strung by a string and placed on a wooden board cannot be dispersed, blown away and destroyed by the wind (for the very reason that they are strung) even so, when these Buddhas and Their immediate disciples passed away, Their teachings were caused to last long by later (generations of) disciples of diverse names, clans and births.
“Dear son Sāriputta, the aforesaid factors (elaborate teaching, large number of discourses, promulgation of disciplinary rules and recitation of the Pāṭimokkha) together formed the reason for the long existence of the teachings of the three Buddhas: Kakusandha, Konāgamana and Kassapa.”
(“Herein with regard to the long existence of the dispensations of these three Buddhas, the lengthy duration in terms of both life span and generations of disciples should be noted. Explanation: The life span of Buddha Kakusandha was forty thousand years, that of Buddha Konāgamana, thirty thousand, and that of Buddha Kassapa, twenty thousand. The life spans of Their immediate disciples were the same as Theirs respectively. Many generations, one after another, of these immediate disciples nurtured and carried the dispensation. In this way, the Teachings of these three Buddhas long endured in terms of both life spans and generations of disciples.
(As for our Inestimable Chief of the three worlds, He should have been born when the life span was ten thousand years, which was half that of Buddha Kassapa; if not, He should have been born in the period of five thousand years life span, one thousand years or five hundred years life span. But His wisdom was not mature enough until then. It attained maturity only when the life span became one hundred, which is very short indeed. Therefore, it should be stated that although the dispensation of our Buddha lasted long, in terms of generations of disciples, it did not last long as did the dispensations of those former Buddhas in terms of years.)
Having thus learnt the reason for the long existence of the dispensations of the Buddhas Kakusandha, Konāgamana and Kassapa, the Venerable Sāriputta made a conclusion that “Only the laying down of rules is the main cause for the perpetuity of the dispensation of a Buddha.” Wishing to ensure the perpetuity of the dispensation of the present Buddha, he rose from his seat, adjusted his robe, covering the left shoulder, and raised his hands in adoration towards the Buddhas.
He, then emphatically requested the Master with these words:
“May the Exalted Buddha lay down disciplinary rules so that this dispensation may last long? May He recites the Pāṭimokkha! Glorious Buddha, it is time to promulgate rules vital to the long standing of the Teaching, and to recite the Pāṭimokkha! Exalted Buddha of good speech, the time has come to lay down rules and to bring about the Pāṭimokkha which was noted for the lasting endurance of the dispensation!”
Being desirous of telling that “the time is not ripe yet for laying down rules,” the Buddha said:
“Wait, dear Sāriputta! Wait, dear Sāriputta! Only the Buddha shall know the proper time (for promulgating rules and reciting the Pāṭimokkha)!
(1) “Dear Sāriputta, as long as there do not take place in the Sangha some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, the Buddha does not lay down rules for the disciples nor does He proclaim the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha. Dear Sāriputta, when there take place some wrongdoings in the Sangha which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, does He lay down the rules and proclaim the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha, only for the benefit of eliminating those wrongdoings.
(2) “Dear Sāriputta, as long as the Sangha does not have a large number of monks of long standing, there do not take place yet in it some wrongdoings, which are the basis of āsavas, in this dispensation. Dear Sāriputta, when the Sangha has a large number of monks of long standing, there take place in it some wrongdoings, which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, then only for the benefit of eliminating those wrongdoings, which are the basis of āsavas, does the Buddha lay down rules and proclaim the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha.
(3) “Dear Sāriputta, as long as the Sangha does not thrive, there do not take place yet in it some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation. Dear Sāriputta, when the Sangha thrives, and there take place in it some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, then only for the benefit of eliminating these wrongdoings, does the Buddha lay down rules and proclaim the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha.
(4) “Dear Sāriputta, as long as the Sangha does not know many gains, there do not take place yet in it some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation. Dear Sāriputta, when the Sangha knows many gains, and, there take place in it some wrongdoings, which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, then only for the benefit of eliminating those wrongdoings, does the Buddha lay down rules and proclaim (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha.
(5) “Dear Sāriputta, as long as the Sangha does not have much knowledge, there do not take place yet in it some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation. Dear Sāriputta, when the Sangha has much knowledge, and, there take place in it some wrongdoings which are the basis of āsavas in this dispensation, then only for the benefit of eliminating those wrongdoings, does the Buddha lay down rules and proclaim the (Authoritative) Pāṭimokkha.
“Dear Sāriputta, now the Sangha is free from forms (in the form of immoral persons), free from blemishes. free from impurities, clean, and stands (in the essence of such virtues as morality and the like). Dear Sāriputta, of these five hundred monks, the lowest is a sotāpanna, whose assured destination is the three higher stages of the Path, for he will never land in woeful abodes.”
(Herein by āsavas is meant moral defilement and suffering such as accusation, killing, imprisonment, etc., by others in this life, and suffering of rebirth in the woeful states hereafter. Since such wrong-doings as sexual intercourse, stealing, killing human beings, etc., form the ground for āsavas, they are called Āsavatthaniya (basis of āsavas).
(At the time when the Venerable Sāriputta made the request for laying down rules, transgression had not occurred at all. Had the rules such as the four Pārājikas and others been laid down long before the actual taking place of transgressions, such an action would not have escaped private abuse and blame and public censure. How would such an action would not have escaped?
(If rules were to be laid down in advance, all the necessary rules would have been done so, saying: “If a monk commits sexual intercourse...” and so on. Laying down the rules before seeing the transgression, others would abuse and blame privately and censure publicly as follows:
(“Why does the Monk Gotama bind us to these rules, taking for granted that the Order of monks adheres to Him and follows His words? Why did He lay down the Pārājika rules? Have not these clansmen become monks after renouncing their great luxury, vast circles of relatives and princely wealth that they had in their possession? Are they not content with what is just enough for their food and what is just enough for their clothing, and do not they abide with extreme respect in the threefold training and without regard for their bodies and lives? Among such good men, who would indulge in such earthly practices (loka-āmisa) as sexual intercourse, stealing another’s property, taking another’s life, earning his living by falsely telling of his virtues. Even if the four Pāṭimokkha rules were not laid down, has it not been made clear that sexual intercourse, stealing, etc., are not proper, not practicable, for even while as a novice one keeps the precepts, saying: ‘I take upon myself the rule of staying away from taking life’ and so on?” Such would have been private abuse and blame and public censure.
(Moreover, probably the Buddha’s wisdom would not have been known to beings. The rules that had been laid down would have been destroyed. They would not have lasted. To use a worldly simile, an unclever medical doctor sends for a man who has no ulcer yet (but who would soon suffer from an ulcer) and said: “Come, man, on this part of your body there will appear an ulcer, bringing no benefit but threatening your life. Get it treated early!” “Very well, sir. You yourself give treatment to it?” Saying thus the man submits himself to the doctor, who then gives surgical treatment to that part of the man’s body without an ulcer and caused the skin to become normal by taking out the blood, applying the medicine, dressing, cleaning, and so on. Thereafter, he asks the man saying: “I have cured your ulcer. Give me the cost of the medicine!”
(The man who has been medically treated may then privately abuse and blame and openly censure the unclever surgeon in his presence, saying: “What is this foolish doctor talking about? Which disease of mine has been cured by this foolish doctor? As a matter of fact, has not the stupid surgeon caused trouble to me? Has he not made my blood gone?” The man may not feel grateful to the doctor.
(In the same way, had the Buddha laid down the rules for His disciples before the actual wrong-doings happened, he would not have escaped private abuse, etc. His wisdom might not have been known to beings. The rules that had been laid down would have been destroyed. They would not have lasted. Hence the Buddha said, in the negative: “Dear Sāriputta, as long as there do not take place wrong-doings in the Sangha, a Buddha does not lay down rules for the disciples,” and so on. (Herein, “the time when wrong-doings have not taken place” means the time which was not ripe yet for laying down rules. “The time when wrongdoings have taken place” means the time which is ripe for doing so. Laying down of rules in an inopportune time might bring about the aforesaid blame and censure. The same action, taken as required by the occurrence of wrong-doings, may be likened to a clever medical doctor who gives the ulcer, that has appeared curative treatment by operating on it, applying medicine, dressing, cleaning and so on and cause the recovery of the ulcer and the normalcy of the skin. The Buddha may be likened to him, who is not abused but honoured for his distinguished service in his medical profession, for He was similarly not abused and blamed privately or otherwise but honoured for His distinguished efficiency in the matter of His Omniscience. The rules laid down would not then be impaired but would stand intact for long. (By the words in the first statement is shown opportune time and inopportune time for laying down rules. By the words in the second, third, fourth and fifth statements is shown the time when wrong-doings occurred. The elaborate meaning of these words may be taken from the Verañjā section of the Pārājika Kaṇḍa Commentary.)
Taking His Leave at The End of The Vassa
After the Buddha had thus explained in detail the question of laying down the disciplinary rules to the Venerable Sāriputta, the General of the Dhamma, He spent the whole vassa at Verāñjā and performed pavārana on the Mahāpavaraṇā Day, the full moon of Assayuja, at the end of vassa. Then He called Venerable Ānanda and said: “Dear Ānanda, when the Buddhas have observed vassa at the request of others, it is not their custom to depart without asking them for leave (or they are to depart only after informing them). Come, Ānanda, let us go and seek permission from Brahmin Verañjā.” After finishing His meal, the Buddha with the Venerable Ānanda as his companion visited Verñjā’s place in the afternoon, illuminating the city gates and all the roads and streets with His body rays.
When the Buddha stood at the door of the Brahmin’s house, the Brahmin’s men, seeing the Buddha, reminded their master; (only then did Verañjā regained a sense of his responsibilities and got up from his seat excitedly to prepare a seat worthy of the Noble One; he then welcomed and invited Him respectfully saying: “Please come this way, Exalted Buddha!” The Buddha walked along as had been invited by the Brahmin and sat down on the prepared seat. (It was the time when Mara had withdrawn his spell.)
“Brahmin, we have observed the vassa at your invitation. Now we inform you that we want to go elsewhere!”
Verañja replied to the Buddha:
“Right, Venerable Gotama. You have observed the vassa at our invitation. But I have not given alms yet. (The reason for that is) not because we have nothing to give, not because we do not want to give. People of household life have too many things to do. Where can they have a chance to give? May the Venerable Gotama accept together with the company of monks my food, my act of merit, tomorrow.”
(The Brahmin did not know about the magical influence of Māra. He thought his absent-mindedness was due to the affairs and drawbacks of household life. Hence his supplication to the Buddha.)
It occurred then to the Buddha: “If l do not accept the Brahmin’s invitation, demerit will develop to him, and to all the Verañjā citizens as well for that matter, who would think: ‘The Monk Gotama seems to be angry because He receives no alms for the whole period of the three vassa months. Therefore, He rejects even a single meal despite my request. The Monk Gotama has no patience. He is not an Omniscient One!’ Let there be no development of demerit to them!” Out of compassion, the Buddha accepted the invitation by keeping silent. Thereafter, He made the Brahmin know the futility of being occupied with the domestic affairs and drawbacks. With a Dhamma-talk appropriate at that moment, the Buddha showed the two benefits; one for this life and the other for the next. He also made him dedicated to good deeds, and enthusiastic about and happy with them. Then He rose from His seat and departed.
Verañjā’s Great Alms-giving
After the departure of the Buddha, the Brahmin Verañjā summoned all his family members and other inmates of the house to a meeting, at which he said: “Dear ones, I have offered not a single day’s meal to the Buddha though I invited him to stay here for the three months of vassa. Let us now offer alms meant for the three months vassa period in a day tomorrow.” Having given instructions thus, the Brahmin had excellent food cooked, and next morning he had his place decorated and seats worthy of Noble Ones prepared. After setting up exquisite offerings of perfumes and flowers, he sent for the Buddha with the word: “It is meal time now, Venerable Gotama, the food is ready!”
Accompanied by His hundred monks, the Buddha arrived at Verañjā’s house and sat together with them on the seats prepared. Verañjā personally served the Order of monks, headed by the Buddha, with delicious meals until they were satisfied and refused to take more. As the Buddha removed His hand from the alms-bowl after finishing the meal, Verañjā offered Him a set of three robes which worth three thousand. (Each robe cost a thousand.) To each monk too, he offered a set of two pieces of cloth to make robes. (The value of each robe of cloth was five hundred. Hence the amount of his donation made to the monks was five hundred thousand. Only this much comes from the Pāli Text. The Commentarial account is as follows.)
As he was not satisfied with this much of his offering (of robes worth five hundred thousand), the Brahmin Verañjā offered again a large number of rugs, bolts of cloth made in Pattunna country, each costing seven or eight thousand, so that they might be cut and made into garments of double layers, shoulder coverings, waistbands, water strainers, etc.
He also gave each monk, jugs and bottles filled with medicinal ointment heated a hundred or thousand times and worth one thousand. There was nothing left out from the four requisites he presented for their use. He gave away in charity all the necessaries to the monks.
Having done such a great alms-giving, the Brahmin sat down together with his wife and children, respectfully doing obeisance to the Buddha. Owing to Māra’s magic, he had lost the opportunity of enjoying the taste of immortality in the form of a discourse throughout the vassa. In order to make up the Brahmin’s loss and to fulfil his wish, Buddha let the rain of immortality fall heavily in a single day. He preached the double advantage for the present life and the next and established him in meritorious deeds. Finally, the Buddha made Verañjā zealous and delighted in good deeds, and left the place.
Together with his wife, Verañjā respectfully raised his hands in adoration towards the Buddha and His assembly of monks and followed them to see them off, requesting: “Exalted Buddha, kindly do another favour by visiting us once again!” Then the Brahmin returned with tears trickling from his eyes.
After staying in Verañjā for as long as he wished, the Buddha left the city. Being desirous of reducing the great circular journey, He led the monks, who had been so tired and fatigued because of the scarcity of food during the whole vassa, along the direct route, bypassing Sorreyya, Sankassa, and Kaññakujja cities. On arriving at the port of Payāga, the Buddha crossed the Gaṅgā and reached Vārāṇasī. At this city too He stayed for as long as He wished, and then He headed for Vesālī. Having arrived at Vesālī the Buddha sojourned at Kutīgāra (a monastery with the gable) in the forest of Mahāvana.