by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The story of Sudinna (the Kalandaka merchant’s son) 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 Monk Sudinna, the Son of the Kalanda Merchant. 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).
At that time, in the village of Kalanda, near the city of Vesālī, there was the merchant Kalanda’s son, named Sudinna. Accompanied by many friends, Sudinna, the merchant’s son, went to Vesālī on some business.
(The village was named Kalanda because it abounded in black squirrels. The Kalanda merchant owned a wealth of forty crores. He was therefore a man of riches recognized by the King. His son, Sudinna, went to Vesālī to transact business, to collect debts, and to make appointments among other things.
(Some scholars said that he was in Vesālī to have fun in the festival of the constellation Kattikā (Pleiades). The Buddha indeed came to Vesālī in the bright fortnight of the month of Kattikā (October-November). The festivity of Kattikā in Vesālī attracted large crowds of people. For the sake of this festive gathering, Sudinna the merchant’s son went.)
On seeing the people who went out from Vesālī after breakfast, wearing clean clothes and carrying flowers, perfumes and unguent, to see the Buddha and to listen to His sermon, Sudinna asked them where they were going and was informed of their purpose. Thinking: “I too should go along with them,” he joined the crowd that flocked to hear the Buddha, who in the midst of the audience composed of four classes of devotees. was delivering a discourse in a voice resembling that of a Brahmā. Inspired by the Buddha’s pleasing manner and stirred by his past wholesome kamma, he thought to himself: “How well it would be if I too could listen to the discourse!” But since the audience was so large, he was unable to go near the Buddha and had to take a suitable seat at the edge of the assembly, paying attention to the Buddha’s talk.
“When I ponder in many ways the Buddha’s discourse, I come to the conclusion that it is not easy indeed for a householder to practise such a noble practice (of the threefold training) which is so pure and perfect like a newly polished conch. How wonderful it would be if I leave household life for monkhood, having shaved my head and beard and donned the dyed robe!”
Thereafter, Sudinna went along with the moving crowd for a short distance, for in the crowd were many of his relatives and friends, who might be in his way and they would forcibly take him away by the arm, saying: “You are the only son of your parents. You must not be given permission to become a monk.” Hence his short distance of departure together with the crowd.
Then pretending that he had to wash his hands, he turned back and approached the Buddha with these words of request:
“Exalted Buddha, when I pondered your discourse in many ways, I came to the conclusion that it was not easy indeed for a householder to practise such a noble practice (of the threefold training), which is pure and perfect like a newly polished conch. Exalted Buddha, I wish to enter monkhood, having shaved my head and beard and donned the dyed robe. Exalted Buddha, kindly accept me as a monk!”
As the Buddha had denied monkhood to those who were not permitted by the parents since the initiation of Prince Rāhula, the Buddha asked Sudinna, “Have your parents, Sudinna, permitted you to leave household life for monkhood?” “No, Exalted Buddha, they have not yet permitted me to do so,” replied Sudinna. Then said the Buddha, “Sudinna, Buddhas do not ordain a man who has not got permission from his parents.” “Exalted Buddha,” said Sudinna, “I shall seek permission from my parents.”
Then Sudinna, having finished his business in Vesālī, approached his parents, at Kalanda village, with these words:
“Dear parents, when I pondered the Buddha’s discourse in many ways, I came to the conclusion that it was not easy indeed for a householder to practise such a noble practice (of the threefold training), which is pure and perfect like a newly polished conch. I wish to leave household life for monkhood, having shaved my head and beard and donned the dyed robe! Please give me permission to do so.”
The parents then rejected Sudinna’s request, saying:
“Our son Sudinna, you are our only son whom we love so dearly. You are the child whom we have brought up and nurtured in happiness. Dear Sudinna, you know no discomforts whatever. Let us be separated from you against our wish only when you die. How can we permit you to leave household life for monkhood while you are living?”
The son requested as before for the second time. The parents similarly rejected for the second time. He did so for the third time. And they too did reject for the third time.
Knowing then that “my parents will not permit me (by any means) to renounce my household life,” and lying down on the bare ground, the very spot on which he made the request, he said: “This place will see either my death or my renunciation.” He refused to eat his meal once, twice, three times, four, five, six and seven times and demonstrated his great meritorious desire (by fasting).
Then the parents said to their son:
“Dear son Sudinna, you are our only child, whom we love so dearly. You are the one whom we have brought up and nurtured in happiness. Dear Sudinna, you know no discomfort whatever. Only your death will separate us from you against our wish. How can we permit you to leave household life and take up monkhood while you are alive? Rise, dear Sudinna, eat, drink and have fun. Feel delight in doing good deeds while eating, drinking and having fun. However, we will never give you our permission (by any means) for your renunciation.”
Sudinna kept quiet while they were saying so. He remained silent even when his parents said so a second time and a third time.
Not getting even verbal response from their son though they had appealed to him three times, the parents sent for his friends and urged them saying: “Your friend Sudinna is desirous of becoming a monk. Please prevent him from doing so!” The friends went up to Sudinna and tried to prevent him three times as they had been told by his parents. To the friends as well, Sudinna gave no answer but kept his mouth shut.
Then the friends reflected and discussed among themselves: “If this Sudinna were to die for not getting permission to become a monk, no benefit would accrue from his death. If he were to become a monk his parents could see him at will and so could we. Monkhood is very burdensome. The monk goes on alms-round carrying an earthen bowl daily. He sleeps alone and eats a single morning meal. Such a noble practice is so difficult to follow. And Sudinna is a delicate urbanite. By no means can he devote himself to the noble practice that requires one to sleep alone and to eat a single morning meal. He will definitely come back home. Well, we shall ask his parents to permit him.”
Thereafter they approached Suddina’s parents and said to them with some advice:
“Dear elders, Sudinna is lying down on the bare ground, saying: ‘This place will see either my death or my renunciation. If you do not give him permission to renounce the world and enter monkhood, he will die at that very place (where he is lying down). Suppose you grant him permission for his monkhood, you can have a chance to see him as a monk. After becoming a monk, if he is not happy with ascetic life, where will he go except his parents' house? He will come back to this house of yours. You had better permit Sudinna to go forth and live an ascetic life!”
Then Sudinna’s parents replied: “Dear boys, we grant him our permission for his renunciation and entering upon monkhood,” and the friends went up to Sudinna and said: “Get up, friend Sudinna, permission has been granted to you by your parents!”
So happy and elated with the news that he had been permitted to become a monk, Sudinna got up, dusting his body with his hands, and tried to regain his strength for one or two days; thereafter he approached the Buddha, bowed his head in adoration, sat down at a suitable place and requested:
“Exalted Buddha, permission has been granted to me by my parents. May the Exalted Buddha make me a monk!”
The Buddha asked a nearby monk who was practising piṇḍapāta-dhutaṅga, “Monk, as has been requested by Sudinna thus, you, dear son, grant him ordination as a novice and then ordination as a monk!” “Very well, Exalted Buddha,” replied the dhutaṅga practicing monk, and taking Sudinna, his co-residential (saddhivihārika) pupil entrusted by the Buddha, he made him a novice and then a monk.
Soon after becoming a monk, the Venerable Sudinna engaged in the following dhutaṅga practices, the means of shaking off mental defilements, āraññika-dhutaṅga, dwelling in a forest monastery, piṇḍapātika-dhutaṅga, eating food obtained by going on alms-round, paṃsukūlika-dhutaṅga, putting on robes made of rags, sapadānacārika-dhutaṅga, collecting food from houses serially. Thus he dwelt with an unknown small village as his resort for food.
At that time, the country of Vajjī was short of food. It was hard to live there. There were white bones. People had to live by food tickets. It was not easy for monks to get enough food going round with alms-bowls in their hands.
Then it occurred to the Venerable Sudinna:
“Now Vajjī country was short of food. It was hard to live there. There were white bones. Lots had to be drawn for food. It was not easy for monks to get enough food by going round with alms-bowls in their hands. I have a large number of relatives in the city of Vesali who are prosperous (with wealth), who possess plenty of (hidden) treasures, who are endowed with abundance of riches, abundance of gold and silver, abundance of delightful articles and gems (for daily use) and a large quantity of goods and grains (for trading and exchange). What if I were to live, depending on my relatives. On account of me they would make offerings and do things of merit. And material gains will accrue to monks. Monks, I too will not be troubled by food.”
With this idea, Venerable Sudinna packed his bedding and headed for Vesālī, taking his bowl and robe. On his arrival at Vesālī, he stayed at a monastery with a peaked roof (kūṭagāra) in Mahāvana (Great Forest) near Vesālī.
Getting the news that “the Kalanda merchant’s son, Sudinna, is said to have been in Vesālī, his relatives sent sixty pots of food as offering to him. (Each pot contained food for ten monks.) Then (according to his previous plan) he offered the sixty pots to (six hundred) monks, and (as for himself), being an observer of piṇḍapāta-dhutaṅga of the highest kind, he adjusted his garment, took his bowl and robe and entered the village of Kalanda for food. While going round and stopping in front of the houses, one after another he happened to have approached the gate of the house belonging to his father, the (Kalanda) merchant.
(N.B. The events after his return from the country of Vajji began to take place only in his eighth year as a bhikkhu (i.e. when the Buddha was in the twentieth year of His ministry). Here the events are told continuously in order to keep the sequence of the events uninterrupted.)
At that moment, a female slave to kinsmen of Sudinna was coming out of the house to throw away barley cakes that had become stale for having been kept overnight, (so stale that it was impossible for male slaves, workers and cattle to eat). Then Sudinna said to her: “Sister, if you are to throw away those cakes, please put them into my bowl!”
While she was putting the stale cakes into the Venerable Sudinna’s bowl, she could not recognize him as the son of her master, for Sudinna had been away for eight years; but taking note of the features of his hands and feet and also his voice, she went to Sudinna’s mother and said: “You know, O madam, your son Sudinna has returned!” Sudinna’s mother replied: “O woman, if you have told me the truth, I will set you free from slavery!”
Meanwhile the Venerable Sudinna was leaning against the base of the wall (in a eating house in Kalanda) and enjoying the stale food with relish.
(Some homes of donors in certain regions had eating houses built. In these houses seats were readily arranged. (Jars of) water for drinking and use was placed; vinegar was also provided. After receiving food, monks sat and ate it in these houses. If need be, they took offerings which were placed there by donors. Therefore, ‘the base of the wall’ here means the bottom of the wall of a refectory erected by donors. Monks never eat, sitting at an unseemly place, unlike destitutes. See the Commentary.)
When Sudinna’s wealthy father came back from work and saw him enjoying the stale food with relish, he went nearer and reproved, saying:
“O dear, my beloved son Sudinna! it is a pity that you should be eating the stale barley cakes! In fact, should not you come home?”
The Venerable Sudinna then replied: “I have been to your house donor. And I got the stale barley cakes from there!” The father grasped Sudinna’s arm and said: “Come, dear Sudinna. Let us go home?” An obedient son having love for his father, Sudinna went along to his father’s house and took the prepared seat.
The wealthy father asked him: “Help yourself son!” “Enough, father,” replied the Venerable Sudinna: “I have eaten for the day.” When the father invited him, saying:
“Please accept my offering of meal for tomorrow,” though he was committed to the highest kind of piṇḍapāta-dhutaṅga, Sudinna accepted it by keeping silent, he then rose from his seat and departed, for he thought: “If I reject their single meal, it will be a great distress to my parents and kinsmen.”
When the night was over, the Venerable Sudinna’s mother had the ground plastered with wet cow-dung, and two heaps of treasures made, one of gold and the other of silver. The treasure heaps were so great that a man standing on one side could not see another standing on the other side. So great and high were the piles of treasures. Having caused them to be covered by mats, and a seat prepared in the middle and screens set up, then she asked Sudinna’s ex-wife: “Dear daughter, I would like to ask you to put on the clothes that would please my son Sudinna.” “Yes, mother,” replied the ex-wife to Sudinna’s mother.
When morning came, the Venerable Sudinna, having adjusted his robe and carrying his bowl and robe, approached his parent’s house, and sat down on the prepared seat (between the two treasure heaps).
The father came to Sudinna and had the heaps uncovered and said:
“Dear son Sudinna, this gold and silver is the treasure that has come down from the side of your mother’s mother. This much is just for the use of feminine things. (This is the cost of powder and flowers.) There is yet the treasure from me. The treasures from your grandfather and great grandfather are also kept separately. Dear son, they are available for you to live in luxury and perform meritorious deeds when you leave monkhood. Come, dear Sudinna, enjoy your wealth and do good works.”
“I cannot become a lay man, donor,” replied Sudinna, “I am very happy following the noble practice (of the threefold training).”
The father said as before for the second time, and the Venerable Sudinna replied similarly. When the father said for the third time, however, Sudinna replied (differently), saying: “If you, donor, show no anger, I would like to say something.” Thinking that ‘my son would tell me favourably,” the father said delightedly: “Go ahead, son.”
Then the Venerable Sudinna uttered determinedly to his father, the wealthy merchant:
“Father, in that case, have fibre bags made and fill them with gold and silver, take them in cans and drop them in the middle of the Ganges! Because, donor, on account of the possession of this gold and silver, you will have fear, trembling, gooseflesh and need protection. No possession means no fear and other forms of trouble. That is why.”
This caused sadness to the father who wondered: “Why does my son Sudinna have the heart to say so?”
Lure Through The Wife
Being unable to lure the Venerable Sudinna to return to household life by showing him the riches, the father thought: “There is now no fetter like a woman for a man,” he sent the ex-wife of Sudinna, saying: “I pray you, dear daughter, my son Sudinna loves you. He is fond of you. He may listen to you.”
Accordingly, the ex-wife grasped Sudinna’s legs in her arms and said:
“You have followed the noble practice, my lord, for the sake of getting celestial damsels. How do they look like?”
(Explanation: In those days, many princes, sons of brahmins, and sons of merchants renounced their untold luxuries and became ascetics. Seeing them, those who were ignorant of the benefits of an ascetic life used to ask: “Why do these people became ascetics?” And the answers they got from those who pretended to know was: “Because they want to have celestial damsels and dancers.” The questions and answers of these unknowledgeable people became widespread. Acting on that reply, the ex-wife of the Venerable Sudinna asked as mentioned above.)
The Venerable Sudinna replied: “I do not, sister, practise the noble practice for celestial damsels.” This prompted the ex-wife to think thus: “My Lord Sudinna has now called me ‘sister’. He no longer wants me now. Not wanting me who is his partner in life, and his own wife, he takes me as his own sister, born of the same mother.” Her thought brought about grief and caused her to fall down in faintness at that very place.
Then the Venerable Sudinna said to his father: “If you are to give food, donor, do so. Do not trouble us with your display of wealth and woman. Enticement with such a display means torment to monks!” Thereafter, the parents personally offer excellent food to the Venerable Sudinna until he was satisfied and stopped them.
Request for Procreative Seed
When the meal was done, the mother of the Venerable Sudinna said to him:
“Dear son Sudinna, our family is rich. We have a great hidden wealth. There are abundant luxuries and things for daily use. There are many delightful articles and treasures. So are there countless goods and grains for trading and exchange. Come, dear Sudinna, return to lay life and enjoy the riches. And do good works.”
Sudinna rejected his mother’s words by giving the same answer as that given to his father: “I cannot become a lay man, mother. I dare not do so. I am very happily engaging in the noble practice (of the threefold training).” The mother said as before for the second time and the Venerable Sudinna replied the same.
On the third time, however, Sudinna’s mother asked for procreative seed by saying:
“Dear son Sudinna, our family is rich. We have a great hidden wealth. There are abundant luxuries and things for daily use. There are many delightful articles and treasures. So are there countless goods and grains for trading and exchange. Dear Sudinna, in that case (if you find happiness so much in the Buddha’s dispensation), give the seed for procreation. Let not the Licchavi princes take over the possessions of ours as we have no sons to inherit.”
Then Sudinna reflected: “I am the only heir to the wealth of my father and mother. There is nobody else. (As long as I do not give the seed) they will constantly follow me for protection of the wealth. If they do so, I will not have a chance to devote myself to asceticism free of worries. My parents will give up following me only when they get a son as an heir. Then only will I be able to perform my duties as a monk in comfort and happiness.” And he replied: “Mother, I can, however, do something to provide the seed for procreation.” (without knowing that he would be guilty for doing so).
Again, the mother asked: “Where are you staying now, dear Sudinna?” “In the Mahāvana, mother,” so replying, the Venerable Sudinna rose from his seat and departed.
Then Sudinna’s mother asked her son’s ex-wife: “Dear daughter, let me make a request for getting a son. Tell me when your fertile period is.” “Very well, madam,” replied Sudinna’s ex-wife.
Provision of The Seed for Procreation
Before long, Sudinna’s ex-wife was ready for natural conception, and she informed Sudinna’s mother of the matter. “In that case, dear daughter, dress up in the clothes which used to have appeal for my son,” said the mother. “Very well, madam,” so saying she did as she had been told.
Taking Sudinna’s ex-wife, his mother went to Mahāvana and told Sudinna twice as before to leave monkhood and enjoy the riches and do acts of merit. Sudinna refused to do so by saying as before that he could not become a lay man and that he dared not do so. He further added that he was happy in pursuing (the noble practice of the threefold training). On the third time, however, the mother asked for the seed of procreation. Saying: “This is something I can do,” he caught hold his ex-wife’s arm and together they had entered the Mahāvana. As it was a time when the first Pārājika rule had not been laid down yet, he did not see sexual intercourse as an offence. As such, in the forest, he successfully indulged three times in the sex practice with his ex-wife. As a result his ex-wife became pregnant.
Eight Causes of Pregnancy
Possible causes of pregnancy:
(1) by copulating,
(2) by coming into physical contact,
(3) by inserting man’s loin cloth (into the vagina),
(4) by swallowing the semen,
(5) by stroking the navel,
(6) by seeing the male’s appearance,
(7) by hearing the male’s sound, and
(8) by getting the male’s odour.
(1) pregnancy through copulation is explicit. (Sudinna’s ex-wife had pregnancy by this means.)
(2) Some women developing strong sexual feeling when the monthly period comes, pull men’s hand and hair-knot, stroke limbs: big and small and take pleasure thereby, which makes her pregnant. Thus, through the physical contact pregnancy happens.
(3) During the lifetime of the Buddha, the monk Udāyī gazed at the private part of his exwife and had a discharge of semen; he asked her to wash the soiled robe. She swallowed part of the semen and put part of it together with the robe into her organ. By so doing, she became pregnant. Thus, through the insertion of men’s loin cloth into the vagina, pregnancy takes place.
(4) A Jātaka story tells of a doe, the mother of Migasinga the hermit. When she was in heat she came to the place where the old hermit, Migasinga’s father, urinated, and took the urine together with the semen. By so doing she became pregnant and gave birth to the baby Migasiṅga. Thus, through the swallowing of semen pregnancy occurs.
(5) In the Suvaṇṇasāma Jātaka, the Sakka, foreseeing that the Bodhisatta’s parents would become blind. and wanting them to have a son, asked the wise hermit Dukūla whether sexual intercourse was permissible to hermits. When the reply was “Whether it is permissible or not, we became ascetic because we do not want to do it,” the Sakka told him to stroke Pārikā’s navel during menstruation. Dukūla did as he was told and Pārikā became pregnant and gave birth to Bodhisatta Suvannasama. Thus, stroking of a women’s navel is another cause for pregnancy.
Similarly, while menstruation was occurring to a rich man’s daughter, Diṭṭhamaṅgalika, the Bodhisatta hermit, Mātaṅga, stroke her navel which made her pregnant and her son, Maṇḍavya, was born. The mother of Prince Caṇḍa Pajjota, during the menses, felt a scorpion’s walking across her navel pleasant, she became pregnant and gave birth to the prince.
(6) Being deprived of copulation with men, some women in this world who eye men lustfully while in the period and even staying at home can become pregnant. (In Ceylon there was a court lady, to whom the same thing happened.) Thus, through the sight of the male’s appearance pregnancy happens.
(7) No male is known among the pond herons. When they hear thunder when in heat, they become pregnant. Sometimes pregnancy occurs to hens on hearing the crowing of a cock. Similarly, pregnancy happens to cows as they hear the bellowing of a bull. Thus, through the hearing of the male’s sound pregnancy takes place.
(8) Sometimes, cows conceive when they get the smell of a bull. Thus, through the male’s odour, pregnancy takes place.
These eight causes for pregnancy should particularly be noted.
——Vinaya Pāaijikakanda, Vol. I.——
Tumultuous Denunciation of Devas and Brahmās
(There is no hidden place in the world for a man who commits evil. In fact, he who does evil is the first to know his evil. Next, his guardian spirit and the guardian spirits of forests know it. Then other devas and Brahmās come to know successively. Therefore, when Sudinna copulated with his ex-wife, the terrestrial spirit living all over the entire Mahāvana saw the offence and transmitted by shouting so that higher devas and Brahmās might hear:
“Friends, the Sangha of bhikkhus (in the past) was indeed free from the thieves of immorality (dussīla)! It was indeed free from the blemishes of immorality (dussīla)! But now the Kalanda merchant’s son, Sudinna, has caused theft which is immorality (dussīla)! He has caused the blemishes of immorality (dussīla)!”
On hearing the voice of the terrestrial spirits, the celestial spirits, such as Catumahārajika devas, Tāvatiṃsa devas, Yāma devas, Tusitā devas, Nimmānarati devas, Paranimmitavasavattī devas, and Brahmās shouted in the same way successively. Thus, in a moment, the roars of condemnation spread and rose to the world of Brahmās.
When her pregnancy became mature, Sudinna’s ex-wife gave birth to a son. Then Sudinna’s friends named him, Bijaka, but not otherwise (as it was well known that the baby’s grandmother made the request saying: “Bajakaṃ pi dehi——give us then the procreative seed.”) Sudinna’s ex-wife also came to be known as Bījaka-mata, (Bījaka’s mother), and Sudinna Bījaka-pitā.(Bījaka’s father).
Seven or eight years later, the son and the mother, Bījaka and Bījaka-mata, went forth from household life and joined the monastic Order, respectively as a monk and a nun. They attained arahatship through the help of good teachers and friends.
In this way the monastic life of the son and the mother was that of benefit. The father (the Venerable Sudinna) was, however, severely tormented by grief.
(In this connection, the Commentary says: “pitā pana vippaṭisārābhibhūto-vihāsi, -- the father (Venerable Sudinna), however, lived being overcome by great sorrow”. It should therefore be assumed that for the Venerable Sudinna it was totally impossible to attain arahatship in that life (or existence).
Though it is said in the Commentary that the (former) Sudinna, the Kalanda merchant’s son, while going to listen to the discourse, was bhabba kulaputta—— ‘the clansman worthy of the Path and Fruition.’ Though he was a man endowed with merits leading to such higher attainments, a hindrance to the Path and Fruition would occur to him as in the case of King Ajātasattu and that hindrance actually occurred, as he was in great torment on account of his evil (sexual intercourse with his ex-wife), teachers say so.
(A question may arise here: “Was such hindrance possible to occur to one, who is endowed with the potentials for higher attainments, even in the lifetime of a Buddha?”
(The answer is: “Yes, it was.” But the hindrance did not derive from the Buddha. In fact, Buddhas are those who endeavour to help others attain the Path and Fruition; they constantly put efforts for the spiritual uplift of others. Therefore no hindrance can come from Them to those who are possessed of merits of the past.
(In reality, a hindrance on spiritual progress is due to (1) inadequacy of performance, and (2) association with bad friends. Of these two, (1) inadequacy of performance is of two kinds: (a) the lack of teaching effort which is conductive to the Path and Fruition on the part of the teacher, and (b) the lack of practice conductive to the Path and Fruition on the part of the student who is endowed with the merits of the past.
(Of these, (a) inadequacy of performance on the part of the teacher means that on the part of a Buddha’s Disciple only, and not on the part of Buddhas. Explanation: (In the Brāhmana Vagga of the Majjhima Paññāsa, Majjhima Nikāya, there is a discourse called Dhanañjāni Sutta. It says that while the Brahmin Dhanañjāni was dying, Thera Sāriputta taught him the doctrine of the four Brahmavihāras that could lead one to the Brahmā abode. When the Brahmin died, he was reborn on that very plane of existence. Details should be taken from the Sutta.) If Venerable Sāriputta, the General of the Dhamma, had known of the latent qualifications of the Brahmin and if the Venerable had taught him accordingly, he would have become a sotāpanna. But now the teaching was different and the Brahmin’s attainment was short of the noble status. Inadequacy of performance on the part of the teacher thus can cause the danger of failure to reach the Path and Fruition.
((b) An example of inadequacy of performance on the part of the student who has qualifications may be seen thus (in the Kandaraka Sutta, Gahapati Vagga, Majjhima Paṇṇāsa, Majjhima Nikāya. According to this Sutta, a wandering ascetic, named Kandaraka and an elephant trainer’s son, named Pessa, once went to the Buddha, who taught them on the four individuals, the first being attantapa, one who worries oneself. When the Buddha finished just an outline of the discourse, and before He could go on to deal with it in detail, Pessa, the elephant trainer’s son, departed in satisfaction. If he had listened to the discourse in detail, Pessa would have become a sotāpanna. As he left after hearing the discourse in brief, he had only two advantages: his becoming faithful to the Sangha and a new method of practising the foundations of mindfulness. Details should be taken from the translation of the Sutta.) Had he waited a little longer to hear the elaborate teaching on the four individuals, he would have reached the first stage on his way to arahatship. His impatience now caused his failure to do so. Inadequacy of performance on the part of the student with qualifications for higher attainments is a cause of his loss.
((2) Hindrance to the Path and Fruition due to association with bad friends may be understood from the following: If King Ajātasattu, an associate of Devadatta and a follower of his advice, had not killed his father, he would have become a Sotāpanna the day he listened to the Buddha’s delivery of the Samannaphala Sutta. Now that he adhered to the advice of his evil friend and wronged by murdering his father, he did not become one. Association with a wicked companion creates a hindrance to the Path and the Fruition.
(Here also it should be taken that Sudinna suffered the same loss because of his company with a bad friend. If he had not followed his parents' counsel and kept away from the sex practice with his ex-wife, there would not have occurred a sudden stop to his good prospects of attainments——the stop that was brought about by his grief. The grief was so great and tormenting that he met with failure in achieving arahatship.)
——Sārattha Dīpanī Tīka, Volume II——
Thera Sudinna’s Remorse
At that time a fit of remorse occurred to Venerable Sudinna: “I have failed to make achievements such as jhānas, etc. My gain of monkhood has been worthless! I have illgotten the Teaching! The Buddha’s dispensation has come to me not in a good manner! (Because) I have thus been incapable of practising in perfection, in purity for life, the noble practice of the threefold training after receiving ordination in the dispensation of the Dhamma and Vinaya taught so well!” So great was his remorse that he became emaciated day by day, and with poor and dry skin, his good appearance deteriorated and his complexion became pale like a withered leaf. His body had sinews that were like a cast net; his distress was hidden in him and his introverted thoughts developed gradually; tormented by his physical and mental unhappiness, he remained in pensive mood.
Then Sudinna’s friends said to him: “Though formerly you were handsome, your sensefaculties were alert, your facial colour was clear, and your complexion was especially clean, now you are emaciated day by day, and with poor and dry skin, your good appearance deteriorates and your complexion becomes pale like a withered leaf. Your body had sinews that are like a cast net; your distress is hidden in you and your introverted thoughts developed gradually: tormented by your physical and mental unhappiness, you remain in pensive mood. Why, friend Sudinna? Are you practising the noble practice of the threefold training with unhappiness in the Buddha’s dispensation?”
Venerable Sudinna replied s follows:
“Friends, I am practising the noble practice of the threefold training in the Buddha’s dispensation not with unhappiness. There is one evil deed done by me though. I have committed sexual conduct with my ex-wife, for which I feel remorseful, thinking: ‘I have failed to make achievements such as jhānas, etc.! My gain of monkhood has been worthless! I have ill-gotten the Teaching! The Buddha’s dispensation has come to me not in a good manner!’ (Because) I have thus been incapable of practising in perfection, in purity for life, the noble practice of the threefold training after receiving ordination in the dispensation of the Dhamma and the Vinaya taught so well!”
Then his friends blamed him by citing a large number of instances:
“Friend Sudinna, since you are thus incapable of practising in perfection and purity for life the noble practice of the threefold training after receiving ordination in the dispensation of the Dhamma and the Vinaya taught so well, you should be remorseful.
“Friend Sudinna, did not the Master teach us, in various ways, to separate from lust but not to combine with lust? Did not He teach us to dissociate from sensuality but not to associate with sensuality? Did not He teach us to be detached through craving and wrong view but not to be attached through craving and wrong view? Friend Sudinna, despite the Master’s teaching to separate from lust, you have striven to combine with lust. Despite the Master’s teaching to dissociate from sensuality, you have striven to associate with sensuality. Despite the Master’s teaching to be detached through craving and wrong view, you have striven to be attached through craving and wrong view.
“Friend, did not the Master teach us, in various ways, to separate from lust, to give up conceit, to remove hunger or thirst that is moral defilement, to eliminate attachment that is lingering of craving, to cut the source of suffering, to cease craving, to have no passionate desires, to stop craving and to extinguish moral defilements?
“Friend, did not the Master teach us, in various ways, the removal of sensuality? Did not He teach us the analytical knowledge of perception concerning sensuality? Did not He teach us the elimination of craving that is hunger or thirst for sensuality? Did not He teach us the cutting off of thoughts connected with sensuality? Did not He teach us the cooling of the heat that is sensuality?
“Friend, the evil deed you have done cannot cause the faithless to become faithful nor can it cause the faithful to become more faithful. In fact, friend, the evil deed of yours will make the faithless remain faithless and will lead to the destruction of the faith of the faithful.”
Then they reported the matter to the Buddha.
On account of this incident the Buddha held a meeting of the Sangha and asked the Venerable Sudinna: “Is it true, Sudinna, that you have committed sexual conduct with your ex-wife?” When he replied: “Yes, Venerable Sir,” the Buddha rebuked Sudinna in the following manner:
“You empty man (mogha purisa), who have failed to attain the Path and Fruition, achieving nothing! It (i.e. what you have now done) is not befitting a monk! It is no practice of a monk. It is improper. It should not be done! You, good for nothing! Why are you incapable of practising in perfection, in purity for life, the noble practice of the threefold training after receiving ordination in the dispensation the Dhamma and the Vinaya proclaimed so well?
“You empty man, did not I teach you, in various ways, to separate from lust, but not to combine with lust? Did not I teach to dissociate from sensuality but not to associate with sensuality? Did not I teach you to be detached through craving and wrong view but not to be attached through craving and wrong view. Though I teach you to separate from lust, you have striven to combine with lust! Though I teach you to dissociate from sensuality, you have striven to associate with sensuality! Though I teach you to be detached through craving and wrong view, you have striven to be attached through craving and wrong view.
“You empty man, did not I teach you, in various ways, to be free from lust, not to be intoxicated with conceit, to remove hunger or thirst that is defilement, to cut off attachment tinged with craving, to eliminate the roots of the round of suffering, to cease craving, to reject desires, to stop craving and to extinguish defilement.
“You empty man, did not I teach you, in various ways, the removal of sensual pleasures? Did not I teach you the analytical knowledge of perception concerning sensual pleasure? Did not I teach you the removal of craving for sensual pleasure? Did not I teach you the cutting off of thoughts concerning sensual pleasure? Did not I teach you the extinguishing of the heat of sensual pleasure?
“You empty man, it is rather better to put your male organ into the mouth of a highly poisonous, severely poisonous snake! But it is no good to put it into the female organ!
“You empty man, it is better to put your male organ into the mouth of a cobra! But it is no good to put it into the female organ!
“You empty man, it is better to put your male organ into a heap of embers with glowing and blazing flames that illuminate all around! But it is no good to put it into the female organ!
Because, empty man, by putting the male organ into the snake’s mouth or into the heap of embers, you will just come to death or you will just suffer almost dying. By putting the male organ into the snake’s mouth or into the heap of embers, you cannot go to the four woeful states of long suffering, of animals, of departed spirits and asurakāyas on destruction of your body. But by so doing with regard to the female organ, empty man, you may go to those woeful states on destruction of your body!
“You empty man, even then you have committed sexual intercourse which is not the practice of noble persons, which is the practice of villagers, which is a crude act that ends in washing, which is done only in a secluded place (because of its unseemly sight), which is done by the couple of man and woman. You empty man, you are the pioneer in the sense that you engage in unwholesomeness ahead of others!
“You empty man, what you have done now cannot cause the faithless to become faithful; nor can it cause the faithful to become more faithful. In fact, empty man, the evil deed of yours will make the faithless remain faithless and lead to the destruction of the faith of the faithful.”
Then the Buddha censured Thera Sudinna in many ways and taught the disadvantages of such unseemly things as difficult self-maintenance, difficult maintenance by others, greediness, discontent, fondness of companions, and indolence. He also taught the advantages of such seemly things as easy self-maintenance, easy maintenance by others, little want, easy content, decrease in defilement, the shaking off of defilement, assuming pleasant appearance, the destruction of defilement, and industriousness. He also gave the monks a talk appropriate to this incident and addressed them as follows:
Ten Objectives for Laying Down Disciplinary Rules
“Monks, in that case I will lay down disciplinary rules with ten objectives:
(1) for the acknowledgement of its goodness and observance by the Sangha,
(2) for the welfare of the Sangha,
(3) for suppressing those who violate morality,
(4) for the happy life of monks who cherish morality,
(5) for barring out peculiar suffering in the present life,
(6) for removing peculiar suffering that may arise in future,
(7) for causing the faithless to become faithful,
(8) for causing the faithful to become more faithful,
(9) for the perpetuation of the threefold dispensation, the three divisions of the True Law, and
(10) for the sanctification of disciplinary pales.
“Monks let it be proclaimed thus:
“A monk who commits sexual intercourse suffers loss in the dispensation (which amounts to Pārājika). There should no longer be his association with moral bhikkhus in performing various monastic acts. Let it thus be proclaimed.” In this manner did the Buddha lay down the first Pārājika rule.
Here ends the story of Sudinna the Kalandaka merchant’s son.
Footnotes and references:
Pārājika: The first category of offences, considered to be grave and irremediable; it entails the removal of the offender from the bhikkhuhood.