The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Buddha’s Thirteenth Vassa on Calika Hill 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).

Chapter 32a - The Buddha’s Thirteenth Vassa on Cālika Hill

After staying at the Jetavana monastery in Sāvatthi during the period after the twelfth vassa and converting and exhorting such beings as devas, humans and Brahmās through the Mahā-Rāhulovāda Sutta and other Discourses, the Buddha arrived eventually at the town of Cālika. Having arrived there, He took up residence at the monastery on the hill, named Cālika, observing the thirteenth vassa.

(Herein there was moving marshy soil all around the town except in the area of the town-gate. As the marshland was unsteady, the town in the middle of that land gave the impression of being shaky to those who viewed it from afar; therefore, the town was called Cālika.

(There stood a hill near the town. As the entire hill was white, it too looked shaky to those who saw it during the uposatha days of the dark fortnight. Hence its name also was Cālika.

(On the top of the hill was a big monastery built for the Buddha by His male and female donors. The Buddha spent the thirteenth vassa at the Cālika monastery on the Cālika Hill.)

The Buddha’s Discourse given to His Temporary Attendant Venerable Meghiya

While the Buddha was thus observing the thirteenth vassa at the big monastery on the Cālika Hill, Meghiya was the temporary attendant fulfilling his major and minor duties to the Buddha.

Explanation: The Buddha had no permanent attendant (upaṭṭhāka) during the first twenty vassa called the First Enlightenment (Pathama Bodhi). Sometimes Venerable Nāgasamāla, sometimes Venerable Nāgita, sometimes Venerable Upavāna, sometimes the monk Sunakkhatta, a former Licchavi prince, sometimes Venerable Cunda (younger brother of the Venerable Sāriputta), sometimes Venerable Sāgata, and sometimes Venerable Meghiya waited upon the Buddha. During the Buddha’s thirteenth vassa at the big monastery on the Cālika Hill it was the Venerable Meghiya who was serving the Buddha temporarily.

Then one day, Venerable Meghiya approached the Buddha, and fell at his feet in veneration. Then while standing, he said: “Exalted Buddha, I would like to enter the village of Jantu on alms-round.” “Meghiya,” replied the Buddha, “now you know the time for your going” i.e., “You may go as you wish.”

So the Venerable Meghiya entered the village of Jantu on alms-round and after finishing his meal, he left Jantu for the bank of the river Kimikāḷā, where he took a leisure walk to and fro. While he was doing so, he saw a mango grove appealing with its trees standing not very far from one another in green foliage, pleasant with its dark shade and excellent landscape, and delightful as it amused the hearts of those who happened to enter it.

Seeing thus, the following thought arose:

“This mango grove is appealing, pleasant and delightful. It is a proper place for those clansmen who are desirous of practising meditation. If the Exalted Buddha were to permit me, I should come back here for meditation practice.”

(That mange grove was the place where he, as a monarch, had enjoyed kingly pleasures when he was reborn in his five hundred former existences successively. That was why the desire to stay there arose in him as soon as he saw the grove.)

Then Venerable Meghiya returned to the Buddha and paid homage to Him. While sitting, he reported the matter in detail, beginning from his entry into the village for alms-food to the occurrence of his idea to revisit the mango grove for meditation practice. He added his request: “Exalted Buddha, provided you give me permission, I would like to go back to the mango grove to meditate there.”

Being requested thus, the Buddha replied only to prohibit his going there: “Wait, dear Meghiya! At the moment, I am alone, so wait till someone else comes!”

(Herein as requested by Meghiya, the Buddha pondered and came to know that “This Meghiya’s intelligence has not attained maturity yet.” That was the reason for His prohibition. He said: “At the moment I am alone,” because He thought: “If I tell him thus, and if his meditation ends in failure in the mango grove, he will come back entirely without embarrassment, but with love for me.” The Buddha said so in order to soften his mind.)

For the second time Meghiya made the request. “Exalted Buddha, as you have accomplished the sixteenfold task of the Path, you have nothing else to accomplish, nor have you to develop what has been accomplished. As for me, Exalted Buddha, I have to accomplish (the sixteenfold task of the Path) seriously. Also, I have yet to develop further what has been accomplished. If the Exalted Buddha give me permission, I would like to go to the mango grove to meditate there.” For the second time too the Buddha rejected Meghiya’s request saying (as before): “Wait, dear Meghiya! At the moment I am alone: so wait till someone else comes!”

For the third time Meghiya made the request. This time the Buddha did not bar him but said: “Dear Meghiya, how can we Buddhas prevent somebody who is asking for meditation? Dear Meghiya, do as you think fit.”

Then the Venerable Meghiya rose from his seat, made obeisance to the Buddha and went to the mango grove. Having entered the grove, he sat at the foot of a tree to spent the day.

Arising of Unwholesome Thoughts in Venerable Meghiya

The stone slab at the foot of the tree where Meghiya was then sitting was the same one he had used as a seat, happily surrounded by various dancers, when he was a ruler in his five hundred successive existences in the past.

The moment he sat, it appeared as though his monkhood had slipped away. He felt (as in a dream) that he had assumed kingship, being accompanied by dancers and sitting under a white umbrella and on the throne worthy of noble personages.

Then with his attachment to royal luxuries, there gradually arose in him unwholesome thoughts of sensuality (kāma-vitakka) connected with sensual objects (vatthu-kāma). At that moment, he saw (as in a dream) two thieves who had been caught red-handed were brought and placed before him. Thoughts of malice (vyāpāda-vitakka) gradually occurred to him as though he were to pass a sentence to execute one of the thieves. Thoughts of violence (vihiṃsā-vitakka) gradually took place in him as though he were to pass a sentence to imprison the other one.

In this way the three kinds of unwholesome thoughts, namely, the sensual thoughts, the malicious thoughts and the violent thoughts, besieged Meghiya, giving him no chance to escape, as a tree overwhelmingly entangled by creepers or as a honey-gathering man overpoweringly stung by bees.

Then Venerable Meghiya reflected: “Oh, how strange it is! Oh, how unusual it is! We are the ones who have renounced the world and joined the Order through faith (saddhā), yet we are overcome by the three wicked, unwholesome thoughts of sensuality, malice and violence!”

As the Venerable Meghiya was seized by the three unwholesome thoughts from all sides, he was not able to do what was proper to meditation: “Certainly, it was only after foreseeing this that the farsighted Exalted One had prohibited me,” he remembered, and thinking: “I must report this to the Master,” he rose from his seat and went to the Cālika Hill where the Buddha was.

Having paid his respect, he sat at a proper place and related what had happened to him:

“Exalted Buddha, the three wicked unwholesome thoughts of sensuality, malice, and violence had repeatedly arose in me as I was staying in that mango grove. (As these thoughts repeatedly arose in me) I reflected: ‘Oh, how strange it is! Oh, how unusual it is! We are the ones who have renounced the world and joined the Order through faith (saddhā), yet we are overcome by the three wicked, unwholesome thoughts of sensuality, ill will anti violence!”

(Herein it may be asked: “Why did the Buddha permit the Venerable Meghiya to go to the mango grove?” Because the Buddha knew Meghiya would go there even without His permission, leaving Him alone anyway. If he were prevented, he would think wrongly and misunderstand, saying to himself: “The Buddha does not permit me because He desires just one thing which is my service.” The Buddha was also aware thus: “If Meghiya had this misunderstanding, it would have been lasting loss and long suffering to him.” Hence the Buddha’s permission.)

When the Venerable Meghiya had finished relating what had happened to Him, he sat down, and while he was sitting down, the Buddha, being desirous of giving him an appropriate Dhamma-talk, uttered (according to the Text): “Aparipakkāya Meghiya ceto vimuttiyā pañca dhamma paripakkāya saṃvattanti——Meghiya, there are five factors that would lead the mind’s liberation from defilements to maturity,” and so on. (The full text of the Dhamma-talk may be read in the Udāna.

Here in this Chronicle, however, only a gist of it will be given.)

“Dear Meghiya, the (following) five factors are to make immature mental liberation mature. These five are:

(1) association with good friends,
(2) having morality,
(3) listening to and reflection on the ten kinds of speech:

(a) speech connected with less desire,
(b) speech connected with contentment, (c) speech connected with quietude,
(d) speech connected with aloofness,
(e) speech connected with energy,
(f) speech connected with morality,
(g) speech connected with concentration,
(h) speech connected with wisdom,
(i) speech connected with the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna and
(j) speech connected with reflective knowledge,

(4) having developed energy,
(5) having wisdom as to the arising and falling nature of things.

“Only when one is associated with a good friend, which forms the first factor, can one acquire the remaining four.

“Dear Meghiya, having established himself in the said five Factors, a yogāvacara (an earnest practising) bhikkhu must go to the next stage for developing four things: (a) he must develop notions of loathsomeness of things (asubha) to eradicate lust (rāga), (b) he must develop mindfulness of breathing in and out (ānāpānassati) to eradicate distracting thoughts (vitukka), and (c) he must develop perception of impermanence (anicca-saññā) to eradicate egoistic conceit (māna). True, Meghiya, to the perceptionist of impermanence, perception of non-self (anatta-aññā) manifests, the perceptionist of non-self can shed his egoistic conceit and realize Nibbāna even in the present life.”

Knowing this the Buddha breathed forth the following two verses of solemn utterances:

1) Khuddā vitakkā sukhumā vittakkā
anugatā manaso uppilāvā:
Ete avidvā manaso vitakke
hurā huraṃ dhāvati bhantacitto

Inferior thoughts and subtle thoughts follow the mind and make it frisky. He who does not understand these thoughts is not stable mentally and runs from one sense object to another.

2) Ete ca vidvā manso vitakke
ātāpiyo saṃvarati satimā.
Anugate manaso uppitāve
asesam ete pajahāsi Buddho

Understanding these thoughts, the Noble Disciple (Sutabuddhu), endowed with energy that can burn up mental defilements and with mindfulness, is able to block the thoughts that follow the mind and make it frisky. The Noble Disciple, who understands the four truths, is able to abandon the thoughts of sensuality and others, completely.

(The exposition of the Dhammapada Commentary is as follows:)

To the Venerable Meghiya, who had returned to the Buddha as he was entangled by the three wicked and unwholesome thoughts and could not meditate in that mango grove, the Buddha said:

“You have done something seriously wrong, for you left me alone although I begged you saying, ‘Wait, dear Meghiya! At the moment I am alone; so wait till someone else comes!’ A bhikkhu should not yield to the desire of the mind. The mind is light and quick. One should try only to keep it under one’s control.”

Then the Buddha uttered the following two verses:

Phandānaṃ capalaṃ cittaṃ, dūrakkhaṃ dunnivārayaṃ.
Ujum karoti medhāvī, usukāro'va tejanaṃ

(Dear Meghiya,) just as a proud brave fletcher makes the curve arrow straight to his satisfaction by scorching it, (even so) a man with penetrative knowledge can make the mind upright by scorching it by means of energy, both physical and mental. The mind which is excitable by the six sense objects, such as form (rūpa), sound (sadda), etc., which is not stable but fickle in a single sense object, which cannot be fixed on a proper sense object and is thus difficult to control, which can hardly be prevented from wandering about improper sense objects.

Vārtjo'va thale khitto, okamokata ubbhato,
Pariphundi'daṃ cittaṃ, māradheyyaṃ pahātave

(Dear Meghiya,) just as the fish born in water, when taken out of its water abode and thrown on land, restlessly jumps about, (even so) the mind in pursuit of enjoyment in the five sense objects, (when taken out from the vast water expanse of sensual pleasure and kept on the land of Vipassanā meditation) in order to abandon the evil defilement within oneself in the manner of samuccheda-pahāna (relinquishing through extermination), restlessly hops about almost to death as it is away from the five water-like sense objects and heated by the four kinds of energy in the from of strenuous meditation.

At the end of these Dhamma-verses, the Venerable Meghiya was established in the Fruition of Sotāpatti. Many other persons also became sotāpanna or nobler ones.

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