The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Delivery of The Suciloma Sutta contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the Buddha’s Fourteenth Vassa at Savatthi. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Part 6 - Delivery of The Suciloma Sutta

(The Suciloma Sutta is contained in the Sutta Nipāṭa and the Sagāthā Vagga of the Saṃyutta Nikāya. Here, in this Chronicle, the Sutta will be reproduced according to the Commentary.)

One day when the Buddha emerged from the mahā-karuṇā-samāpatti immediately before dawn and surveyed the world of sentient beings with His Buddha-Eye (consisting in the asayanusaya-ñāṇa and indriya-paropariyatti-ñāṇa), He saw the past acts of merit belonging to the two ogre friends, namely, Suciloma and Kharaloma, that would bring about their attainment of sotāpatti fruition. Hence, He took his bowl and robe and set out, even at dawn, and sat on the lithic couch called Ṭaṃkita at the mansion of Suciloma near the village of Gayā.

(Ṭaṃkita lithic couch was a stone slab placed on four stones; it served as a seat).

At that time, the two ogre friends went out in search of food, wandering about the place somewhat near the Buddha.

Story of Kharaloma, The Ogre

Of the two ogres, one in his past life happened to have smeared his body with the oil belonging to the Sangha without seeking its permission. For that unwholesome act, he suffered in hell and was reborn in an ogre family near the bank of the lake at Gayā. As a result of his wrong doing, his limbs were big and small and were frighteningly distorted. His skin was like a tiled roof (with his tile-skin resembling scales of a fish) and terribly rough to touch.

When he frightened others, he had his skin (or scales) bloated. As he had a rough body surface, he was called Khara the ogre.

Story of Suciloma, The Ogre

The other ogre was a supporting lay devotee during the lifetime of the Buddha Kassapa. He used to go to the monastery and listened to the sermon on every sermon-day, eight days a month. One day, when the invitation for attendance to the sermon was being announced, he heard it from his farm where he was cleaning it. Without taking a bath lest it should take time, he entered the uposatha hall with his dirty body and lay on a very costly rug on the ground, showing no care for it.

Because of this and other acts, he suffered in niraya and became a member of an ogre family near the lake at Gayā. As a subsequent result of his bad deeds, he had a terribly ugly look. His body hair was sharp-pointed and pricking like needles. When he frightened other beings, he did so as though he were piercing them with needles. Because he had needle-like hair, he was given the name Suciloma.

Getting out of their abode to look for food, the two ogre friends walked for some time and returned by the same way. While visiting another place, they happened to reach a place that was somewhere close to the Buddha.

Then Kharaloma said to Suciloma what he honestly thought: “That man is a monk!” Suciloma replied: “That man is not a true monk; he is only a false one. I will investigate to know for certain whether he is a true monk or not.”

(Herein on seeing the appearance of a monk, Kharaloma honestly said: “That man is a monk!” Suciloma was of opinion that “if the man fears, he is not a true monk; he is only a false one,” and wrongly thinking that the Buddha would be frightened, he hastily said: “That man is not a true monk; he is only a false one.” Then he became desirous of making an investigation. Hence he added: “I will investigate to know for certain whether he is a true monk or not.”)

Thereafter Suciloma went up to the Buddha and bent his big ugly, bristled body towards the Buddha. The Buddha suddenly moved His body to the other side. This prompted Suciloma to ask: “Are you frightened by me, Monk?” “Dear ogre,” answered the Buddha, “I am not frightened by you. Your body contact is indeed rough and vile (though)!”

Seeing the Buddha without the slightest trace of fear, Suciloma thought: “Despite His experience of my body-touch that was so rough, this man, though a real human, is not afraid. Now I shall present to Him some problems worthy of an Omniscient Buddha’s sphere of wisdom (Buddha-visaya). He will not be able to tackle them fully. Then I shall torment Him in such and such a way.” So he said rudely: “Monk, I shall ask You some questions. If You cannot give me a thorough answer, I shall make You mad. Or, I shall burst open Your heart. Or, I shall throw You to the other bank of the river by catching hold of Your legs.”

Then the Buddha with his face gladdened by his great compassion said: “Friend ogre, the celestial world with devas, māras and Brahmās, and the terrestrial world with monks, brahmins and princes, in either of these two worlds, I see none who is able to make Me mad, or to burst open My heart, or to throw Me to the other bank of the river by catching hold of My two legs. Be that as it may, friend ogre, ask Me whatever questions you want. I shall answer your questions without leaving anything.”

When the Buddha invited the ogre’s questions the way an Omniscient Buddha would, Suciloma put his question thus in verse:

Rāgo ca doso ca kutonidānā
aratī ratī lomahāmso kutojā
Kuto samuṭṭhāya mano vitakkā
kumrakā dhaṅkam ivossajanti

(Monk!) Where do lust and hate have their source? Displeasure in the wholesome things of a quiet forest monastery, pleasure in the five sense objects, and goose flesh (cittutrāsa dhamma—— sign of a terrified mind), from what do these (three kinds of emotion) arise? As village children throw up a crow for fun (after tying its feet with a rope), from what do the ninefold thought appear and overthrow the wholesome consciousness?

Then the Buddha gave his answer and preached to Suciloma ogre by the following verses:

1) Rāgo ca doso ca itonidānā
aratī ratī lomahāṃso itojā.
Ito samutthāya mano vitakkā
kumārakā dhaṅkam iv'ossajanti

(Dear ogre!) Lust and hate have their source in this body. (These three kinds of emotion, namely,) displeasure in the wholesome things of a quiet forest monastery, pleasure in the five sense objects, and goose flesh arise from this body. As village children throw up a crow for fun (after tying its feet with a rope), so the ninefold thought appear from this very body and overthrow the wholesome consciousness.

2) Snehajā attasambhutā
nigrodhass'eva khandhajā.
Puthū visattā kāmesu
māluvā va vitatā vane

(Friend ogre!) As shoots of a banyan tree appear on its trunk, so do lust, hate and the like caused by the sap of craving appear on this very body. As creepers in the forest wrap up the tree that they cling around, so innumerable moral defilements attach themselves in a strange manner to the sense objects and pleasures.

3) Ye naṃ pajānanti yato nidānaṃ
te naṃ vinodeni suṇohi yakkha.
Te duttaram ogham imaṃ taranti
atinnapubbaṃ apunabbhavāya

Listen, friend ogre! Certain persons know thoroughly that the physical frame, which is the embodiment of the five aggregates, and which forms the Truth of suffering, has its source in craving and greed, which form the Truth of the cause [of suffering]; they drive away that craving and greed, the Truth of the cause of suffering, by means of the Truth of the Eightfold Path [leading to the cessation of suffering]. These Noble Ones, who have thus driven away craving and greed, the cause of suffering, cross over this fourfold torrential flood of moral defilements, the flood which is difficult to overcome, which has not been crossed over in the past existences in saṃsāra, even not in a dream, for the non-arising of rebirth, i.e. the Truth of the Cessation [of Suffering].

When the two ogre friends had thus heard these Dhamma-verses, both of them attained sotāpatti-phala as the verses came to an end.

As soon as the two friends become noble sotāpanna, their original ugliness and bad looks disappeared. With bright golden complexion and bedecked in deva ornaments, they assumed an appearance, that was pleasant to beholders.

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