by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Prince Suppabuddha swallowed by The Earth 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 Fifteenth Vassa at Kapilavatthu. 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).
While staying at Nigrodhārāma, Kapilavatthu, in the country of Sakka, the Buddha delivered a discourse beginning with “Na antalikkhe na samuddamajjhe” in connection with His uncle and father-in-law Suppabuddha, a Sakyan prince.
Elaboration: The Buddha’s uncle, Prince Suppabuddha, bore a grudge against the Buddha for two reasons. He thought: “This nephew and son-in-law of mine, Prince Siddhattha, Buddha Gotama, has abandoned my daughter and renounced the world. And having ordained my son Devadatta into monkhood He treats him as an enemy.” One day, thinking: “I should not give Him a chance to have His meal,” he blocked the Buddha’s way, by having a drinking bout in the middle of the road.
At that time, when the Buddha came in a company of monks to that place, the Prince’s men informed him of the Buddha’s visit. “Men,” said the Prince bitterly, “tell Prince Siddhattha, my nephew Buddha, to take another road. He is not older than I. (Therefore) I cannot make way for him.” Despite his men’s repeated plea, the Prince said the same and kept on drinking.
Failing to get permission from his uncle, the Buddha turned back from that place. Suppabuddha then sent a spy with these words: “Go, man, take note of what my nephew has to say, and come back.”
While turning back, the Buddha smiled and Venerable Ānanda asked Him about the reason for His smile. “Dear Ānanda,” the Buddha asked in return, “Did you see My uncle Suppabuddha?”
“Yes, Exalted Buddha,” replied Venerable Ānanda. The Buddha then foretold as follows:
“Dear Ānanda, My uncle Suppabuddha, who refused to make way for Me, has done a very serious mistake. Seven days from now, he will enter the earth (he will be swallowed up by the earth) at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the upper terrace.”
Having overheard these words, the spy went back to Suppabuddha who asked: “What did my nephew, who has turned back, say?” The man told him of all he had heard. The Prince then conceived an idea: “What my nephew has said cannot go wrong. Whatever He says comes true. Despite this I will accuse Him of falsehood now. He said that I would be swallowed up by the earth on the seventh day. He said not without mentioning the place, but He did say I was to be swallowed by the earth at the foot of the stairs. From now on I shall never go to the foot of the stairs. If I do not go there, I shall not be swallowed by the earth there. On being not swallowed at the end of seven days, I shall accuse my nephew Buddha, Prince Siddhattha, of false speech.”
After getting the idea, Prince Suppabuddha had his belongings taken on to the top and the stairway removed and the doors locked; at each doorway he placed a couple of wrestlers, whom he ordered: “In case I try to descend absent minded, you must check me then.” So he remained in his cosy chamber on the seventh and top terrace of his residence.
Hearing of the matter, the Buddha said: “Monks, the word of a Buddha is never ambiguous, it is only of one meaning that is truthful no matter whether my uncle Prince Suppabuddha stays only on the terrace, or takes flight and remains in the sky, or comes down and abides in a boat in the ocean, or dwells inside a mountain. On the very spot I have mentioned (i.e. at the foot of the stairs), he will be swallowed by the earth.”
Being desirous of preaching by connecting the former speech with the latter, the Buddha uttered the following verse:
Monks, he who stands in the air cannot escape from death; nor can he who lies in the middle of the ocean; he who enters a hole or a cleft in a mountain and lives there cannot escape from death; there is no space on the ground, not even that of a hair’s breadth, that is not plagued by death.
On the seventh day, while the road leading to the palace where the Buddha would take His meal was being blocked, Suppabuddha’s state horse (kept) under the mansion got away from the ropes, with which he was tied to a post, kicking the walls around and neighing forcefully. Nobody was able to frighten or capture him. While staying up on the terrace of the mansion, Suppabuddha heard the cries of his state horse and asked what it was all about. His male servants then replied that the Prince’s charger had broken loose.
As soon as he saw the Prince, the state horse stood quietly. Then Suppabuddha could not help trying to catch the horse, he then rose from his seat and went up to the door which opened by itself. The stairways that had been removed previously stood at its original place. The wrestlers who were on guard caught hold of the Prince by the neck and (instead of getting him into the mansion) threw him down. The doors on all seven floors already became open of their own accord. The stairways were reinstated by themselves. The guards on each floor threw him down successively by catching hold of him by the neck.
After that, when he got down to the foot of the stairs leading to the ground, the great earth opened, making a roaring sound, and received Suppabuddha, the Sakyan prince. Having entered the earth, the Prince reached the Avīci niraya (hell).