The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Story of Garahadinna and Sirigutta 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 story of Māra. 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 3 - Story of Garahadinna and Sirigutta

In Sāvatthi, there were two friends: the Householder Sirigutta and Garahadinna. The former being a follower of the Buddha whereas the latter, a follower of heretical teachers.

The heretical teachers said constantly to Garahadinna:

“Should you not ask your friend Sirigutta thus: ‘Friend, why do you follow the Monk Gotama? What will you gain from the Monk Gotama?’ Should not you persuade him in such a way as to make him come over to us and offer us something?”

On hearing the words of his teachers again and again, Garahadinna went to his friend and wherever they were standing, sitting, or doing something else, he said to Sirigutta:

“Friend, what is the use of the Monk Gotama to you? What benefit will accrue to you from your devotion to the Monk Gotama? Do you not think you should serve my teachers and give them alms?”

The Householder Sirigutta said nothing and kept silent for many days. But being sick of hearing his friend’s repeated speech, he said to Garahadinna one day:

“Friend, you come to me constantly and wherever we are standing, sitting or doing something else, you ask me what benefit will accrue to me from my devotion to my Master and you also urge me to go over to your teachers and give them alms. But tell me first what things do your teachers know?”

Then Garahadinna replied to his friend Sirigutta:

“Oh! What a surprise, Sir!, Do not speak like this. As for my teachers, there is nothing is unknown. They know all about the past, the present and the future; all that is done, said and thought, i.e. physical, verbal and mental actions. They know, ‘This will happen and this will not.’ They know, ‘This should be and this should not’. They know all fully.”

Thereupon, Sirigutta asked Garahadinna in order to get his affirmation: “Friend, do you say so?” The latter boldly affirmed: “Yes, I do.” Then the former said:

“In that case, friend, you have made a grave mistake by not telling me about this for such a long time. Only today I will know the intellectual power of your teachers. Go, friend, invite your teachers in my name (for the meal) tomorrow.”

Delighted, the Householder Garahadinna went to his teachers, paid respect and said: “Masters, my friend Sirigutta has invited you to tomorrow’s meal.” The heretical teachers asked: “Did Sirigutta himself do so?” “Yes, Sirs, Sirigutta himself did,” replied Garahadinna in confirmation. Jubilant, the heretical teachers said: "Very well, Garahadinna. With the Householder Sirigutta as our devoted follower, what luxury is there that will not be ours?”

Preparations at Sirigutta’s Home

Sirigutta’s home was very large. In the compound he had a long huge ditch dug between his two houses and had the ditch filled with excrement.

On the two outward edges, tree stumps were set up and fastened with ropes. The forelegs of couches were placed on the fore-edge of the ditch and the hind-legs on the ropes. This was made with this idea: ‘When they come, they will take their seats; when they take their seats, they will fall headlong into the ditch.’

Then the couches were covered with coverings (the edges of which touching the ground) so that the ditch was hidden.

Several large pots were placed behind the house. The brims of the pots were bound with banana leaves and white pieces of cloth and the empty pots smeared on the outside with gruel, rice, butter, oil, honey, molasses and crumbs of cakes.

The next day the Householder Garahadinna went quietly to Sirigutta’s residence early in the morning and asked: “Have you prepared your offerings for the Venerable Ones?” “Yes, I have,” replied Sirigutta. “Where are the offerings?” asked Garahadinna again. Sirigutta answered, pointing to the pots: “These pots are full of gruel. These full of rice. These full of butter, molasses, cakes. The seats have also been arranged.” Saying: “Very good, friend,” Garahadinna left. On his return, came the five hundred heretical teachers to Sirigutta’s place.

Sirigutta Lesson given to The Heretical Teachers

Coming out of his house, Sirigutta paid respect with fivefold veneration to the heretical teachers. Raising his folded palms, he stood before them and communicated with them but mentally.

“It is said that you Masters know everything such as the past, etc. It has been said so by your attendant and supporter Garahadinna.

“If you really know all, please do not get into my residence There is no gruel for you who have come to my place. Nor is there rice, nor any other food.

“If you unknowingly enter my dwelling, I will have to get you dumped into the ditch of excrement and also have to get you beaten.”

Having mentally told them thus, Sirigutta signalled his workers by his facial expression that they, knowing that the teachers were about to take their seats, should remove the coverings from behind (just before the teachers sat down) so that the coverings might not be soiled with the excrement.

Then Sirigutta invited the teachers, saying; “Please come this way, Sirs.” The heretics went between the two houses and were about to take their seats when Sirigutta’s men said: “Wait a moment, Sirs. Do not sit yet.” “Why?” asked the teachers. “You should sit only knowing your manners.” “What should we do?” “Sirs, you should first stand near your seats, and you all sit down at the same time.”

(These instructions were designed to make the first teacher, who would fall into the ditch, unable to warn others not to take their seats.)

The teachers said: “Very well,” and considering that the instructions should be followed. They all (five hundred) stood near their seats in order. Then the men told them: “Please sit down all together, be quick!” When the teachers were about to sit, the men removed the coverings from the couches. As soon as the teachers sat down, the legs of the couches on the rope slipped, and they fell head-on into the ditch.

Sirigutta closed the house-doors and to every teacher who had clambered out of the ditch, he gave a good thrashing with his stick, saying: “Why do not you know the events of the past, the future and the present as claimed by your supporter Garahadinna?” After beating them to his satisfaction, he had the doors opened, saying: “This much is enough for them.”

The heretical teachers tried to run away from the house but the plastered ground along the way having been made slippery beforehand, they could not control themselves and fell to the ground. Every one of them who fell down was beaten again and sent away with the word: “This much suffices you.”

The heretical teachers went to the house of their supporter Garahadinna, crying: “Sirigutta, you have ruined and humiliated us! You have ruined and humiliated us!”

Prosecution of Sirigutta by Garahadinna

When the Householder Garahadinna saw his teachers ruined and humiliated and reduced to a disaster, he became furious and said:

“My friend Sirigutta has let me down! He had the heart to have my teachers beaten and made my teachers miserable who form the good field for sowing the seeds of good works and who can bestow all the desired benefits in the deva-world even on anyone who just stretches his hands to pay respect to them (not to speak of anyone who gives them offerings).”

Muttering thus, he went to the court of King Pasenadī Kosala and filed a suit for a fine of one hundred coins against Sirigutta.

Then King Kosala summoned Sirigutta to the court. Sirigutta came and paid respect to the King and said: “Great King, impose the fine on me only after investigating the matter. Do not do so without an inquiry.” When the King agreed, saying: “Householder I shall fine you only after investigation.” Sirigutta said: “Very well, Great King.” “Then you, Sirigutta, state your case,” asked the King.

Sirigutta reported to the King all that had happened, beginning with the following words:

“Great King, my friend Garahadinna, a follower of the heretical teachers, repeatedly asked me everywhere what was the use of following the Monk Gotama and what benefit would accrue to me from my devotion to the Monk Gotama.”

The King, looking at Garahadinna, asked: “Did you really say so?”

When the latter admitted, saying: “Yes, Great King,” the King passed the following judgment:

“Regarding your teachers, who as ‘Great Buddhas’ are so ignorant (of the creation of the dirty ditch), why did you tell Sirigutta, a follower of the Exalted One, that they knew all the events that took place in the three divisions of time——past, present and future? The fine of one hundred thousand coins for which you have sued Sirigutta must be paid by you.”

So saying, the King imposed the payment of the fine on Garahadinna. His heretical teachers who had come to the court as complainants were beaten and sent away.

Garahadinna’s Revenge

The Householder Garahadinna was angry with Sirigutta and did not speak to him for a month thence. Then he thought to himself: "For me, it is not nice not to be on speaking terms with him. Indeed, I should ruin his teachers (in revenge).” So he went to Sirigutta and broke the ice: “Friend Sirigutta!” “What is the matter, friend?” replied Sirigutta.

Then the former blamed him, saying:

“Friend, it is natural for friends and relatives to quarrel or dispute. Why did not you speak to me of anything, friend? Why are you behaving like this (in estrangement)?”

Sirigutta replied calmly: “Friend I did not speak to you because you did not speak to me. (There is no other reason.)” Garahadinna said to make peace: “Friend, let bygones be bygones. Let us not destroy our mutual friendship.” From that time, they became reconciled and moved about together.

One day, Sirigutta said to his friend: (the way the latter had done before): “Friend, what is the use of your teachers for you? What benefit will accrue to you from your devotion to your teacher? Do not you think you should serve my teacher, the Exalted One, and give alms to the Venerable Ones?” Garahadinna had been longing always for that kind of speech, and it was like scratching an itchy part of his body with a finger nail.

So he asked his friend: “Friend Sirigutta, what does your teacher, the Monk Gotama know?”

Then Sirigutta said:

“Friend, do not speak like that. There is nothing that is not known to our teacher, the Exalted One. He knows all the things of the past, etc., He comprehends clearly the analysis of the sixteen aspects of a living being’s mental process.”

Then Garahadinna said: “Friend, I did not know it earlier. Why have you kept silent about it for such a long time? In that case, friend, you go and invite your teacher, the Exalted One, for the meal at my place tomorrow. I would like to feed. Please tell him to accept with five hundred monks the food I am going to offer.”

So Sirigutta approached the Buddha and said:

“Glorious Buddha! My friend Garahadinna has asked me to invite you. He said you should accept, together with five hundred monks, his food-offering tomorrow There is, however, one thing: one day in the past I did something unpleasant to his heretical teachers; I do not know whether he wants to take vengeance for what I have done to him or he wants to offer you food with a pure heart. Please reflect upon his invitation and accept it if he is sincere. If not please do not.”

When the Buddha reflected on what ulterior motive Garahadinna had, He foresaw that the householder had a large ditch dug between his two houses, had it filled with eighty cartloads of firewood of cutch, burnt them in order to let the Buddha and his monks fall into the ditch of embers.

Again when the Buddha contemplated: “Will my visit to his place be beneficial or not,” he clearly had vision as follows:

He would stretch his leg into the ditch of fire. At that moment the rough mat covering the ditch would vanish. A large lotus flower, having the size of a chariot wheel or a cart wheel, would appear out of the ditch. He would step onto the centre of the flower and sit there. Likewise His five hundred monks would step on to the lotus flowers and take their seats respectively. People would assemble. With two verses, the Buddha would give a talk of blessing. By the end of the talk, eightyfour thousand beings would realize the Four Truths and gain liberation. The two friends, Sirigutta and Garahadinna, would become sotāpanna ariyas. Inspired with faith, both of them would give away their properties in honour of the Buddha’s dispensation of eight wonders.

So the Buddha decided to go for the sake of Garahadinna. Having had the vision clearly, the Buddha accepted the invitation by keeping silent. Sirigutta went to Garahadinna’s place and told him of the Buddha’s acceptance. Saying: “Dear friend, with gladness do honour to the Buddha, the Chief of the three worlds,” Sirigutta went home.

Preparations at Garahadinna’s Residence

Thinking: “Now is the time to do what should be done to Sirigutta,” Garahadinna had a large ditch dug between his two houses, had eighty cart loads of cutch firewood brought there, filled the ditch with the firewood, burnt them to create embers of cutch wood and had them kept glowing the whole night. Over the ditch he had placed wooden planks covered with rough mats that were smeared with cow dung.

He also had the path made by placing fragile sticks on one side so that when monks tread and broke them, they would fall into the ditch of fire.

At the back of his residence, he placed large pots the way Sirigutta did. The seats were also arranged in the same way.

Early in the morning Sirigutta went to Garahadinna’s residence and asked: “Friend, have you made your offerings ready?” “Yes, I have,” answered Garahadinna. “Where are those offerings?” “Come, let us go and see,” said Garahadinna and showed Sirigutta the way the latter had done before. “Excellent, friend!” said Sirigutta delightedly.

People had assembled. There usually was a large gathering of people whenever the Buddha was invited by a man of heretical views. Other heretics also came together, thinking and saying: “We are going to witness with our own eyes the downfall of the Monk Gotama.” Those who possessed right beliefs also attended the assembly, hoping that “the Exalted One would deliver a great sermon today. We will have a chance to see the might and glory of the Exalted One.”

Emergence of Big Lotus Flowers out of The Fire

The next day the Buddha went with five hundred monks to the gate of Garahadinna’s residence.

The householder came out and did obeisance with the fivefold prostration; standing and raising his joined hands, he said mentally (not by word of mouth):

“Venerable Sirs, it is said that You know the past and all, that You comprehend the analysis of the sixteen aspects of a living being’s mental process. That is what your devotee Sirigutta told me. If that were true, do not enter my house. There is really no gruel, no food, nothing for you. In fact, I am going to harm you by making you all fall into the ditch of fire.”

Expressing his intention mentally thus he took the alms bowl from the Buddha’s hand. After saying: “Please come this way,” he added: “Venerable Sir, you visitors to my place should have come here knowing etiquette.” When the Buddha asked: “What should we do?” Garahadinna said: “You should, Sirs, enter the house one by one and it is only after the preceding one has sat down that the next one should follow.” [This suggestion was made because if all went together other monks would see the one, who went ahead of them falling into the ditch. Seeing his fall nobody else would proceed. (Therefore) his idea was to destroy them by letting one after another fall into the fire.] Saying: “Very well, donor,” the Buddha walked off alone. When Garahadinna came to the fire ditch, he stepped back and told the Buddha to go ahead. As soon as the Buddha stretched His leg over the ditch, the rough mats disappeared. Out of the fire emerged large lotus flowers each having the size of a chariot wheel or a cart wheel. The Buddha walked, stepping on to the centre of each lotus flower, and sat on the Buddha’s seat placed there. The five hundred monks, too, walked on the centre of one flower to that of another and took their respective seats.

Garahadinna’s Great Distress

On seeing the extraordinary, unprecedented phenomenon, Garahadinna’s body emitted heat and vapour, like those from a hot pan of oil. He hurried to his friend Sirigutta and appealed, saying: “Friend Sirigutta, please be my refuge.” “Why did you say so, friend?” asked Sirigutta. Garahadinna replied: “There was no gruel, no food, nothing, in my home for five hundred monks.

What shall I do?” Sirigutta asked him bluntly: “What have you done, friend?” Garahadinna disclosed:

“Friend, (to speak frankly) I had a large fire ditch made between the two houses, my intention being to subdue the Buddha and his five hundred monks by sending them into the ditch. Yet, there emerged large lotus flowers out of the ditch. The Buddha and all the monks walked on the flowers and are sitting on the seats. What am I to do now?”

When he made his confession and asked for help, Sirigutta argued, saying: “But have you not personally shown me, saying: ‘These many are large pots. This much is gruel, This much is rice, etc.?’ ” “Friend Sirigutta, what I have told you is utter false. The pots are empty, containing no gruel, no rice, nothing,” Garahadinna confessed further. Then Sirigutta said (as he had unwavering faith in the Buddha’s power and glory): “Be that as it may, friend. You only go home and see the gruel and other foods in your pots.”

Unimaginability of The Buddha’s Capacity

No sooner had Sirigutta said so, than the pots which were falsely claimed by Garahadinna to be full of gruel became full of gruel, the pots which were falsely claimed by him to be full of rice became full of rice and the same happened to the other pots. When he went home and was confronted with all the miraculous happenings, his whole body was filled with joy. His mind also became serene.

After serving respectfully the Buddha and His monks with food, Garahadinna wanted the Buddha to give a sermon in appreciation of the offerings so he took the alms-bowl from the Buddha who had finished His meal. Desirous of giving such a sermon, the Buddha said: “Because these beings have no eye of wisdom, they are ignorant of the attributes of My disciples and the attributes of My dispensation. Those who possess no eye of wisdom are known to be blind and those who possess it are known to have have eye-sight.”

Then He spoke the following two verses:

(1) Yatthā saṅkāra-dhānasmiṇ, ujjhitasmiṃ Mahāpathe
Padumaṃ, tattha jāyetha, sucigandhaṃ manoramaṃ

(2) Evaṃ saṅkārabhūtesu, andhabhūte puthujjane
Atirocati Paññāya sammāsmbuddha-sāvako

(1) Just as a lotus flower of a hundred petals, pure, flagrant and delightful to every beholder, originates and arises wonderfully in the garbage dump on the public road.

(2) Even so among those who should be discarded like garbage, the Buddha’s Disciple, a good and glorious person who has destroyed all his defilements, glows with splendour, surpassing by his wisdom all the worldlings who are like the blind as they lack wisdom.

By the end of the sermon, eighty-four thousand people realized the Four Truths and won liberation. The two friends, Garahadinna and Sirigutta attained sotāpatti-phala. Inspired by faith, both of them dedicated all their wealth to the cause of the Buddha’s dispensation that was of eight wonders.

Relation of Khadirangara Jātaka

After giving an appreciative talk, the Buddha rose and returned to the monastery.

At the assembly in the evening, the monks extolled the Master, saying:

“Wonderful indeed, friends, is the power of the Exalted One. A series of lotus flowers, each having the size of a chariot wheel or a cart wheel, arose out of the horrible cutch embers.”

The Buddha came to the assembly and asked: “Monks what are you talking about?” “We are talking about this sort of subject (with reference to your power),” answered the monks.

Then the Buddha said:

“Monks, it is no wonder that out of the heap of embers arose lotus-flowers for me to walk on, for I have become Perfectly Self-Enlightened, Chief of the three worlds, Omniscient. The lotus flowers emerged on one occasion in the past, when as a Bodhisatta, I was intellectually immature.” Then at the request of the monks, the Buddha related in detail the Khadiraṅga Jātaka (of the Kulavaka Vagga of the Ekaka Nipāta).

(The Jātaka is to be found in the Buddha’s Birth Stories. There the story is told in connection with the alms-giving of Anāthapiṇḍika. It is repeated with reference to Garahadinna.)

(The Garahadinna story here is reproduced from the same story contained in the Puppha Vagga of the Dhammapada Commentary.)

End of the story of Garahadinna.

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