The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Story of Pukkusa, the Malla Prince 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 Declared the Seven Factors of Non-Decline for Rulers. 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 the Buddha was sitting at the foot of the tree after having a drink of water, Pukkusa, a Malla prince, who was a disciple of Āḷāra Kālāma, was on his journey from Kusināra to Pāvā. Seeing the Buddha sitting at the foot of a tree, Pukkusa of the Mallas approached Him, made obeisance to Him, and sat in a suitable place.

Then he addressed the Buddha:

“Wonderful it is, Venerable Sir, marvellous it is, Venerable Sir, how the recluses remain in their tranquil state!”

“Venerable Sir, as it happened in the past, Āḷāra Kālāma, while on a journey, left the road and sat down at the foot of a tree by the roadside to spend the day. At that time, five hundred carts passed by, very close to him.

“Venerable Sir, a man who was following behind the five hundred carts went towards Āḷāra Kālāma and asked: ‘Sir, did you see five hundred carts pass by?’

(Āḷāra:) ‘Friend, I did not see them.’

‘Sir, how is it then? Did you hear the noise of those carts?’

‘Friend, I did not hear the noise, either.’

‘Sir, how is it then? Were you asleep then?’

‘Friend, I was not asleep, either.’

‘Sir, how is it then? Were you quite conscious then?’

‘Yes, friend, I was quite conscious.’

‘Sir, you say you did not see nor hear the five hundred carts that passed very close by you even though you were conscious and awake. Yet your double-layered robe is covered all over with dust, isn't it?’

‘It is so, friend.’

“Venerable Sir, after having that dialogue with Āḷāra Kālāma, that man thought thus: ‘Wonderful it is, marvellous it is, that the recluses remain in their tranquil state! This recluse Āḷāra, although conscious and awake, did not see nor hear the five hundred carts that passed close by him!’ And saying how deeply he revered Āḷāra Kālāma, he went away.”

Thereupon the Buddha said to Pukkusa of the Mallas:

“Pukkusa, what do you think of this? (i) Someone, though conscious and awake, does not see nor hear the five hundred-carts that pass close by him. (ii) Another person, though conscious and awake, does not see nor hear downpour of rain with rumbling thunder, lightning and crashing thunderbolts (close by him). Now, of these two cases, which is the more difficult to achieve? Which is the more difficult to happen?”

“Venerable Sir,” replied Pukkusa, “To remain unseeing and unhearing the passing of carts close by oneself, be it five hundred, six hundred, seven hundred, eight hundred, nine hundred, a thousand, or even a hundred thousand carts, cannot be called difficult (compared to the other case). Indeed, it is much more difficult to remain unseeing and unhearing the downpour of rain with rumbling thunder, lightning and crashing thunderbolts (close by). It is more difficult to happen.” Then the Buddha said:

“Pukkusa, at one time, I was living in a straw hut at the town of Āluma. During that time, there was a downpour of rain with rumbling thunder, lightning and crushing of thunderbolts. A thunderbolt struck near My hut killing four oxen and two cultivators who were brothers.

“Then, Pukkusa, a large number of people came out from the town to see the place where the four oxen and two cultivator brothers were killed. By that time, I had come out of the straw hut and was walking up and down in the open near the hut. A man from that crowd drew near Me, and after making obeisance to Me, stood at a suitable place.

I asked that man: ‘Friend, why are there many people gathered?’

‘Venerable Sir, four oxen and two cultivator brothers were struck by a thunderbolt and killed while it rained heavily with rumbling thunder and lightning. These people have come to see (the damage). But, Venerable Sir, where were You (at that time)?

‘Friend, I have been here all the while.’

‘Venerable Sir, how is it, then? Did you see (what happened)?’

‘Friend, I did not see it.’

‘Venerable Sir, how is it then? Did you here that sound?’

‘Friend, I did not hear the sound, either.’

‘Venerable Sir, how is it then? Were you asleep?’

‘Friend, I was not asleep, either.’

‘Venerable Sir, how is it then? Were you conscious?’

‘Yes, friend, I was conscious.’

‘Venerable Sir, is it that, though conscious and awake, you neither saw nor heard the heavy rain, rumbling thunder and lightning, crashing thunderbolts?’

‘That is so, friend.’

“Pukkusa, at the end of the dialogue, the man thought: ‘Wonderful it is, marvellous it is that recluses (bhikkhus in this case) remain in their tranquil state! The Bhagavā here, though conscious and awake, did not see nor hear the heavy rain, rumbling thunder and lightning, and crashing thunderbolts? And saying how deeply he revered Me, he made obeisance to Me and went away.”

Pukkusa of The Mallas makes A Special Gift to The Buddha

After the Buddha had said these words, Pukkusa of the Mallas said to Him:

“Venerable Sir, whatever high esteem, I had for Āḷāra Kālāma, I now throw it away (as if I would throw away rubbish), in a strong wind, or let go (as if I would cast some worthless thing) down the rushing stream.

“Venerable Sir, excellent (is the Dhamma)! Venerable Sir, excellent (is the Dhamma)! It is as if, Venerable Sir, that which has been turned over has been turned up, or as if that which has been hidden is revealed, or as if a lost traveller is told the way, or as if a lamp is lit in a dark place so that those with eyes may see visible objects, even so the Bhagavā has shown the Dhamma to me in various ways. Venerable Sir, I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, I take refuge in the Sangha! May the Bhagavā regard me as a lay disciple, one who has taken refuge in the Triple Gem, from this day to the end of life.”

Then Pukkusa called a man and said to him: “O man, go and bring me the pair of fine golden-hued pieces of cloth that is specially reserved for ceremonial occasions.” And when the pair of lengths of fine golden-hued cloth were brought, Pukkasa, the Malla prince, offered them to the Buddha, saying: “Venerable Sir, may the Bhagavā, out of compassion for me, accept this pair of fine ceremonial lengths of cloth.”

The Buddha said: “In that case, Pukkasa, present one to me and one to Ānanda.” And so Pukkusa presented one piece to the Buddha, and the other piece to Venerable Ānanda.

(In this connection, one might ask: “Did Venerable Ānanda accept Pukkasa’s gift?” And the answer is, Yes. Then the inquirer might point out to the previous agreement by Ānanda not to receive offerings originally made to the Buddha, (agreement to receive only four kinds of gifts and to refuse four kinds of gifts) made by him when he became the personal attendant to the Buddha. The gift was accepted in this case as an exception on these three reasons:

i) Ānanda had, by this time, fulfilled his task as the Buddha’s personal attendant supremely well.

ii) This fact of his receiving the gift would stop others who might otherwise say that Ānanda had not served the Buddha well. So the Buddha did not favour him with any gift after twenty-five years of personal service.

iii) Ānanda understood that the Buddha let Pukkusa enjoy the benefit of making the gift to the Sangha, for giving to Ānanda amounted to giving to the Sangha. The Buddha also knew that Ānanda would not use the cloth himself but, instead, would present it to Him.)

Then the Buddha pointed out to Pukkusa, the benefits of the Doctrine, exhorted to him to set himself up in the practice of the Dhamma, and gladdened him in the practice. After thus being pointed out the benefits of the Dhamma, being exhorted to set himself up in the practice of the Dhamma, and being gladdened in the practice, Pukkusa rose from his seat and after making obeisance to the Buddha, departed respectfully.

Not long after Pukkusa was gone, Venerable Ānanda placed neatly the pair of fine golden-hued robes on the body of the Buddha. Once they were placed on the person of the Buddha, the pair of robes appeared to lose their splendour, as against the natural splendour of the Buddha’s person. Venerable Ānanda was awestruck. He exclaimed what he saw.

Thereupon the Buddha explained to him thus:

“Ānanda, what you say is true. Ānanda, what you say is true. There are two occasions when the natural colour of the Tathāgata’s becomes exceedingly clear and His complexion exceedingly bright. These two occasions are:

“The night, Ānanda, when the Tathāgata attains Supreme Perfect Self-Enlightenment, and the night in which He passed away leaving no trace of the five aggregates, and realizes the Ultimate Peace (Anupādisesa Nibbāna).

“Ānanda, these are the two occasions on which the natural colour of the Tathāgata’s person becomes exceedingly clear and His complexion exceedingly bright.

“Ānanda, today, in the last watch of the night, in the Sal grove of the Malla princes where the road to Kusināra turns, between the twin Sal trees, the Tathāgata’s realization of Parinibbāna will take place.”

Then the Buddha said: “Come, Ānanda, let us go to the Kakudhā river.” “Very well, Venerable Sir,” said the Venerable Ānanda in assent.

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