The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Anuttaropurisa damma sarathi 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 Dhamma Ratanā. 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).

Buddha attributes (6): Anuttaropurisa damma sārathi

Visuddhi-magga gives anuttaropurisadammasārathi in two separate meanings: anutaro explained as one attribute and dammasārathi as another. And it also gives, as another interpretation, a combined meaning as one attribute.

We shall describe both the interpretations here:

(a) Anuttaro:

The Buddha is incomparable in morality, etc. in all the world so that He reigns supreme in this attribute among the world of living beings. To explain this further: the Buddha reigns supreme in morality, in concentration, in wisdom, in emancipation, and in knowledge leading to emancipation. This supremacy is the attribute of anuttaro; the five aggregates of the Buddha is possessor of that attribute.

(b) Purisadammasārathi:

“He who tames those who deserve to be tamed.” (purisadamma, those beings deserving to be tamed; sarathi, tamer, i.e. skilful teacher or instructor). Those deserving to be tamed include devas, humans and Brahmās. For example, the Buddha tamed nāga kings, namely, Apalāla, Cūḷodara, Mahodara, Aggisikha, Dhūmasikha, and Aravāḷa, Dhanapāla the elephant king, etc. and made them leave their savagery and get established in the Three Refuges. Then the Buddha tamed Saccaka the wandering ascetic, son of Nigaṇṭha; Ambaṭṭha, the young man; Brahmins Pokkharasāti, Soṇadanta and Kūṭadanta, etc. He also tamed powerful devas, such as Āḷavaka, Sūciloma, Kharaloma and even Sakka, the King of Devas.

The Buddha not only tamed individuals from their savage stage into His disciples, but also uplifted those virtuous persons who had had purity of morality to attain the first jhāna, or the ariyas who were Stream-enterers, to attain the three higher maggas by showing the method of training. So His 'taming' also includes leading already half tamed persons to arahatship. Therefore, Purisadammasārathi means making savage beings to be established in the lower morality, and to guide those possessed of lower morality (i.e. half tamed) to attain the higher benefits leading to arahatta-phala. This knowledge of instructing others is the attribute of dammasārathi. The five aggregates of the Buddha is the possessor of this attribute.

In the combined interpretation of annutaro and purisadammasārathi, only a single attribute is counted, to mean “the Buddha, who is unrivalled in taming those who are untamed”. To explain this: when a horse tamer trains a horse, he does not and cannot train it into the desired state in a day. He has to train it over many days repeatedly. (The same holds true with other animals, such as elephants, bullocks, etc.) Even when a horse is supposed to be tamed it is not free from pranks. (The same holds true with other animals.) But the Buddha can tame a person at one sitting (i.e. in the course of one dialogue) to attain the eight vimokkha-jhānas or attain arahatta-phala. When the disciple has attained arahatta-phala he becomes completely tamed never showing any more mad frolics. Therefore the Buddha is unrivalled in taming the untamed persons. The knowledge of tutoring untutored (i.e. ignorant) persons is the attribute of anuttaropurisadammasārathi; the five aggregates of the Buddha is the possessor of this attribute.

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