The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Story of Manduka Devaputta 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).

The Story of Maṇḍūka Devaputta

At one time, the Buddha was staying at a monastery close to Gaggarā Lake, near the city of Campā, which served as His place for collecting daily alms-food. One morning, on His usual Buddha-routine of entering the absorption of Compassion, He saw that, if He held a sermon in the evening, a frog would come and being absorbed in the sound of the Dhamma speech, it would be killed accidentally, and be reborn in the deva realm. And that deva would come to Him, accompanied by his big retinue which would be seen by the large audience who would gain knowledge of the Four Truths and so make an end of suffering. After having this foreknowledge through His absorption of Compassion, the Buddha went into the city of Campā for alms-round in the morning. When the morning meal was finished, He went to the monastery, received the homage paid by the bhikkhus, and went into seclusion in His Scented chamber, spending the day in the bliss of the absorption of arahatta-phala.

In the evening, when the four kinds of assembly were gathered at the lecture hall near Gaggarā Lake, the Buddha came out of His Scented Chamber, took His seat in the lecture hall, and delivered a sermon.

At that time, a frog came out from the lake, listened to the voice of the Buddha, and knowing that “this is the voice of the Dhamma”, was absorbed in it. (Although animals do not have the capacity to understand the meaning of the discourse, at least they can know the voice as one of Dhamma or righteousness or as one of wrongness, as the case may be.)

Then a cowherd came upon the scene and being deeply impressed by the Buddha’s splendour in delivering the sermon and the deep silence in which the audience were listening to the sermon, he stood there leaning on his staff in hand. He did not notice that there was a flog on whose head his staff was resting.

The frog died on the spot, even while it was absorbed in the sweet voice of the Dhamma. As it died in full consciousness of the clear conviction in the goodness of the Dhamma, it was reborn in the Tāvatiṃsa Deva realm, with a golden mansion twelve yojanas wide as his residence, waited upon by a large retinue of deva maidens. Then he pondered on his new state: “How have I got into this deva existence? I was just a frog in my previous existence. What merit sent me, a mere animal to this high state?” And he saw no other merit than his getting absorbed in the voice of the Buddha’s sermon which was the voice of the Dhamma.

Then he went to the Buddha, while himself staying in his mansion, in the company of deva maidens. He and his deva maidens descended from the mansion in full view of the human audience and stood before the Buddha in worshipping attitude.

The Buddha knew the deva, who was the flog which was stamped to death just a moment ago. Still, to let the audience realize the workings of kamma, as well as to show the abnormal psychic power of the Buddha (in seeing the past existences of all beings), He said to the deva in the following verse:

“Surrounded by a large retinue,
Shedding resplendent light all around
with such powerful possession of personal aura,
who is it that pays homage to me?”

And the deva who, just a moment ago, had been a frog replied:

“(Venerable Sir,) in my previous existence,
I had been a frog,
Born and brought up in the water.
Even while I was absorbed in your voice of the Dhamma,
A cowherd caused my death with his staff.

“(Venerable Sir,) just at the instant of my death,
Due to the serenity of my mind in listening to the Bhagavā’s voice,
I was reborn a deva. And now (Venerable Sir,)
See my glorious state, replete with retinue,
my personal appearance and everything,
And, above all, my effulgence that reaches twelve yojanas!

“O Gotama, those, who have for a long time
Listened to the Dhamma taught by you,
attain the Peace of Nibbāna through Path-knowledge
And become free from all sorrow.”

Then the Buddha delivered the discourse in detail, suited to the audience, by judging their past merits that would serve as sufficing condition for enlightenment. By the end of the discourse, eighty-four thousand beings comprehended the Four Truths and made an end of suffering. The deva who had been a frog attained Stream-entry. He made obeisance to the Buddha, turned round with the Buddha on his right, and also worshipping the Sangha, returned to the deva realm in the company of his large retinue of deva maidens.

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