The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Moggallana Mahathera’s Attainment of Parinibbana 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 forty-one Arahat-Mahatheras and their Respective Etadagga titles. 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).

Moggallāna Mahāthera’s Attainment of Parinibbāna

After having the relics of Venerable Sāriputta enshrined in a cetiya in Sāvatthi, as has been said, the Buddha gave a hint to Venerable Ānanda that He would travel to Sāvatthi. Venerable Ānanda then informed the monks of the Buddha’s proposed journey to that city. In the company of a large number of monks, the Buddha set out from Sāvatthi to Rājagaha and took residence in the Veḷuvana monastery.

(Herein, the Buddha attained Enlightenment on the full-moon day of Vesākha (April-May). On the first waxing day of Māgha, the Venerables Sāriputta and Moggallāna joined the Sangha and on the seventh day, the Venerable Moggallāna attained arahatship. On the fifteenth day, the full moon of Māgha, Sāriputta became an arahat.

(On the full moon day of Kattika (October-November) of the year 148 Mahā Era, the day the Buddha completed 45 vassas and the two Chief Disciples, 44 vassas, the Venerable Sāriputta attained parinibbāna in his native village Nālaka. It should be noted briefly in advance that the Venerable Moggallāna did the same at the Kālasilā stone slab on Mount Isigili, Rājagaha, on the new-moon day of that month of Kattika. The account of Venerable Sāriputta’s attainment of parinibbāna has been given. Now that of Venerable Moggallāna’s is as follows:)

While the Buddha was staying at the Veḷuvana monastery of Rājagaha, the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna was sojourning at the stone slab, named Kāḷasilā, on Mount Isigili.

As the Venerable was at the height of his supernormal powers, he used to visit the realm of devas as well as to that of Ussada hell. After seeing for himself the great enjoyment of divine luxuries by the Buddha’s followers in deva-world and the great suffering of heretical disciples in Ussada, he returned to the human world and told the people that such and such a male or female donor was reborn in deva-world, enjoying great luxuries but among the followers of heretics such and such a man or a woman was reborn in a certain hell. People therefore showed their faith in the Buddha’s teaching and avoid heretics. For the Buddha and his disciples, the people’s honour and hospitality increased whereas those for the heretics decreased day by day.

So the latter conceived a grudge against the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna. They discussed and decided, saying: “If this monk Moggallāna lives longer our attendants and donors might disappear and our gains might diminish gradually. Let us have him killed.” Accordingly they paid a thousand coins to a chief robber, named Samaṇaguttaka, to put the noble Venerable to death.

With the intention to kill the Venerable, the chief robber Samaṇaguttaka, accompanied by a large number of robbers, went to Kālasilā. When the Venerable saw him, he disappeared into the air by means of his supernormal powers. Not finding the Venerable, the chief robber went back that day and returned again the next day. The Venerable evaded him in the same way. Thus six days had elapsed.

On the seventh day, however, due to his misdeed done in the past, the aparāpariya akusalakamma took effect. The aparāpariya unwholesome deed of the Venerable was as follows:

In one of his former existences, when he was inexperienced, wrongly following the slanderous words of his wife, he wished to kill his parents. So he took them in a small vehicle (cart) to the forest and pretending to be plundered by robbers, he attacked his parents. Being unable to see who attacked them because of their blindness and believing that the attacker were real robber, they cried for the sake of their son saying: “Dear son, these robbers are striking us. Run away, dear son, to safety!”

With remorse, he said to himself: “Though I, myself, beat them, my parents cried, worrying about me. I have done a wrong thing!” So he stopped attacking them and making them believe that the robbers were gone, he stroked his parents’ arms and legs and said: “O mother and father fear not. The robbers have fled.” and he took them home.

Having no chance to show its effect for a long time, his evil deed remained like a live charcoal covered by ash and now, in his last existence, it came in time to seize upon and hurt him. A worldly simile may be given as follows: when a hunter sees a deer, he sends his dog for the deer, and the dog, following the deer, catches up at the right place and bites the prey. In the same way, the evil deed done by the Venerable now had its chance to show its result in this existence of the Venerable. Never has there been any person who escapes the result of his evil deed that finds its opportunity to show up at an opportune moment.

Knowing full well of his being caught and bitten by his own evil deed, the Venerable Mahāthera was unable to get away by his supernormal power at the seventh attempt. This was the power that had been strong enough to make Nāga King Nandopananda tamed and to make the Vejayanta palace tremble. As a result of his past wickedness, he could not disappear into the air. The power that had enabled him to defeat the Naga King and to make the Vejayanta tremble, had now become weak because of his former highly atrocious act.

The chief robber, Samaṇaguttaka, arrested the Venerable, and together with his men hit him and pounded him so that the bones broke to pieces like broken rice. After doing this deed known as palālapiṭhika (pounding the bones to dust so they become something like a ring of straw used as a cushion to put something on; it was a kind of cruelty.) After so doing and thinking that the Venerable was dead, the chief robber threw the body into a bush and left together with his men.

Becoming conscious, the Venerable thought of seeing the Buddha before his demise and having fastened his pounded body with the bandage of his psychic powers, he rose into the sky and appear before the Buddha and paid homage to the Master. Thereafter, the following conversation took place between the Venerable and the Buddha:

Mahāthera: Exalted Buddha, I have given up the control of my life process (āyusaṅkhāra). I am going to attain parinibbāna.

Buddha: Are you going to do so, my dear son Moggallāna?

Mahāthera: Yes, I am, Venerable Sir.

Buddha: Where will you go and do that?

Mahāthera: At the place where Kālasilā stone slab is, Exalted Buddha.

Buddha: In that case, dear son Moggallāna, give a Dhamma-talk to Me before you go. I will not have another opportunity to see a Disciple like you.

When the Buddha said thus, the noble Venerable, replying: “Yes, Exalted Buddha, I shall obey you,” paid homage to the Buddha and flew up into the air up to the height of a toddy palm tree, then that of two palm trees and in this way he rose up to the height of seven trees, and as the Venerable Sāriputta had done before on the day of his parinibbāna, he displayed various miracles and spoke of the Dhamma to the Buddha. After paying homage respectfully, he went to the forest where Kalasīla was and attained parinibbāna.

At that very moment, a tumult arose in all six planes of deva-worlds. Talking among themselves: “Our Master, Venerable Moggallāna, is said to have attained parinibbāna.” Devas and Brahmās brought divine unguents, flowers, fragrance, smoke and sandalwood power as well as various fragrant divine firewood. The height of the funeral pyre made of sandalwood was ninety-nine cubits. The Buddha Himself came together with His monks and standing near the remains, supervised the funeral arrangements and had the cremation conducted

On a yojana-vast environs of the funeral site, fell a rain of flowers. At the funeral ceremony, there were human beings moving about among devas and devas moving about among human beings. In due course, among devas stood demons; among demons, Gandhabba devas; among Gandhabba devas, Nāgas; among Nāgas, Garuḷas; among Garuḷas, Kinnarās; among Kinnarās, umbrellas; among umbrellas, fans made of golden camara (yak) tail;among these fans, round banners, and among round banners were flat ones. Devas and humans held the funeral ceremony for seven days.

The Buddha had the relics of the Venerable brought to Him and a cetiya was built. In it the relics were enshrined near the gateway of the Veḷuvana monastery.

Murderers punished

The news of the murder of Venerable Mahā-Moggallāna spread throughout the whole Jambudipa. King Ajātasattu sent detectives to all places to investigate and arrest the murderous robbers. While the murderers were drinking at a liquor shop, one of them provokingly slapped down the liquor cup of another fellow. Then the provoked man said, to pick a quarrel: “Hey, you wretched one, a stubborn fellow! Why did you do that and make my cup fall to the ground?” Then the first man annoyingly asked: “Hey, you scoundrel! How was it? Did you dare to hurt the Venerable first?” “Hey, you evil one! Did you not know that I was the first and foremost to harm that the monk?” the other man defiantly retorted.

Hearing the men saying among themselves: “It was I who did the killing. It was I who murdered him!” the King’s officers and detectives seized all the murderers and reported (to

King Ajātasattu) on the matter. The King summoned them and asked: “Did you kill the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna?” “Yes, we did, Great King,” the men replied admitting. “Who asked you to do so?” “Great King, those naked heretics did, by giving us money,” the men confessed.

The King had all the five hundred naked heretics caught and buried together with the murderers in the pit, navel-deep in the the courtyard. They were covered with straw and burnt to death. When it was certain that they all had been burnt, they were cut to pieces by ploughing over them with a plough fixed with iron spikes.

(Herein the account of Venerable Mahā Moggallāna’s attainment is taken from the exposition of the Sarabhaṅga Jātaka of the Cattālīsa Nipāta; that of the punishment of the murderers from the exposition of Mahā Moggallāna Vatthu of the Dhammapada Commentary.)

Regarding the fact that the Buddha Himself supervised the funeral of the Venerable Moggallāna, the monks in the Dhamma-hall remarked: “Friends, since Venerable Sāriputta’s parinibbāna did not take place near the Buddha, he did not receive the Buddha’s honour. On the other hand, Mahā-Moggallāna received it because he attained parinibbāna in the neighbourhood of the Buddha.” When the Buddha came and asked the monks what they were talking about, they gave the answer. The Buddha then said: “Monks, Moggallāna was honoured by Me not only in this life but also in the past.” The Buddha told them the Sarabhanga Jātaka of the Cattālīsa Nipāta. (The detailed account of the Sarabhaṅga Jātaka may be taken from the the Five Hundred and Fifty Jātaka Stories.)

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