by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Anuruddha Mahathera 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).
(a) Aspiration expressed in The Past
A hundred thousand aeons ago, in the lifetime of the Buddha Padumuttara, the future Thera Anuruddha was an unknown householder. One afternoon, he went along with a crowd of people to the monastery to listen to the Dhamma. Having respectfully paid homage to the Buddha, he stood at the edge of the audience, paying attention to the Buddha’s discourse. After delivering His discourses in serial order, the Buddha declared a monk foremost in achieving the psychic power of the Divine Eye (dibbacakkhu-abhiññā).
Then it occurred to the householder: “This monk was declared foremost in achieving the psychic power of the Divine Eye by the Buddha Himself. Therefore, he indeed is superior. What, if I were to become the best among the monks who achieved the Divine Eye in the dispensation of some future Buddha?" So thinking, he went through the audience and invited the Buddha and His Sangha. The next day, he performed a great alms-giving to the Sangha headed by the Buddha.
Thinking: “I have aspired for a very high post,” he invited the Buddha as before, day after day, saying: “Please come today for my act of merit. Please come tomorrow for my act of merit.” Having invited thus, he gave a great dāna for seven days.
Offering excellent robes to the Buddha and His company of monks, he expressed his aspiration as follows:
“Exalted Buddha, I made these offerings not to obtain divine luxuries nor to enjoy human pleasure. Seven days ago you declared a monk as the best in the Divine Eye. I wish to be like him, as the foremost among those with similar power in the dispensation of a future Buddha.”
Having expressed his aspiration thus, the householder fell at the feet of the Buddha. When the Buddha surveyed the future, He foresaw well that the fulfilment of the householder’s wish and so He predicted: “Donor, at the end of a hundred thousand aeons in future, Buddha Gotama will evidently appear. In the dispensation of that Buddha, you will be Anuruddha by name, the foremost of those who acquire the psychic power of the Divine Eye.” Having predicted thus the Buddha gave a discourse in appreciation of the mealoffering and returned to the monastery.
The householder did good works for as long as he lived and after the Buddha Padumuttara’s attainment of Parinibbāna, he built a golden shrine which was seven yojanas high. He approached the Sangha and asked: “Venerable Sirs, what is the preparatory wholesome deed for acquiring the psychic power of the Divine Eye?” “Donor,” replied the noble monks, “the gift of light should be given.” He then had a thousand big trees made first, each bearing a thousand torches; just beyond these trees, he had a thousand illuminated trees of medium size made; just beyond them, a thousand illuminated small trees. In this way, thousands of trees and torches were offered. His other gifts of lights were innumerable.
Offering of Lights to Buddha Kassapa’s Shrine
Having performed such meritorious deeds throughout his life, the householder, the future Anuruddha, was reborn either in the worlds of devas or humans. When a hundred thousand aeons had elapsed and in the lifetime of the Buddha Kassapa in this bhadda-kappa, he was reborn also as a householder in the city of Bārāṇasī. After the Buddha’s Parinibbāna, he built a shrine of one yojana and had numerous gold cups made, each cup was filled with butter oil. In the middle of the cups, he placed a cake of solidified molasses and lighted it. He also lighted the gold cups around the shrine, the round brim of each cup touching that of the next. For himself, he had the biggest vessel made of gold and had it filled also with butter-oil. A thousand wicks placed around the brim were lighted. For the middle wick, however, he had a piece of cloth twisted and lighted it. Holding on his head the bowl of a thousand lights, he went round the shrine and honoured it for all three watches of the night. In that existence too, he performed wholesome acts as long as he lived, and upon his death he was reborn in the realm of devas.
Life As Annabhāra
Again, before the lifetime of our Buddha, he was reborn in a poor family, also in Bārāṇasī and lived, depending upon a wealthy merchant named Sumana. The poor man’s name was Annabhāra. The merchant Sumana gave lavish alms, at the gate of his house, to destitutes, travellers and beggars.
One day, a Paccekabuddha, by the name of Upariṭṭha, engaged in nirodha-samāpatti at Mount Gandhamādāna, and when He emerged from that jhāna, he pondered: “Whom should I help today?” Paccekabuddhas are very kind by nature to the poor. So, the Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha decided to help poor Annabhāra for the day. Knowing that the man was about to come back from the forest, the Paccekabuddha, taking His alms-bowl and robe disappeared, from Mount Gandhamādāna and reappeared before Annabhāra at the village gate.
Seeing the Paccekabuddha carrying an empty bowl, he respectfully made obeisance to him and asked: “Venerable Sir, would you obtain food?” When the Paccekabuddha replied that he would, Annabhāra said: “Please wait here for a while,” and quickly went home and asked his wife: “O lady, is there a portion of food you set aside for me? Or is there not?” When the wife said yes, he returned to the Paccekabuddha and took the bowl from His hand. On returning home, he said to his wife: “Lady, because we did not perform acts of merit in the past, we are now living, always yearning for food. Though we have desire to give, we have nothing to give. And when we have something to give, there is no recipient for it. Today I encounter the Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha. And there is also my portion of food. Put that food of mine into His bowl.”
The intelligent wife thought: “As my husband is giving his food to the Paccekabuddha, I should also do something for my share of merit.” So she too put her portion of food in the bowl and handed it to the Paccekabuddha. He also said, expressing his desire: “Venerable Sir, may we be liberated from such troublesome living.” The Paccekabuddha replied somewhat in prediction: “You, donor, of great merit! May your desire be realised!” Having spread out his over-cloth at one place, Annabhāra said further: “Please sit down here, Venerable Sir, and have your meal.” After sitting down on the seat made by Annabhāra, the
Paccekabuddha had his meal, reflecting on the nine disgusting things (which are:
1. gamana (going on alms-round);
2. pariyesana (searching for alms);
3. paribhoga (eating);
4. āsaya (excretions, such as phlegm, bile, blood and pus);
5. nidhaha (stomach into which comes newly eaten food);
6. aparipakka (food in undigested state);
7. paripakka (food in digested state);
8. phala and nissanda, outcome and flowing or trickling from here and there (on the body) and
9. makkhana, smearing (or soiling).
(If phala and nissanda are taken separately, the number will be ten. Reflection on these nine or ten disgusting things is mentioned in the exposition of the Āhārepaṭikūla-saññā of the Visuddhi-magga in general, and in the section on the same in the Paramattha-sarūpabhedanī, authored by Mahāvisuddhārama Sayadaw, in particular.)
When the Paccekabuddha had taken the food, Annabhāra offered the water for washing the bowl.
Having finished His meal, Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha gave His blessing in appreciation of the food:
May all your desires and longings be realized. Just as the bright, round moon of the waxing fortnight is full, even so may all your right plans be successful!
Having uttered thus, the Paccekabuddha proceeded his journey.
Applause of A Goddess
At that moment, the guardian goddess of the (ceremonial) umbrella belonging to Sumana the merchant gave her applause three times by uttering a solemn utterance of joy: “Ahodānaṃ paramadānaṃ, Upariṭṭhe supaṭiṭṭhitaṃ——Oh, an excellent gift has been well set up for Paccekabuddha Uparittha!” The merchant asked: “Hey, goddess! Did you not see me performing alms-giving for such a long time?” “O merchant,” replied the goddess, “I am not applauding your alms-giving. I am doing it for Annabhāra the poor man’s, as I am so pleased with his.” It then occurred to the merchant thus: “This is something marvellous indeed! Though I have been giving alms for so long, I am not able to cause deities to applaud. But the poor Annabhāra did, despite his dependence on me, by giving alms-food just once as he encountered a proper recipient. I should make his gift-food mine by giving him something suitable.” Accordingly, he summoned Annabhāra and asked: “Did you give somebody something today?” “Yes, I did, Sir,” answered Annabhāra, “I gave my share of food to the Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha.” “Take this, dear Annabhāra, take a coin and hand over your gift-food to me,” demanded the merchant.
When Annabhāra refused, saying: “I cannot do so, Sir,” Sumana, the merchant, gradually raised his offer up to a thousand coins. Annabhāra remained firm in his rejection, saying: “Even for a thousand coins, I cannot give it away.” Then Sumana gave up his attempt to buy but demanded again: “Brother Annabhāra, if you cannot give it to me, let it be so. Accept the thousand coins and share your merit with me!” “I do not know clearly whether I should share my merit with you. In fact, I will consult the Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha and I will share, provided He advises me to do so.” After saying thus, he rushed after the Paccekabuddha and when he reached Him, he asked: “Venerable Sir, the merchant Sumana, is offering me a thousand coins and seeking a share of the merit I have earned by giving you alms-food. Shall I give his share or shall I not?”
Then the Paccekabuddha said:
“Wise man, I shall give you a simile. Suppose there is only one house, where the lamp is lighted, in a village of a hundred households. If the remaining ninety-nine householders came with their respective wicks soaked in oil and lighted their lamps by means of yours, will the light remain in that house as it was before or will it be reduced?”
“It will not be reduced, Venerable Sir. The light will shine even brighter than before,” answered the man. Then the Paccekabuddha explained clearly:
“In the same manner, wise man, if a man shares the merit accrued to him from his offering of alms-food, be it a spoonful or a ladleful, whether he shares it with a hundred persons or a thousand, his merit will only increase and become greater in accordance the number of persons who have their shares. Now you have given one meal. If you share your merit with him, there will be two acts of giving alms-food, one is yours (which is original) and the other is Sumana’s (which is an augment).”
Freed from doubt but inspired and encouraged, Annabhāra respectfully made obeisance and went back to his master. He gladly shared his merit by saying: “Sir, take your share from the merit earned by me from my giving of alms-food.” Then followed a dialogue between the wealthy merchant Sumana and Annabhāra the poor man:
Merchant: Well, brother, take the thousand coins.
Annabhāra: Master, I are not selling my alms-food. In fact, with great pleasure I am sharing my merit with you.
Merchant: Brother, you share your merit with me with great pleasure. On my part, I give you the thousand coins as wish to do honour to your virtue. Do take it, brother.
When asked thus, Annabhāra accepted the money, saying: “All right, as you like it, Sir.” Thereafter Sumana said: “Brother from the time of your acceptance of the coins onwards, you have nothing to work with your hands. (You are no longer my wretched employee.) Build a house for yourself on the main road. I shall provide you with whatever material you need. Take it from my house.” Thus the merchant added his promise.
Annabhāra becoming A Man of Great Wealth
The alms-food offered to a Paccekabuddha who has just emerged from nirodha-samāpatti is diṭṭhadhamma-vedaniya, i.e. the gift resulting on the day of offering. Therefore, that very day, by virtue of his diṭṭhadhamma-vedaniya (gift of alms-food), the merchant took Annabhāra to the King’s palace though he did not do so on previous days.
On arrival at the palace, because of Annabhāra’s act of merit, the King overlooked the merchant but gazed upon Annabhāra. Then a conversation between the merchant and the King took place as follows:
Merchant: Great King, why are you gazing at this man?
King: Because I did not see him on the other days, merchant.
Merchant: Great King, this man is worth-gazing on.
King: What are his virtues that make him worth-gazing on, merchant?
Merchant: Great King, he has won a thousand coins from me. He did not have his portion of food but sacrificed it to the Paccekabuddha Upariṭṭha today.
King: What is his name?
Merchant: Annabhāra, Great King.
King: As he has a thousand coins, he should win another thousand from me as well. I too would like to honour him.
So saying, the King also awarded Annabhāra a thousand coins.
Later on, the King ordered his men to built a house for Annabhāra. Obeying the King’s order, the men cleared an old site and, at every spot they dug up with mattocks, they found jars of gold, the neck of one jar touching that of another, to their amazement. So they reported the matter to the King. The King ordered them to excavate but as they were digging, the jars sank further. The men told the King about it and he ordered them to continue their digging, saying: “Do it not in my name, but do it under Annabhāra’s instructions.” The men went back to the site and did the digging again while uttering: “We are doing under the instructions of Annabhāra.” As a result, at every spot dug, the jars of gold rose together like huge mushrooms.
The King’s men collected the treasure of gold and silver and brought them, all piled up near the King. The King held a meeting with his ministers and asked: “Leaving aside Annabhāra, who else does possess treasures of such proportions in this city of Bārāṇasī?” When the ministers answered that there was none, the King issued an order stating: “Ministers, in that case, let Annabhāra be the royal merchant bearing the title ‘Dhanaseṭṭhi’ in this Bārāṇasī City of mine.” On that very day Annabhāra became royal merchant known as Mahādhanaseṭṭhi, and was entitled a white umbrella, a symbol of wealth, from the King.
(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence
Since he became royal merchant, Dhanaseṭṭhi by name, he performed good works till the end of his life, and upon his death, he was reborn in the realm of devas. This virtuous man, who was the future Anuruddha, was reborn only in the divine and human abodes for a long time. When our Buddha was about to appear, he was born in the royal residence of Sukkodāna, a Sakyan prince. On his naming day, he was given the name of Anuruddha. Prince Anuruddha was the son of the Buddha’s uncle Sukkodāna and the brother of Prince Mahānāma. He was very gentle and yet very powerful at the same time.
The Buddha visited the city of Kapilavatthu for the first time and while sojourning on his return in the grove of Anupiya, Prince Anuruddha visited Him together with Princes Bhaddiya, Ānanda, Bhagu, Kimila, Devadatta and the barber Upāli, and they became monks. (This event has been given in detail in the Chapter 26 -29. Readers may here be referred to this story.)
Attainment of Arahatship
The six Sakyan Princes went together with Upāli the barber to the grove of Anupiya and they became monks in the presence of the Buddha. Of these seven monks, Bhaddiya attained arahatship in that vassa. Anuruddha gained the psychic power of the Divine Eye (dibbacakkhu);Devadatta developed the eight mundane attainments; Ānanda was established in the sotāpatti-phala; the Venerable Bhagu and Kimila attained arahatship later. Their resolutions made in the past by these monks will be described in their respective sections.
As for the Venerable Anuruddha, he acquired, in his first vassa, the eight attainments after becoming a monk and developed the psychic power and higher knowledge of the Divine Eye which was able to see a thousand universes.
One day, he went to Venerable Sāriputta and said:
“Friend Sāriputta, (1) I can see a thousand universes by means of the particularly pure Divine Eye, which surpasses the eye-sight of human beings. (2) I put effort unflinchingly. Not being unmindful, I possess mindfulness. There is no anxiety in my person and I am calm. My mind is one-pointed and well concentrated. (3) Even then, my mind is not unattached to craving (taṇhā) and wrong views (diṭṭhi) and not liberated yet from āsavas.”
Then Venerable Sāriputta preached to Venerable Anuruddha concerning meditation:
(1) “Friend Anuruddha, the very fact that you are conscious and thinking: ‘I can see a thousand universes by means of the particularly pure Divine-like Eye, which surpasses the clear eyesight of human beings’ reveals that you have conceit (māna).”
(2) “Friend Anuruddha, the very fact that you are conscious and thinking: ‘I put effort unflinchingly. Not being unmindful, I possess mindfulness. There is no anxiety in my person and I am calm. My mind is one-pointed and well concentrated,’ reveals that you have mental restlessness (uddhacca).
(3) “Friend Anuruddha, the very fact that you are conscious and thinking: ‘Even then my mind is not unattached to craving and wrong view and not liberated yet from āsavas’ reveals that you have doubt and worry (saṃsaya-kukkucca).
“Therefore I would like to give you words of advice as follows: ‘Discard these three things (conceit, restlessness and doubt) that are developing in your mind. Without being conscious of these things, direct your mind to Deathlessness (Nibbāna)!”
Having learnt meditation, Venerable Anuruddha went to the country of Ceti after seeking permission from the Buddha. Living in the eastern bamboo grove in that country, he practised asceticism. For fifteen days or half a month, he did not sleep but put efforts in his meditation by walking to-and-fro. He then became weary from his meditation so much so that he took rest by sitting under a bamboo thicket.
While sitting, great thoughts of a great man (mahāpurisa-vitakka) arose in his mind as follows:
(2) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is easily-contented, but not in one who is discontented.
(3) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is quiet, but not in one who takes delight in company.
(4) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is energetic, but not in one who is indolent.
(5) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is evidently mindful, but not in one who is far from being mindful.
(6) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is of concentrated mind, but not in one who is not of concentrated mind,
(7) The nine supra-mundane dhammas can be realised only in one who is wise, but not in one who is foolish.
(N.B. With regard to (1) the individual who is of few wants;there are four kinds: (a) paccaya-appiccha, one who is of few wants concerning the four requisites; (b) adhigamaappiccha, one who does not let others know of one’s attainment of magga and phala spirituality but keeps it secret; (c) pariyatti-appiccha, one who does not let others know of one’s learning but keeps it secret; (d) dhutaṅga-appiccha one who does not let others know of one’s austere practice but keeps it secret.
a) The paccaya-appiccha accepts only less, though offered much; when offered, he accepts less than what is offered; he never takes all.
The story of Thera Majjhantika in brief is as follows:
He was an arahat. But his alms-bowl and robe was worth only a quarter of a coin. On the day of King Asoka’s dedication of a monastery, he was heading a community of monks. Seeing his bowl and robe too old and worn out, people thought he was an inferior aged monk; so they asked him to wait for a moment outside. Then only he thought: “If an arahat like me does not make a contribution to the King’s welfare, who else will?” So thinking, he instantly sank into the earth and received the first portion of alms-food, which was meant for the head of monks, and was offered to him respectfully. Then he reappeared while others were unaware. In this way, the Thera did not want others know of his arahatship prior to his acceptance of food.
c) The pariyatti-appiccha individual does not want to reveal to others his knowledge of the scriptures though he himself is highly learned in the three Piṭakas. He is like one Venerable Tissa, a resident of Saketa. The story of Venerable Tissa in brief is as follows:
The Venerable was requested by other monks to teach them the Texts and their Commentaries. But he rejected their request, saying that he had no time to do so. Then the monks asked him, somewhat reproachfully: “Have you got no time even to die?” So he deserted his followers and left his dwelling for the Kaṇikāravalika-samudda monastery. He stayed there for the three vassa-months (like an unknown illiterate monk). He fulfilled his duties there towards all his co-residents, be they senior or junior to him or be they of mid-standing. On the full moon day of Assayuja (September-October), at the meeting on Mahāpavāraṇā-Uposatha occasion, he preached, causing gooseflesh to people. They shouted with cheers and threw up their headdresses into the air. Thus he created wild acclaim among the audience. Lest the people should know: “This indeed was the one who preached last night.” he secretly went back to his original dwelling, for he was of pariyattiappiccha kind.
d) The dhutaṅga-appiccha does not like to inform others of his practice of austerity. He is like the elder of the two brothers. A brief account of the two brothers goes as follows:
The two brother-monks were dwelling in the Cetīya hill. The younger brother went to his brother with a stalk of sugar cane which was offered by a donor to the elder one. “Please have it, Sir,” said the younger brother. As the elder brother had already finished his eating and washed his mouth, he replied: “Enough, dear brother.” “Why,” asked the younger brother, “have you taken a vow to observe ekasanika-dhutaṅga (the austere practice of eating one meal a day)?” Then only did the elder brother ask his younger brother to bring the sugar-cane. Though he had observed this particular practice for fifty long years, he partook of the sugar-cane as he wished to keep his brother in the dark about his practice. After that, he washed his mouth and renewed his vow again.
(These descriptions of the four types of appiccha persons are given in the Aṅguttara Nikāya Commentary Vol.3 and their stories are reproduced from the Majjhima Nikāya Commentary Vol.2. In the latter, further details of three kinds of icchā (wishes), four appicchatā (few wants), twelve kind of santosas (contentment), three kinds of pavivekas (seclusion), five kind of saṃsaggas (contact), etc. are given. Learn them from the same Commentary if you so wish.)
At the time, while the Venerable Anuruddha was struggling with the seven thoughts of a great man (mahāpurīsa-vitakka), the Buddha was still sojourning in a forest sanctuary, Bhesakala by name, near Susumāragira town in the Bhagga country. The forest was to the west of the bamboo grove where Venerable Anuruddha was. Therefore, this place was known as the eastern bamboo grove.
After working out with the seven thoughts, Anuruddha was too tired to take a further step to think about the eighth one. It was true that the disciples, who had thought of the previous seven, such as few wants, easy contentment, calm, energy, mindfulness, mental concentration, and wisdom, were reluctant to go higher and ponder still another Dhamma. For them, it is a rule that they should end up with wisdom. That was why the Venerable Anuruddha, having reflected on the seventh item of wisdom which is a mahāpurisa-vitakka, was too tired to go on reflecting on the eighth vitakka.
Then the Buddha, while remaining in the Bhesakala forest, knew that “Anuruddha is weary of reflecting on the eighth vitakka” and thought: “I shall cause Anuruddha’s wish to be satisfied.” Accordingly, He instantly appeared in the Venerable’s presence and sat down on the seat that had been already prepared.
Then the Buddha presented the missing eighth vitakka, saying:
“Anuruddha, well done!, well done! (1) The nine supramundane dhammas can be fulfilled only in him who has few wants, but not in him who has many...... (7) The nine supra-mundane Dhammas can be fulfilled in him who is wise, but not in him who is foolish. Anuruddha! Your reflections belong to the Noble Ones.
“Anuruddha, as it is the case with you, proceed to the eighth reflection. Which is ‘the nine supra-mundane Dhammas’ can be fulfilled in him who takes delight in Nibbāna that is free from the saṃsāra——expanding (papañca) factors, [namely, craving (taṇhā), conceit (māna) and wrong view (diṭṭhi)] but not in him who takes delight only in the papañca factors.”
Thus, did the Buddha provide the missing eighth mahāpurisa thought. The Buddha then continued to preach elaborately to Venerable Anuruddha that, while engaging in these eight reflections, he could easily be absorbed in the first, second, third and fourth mundane jhānas, and that while being absorbed in the four mundane jhānas, he could easily have the fourfold ariyavaṃsa-patipadā (Course of practice belonging to the lineage of the Noble Ones), namely, (1) contentment in robes (cīvara-santosa), (2) contentment in food (piṇḍapāta-santosa), including that in medicine, (3) contentment in dwelling and (4) delight in meditation (bhāvanā-rāmata) (The elaborate preaching of the same may be read in the translation of the Aṅguttara Nikāya, Vol. III)
After preaching thus, the Buddha thought about the right dwelling for Venerable Anuruddha that would suit his meditation and came to know that the bamboo grove would be the right place.
Accordingly he advised the Venerable, saying:
“Anuruddha, (as the bamboo grove is suitable for your dwelling) observe the vassa later on in this bamboo grove in the country of Ceti.”
Having advised thus, the Buddha disappeared and reappeared at Bhesakala forest where He expounded the eight Mahāpurisa Thoughts in detail to the monks there.
After the Buddha’s departure, the Venerable Anuruddha put great efforts in his ascetic practices and soon (during the next vassa) attained arahatship, the exhaustion of āsavas, the state endowed with the threefold knowledge of pubbenivāsa-ñāṇa, dibbacakkhu-ñāṇa and savakkhaya-ñāṇa. He then became elated and thought: “Oh, seeing my mental conditions, the Exalted Buddha came and provided me with the eighth mahāpurisa-vitakka. My heart’s desire also has now been fulfilled to the highest degree indeed!”
Paying attention to the Buddha’s sermon and the supra-mundane dhamma, the Venerable uttered a solemn utterance as follows:
The Exalted One, who is the Teacher of devas and humans, who is peerless in the three worlds, knew my thoughts and, in His mind-made body, rushing by means of His psychic powers, and through His super-normal powers, came to my presence in a moment.
To me occurred the thoughts of the top Noble One in the seven fold manner. The Exalted Buddha taught me, out of compassion, the eighth thought which is higher than the seven reflections of mine. (How?) The Buddha, who is named the Omniscient One, the best of the world, who delights in the unconditioned Nibbāna that is truly free from the three saṃsāra extending (papañca) factors, taught me, out of compassion, the unconditioned Nibbāna that is truly free from the three saṃsāra-expanding (papañca) factors.
I, Anuruddha, having comprehended the Dhamma taught by that Buddha, named the Omniscient One, the best of the world, lived in bliss in this very existence always being delighted in the attainment of Fruition in the dispensation of the three trainings. The threefold knowledge of pubbenivāsañāṇa by me, I have laboured and put into practice, reaching the goal of arahatship, the Teaching of the threefold training of the Omniscient Buddha, the head of the world
(c) Etadagga Title achieved
Thereafter, when the Buddha was staying at the Jetavana monastery, He convened a meeting, in which He declared a large number of monks as foremost (etadagga) in their respective attainments but He admired the Venerable Anuruddha, saying:
“Monks among my disciples who are endowed with the divine eye (dibbacakkhu), Anuruddha is the best.”
Saying thus, the Buddha declared the Venerable Anuruddha as the foremost (etadagga) in acquiring the divine eye.
(Herein it may be asked: Why did the Buddha appoint Anuruddha only despite the presence of other Tevijja arahats and Chalabhiññā arahats who had attained ‘divine-eye’ too? The answer is: It was true that other Tevijja and Chaḷabhiññā arahats had attained ‘divine-eye’ too, but they did not make use of it as much as Anuruddha did. When Venerable Anuruddha went on alms-round, except in partaking of food, he, at all times, developed Light-Kasiṇa (āloka-kasiṇa) and surveyed beings by the psychic powers of his divine-eye. In this way, the Venerable gained the fivefold mastery of the divine eye and became more experienced (than the other arahats). This was the reason for the Buddha declaring him the foremost (etadagga) in this particular field of attainment.
(The alternative answer is this: The Venerable Anuruddha had done for a period of a hundred thousand aeons meritorious deeds with the aim to acquire this particular declaration of being foremost in attaining ‘divine-eye’. Accordingly, in this existence too, which was his last, in which his Perfections and aspirations were fulfilled, he made use of the divine-eye more than any other arahats as he had inclination to do so which was derived from his past resolution. Hence the declaration by the Buddha.)
Picking up of Rag Robe offered by A Deva
(From the Dhammapada Commentary)
While the Buddha was sojourning at Jetavana, Rājagaha, Venerable Anuruddha was looking for rags, from which a robe was to be made, at dust heaps and other places. A deity, named Jālinī, who happened to be his wife three existences ago, was living in Tāvatiṃsa. Seeing that the Venerable was searching rags, she brought three pieces of divine cloth, each thirteen cubits long and four cubits broad. But she thought: “If I offer these pieces of divine cloth, in this shape, the Venerable may not accept them.” So she left them at a dust heap ahead of the Venerable who was seeking rag; she did so in such a way so that only the edges of the pieces could be seen.
When the Venerable went there in search of rags, he saw the edges of the pieces of divine cloth, he picked them up at that very place and departed thinking that they were the best quality.
On the day the Venerable was making robes, the Buddha, in the company of five hundred monks, visited the Venerable’s dwelling and took His seat. The senior Venerables, belonging to the community of Eighty Disciples, were also seated at the same place where the robe making was undertaken. The Venerables Kassapa, Sāriputta and Ānanda helped him in making the robes, taking their seats at the starting part, at the middle and at the far end respectively. Other monks also came to assist him by making sewing threads while the Buddha himself put the thread through the eye of the needle. The Venerable Moggallāna roamed about collecting other necessary things for the stitching.
The deity Jalini entered the city and announced: “Citizens, the Exalted Buddha, in the company of the eighty arahat-disciples, together with the five hundred monks, are staying at the monastery to stitch robes for our master the Venerable Anuruddha. Go to the monastery and offer rice gruel and other edible things.” Thus the deity urged the womenfolk to flock with food. The Venerable Moggallāna brought bunches of Jambu fruits during the rest period, just before the meal-time. The five hundred monks could not finish the fruit. Sakka, the King of Gods, levelled the ground at the stitching site. Therefore, the ground looked like a place spread with liquid of lac. The leftover food, such as gruel, things solid and rice, were plenty.
Then the monks blamed the Venerable Anuruddha saying: “What is the use of bringing these kinds of food in such large quantities. In fact, he should have noted the amount of food required and should have asked his relatives, male and female servants and donors, saying: ‘Bring only this much.’ Perhaps the Venerable wanted us to know that he has a large number of relatives, servants and donors.” Then the Buddha asked them what they were talking about and when they replied what they were talking about, the Buddha asked them: “Monks, do you think all these foods were caused to be brought by Anuruddha?”
When the monks replied in the affirmative the Buddha said:
“Monks, never does my dear son Anuruddha beg the four requisites of this amount. As a matter of fact, arahats never speak with an emphasis on the requisites. This food occurred by the power of a deity!”
Having thus responded, the Buddha uttered the following verse in order to give a sermon:
āhāre ca anissito
suññato animitto ca
vimokkho yassa gocaro;
ākāse va sakuntānaṃ
padaṃ tassa durannayaṃ.
(O monks, my dear sons!) An arahat, in whom the four āsavas, namely, sense desire (kāma), existence (bhava), wrong views (diṭṭhi) and ignorance (avijjā), are destroyed, even without leaving the slightest traces, is not attached to food with craving (taṇhā), and wrong views (diṭṭhi). In his attainment of fruition, he always resorts to Nibbāna, known as Freedom of Nothingness (suññata-vimokkha), as there is no passion (rāga), anger (dosa) and delusion (moha) in it. Nibbāna, also known as Freedom of causelessness (animitta-vimokkha) as it is absolutely liberated from such causes as passion, anger and delusion. (And by virtue of the particle ‘ca’,) Nibbāna also known as Freedom of desirelessness (appaṇihita-vimokkha) as it is absolutely liberated from such desires as passion, anger and delusion. Just as what’s in the air, is trodden by the feet, touched by the breath, the head and the wings of the bird that flies in the air, is impossible to know, even so his attainment of the element of Nibbāna, after death, is impossible to know for ordinary individuals.
By the end of the sermon a large multitude attained sotāpatti-phala and so on.