The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Bhaddiya 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).

This chapter on the Jewel of the Sangha contains two Venerable Bhaddiya: one being this (6) Bhaddiya, and the other (7) Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya, about whom will be narrated later on. The former Bhaddiya was one of the six Sakyan princes who became bhikkhus as has been told in the story of Venerable Anuruddha. The mother of Venerable Bhaddiya was Kāligodha, a Sakyan princess. So the Venerable was known as Kāḷigodhaputta Bhaddiya, “Bhaddiya the son of Sakyan princess Kāḷigodha.”

(a) Aspiration expressed in The Past

This Mahāthera Bhaddiya was a son of a wealthy family in the lifetime of the Buddha Padumuttara, a hundred thousand aeons ago. He went to the monastery (as has been told in the story of Anuruddha) to listen to the Dhamma.

That day he saw the Buddha declared a monk as the foremost (etadagga) among those belonging to high family (uccakulika). He became instantly inspired, thinking: “I should also become one like him in the dispensation of a future Buddha.” Accordingly, he invited the Sangha, headed by the Buddha, to a mahā-dāna performed for seven days. Thereafter, prostrating at the feet of the Buddha, he said: “Exalted Buddha, I do not long for a luxurious life as a result of my dāna but I do wish to become a monk who is foremost among those of high family.”

Surveying the future, the Buddha foresaw that his wish would be fulfilled and said: “This wish of yours will be fulfilled. A hundred thousand aeons from now, the Buddha Gotama will arise. Then will you become one declared foremost among the monks who come from a superior family.” Having thus predicted, the Buddha gave a sermon of appreciation concerning the meal and left for the monastery.

After receiving the prediction, he enquired good works conducive to that end and had seats for preachers made and donated, He had coverings for the seats made and donated. He donated fans for preachers' use while preaching, he gave offerings in honour of preachers, and lights outside the sīmā, the chapter house. In this way, he performed acts of merit till the end of his life. On passing away, he was reborn either in divine or human abodes. Some time between the Buddhas Kassapa and Gotama, he was reborn as a householder’s son in the city of Bārāṇasī.

At that time, a large number of Paccekabuddhas came from Gandhamādāna mountain to Bārāṇasī and, having taken their seats on the bank of the Ganga, where water was plenty, they partook their food. Knowing that the Paccekabuddhas always went to that site and had their meals, the householder, the future Bhaddiya, placed eight great stone slabs as his donation and treated the Paccekabuddhas to nourishment as long as he lived.

(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence

During the interval between the two Buddhas, Kassapa and Gotama, lasting innumerable aeons (buddhantara asaṅkhyeyya period), he was reborn only in the realms of devas and human, and in the lifetime of this Buddha, his rebirth was that of a Sakyan prince in the city of Kapilavatthu. He was named Bhaddiya by his parents.

When he came of age, he became a leading prince of the six Sakyan princes (who adopted monkhood along with the barber Upāli). While the Buddha was sojourning in the mango grove near the town of Anupiya, he received ordination as a bhikkhu and attained arahatship in the vassa of the same year.

(After such attainment, as he lived in bliss of phala-samāpatti; he uttered with joy: “O, blissful I am! O, blissful I am!” Worldling bhikkhus did not know of his attainment and misunderstood that he uttered so from his recall of his previous princely luxury. They reported to the Buddha. This account may be read in the Udāna.)

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

At a later time, while the Buddha was staying at the Jetavana monastery, He addressed the bhikkhus regarding Venerable Bhaddiya:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ uccākulikānaṃ yad'idaṃ Bhaddiyo Kāḷigodhāya putto,”

“Monks, among my bhikkhus-disciple belonging to a high family, Bhaddiya, son of Kāḷigodhā, is the foremost.”

Speaking thus in praise, the Buddha declared that Venerable Bhaddiya was the foremost (etadagga) among those of high birth.

(Herein the original name of the Venerable’s mother was Godhā. As she was slightly dark, she was called Kāligodhā, the Sakyan Princess. Hence the Venerable’s name Kāḷigodhaputta Bhaddiya, “Baiddiya, the son of Kāḷigodhā.”

(Kāḷigodhā was the oldest of all Sakyan princesses. At the time the Bodhisatta attained Buddhahood, his father, King Suddhodāna, was over ninety. (This can be guessed by careful consideration,) He was not strong enough then to perform his duties as a leading monarch unlike when he was younger. Therefore, he must have been a nominal head of the Sakyan princes. So Bhaddiya was elected king, for the choice was made from senior to junior families and it fell upon him. But the prince gave up his kingship of the Sakyan and became a monk. Hence his appointment as “the foremost among the monks of high birth.”

Alternatively, Venerable Bhaddiya had been king for five hundred successive existences as a result of his resolution made in the past. Hence his Uccakulikaetadagga title.)

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