The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Lakundaka 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).

(a) Aspiration expressed in The Past

This Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya was a son of a wealthy householder in the city of Haṃsāvatī, in the lifetime of Buddha Padumuttara. In the way mentioned before (in the story of Venerable Anuruddha), he went to the monastery to listen to a sermon.

At that time, the Buddha declared a monk as the foremost (etadagga) in having very sweet voice. Seeing this, he became inspired to become like the monk in the lifetime of a future Buddha. So he invited the Sangha headed by the Buddha and gave them a grand dāna for seven days. Thereafter, he supplicated: “Exalted Buddha, I do not wish for any other result on account of this dāna but to be declared a monk who is foremost (etadagga) among those who has sweet voice, in the dispensation of a future Buddha.” So saying, he remained prostrated at the Buddha’s feet.

Surveying the householder’s future, the Buddha saw that his wish would be fulfilled. He therefore said: “Your wish will come true. A hundred thousand aeons from now, Buddha Gotama will appear. Then you will become a monk in His dispensation and be declared foremost among those possessing sweet voice.” Having predicted thus, the Buddha returned to the monastery.

Life as Cittapatta Cuckoo

Having received the prediction, the son of the wealthy man performed good deeds till his death and was reborn only in the realms of devas and humans. When the Buddha Vipassī appeared, he was a cuckoo named Cittapatta and lived in the Khemā Deer Park. One day, he flew to the Himavanta and came back carrying a sweet mango in his beak. While seeing the Buddha surrounded by monks, it occurred to him: “On other days, I saw the Buddha but I had nothing to offer. However, I have brought this ripe mango today for my children to eat. I shall bring them some other fruit, but this mango I shall offer the Buddha.” Then he flew down and was hovering overhead (but not resting on the ground yet). Perceiving the cuckoo’s thought, Buddha Vipassī looked at His attendant, Venerable Asoka, who took out the alms bowl from its bag and placed it in the hand of the Buddha. Then the Cuckoo put the mango, which he had brought in his beak, into the Buddha’s bowl as his offering. At that very place, the Buddha ate it while sitting. Filled with saddhā, the cuckoo repeatedly reflected on the attributes of the Buddha as much as he had known and having paid respect to the Buddha, he returned to his nest where he remained for a week without searching for food; instead he spent the time feeling joyous and happy.

In his life as Cittapatta Cuckoo, this much of his good act was done. As a result of this, the Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya voice was very sweet and pleasant.

Life as A Master Carpenter

During the time of the Buddha Kassapa, the future Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya became a master carpenter. After the Buddha’s Parinibbāna, His devotees discussed about building the only shrine for the only body relic. The main disagreement was the size of the shrine. Some said: “It should be seven yojanas.” Some said: “Seven yojanas is too big. (The construction could not be finished.) Let us make it six yojanas.” Some said: “Six yojanas is still too big. (It could not be done.) Let us make it five yojanas.” In this way, the size was reduced to four yojanas, three yojanas, two yojanas. Then the master carpenter, the future Mahāthera Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya, as he was chief at the meeting decided: “Friends, come. No matter who said what, let us built a cetiya which is easy to repair in future.” So saying, he took the measuring rope and went to the construction site. While measuring, he made the length of one gāvuta and said: “Let each side of the shrine be one gāvuta so that the four sides will make a yojana. As it will be a yojana at the base, so will be its height.” The carpenter thus brought the discussion to an end.

In agreement with him, the people built the dhātucetiya, the relic shrine, which was one gāvuta on each side and one yojana in total and the one yojana as its height. In this way, the master carpenter decided the size and the construction of the cetiya dedicated to the Buddha who possessed incomparable attributes.

(b) Ascetic Life and Attainment of Arahatship in His Final Existence

As a result of his decision on the size of the shrine of the Buddha, the possessor of unique attributes, he was short-bodied, shorter than others, in all his subsequent existences, and in his last existence in the lifetime of our Buddha, he was born in a wealthy family in the city of Savatthi. His parents named him Bhaddiya.

When the wealthy son Bhaddiya came of age, the Buddha was residing at Jetavana, He went to the monastery and listened to the Dhamma. So great was his faith that he received monkhood and learned the meditation subject from the Buddha. Putting effort in Vipassanā practice, he attained arahatship.

Teachings centring around Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya Mahāthera

(Herein, the worthy and inspiring discourses in connection with the Mahāthera will be reproduced in brief.)

Discourses leading to The Venerable’s Arahatship

After becoming a monk, he took the meditation subject from the Buddha and engaged himself in Vipassanā practice and attained sotāpatti-phala first. At that time, monk-learners (sikkhās), such as sotāpannas, sakadāgāmins and anāgāmins, approached Venerable Sāriputta to ask him for meditation subjects, or sermons or answers to their problems for the sake of higher attainments. In complying with their requests, the Venerable explained to them how to meditate; he gave them sermons and answered their questions. As the monks continued to strive, some attained sakadāgāmī stage, some anāgāmī stage, some acquired the threefold Knowledge, some the sixfold Psychic Power and some the four Analytical Knowledge.

Seeing these monks and poising himself to seize an opportunity for his own uplift, Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya reflected on his stoutness of heart and his being almost devoid of defilement; and reflecting thus, he approached the Venerable Sāriputta and exchanged greetings with him and made a request for a sermon. The Venerable on his part, gave a sermon that was in harmony with the young Venerable ’s inclination.

In accordance with the Venerable’s sermon, the Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya developed his Vipassanā wisdom along the line set in the teaching. On account of the two factors, namely, the might of the Venerable Sāriputta’s teaching and Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya’s possession of acts of merit done in the past, the latter’s Vipassanā wisdom improved, culminating in arahatship.

Fully aware of this, the Buddha, at that time uttered a solemn utterance as follows:

Uddh'aṃ adho sabbadhi vippamutto
ayaṃ hamasmī ti anānupassī.
Evaṃ vimutto udatāri oghaṃ
atiṇṇapubbam apunabbhavāya

An arahat, who has destroyed his āsavas is freed from above (uddhaṃ), i.e. the material elements (rūpa-dhatu) and the immaterial elements (arūpadhatu) as well as from below (adho), i.e. the elements of sensual pleasure (kāma-dhātu) and also with regard to all kinds of formations (sabbadhi), is freed in the manner of three kinds of deliverance, namely, deliverance by elimination (vikkhambhana-vimutti), deliverance by cutting off (samucchedavimutti) and deliverance by calming (paṭipassaddhi-vimutti). That arahat, who has destroyed his āsavas, no longer wrongly sees through conceit and false view (with regard to the five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa), taking “This really am I!” The arahat, who has thus been delivered in all manner from the ten fetters and all unwholesome things, has crossed the fourfold whirlpool or the whirlpool of saṃsāra which he had never dreamed to do so before the attainment of the noble Path. He had crossed over to the other shore through total extinction (anupādisesanibbāna) and stands blissfully there for taking no new birth.

(This is an extract from the Pathama-Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya Sutta, Cūḷavagga, Udāna Pāli.)

Further Sermons given by Venerable Sāriputta

As has been described in the first Sutta, while meditating based on the first advice received (from Venerable Sāriputta), Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya attained arahatship. But the Venerable Sāriputta was unaware of this (for lack of reflection) and still thinking that Bhaddiya was still a learner. (On a later day) the Venerable Sāriputta preached to him in detail, how to reach arahatship, by doubling the length of the sermon and touching upon many points, just as a very generous donor, when asked for a little, would lavishly give more than what was required. On his part, Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya did not react by thinking: “Now that l have done my duty as a monk, what is the use of this preaching of his,” instead he listened to the preaching as before with all reverence to the Dhamma (dhamma-garava).

Seeing the situation, the Buddha, staying at the Jetavana monastery of Savatthi, uttered a solemn utterance by means of His supernormal power so that Venerable Sāriputta might come to know of the destruction of moral defilements by the Venerable Lakundaka Bhaddiya:

Acchecchi vaṭṭaṃ vyagā nirāsaṃ
visukkhā saritā'na sandati.
Chinnaṃ vaṭṭaṃ na yattati
eseva'nto dukkhassa

In an arahat, who has destroyed āsavas, the round of moral defilement (kilesa-vaṭṭa) is cut off. [Note that the cutting of the round of moral defilement leads to that of the round of actions (kamma-vatta).] An arahat, who has destroyed āsavas, reached the wonderful bliss of Nibbāna that is free from craving. In an arahat who has destroyed āsavas, the morally defiling river of craving that has flowed steadily has been dried up by the fourth sun of arahatta-magga in the way the five great rivers were, because of the rising of the fourth sun when the world was on the verge of devolution. (Craving (taṇhā), is the cause of suffering, samudaya-sacca. Therefore, the elimination of craving means the elimination of all kinds of passion. Hence craving (taṇhā), is emphasised here.) By no means does the river-like craving flow any longer. The round of action that has been cut, the way the tree is uprooted, never repeats its being. (Note that the cutting of the round of action gives rise to that of the round of results (vipāka-vaṭṭa) that might otherwise take place in future.) The absence of the round of result due to the cutting of the round of passion and actions, is the end of suffering. (This is an extract from the second Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya Sutta, Cūla-vagga, Udāna Pāli.)

The Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya’s Virtues preached by The Buddha

Once, while the Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Sāvatthi, a large number of bhikkhu visited Him. At that time, Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddya, after going on alms-round with many other monks in a village, having finished his meal, washed his alms bowl, dried it, put it in its bag, carried it on his shoulder by means of a sling. He folded his outer garment and put it on his left shoulder. He had all forms of pleasant deportment, such as stepping forward, stepping backward, looking straightforward, looking sideward, bending, stretching, and casting down his eyes. He set out on foot to the Buddha with his mind well concentrated by both mindfulness (sati) and clear consciousness (sampajañña) treading on the fore footstep with the hind footstep.

When he went thus, he did not mix with others but followed behind them. Reason: he led a solitary life (eka-cārī). Another explanation: his ugly dwarfish body structure brought jeers and contempt from such worldly monks as Chabbaggiya-bhikkhus (the Band of Six). Remembering this, the considerate Venerable thought: “May these few worldly monks not develop unwholesomeness, on account of me!” Hence his following behind them. In this manner, these bhikkhus and the Venerable arrived in Sāvatthi and entered the Jetavana monastery and approached where the Buddha was.

Seeing from a distance the pleasant deportment of the Venerable who was following behind the monks, it occurred to the Buddha thus: “These monks do not know the greatness of might of my son. Therefore, some of these worldly monks have overwhelmed my son with contempt and jeers. Such actions would bring them no benefit but cause suffering for long. Now, the time has come for me to reveal the virtues of my son to them and thereby setting him free from their domineering acts of contempt.” So the Buddha asked the monks: “Do you see, monks, that bhikkhu who came behind you and who was bullied by some worldly monks with their mocking remarks because of his ugly dwarfish frame?” “Yes, we do, Exalted Buddha,” answered the monks. Then the Buddha said:

“Monks, this bhikkhu is of great supernormal power. There is almost no jhāna in which he has not engaged. (That is to say the monk had experienced in all the jhānas, such as rūpa-samāpatti, arūpa-samāpatti, brahmavihāra-samāpatti, nirodha-samāpatti, and phalasamāpatti. By this statement, the Venerable’s possession of supernormal powers is indicated.) The Venerable has personally accomplished arahatship, even in this present life, by realizing it through extraordinary intelligence——the arahatship that is the goal of peerless and noble practice sought after by those clansmen who tightly chose to leave household life for monkhood. (That is to say he is a monk who has continuously been absorbed in arahatta-phala-samāpatti. By this statement, the Venerable’s possession of might was manifested.) Arahatta-phala-samāpatti was enjoyed by the noble Venerable; hence it was his relish (āmubhāva).”,

After saying thus, the Buddha also gave a solemn utterance in verse as follows:

Nelaṅgo setapacchādo, ekāro vattati ratho.
anīghaṃ passa āyantaṃ, chinnasotaṃ abandhanaṃ

Behold carefully this chariot-like body frame of my son Lakundaka Bhaddiya. It consists of the wheel, the principal component part of the chariot equal to the flawless morality of arahatship; the coverings of the chariot equal to the white and clean emancipation of arahatship, the spokes of the wheel of the chariot equal to the incomparable mindfulness of arahatship; the chariot-like body frame of my bosom son Bhaddiya moves about in full swing even without lubrication. Following from behind a large number of monks, he has no suffering of defilement. All his trailing oil of craving has been eliminated. He had none of the ten fetters.

Here, the Buddha was so overjoyed because of the virtues of the Venerable that He urged others to have a look at the Venerable’s body.

(This is an extract from the Apara Lakundaka Bhaddiya Sutta, Cūḷavagga, Udāna Pāli.)

Besides, others accounts and preachings concerning the Venerable Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya may be noted from the Dhammapada Pāli and Commentary, the Theragāthā Pāli and Commentary, etc.

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

At a later time, while the Buddha was staying at Jetavana and holding a meeting, He declared, in respect of Thera Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ, bhikkhūnaṃ mañjussarānaṃ yadidam Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiyo.”

“Monks, Lakuṇḍaka Bhaddiya is the foremost (etadagga) among my disciples for having sweet voice.”

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