The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Kaccayana 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

The good man, the future Kaccāyana Mahāthera, was brought up in a family of householders during the lifetime of the Buddha Padumuttara. One day, he went to the monastery and stood at the edge of the audience listening to a sermon. Seeing the Buddha declared someone as foremost (etadagga) among those who were good at elaborately and analytically preaching the Dhamma which had been spoken of in brief, it occurred to him thus: “This monk is supreme indeed! He was praised by the Exalted One as the best among those who can elaborate and teach in detail (what is briefly taught by the Buddha), I too should become a monk with such a title in the dispensation of a future Buddha.” So thinking, he invited the Buddha and performed a grand dāna for seven days in the way mentioned above. “Exalted One,” said the man, “as a result of seven days mahā-dāna, I do not wish for any other bliss but to be the foremost (etadagga) like the monk, who, seven days ago, being declared (as the best among those who can elaborately and analytically speak what has been briefly spoken).” Having said thus, he prostrated at the feet of the Buddha.

When the Buddha Padumuttara surveyed the future, He saw that the clansman’s wish would be fulfilled. He therefore prophesied saying: “O friend clansman, at the end of a hundred aeons from now, there will appear Buddha Gotama. In His dispensation, you will become the foremost (etadagga) among those bhikkhus who are able to expound in detail the meaning of the doctrines taught briefly.” After giving an appreciative sermon the Buddha left.

Donation of Gold Bricks

Having performed meritorious deeds till he died, the clansman was reborn either in the deva-world and the human world for a hundred thousand aeons and was born in a good family, in the city of Bārāṇasī during the lifetime of the Buddha Kassapa. When the Buddha entered Parinibbāna, the clansman went to the site where a gold cetiya was being built. There he donated bricks of gold worth a hundred thousand coins in honour of the Buddha and wished: “Glorious Buddha, in whichever plane of existence I am born may the colour of my body be gold!”

(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence

Having performed acts of merit, he was reborn either in the deva-world or the human world for one asaṅkhyeyya-kappa during the interval between two Buddhas. In the lifetime of our Buddha, he was a son of the Purohita in the city of Ujjenī. On his naming day, his father remarked: “My son having a golden complexion brings his own name.” He was, therefore, named Kañcans (gold) by his parents and relatives. On reaching adulthood, the golden boy was accomplished in the three Vedas. When his father, the Purohita, died he succeeded him in the same post. He, as the Purohita, was also known by the name of his clan, which was Kaccāna. (a contracted form of Kaccāyana).

King Caṇḍapajjota summoned his ministers and said: “Ministers, a Buddha has emerged in the world. Those of you who are able to bring Him to me may do so.” When the ministers unanimously replied: “Great King, no one except the Purohita Kaccāna was able to do so. He may be sent to bring the Buddha.” The King then summoned him and said: “Friend Kaccāna, go and bring the Buddha to me.” “Noble King,” replied Kaccāna, “I shall go, provided I have your permission to become a monk.” “Friend Kaccāna, do whatever you want, but bring the Buddha.” So saying, the King gave his permission.

Thinking: “Those who go to a Buddha should not do so in a large company,” so he went to the Buddha with others, he being the eighth (i.e. he took only seven companions with him). The Buddha taught a sermon, at the end of the sermon, Purohita Kaccāna attained arahatship together with his seven companions, all being endowed with Analytical Knowledge (Paṭisambhidā-patta). Then the Buddha stretching out his right hand and called out: “Come, monks.” The hair and the beard of all eight instantly disappeared; alms-bowl and robes created by miracle (iddhimaya) appeared on their bodies. They achieved ascetic life and their appearances became that of mahātheras of sixty or eighty years' standing.

Having reached the apex of his monkhood (which was arahatship), Venerable Kaccāna did not forget but requested the Buddha to visit the city of Ujjenī by reciting verses in praise of the journey, as did the Venerable Kāḷudāyī. Hearing the words of the Venerable Kaccāna, the Buddha came to know: “Kaccāna wants me to go to Ujjenī. Buddhas do not set out to a place which is not worth visiting due to some reasons.” Therefore, He asked Venerable Kaccāna: “Dear son, you alone go to Ujjenī. If you go, King Caṇḍapajjota will be pleased.”

Being aware that “Buddhas speak no word of ambiguity,” the Venerable made obeisance most respectfully and left for Ujjenī City with the seven bhikkhus who were once his companions.

Two Daughters of Different Merchant

While on the way to Ujjenī, the Venerable went on an alms round in the township of Telapanāḷi, which was situated in the middle of his journey. In that township lived two ladies whose fathers were merchants. Of them one belonged to the family of the merchant whose business had failed. When her parents died, she had to live, depending upon her nurse. But she possessed a full and beautiful body; her hair was longer than that of others, softer and more pliant as well and in jet-black, resembling the colour of a bee. The other lady, living in the same township, had less hair. Prior to the Venerable Kaccāna’s visit, she tried to buy some hair from the lady with luxuriant hair through a messenger saying that she would pay her a hundred or a thousand coins or any price demanded. But the owner of the hair refused to sell.

On the day that Venerable Kaccāna came for alms-food, the lady with the beautiful hair saw him together with the seven bhikkhus but with empty alms-bowls. Then it occurred to her: “A golden complexion descendant of Brahmā has come with the bowl that has been washed empty but I have no other things to offer. This lady happen to have sent somebody to buy my hair. Now I shall get enough offerings for the noble Venerable with the money from the sale of my hair.” So she sent her nurse to invite the Venerables and gave them seats in her house.

When the Venerables began to sit down, the lady went into her chamber and asked her nurse to cut her hair and she sent her, saying: “Mother, go and sell my hair to the lady of such and such a name and bring back whatever amount of money paid by her. We shall offer food to the Venerable Ones.”

The [sad] nurse wiped her tears with the back of the palm of her one hand and holding up her breast with the other hand, she went to the other lady, secretly carrying the hair so that the Venerables might not see it.

“It is a usual way of dealing on the part of the buyer to have no appreciation for the thing personally brought by the seller however much the merchandise is excellent and valuable.” (i.e. the buyer tries to get it at a very low price.)

Hence, the wealthy but poor haired lady thought: “Formerly I was unable to obtain the hair although I was willing to pay a lot of money for it. Now the hair has been cut off but she will not get the original price. She must accept any amount I am going to pay.” Accordingly she said to the nurse: “Nurse, I failed to get the hair despite my offer of much money to your mistress. The lifeless object such as this hair which might have fallen anywhere is worth only eight coins.” So she paid the nurse only eight coins, an unreasonably low price.

The nurse brought the money to her mistress who offered a portion of food worth a coin to each of the eight monks. When the Venerable Kaccāna reflected, he saw the lady’s act of merit was full of potentials. So he asked: “Where is the lady now?” “In her chamber, Sir,” answered the nurse. The Venerable then asked the nurse to bring the lady before him.

The lady, donor of the alms-food, came out at the Venerable’s request, made but once, for she had much respect for the monks and having bowed before them, she developed her strong faith repeatedly in them. (The seeds of food-gift sown in the Buddha’s dispensation which is likened to the fertile soil yield good results even in the present life.) Hence, as soon as the lady bowed down, her hair became luxuriant as before. The Venerables then received the food and rose to the sky even while she was seeing them; and they descended at King Caṇḍapajjota’s garden called Kañcana-vana.

Having seen the Venerable Kaccāna, the gardener went to the King and informed: “Great King, our master, the Purohita Kaccāna, became a monk and visited the royal garden.” King Caṇḍapajjota went to the garden and made obeisance to the Venerable, who had finished his meal, with five kinds of veneration and sat at a suitable place and asked: “Venerable Sir, where is the Exalted One?” When the Venerable answered: “Noble King, the Buddha Himself has not come yet. He has just sent me."The King asked again: “Venerable Sir, from where did you get the meal today?” In replying to the King’s question appropriately, Venerable Kaccāna told the King all about the hard-earned merit of the lady who was his alms-food giver.

Having provided the Venerable with accommodations, King Caṇḍapajjota invited him to the next day’s meal and returned to the palace where he called up the lady, the food donor, by royal order and made her his Chief Queen. This was only the acquisition of wealth and happiness in the present life by the lady as the result of the first impulsive (pathamajavana) wholesome volition.

(Herein the meaning is: in performing dāna such as food-offering, there are seven impulsive moments concerning great wholesome volition (mahā-kusala-cetanā). Of them, the first impulsive volition results in the present life, if there are favourable circumstances. Hence, the first impulsive volition is called diṭṭha-dhamma vedaniya-kamma, “deed resulting in the present life.” The seventh impulsive volition result in the second life, if there are favourable circumstances. Hence it is called upapajja-vedaniya-kama, “deed resulting in the immediately following life.” The volition of the middle five impulsions results in successive lives from the third, if there are favourable circumstances. Hence, any volition of these middle five impulsion is called aparāpariya-vedaniya-kamma, “deed resulting in successive lives.” It means deed resulting in successive existences.

(“When a deed brings about its result”, the result is of two kinds: bhava and bhavasamāpatti. The resultant mental aggregates and the body formed by kamma that emerged at the time of conception (paṭisandhi) and at the time of growing (pavatti) are called bhava result. The mental aggregate and the body generated by kamma are called patti-bhava. Various forms of wealth enjoyed in life are called bhavasamāpatti result.

(Of the three kinds of resulting deeds, the upapajja-vendaniya-kama and aparāpariya-vedaniya-kamma bring fully their respective bhava-result and bhavasamāpatti result. As regards the first impulsive volition or the deed resulting in the present life, when it results presently, it brings only bhava-samāpatti, i.e., various forms of wealth to be enjoyed in that life, but not bhava because that result has already given by janaka-kamma that had created conception as its result in this life.

Therefore, the first impulsive volition or the deed resulting in the present life of the lady in question brought her only the bhava-samāpatti result which was wealth and property in the same existence.)

From that time onwards, King Caṇḍapajjota did great honour to Venerable Kaccāna. Pleased with the teaching of the Venerable, many became monks in his presence. Since then, the whole city of Ujjenī had been overwhelmed with the colour of the robes and blown by the breeze caused by the movements of going and coming of the monks. The Queen conceived a son and when she gave birth to him after ten months, the prince was named Gopāla after his grandfather. Subsequently the Queen became well-known by the name of Gopālamātā in relation to her son. As Queen Gopāla-mātā was so impressed by the Venerable Kaccāna, she built a big monastery for him, in the garden of Kaccāna-vana and donated it to him with the King’s permission. Having made the people of Ujjenī faithful in the Buddha’s dispensation, the Venerable returned to the Buddha.

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

At a later time, while staying at Jetavana, in the assembly of monks, the Buddha spoke in praise of Venerable Kaccāna and declared him foremost (etadagga), in connection with the three discourses: (1) the Madhupiṇḍika Sutta, (2) the Kaccāna-peyyāla and (3) the Pārāyana Sutta:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhunaṃ saṃkhittena bhāsitassa vitthārena atthaṃ vibhajantānam yadidaṃ Mahākaccāno.”

“Monks, among my disciples who are able to analyse in elaboration what has been taught briefly, the monk Mahākaccāna is the foremost (etadagga).”

The sermons given by the Venerable may he taken from the Apādāna Text and its Commentary, the Therā-gāthā Text and its Commentary, etc.

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