The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Kankha Revata 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, during the lifetime of Buddha Padumuttara, the future Kaṅkhā Revata Mahāthera went to the monastery along with many other people, like those virtuous future Mahātheras of old times. And while standing at the edge of the audience and listening to a sermon, he saw the Buddha declaring a certain monk the foremost (etadagga) among meditators. Thinking: “I too should become one like this monk,” he invited the Buddha for dāna on a grand scale for seven days. At the end of the sermon on the last day, in the wake of former aspirants, he wished: “Exalted Buddha, I do not wish for any other forms of bliss as a result of this wholesome adhikāra act but to be the foremost (etadagga) among those engaged in meditation in the dispensation of a Buddha in future, like the bhikkhu whom You declared seven days ago.”

When the Buddha Padumattara surveyed the future, He saw that the clansman’s wish would be fulfilled and so He predicted before His departure: “At the end of a hundred thousand aeons, there will appear Buddha Gotama. In the dispensation of that Buddha, you will become the foremost (etadagga) among the monks engaged in meditation!”

(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence

Due to his acts of merit throughout his life, the clansman was reborn either in the worlds of devas or humans and, in the lifetime of our Buddha, he was reborn in the family of a wealthy household in Savatthi and was named Revata. One afternoon the rich man’s son, Revata, went along with other people to Jetavana. While standing at the edge of the gathering and listening to the Buddha’s sermon, there arose confidence in Him and he was ordained as a bhikkhu fulfilling monastic duties. After taking a meditation subject from the Buddha, while preparing himself for mental concentration, he became a man of mundane jhāna. Using those jhānas as a base, he engaged in Vipassanā meditation and attained arahatship.

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

The Venerable Revata was able to absorb most forms of meditation which the Buddha engaged in during day and night. Thereafter, in the meeting of monks, the Buddha declared Venerable Kaṅkhā Revata the foremost (etadagga) in meditation, praising him:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkūnaṃ jhāyīnaṃ yadidaṃ Kaṅkhā Revato.”

“Monks, among my disciples who habitually engage in meditation, the monk Kaṅkhā Revata is the best.”

Account for The Name Kaṅkhā Revata

Once, the Buddha was travelling from Sāvatthi to Rājagaha and on the way Revata entered a hut in which molasses were made. Seeing that the molasses were mixed with dough and bran (as part of the process which was necessary to solidify the molasses), he became doubtful as to the permissibility of the solidified molasses which had the two other ingredients, for the latter two were raw (āmisa). Saying: “The molasses with the raw (ingredients) is improper as it contains dough and bran, which are raw. It is indisciplinary, it is unlawful to enjoy such molasses in the afternoon.” As such, he and his followers did not take the molasses that had been made thus into lumps.

Neither did the bhikkhus, who believed the Venerable’s word and practised according to it. Other bhikkhus reported the matter to the Buddha who asked: “Monks, why did people put dough and bran into the molasses?” “To harden it, Exalted Buddha,” answered the monks. “Monks, if dough and bran are put into the molasses in order to harden it, then the dough and the bran thus put into the molasses are only to be held as molasses. Monks, I allow you to take molasses, whenever you like,” the Buddha promulgated a rule (anuññātasikkhāpada).

On the journey, Revata saw mung (mugga) beans with sprouts in some human faeces and said: “Mung beans are unsuitable (for consumption), for cooked beans can sprout too.” Thus, he doubted and, along with his followers, he did not have mung beans. The bhikkhus, who trusted him, avoid eating those beans too. The matter was reported to the Buddha who laid down another rule allowing the eating of such beans whenever one desired. (These accounts are given in the Bhesajjakkhandhaka of the Vinaya Mahā-Vagga.)

In this way, Revata doubted even things that were permitted. Because he had great doubts as far as the Vinaya was concerned, he was known as Kaṅkhā Revata, ‘Revata the Doubter.’

The doctrines with reference to Kaṅkhā Revata may be taken from the Apādāna Text and Commentary, the Theragāthā Commentary, etc.

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