by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Bahiya Daruciriya 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).
(The original name of this bhikkhu-elder was Bāhiya which indicated the country he was born. Later, he was known as Bahiya Dārucīriya, ‘Bāhiya-clad-in-fibres’ because he wore wood fibre as his garment, the circumstances for which will be related here.)
(a) Aspiration expressed in The Past
The future Bāhiya Dārucīriya was born into a worthy family in the city of Haṃsāvatī, during the time of Buddha Padumuttara. As with other future great theras, he visited the Buddha’s monastery and while listening to a sermon, he witnessed a bhikkhu being declared by the Buddha as the foremost among the bhikkhus who attained enlightenment quickly. He was inspired to emulate that bhikkhu. So after making a great offering, he expressed his aspiration before the Buddha to that distinction in future. The Buddha saw that the aspiration would be fulfilled and made the prognostication.
Meditating Atop A Mountain
The future Bāhiya Dārucīriya spent all his life in doing deeds of merit and after his death, he was reborn in the deva-world and subsequently, either in the human world or the devaworld. At the time of the waning period of Buddha Kassapa’s Teaching, he and a group of like-minded bhikkhus chose a steep mountain where they went to the top and devoted their lives to meditation. (Refer to the story of the Venerable Dabba above.) Due to his pure and perfect morality, he was reborn in the deva realm.
(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence
During the interval between the two Buddhas (i.e. Buddha Kassapa and Buddha Gotama) he remained in his deva existence. When Buddha Gotama was about to appear, he was reborn into a worthy family in the country of Bāhiya. When he grew up, he married and went on a sea voyage to Suvannabhumi on a trading venture. The ship wrecked on the high seas and all but he perished and became the food of fishes and turtles.
As for him, being destined to fare in saṃsāra for the last existence, he survived holding on to a piece of the wrecked ship for seven days. He was driven awash on the sands of Suppāraka seaport town. Before meeting anyone, he had to cover up his naked body. So he wrapped himself with shroud of water plant from a reservoir. Then he picked a used old vessel for his alms-bowl.
His austere appearance attracted the attention of the people. “If there is an arahat in the world, this must be him!” So they remarked about him. They wondered whether the man (holy man in their judgment) was observing austere practice of the extreme type, and therefore was denying himself proper clothing. To verify their perception, they offered fine clothing to him. But Bahiya thought to himself: “These people receive me for my austere clothing only. It were well if I remain ill-clad so that their esteem for me would sustain.” So he refused the fine clothes. As a result, the people had greater respect for him and honoured him lavishly.
After having his meal, collected as alms from the people, Bāhiya retired to a traditional shrine. The people followed him there. They cleaned up the place for him to stay. Bāhiya then thought: “Just by my external appearance these people show so much reverence to me. It behoves me to live up to their perception. I must remain an ascetic, well and true.” He collected fibres from wood and, stringing then up with twine, clothed himself after his own mode of clothing. (From that time, he got the name ‘Bāhiya-Dārucīriya’, Bahiya-in-woodfibres.)
Of the seven bhikkhus who went atop a mountain to meditate for Insight during the later part of Buddha Kassapa’s time, the second bhikkhu attained anāgāmī-phala and was reborn in the Suddhāvasa. As soon as he was reborn in that Brahmā realm, he reviewed his previous life and saw that he was one of the seven bhikkhus who had went to the top of a steep mountain to meditate and that one had attained arahatship in that existence. Of the remaining five, he took an interest in their present existence and saw that all of them were reborn in the deva-world.
Now that one of them had become a bogus arahat at Suppāraka, living on the credulity of the people, he felt it was his duty to put his former friend on the righteous course. He felt sorry for Bāhiya Dārucīriya because, in his former life, this bhikkhu was of a very high moral principle, even refusing the alms-food collected by his colleague, the arahat. He also wished to draw Bāhiya’s attention to the appearance of Buddha Gotama in the world. He thought of causing an emotional awakening in his old friend and in that instant he descended from the Brahmā realm and appeared before Bāhiya Dārucīriya in all his personal splendour.
Bāhiya Dārucīriya was suddenly attracted by the strange luminosity and came out of his dwelling. He saw the Brahmā and, raising his joined palms together, asked: “Who are you, Sir?” “I am an old friend of yours. During the later part of Buddha Kassapa’s time, I was one of the seven bhikkhus, including yourself, who went up a steep mountain and practised meditation for Insight. (I attained anāgāmī-phala, and have been reborn in the Brahmāworld. The eldest of us became an arahat then and had passed away from that existence. The remaining five of you, after passing away from that existence, were reborn in the deva realm. I have come to you to admonish you against making a living on the credulity of people. O Bahiya, (1) you have not become an arahat; (2) you have not attained arahatta-magga; (3) you have not even started training yourself for arahatship. (You have not got an iota of the Right Practice to gain arahatship.) The Buddha has now appeared in the world, and is residing at the Jetavana monastery in Sāvatthi. I urge you to go and see Him.” After admonishing him thus, the Brahmā returned to his abode.
Attainment of Arahatship
Bahiya Daruciriya was emotionally awakened by the words of the Brahmā and decided to seek the Path that leads to Nibbāna. He went straight to Savatthi. Covering the 120-yojana distance in just one night, he reached Savatthi in the morning.
The Buddha knew that Bāhiya Dārucīriya was coming to see Him but seeing that his faculties, such as faith, were not ripe enough to receive (understand) the truth and in order to let them ripen, He delayed receiving Bāhiya Dārucīriya and went into the city for collecting alms-food, accompanied by many bhikkhus.
After the Buddha had left the Jetavana monastery, Bāhiya Dārucīriya entered the monastery and found some bhikkhus strolling in the open after having had their breakfast, so as to prevent drowsiness. He asked them where the Buddha had gone, and was told that He had gone on alms-round in the city. The bhikkhus inquired him from which place he had come. “I come from Suppāraka port, Venerable Sirs.” “You have come from quite afar. Wash your feet, apply some oil to smooth your legs, and rest a while. The Bhagavā will not be long to return and you will see Him.”
Although the bhikkhus very kindly extended their hospitality, Bāhiya Dārucīriya was impatient. He said: “Venerable Sirs, I cannot know if I am to meet with some danger to my life. I have come post-haste, covering the 120-yojana distance in just one night, not allowing myself any rest on the way. I must see the Bhagava before thinking of any rest.” So saying, he proceeded into the city and got into full view of the Buddha who commanded an unrivalled personality. As he viewed the Buddha proceeding along the road, he reflected thus: “Ah, what a long time had passed before I have the opportunity of seeing the Bhagavā!” He stood rooted on the spot from where he was watching the Buddha, his heart filled with delightful satisfaction, his eyes never so much as winking, and riveted on the person of the Buddha.
With his body bent down in salutation to the Buddha, and himself immersed in the glorious aura of the Buddha, he drew himself towards Him, prostrating on the ground with the fivefold contact in worshipping and caressing the Buddha’s feet reverentially, kissed them enthusiastically. He said:
“Venerable Sir, may the Bhagavā give me a discourse. The discourse of the Well-Spoken One will be of benefit to me for a long time.”
The Buddha said: “Bāhiya, this is not the time for giving a discourse. We are in the city on alms-round.”
(Herein it might be asked: “Has the Buddha any inappropriate time for doing for the welfare of the sentient world?” The answer: “The inappropriate time” here refers not to the Buddha but only to the recipient of the Buddha’s message. It is beyond the ordinary person (even for an ordinary arahat for that matter) to know the ripeness of a person’s faculties to be able to receive the Buddha’s message. Bāhiya’s faculties were not yet ripe to receive it. But it would be futile to say so to him, for he would not make any head or tail out of it. That was why the Buddha only gave the reason, “We are on alms-round” for not giving a discourse and did not mention the faculties. The point is that although the Buddha is ever ready to give a discourse to a person who is ready to understand it. The Buddha knows when that person is ready and when he is not. He does not make a discourse until the hearer’s faculties are ripe because by doing so, the discourse would not bring enlightenment to him.)
When this was said by the Buddha, Bāhiya Dārucīriya said for a second time: “Venerable Sir, it is not possible for me to know if the Bhagavā were to meet with some danger to His life, or if I were to meet with some danger to my life. Therefore, may the Bhagavā give me a discourse. The discourse of the Well-Spoken One will be of benefit to me for a long time.”
And for the second time the Buddha said: “Bāhiya, this is not the time for giving a discourse. We are in the city on the alms-round.” (The same answer was so given because the faculties of Bahiya were still not ripe yet.)
(Herein Bāhiya had such great concern for his safety because he was destined to live this life as his last existence and his past merit prompted him to mention the extreme urgency about his safety. The reason is that for one destined to live his last life in saṃsāra, it is not possible that he dies without becoming an arahat. The Buddha wanted to give a discourse to Bahiya and yet had to refuse for a second time for these reasons: He knew that Bahiya was overwhelmed by delightful satisfaction on seeing Him which was not conducive to gaining Insight and Bahiya’s mind needed to be calmed down into a state of equanimity. Besides, Bāhiya’s arduous journey of 120 yojanas that was made in a single night had rendered him very weak physically. He needed some rest before being able to listen to the discourse profitably.)
For a third time, Bāhiya Dārucīriya made his ardent request to the Buddha. And the Buddha, seeing:
(1) that Bāhiya’s mind has been calmed down into a state of equanimity;
(2) that he had enjoyed some physical rest and had overcome his fatigue;
(3) that his faculties had ripened; and
(4) that danger to his life was imminent, decided that the time had arrived to give him a discourse.
Accordingly, the Buddha made His discourse briefly as follows:
(1) “That being so, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: in seeing visible objects (any visible object), be aware of the seeing as just seeing; in hearing sounds, be aware of the hearing as just hearing; likewise in experiencing odours, tastes and tangible objects be aware of the experiencing of smelling, tasting, and touching, as just smelling, tasting and touching respectively; and in cognizant mind objects, i.e. thoughts and ideas, be aware of just as cognizant.
(2) “Bāhiya, if you are able to remain aware of the seeing, the hearing, the experiencing, and the cognition of the (four categories of) sense objects, you will then be one who is not associated with attachment, hatred or bewilderment on account of the visible object that is seen, the sound that is heard, the palpable object that is experienced, or the mind-object that is cognized. In other words, certainly you will not be one who is attached, who hates, or who is bewildered.
(3) “Bāhiya, if on account of the visible object that is seen, the sound that is heard, the palpable object that is experienced, the mind-object that is cognized, you should have become not associated with attachment, hatred or bewilderment, i.e. if you should indeed have become not one who has attachment, who hates, or who is bewildered, then Bahiya, you will indeed become one who is not subject to craving, conceit or wrong view on account of the sense object that is seen, heard, experienced, or cognized. You will then have no thought of ‘This is mine’ (due to craving), no concept of ‘I’ (due to conceit), or no lingering idea or concept of ‘my self’ (due to wrong view).
(4) “Bāhiya, if you should indeed become one not subjected to craving, conceit or wrong view on account of the visible object that is seen, the sound that is heard, the palpable object that is experienced, the mind-object that is cognized, then Bahiya, (due to the absence of craving, conceit and wrong view in you) you will no more be reborn here in the human world, nor will you be reborn in the four remaining destinations (i.e. deva-world, the niraya world, the world of animals and the world of hungry spirits or petas). Apart from the present existence (of the human world) and the four remaining destinations, there is no other destination for you. The non-arising of fresh mind-andmatter virtually is the end of the defilements that are dukkha and the resultant round of existences that is dukkha.”
The Buddha thus discoursed on the Doctrine culminating in the ultimate Cessation or Nibbāna where no substrata of existence (the khandhas) remain.
(Herein, Bāhiya Dārucīriya was one who liked a brief exposition (saṅkhittarucipuggala). Therefore, the Buddha in expounding the six sense objects did not go into all the six in detail, but combined odour, taste and tangible object as ‘palpable objects’. Thus the sense objects are grouped here under four headings only: what is seen (diṭṭha), what is heard (suta), what is experienced (muta), and what is cognized (viññāta).
(1) Regarding the four steps in the above exposition, in the Buddha’s admonition to be just aware of the seeing as mere seeing, the hearing as mere hearing, the experiencing as mere experiencing, the cognition as mere cognition in respect of the four classes of respective sense objects which are conditioned phenomena, connotes that as eye-consciousness arises in seeing a visible object, as earconsciousness arises in hearing a sound, as nose-consciousness arises in smelling an odour, as tongue-consciousness arises in tasting a flavour, or as mindconsciousness arises in cognizing a mind-object, there is just consciousness and there is no attachment, hatred or bewilderment there. (The reader should acquaint himself with the nature of the five-door cognition process and the mind-doorprocess.)
(Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness and body-consciousness, these five kinds of consciousness are called the Five Kinds of Sense-consciousness.) The Buddha enjoined Bāhiya that he should strive diligently, not to let craving, hatred and bewilderment creep in the impulsion thought-moments that follow the five-door cognition process and the mind-doorprocess that arise at the instant of the arising of those five kinds of senseconsciousness, at which stage, there is no craving, hatred or bewilderment, but pure sense-cognition alone. For at the impulsion moment, the appreciation of these sense objects naturally tend to let in greed, hatred and bewilderment.
(The Buddha enjoined Bāhiya to strive diligently and not to allow greed, hatred and bewilderment to arise at the moment of impulsion in the thought-process because he wanted Bāhiya to understand that erroneous concept, such as, ‘This is permanent’, ‘This is happy’, ‘This is beautiful’, or ‘This is substantial’, tends to creep in (to an unguarded mind), in respect of these four categories (groups) of sense objects. Only if one considers them as impermanent, miserable, ugly, and insubstantial, can there arise no erroneous impulsions to conceive them as permanent, happy, beautiful and substantial. Then only can Insight arise, whereby great meritorious impulsions follow (the neutral thought-process at the sensecognition stage). The Buddha warned Bahiya to guard against thinking wrongly the conditioned phenomena which represent the four categories of sense objects as being permanent, happy, beautiful and substantial, and to view them, as they truly were, as being impermanent, miserable, ugly and insubstantial, and thus cultivate Insight so as to let the great meritorious impulsions follow (the sense-cognition).
(By showing the right view to regard the four kinds of sense objects which are conditioned phenomena, as being impermanent, miserable, ugly and insubstantial, the Buddha (in 1 above) teaches Bāhiya Dārucīriya the six lower stages of Purity and the ten stages of insight.
(In (2): “Bāhiya, if you are able to remain aware of the seeing, the hearing, the experiencing, and the cognition of the four categories of sense objects, which are conditioned phenomena, through the ten stages of Insight and attain the Pathknowledge, then you will have eradicated greed, hatred and bewilderment; you will not be one who craves, who hates, or who is bewildered. In other words, you will be free from greed, hatred and bewilderment.” This indicates the four maggas.
(In (3): Ariyas on attaining ariya-phala are totally un-influenced by craving, conceit and wrong view, so that they never conceive any conditioned phenomena represented by the four categories of sense objects as ‘I’, ‘mine’ or ‘myself’. This indicates the ariya-phala.
(In (4): An arahat, after the death-conscious moment, ceases to be reborn either in this the world of human beings or in any of the four other destinations. This is the total cessation of the aggregates of mind and matter, and is called Nibbāna, without leaving any trace of the aggregates. This step indicates this Ultimate Nibbāna, the Remainderless Cessation.)
Bāhiya Dārucīriya even while listening to the Buddha’s discourse, had the four kinds of bhikkhu morality purified, and had the mind purified through concentration and his Insight, having cultivated during that short moment, he gained arahatta-phala with the fourfold Analytical Knowledge (patisambhidā-ñāṇa). He was able to destroy all the āsavas, the moral intoxicants, because he was of a rare type of person (through past merit) destined to gain enlightenment quickly, being endowed with inherent knowledge.
After attaining arahatta-phala, Bāhiya Dārucīriya, on reviewing himself with the Reviewing Knowledge (Paccavekkhaṇāñāṇa) of 19 factors, felt the necessity, as in the usual way of an arahat, to become a bhikkhu and requested the Buddha to admit him into the Order. The Buddha asked him: “Have you got the bhikkhu's alms-bowl and robes?” “Not yet, Venerable Sir,” he replied. “In that case,” said the Buddha, “go and find them first.” After saying so the Buddha continued His alms-round in the city of Sāvatthi.
(Bāhiya had been a bhikkhu during the time of Buddha Kassapa’s Teaching. He remained a bhikkhu and strove for enlightenment for twenty-thousand years. During that time, whenever he received bhikkhu requisites, he thought that these gains he made were due to his own past merit of alms-giving and did not consider it necessary to share them with fellow bhikkhus. For that lack of charity in giving away robes or alms bowl to other bhikkhus, he lacked the necessary merit to be called up by the Buddha as, “Come, bhikkhu.” There are other teachers who explain differently about why the Buddha did not call up Bāhiya with the words, “Come, bhikkhu.” According to them, Bāhiya was reborn as a robber in a world-system where no Buddha arose. He robbed a Paccekabuddha of his robes and alms-bowl by killing Him with bow and arrow. The Buddha knew, that on account of that evil deed, Bāhiya Dārucīriya could not enjoy the benefit of mind-made robes and bowl (even if the Buddha called him up, saying: “Come, bhikkhu.”) (Commentary on the Udāna). However, the evil consequence of that evil deed is more relevant with the fact of Bāhiya’s fate in having no proper clothing but fibres of wood.)
Bāhiya’s Tragic Demise
Bāhiya left the Buddha and roamed the city looking for alms-bowl and piece of rags for making robes, etc. While doing so, he was gored to death by a cow which had a suckling calf.
(In some past existences, four sons of rich men hired a prostitute and enjoyed themselves in a park. When the day was out, one of them suggested that they should rob the girl of her possessions in the form of jewellery and a thousand silver coins in the darkness where nobody was around. The three friends agreed. They attacked her brutally. The girl had angry thoughts while being hit by them: “These wicked and shameless men have used me under passionate impulse and now try to kill me out of greed. I have done no wrong to them. I am helpless now. Let them kill me this time. May I become an Ogress in my future lives and be able to kill these men many times over!” She died making this curse.
(In later existence, one of those four wicked men was reborn as Pukkusāti in a worthy family; another was reborn as Bāhiya Dārucīriya; another one was reborn as Tambadāṭhika, a robber; another one was reborn as a leper named Suppabuddha. The prostitute had been reborn as an ogress in hundreds of various forms of existences of the four murderers whom she gored to death assuming the form of a cow. Bāhiya thus met untimely death;he was killed on the spot.)
——Commentary on the Udāna——
When the Buddha had finished the alms-round and left the city in the company of many bhikkhus, He found the dead body of Bāhiya in a refuse dump, and He said to the bhikkhus: “Go now, bhikkhus, get a cot from some house and carry the body of Bahiya, give a proper funeral by cremation, and enshrine the relics.” The bhikkhus carried out the Buddha’s instructions.
Back at the monastery, the bhikkhus reported to the Buddha the completion of their tasks and asked the Buddha: “Venerable Sir, what is the destination of Bāhiya?” By this question they were inquiring whether Bāhiya died a worldling, or an ariya who had not done away with rebirth, or an arahat who had lived his last life, The Buddha explained: “Bhikkhus, Bahiya is wise. He trains himself in accordance with the gaining of the supramundane. He has caused me no trouble on account the Doctrine. Bhikkhus, Bāhiya has made the end of dukkha.”
(Herein the Buddha’s instructions to the bhikkhus to enshrine the relics of Bahiya was a plain indication of the fact that Bāhiya died an arahat. But some of the bhikkhus failed to understand the implication of the instructions or it is possible that they asked the Buddha in order to make the fact even clearer.) The Buddha’s Stanza on The Occasion
On hearing that (the Venerable) Bāhiya Dārucīriya had died an arahat, the bhikkhus were full of wonder. They said to the Buddha: “When did Bahiya Daruciriya attain arahatship, Venerable Sir?” “From the moment he heard My discourse,” replied the Buddha. “When did the Bhagavā give him a discourse?” “Today, on my alms-round.” “But, Venerable Sir, then the discourse must have been rather insignificant. How could such a brief discourse make him enlightened?”
“Bhikkhus, how can you judge the effect of My discourse whether long or short? A thousand verses of unprofitable words are not worth a single verse that is replete with benefit to the hearer.”
And the Buddha on that occasion uttered the following stanza:
(Bhikkhus) better than a thousand verses that are not conducive to knowledge is a single verse (such as ‘Mindfulness is the way to Deathlessness’) by hearing which the hearer is pacified.
By the end of the discourse many beings gained the various levels of Path-Knowledge, such as sotāpatti-phala, etc.
(c) Etadagga Title achieved
In one occasion, when the Buddha was amidst the congregation, He declared:
“Bhikkhus, among my bhikkhu-disciples who gain the Path-Knowledge quickly, Bāhiya Dārucīriya (who is now no more) is the foremost (etadagga).”