The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Kaludayi 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 future Kāḷudāyī was born into a worthy family in the city of Haṃsavati, during the time of Buddha Padumuttara. While he was listening to a discourse by the Buddha, he happened to witness the Buddha acknowledged a bhikkhu as ‘being the foremost disciple who could arouse devotion in the Buddha’s kinsmen, even before they had met the Buddha’. The worthy man (future Kāḷudāyī) aspired to such an honour during the time of some future Buddhas. After making the great offerings, he expressed his aspiration before the Buddha. Later, the Buddha uttered words predicting the fulfilment of the his aspiration.

(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence

Future Kāḷudāyī devoted himself to meritorious deeds till the end of his life. He was reborn in the fortunate destinations only. Finally, he was conceived in the womb of the mother who was of a high official family in Kapilavatthu. This took place simultaneously with the conception of the Buddha-to-be (Prince Siddhattha,). And the two boys were born on the same day. His parents placed him on a white cloth and presented him to King Suddhodāna to become an attendant to Prince Siddhattha.

The Name Kāḷudāyī

On the day of naming the boy, they named him Udāyī because he was born on the same day the Buddha-to-be was born, and the whole city was filled with joy and excitement on that. Since the boy had a slightly dark skin, the word ‘kāḷa’ (dark), was prefixed to the original name of Udāyī and he was therefore called Kāḷudāyī. As a boy, Kāḷudāyī lived in the royal palace and he played games privately with Prince Siddhattha in the place of Kapilavatthu.

Later on, Prince Siddhattha renounced the world and spent six harrowing years in pursuit of the Truth. He eventually attained Enlightenment and delivered His First Sermon, the Dhammacakka. He was then residing at Rājagaha which was His place for collecting almsfood. (This happened on the dark fortnight of the cold month of Phussa, in the year 103 of the Great Era.) When King Suddhodāna heard the good news that his son, the Buddha, was residing at the Veḷuvana monastery in Rājagaha, he sent a courtier with an entourage of one thousand men, whose order was to request the Buddha to pay a visit to Kapilavatthu. The royal messenger made the sixty yojana journey to Rājagaha and entered the Veḷuvana monastery. At that time, the Buddha was teaching a discourse to the audience which consisted of four types of listeners. The royal messenger sat at the edge of the audience and paid attention to the Buddha’s discourse, thinking that the king’s message would be communicated to the Buddha after the discourse. But, even while he was listening attentively to the sermon, he, as well as his entourage of one thousand men, gained arahatship. Then the Buddha, extending His hand and said to them: “Come, bhikkhus”, and all the men instantly became ehi-bhikkhus with the grave appearance of sixty-year of bhikkhu standing (i.e. at eighty years of age) and fully equipped with requisites created magically (Iddhimayaparikkhāra).

As it is in the nature of ariyas to become indifferent to worldly matters, the thousand bhikkhus did not impart King Suddhodāna’s message to the Buddha. They dwelt in the bliss of the attainment of arahatta-phala.

King Suddhodāna felt annoyed to hear nothing from his messenger and sent another courtier with a thousand men on the same mission.

This messenger also went before the Buddha, became absorbed in the His discourse, and attained arahatship together with his one thousand men. In this way, King Suddhodāna sent a total of nine missions, one after another, each headed by a courtier with an entourage of one thousand men to the Buddha and all the nine messengers and their nine thousand men neglected their mission because they attained arahatship before they could extend the King’s invitation to the Buddha.

Kāḷudāyī’s Mission to Kapilavatthu

King Suddhodāna then reflected on the situation: “The nine courtiers had entirely no affection for me and so they said nothing to my son, the Buddha, about His visit to this city of Kapilavatthu of ours. Others would also fail to do so. But Kāḷudāyī, born on the same day as the Buddha, was His playmate in their childhood. This young man is also affectionate to me.” And so he summoned and said to Kaludayi, now an official at his court: “Son, go to the Buddha with a thousand men, and invite Him to Kapilavatthu.”

Courtier Kāḷudāyī said to the King: “Great King, if you would give me permission to become a bhikkhu, like the previous royal messengers, I will see to the Buddha’s visit to Kapilavatthu.” To which the King readily responded: “Son, do as you wish. Only see that my son, the Buddha, visits me.”

“Very well, Great King,” said Kāḷudāyī, “I shall do so,” when the King gave his permission. He left the city accompanied by a thousand men and eventually reached Rājagaha. Sitting at the edge of the audience, he listened to the Buddha who was teaching a discourse. After hearing it, he and his thousand men became arahats and were called up by the Buddha into bhikkhuhood.

Bhikkhu Kāḷudāyī did not forget his mission. He thought that the cold season was not suitable for the Buddha to make the long journey to Kapilavatthu. But, when spring had appeared, with the forest flowers blooming forth and the grass and foliage putting on fresh greenness, then only should the Buddha travel to Kapilavatthu. So he waited till the full moon of Phagguna (February-March) when he sang sixty stanzas giving a picturesque portrayal of the pleasantness of the season, indicating to the Buddha that the time was right for Him to visit Kapilavatthu.

The Buddha knew the Venerable Kāḷudāyī’s mind and decided that it was time that He visited Kapilavatthu. Then, accompanied by twenty thousand arahats, He took the journey (of sixty yojanas) at a leisurely pace (aturita-desacārika).

The Venerable Kāḷudāyī, noting the Buddha’s departure from Rājagaha, appeared at King Suddhodāna’s palace. The King was delighted on seeing him standing mid-air above the palace, and offered his throne for the bhikkhu's seat. Then he filled the alms-bowl of the Venerable with cooked rice and dishes prepared for himself. Venerable Kāḷudāyī then moved as if to depart. The King said to him: “Son, take the meal here.” To which the Venerable said: “I shall take it when I get back to the Bhagavā.” “Where is the Buddha now?” asked the King. “The Buddha is now on His way, with twenty thousand arahats, to visit you.” “Then, son, take your meal here. Then carry the food prepared in my palace to the Buddha daily, till He arrives.”

Henceforth, the Venerable Kāḷudāyī took his meal at the palace and then received the alms-food on behalf of the Buddha. In doing so, he gave a discourse to the King and the royal household on the noble qualities of the Buddha, thereby giving them a foretaste of the unparalleled pleasure they were to experience on meeting with the Buddha. Then, just as the people were watching him, he threw up into the air his alms-bowl filled with the food for the Buddha. He also rose into the air, took the alms-bowl and offered it to the Buddha en route. The Buddha received it in His hands and took His meal for the day.

The Venerable Kāḷudāyī took upon himself the task of receiving alms-food for the Buddha (and making the appropriate discourse to warm up the feelings of King Suddhodāna and the royal household towards the Buddha) for the entire journey of His memorable journey to Kapilavabthu which was sixty yojanas long, taken leisurely at the rate of one yojana a day. (This remarkable routine that the Venerable Kāḷudāyī set for himself, to bring food to the Buddha, was the basis of his receiving the special mention from the Buddha.)

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

On a later occasion, in a congregation of bhikkhus, the Buddha reflected on the role that the Venerable Kāludāyī had played in warming up the feelings of King Suddhodāna and the kinsmen of the Buddha, declared:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnam kulappasādakānaṃ yadidaṃ Kāḷudāyī.”

Bhikkhus, among My bhikkhu-disciples who are able to kindle devotion to Me in the hearts of My kinsmen, Bhikkhu Kāḷudāyī is the foremost (etadagga).”

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