The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Maha Kappina 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 Mahā Kappina was born into a worthy family in the city of Haṃsāvatī, during the time of Buddha Padumuttara. While he was listening to a discourse by the Buddha, he witnessed the honouring by the Buddha of a bhikkhu as the foremost in admonishing other bhikkhus. He aspired to that distinction at some future time. After making extraordinary offerings to the Buddha, he expressed his aspiration before the Buddha. The Buddha predicted that the aspiration would be fulfilled.

(The following account of the future Mahā Kappina’s meritorious actions is taken from the Commentary on the Dhammapada. The Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya gives only a brief description of his meritorious action during the time of Buddha Kassapa, and then goes over to his last existence.)

Life as A Chief Weaver

After passing away from the existence where he received the Buddha’s prognostication, the future Mahā Kappina was reborn only in the fortunate destinations. In one such existence, he was the chief weaver in a big village, near the city of Bārāṇasī. During that time, there were one thousand Paccekabuddhas who used to live at the Himalayas for four months of the cold season and four months of the hot season, but lived near the town in the countryside during the four rainy months.

On one occasion, the thousand Paccekabuddhas descended near Bārāṇasī and deputed eight among them to go and ask the King of Bārāṇasī to provide workmen for construction of monastic dwellings. It so happened that the time of this request was made when the King was preparing for the annual ritual of ploughing. As soon as the King heard the news of the arrival of the Paccekabuddhas, he went to meet them and asked about the purpose of their visit. Then he said: “Venerable Sirs, there is hardly any time to start building monasteries immediately because tomorrow I shall be engaged in the annual ploughing ceremony. Therefore, may the Venerables allow us to start on the third day from now.” After saying so, the King returned to his palace without remembering to invite the Paccekabuddhas to receive food offerings on the next day.

The Paccekabuddhas left the palace, thinking of going elsewhere. At that time, the wife of the chief weaver happened to be in the city on business. When she saw the Paccekabuddhas, she made obeisance to them and asked them why they were in the city at that untimely hour. The Paccekabuddhas told her about their meeting with the King. The weaver’s wife, being possessed of conviction in the Buddha and having innate wisdom, invited the Paccekabuddhas to accept her food offerings the next day. To which, they said: “Sister, we are rather too many.” “How many, Venerable Sir?” “There are a thousand of us.” “Venerable Sir, there are a thousand households in my village. Each household will offer food to each of the Paccekabuddhas. Just allow us to make the offerings. We shall also build monastic dwellings for your reverences, for which, I am going to take a lead.” The Paccekabuddhas agreed to accept the invitation.

The wife of the chief weaver then went about in the village announcing to everyone: “O brothers! O sisters! I have met a thousand Paccekabuddhas and invited them to receive our food offerings tomorrow. Please prepare rice gruel and cooked rice for them.” The next morning she went to the Paccekabuddhas and led them to a big pavilion which was at the centre of the village. After having them seated in their respective places, the offerings of choice food and delicacies were made. At the end of the meal, she and the other ladies from the village made obeisance to the Paccekabuddhas and said to them: “Venerable Sirs, may the revered Ones agree to dwell at this village for the vassa period of three months.” The Paccekabuddhas agreeing, the weaver’s wife went about in the village, announcing: “O brothers! O sisters! let us build a monastery for the Paccekabuddhas. Let every household lend a hand in this work. Let a man from every house bring axes, adzes and necessary tools. Let them go into the forest and gather timber. Let them join in this construction.”

There was very good response to her call for action, the whole village joined in the noble effort of putting up a humble monastic dwelling with thatched roof for each of the thousand Paccekabuddhas, complete with living space of night’s shelter and for spending the day time. Every householder was eager to serve the Paccekabuddhas, with requests that their services be accepted. Thus they happily arranged for the three month period, tending to the needs of the thousand Paccekabuddhas. At the close of the rains-retreat period, the weaver’s wife called upon the village: “O brothers! O sisters! make ready the cloth for robes of each Paccekabuddha who had stayed at each of the monastic dwellings during the rains-retreat period.” Thus each household, which had built a dwelling for a Paccekabuddha, donated robes to its respective Paccekabuddha. Each robe worth a thousand coins. After the offering of robes, the Paccekabuddhas delivered a discourse in appreciation of the donations, wished them well, and returned to their Himalayan abodes.

Life as A Chief Householder

All the residents of the weaver’s village, after passing away from that existence, were reborn together in the Tāvatiṃsa Deva realm. After enjoying the full life span of deva, the whole group was reborn into families of rich householders in Bārāṇasī. The chief weaver was reborn into the family of the chief householder, and his wife of the former existence also was reborn into the family of a senior householder. When they were of marriageable age, the spouses in their previous existence in the weaver’s village became spouses again.

One day, this community visited the monastery of Buddha Kassapa to listen to His discourse. As soon as they had stepped into the monastic compound, there came a deluge of rain. Then, those other people, who had members of the Sangha related to them, went into their premises for shelters from the rain. The thousand couples, who were householders, had nowhere to go for shelter but to remain in the monastic compound and were drenched thoroughly. Then the chief of these householders said to them: “Look, friends, how helpless we are. Considering our social standing, what we now find ourselves in is a total disgrace.” “What good work do we need to do?” This question was raised by the community. “We meet with this disgrace because we are total strangers to the Sangha in this monastery. So let us build a monastery by our joint efforts.” “Very well, Chief,” the men agreed.

Then the chief householder started the fund with his one thousand coins. The rest of the householders put in five hundred each. The wives of the householders donated two hundred and fifty each. With this initial outlay they started constructing a big pinnacled monastery for Buddha Kassapa. It was a big project and the funds fell short. So they each donated an additional amount, which was half of what they donated initially. And in this way they were able to complete the project. Then they held a grand inauguration ceremony for seven days to mark the transfer of the monastery to the Buddha and His Sangha. They also offered a robe each to the twenty thousand arahats.

Extra-ordinary Devotion of The Chief Householder’s Wife

The wife of the chief householder had innate wisdom. She showed greater devotion to the good work undertaken by the community of a thousand rich householders. When robes were offered to the Buddha and the Sangha, she also offered golden-hued flowers of the Asoka tree to the Buddha besides the golden-hued robe, which was made especially for offering to the Buddha, and which was worth a thousand coins. When Buddha Kassapa delivered a sermon in appreciation of the donation of the great monastery, the wife of the chief householder, placing her specially made robe at the feet of the Buddha, made her aspiration thus: “Venerable Sir, in all my future existences, may I have a complexion as golden-hued as these anojā flowers, and may I also have the name of that flower, Anojā.” And the Buddha replied: “May your wish be fulfilled.”

(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence.

This community of householders filled their lives with good deeds. After passing away from that existence they were reborn in the deva realm. At the time of the appearance of Buddha Gotama, they passed away from the deva existence, the chief of them was reborn into the royal family in Kukkutavati and was called Prince Mahā Kappina. When he came of age, he ascended the throne as King Mahā Kappina. The remaining householders were reborn into the noble families and became courtiers at the court of King Mahā Kappina. The wife of the chief householder was born into the royal family at Sāgala in Madda country. Princess Madda had a golden complexion and she was called Princess Anojā (The Golden-Complexioned) as she had aspired.

When Princess Anojā came of age, she became the Chief Queen of King Mahā Kappina. The wives of the holders in their previous existence were again united with their spouses of the past existence. The thousand ministers and their wives enjoyed the same glories of life as the King and the Queen. When the King and Queen rode on elephant-back, the thousand ministers and their wives rode on elephant-back too. When the King rode on horse-back, they also rode on horse-back, and when the King rode on a chariot, they also rode on chariots. This was because all of them had done meritorious deeds together in their past existences.

Royal Messengers sent for Wonderful News

King Mahā Kappina had five thoroughbred horses, namely, Bala, Balavāhana, Puppha, Pupphavāhana and Supatta. The King used only Supatta and let his royal riders use the other four. It was the duty of his royal riders to gather daily information for him. They were properly fed in the morning, after which the King sent them out on their daily mission with the command: “Go ye, my good men, go to a distance of two to three yojanas around this city of Kukkuṭavatī, each in his own direction to the four quarters, and gather the news of the appearance of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha in the world. As soon as you hear the happy news bring it to me with great haste.” The four riders would gallop away to the four quarters from the four city gates, went to three yojanas distance each day, and then returned to the palace with no good tidings which the King had eagerly awaited.

Wonderful News about The Three Gems

Then one day, as King Mahā Kappina visited the royal gardens riding his horse, Supatta, accompanied by his one thousand ministers, he saw a caravan of five hundred merchants, all looking tired, enter the city. The King thought: “These merchants had a weary journey. Probably they must have some fresh news to tell.” He summoned them and addressed them: “O good men, where have you come from?” “Great King, there is the city of Savatthi which is a hundred and twenty yojanas away from this city of Kukkutavatī. We have come from that Sāvatthi.” “Good men, tell me if there is some special news, current in Sāvatthi.”

“Great King, we have no strange news to tell. However, there has appeared the Buddha at Sāvatthi.”

On hearing the word ‘Buddha’, the King was so overwhelmed by the five stages of delightful satisfaction that he was senseless for a short while. “What, what did you say?” “Great King, the Buddha has appeared in the world.” For three times, the news had the same stunning effect on the King. This was due to his intense delight. For the fourth time, the King asked again: “What did you say?” “Great King, the Buddha has appeared in the world.” “O men, you have brought me the good news that the Buddha has appeared in the world. For bringing this precious news to me, I award you one hundred thousand coins of silver.”

Then King Mahā Kappina further asked: “Any other strange news?” “Yes, Great King, the Dhamma has appeared in the world.” On hearing the word ‘Dhamma’, the King was so overwhelmed by intense delight that he was senseless for a short while. Three times he repeated his question and three times be seemed to have lost his senses for a while. On the fourth time, for being told: “Great King, the Dhamma has appeared in the world”, the King said: “For bringing this precious news to me, I award you a hundred thousand coins.”

Then the King further asked: “Good men, have you any other strange news?” “Yes, Great King,” they said, “The Sangha has appeared in the world”. On hearing the word ‘Sangha’, the King was so overwhelmed by intense delight and became senseless for a while as before This happened three times when he was told of the good news. On the fourth time, he said to the merchants: “Good men, for bringing this precious news to me, I award you a hundred thousand coins.”

Renunciation of King Mahā Kappina

Then the King looked at his one thousand ministers and said: “O my good men, what would you do now?” The ministers repeated the same question to the King: “Great King, what would you do now?” “Good men, now that we have been told that the Buddha has appeared, the Dhamma has appeared, the Sangha has appeared, we do not intend to return to our palace. We will go from here to the Buddha, and I will become a bhikkhu as his disciple.” The ministers said: “Great King, we too will become bhikkhus together with you.”

King Mahā Kappina had a gold plate etched with his order to disburse three hundred thousand coins and handed it to the merchants. “Go, you good men,” he said to them, “present this message to the Queen at the palace, and she will disburse to you on my behalf three hundred thousand coins. Also tell Queen Anojā, that the King has relinquished the throne and the country to her and that she may reign supreme in the land. If she asks: ‘Where is the King?’ you should tell her that the King has gone to the Buddha to become a bhikkhu.” The thousand ministers likewise sent messages of their renunciation to their wives. When the merchants went to the palace, the King rode his horse, Supatta, and, accompanied by his thousand ministers, went forth to become bhikkhu. Mahā Kappina welcomed by The Buddha

The Buddha, on his daily reviewing the sentient world, saw that King Mahā Kappina had learnt the appearance of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha from the merchants, that he had honoured the Triple Gem by making an award of three hundred thousand coins, and that he was renouncing the world and would be arriving the next day. The Buddha also saw that King Mahā Kappina and his one thousand ministers would attain arahatship together with the four Analytical Knowledges. “It were well if I go and welcome King Mahā Kappina,” reflected the Buddha. And like the Universal Monarch welcoming a vassal lord, the Buddha, taking His alms-bowl and robe, left the monastery alone to welcome King Mahā Kappina on the way, at a distance of one hundred and twenty yojanas from Sāvatthi, where He sat underneath a pipal tree by the side of the Candabhāgā river, displaying the six Buddha-rays.

Mahā Kappina crossing The Three Rivers

King Mahā Kappina and his one thousand ministers, mounted on horse-back, went for renunciation when they came across a river. “What is this river?” he asked of his ministers. “This is the River Aparacchā, Great King,” they said.

“How big is it?”

“Great King, it is one gāvuta deep and two gāvutas wide.”

“Is there any craft to cross?”

“There is none, Great King.”

The King pondered thus: “While we are looking for some river crafts to cross this river, birth is leading us to ageing, and ageing is leading us to death. I have implicit faith in the Triple Gem and have gone forth from the world. By the power of the Triple Gem, may this expanse of water prove no obstacle to me.”

Then reflecting on the supreme attributes of the Buddha, such as, ‘the Buddha, the Homage-Worthy, the Perfectly Self-Enlightened, the Exalted One’, he uttered the following stanza:

Bhavasotam have Buddho,
tiṇṇo lokantagū vidū;
Etena saccavajjena,
gamanaṃ me samijjhatu

The All-Knowing Buddha indeed has crossed over the floods of the recurring existences in the three worlds. Having crossed over the floods, the Buddha has reached the end of the world and known all things analytically. By this asseveration of the truth, may my journey (to the Buddha, on my renunciation) be accomplished without a hitch.

King Mahā Kappina, uttering this verse, crossed the river with his one thousand ministers on horse-back. The waters of the river which was two gāvutas wide did not even wet the tips of the hoofs of their horses.

As the King proceeded, he came across another river.

“What is this river?” he asked his ministers.

“This is the River Nilavāhinī, Great King,” they said.

“How big is it?”

“Great King, it is half a yojana deep and half a yojana wide.”

(The King’s further inquiry about river craft and his pondering on the urgency of his journey should be read as the same situation as before.)

Then reflecting on the supreme attributes of the Dhamma, such as, “The Dhamma is well propounded,” etc., he uttered the following verse and crossed the river together with his one thousand ministers:

Yadi santigamo maggo,
mokkho caccantikaṃ sukhaṃ;
Etena saccavajjena,
gamanaṃ me samijjhatu

The ariya-magga, the Supramundane Path, indeed leads to the Peace of Nibbāna. The Release (i.e. Nibbāna) attained through the ariya-magga is absolute happiness. By this asseveration of the truth, may my journey (to the Buddha on my renunciation) be accomplished without a hitch.”

Uttering this verse, King Mahā Kappina crossed the river with his one thousand ministers on horse-back. The waters of the river which was half a yojana wide did not even wet the tips of the horses' hoofs.

Beyond that Nilavāhinī river lay another river to be crossed. He asked his ministers, “What is this river?”

“This is the River Candabhāgā, Great King,” they said.

“How big is it?”

“Great King, it is one yojana deep and one yojana wide.”

(As with the previous two rivers, the King pondered on the urgency of his journey.)

Then reflecting on the supreme attributes of the Sangha, such as, ‘The ariya disciples of the Bhagava are endowed with right practice,’ he uttered the following verse and crossed the river together with his one thousand ministers:

Samgho ve tiṇṇakantāro,
puññakkhetto anuttaro;
Etena saccavajjena,
gamanaṃ me sumijjhatu

The ariya-sangha have indeed crossed the wilderness of saṃsāra, and are the incomparable field for sowing seeds of merit. By this asseveration of the truth, may my journey (to the Buddha on my renunciation) be accomplished without a hitch.

Uttering this verse, King Mahā Kappina crossed the river with his one thousand ministers on horseback. The waters of the river which was one yojana wide did not even wet the tips of the horses' hoofs.

(The three stanzas uttered by King Mahā Kappina are taken from Mahā Kappina Therāpadāna.)

Mahā Kappina meeting The Buddha and Adoption of Ascetic Life

As the King had crossed over the Candabhāgā river he saw, to his great wonder, the six Buddha-rays emanating from the Buddha, who was sitting at the foot of the pipal tree. The entire tree, i.e. the trunk, the boughs, branches and foliage, was awash with the golden glow, The King rightly knew that ‘this golden glow is not the sun’s rays nor the moon’s, nor that of any deva or māra or nāga or garuda, but must be that of Buddha Gotama, for the Bhagavā has seen me coming and is welcoming me!’

At that instant, King Mahā Kappina dismounted and bowing himself, approached the Buddha, being drawn towards the Buddha-rays. He felt as though he were immersed in a mass of cool liquid realgar as he walked through the Buddha-rays. He and his one thousand ministers made obeisance to the Buddha and sat in a suitable place. Then the Buddha gave them a discourse by gradual stages of exposition, through (l) the merit in giving, (2) the merit in morality, (3) the merit leading to the deva-world, and (4) the gaining of Path-Knowledge. By the end of the discourse, King Mahā Kappina and his one thousand ministers attained sotāpatti-phala.

Then they all rose up and asked the Buddha that they be admitted into the Order as bhikkhus. The Buddha reviewed their past to find out whether they were fit to receive robes and alms-bowl created by His supernormal powers and He saw that their past merit of having donated robes to one thousand Paccekabuddhas and that, during Buddha Kassapa’s time, they had donated robes to twenty-thousand arahats, were their merits of receive robes and alms-bowl created by the His supernormal powers. Then the Buddha stretched out His right hand and said: “Come, bhikkhus, receive bhikkhuhood as you request. You have heard the Doctrine. Now work out your release with diligence by the Threefold Training.” At that very instant King Mahā Kappina and his one thousand ministers were transformed from layman’s appearance into that of bhikkhu of sixty years' standing, equipped with the bhikkhu paraphernalia, such as alms bowl. etc., which were created by the will of the Buddha. They rose into the air, then descended to the ground and, paying obeisance to the Buddha, sat (at a suitable place).

Queen Anojā meeting The Merchants

The merchants of Savatthi went to the court of Kukkuṭavatī and sought audience with Queen Anoja, informing her that they were seen by the King. Having obtained the Queen’s assent to see them, they entered the palace, saluted her, and sat at an appropriate place. Then a dialogue took place between the Queen and them:

Queen: O men, what brought you to our court?

Merchants: O Queen, we are being directed to you by the King to claim three hundred thousand coins as reward.

Queen: O men, you are making a big claim. What good turn have you done for the King so as to be granted such a rich reward?

Merchants: O Queen, we have not done any good turn for the King except to impart some strange news, which gladdened him.

Queen: Will you be able to tell me what that strange news were?

Merchants: Yes, we can, O Queen.

Queen: Then go ahead.

Merchants: O Queen, the Buddha has appeared in the world.

On hearing that news, the Queen, just as the King, was overwhelmed by delight and remained senseless for a short while. This happened three times. On the fourth time that she heard that news, she asked the merchants: “O men, how much did the King reward you for bringing to him the news about ‘the Buddha’?” “The King rewarded us one hundred thousand coins for that.”

“The King’s reward of a hundred thousand for bringing such extraordinary and wonderful news is improper, inadequate. For my part, I reward you, as poor subjects of mine, three hundred thousand coins. But what further news did you tell the King?” The merchants told her that they also apprised the King of the appearance of the Dhamma and the appearance of the Sangha, one by one. The Queen, being overwhelmed by delight, was senseless for a short while, for three times, on hearing each of those wonderful tidings. On the fourth time of mentioning the news, i.e. the news about the Dhamma, and the other about the Sangha, the Queen rewarded them three hundred thousand coins for each piece of the wonderful news. Thus the merchants received nine hundred thousand coins as the Queen’s reward, in addition to the King’s reward of three hundred thousand, making a total of twelve hundred thousand.

Then the Queen asked the merchants where the King was, and they told her that the King had gone forth to become a bhikkhu, as a disciple of the Buddha. The Queen added: “What message did the King leave for me?” The merchants told her that the King was leaving the throne and the country to the Queen who was to succeed him as the sovereign. Then the Queen inquired after the thousand ministers. The merchants told her that the ministers also had gone forth to become bhikkhus.

Queen Anojā’s Renunciation

The Queen sent for the wives of the one thousand ministers and a discussion took place as follows:

Queen: Dear sisters, your husbands have renounced the world and become bhikkhus along with the King. What are you going to do now?

Wives: Great Queen, what was the message to us by our husbands?

Queen: Your husbands have bequeathed all their properties to you. You are lord of the household now.

Wives: Great Queen, what do you intend to do?

Queen: Sisters, my Lord, King Mahā Kappina, was greatly delighted by the news of the appearance of the Three Gems and rewarded three hundred thousand coins to the conveyors of the news as token of honouring the Triple Gem, even while he was on his journey. Now, he has renounced the world considering the glory of kingship as if it were spats of saliva. As for me, the news of the appearance of the Triple Gem was equally welcome. I have rewarded nine hundred thousand coins to the merchants who brought me the news as token of honouring the Triple Gem. The glory of a sovereign is a source of suffering for me, as much as it is for the King. Now that the King has bequeathed sovereign power to me, if I were to accept it, it would be like receiving the spats of saliva with relish. I am not as foolish as that. I too will renounce the world and become a recluse, as a disciple of the Buddha.

Wives: Great Queen, we will also join you in going forth as recluses.

Queen: It is well and good, if you are capable of it.

Wives: Great Queen, we are capable of it.

Queen: Then let us go.

The Queen mounted on a chariot, each of the wives of the ministers also mounted on their chariots and departed forthwith for Sāvatthi. On the way, they came across the first river. She inquired, as the King did before, about the possibility for crossing it. She asked her charioteer to look for the footprints of the King’s horses but no trace could be found. She rightly surmised that since her husband had a deep devotion for the Triple Gem and for the sake of which he was renouncing the world, he must have made some asseveration in getting across the river. “I too have renounced the world for the sake of the Triple Gem. May the power of the Triple Gem overcome this stretch of water and let the water lose its property as water.” And reflecting on the supreme attributes of the Triple Gem. she drove her chariot and accompanied by a thousand other chariots, across the river. And lo! the water did not stay as water but hardened itself like a piece of rock so that not even the rims of the chariots were wet. At the two further rivers that lay across her path, she crossed them without difficulty, with the same devotion as the King. (The above material is gleaned from the Commentary on the Dhammapada. From this point on, we shall be drawing on the Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book One.)

After she had crossed over the Candabhāgā river, the third obstacle, Queen Anojā saw the Buddha sitting beneath the pipal tree. The Buddha knew that, if these women were to see their husbands, they would be torn by attachment to them which would render them being unable to listen to the sermon which He would taught, and which would be great disadvantage for attaining the Path-Knowledge. So, He employed His supernormal powers whereby the women could not see their spouses who were with Him. Then He taught them a discourse, at the end of which, all of them attained sotāpatti-phala. At that moment, they were able see their spouses. The Buddha then willed that Therī Uppalavaṇṇā appeared at where the women were sitting. Therī Uppalavaṇṇā admitted Queen Anojā and her companions into the Order of Bhikkhunīs. After which, she took them to the nunnery for bhikkhunīs. The Buddha took the thousand bhikkhus to the Jetavana monastery by His psychic power.

Verse spoken by The Buddha with Reference to Mahā Kappina

Then the Venerable Mahā Kappina practised the Noble Path and attained arahatship. Knowing that he had finished his task as a bhikkhu, the Venerable Mahā Kappina dwelt most of the time in the Fruition of Arahatship, and did not bother to discourse to his one thousand followers, the erstwhile ministers. Resorting to seclusion, whether underneath a tree or elsewhere, he would utter words of ecstasy: “Ah, blissful it is! blissful it is!” When other bhikkhus heard this they thought that the Venerable Mahā Kappina was ruminating on his kingly pleasures and they reported to the Buddha what they had heard.

The Buddha said to these bhikkhus: “Bhikkhu, Mahā Kappina is extolling the bliss of magga and phala only, and on that occasion He uttered this stanza:

Dhammapīti sukhaṃ seti,
vippasannena cetasā;
Ariyappavedite dhamme,
sadā ramati paṇḍito.

(Bhikkhus:) he, who drinks the Supramundane Dhamma, lives happily with a serene mind. The wise man always finds delight in the Dhamma (i.e. the thirty-seven constituents of Enlightenment) expounded by the ariyas such as the Buddha.

(By the end of the discourse many listeners attained Path-Knowledge at various levels.)

——Dhammapada, v. 79, and its commentary——

The Venerable Mahā-Kappina’s Instruction to His Pupils

Then one day, the Buddha called the one thousand bhikkhus (who had been ministers) and asked them whether the Venerable Mahā Kappina had given them any instruction. The bhikkhus said that their teacher, the Venerable Mahā Kappina, never gave them any instruction, did not bother to instruct them but dwelt in the attainment of arahatta-phala most of the time, and that he did not give even an admonition to any of his pupils. The Buddha then asked the Venerable Mahā Kappina: “Kappina, is it true that you do not give even an admonition to your close pupils?” The Venerable Mahā Kappina replied:

“Venerable Sir, that is correct.”

“Brāhmana Kappina, do not remain so. From now on, give discourses to your close pupils.”

“Very well, Venerable Sir,” replied the Venerable Mahā Kappina. And, just by him giving a discourse, the one thousand bhikkhus attained arahatship. (This is the achievement that entitled the Venerable to be designated the foremost bhikkhu.)

(c) Etadagga Title achieved

On one occasion, when the Buddha held a congregation of bhikkhus, He declared:

Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānam bhikkhūnaṃ bhikkhuovādakānaṃ yadidaṃ Mahā Kappino.”

Bhikkhus, among My bhikkhu-disciples who give instruction to bhikkhus, Bhikkhu Mahā Kappina is the foremost (etadagga).”

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