by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Mogharaja 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 Mogharāja was born into a worthy family in the city of Haṃsāvatī, during the time of Buddha Padumuttara. On one occasion, while he was listening to a sermon by the Buddha, he witnessed a bhikkhu being declared by Him as the foremost bhikkhu among His disciples who wear robes that were inferior in three ways, namely, of inferior rag material, of inferior thread, and of inferior dye. The future Mogharāja had a strong desire to be acknowledged likewise as a foremost bhikkhu in some future time. He made extraordinary offerings to the Buddha and expressed this aspiration before Him. The Buddha predicted that the aspiration would be fulfilled.
Life as Minister to King Kaṭṭhavāhana
The future Mogharāja spent a meritorious life and passed away into the realm of devas and then in the realm of humans and devas. Prior to the appearance of Buddha Kassapa he was reborn in the city of Kaṭṭhavāhana, into a noble family. When he was of correct age, he became a courtier at King Kaṭṭhavāhana’s court and later was appointed as a minister.
We shall now relate the story of King Kaṭṭhavāhana, the details of which are found in the Commentary on the Sutta Nipāta, Book Two. Before the advent of Buddha Kassapa, there was an accomplished carpenter, a native of Bārāṇasī, whose carpentry skill was unrivalled. He had sixteen senior pupils, each of whom had one thousand apprentices. Thus, together with this Master Carpenter, there were 16,017 carpenters, who made living in Bārāṇasī. They would go to the forest and gather various kinds of timber to make various kinds of articles and high class furniture, which were fit for royalty and nobility in the city. They brought their wares to Bārāṇasī in a raft. When the King wanted to have palaces built, ranging from a single-tiered mansion to a seven-tiered mansion, they did it to the satisfaction and delight of the King. They also built other structures for other people. Construction of A Flying Machine
The master craftsman conceived an idea one day: “It would be too hard for me to live on my carpenter’s trade in my old age; (I must do something).” He ordered his pupils to gather species of light wood with which he built a flying machine resembling the garuḷa bird. After assembling the machinery in it, he started the ‘engine’ which made the contraption fly in the air like at bird. He flew in it to the forest where his men were working and descended there.
He said to his pupils: “Boys, let us build flying machines like this and with our superior power, we can rule the Jambudīpa. Now, copy this flying machine. We must escape from the drudgery of our carpenters' existence.” The pupils successfully built similar flying machines and reported it to the master. “Now, which city shall we conquer?”asked the master. “Let us conquer Bārāṇasī, Master,” they suggested. “That would not do, boys. We are known as carpenters in Bārāṇasī. Even if we were to conquer and rule it, everybody will know our origin as carpenters. The Jambudīpa is a vast place. Let us find our fortune elsewhere,” thus advised the master. The pupils agreed.
Ascension to The Throne as Kaṭṭhavāhana
The carpenter guild of 16,017 members had each of their families put aboard a ‘flying machine’, and wielding arms, flew in the direction of the Himalayas. They entered a city, grouped together in the royal palace and dethroned the king. They then anointed the master craftsman as king. Because he was the inventor of the ‘flying machine’ made of wood, he came to be known as King Kaṭṭhavāhana (‘one who rode on a vehicle made of wood’). Based on this personal name of the King, the city and the country also acquired the same name. An heir-apparent and a council of sixteen ministers were appointed. The King and all these top leaders of the country conducted themselves with righteousness. The King extended necessary assistance to the people according to the principle of four means of help, with the result that the people were happy and prosperous and had few dangers and hazards. Everybody spoke in praise of the King and his staff who were loved, respected and relied upon.
Friendship with King of Bārāṇasī
One day, a group of merchants from Bārāṇasī went to Kaṭṭhavāhana with their merchandise. When they were given audience by King Kaṭṭhavāhana, the King asked them where they lived. Being told that they lived in Bārāṇasī, the King said to them:
“O men, I would like to be on cordial relationship with the King of Bārāṇasī. Would you render your service to that end?” The merchants gladly undertook to help. During their stay in Kaṭṭhavāhana, the King provided them with all their needs and at the time of their departure, they were again reminded courteously to help promote friendship between the two cities.
When the merchants arrived at Bārāṇasī, they conveyed to their King the message of the King of Kaṭṭhavāhana. The King was delighted. He made public announcement by the beat of the drum that merchants of Kaṭṭhavāhana, who were selling their goods in Bārāṇasī, would be exempt from taxes. Thus, the two Kings, who had never met, were already in bonds of friendship. The King of Kaṭṭhavāhana reciprocated by proclaiming that merchants of Bārāṇasī, who were doing business in his city, would also be exempt from taxes. He also issued standing orders that merchants of Bārāṇasī would be provided with all their needs out of the King’s coffers.
The King of Bārāṇasī then sent a message to the King of Kaṭṭhavāhana to the effect that if there should occur within the domains of Kaṭṭhavāhana something noteworthy, whether seen or heard, would King Kaṭṭhavāhana see to it that that event be seen or heard by the King of Bārāṇasī? The King of Kaṭṭhavāhana also sent to the King of Bārāṇasī a similar message.
Exchange of Gifts
One day the King of Kaṭṭhavāhana obtained a certain fabric of most rare quality which was not only extra-fine but had a sheen that dazzled like the rising sun. He remembered the message received from the King of Bārāṇasī and thought it fit to send this extraordinary fabric to Bārāṇasī. He had eight caskets of ivory carved out for him, in each he put a piece of the fabric. Outside the ivory caskets, he had a lac ball embalming each casket. The eight lac balls were placed in a wooden box which was wrapped in very fine fabric. On it was written the inscription: “To be presented to the King of Bārāṇasī.” An accompanying message suggested that the King of Bārāṇasī open this gift himself on the palace grounds where all the ministers should be present.
The royal delegation from the court of Katthavāhana presented the gift box and the message to the King of Bārāṇasī who caused a meeting of the ministers at the courtyard. He opened the box in their presence. On finding just eight balls of lac, he was disappointed, thinking that the King of Kaṭṭhavāhana had played a practical joke on him. He struck one of the lac balls hard against the throne which he was sitting on and to his amazement when the lac broke open and the ivory casket and its lid came apart. Inside, the King saw the fine fabric. The seven other lac balls yielded similar ivory caskets with the fabric inside. Each piece of fabric measured 16 cubits by 8 cubits. When these fabrics were unfolded, they presented a most spectacular scene as though the entire courtyard were glimmering in the sun.
The onlookers snapped their fingers in amazement and some threw up their head-gear into the air in joy, saying: “King Kaṭṭhavāhana, the unseen friend of our King, has sent such a marvellous gift! Truly that King is a worthy friend of our King.”
Gift from Bārāṇasī
The King of Bārāṇasī sent for valuers and referred the fine fabrics to them for their appraisal. The valuers were at a loss to name a value for them. Then the King thought to himself: “My good friend, the King of Kaṭṭhavāhana has sent me a priceless gift. A return gift should be somehow superior to the gift received. What should that gift be?”
It was the time when Buddha Kassapa had appeared in the three worlds and was residing at Bārāṇasī. The King considered that there is nothing as adorable as the Triple Gem. “I should send the news of the appearance of the Buddha to King Kaṭṭhavāhana. That would make the most appropriate return gift.”
So he had the following stanza consisting six lines inscribed with vermilion on gold plate:
For the happiness of all living beings, the Dhamma (comprising the four maggas, four phalas, Nibbāna and the Doctrine) has appeared in our world like the rising of the sun in the Udaya mountain in the east.
The Sangha, the incomparable fertile field for all to sow seeds of merit, has appeared in our world, like the rising of the sun at the Udaya mountain in the east.
Besides these lines, the King had an inscription containing the practice of the Dhamma, beginning from getting established in morality for a bhikkhu, progressively towards attainment of arahatta-phala.
The above gold plate was:
(1) first put inside a casket wrought with the seven kinds of gems;
(2) then the jewel casket was placed inside a casket of emerald;
(3) then the emerald casket was placed inside a casket of cat’s-eye gem;
(4) the cat’s-eye casket was then placed inside a casket of red ruby;
(5) the ruby casket was then placed inside a gold casket;
(6) the gold casket was then placed inside a silver casket;
(7) the silver casket was then placed inside an ivory casket and
(8) the ivory casket was then placed inside a casket of scented musk wood.
This casket was put inside a box, wrapped with fine fabric and on it the royal seal was affixed.
This gift was sent to Kaṭṭhavāhana in state. A noble tucker in musk was fitted with golden ornaments, covered with gold lace, and a golden flag flew on his majestic body. On its back, they secured a raised platform, on which the gift box was placed. A white umbrella was hoisted above it. It was sent off after performing acts of honour with flowers and scents, dancing and music. The King himself headed the group of royal escorts in sending it off up to the border of Kasi Country, the King’s domain. Moreover, the King of Bārāṇasī sent presents with his messages to other rulers of neighbouring states on the route, requiring them to pay homage to the special return gift of his. All those rulers complied gladly till the carrier tusker reached the border of Kaṭṭhavāhana.
King Kaṭṭhavāhana went out to some distance to welcome the return gift; paying homage to it. The gift was opened in the courtyard before the people. After removing the thin cloth wrapper and opening the box, a scented hard-wood casket was found. Inside it, the eight caskets were opened, one after the other in turn till the gold plate informing the appearance of the Triple Gem was revealed. “This is the rarest gift that one comes by only over an immense period of time. My good friend, the King of Bārāṇasī, has been very thoughtful in sending this news to me together with an outline on the practice of the Dhamma.” thus reflected King Kaṭṭhavāhana joyfully. “The appearance of the Buddha, never heard of before, has taken place. It were well if I should go and see the Buddha and learn his Doctrine,” he mooted. He consulted the idea with his ministers who advised him to stay awhile in the city during which they would go and inquire.
The sixteen ministers, together with a thousand followers each, said to the King: “Great King, if the Buddha has actually appeared in the world, there is no likelihood of our seeing you again (at your palace) i.e. we are all going to become bhikkhus. If the Buddha has not actually arisen, we shall come back to you.”
Among the ministers was the King’s own nephew (son of his sister) who said: “I am going too.” The King said to him: “Son, when you have found that the Buddha has appeared, come back to me and tell me the news.” His nephew agreed: “Very well, O King.”
The sixteen ministers with their sixteen thousand followers went hastily, resting only once at a night camp on the way and reached Bārāṇasī. However, before they got there, Buddha Kassapa had passed away. The ministers entered the Buddha’s monastery and asked: “Who is the Buddha? Where is the Buddha?” But they found only the bhikkhudisciples who had been living together with the Buddha.
The bhikkhu-disciples told them: “The Buddha has passed away.” The ministers then wailed, saying: “We have come from afar and we miss even the chance to see the Buddha!” They said to the bhikkhu-disciples: “Venerable Sirs, are there some words of advice or admonition of the Buddha left for the world?” “Yes, lay supporters. They are: ‘Be established in the Three Refuges. Observe the five precepts all the time. Also observe uposatha precepts of eight constituents. Give in charity. If you are capable, take up bhikkhuhood yourself.’ ” Thereupon, all the ministers, with the exception of the King’s nephew, together with their followers, took up bhikkhuhood.
King Katthavāhana’s Demise
King Kaṭṭhavāhana’s nephew returned to Kaṭṭhavāhana after having obtained an article that had been used by the Buddha, as an object of veneration. It was a water strainer. In this connection, it may be noted that the articles that had been used by the Buddha included the Bodhi tree, alms-bowl, robes, water-strainer, etc. The nephew also arranged for a bhikkhu who had learnt by heart the Suttanta, the Vinaya and the Abhidhamma to accompany him to Katthavāhana.
Travelling by stages, the nephew reached Kaṭṭhavāhana and reported to the King: “Uncle, the Buddha actually had appeared in the world, and it is also true that He had passed away.” He related the Buddha’s advice as he had learned from the Buddha’s disciples. The King resorted to the bhikkhu learned in the Tipiṭaka and listened to his discourses. He built a monastery for the teacher, erected a stupa where the Buddha’s water strainer was enshrined and planted a new Bodhi Tree. He was established in the five precepts and observed uposatha precepts on uposatha days. He gave freely in charity; and after living till the end of his life span, he passed away and was reborn in the deva realm. The sixteen ministers, who had become bhikkhus together with their sixteen thousand followers, also practised the Noble Practice, died as worldlings, and were reborn in the deva realm as followers to the deva who had been King Kaṭṭhavāhana. (Among the sixteen deva followers of the deva king there was the future Venerable Mogharāja.)
(b) Ascetic Life adopted in His Final Existence
During the world-cycle that intervened the two Buddhas, the master craftsman and all his followers had deva existence. Then on the eve of the advent of Buddha Gotama, they were reborn in the human world. Their leader was born as a son of the King’s purohita at the court of King Mahā Kosala, father of Pasenadi Kosala He was named Bāvarī, and was endowed with three distinguishing marks of a great man. Being a master of the three Vedas, he succeeded to the office of purohita (Counsellor) at the death of his father.
Ajito Tissa Metteyyo,
Puṇṇako atha Mettāgū,
Dhotako Upasīvo ca,
Nando ca atha Hemako.
Todeyya Kappā dubhayo,
Jatukkaṇṇī ca paṇḍito,
Bhadrāvudho Udayo ca,
Posālo cāpi Brāhmaṇo.
Mogharājā ca medhāvī,
Piṅgiyo ca mahā isi.
(1) Ajita (2) Tissa Metteyya, (3) Puṇṇaka (4) Mettāgū (5) Dhotaka (6) Upasīva (7) Nanda (8) Hemaka (9) Todeyya (10) Kappa (11) Jatukaṇṇī (12) Bhadrāvudha (13) Udaya (14) Posala (15) Mogharāja (16) Piṅgiya.
These sixteen Brahmins learned the three Vedas from Master Bāvarī. The one thousand followers under each of them, in turn, learned from them. Thus, Bāvarī and his company of followers making a total of 16,017 Brahmins became united again in their last existence.
(The fifteenth brahmin, Mogharāja, later became the Venerable Mogharāja.)
Renunciation by Bāvarī and His Followers
At the death of King Mahā Kosala, his son, Pasenadi Kosala, was anointed King. The King’s purohita, Bāvarī, retained his office under the new king, who granted fresh privileges to him in addition to those given by his father. (This was so because the new King, as a prince, had been a pupil under Bāvarī so that his relationship with the old Counsellor was not only official but also personal.)
One day, Bāvarī, remaining in seclusion, took a cool assessment of the learning that he possessed. He saw that the Vedas were not of any value to him in good stead in the hereafter. He decided to renounce the world as a recluse. When he revealed this plan to King Pasenadi Kosala, the King said: “Master, your presence at our court gives me the assurance of elderly counsel which makes me feel I am still under the eyes of my own father. Please don't leave me.” But, since past merit had begun to ripen into fruition, old Bāvarī could not be persuaded against his plan, and insisted that he was going. The King then said: “Master, in that case, I would request you to stay as a hermit in the royal gardens so that I might be able to see you by day or by night.” Bāvarī conceded to this request and he and his company of sixteen senior pupils together with the sixteen thousand followers resided in the royal gardens as recluses. The King provided them with four requisites and paid his master regular visits, in the morning and evening.
After some time, the pupils said to their master: “Master, living near the city makes a recluse’s life unsatisfactory because of the many botherations. The proper place for a recluse is somewhere remote from the town. Let us move away from here.” The master had only to agree. He told this to the King but the King would not let him leave him alone. For three times Bāvarī made persistent requests to the King. At last the King had to yield to his wishes. He sent along two of his ministers with two hundred thousand coins of money to accompany Bāvarī and his followers to find a suitable site for their hermitage, on which all monastic dwellings for them were to be built.
The hermit Bāvarī, together with 16,016 recluse pupils, under the care of the two ministers, left in the southerly direction from Sāvatthi. When they went beyond the Jambudipa to a place, which lay between the two kingdoms of Assaka and Aḷaka, which was a big island where the two streams of River Godhāvarī parted, a three-yojana wide forest of edible fruits, Bāvarī said to his pupils: “This is the spot where ancient recluses had lived. It is suitable for recluses. As a matter of fact, it was the forest where famous hermits, such as Sarabhaṅga, had made their dwellings.
The King’s ministers paid a hundred thousand coins of silver each to King Assaka and King Aḷaka for possession and use of the land. The two rulers gladly ceded the property and also added the two-yojanas wide land adjoining the forest, thereby granted a total area of five yojanas. The ministers from the court of Sāvatthi caused a dwelling to be built there. They also brought some necessary materials from Sāvatthi and set up a big village for the hermits to gather daily alms-food. When their task was completed, they returned to Sāvatthi. (The above account is what is stated in the Commentary on the Sutta Nipāta. The Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya tells us of further incidents concerning recluse
Bāvarī which are described below:) On the day, after the two ministers had returned to Sāvatthi, a man appeared at the dwelling and sought permission from the hermits to build a house for his own dwelling on the estate. He was allowed to do so. Soon other families followed suit and there were a hundred houses on the estate. And so with the kindness of Recluse Bāvarī, the community of lay householders flourished, providing a source of daily alms-food for the recluses, who also got daily sustenance from the fruit trees.
Yearly Charity worth A Hundred Thousand
The village at the hermitage had become prosperous. Revenues from agriculture and other activities amounted to a hundred thousand every year which the villagers paid to King Assaka. But King Assaka said to them that the revenue should be paid to Hermit Bāvarī. When they took the money to Bāvarī, the hermit said: “Why have you brought this money?” The householders said: “Reverend Sir, we pay this sum as token of our gratitude for the right of occupancy of your land.” Bāvarī replied: “If I cared for money, I would not have become a recluse. Take back your money.” “But, Sir,” the householders said, “we cannot take back what has been given to you. We shall be paying you the sum of a hundred thousand every year. We may humbly suggest that you accept our annual tribute and make your own donations with the money as you please.” Bāvarī was obliged to agree. And so every year there took place a big charity by the good recluse for the benefit of destitutes, peasants, travellers, beggars and mendicants. The news of this noble act spread to the whole of the Jambudīpa.
A Bogus Brahmin’s Threat
After one such annual occasion, on a certain year, while Bāvarī was exulting in his good deed at his dwelling, he was roused up from his short slumber by a hoarse cry of a man demanding: “Brahmin Bāvarī, give something in charity. Give something in charity.” It was the voice of a bogus Brahmin who was a descendant of Brahmin Jūjakā (of the Vesantara Jātaka) who came from Dunniviṭṭha brahmin village in the Kingdom of Kaliṅga. He had come at the behest of his nagging wife who said to him: "Don't you know that Brahmin Bāvarī is giving away freely in charity? Go and get gold and silver from him.” The bogus Brahmin was a hen-pecked husband. He could not help but do her bidding.
Bāvarī said to him: “O Brahmin, you are late. I have distributed everything to those who came for help. I have not a penny left now.” “O Bāvarī, I do not want a big amount of money. For you, who are giving away such big sums, it is not possible to be penniless as you say. Give me just five hundred.” “I don't have five hundred. You will get it at the next round.” “Do I have to wait till the next time you chose to give?” He was clearly angry in saying those words for he started to utter a curse with some elaboration. He fetched some cow-dung, red flowers, coarse grass into the dwelling, and hastily smeared the floor at the entrance to the residence of Bāvarī with cow-dung, strewed it with red flowers, and spread the coarse grass all over.
Then he washed his left foot with water from his water pot, made seven steps on the floor and, stroking his (left) foot with his hand, uttered the following curse as when a holy man would chant a manta:
If you refuse to give me the money asked by me, may your head splinter into seven pieces on the seventh day from now.
Bāvarī was deeply disturbed. “Perhaps his curse might take effect,” he pondered as he lay on his bed, unable to sleep.
Then Bāvarī’s mother, in the immediately previous existence, who was now the guardian goddess of the hermitage, seeing his former son in distress, said:
(Son,) that Brahmin does not know what is called ‘the head’. He is a mere bogus Brahmin who is out to get your money. Neither does he understand the meaning of ‘the head’ (muddha) nor the factor that can cause ‘the head’ to be split asunder (muddhādhipāta).
Then Bāvarī said: “O mother, if you know what is meant by ‘the head’ and the factor that can cause ‘the head’, may I know them.”
The goddess said: “Son, I do not know these two things. Only the Buddhas know them.” “Who in this world know them? Please direct me to that person.” “There is the All-Knowing Buddha, Lord of the Three Worlds.” When the word ‘Buddha’ was heard, Bāvarī was extremely delighted and all worries left him. “Where is the Buddha now?” “The Buddha is residing at the Jetavana monastery in Sāvatthi.”
Early next morning, Bāvarī called his sixteen pupils and said: “O men, the Buddha is said to have appeared in the world. Go and verify the fact and let me know. I mean to go to the Buddha myself but at my advanced age, I am expecting death at any moment. Go and see the Buddha and put these seven questions to him.” The questions arranged in verse known as muddha phālana (also known as muddhādhipāta) were then taught to them in detail.
Note that on the eighth year of Bāvarī’s settling down by the banks of River Godhāvarī, the Buddha appeared in the-world.
——Commentaryon the-Sutta Nipāta, Book Two.——
Then Bāvarī pondered thus: “All of my sixteen pupils are wise persons. If they have attained the ultimate goal of bhikkhuhood (i.e. Arahatship) they might or might not come back to me.” And so he said to Pingiya, his nephew: “Nephew Piṅgiya, you ought to come back to me without fail. Do tell me the benefit of the Supramundane when you have attained to it.”
Then the sixteen thousand followers of Bāvarī under the leadership of Ajita (of the sixteen pupils), together with their sixteen teachers, made obeisance to Bāvarī and left their dwelling in the northerly direction.
They proceeded their journey through Mahissati which was the royal city of Aḷaka, Ujjenī, Gonaddha, Vedisa, Pavana, Kosambī, Sāketa, Sāvatthi, Setabya, Kapilavatthu, Kusinārā, Pāvā, Bhoga, Vesālī and Rājagaha,, which was in Magadha country. It was a long journey covering many yojanas.
As they passed a city, the people asked them where they were going and when they said that they were going to see the Buddha to clarify certain problems, many people joined them. By the time they passed Kosambī and reached Sāketa, the line of pilgrims was six yojanas long already. The Buddha knew the coming of the hermits, pupils of Bāvarī, and that they were being joined by many people along the way. But as the faculties of the hermits were not ripe yet, the Buddha did not stay in Sāvatthi to receive them, as the proper place for their enlightenment was Pāsāṇaka Shrine in Magadha. By having to pass through more cities to that particular place, the number of pilgrims would have grown larger and that all of them would benefit from His discourse there, i.e. gain the Knowledge of the Four Ariya Truths.
Taking into consideration this great advantage to the pilgrims, the Buddha left Sāvatthi and went in the direction of Rājagaha ahead of the arrival of the pilgrims there.
When the big crowd reached Sāvatthi, they entered the Buddha’s monastery and inquired where the Buddha was. At the entrance to the private quarters of the Buddha, the scented chamber, they noticed the footprint of he Buddha (which was left there by the Buddha’s will to remain intact till they came there).
They were adept at reading the footprints of all types of persons that:
A person who is lustful has his or her footprint with a hollow at the middle.
A person who is full of hatred has his or her footprint inclined backwards. A person who has much bewilderment has his or her print very markedly impressed at the toes and at the heel.
The present footprint is surely that of the All-Knowing Buddha who has destroyed all the defilements.
By their own learning, the recluses were sure that they had come across the footprint of the Buddha.
The Buddha travelled by stages through Setabya, Kapilavatthu, etc. and reached the Pāsāṇaka Shrine near Rājagaha, letting a big number of persons follow him. The hermits then left Savatthi as soon as they had ascertained themselves about the footprint of the Buddha, and travelling by stages through Setabya and Kapilavatthu, etc., reached the Pāsānaka Shrine near Rājagaha.
(Pāsāṇaka Shrine was a pre-Buddhistic shrine. It was built on a vast rock in honour of a local deity. When the Buddha appeared, the people built a new temple and donated for the use by Buddhist devotees. The old name however was retained.)
Sakka had prepared sufficient place to have the huge crowd accommodated at the Pāsāṇaka temple. In the meanwhile, the hermits tried their best to catch up with the Buddha, travelling in the cool hours of the mornings and evenings. When they saw Pāsāṇaka Shrine, their destination where the Buddha was understood to be residing, they were extremely happy like a thirsty man seeing water, or like a merchant who has realized a good fortune, or like a weary traveller seeing a cool shade. They rushed into the Shrine in all haste.
They saw the Buddha delivering a sermon in the midst of many bhikkhus with a voice that reminds one of a lion roaring. Ajita, the leader of the Brahmins, was greatly delighted on seeing the Buddha emitting the six Buddha-rays while expounding the Dhamma and was further encouraged by the Buddha’s amiable words of greetings, such as: “How did you find the weather? Was it tolerable?” etc.
Sitting in a suitable place, he put the first question to the Buddha without speaking it aloud but directing his mind to the stanza taught by his master Bāvarī, thus:
May I be told: (1) How old our master (Bāvarī) is? (2) What distinguishing bodily marks is our master endowed with? (3) What his lineage is? (4) How accomplished is he in the three Vedas? (5) How many pupils are learning the Vedas under him?
Bāvarī had instructed Ajita to put those questions mentally. And he did as he was told.
The Buddha, as expected by Bāvarī, knew Ajita’s questions and gave the following answers without hesitation (in two stanzas):
Lakkhaṇe itihāse ca, sanighaṇḍu saketubhe;
Pañca satāni vāceti, sadhamme Paramīṃ gato,
(Ajita,) (1) your teacher’s age is one hundred and twenty years, (2) he belongs to the clan of Bāvarī, (3) he has three distinguishing marks of a great man, (4) he has mastered the three Vedas;"He has mastered the Nigandu (the Abidhāna), the Ketubha (poetics), Lakkhaṇa (Characteristics of the great man), the Itihāsa (Legendary lore). (5) He is teaching the three Vedas to five hundred pupils who are lazy and dull.
Ajita wanted to know what three characteristics are possessed by his master, with reference to the third answer above, and put the following question mentally:
O Supreme Man endowed with the faculty of dispelling doubts of all beings, please specify in detail what are the three distinguishing marks of Bāvarī. Do not let us have any scepticism.
The Buddha made the following reply:
(Ajita,) (1) your teacher Bāvarī can cover his face with his tongue, (2) there is the spiral auspicious hair between his eyebrows, (3) his genital organ is sheathed (like that of the Chaddanta elephant). Ajita, note these three distinguishing marks on him.
This the Buddha answered in precise terms. Then the audience, which covered an area of twelve yojanas, were amazed, for they heard no one asking questions except the Buddha’s prompt and detail answers. Raising their joint palms above their heads, they wondered aloud: “Who is the questioner? Is he a deva or a Brahmā, or Sakka the beloved husband of Sujātā?”
Having heard the answers to his five questions, Ajita asked two more questions mentally:
O Virtuous One, our teacher wishes to ask two problems: first what is meant by ‘the head’ (muddha)? Secondly, what is the factor that can chop off ‘the head’ (muddhāhipāta)? Kindly answer these two questions and dispel our doubts.
To that mental question of Ajita, the Buddha answered aloud thus:
(Ajita,) Ignorance (avijjā) of the four Ariya Truths is the head (muddha) of repeated rebirths (saṃsāra). Knowledge of the Ariya Path (muddhādhipātins) that is associated with confidence (saddhā), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samādhi), strong will (chanda) and endeavour (vīriya), is the factor that chops off the head. Thus should you know.
On hearing the exact answers, Ajita was overjoyed. And, placing the antelope’s skin on his left shoulder, touched the Buddha’s feet with his head.
Then he said aloud:
Venerable One who has made an end of dukkha, endowed with the Eye of Knowledge, Brahmin Bāvarī, together with his pupils numbering sixteen thousand, being in high spirits, worship at your feet!
The other pupils of Bāvarī joined Ajita in these words of praise and made obeisance to the Buddha.
The Buddha had compassion on Ajita and wished him well in these terms:
May Bāvarī and his pupils be happy and well. Young brahmin, may you also be happy and well. May you live long.
Then the Buddha continued:
Bāvarissa ca tuyhaṃ vā, sabbesaṃ sabbasaṃsayaṃ;
Katāvakāsā pucchavho, yam kiñci manasicchatha.
If Bāvarī or yourself, Ajita, or anyone of you would like to clear up any problem that may arise in your mind, I allow you to ask.
It was the custom of the All-Knowing Ones to invite queries.
When this opportunity was extended to them, all the Brahmin sat down, made obeisance to the Buddha, and took turns to ask. Ajita was the first to do so. The Buddha answered his questions and those answers gradually culminated in the realization of arahatship. Ajita and his one thousand pupils attained arahatship at the end of the discourse; thousands of others also attained magga-phala at various levels. As soon as Ajita and his pupils attained arahatship, they were called up by the Buddha into bhikkhuhood. They instantly assumed the form of bhikkhu-elders of sixty years' standing, complete with bhikkhu equipment which appeared by the supernormal power of the Buddha. They all sat before the Buddha in worshipping posture. (The rest of Bāvarī’s pupils asked their own questions to the Buddha, the details about which may be found in the Sutta Nipāta. Here we shall continue only with what is concerned with the Venerable Mogharāja and Bāvarī.)
Bāvarī’s pupils, mentioned above, asked questions in turn to which the Buddha gave answers and which ended in the attainment of arahatship by the questioner and his one thousand pupils. All of them, becoming bhikkhus, were called up by the Buddha.
Mogharāja was a very conceited person who considered himself as the most learned among the sixteen close pupils of Bāvarī. He thought it fit to ask his questions only after Ajita because Ajita was the eldest among the close pupils. So after Ajita had finished, he stood up to take his turn. However, the Buddha knew that Mogharāja was conceited and was not yet ripe for enlightenment, and that he needed chastisement. So the Buddha said to him: “Mogharāja, wait till others have asked their questions.” Mogharāja reflected thus: “I have all along been thinking of myself as the wisest person. But the Buddha knows best. He must have judged that my turn to ask questions has not become due.” He sat down silently.
Then after the eight pupils of Bāvarī, viz., (1) Ajita, (2) Tissa Metteyya, (3) Puṇṇaka, (4) Mettāgū (5) Dhotaka, (6) Upasīva, (7) Nanda and (8) Hemaka, had finished their turns, he became impatient and stood up to take his turn. Again, the Buddha saw him still not ripe yet for enlightenment and asked him to wait. Mogharāja took it silently. But when remaining six pupils of Bāvarī, viz., (9) Todeyya (10) Kappa, (11) Jatukaṇṇi, (12) Bhadrāvudha, (13) Udaya, and (14) Posala, had finished their turns, Mogharāja was concerned about the prospect of his becoming the most junior bhikkhu among Bāvarī’s disciples and took the fifteenth turn.
And now that Mogharāja’s faculties had ripened, the Buddha allowed him. Mogharāja began thus:
Twice have I put my questions to the Buddha of Sakyan descent, but the Possessor of the Five Eyes, has not replied to me. I have heard it said that the Buddha answers, out of compassion, at the third time.
Neither this human world nor the world of devas and Brahmas understand the view held by Buddha Gotama of great fame and following.
To ‘the One-who-sees-the-excellent-Dhamma’ (i.e. the Knower of the inner tendencies (āsaya), supreme release (adhimutti), destinies (gati) and Nibbāna (pārāyana), etc. of the sentient world), we have come to ask a question: howsoever should one perceive the world so that māra cannot see him (any more)? (By what manner of perceiving the conditioned world, does one attain arahatship which is liberation from death?)
To the question contained in the second half of Mogarāja’s three stanzas above, the Buddha replied:
Mogharāja, be mindful all the time, and abandoning the wrong view concerning the five aggregates, i.e. the delusion of self, perceive the world (animate or inanimate) as naught, as empty. By perceiving thus, one should be liberated from māra (Death). One who perceives the world thus cannot be seen by māra.
——Sutta Nipāta, v. 1126.——
(The wrong view of a personal identity as ‘oneself’ which is the mistaken concept of the present body, sakkāyadiṭṭhi, must be discarded and all conditioned phenomena should be viewed as insubstantial not-self (anatta), and in truth and reality, a mere nothingness. When this right perception has struck root, Death is conquered. When arahatta-phala is realised, the arahat passes beyond the domain of death (māra). ‘Passing beyond Death’s domain’ is a metaphor which means attainment of arahatship. This stanza has as its main object, the attainment of arahatship.)
After hearing this stanza which culminated in arahatta-phala, Mogharāja and his one thousand followers attained arahatship, as did the previous pupils of Bāvārī. They were ‘Called-up bhikkhus’. Thousands among the audience gained magga-phala at various levels, too.
(c) Etadagga Title achieved
Since he became a bhikkhu by being called up as a bhikkhu by the Buddha, the Venerable Mogharāja had the habit of wearing only inferior or poor robes in that they were stitched out of coarse rags, dyed poorly just to meet the rules of the Vinaya, and stitched with inferior thread.
Therefore, on one occasion, when the Buddha was holding a congregation of bhikkhus at the Jetavana monastery, He declared:
“Bhikkhus, among My bhikkhu-disciples who always wear coarse robes (of poor material, poor dye and poor thread), Bhikkhu Mogharāja is the foremost (etadagga).”