The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Bavari the Brahmin Teacher (continued) 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).

Addenda: Bāvarī the Brahmin Teacher (continued)

Of the sixteen close pupils of Hermit Bāvarī, the first fifteen, up to Mogharāja, after putting forwards their questions to the Buddha and receiving the answers, attained arahatship along with their respective pupils of a thousand each. All were ‘called-up Bhikkhus by the Buddha.’

Pingiya, the sixteenth close pupil and a nephew of Bāvarī, who was then 120 years of age, asked the Buddha this question:

Jiṇṇohamasmi abalo vītavaṇṇo,
nettā na suddhā savanaṃ na phāsu
Māham nassaṃ momuho antarāva,
ācikkha dhammaṃ yam ahaṃ vijaññaṃ
Jātijarāya idha vippahānaṃ.

(Venerable Sir,) I am worn out with age, weak and wan. My eyes and ears are failing me. I do not wish to die in deep ignorance before having the benefit of your Doctrine. So please show me, here in Your very presence, the Supramundane Dhamma that can abandon rebirth and ageing.

Piṅgiya was very much concerned about his physical deterioration, He had attachment to his body.

To gain a detached view of the body, the Buddha taught him thus:

Disvāna rūpesu vihaññamāne,
ruppanti rūpesu janā pamattā.
Tasmā tuvaṃ Piṅgiya appamatto,
jahassu rūpaṃ apunabbhavāya

(Piṅgiya,) the heedless multitudes are brought to ruin on account of corporeality. Having seen yourself how corporeality is the cause of the suffering of those heedless persons, be heedful (mindful) and abandon attachment to the corporeality so that fresh existence may not arise.

(The Buddha expounded the necessary practice (patipatti) that leads one to arahatship by the expression ‘so that flesh existence (apunabbhava) may not arise’.) The hearer, Pingiya, however was old and getting mentally slow. So he did not gain enlightenment at once.

He put a further question in the following stanza, extolling the immense wisdom of the Buddha:

Disā catasso vidisā catasso,
uddhaṃ adho dasa disā imāyo.
Na tuyhaṃ adiṭṭham asutaṃ amutaṃ,
atho aviññātaṃ kiñcanam atthi loke.
Ācikkha dhammaṃ yam ahaṃ vijaññaṃ,
jātijarāya idha vippahānaṃ

(Venerable Sir,) in all the four cardinal directions, in all the four intermediate directions, above, and below, in all the ten directions, there is nothing whatever in the world that the Bhagavā does not see, hear, know, or understand. Do show me, here in Your very presence, the supramundane Dhamma that can abandon rebirth and ageing.

The Buddha again pointed to the necessary practice leading to Nibbāna thus:

Taṇhāhipanne manuje pekkhamāno,
santāpajāte jarasā parete.
Tasmā tuvaṃ Piṅgiya appamatto,
jahassu taṇhāṃ apunabbhavāya

(Piṅgiya,) the multitudes are afflicted by their own craving. Having seen yourself how they are worn out and ruined by the relentless process of ageing, be heedful (mindful) and abandon craving for sense pleasures, for continued existence, and for non-existence so that fresh existence may not arise.

At the end of the discourse, which was directed towards arahatta-phala, Piṅgiya attained anāgāmī-magga, the Path-Knowledge at the third level. While listening to the discourse, Piṅgiya’s mind was wandering: he felt sorry that his uncle, Bāvarī, had missed the opportunity to hear such a profound exposition. Hence, his failure to attain arahatship. However, his one thousand pupils became arahats. All of them, Piṅgiya as an anāgāmin and his pupils as arahats, were called up as bhikkhus by the Buddha.

(The question posed by each of the sixteen pupils of Bāvarī and the Buddha’s answers to them were compiled as distinct Suttas by the reciters at the Council such as Ajita Sutta, etc. The background story and the sixteen suttas has been given the title of Pārāyana Sutta because they lead to the yonder shore (Nibbāna) of saṃsāra.)

By the end of Pārāyana Sutta, 16,016 recluses attained arahatship, i.e. all but Piṅgiya became arahats. Fourteen crores of hearers also attained magga-phala at various levels of Path-Knowledge, having understood the Four Ariya Truths.

The huge audience, on the occasion of the Pārāyana Sutta, came from different places, found themselves back at home at the end of the sermon due to the Buddha’s powers. The Buddha returned to Savatthi accompanied by thousands of arahat disciples (with the exception of the Venerable Piṅgiya).

Piṅgiya’s Discourses to Bāvarī

The Venerable Piṅgiya did not accompany the Buddha to Sāvatthi because he had undertaken to report back his experience to his uncle. Buddha granted him the permission to return to his dwelling. He appeared at the bank of River Godhāvarī by his psychic power, and thence to his dwelling on foot.

As Bāvarī awaited the return of his nephew, sitting and watching the road, he saw Venerable Piṅgiya, in the guise of a bhikkhu, instead of his former appearance as a hermit with the usual equipment. He rightly conjectured that the Buddha indeed had appeared in the world. When the Venerable Piṅgiya got before his presence, he asked him: “How is it? Has the Buddha appeared?” “That’s true, Brahmin, the Buddha has appeared in the world. He gave us a sermon while residing at the Pāsānaka Shrine. I shall pass on the Doctrine to you.” On hearing this, Bāvarī and his five hundred pupils prepared a special seat for the Venerable Piṅgiya, showing him great respect. Then the Venerable Piṅgiya took his seat and delivered a discourse consisting of 15 stanzas to Bāvarī, which is known as the Pārāyanānugīti. (Refer to the Pāli text in Sutta Nipāta. A prose rendering of it follows.)

The Venerable Piṅgiya expounded thus:

(1) “I will attempt to echo the Buddha’s discourse on Pārāyana:

The Buddha who is an arahat, untainted by the filth (of delusion), endowed with vast knowledge comparable to the earth, released from sensuousness, barren of forests of defilements, expounded the Dhamma as He has understood it. Why should the Buddha say something which is untrue?

(2) “Come, now, I will sing in praise of the Buddha, the One purified of the dirt of delusion (moha), the One purged of vanity (mānā) and ingratitude (makkha).

(3) “Brahmin, the Buddha has dispelled the darkness of defilements. He is endowed with the All-seeing Eye. He has reached the end of the world. He has passed beyond all forms of existence. He is free of moral intoxicants. He has exhausted all dukkha. He has earned the name of ‘the Awakened One’. This man, Brahmin, is the man I have resorted to.

(4) “Brahmin, like a bird that leaves the lowly bushes of scanty fruit and resorts to a fruitful grove, so also I have left the company of lesser minds, and like a golden swan, have reached a great lake of immense wisdom.

(5) “Brahmin, before the time of Buddha Gotama’s Teaching, religious teachers proclaimed their views to me saying: ‘This is how it has always been, and this is how it will always be’. They were mere hearsay knowledge, gaining ground as oral tradition. They only serve as sources of unwholesome speculation bearing on sensuality, etc.

(6) “Brahmin, that Buddha Gotama whom I have followed is unrivalled. He is committed to dispelling darkness. He has a halo around His person and sheds light of knowledge everywhere. My Teacher, Buddha Gotama, has awe-inspiring wisdom. His intelligence is infinite like the earth.

(7) “Brahmin, the Buddha expounded to me the Dhamma which can be personally apperceived, which is not delayed in its result, which leads to the end of Craving, and to Security (Nibbāna). That Buddha, my Teacher, is beyond comparison.

(8 - 9) “Thereupon Bāvarī asked Pingiya thus: “Pingiya, whereas the Buddha expounded to you the Dhamma which is personally appreciable, which is not delayed in its result, which leads to the end of craving, and to security against all defilements and, whereas the Buddha is beyond comparison; has awe-inspiring Wisdom, and infinite intelligence like the earth, yet why do you ever stay away from him?” (Bāvarī scolded his nephew for not staying close to such a great man as the Buddha.)

(10 - 11) “Brahmin, that Buddha, my Teacher, expounded to me the Dhamma which can be personally apperceived, which is not delayed in its result, which leads to the end of craving, and to security against all defilements. He has awe-inspiring wisdom, and infinite intelligence like the earth. In fact, I do not stay away from Him even for a moment.

(12) “Brahmin, with mindfulness, I am seeing the Buddha with my mind as clearly as with my eyes, I am seeing Him by day or by night. By night I remain remembering His greatness with reverence. That is why I never consider myself away from the Buddha, even for a moment.

(13) “Brahmin, my conviction, my delightful satisfaction, and my mindfulness, never leave Buddha Gotama’s Teaching. Wherever the Buddha, endowed with infinite Wisdom, goes I bow (with my mind) in that direction in homage.

(14) “Brahmin, it is due to my old age that I am not physically able to go near the Buddha. But I always go to Him in my thoughts. My mind is always connected with His presence.

(15) “Brahmin, I had lain in the mire of sensuousness, agitating all the time, while drifting from one island to another, i.e. taking refuge in one teacher now, and then another teacher next. Now I have met (seen) the Teacher, (at the Pasāṇaka Shrine) who is free of moral intoxicants, who has crossed over the floods of saṃsāra.”

(Note: that the Venerable Piṅgiya having become an ariya, could address his uncle only as ‘Brahmin’, and not ‘uncle’. On the part of Bāvarī, he was used to calling his nephew, ‘Piṅgiya’ and did not mean to be disrespectful to the bhikkhu in calling him by the name.)

Buddha’s Sending of Rays and Delivery of A Discourse

At the end of the fifteenth stanza above, the Buddha knew that the Venerable Piṅgiya and his uncle, Bāvarī, had become fit enough to receive higher Knowledge, their five faculties [confidence (saddhā), endeavour (vīriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (paññā)] had matured, and sent His Buddha-rays to them while remaining at the Jetavana monastery in Sāvatthi. The golden-hued rays appeared before them. Just as the Venerable Piṅgiya was describing the noble qualities of the Buddha to his uncle, he saw the golden shaft of rays and, paying his attention to it carefully, he saw the presence of the Buddha as if the Buddha was standing in front of him. “Look! The Buddha has come!” he exclaimed in wonderment.

Bāvarī then stood up and paid homage to the Buddha with palms joined and raised to his forehead. The Buddha then intensified the rays and let His person seen by Bāvarī.

Then He made a discourse suited to both Bāvarī and his nephew, but addressing it to the Venerable Piṅgiya:

Yathā ahū Vakkali muttasaddho,
bhadrāvudho Āḷavi Gotamo ca.
Evam eva tvampi pamuñcassu saddhaṃ,
gamissasi tvaṃ Piṅgiya maccudheyyassa pāraṃ

Piṅgiya, there have been bhikkhus who attained arahatship through sheer force of confidence in the Triple Gem such as Vakkali, Bhadrāvudha (one of the sixteen close pupils of Bāvarī) and Gotama of Āḷavī. Likewise, you should place your confidence in the Triple Gem and by directing that confidence towards Nibbāna, you cross over from the other shore of saṃsāra, which is the domain of death.

At the end of the discourse, the Venerable Piṅgiya attained arahatship. Bāvarī attained anāgāmī-phala and his five hundred pupils attained sotāpatti-phala.

The Venerable Piṅgiya responded to the above admonition of the Buddha thus:

1) Esa bhiyyo pasīdāmi,
sutvāna munino vaco.
Vivaṭṭacchado Sambuddho,
akhilo paṭibhanavā

2) Adhideve abhiññāya,
sabbaṃ vedi varovaraṃ.
Pañhānantakaro Satthā,
kaṅkhinaṃ patijānataṃ

(1) Venerable Sir, the words of the Great Recluse (Mahāmuni), the Buddha, makes me deeply satisfied. My confidence in the Triple Gem is strengthened. The Buddha has removed the roof of saṃsāra. He is free from the darts of defilements. He is endowed with elaborate and analytical Knowledge.

(2) The Perfectly-Enlightened One, who resolves all problems and who is the Teacher of those that falsely claim to be free from doubt, knows the Pure Ones that are superior to the greatest of devas and humans, having understood through His extraordinary wisdom all factors that lead to Purity.

3) Asaṃhīraṃ asaṃkuppaṃ,
yassa n'atthi upamā kvaci
Addhā gamissāmi na m'ettha kaṅkhā,
evaṃ maṃ dhārehi adhimuttacittaṃ

(3) (O Great Recluse,) unperturbable, immutable, and beyond any standards of comparison is Nibbāna with no trace of existence remaining. And I have no doubt that I am bound for that Nibbāna. May the Bhagavā recognize me as one who has directed his confidence to Nibbāna, whose mind is free from defilements.

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