The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The first Isidatta Sutta 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 the Life Stories of Male Lay Disciples. 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).

At one time, many bhikkhus were living in the Ambāṭaka monastery which was donated by Citta the householder, in Macchikāsaṇḍa. One day, Citta went to the monastery and after making obeisance to the bhikkhu-elders, he invited them to an offering of food in his home the next day. Next day, when the bhikkhu-elders were seated at the prepared seats, Citta made obeisance, sat in a suitable place, and said to the Venerable Thera, the senior-most bhikkhu present then: “Venerable Sir, ‘Diversity of Elements’, ‘Diversity of Elements’ (Dhātu ñāṇattaṃ), it has been said. To what extent is there the diversity of Elements as taught by the Bhagavā?”

The Venerable Thera knew the answer but he was diffident to give a reply to the question, and so he remained silent. For a third time too, the Venerable kept his silence.

Then the Venerable Isidatta, the junior-most bhikkhu among the bhikkhus present, thought: “Bhikkhu-elder Thera does not answer the question, nor ask another bhikkhu to answer. The Sangha, by not answering to Citta’s question, makes him appear as harassing. I shall save the situation by answering his question.” So, he went near the Venerable Thera and said: “Venerable Sir, may I be allowed to answer the question by Citta.” And the Venerable Thera gave him permission to do so. Then, the Venerable Isidatta returned to his seat and said to Citta: “Householder, you asked the question, ‘Venerable Thera, ‘Diversity of Elements’, ‘Diversity of Elements’, it has been said. To what extent is there, the Diversity of Elements?”

“Yes, Venerable Sir, that is so,” replied Citta. “Householder, as taught by the Bhagavā there are various Elements, such as Eye-element (cakkhu-dhātu), Element of visual object (rūpa-dhātu), Eye-consciousness element (cakkhu-viññāṇa-dhātu), Ear-element (sota-dhātu), Element of sound (sadda-dhātu), Ear-consciousness element (sota-viññāṇa-dhātu);...p... Mind-element (mano-dhātu), Element of phenomena (dhamma-dhātu), Mind-consciousness element (mano-viññāṇa-dhātu). Householder, these are the various Elements (ñāṇattadhātu), as taught by the Bhagavā.”

Citta was satisfied with the answer given by the Venerable Isidatta and personally attended to him at the food offering. When, after finishing the meal, the bhikkhus returned to monastery, the Venerable Thera said to the Venerable Isidatta: “Friend Isidatta, you perceived the problem well. I have no such perception. Therefore, friend Isidatta, when similar questions are asked of us, you may do the answering.”

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