Maha Abhaya: 1 definition


Maha Abhaya means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Maha Abhaya in Theravada glossary
Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

Maha Abhaya Thera 2 2. Maha Abhaya Thera

1. Maha Abhaya. See Abhaya giri.

1. Maha Abhaya Thera

Usually called Dighabhanaka Abhaya. He was evidently an eminent Thera. It is said (Sp.ii.474f.; referred to at DhSA.399) that when news arrived that the brigand Abhaya was coming to Cetiyagiri to pillage it, the patrons of the vihara informed Abhaya Thera of this. He asked them to collect various kinds of food and drink wherewith to entertain the brigand. The latter was greatly pleased, and, on learning that this hospitality was shown him at the instigation of Abhaya Thera, he visited the Elder and took upon himself the protection of the vihara from all danger. Later the monks questioned the right of the Elder to entertain a robber with what belonged to the vihara, but he convened an assembly of the monks and convinced them that he was guiltless, as his act had been solely for the protection of the belongings of the Sangha. This story shows that the Elder lived at Cetiyagiri.

On another occasion (MA.i.65f) Abhaya Thera preached the Maha Ariyavamsa patipada, and the whole village (? Mahagama) came to hear him. After the sermon he received great honour. An elderly monk was full of envy and abused him, saying that under guise of preaching he had filled the night with noise. The two monks had to travel along the same road for the distance of a gavuta, and all the way the old monk abused Abhaya. When their roads separated, Abhaya worshipped the monk and took leave of him and said, when asked later, that he had heard none of the abuse because he had been all the time engaged in meditation. One day, a certain woman who had come all the way from Ullabha kolakannika, a distance of five leagues, to hear Abhaya preach the Ariyavamsa, found that he was about to arise without finishing the sermon, and reminded him that he was omitting the most important part. The monk praised her and continued to preach till dawn, when the woman became a sotapanna (AA.i.386). It is said that once Abhaya wanted to know if a certain pindapatika monk were a putthujjana or not. While this monk was bathing at the mouth of the Kalyani River, Abhaya told a novice to dive into the water and catch hold of his foot. The monk, thinking it was a crocodile, screamed with fear, and Abhaya knew that he was a puthujjana (MA.ii.869). Thieves once bound an Elder with creepers and made him lie down. A jungle fire spread to him, but before the creepers could be cut, he established insight and died an arahant. Abhaya, coming along with five hundred others, saw the body, cremated it, and had a shrine built over the remains (Vsm.36).

Abhayas opinion was evidently greatly respected, and he is mentioned as having been consulted by Maha Dhammarakhita (VibhA.81) and Mallaka (Vsm.266) on problems connected with the Abhidhamma.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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