In this dispensation the Venerable Mahatheras Sariputta and Moggallana are known as the two Chief Disciples of the Buddha. These two Mahatheras had mostly worked together for their Perfection during the period of their performance of meritorious deeds for that goal. In their last existence too they gave up the world together and became monks together. Hence their accounts are given together in the Atthakathas and Tikas. Following those treatises here in this book too their accounts will be given together.
(a) Aspirations expressed in the past
Counting back from this kappa, one asankhyeyya and a hundred thousands aeons ago the future Sariputta, a virtuous person, was born in a wealthy Brahmin family and named Sarada the youth. The future Moggallana, another virtuous man was also born in a another family and named Sirivaddhana the householder. They became intimate friends, having played together with soil grains in their childhood.
One day while Sarada the youth was examining and managing the wealth of his household (that came down from his forebears) as his father had died, there came a thought to him thus: "I know only about this existence. I do not know about hereafter. It is absolutely certain that beings born are subject to death. It will be proper therefore if I shall become a kind of recluse and seek the doctrine for liberation from samsara."
Sarada the youth went to his friend Sirivaddhana the householder and asked: "Friend Sirivaddhana, I shall become a recluse and seek the doctrine for liberation from samsara Will you be able to become one together with me?" "No, friend, I am not," answered Sirivaddhana. "You, friend, go ahead." Then it occurred to Sarada: "Among those who pass into hereafter there is none who is able to take his friends and relatives with him. It is indeed true that only his good or bad deeds are his own property [as they follow him]."
Thereupon, he opened his treasure houses and performed a great dana to destitutes, poor people, travellers and beggars. He made his way to the foot of a mountain and became an ascetic. Those who became matted-hair ascetics in the wake of Sarada numbered seventy-four thousand. The ascetic Sarada himself acquired the fivefold mundane Psychic power and the eightfold Jhana attainment. He also taught his followers how to make preparations for kasina meditation and practise that meditation and they too gained the same power and attainment.
At that time appeared the Buddha Anomadassi in the world. (The city and other particulars have been given in the Chronicle Vol. 1 Pt 2.) One day when Anomadassi Buddha surveyed the world of sentient beings after emerging from his Jhana of Karuna-samapatti at daybreak, he saw the ascetic Sarada and decided thinking thus: "When I visit Sarada a grand Dhamma-talk will take place. The ascetic will express his aspiration for Chief Discipleship flanking on the right-hand side of some Buddha in future. His friend Sirivaddhana will do similarly for the other Discipleship flanking on the left. At the end of the talk, Sarada's seventy-four thousand followers, those ascetics who accompanied Sarada, will attain Arahatship. I should therefore pay a visit to Sarada's place at the mountain-foot." So he took bowl and robe and set forth alone without informing any body else, like a lion-king. While Sarada's pupils were away gathering fruit Anomadassi Buddha made a resolution that Sarada should come to know him as an Omniscient Buddha, and while Sarada was looking on him the Buddha descended from the sky and stood on the pound.
As he had seen the magnificence and the physical splendour of Anomadassi Buddha, Sarada studied them in accordance with physiognomical treatises and unwaveringly believed "One who is possessed of these marks would become a Universal Monarch if he were to live a household life, but if he were to put on the yellow robe, he would become an Omniscient Buddha." He therefore welcomed the Buddha paid homage with five kinds of touching and gave the prepared seat to him. The Buddha sat down in that seat and the hermit also took an appropriate seat for himself
At that time the seventy-four thousand pupil hermits went to their master carrying with them fruit of various sizes with immensely rich flavour and nutrition. Seeing the seating arrangement of the Buddha and that of their teacher, they remarked to him:"Master, we wonder, believing that here is no person higher than you in the world. But now it seems that this noble man is far superior to you." The master reprovingly replied: "How dare you say so, pupils! you wish to compare a mustard seed with the great Mount Meru one hundred and sixty-eight thousand yojanas high. Do not weigh me against the Buddha." Then the pupils said among themselves: "If this were an unworthy one, our master would not have given such a simile. Indeed he must be supreme?" So, saying they all prostrated at the feet of the Buddha and venerated him with their heads.
Thereafter the hermit told his pupils: "Dear sons, we have no gift that is proper to the Buddha. It was during his hour for collecting almsfood that he came to our residence at the foot of the mountain. Let us give alms to the best of our ability. Bring, pupils, big and small fruits that appear nice and wholesome." Thus he had the fruit brought and, having washed his hands he himself offered the fruit by putting them in the bowl. No sooner had the Buddha accepted the fruit the Devas put ambrosia in the bowl. Sarada offered water that had been duly filtered by himself. Having eaten the fruit, the Buddha washed his hand and sat calm and quiet. While the Buddha was sitting thus, Sarada summoned all his pupils and remained speaking to the Buddha words that ought to be remembered for long. Then the Buddha resolved that his two Chief Disciples should visit him in the company of monks at the mountain-foot. The two Chief Disciples (Mahatheras Nisabha and Anoma), knowing the Buddha's desire, immediately came accompanied by a hundred thousand Arahats and, after paying homage to the Buddha, stood at suitable places.
Thereupon the hermit Sarada called his hermit-pupils and ordered "Dear sons, the seat made for the Buddha is still low. The hundred thousand monks are also without seats. You dear sons should do today highly appreciable honour to the Buddha. Bring beautiful and fragrant flowers from the foot of the mountain." The time spent for giving the order seemed even longer. The power of the mighty ones is wonderful. beyond imagination. Instantly, therefore the hermit-pupils miraculously brought flowers of beauty and fragrance and of them made for the Buddha the seat measuring a yojana. The floral seat made for the two Chief Disciples measured three gavutas each and that for the rest of monks measured half a yajana or two gavutas. Even for the youngest monk the seat was each one usabha in measurement.
After making the seats in this manner, Sarada stood before the Buddha and even while standing he addressed the Buddha with his joined hands raised: "Exalted Buddha, please take this seat of flowers for my long welfare and happiness." Anomadassi Buddha surmounted on the seat and sat down and remained there, engaging in Nirodha samapatti for seven days. Knowing what the Buddha was doing, the two Chief Disciples and the rest of monks, while remaining in their respective seats, in the wake of the Master engaged themselves in Jhanas.
Sarada hermit stood, holding a floral umbrella over the Buddha While the Buddha was being absorbed in the Nirodhasamapatti, the hermit pupils sought various roots and fruit during the food gathering hour and ate them; for the rest of the time they stood, raising their joined hands in the direction of the Buddha Sarada, however, did not move even for searching for fruit but held the umbrella over the Buddha and spent the time by means of the food of rapture.
Emerging from the Nirodha-samapatti, the Buddha asked the chief Disciple, Nisabha Thera who was sitting near him on his right side 'Preach, dear son, a sermon in appreciation of the flowers to the honouring hermits." With his mind immensely gladdened as a heroic warrior who had received a great reward from the Universal Monarch, Nisabha Thera preached by virtue of his perfect intelligence as Disciple. At the end of Nisabha Thera's preaching, the Buddha asked the other Chief Disciple Anoma Thera who was flanking on the left side; "You too preach a sermon, dear son," Reflecting on the Buddha's words contained in the Three Pitakas, the Venerable Anoma gave sermon.
The realization of the Truths and the attainment of release did no affect yet a single one of the hermits despite the preaching of the two Chief Disciples. Thereafter Anomadassi Buddha, having remained in his incomparable state of a Buddha, preached. At the end of the preaching all seventy-four matted-hair hermits attained Arahatta-phala. Sarada alone remained unaffected. Then the Buddha stretching his right arm and pronounced: "Come, monks!" At that very moment the hair and beard of all those ascetics disappeared and they became monks already equipped with the eight items of requisites.
Sarada's aspiration for chief Discipleship
It may be asked, "Why did he fail to attain Arahatship though he was a great teacher?" The answer is, "Because he was then distracted." Expanded answer: Since the time when Nisabha the Chief Disciple, the Right Flanker, started preaching, Sarada had been repeatedly distracted by the thought: It would be well if I should gain the same position as this Chief Disciple's in the dispensation of the Buddha to come. Because of this distraction Sarada failed to penetrate and gain the knowledge of the Path and Fruition.(He was left behind with no acquisition of the Magga and Phala.)
After his pupils had become ehi-bhikkhus, Sarada hermit paid homage to the Buddha and asked while standing before him: "What is the name of the monk who is sitting just next to you?" When the Buddha said, "His name is Nisabha, my Right Chief Disciple who in my dispensation can turn the Wheel-Treasure of the Dhamma after me, who had reached the apex of the perfect wisdom of a Disciple and who had penetrated the fifteen forms of Panna" Sarada hermit said: "As a result of my act of merit by honouring you with a floral umbrella held over you for seven days, I do not long for the state of a Sakka or that of a Brahma. In fact, I wish to become a real Chief Disciple, the Right Flanker, like this noble Mahathera Nisabha during the dispensation of some Buddha in the future."
When the Buddha Anomadassi tried to foresee through his Anagatamsa Nana whether Sarada's wish would be fulfilled, he foresaw that it would be fulfilled after one asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand kappas. So he said to the hermit: "Your wish would not go unfulfilled. In fact, when an asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand kappashave elapsed the Buddha Gotama will appear in the three worlds. His mother will be Queen Mahamaya, his father Suddhodana, his son Rahula and his left-flanking Chief Disciple Moggallana. But you will become Gotama Buddha's Right-flanking Chief Disciple by the name of Sariputta. Having prophesied thus, he gave a Dhamma-talk and rose into the air in the company of monks.
Sarada hermit then approached the Theras who had been his old pupils and said: 'Venerable Sirs, please tell my friend Sirivaddhana the householder thus: Your friend Sarada hermit has said at the foot of the Buddha Anomadassi for the rank of the Right-flanking Disciple. For that of the Left-flanking Disciple of Gotama, a coming Buddha, you householder may resolve." After giving the message thus, Sarada went hurriedly ahead of them by another road and stood at the door of the house of Sirivaddhana.
Thinking "Oh, my master has come after a long time. He has long been absent? Sirivaddhana gave a seat to Sarada and the hermit sat down in a lower seat and asked: "Venerable Sir, but your retinue of residential pupils do not show up." "Well, they do not, friend. Anomadassi Buddha visited our hermits; we honoured the Sangha headed by the Buddha to the best of our ability. The Buddha preached to us all. At the end of the preaching all except myself the seventy-four thousand hermits attained Arahatship and became monks." "Why did not you become likewise?" asked Sirivaddhana. "Having seen Nisabha Thera, the Buddha's Right-flanking Chief Disciple," replied Sarada, 'I said for a similar position during the dispensation of the coming Buddha Gotama. You too resolve for the (second) Chief Discipleship occupying the Buddha's left hand seat." When the hermit urged him thus his friend replied: "I have no experience of talking with the Buddha." Then Sarada said encouraging him: "Let the talking with the Buddha be my responsibility. On your part make an arrangement for your great act of merit (adhikara)."
Having listened to Sarada's advice,Sirivaddhana levelled the ground measuring eight pai in front of the doorway of his house and covered it with white sand, scattered over it confetti of flowers of five kinds with parched rice as the fifth. He also built a shed roofed with blue lotus flowers, prepared the seat for the Buddha and arranged things dedicated in honour of the Buddha. Then only did he give a signal to Sarada to bring the Sangha headed by the Buddha. Taking his cue from Sirivaddhana, Sarada brought the Sangha with the Buddha at its head to Sirivaddhana's house.
Sirivaddhana welcomed the Buddha and took the bowl and robe from the Buddha's hand and respectfully brought the Buddha into the shed and offered dedication water to the Buddha and his monks, fed them with excellent food. When the feeding was over he gave highly valued robes to the Buddha and his Sangha. Thereafter he said: "Exalted Buddha, this act of merit performed by me is not intended for a small reward. Therefore kindly do me a favour in this way for seven days." The Buddha kept silent in agreement. Sirivaddhana then performed a great alms-giving (Mahadana) in the same manner for a week. While standing with his joined hands raised respectfully in the direction of the Buddha, he said thus: "Exalted Buddha, my friend Sarada has begged the position of a Chief Disciple and the Right flanker to the Buddha Gotama. I too aspire for the post of the Left-flanker Chief Disciple to that very Buddha Gotama.
When the Buddha surveyed the future, he saw that the aspiration of Sirivaddhana would be fulfilled. So he prophesied: "An asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons from now you will become a second Chief Disciple, the Left-flanker." Hearing the Buddha's prophecy, Sirivaddhana was overjoyed. After giving a talk in appreciation of the Dana, the Buddha returned to the monastery in the company of monks. From then onwards till his death Sirivaddhana made efforts to perform acts of merit and on passing away from that existence he was reborn in the Kamavacara Deva world. Sarada the hermit developed the four sublime practices (Brahma-vihara) and landed in the Brahma realm.
(b)Ascetic life adopted in final existence
The Commentary says nothing elaborate about their good works done during the existences after their lives as the hermit Sarada and the householder Sirivaddhana, but it gives an account of their lives in the last existence.
Just before the appearance of our Buddha Gotama a virtuous man, the future Sariputta Thera who had formerly been hermit Sarada was conceived in the womb of a Brahmin woman, a merchant's wife, Rupasari by name, in the village of Upatissa near the city of Rajagaha. On that very day another virtuous man, formerly Sarada's friend Sirivaddhana and the future Moggallana, took conception in the womb of Moggali (wife of another merchant) in the village of Kolita also near Rajagaha. Those two great families had been very friendly households since seven generations ago.
For the two conceived boys, the future Chief Disciples, protection was provided on the same day. Also when they were born after ten months had elapsed, each boy was looked after by sixty-six nurses. On the naming day the son born of Rupasari was named Upatissa because he was the scion of the head of Upatissa village. The son born of Moggali was named Kolita as his family was chief in Kolita village. When the two boys grew up they became accomplished in all kinds of crafts.
The ceremonial paraphernalia of the youth Upatissa included five hundred golden palanquins to accompany him constantly when he paid a visit to the river, to the garden or to the hill for sport and pleasure. As for the youth Kolita, it was five hundred chariots drawn by the best breed of horses that usually went along with him. In Rajagaha there was an annual festival held on the hill-top. For the two friends the couches were fixed and prepared at the same place. Both took their seats together, and while watching the show they laughed when humour was effected and shocked when horror was; they also gave awards when they were supposed to do.
After enjoying the show in this manner many times, one day they became more sober at the show: no longer were they amused by funny scenes, no longer were they frightened by horrible ones. And there were absolutely no more awards given where they were expected. Both of them thought thus: "Where are those things attractive to the eyes on this festive occasion? Those who participate in the show and those who come to see it will all disappear before the end of a hundred years. We should therefore search for some form of spirituality for our escape from samsara." . They remained reflecting on the miseries of life.
Thereafter Kolita said to his friend Upatissa "Friend Upatissa, you show no satisfaction as on the other days. What are you thinking about, friend?" Upatissa replied "Friend Kolita, I found nothing worthy in watching the show. Enjoyment of the festivity is useless; it is empty. I am therefore sitting with the thought that I ought to seek something for myself that would lead to liberation from samsara." Having said this he asked: "Friend Kolita, why are you also wearing a long face and looking displeased?" Kolita's answer was the same as Upatissa's. Knowing that his friend was contemplating the same thing, Upatissa consulted, saying: "Our common idea, dear Kolita, is something well conceived. Those who seek release from samsara should adopt an ascetic life. Under whom shall we become ascetics?"
At that time the great wandering ascetic Sanjaya, the leader of a religious sect, was staying in Rajagaha with a large gathering of pupils. The two friends agreed to become ascetics in the presence of Sanjaya each with five hundred attendants. Since the time of the two friends' association with him Sanjaya had attained the height of his gain and the height of his possession of retinue and fame.
Within two or three days the two wanderers, Upatissa and Kolita, became well-educated in all the doctrines of the teacher Sanjaya and they asked: "Teacher, is that all that you have mastered? Or, is there still some more that we have to learn?" "That is all I have mastered," replied Sanjaya, "you have learned all the doctrines of mine" The two friends then discussed between them:
"In that case, it is useless to remain observing celibacy (Brahma-cariya) under this teacher Sanjaya. We have come out from the life of householders in quest of release from samsara. Never shall we be able to achieve that release in his presence. Vast is the Jambudipa. If we wonder about villages, towns and royal cities and search, certainly we shall find some teacher who will give us the means leading to liberation."
From that time onwards they visited the places which they learned were the resort of learned monks and Brahmins and had doctrinal dialogues and discussions. There were, however, no monks and Brahmins who were really learned and able to answer the questions raised by the two wandering friends. In fact, it was the two friends who had to solve the problems put forth by the so-called learned sages, having failed to find someone whom they should regard as their teacher though they had roamed about all over the Jambudipa, making inquiries, they returned to their ascetic dwellings and made an agreement between them that whoever received the doctrine concerning immortality earlier should inform the other.
(c) Attainment of unique spirituality
The time was the first waxing moon of Magha about half a month after the arrival of the Buddha in the city of Rajagaha. (Readers are refereed to the pages from 1 to 19 of the Third Volume of the Chronicle for details. The pages contain such episodes as (b) Conversion of the two friends and their pupils from the state of wandering ascetics to that of ehi-bhikkhu monks in the presence of the Buddha and (c) their attainment of the height of wisdom as Disciples. These episodes will therefore be omitted here.)
(d) Etadagga title achieved
In the year he became enlightened, the Buddha passed his vassa in the Deer Park; thence he went to the Uruvela forest and converted a thousand hermits headed by the three Kassapa brothers and established them in Arahatship by means of the Aditta-pariyaya Sutta; on the full- moon day of Phussa he arrived at Rajagaha in the company of a thousand monks. After a fortnight, on the first waxing moon of Magha, Upatissa met with the Arahat Assaji, a member of the Band of Five, in Rajagaha. Having listened to the verse beginning with "Ye dhamma hetuppabhava " from the Venerable Assaji, Upatissa became a Sotapanna Ariya. So did Kolita having heard the verse through Upatissa. Thereafter both the two noble Sotapanna friends and their followers became ehi-bhikkhus. Before they became such monks, the followers attained Arahatship the moment they heard the discourse from the Buddha. As the wisdom of Discipleship was too great to achieve, the future Chief Disciples were still away from that state, and it as on the seventh day of his bhikkhuhood that Maha Moggallana became Arahat and it was on the fifteenth day, that is on the full-moon day of Magha that Sariputta did. (Vide the Third Volume of the Chronicle from the beginning to p 17.)
In this manner the two Mahatheras reached the apex of their perfections and wisdom in Chief Discipleship while the Buddha was staying in Rajagaha. But at a later time while he was at the Jetavana monastery, Savatthi, he uttered in praise of them:
"Etadaggam bhikkhave mama savakanam bhikkhunam mahapannam yadidam Sariputto." "Monks, among my disciples who are of great wisdom, Sariputta is the foremost." "Etadaggam bhikkhave mama savakanam bhikkhunam iddhimantanam yadidam Maha Moggalano, "Monks, among my disciples who are of great supernatural powers, Maha Moggallana is the foremost."
With these words the Buddha placed the Venerable Sariputta in the top position in the matter of great wisdom and the Venerable Moggallana in the top position in the field of great supernatural powers.
These two Mahatheras had practised for the welfare of sentient beings for forty-four years since they became bhikkhus. The discourses given by them are quite numerous in the five Nikayas or the three Pitakas. They are so numerous that it is almost impossible to reproduce them here. Especially, the Patisambhidamagga Pali, the Mahaniddea Pali, and the CuIaniddesa Pali embody the words of Sariputta Mahathera. His Thera-gatha forms a potpourri of his doctrines. So does Moggallana's gatha his doctrinal miscellany. Those who desire them may read the translations of the texts concerned. Here in this work, however, the account of their attainment of Parinibbana after making efforts for the welfare of sentient beings for forty-four years will be given.
Sariputta Mahathera attainment or Parinibbana
Having observed his last and forty-fifth vassa at the small village of Veluva near the city of Vesali the Buddha emerged from that vassa and (as has been stated above) he left the village by the road he had taken in reaching there. After setting forth for the last time, the Buddha arrived in Savatthi and entered the Jetavana monastery. The Captain of the Dhamma, Sariputta Mahathera, served the Buddha and went to his day-resort. When his pupils fulfilled their duties to him there at his day-resort and departed, he swept the place and spread the leather mat; then he washed his feet, sat down crossed-legged and engaged in Arahatta phala.
When the prescribed time for meditation was over, the Mahathera rose from it and wondered whether a Buddha attained Parinibbana first or his Chief Disciples. He came to know that the Disciples usually did earlier and when he examined his life process, he found out that it would go on only for seven more days; he further considered where his attainment of Parinibbana should take place.
"Rahula Thera attained Parinibbana in Tavatimsa and Kondana Mahathera at the lake in Chaddanta," Where should I do so?" he pondered repeatedly and remembered his mother, the Brahmin lady Rupasari as follows:
"Oh, my mother has no faith in the Triple Gem, namely, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, despite her being the mother of seven Arahats. Has that mother of mine possessed spiritual potentials for any of the Paths and Fruitions?"
When he reflected thus, he came to know that she had from her past acts of merit the potentials that would lead to Sotapatti magga. He continued to reflect on as to by whose preaching would she realize the four Truths, and it manifested to him thus:
"My mother's realization of the four Truths and conversion will happen by my own preaching, not by any other's. If I were to be indifferent without caring to convert her, people may come out with words of reproach, saying: 'Sariputta Mahathera is a dependable person to others. This is true. The day the Venerable One preached the Samacitta Sutta (Angutara Nikaya I) a hundred thousand crores of Devas and Brahmas atttained Arahatta-phala. Those who attained lower Fruitions are countless. Those who gained liberation by realizing the four Truths elsewhere have also been witnessed. Besides, the celestial families who have faith in the Mahathera are eighty thousand in number. That very Sariputta Mahathera is now helpless just to remove the wrong views of his own mother. Therefore after eradicating my mother's false notions, I shall attain Parinibbana in the very chamber in which I was born,"
Having decided thus he got an idea that he should inform the Buddha and seek his permission and set out even on that day. So he ordered his young brother Cunda: "Dear Cunda, inform my five hundred monk-pupils to make themselves ready with their bowls and robes. The Captain of Dhamma, Sariputta Thera, is desirous of going to Nalaka, his native village ". Cunda Thera did so as he was told by his older brother Mahathera.
The five hundred monks packed their beddings, took their bowls and robes and gathered round their master in unison. The Mahathera himself packed his own bedding, swept his day-resort; he stood at the doorway of his resort and viewed the place, thinking: "This is my last viewing. There will no longer be my coming again." In the company of his five hundred pupils, he went to the Buddha, paid homage to him and said in supplication "Exalted Buddha! May the Glorious One give me permission to leave. May the speaker of good words grant me permission. The time has come for me to attain Parinibbana. My life-process has been given up."
(Herein, the word anujanatu of the sentence " anujanatu me bhante bhagava.." of the text is translated "give me permission" and such is the required meaning. Its literal meaning, however, is "May you know of my proposed entry into Parinibbana, that is to say, "I am aware of my coming attainment of Parinibbana. May you also be aware of the same.")
When other disciples, who were also Arahats, came and sought permission for their demise, and if the Buddha said: "Do so!", those with wrong views would blame him: "The Buddha speaks in praise of death!" If on the other hand he said: "No, dear son, do not do that yet!," they would blame him all the same, saying: "He speaks in praise of suffering!" Hence there was neither way of replying on the part of the Buddha. That was why the Buddha asked the Thera Sariputta: "Dear Sariputta, where will you attain Parnibbana?" The Mahathera answered: "There is, Exalted Buddha, my birth-place in Nalaka village in the country of Magadha. There will I do so." "Now you are aware, dear son, of the time of your Parinibbana. It may be very difficult for your brethren particularly to see a man of your stature no longer. You had better give them sermons."
Seeing that the Buddha wanted him to engage in preaching, preceded by his performance of miracles, the noble Mahathera paid homage to the Buddha, rose up into the air to the height of a toddy palm tree, came down and paid homage at the Buddha's feet. Again he rose into the air to the height of two toddy palm trees, came down and paid homage at the feet of the Buddha once more. In this way he rose up to the height of three, four, five, six and seven toddy palm trees and displayed hundreds of miraculous feats. While so doing, he preached. How did he preach?
He preached while showing his person; he preached while hiding his person: he preached while showing and hiding the upper part of his person; he preached while showing and hiding the lower part of his person; sometimes he created and showed the shape of the moon, sometimes created and showed that of the sun, sometimes he did the shape of a great mountain, sometimes he did that of a great ocean; sometimes he became a Universal Monarch, sometimes Vessavana Deva-King, sometimes Sakka, King of gods, sometimes Maha Brahma. In this way the Mahathera preached while performing hundreds of miracles. The entire city of Savatthi assembled. Having preached in this way to his heart's content, he came down and paid homage at the Buddha's feet and stood firmly like a golden gate-post.
Then the Buddha asked: "Dear son, Sariputta, what is your kind of preaching called?" The Mahathera replied: "Exalted Buddha, it is called sihavikilita, something like the sport of a lion." The Buddha delightedly approved of the Mahathera's reply by saying: "Dear son [ 43 ] Sariputta; yours is indeed sihavikilita preaching! Your is indeed sihavikilita preaching."
Mahathera's last homage paid to the Buddha.
Firmly holding the turtle-like feet of the Buddha by the ankles with his hands in dark red like the colour of the liquified lac, the noble Thera Sariputta said in supplication:
"Exalted Buddha, I have fulfilled the Paramis for an asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons just to pay homage these two feet of yours. The result of the fulfilment of my heart's desire has now succefully reached its apex. There is no prospect of reunion with you somewhere in some existence through rebirth from now on. Familiarity or friendliness connected with this life has been totally cut off. Now shall I enter the city of Nibbana, which is free from old age, death and dangers, which is blissful, calm, secure, which hundreds of thousands of Buddhas have entered. Should there be any wrongdoings, physical and verbal, done by me to your displeasure, kindly forgive me. To me the final moment has come now, Exalted Buddha."
"My son Sariputta, I forgive you. There is nothing whatever wrong physically or verbally on your part. You may now go, my dear son, whatever you wish to." Thus gave the Buddha his permission.
Immediately after the Buddha had given permission, the Venerable Sariputta pressed and gripped the Buddha's feet most vigorously. When he rose up the great earth quaked instantly down to the water below very strongly as though it were saying, "Though I am able to shoulder Mount Meru, the universe, the Himavanta and the seven surrounding mountains, I cannot today bear this aggregate of virtues." A loud crash of thunder occurred roaring tumultously, across the entire sky. Huge clouds arose in a second and let pokkharavassa rain fell heavily.
The Buddha thought: "Sariputta has paid homage to my frame as I am sitting. Now I shall let him do so as I am standing".
So he rose from the Dhamma-throne, Buddha-seat, from which he usually gave sermons, and walked towards the Fragrant Chamber and stood on the wooden board studded with gems. The Buddha who was thus standing, the Mahathera Sariputta circumambulated, keeping the Buddha on his right and made obeisance from the front, from the back, from the left and from the right of Buddha Then he made his last supplication:
"Exalted Buddha, I expressed my wish prostrating at the feet of the Buddha Anomadassian asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons ago just for seeing you My wish has now been fulfilled I have had a chance to view you. When I expressed my wish, I listened continuously to the prophetic word of AnomadasiBuddha, and I visualized you through my knowledge and that was my first sight of you. My seeing you now is my last." There is no more chance for me to see you again."
Thereafter he raised his joined hands, which were graceful and bright with the ten nails, towards the Buddha and walked backward till the visibility of the Buddha ended Having paid respect thus he departed together with his five hundred pupils. Then again the earth failed to bear the Mahathera's excellence and quaked down to the water below.
The Buddha asked the monks surrounding him: "Dear sons, go and see your elder brother off!" All four classes of the assembly then left the Buddha alone at the Jetavana monastery and went out without any one remaining there, to give the Mahathera Sariputta a send-off. The citizens of Savatthi too learnt that the Mahathera was getting out of Jetavana as he desired to attain Parinibbana after seeking permission from the Buddha; wanting to get a glimpse of the noble Mahathera, they came out from the city gate that was wholly crowded with no room for exit or entry. Carrying perfumes and flowers and with their hair dishevelled, they wailed: "Venerable Sir, to which Thera should we go now, enquiring 'Where is Sariputta Thera of great wisdom? Where is Sariputta Thera, the Captain of the Dhamma?' Into whose hands do you entrust the Exalted Buddha and leave, noble Mahathera?" Wailing in this way, they followed the Mahathera step by step.
As the Mahathera Sariputta was of great wisdom, he exhorted the crowd briefly: "This path leading to death of every arising being is something which nobody is able to overcome." He also asked the monks "You too stay behind, monks, and do not neglect the Exalted One." Thus he sent them back and headed for Nalaka village together with his own followers. To those people who went along with him lamenting, "Formerly the Noble One used to travel only to come back. But his journey now is of no return?" The Mahathera gave an exhortatory discourse, saying "Dear donors, virtuous ones! Be persons of mindfulness. Conditioned things, whether physical or mental, happen like this. After arising do they end in passing away!" By this advice concerning mindfulness, the Mahathera made them all go home.
Thereafter uplifting the people on the way for seven days, spending just one night at each place, but without prolonging his stay, he travelled on and on till he reached Nalaka in one evening; he halted and rested at the foot of a banyan tree near the village gate.
Then the nephew of the Mahathera, a boy by the name of Uparevata, came out of the village. Seeing the noble Mahathera, he drew near him and stood, paying respect. The Mahathera asked the nephew: '"Uparevata, is your grandmother at home?" When the boy answered that she was, the Mahathera said: "Go and tell her of our arrival in the village if she asks the reason for our coming here, say that we shall stay here the whole day and ask her in my name to clean the chamber where I was born and also to arrange lodgings for five hundred monks.
The boy, Uparevata, went to his grandmother Rupasariand told her: "O grandmother, my uncle (Upatissa) has come." "Where is he now?" asked the grandmother. The boy answered: "At the city gate." "Is he alone or is there somebody else too?" "Yes, there are five hundred monks who have come along." "Why did he come?" the grandmother asked him again and the boy related all as instructed by the Mahathera "Oh, why did he want me to clean and arrange lodgings for such a great number of monks?" wondered the lady. "After becoming a monk in his youth, perhaps he desires to return to laity now that he has grown old." With this thought she cleaned the chamber which was the birthplace of the Mahathera and prepared the accommodations for the five hundred monks. She also lighted the standing lamps and sent for the Mahathera.
The noble Mahathera, having ascended to the upper terrace together with the five hundred monks and having entered the chamber and sat down there, he dismissed them saying: "Go to your respective places." As soon as the monks were out, a severe ailment occurred to the Mahathera's body. Deadly pains from discharge of blood developed incessantly. The treatment given to him involved exchange of a vessel in for a vessel out. Thinking, "I do not like the way my son is suffering," the Brahmin lady Rupasaristood, leaning against the doorway of her chamber.
Then the four Deva Kings surveyed where the noble Mahathera, the Captain of the Dhamma, was at present and they saw him lying on his deathbed in the chamber, his birth-place, in the village of Nalaka. And they decided to go there to pay their last respect and to give their last treatment. On arrival they stood near him in respect-paying attitude. When the Mahathera asked who they were, they answered that they were the four kingly deities. "Why did you come?" enquired the Venerable One and they answered, "we came to look after you, Sir." Then the Mahathera sent them back, saying: "Enough! I have a monk as my nurse. You go back!" When they went back Sakka came in the same way. When Sakka departed Mahabrahma came. Both Sakka and Mahabrahma were sent back by the Mahathera with the same word of leave.
Having seen the coming and going of Devas and Brahma, the Brahmin lady Rupasaribecame desirous of knowing who those beings were that came and paid homage to her son. She went near the doorway of the chamber and asked (her younger son Cunda who was already there): "Dear son Cunda, What is the matter?" The younger brother Cunda explained to his mother that the Mahathera was sick, and he told Sariputta Mahathera of their mother's presence. When the Mahathera asked why she came untimely, the mother replied that she did so to see her ailing son, and asked: "Who are those persons, dear son, that visited you first?" "Those who came first to me, madam, are the four great Deva Kings." "Are you superior to those Deva Kings, son?"
The Mahathera anwered: "Madam, those four Deva Kings are like the guardsmen of our residence. Armed with their swords they have protected our Master, the Exalted Buddha, since his conception." The mother continued to ask: "Who are those that came immediately after the Deva Kings?" "He is Sakka." "Are you superior to Sakka too?"
The Mahathera answered: "That Sakka, madam, is like a young samanera who carries my bowl and other articles. When our Master, the Exalted Buddha, descended from the Tavatimsa abode to the human world after his teaching of the Abhidhamma there, Sakka came along carrying the Master's bowl and robe." The mother asked again: "Who is he that came shinning immediately after Sakka's visit?" "Madam:" answered the Mahathera, "the one who came last is Mahabrahma, your God and Master." "Dear son, are you also superior to Mahabrahma, our God?"
Then the Mahathera said: "Oh, yes, madam! On the day our Teacher, the Exalted Buddha, was born, four Mahabrahmas, not just one, came and received the Bodhisatta, the Supreme One, with a gold net.
Mother's attainment of spirituality.
Then the mother reflected: "What I have seen now is my son's magnificence. I wonder how the magnificence of my son's Master, the Exalted Buddha, would like? It must indeed be inestimable!" While she was thus wondering, the five kinds of joy (piti,) occurred to her and pervaded her whole body. The Mahathera perceived: "Now joy and happiness (piti somanassa) has occurred to my mother. This is a very suitable occasion for me to give a Dhamma-talk to her." So he asked: "Madam, what are you thinking about?" "I am wondering, son, that what I have seen now is my son's magnificence and what your Master's would, like, for it must be inestimable." Then the Mahathera explained: "Madam, when our Master, the Exalted One, was born, when he gave up the world, when he gained Enlightenment and when he delivered the First Sermon of Dhammacakka, the system of ten thousand worlds trembled roaringly. There is none in the world who equals our Master in such virtues as morality, mental concentration, wisdom, emancipation and insight through emancipation. For these reasons, he is the possessor of such attributes as Araham, and Sammasambuddha" With this introductory speech, Sariputta Mahathera gave a Dhamma-talk expounding elaborately the attributes of the Buddha.
At the end of the sermon of her beloved eldest son, the mother was established in Sotapatti-phala and said reprovingly: "My dear son Sariputta, why did you fail to give me such wonderfully substantial happiness? Why did you have the heart to do like this?" Thinking "I have paid my debt of gratitude to my mother for my birth. Sotapattiphala is good enough for her," the Mahathera sent her away, saying "Go, madam!" Then he asked his brother Cunda about the time. When the reply was "Almost daybreak", the Mahathera called a meeting of monks; and when Cunda informed him that the monks had been assembled, he asked Cunda to help him sit up.
The Mahathera apologetically addressed the assembly: "Friends, if there is any unpleasant deed or word on my part while you were wandering along with me for forty-four years, kindly forgive me." The assembly of monks replied: "Venerable Sir, during our wandering with you without deserting you for forty-four years, we saw no unpleasant deed or word of yours. In fact, it is you, Venerable Sir, who are to forgive us." When they had said apologetic words, he gathered his robe and covered his face and lay on his right side. Like the Buddha, he entered upon the nine Jhanas that were to be taken up serially; he was absorbed in them progressively and then regressively; again he proceeded in his absorption from the First Jhana up to the Fourth Jhana Immediately after his emergence from the Fourth Jhana, the Mahathera attained Khandha-Parinibbana, Complete Extinction of the physical and mental aggregates occurring through Anupadisesa element, the element of Nibbana without any remnants of the aggregates, causing immediately the great earth to roar echoingly.
Being aware that her son did not say a word and wondering what had happened to her son, the mother RupasariBrahmin lady enquired by running her hands on the dorsum of the foot and felt, and she came to know well that her son had attained Parinibbana. So making a loud noise, she touched the Mahathera's feet with her head and cried, uttering: "Dear son, we did not know of your virtues previously. Now we have no opportunity to invite hundreds of thousands of monks, with you at their head, to my house for feeding! There is no chance to offer you robes! No occasion to have hundreds of dwellings built!" Thus she wailed till dawn. As soon as dawn came, the mother summoned gold smiths, had the treasuries opened and gold bars weighed with a huge pair of scales and handed them over to the goldsmiths, ordering: "Brothers, make with this gold bullion five hundred spired halls and five hundred pavilions."
Sakka too called Visukamma Deva and commanded him: "Friend Visukamma, the Captain of the Dhamma, Sariputta Mahathera, has attained Parinibbana. Create five hundred spired halls and five hundred pavilions of gold." Visukamma created them all under Sakka's command. In this way there were five hundred spired structures and five hundred pavilions caused to be built by the mother and another five hundred spired halls and another five hundred pavilions created by Visuakamma, totalling two thousand golden structures.
Thereafter a large hall was built with a big golden pinnacle in the middle at the centre of the Nalaka village and other pinnacles were made for lesser halls. Then took place the ceremony for funeral rites. In this ceremony Devas mingled with humans and humans with Devas and thus they all paid homage to the remains of the Mahathera, making the ceremony more crowded.
The story of Revatithe female devotee.
The Mahathera's female devotee, Revatiby name, came to the funeral having three golden vases made to honour her Master. At that moment Sakka too came to the human world with the intention to do honour to the Mahathera and with him were divine dancing girls as his companions, numbering two crores and five million. Learning of Sakka's visit, people turned back and moved away. In the crowd was Revatiwho also tried to move back like others, but as she was heavy with child, she could not get to a safe place and fell down in the midst of the people. Not seeing her the people trod on her and went away. Revatidied on the spot and was reborn in a golden mansion in Tavatimsa. Instantly she had a body about three gavutas, resembling a huge gem stone. Her ornaments were about the load of sixty carts and her retinue of divine maids were a thousand in number.
Then the maids place a big mirror in front of her. When she saw her luxuries she pondered: "This wealth is great indeed! What kind of good works have I done?" And this led her to know thus:"I paid homage to the Mahathera Sariputta with three golden vases. The people stepped on me and got away. I died on the spot and took instant rebirth in this Tavatimsa. I shall tell the people clearly of the result of my wholesome deeds done to the Mahathera. So she came down in her own flying mansion to the realm of human beings.
Seeing the golden mansion from a distance, the people were amazed wondering: "What is the matter? Are there two suns rising brightly?" While they were thus talking, the big mansion came near, and showed up its shape. Then they said: "This is not a sun. It is a gigantic gold mansion!" While the people were saying among themselves, the golden mansion came nearer in a moment and halted in the sky just above the funeral pyre of fragrant wood piled up to burn the remains of the Mahathera. The goddess Revatileft the mansion in the sky and came down to the earth. "Who are you?" asked the people and Revatireplied: "Do not you know me? I am Revatiby name. After honouring the Mahathera with three golden vases, I was trodden on by the people to death and was reborn in Tavatimsa. Behold my fortune and splendour. You too now give alms. Do other acts of merit as well." Thus she spoke in praise of the beneficial results of good works, she paid homage and circumambulated the funeral pyre by keeping it at her right; she then went back home to her divine abode of Tavatimsa. (This is the story of Revati.)
Conveyance of the relics to Savatthi by Cunda.
Having performed the funeral rites for seven days, the people made a heap of fragrant wood, its height measuring ninety-nine cubits, They put the Mahathera's remains on the fragrant wooden heap and lighted it with wisps of fragrant grass. On the site where the cremation took place a Dhamma-talk was given throughout the night. At day-break the Venerable Anuruddha Mahathera extinguished the fire of the funeral pyre with scented water. The Mahathera Sariputta's young brother Cunda Thera put the relics in the water filter, and thinking, I must not stay here now in this Nalaka village. I shall report the attainment of Parinibbana by my older brother Sariputta Mahathera, the Captain of the Dhamma, to the Exalted One." So he took the water-filter containing the relies and collected the Mahathera's requisites such as bowl, robe, etc., and went to Savatthi. He spent only one night, not two nights, at each stage of his journey and duly reached Savatthi.
Then Cunda Thera bathed in the lake near the Jetavana monastery, came up to the shore and put on his robes properly. He reflected: "Buddha are great personalities to be respected like a stone umbrella. They are diffictllt to approach like a snake with its erected hood or like a lion, tiger or an elephant in must I dare not go straight to the Exalted One to inform him. Whom should I approach first?" Reflecting thus he remembered his preceptor: "My preceptor, the custodian of the Dhamma, the Venerable Ananda Mahathera, is a very close good friend of my brother. I shall go to him and relate the matter and then shall I take him with me and speak with the Exalted One." So he went to Ananda Mahathera, paid respect to him and sat down at a proper place. And he said to Ananda Mahathera:"Venerable Sir; Sariputta Mahathera has attained Parinibbana. This is his bowl and this his robe, and this the water-filter containing his relics. Thus he presented one article after another while speaking to Ananda Mahathera. (It should be noted that Cunda Thera did not go straight to the Buddha but to Ananda Thera first, because he had profound respect for the Buddha as well as for his preceptor.)
Then Ananda Mahathera said: "My friend Cunda, we have some verbal excuse to see the Exalted One. Come, friend Cunda, let us go. Let us approach the Exalted One and tell him of the matter." So saying nanda Mahathera took Cunda Thera and they went to the Buddha, paid respect to him, took their proper seats. Thereafter the Venerable Ananda said to the Buddha:
"Exalted Buddha, this Thera Cunda who has been known as a novice (saman'uddesa) has informed me that the Venerable Sariputta has attained Parinibbana". This is the' Mahathera's bowl, this his robe and this his water-filter with the relics.
So saying Ananda Mahathera handed over the water-filter to the Buddha.
The Buddha stretched out his hand to receive the water-filter and placed it on his palm and addressed the monks:
"Monks, my dear sons, fifteen days ago Sariputta performed a number of miracles and sought my permission to enter Parinibbana. Now only his bodily relics remain which are as white as the newly polished conch shell.
Monks, that monk Sariputta was one who had fulfilled Paramis for an asankhyeyya and a hundred thousand aeons. He was the individual who turned the Wheel of the Dhamma that had been turned by me previously or one who had taught the Wheel of the Law that had been taught by me. Marvellously did he occupy the place that was next to mine.
That monk Sariputta caused the Savaka sannipata, the assembly of Disciples, with his presence extremely well. (The Savaka-sannipata emerged on the day he became an Arahant.) Leaving me aside he was peerless in possessing wisdom throughout the jatikhetta, the system often thousand worlds."
"That monk Sariputta was of great wisdom, of vast wisdom, of active wisdom, of quick wisdom, of sharp wisdom, and of wisdom destructive to kilesa (passion), of few wants, easily contented, free from nivaranas (hindrances), unmixed with people, highly energetic; he admonishes others by pointing out their faults, condemns evil deeds and evil doers regardless of their social positions."
"Dear monks, (a) that monk Sariputta embraced asceticism after renouncing his great wealth in five hundred existences; (b) that monk Sariputta had forbearance that was as mighty as the great earth; (c) that monk Sariputta was least conceited as a horn-broken bull; (d) that monk Sariputta was humble-minded as a beggar's son."
"Dear monks, behold the relics of Sariputta who was of great wisdom! Behold the relics of Sariputta who was of vast wisdom, of active wisdom, of quick wisdom, of sharp wisdom, of wisdom penetrative to kilesa, of few wants, easily contented, free from nivaranas, unmixed with people, highly energetic; he admonished others by pointing out their faults, condemned evil deeds and evil doers regardless of their social positions!" (After uttering thus in prose, the Buddha went on to speak the following verses:)
Yo pabbaji jatisatani panca pahaya kamani manoramani, Tam vitaragam susamahit'indriyam parinibbutam vandatha Sariputtam (1)
O my dear sons, monks! That noble monk named Sariputta unflinchingly and completely discarded sense pleasure that could delight the foolish mind; he adopted an ascetic life with great faith for five hundred existences. To that noble monk named Sariputta who now has totally cut off craving and passion, whose sense-faculties were well restrained, who has attained Parinibbana and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with your faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
Khantibalo pathavisamo na kuppati na ca'pi cittassa vasena vattati. Anukampako karuniko ca nibbuto parinibbutam vandatha Sariputtam. (2)
O my dear sons, monks! That noble monk named Sariputta had great forbearance as his strength; resembling the great earth he showed no anger to others; never yielded to the whims of the unstable mind; he looked after many beings with loving-kindness he was immensely compassionate; he quenched the heat of kilesa. To him, who has attained Parinibbana and ceased suffering bow your heads in homage with your faith respectul and conceit destroyed.
Candalaputto yatha nagaram pavittho nicamano carati kalopihattho Tatha ayam vicarati Sariputto parinibbutam vandatha Sariputtam. (3)
O my dear sons, monks! Just as the son of a poor beggar who enters towns and villages, looking for food with a worn out cup made of bamboo strips in his hand, wanders without conceit but humble-minded, even so this noble monk named Sariputta wandered knowing no pride but in all humility. To him, who has attained Parinibbana and ceased suffering, bow your heads in homage with your faith respectful and conceit destoryed.
Usabho yatha chinnavisanako ahethayanto carati purantare vane. Tatha ayam viharati Sariputto parinibbutam vandatha Sariputtam. (4)
"O my dear sons, monks! Just as the horn-broken bull wanders in towns, and villages and forests, absolutely harmless to other beings, even so the noble monk named Sariputta wandered doing no halm to others and lived in harmony with four postures of lying, sitting, standing and walking. To him, who has attained Parinibbana and ceased suffering bow your heads in homage with faith respectful and conceit destroyed.
Beginning thus the Buddha praised the virtues of the Venerable Sariputta Mahathera in five hundred verses.
The more the Buddha praised in all manner the Mahathera's virtues, the greater Ananda Thera's helplessness. As a chicken near a cat's mouth trembles, so does the Venerable Ananda helplessly tremble Accordingly he asked the Buddha:
"Exalted Buddha, having heard of the Mahathera Sariputta's Parinibbana, I feel as though my body becomes stiff, the directions blur my eyes, the Dhamma does not manifest itself to me. (I am not inclined to learn any unlearnt Dhamma-texts nor am I interested to recite what I have learnt.)"
Then in order to cheer him up the Buddha said as follows:
"My dear Ananda, does Sariputta attain Parinibbana taking with him the aggregate of your sila virtues or taking with him the aggregate of samadhi virtues, panna virtues, vimutti virtues, vimuttinana-dassana virtues?"
Thereupon Ananda Mahathera replied:
"Exalted Buddha, the Venerable Sariputta does not attain Parinibbana, taking the aggregate of my sila virtues, my samadhi virtues, panna virtues, vimutti virtues, or vimuttinana-dassana virtues.
In fact, Exalted Buddha, the Venerable Mahathera exhorted me, made me plunge into the Dhamma, made me understand the Dhamma, made me set up the Dhamma; he made me become ardent and happy to practise the Dhamma, he was anxious to preach to me; he showed favour to his co-residents, I always remember his Dhamma influence, his Dhamma instruments and his righteous support."
The Buddha knowing that the Thera Ananda was really in great distress, said to him as follows, for he desired to abate his sorrowful feelings:
"My dear Ananda, have not I talked to you long before about separation from one's beloved while alive (nanabhava), separation by death (vinabhava) and separation being in different existences (annathabhava)? Dear Ananda, herein how would it be possible to wish that something having the nature of newly coming to life, clearly coming into existence and being subject to conditioning and destruction should not pass away? Indeed there is no such possibility!"
"My dear Ananda, while a big substantial tree is standing, its largest branch might come to destruction; similarly, while the community of worthy monks is existing, Sariputta ceases to live Herein how would it be possible to wish that somehting having the nature of newly coming to live, clearly coming into existence and being subject to conditioning and destruction should not pass away? Indeed there is no such possibility.
"My dear Ananda, live not by depending on others but by depending on yourself. Live not by relying on other doctrines but by relying on the supramundane ones!" "My dear Ananda, how should a monk live not by depending on others but by depending on himself? How should one live not relying on other doctrines but by relying on supremundane ones?"
"My dear Ananda, in this dispensation a monk lives, eradicating craving and grief that tend to appear in the world, by putting strong efforts, by reflecting, by being mindful, by repeatedly seeing the body as the body. By putting strong efforts, by reflecting, by being mindful, (one lives, eradicating [ 57 ] craving and grief that tends to appear in the world), by repeatedly seeing feelings as the feelings, by repeatedly seeing the mind as the mind,... by repeatedly seeing phenomena as phenomena."
"My dear Ananda, in this way a monk lives not by depending on others but by depending on himself. He lives not by relying on other doctrines but by relying on supramundane ones."
"My dear Ananda, if monks at present or after my demise live by not depending on others but by depending on themselves, by not relying on other doctrines but by relying on supramundane ones, all of them will become noblest (Arahants) indeed among those who take the three trainings favourable."
Speaking him this way the Buddha gave some relief to the Venerable Ananda. Thereafter he had the bone relics of the Venerable Sariputta enshrined in a cetiya in the city of Savatthi.
This is an account of Sariputta Mahathera's attainment of Parinibbana.
Moggalana Mahathera's attainment of Parinibbana.
After having the relics of Sariputta Mahathera enshrined in a cetiya in Savatthi as has been said, the Buddha gave a hint to Ananda Mahathera that he would travel to Savatthi. Ananda Mahathera then informed the monks of the Buddha's proposed journey to that city. In the company of a large number of monks, the Buddha set out from Savatthi to Rajagaha and took residence in the Veluvana monastery.
(Herein the Buddha attained Enlightenment on the full-moon day of Vesakha (April-May). On the first waxing day of Magha the Thera Sariputta and Moggalana joined the Samgha and on the seventh day the Venerable Moggalana attained Arahantship. On the fifteenth day, the full moon of Magha, did Sariputta become an Arahant.
(On the full moon day of Kattika (October-November) of the year 148 Maha Era, the day the Buddha completed 45 vassas and the two Chief Disciples 44 vassas, the Venerable Sariputta attained Parinibbana at his native village Nalaka. It should be noted briefly in advance that the Venerable Moggalana did the same at the Kalasila stone slab on Mount Isigili, Rajagaha, on the new-moon day of that month of Kattika. The account of Sariputta Mahathera's attainment of Parinibbana has been given. Now comes that of Moggalana Mahathera's as follows:)
While the Buddha was staying at the Veluvana monastery of Rajagaha, the Mahathera Maha Moggalana was sojourning at the stone slab named Kalasila on Mount Isigili.
As the Mahathera was at the height of his super normal powers, he used to travel to the realm of Devas as well as to that of Ussada hell. After himself seeing the great enjoyment of divine luxuries by the Buddha's followers in Deva world and the great suffering of heretical disciples in Ussada, he came back to the human world and told the people that such and such a male or female donor was reborn in Deva world, enjoying great luxuries but among the followers of heretics such and such a man or a woman landed in a certain hell. People therefore showed their faith in the Buddha's teaching but avoid heretics. For the Buddha and his disciples the people's honour and hospitality increased whereas those for the heretics decreased day by day.
So the latter conceived a grudge against the Mahathera Maha Moggalana. They discussed and decided, saying, "If this monk Moggalana lives longer our attendants and donors might disappear and our gains might diminish gradually. Let us have him killed." Accordingly they paid a thousand coins to a chief robber called Samanaguttaka for putting the noble Mahathera to death.
With the intention to kill the Mahathera the chief robber Samanaguttaka went accompanied by a large number of robbers to Kalasila. When the Mahathera saw him, he evaded flying into the air by means of his supernormal powers. Not finding the Mahathera the chief robber came back that day and went there again the next day. The Mahathera evaded in the same way. Thus six days had elapsed.
On the seventh day, however, his misdeed done in the past, the aparapariya akusalakamma, got its chance to have its effect. The aparapariya unwholesome deed of the Mahathera will be dealt with as follows:
In one of his former existences when he was unexperienced, wrongly following the slanderous words of his wife, he wished to kill his parents; so he took them in a small vehicle (cart) to the forest and pretending to encounter the plunder by robbers, he attacked his parents. Being unable to see who attacked them because of their blindness and believing that the attacker was the real robber, cried for the sake of their son saying, "Dear son, these robbers are striking us. Run away, dear son to safety!"
With remorse he said to himself: "Though I myself beat them, my parents cried worrying about me. I have done a wrong thing!" So he stopped attacking them and making them believe that the robbers were gone, he stroked his parents' arms and legs and said: "O mother and father fear not. The robbers have fled." Taking his parents, he went home.
Having no chance to show its effect for a long time, has evil deed remained like a live charcoal covered by ash and now in his last existence it came in time to seize upon and hurt him. A worldly simile may be given as follows: when a hunter sees a deer, he sends his dog for the deer, and the dog following the deer, catches up at the right place and bites the prey. In the same way, the evil deed done by the Mahathera had now got its chance to show its result and did so in this existence of the Mahathera. Never has there been any person who escapes the result of his evil deed that finds its opportunity to show up at an opportune moment.
Knowing full well of his being caught and bitten by his own evil deed, the Venerable Mahathera was unable to get away by his supernormal power at the seventh attempt, the power that had been strong enough to make the Naga King Nandopananda tamed and to make the Vejayanta palace tremble. As a result of his past wickedness he could not fly into the air. His power that had enabled to defeat the Naga King and to make the Vejayanta tremble had now become weak because of his former highly atrocious act.
The chief robber Samanaguttaka arrested the Mahathera, hit him and pounded him so that the bones broke to pieces like broken rice, After doing this deed known as palalapithika (pounding the bones to dust so they become something like a ring of straw used as a cushion to put something on; it was a kind of cruelty.) After so doing and thinking that the Mahathera was dead, the chief robber threw the body on a bush and departed together with his men.
Becoming conscious the Mahathera thought of seeing the Buddha before his demise and having fastened his pounded body with the bandage of his psychic powers he rose up into the sky and went to the Buddha by air and paid homage to the Master. Thereafter the following conversation took place between the Mahathera and the Buddha;
Mahathera: Exalted Buddha, I have given up the control of my life process (ayusankhara). I am going to attain Parinibbana.
Buddha: Are you going to do so, my dear son Moggalana?
Mahathera: Yes, I am, Venerable Sir.
Buddha: Where will you go and do that?
Mahathera: At the place where Kalasila stone slab is, Exalted Buddha.
Buddha: In that case, dear son Moggalana, give me a Dhamma-talk to me before you go. I will not have another opportunity to see a Disciple like you.
When the Buddha said thus, the noble Mahathera, replying, "Yes, Exalted Buddha, I shall obey you," paid homage to the Buddha and flew up into the air up to the height of a toddy palm tree, then that of two palm trees and in this way he rose up to the height of seven trees, and as the Venerable Sariputta had done before on the day of his Parinibbana, he displayed various miracles and spoke of the Dhamma to the Buddha. After paying homage respectfully, he went to the forest where Kalasila was and attained Parinibbana.
At that very moment a tumult arose in all six planes of Deva worlds. Talking among themselves, "Our Master Mahathera Moggalana is said to have attained Parinibbana." Devas and Brahmas brought divine unguents, flowers, fragrance, smoke and sandalwood powder as well as various fragrant divine firewood. The height of the funeral pyre made of sandalwood was ninety-nine cubits. The Buddha himself came together with his monks and standing near the remains supervised the funeral arrangements and had the cremation conducted.
On a yojana-vast environs of the funeral site fell a rain of flowers. At the funeral ceremony there were human beings moving about among Devas and Devas moving about among human beings in due course, among Devas stood demons; among demons Gandhabba Devas, among Gandhabba Devas Nagas, among Nagas Garulas, among Garulas Kinnaras, among Kinnaras umbrellas, among umbrellas fans made of golden camar; (yak) tail, among those fans round banners, and among round banners were flat ones. Devas and humans held the funeral ceremony for seven days.
The Buddha had the relics of the Mahathera brought and a cetiya built in which the relics were enshrined near the gateway of the Veluvana monastery.
The news of the murder of MahaMoggalana Mahathera spread throughout the whole Jambudipa. King Ajatasattu sent detectives to all places to investigate and arrest the murderous robbers. While the murderers were drinking at a liquor shop one of them provokingly slapped down the liquor cup of another fellow. Then the provoked man said to pick a quarrel, "Hey, you wretched one, a stubborn fellow! Why did you do that and make my cup fall to the ground?" Then the first man annoyingly asked: "Hey, you scoundrel! How was it? Did you dare to hurt the Mahathera first?" "Hey, you evil one! Did not you know that it was I who first and foremost did harm to the monk?" the other man defiantly retorted.
Hearing the men saying among themselves "It was I who did the killing. It was I who murdered him!" the king's officers and detectives seized all the murderers and reported (to King Ajatasattu) on the matter. The king summoned them and asked: "Did you kill the Venerable Maha Moggalana?" "Yes, we did, Great King," the men replied admitting. "Who asked you to do so?" "Great King, those naked heretics did by giving us money," The men confessed.
The king had all the five hundred naked heretics caught and buried together with the murderers in the pit navel-deep in the the courtyard. They were covered with straw and burnt to death. When it was certain that they all had been burnt, they were cut to pieces by ploughing over them with a plough fixed with iron spikes.
(Herein the account of Maha Moggalana Thera's attainment is taken from the exposition of the Sarabhanga Jataka of the Cattalisa Nipata; that of the punishment of the murderers from the exposition of Maha Moggalana Vatthu of the Dhammapada Commentary.)
Concerning the fact that the Buddha himself supervised the funeral of the Mahathera Moggalana, the monks in the Dhamma-hall remarked: "Friends, since Sariputta Mahathera's Parinibbana did not take place near the Buddha he did not receive the Buddha's honour. On the other hand MahaMoggalana received it because he attained Parinibbana in the neighbourhood of the Buddha. When the Buddha came and asked the monks what they were talking about, they gave the answer. The Buddha then said: "Monks, Moggalana was honoured by me not only in this life but also in the past." The Buddha told them the Sarabhanga Jataka of the Cattalisa Nipata. (The detailed account of the Sarabhanga Jataka may be taken from the the Five Hundred and Fifty Jataka Stories.)
Soon after the Parinibbana of the two Chief Disciples the Buddha went on a great circular (Mahamandala) tour in the company of monks and reached the town of Ukkacela where he made his alms-round, and delivered the Ukkacela Sutta on the sand banks of the Ganga. (The full text of the Sutta may be read in the Mahavagga Samyutta.
This is the story is of the two Chief Disciples.
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