13 03 2012 LESSON 549 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through
http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org The Dhammapada Verses and Stories Dhammapada Verses 99 Annatara itthi Vatthu The Passionless Delight In
THE BUDDHIST ON LINE GOOD NEWS
Practice a Sutta a Day Keeps
Verse 99. The Passionless Delight In
Forests The Story of a Woman
Delightful are the forests
where folk do not delight,
there the Passionless delight,
they’re not pleasure-seekers.
fascinating forests that do not capture the mind of the worldly masses and in
which they do not take worldly delight are attractive to the passionless ones.
The Arahats take delight in the forests, because they are not pursuers of
Dhammapada Verse 99
Annatara itthi Vatthu
yaittha na ramati jano
na te kamagavesino.
Verse 99: Forests are delightful, but the
worldlings find no delight in them; only those who are free from passion will
find delight in them, for they do not seek sensual pleasures.
The Story of a Woman
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the
Buddha uttered Verse (99) of this book, with reference to a woman of doubtful
A bhikkhu, after taking a subject of
meditation from the Buddha, was practising meditation in an old garden. A woman
of doubtful character came into the garden and, seeing the bhikkhu, tried to
attract his attention and seduce him. The thera got frightened; at the same
time, his whole body was diffused with some kind of delightful satisfaction.
The Buddha saw him from his monastery, and with his supernormal power, sent
rays of light to him, and the bhikkhu received this message, which said, “My
son, where worldlings seek sensual pleasures is not the place for bhikkhus;
bhikkhus should take delight in forests where worldlings find no
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 99: Forests are delightful, but the worldlings find no
End of Chapter Seven: The Arahat
Dhammapada Verse 99
Annatara itthi Vatthu
yaittha na ramati jano
na te kamagavesino.
Verse 99: Forests are delightful, but the
worldlings find no delight in them; only those who are free from passion will
find delight in them, for they do not seek sensual pleasures.
The Story of a Woman
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the
Buddha uttered Verse (99) of this book, with reference to a woman of doubtful
A bhikkhu, after taking a subject of
meditation from the Buddha, was practising meditation in an old garden. A woman
of doubtful character came into the garden and, seeing the bhikkhu, tried to
attract his attention and seduce him. The thera got frightened; at the same
time, his whole body was diffused with some kind of delightful satisfaction.
The Buddha saw him from his monastery, and with his supernormal power, sent
rays of light to him, and the bhikkhu received this message, which said, “My
son, where worldlings seek sensual pleasures is not the place for bhikkhus;
bhikkhus should take delight in forests where worldlings find no
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
End of Chapter Seven: The Arahat
Buddhist Women at the Time of The Buddha
The following stories, written by Hellmuth
Hecker, have been translated from the German Buddhist magazine, “Wissen
and Wandel,” XVIII 3 (1972), XXLI 1/2 (1976). They are published here with
their kind permission.
While every effort has been made by the
translator to conform to the original writing, some changes had to be made for
the sake of clarity.
The stories of Bhadda Kundalakesa and Patacara
have been enlarged and filled in.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to Ven.
Khantipalo for his assistance in improving the style and content of this
narrative. His new translations of verses of the Therigatha and the Dhammapada
from the original Pali have helped to make these stories come alive.
It is hoped that this booklet will serve as an
inspiration to all those who are endeavoring to tread in the Buddha’s
Wat Buddha Dhamma
Wisemans Ferry, N.S.W.2255
…. Anguttara Nikaya
D …. Digha Nikaya
Dhp …. Dhammapada
M …. Majjhima Nikaya
S …. Samyutta Nikaya
Sn …. Sutta Nipata
Thag …. Theragatha
Thig …. Therigatha
Pac. …. Pacittiya (Vinaya)
J. …. Jataka
Ud. …. Udana
Mil. …. Milindapañha
Jtm. …. Jatakamala
Bu. …. Buddhavamsa
Ap. …. Apadana
With subtle veils adorned,
Garlands and sandal-wood bedecked,
Covered all over with ornaments,
Surrounded by my servants,
Taking with us food and drink,
Eatables of many kinds,
Setting off from the house,
To the forest grove we took it all.
Having enjoyed and sported there,
We turned our feet to home
But on the way I saw and entered
Near Saketa, a monastery.
Seeing the Light of the World
I drew near, bowed down to Him;
Out of compassion the Seeing One
Then taught me Dhamma there.
Hearing the words of the Great Sage,
I penetrated Truth:
The Dhamma passionless,
I touched the Dhamma of Deathlessness.
When the True Dhamma had been known,
I went forth to the homeless life;
The three True Knowledges are attained,
Not empty the Buddha’s Teaching!
145-150) Verses of the Elder nuns.
At the time of the Buddha, a daughter was born
to the foreman of the guild of garland-makers in Savatthi. She was beautiful,
clever and well behaved and a source of joy to her father.
One day, when she had just turned sixteen, she
went to the public flower gardens with her girl-friends and took three portions
of fermented rice along in her basket as the day’s sustenance.
When she was just leaving by the city gate, a
group of monks came along, who had come down from the monastery on the hill to
obtain almsfood in town. The leader among them stood out; one whose grandeur
and sublime beauty impressed her so much, that she impulsively offered him all
the food in her basket.
He was the Awakened One. He let her put her
offering into his alms bowl. After Mallika — without knowing to whom she had
given the food — had prostrated at his feet, she walked on full of joy. The
Buddha smiled. Ananda, his attendant, who knew that the fully Enlightened One
does not smile without a reason, asked therefore why he was smiling. The Buddha
replied that this girl would reap the benefits of her gift this very same day
by becoming the Queen of Kosala.
This sounded unbelievable, because how could
the Maharaja of Benares and Kosala elevate a woman of low caste to the rank of
Queen? Especially in the India of those days with its very strict caste system,
this seemed quite improbable.
The ruler over the United Kingdoms of Benares
and Kosala in the Ganges Valley was King Pasenadi, the mightiest Maharaja of
his day. At that time he was at war with his neighbor, the King of Magadha.
The latter had won a battle and King Pasenadi
had been forced to retreat. He was returning to his capital on the horse that
had been his battle companion. Before entering the city, he heard a girl sing
in the flower gardens. It was Mallika, who was singing melodiously because of
her joy in meeting the Illustrious Sage. The King was attracted by the song and
rode into the gardens; Mallika did not run away from the strange warrior, but
came nearer, took the horse by its reins and looked straight into the King’s
eyes. He asked her whether she was already married and she replied in the
negative. Thereupon he dismounted, lay down with his head in her lap and let
her console him about his ill-luck in battle.
After he had recovered, he let her mount his
horse behind him and took her back to the house of her parents. In the evening
he sent an entourage with much pomp to fetch her and made her his principal
wife and Queen.
From then on she was dearly beloved by the
King. She was given many loyal servants and in her beauty she resembled a
goddess. It became known throughout the whole kingdom that because of her
simple gift she had been elevated to the highest position in the State and this
induced her subjects to be kind and generous towards their fellow men. Wherever
she went, people would joyously proclaim: “That is Queen Mallika, who gave
alms to the Buddha.” (J 415E)
After she had become Queen, she soon went to
visit the Enlightened One to ask him something which was puzzling her. Namely,
how it came about that one woman could be beautiful, wealthy and of great
ability, another be beautiful but poor and not very able, yet another although
ugly, be rich and very able, and finally another be ugly, poor and possess no
skills at all.
These differences can constantly be observed
in daily life. But while the ordinary person is satisfied with such common
place terms as fate, heredity, coincidence and so on, Queen Mallika wanted to
probe deeper as she was convinced that nothing happens without a cause.
The Buddha explained to her in great detail
that all attributes and living conditions of people everywhere were solely
dependent on the extent of their moral purity. Beauty was caused by forgiveness
and gentleness, prosperity due to generous giving, and skillfulness was caused
by never envying others, but rather being joyful and supporting their
Whichever of these three virtues a person had
cultivated, that would show up as their “destiny,” usually in some
mixture of all of them. The coming together of all three attributes would be a
rarity. After Mallika had listened to this discourse of the Buddha, she
resolved in her heart to be always gentle towards her subjects and never to
scold them, to give alms to all monks, brahmans and the poor, and never to envy
anyone who was happy.
At the end of the Enlightened One’s discourse
she took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and remained a faithful
disciple for the rest of her life. (A IV, 197)
She showed her great generosity not only
giving regular alms, but also by building a large, ebony-lined hall for the
Sangha, which was used for religious discussions. (M 78, D 9)
She exhibited her gentleness by serving her
husband with the five qualities of a perfect wife, namely: always rising before
him, and going to bed after him, by always obeying his commands, always being
polite, and using only kind words. Even the monks praised her gentleness in
their discussions about virtue.
Soon she was to prove that she was also free
of jealousy. The King had made up his mind to marry a second chief wife and
brought a cousin of the Buddha home as his betrothed. Although it is said that
it is in the nature of women not to allow a rival into her home, Mallika
related to the other wife without the slightest malice. (A VI, 52) Both women
lived in peace and harmony at the Court.
Even when the second wife gave birth to a son,
the crown prince, and Mallika had only a daughter, she was not envious. When
the King voiced disappointment about the birth of a daughter, the Buddha said
to him that a woman was superior to a man if she was clever, virtuous,
well-behaved and faithful. Then she could become the wife of a great King and
give birth to an almighty Ruler. (S 3,16) When the daughter, Princess Vajira,
had grown up, she became Queen of Magadha and thereby the ancestress of the
greatest Indian Emperor, Asoka, who ruled Magadha 250 years later.
After Mallika had become a faithful lay
devotee of the Buddha, she also won her husband over to the teaching. And that
happened in this way: One night the King had a succession of sixteen perturbing
dreams during which he heard gruesome, unfathomable sounds from four voices,
which uttered: “Du, Sa, Na, So.” When the King woke up from
these dreams, great fear seized him, and sitting upright and trembling, he
awaited the sunrise.
When his Brahman priests asked him whether he
had slept well, he related the terror of the night and asked them what one
could do to counteract such a menace. The Brahmans declared that one would have
to offer great sacrifices and thereby pacify the evil spirits. In his fear the
King agreed to that. The Brahmans rejoiced because of the gifts they would
surely reap and busily began to make preparations for the great sacrifice. They
scurried about, building a sacrificial altar and tied many animals to posts, so
they could be killed.
For greater efficacy, they demanded the
sacrifice of four human beings and these also awaited their death, tied to
posts. When Mallika became aware of all this activity, she went to the King and
asked him why the Brahmans were so busily running about full of joyous
expectation. The King replied that she did not pay enough attention to him and
did not know his sorrows.
Thereupon he told her of his dreams. Mallika
asked the King whether he had also consulted the first and foremost of Brahmans
about the meaning and interpretation. He replied that she first had to tell him
who was the first and foremost of Brahmans. She explained that the Awakened One
was foremost in the world of Gods and men, the first of all Brahmans. King
Pasenadi decided to ask the Awakened One’s advice and went to Prince Jeta’s
Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery.
He related to the Buddha what had taken place
in his dreams and asked him what would happen to him. “Nothing,” the
Awakened One replied and explained the meaning to him. The sixteen dreams which
he had were prophecies, showing that the living conditions on earth would
deteriorate steadily, due to the increasing moral laxity of the kings. In a
meditative moment, King Pasenadi had been able to see future occurrences within
his sphere of interest because he was a monarch concerned with the well-being
of his subjects.
The four voices which he had heard belonged to
four men who had lived in Savatthi and had been seducers of married women.
Because of that they were reborn in hell and for 30,000 years they drowned in
red-hot cauldrons, coming nearer and nearer to the fire, which intensified
their unbearable suffering. During another 30,000 years they slowly rose up in
those iron cauldrons and had now come to the rim, where they could once again
at least breathe the air of the human realm.
Each one wanted the speak a verse, but because
of the gravity of the deed, could not get past the first syllable. Not even in
sights could they voice their suffering, because they had long lost the gift of
speech. The four verses, which start in Pali with “du,”
“sa,” “na,” “so,” were recognized by the
Awakened One as follows:
Du: Dung-like life we lived,
No willingness to give,
Although we could have given much,
We did not make our refuge thus.
Sa: Say, the end is
Already 60,000 years have gone
Without respite the torture is
In this hell realm.
Na: Naught, no end near,
Oh, would it end!
No end in sight for us.
Who once did misdeeds here
For me, for you, for both of us.
So: So, could I only
leave this place
And raise myself to human realm,
I would be kind and moral too,
And do good deeds abundantly.
After the King had heard these explanations,
he became responsive to the request of the compassionate Queen and granted
freedom to the imprisoned men and animals. He ordered the sacrificial altar to
be destroyed. (J 77 & 314)
The King, who had become a devoted lay
disciple of the Buddha, visited him one day again and met a wise and
well-learned layman there. The King asked him whether he could give some daily
Dhamma teaching to his two Queens. The layman replied that the teaching came
from the Enlightened One and only one of his immediate disciples could pass it
on to the Queens. The King understood this and requested the Buddha to give
permission to one of his monks to teach. The Buddha appointed Ananda for this
task. Queen Mallika learned easily in spite of her uneducated background, but
Queen Vasabhakhattiya, cousin of the Buddha and mother of the crown-prince, was
unconcentrated and learned with difficulty. (Pac 3)
One day the royal couple looked down upon the
river from the palace and saw a group of the Buddha’s monks playing about in
the water. The king said to Queen Mallika reproachfully: “Those playing
about in the water are supposed to be Saints?” Such was namely the
reputation of this group of the so-called seventeen monks, who were quite young
and of good moral conduct. Mallika replied that she could only explain it thus,
that either the Buddha had not made any rules with regard to bathing or that
the monks were not acquainted with them, because they were not amongst the
rules which were recited regularly.
Both agreed that it would not make a good
impression on lay people and on those monks not yet secure, if those in higher
training played about in the water and enjoyed themselves in the way of
untrained worldly people. But King Pasenadi wanted to avoid blackening those
monks’ characters and just wanted to give the Buddha a hint, so that he could
lay down a firm rule. He conceived the idea to send a special gift to the
Buddha to be taken by those monks. They brought the gift and the Buddha asked
them on what occasion they had met the King. Then they told him what they had
done and the Buddha laid down a corresponding rule. (Pac. 53)
One day when the King was standing on the
parapet of the palace with the Queen and was looking down upon the land, he
asked her whether there was anyone in the world she loved more than herself. He
expected her to name him, since he flattered himself to have been the one who
had raised her to fame and fortune. But although she loved him, she remained
truthful and replied that she know of no one dearer to herself than herself.
Then she wanted to know how it was with him: Did he love anyone — possibly her
— more than himself? Thereupon the King also had to admit that self-love was
always predominant. But he went to the Buddha and recounted the conversation to
find out how a Saint would consider this.
The Buddha confirmed his and Mallika’s
I visited all quarters with my mind
Nor found I any dearer than myself;
Self is likewise to every other dear;
Who loves himself may never harm another.
— Ud 47, translated by Ven. Ñanamoli
One day the Buddha said to a man whose child
had died: “Dear ones, those who are dear, bring sorrow, lamentation, pain,
grief and despair” — the suffering that results from a clinging love. In
spite of the clearly visible proof, the man could not understand this. The
conversation was reported to the King and he asked his wife whether it was
really true that sorrow would result from love. “If the Awakened One has
said so, O King, then it is so,” she replied devotedly.
The King demurred that she accepted every word
of the Buddha like a disciple from a guru. Thereupon she sent a messenger to
the Buddha to ask for more details and then passed the explicit answer on to
She asked him whether he loved his daughter,
his second wife, the crown-prince, herself and his kingdom? Naturally he
confirmed this, these five things were dear to him. But if something happened
to these five, Mallika responded, would he not feel sorrow, lamentation, pain,
grief or despair, which comes from loving? Then the King understood and
realized how wisely the Buddha could penetrate all existence: “Very well,
then Mallika, continue to venerate him.” And the King rose, uncovered his
shoulder, prostrated deferentially in the direction where the Blessed One was
wont to stay and greeted him three times with: “Homage to the Blessed One,
the Holy One, the fully Awakened One.”
But their lives also did not remain quite
without conflict. One day an argument arose between the couple about the duties
of the Queen. For some reason the King was angry at her and treated her from
then on as if she had disappeared into thin air. When the Buddha arrived at the
palace the next day for his meal, he asked about the Queen, who had always been
present at other times. Pasenadi scowled and said: “What about her? She
has gone mad because of her fame.” The Buddha replied that he, himself,
had raised her up to that position quite unexpectedly and should become
reconciled with her. Somewhat reluctantly the King had her called. Thereupon
the Buddha praised the blessing of amity and the anger was forgotten, as if it
had never happened. (J 306)
But later on a new tension arose between the
couple. Again the King would not look at the Queen and pretended she did not
exist. When the Buddha became aware of this, he asked about her. Pasenadi said
that her good fortune had gone to her head. Immediately the Awakened One told
an incident from a former life:
Both were then heavenly beings, a deva couple,
who loved each other dearly. One night they were separated from each other
because of the flooding of a stream. They both regretted this irretrievable
night, which could never be replaced during their life-span of a thousand
years. And during the rest of their lives they never let go of each other’s
company and always remembered to use this separation as a warning so that their
happiness would endure during that whole existence. The King was moved by this
story, and became reconciled to the Queen. Mallika then spoke this verse to the
With joy I heard your varied words,
Which spoken were for my well-being;
With your talk you took away my sorrow
Verily, you are the joy-bringer amongst the ascetics
May you live long!
A third time the Buddha told of an occurrence
during one of the former lives of the royal couple. At that time Pasenadi was a
crown-prince and Mallika his wife. When the crown-prince became afflicted with
leprosy and could not become King because of that, he resolved to withdraw into
the forest by himself, so as not to become a burden to anyone. But his wife did
not desert him, and looked after him with touching attention. She resisted the
temptation to lead a care-free life in pomp and splendor and remained faithful
to her ugly and ill-smelling husband. Through the power of her virtue she was
able to effect his recovery. When he ascended to the throne and she became his
Queen, he promptly forgot her and enjoyed himself with various dancing girls.
It is almost as difficult to find a grateful person, the Buddha said, as it is
difficult to find a Holy One. (A III, 122)
Only when the King was reminded of the good
deeds of his Queen, did he change his ways, asked her forgiveness and lived
together with her in harmony and virtue. (J 519)
Queen Mallika committed only one deed in this
life which had evil results and which led her to the worst rebirth. Immediately
after her death, she was reborn in hell, though this lasted only a few days.
When she died, the King was just listening to
a Dhamma exhortation by the Buddha. When the news reached him there, he was
deeply shaken and even the Buddha’s reminder that there was nothing in the
world that could escape old age, disease, death, decay and destruction could
not immediately assuage his grief. (A V,49)
His attachment — “from love comes
sorrow” — was so strong, that he went to the Buddha every day to find out
about the future destiny of his wife. If he had to get along without her on
earth, at least he wanted to know about her rebirth. But for seven days the
Buddha distracted him from his question through fascinating and moving Dhamma
discourses, so that he only remembered his question when he arrived home again.
Only on the seventh day would the Buddha answer his question and said that
Mallika had been reborn in the “Heaven of the Blissful Devas.” He did
not mention the seven days she had spent in hell, so as not to add to the
King’s sorrow. Even though it was a very short-termed sojourn in the lower
realms, one can see that Mallika had not yet attained stream-entry [*] during
her life on earth, since it is one of the signs of a stream-enterer that there
is no rebirth below the human state. However, this experience of hellish
suffering together with her knowledge of Dhamma, could have quickened Mallika’s
last ripening for the attainment of stream-entry.
[Stream-entry: the first stage of Enlightenment, where the first glimpse of
Nibbana is gained and the first three fetters abandoned.]
M 87; A V,49, IV, 197, VIII, 91; S 3,8 = Ud V,I; S 3, 16; J 77, 306, 314, 415,
504, 519; Pac. 53,83; Mil. 115, 291; Jtm. 3; Divy, p.88
At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi
at Jeta Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala
approached the Lord and having done so, paid his respects and sat down nearby.
Now at that time Queen Mallika died. A certain man then approached the King and
whispered in his ear: “Your Majesty, Queen Mallika has died.” At
those words king Pasenadi was filled with grief and depression, and with
shoulders drooping, head down, he sat glum, and with nothing to say. The Lord
saw the king sitting there like that and spoke to him in this way:
“Great king, there are these five
circumstances not-to-be-got by monk, brahman, deva, Mara, Brahma, or by anyone
in the world. What are the five?
“That what is of the nature to decay may
not decay, is a circumstance not-to-be-got by a monk… or by anyone in the
world. That what is of the nature to be diseased may not be diseased, is a
circumstance not-to-be-got by a monk… or by anyone in the world.
“That what is of the nature to die may
not die, is a circumstance not-to-be-got by a monk… or by anyone in the
“That what is of the nature to be
exhausted may not be exhausted, is a circumstance not-to-be-got by a monk… or
by anyone in the world.
“That what is of the nature to be
destroyed may not be destroyed, is a circumstance, not-to-be-got by a monk…
or by anyone in the world.
“Great king, for an uninstructed ordinary
person what is of the nature to decay does decay, what is of the nature to be
diseased does become diseased, what is of the nature to die does die, what is
of the nature to be exhausted is exhausted and what is of the nature to be
destroyed is destroyed — and when these things happen to him he does not
reflect, “It’s not only for me that what is of the nature to decay
decays… that what is of the nature to be destroyed is destroyed, but wherever
there are beings, coming and going, dying and being born, for all those beings
what is of the nature to decay decays… what is of the nature to be destroyed
is destroyed, and if I, when there is decay in what is of the nature to
decay… when there is destruction in what is of the nature to be destroyed,
should grieve, pine, and lament, and crying beat the breast and so fall into
delusion, food would not be enjoyed, my body would become haggard, work would
not be done and enemies would be pleased, while friends would be depressed.
Then, when there is decay in what is of the nature to decay, disease in what is
of the nature to be diseased, death in what is of the nature to die, exhaustion
in what is of the nature to be exhausted, destruction in what is of the nature
to be destroyed, he grieves, pines and laments, and crying beats his breast and
so falls into delusion.
“This is called an uninstructed ordinary
person; pierced by the poisoned dart of grief, he just torments himself. Great
king, for the instructed Noble Disciple what is of the nature to decay does
decay… and what is of the nature to be destroyed is destroyed… and when
these things happen to him he does reflect, “It’s not only for me that
what is of the nature to decay decays… that what is of the nature to be
destroyed, is destroyed, but wherever there are beings, coming and going, dying
and being born, for all those beings what is of the nature to decay decays…
what is of the nature to be destroyed is destroyed, and if I, when there is
decay in what is of the nature to decay… when there is destruction in what is
of the nature to be destroyed, should grieve, pine and lament, and crying beat
the breast and so fall into delusion, food would not be enjoyed, my body would
become haggard, work would not be done and enemies would be pleased while
friends would be depressed. Then when there is decay in what is of the nature
to decay, disease in what is of the nature to be diseased, death in what is of the
nature to die, exhaustion in what is of the nature to be exhausted, destruction
in what is of the nature to be destroyed, he does not grieve or pine or lament,
he does not beat his breast and fall into delusion.
“This is called an instructed Noble
Disciple. Drawn out is the poisoned dart of grief with which the uninstructed
ordinary person torments himself. Free of grief, free from the dart, the Noble
Disciple has quenched [*] himself completely.”
[Or “become cool” literally “nibban-ered.”]
“Great king, these are the five
circumstances not-to-be-got by monk, brahman, deva, Mara, Brahma, or by anyone
in the world.
Do not grieve, nor should you lament.
Here, what good is gained? — none at all indeed,
and enemies rejoice to see that grief and pain.
But when misfortunes do not shake the wise —
that one who knows well how to seek the good,
then enemies because of that are pained
seeing his face as formerly, not strained.
Where and whatever good may gotten, be
there and just there he should try for that
by study, wisdom and well-spoken words,
unpracticed so far, and tradition, too.
But if he knows: “This good can be got
Neither by me nor any other too”
then ungrieving he should bear it all (and think),
“Now how to use my strength for present work?”
Nikaya, (Fives, 49)
Just as there were two foremost disciples in
the order of monks, namely Sariputta and Moggallana, likewise the Buddha named
two women as foremost amongst nuns, namely Uppalavanna and Khema.
The name Khema means well-settled or
composed or security and is a synonym for Nibbana. The nun Khema belonged to a
royal family from the land of Magadha. When she was of marriageable age, she
became one of the chief consorts of King Bimbisara. As beautiful as her
appearance was, equally beautiful was her life as the wife of an Indian
When she heard about the Buddha from her
husband, she became interested, but she had a certain reluctance to become
involved with his teaching. She felt that the teaching would run counter to her
life of sense-pleasures and indulgences. The king, however, knew how he could
influence her to listen to the teaching. He described at length the harmony,
the peace and beauty of the monastery in the Bamboo Grove, where the Buddha
stayed frequently. Because she loved beauty, harmony and peace, she was
persuaded to visit there.
Decked out in royal splendor with silk and
sandalwood, she went to the monastery. The Exalted One spoke to her and
explained the law of impermanence of all conditioned beauty to her. She
penetrated this sermon fully and still dressed in royal garments, she attained
to enlightenment. Just like the monk, Mahakappina — a former king — she
likewise became liberated through the power of the Buddha’s words while still
dressed in the garments of the laity. With her husband’s permission she joined
the Order of Nuns. Such an attainment, almost like lightning, is only possible
however where the seed of wisdom has long been ripening and virtue is fully
An ordinary person, hearing Khema’s story,
only sees the wonder of the present happening. A Buddha can see beyond this and
knows that this woman did not come to full liberation accidentally. It came
about like this: In former times when a Buddha appeared in the world, then
Khema in those past lives also appeared near him, or so it has been recounted.
Due to her inner attraction towards the highest Truth, she always came to birth
wherever the bearer and proclaimer of such Truth lived. It is said that already
innumerable ages ago she had sold her beautiful hair to give alms to the Buddha
Padumuttara. During the time of the Buddha Vipassi, ninety-one eons ago, she
had been a teacher of Dhamma. Further it is told, that during the three Buddhas
of our happy eon, which were previous to our Buddha Gautama, she was a lay
disciple and gained happiness through building monasteries for the Sangha.
While most beings mill around heaven or hell
realms during the life-time of a Buddha, Khema always tried to be near the
source of wisdom. When there was no Buddha appearing in the world, she would be
reborn at the time of Pacceka-Buddhas or Bodhisattas. In one birth she was the
wife of the Bodhisatta, who always exhorted his peaceful family like this:
to what you have got, give alms;
Observe the Uposatha days, keep the precepts pure;
Dwell upon the thought of death and be mindful of your mortal state.
For in the case of beings like ourselves, death is certain, life is uncertain;
All existing things are transitory and subject to decay.
Therefore be heedful of your ways day and night.
One day Khema’s only son in this life was
suddenly killed by the bite of a poisonous snake, yet she was able to keep
Uncalled he hither came, without leave departed, too;
Even as he came, he went. What cause is here for woe?
No friend’s lament can touch the ashes of the dead:
Why should I grieve? He fares the way he had to tread.
Though I should fast and weep, how would it profit me?
My kith and kin, alas! would more unhappy be.
No friend’s lament can touch the ashes of the dead:
Why should I grieve? He fares the way he had to tread.
— J 354
Another time — so it is told — she was she
daughter-in-law of the Bodhisatta (J 397), many times a great Empress who
dreamt about receiving teaching from the Bodhisatta and then actually was
taught by him (J 501,502,534). It is further recounted that as a Queen she was
always the wife of he who was later Sariputta, who said about her:
Of equal status is the wife,
Obedient, speaking only loving words,
With children, beauty, fame, garlanded,
She always listens to my words.
— J 502,534
This husband in former lives was a righteous
king, who upheld the ten royal virtues: Generosity, morality, renunciation,
truthfulness, gentleness, patience, amity, harmlessness, humility, justice.
Because of these virtues the king lived in happiness and bliss. Khema, too,
lived in accordance with these precepts. (J 534)
Only because Khema had already purified her
heart and perfected it in these virtues, in many past lives she was now mature
enough and had such pure and tranquil emotions, that she could accept the
ultimate Truth in the twinkling of an eye.
The Buddha praised her as the nun foremost in
wisdom. A story goes with that: King Pasenadi was traveling through his
country, and one evening he arrived at a small township. He felt like having a
conversation about Dhamma and ordered a servant to find out whether there was a
wise ascetic or priest in the town. The servant sounded everyone out, but could
not find anyone whom his master could converse with. He reported this to the
King and added that a nun of the Buddha lived in the town.
It was the saintly Khema, who was famed
everywhere for her wisdom and known to be clever, possessing deep insight, had
heard much Dhamma, and was a speaker of renown, knowing always the right
retort. Thereupon the king went to the former Queen, greeted her with respect
and had the following conversation with her:
Does an Awakened One exist after death?
K.: The Exalted One has not declared that an Awakened One exists after death.
P.: Then an Awakened One does not exist after death?
K.: That too, the Exalted One has not declared.
P.: Then the Awakened One exists after death and does not exist?
K.: Even that, the Exalted One has not declared.
P.: Then one must say, the Awakened One neither exists nor not exists after
K.: That too, the Exalted One has not declared.
Thereupon the King wanted to know why the
Buddha had rejected these four questions. First we must try to understand what
these questions imply. The first question corresponds with the view of all
those beings whose highest goal is to continue on after death, spurred on by
craving for existence. The answer that an Awakened One continues to exist after
death, is the one given by all other religions, including later interpretations
The second answer that the Enlightened One
does not exist after death would be in keeping with craving for non-existence,
Because of an urge for definite knowledge and
certainly, a definition is sought which could claim that the five aggregates (khandha)
of form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness — which make
up the sum total of all existence — are completely dissolved and disappear upon
the shedding of an Awakened One’s body; and that deliverance consisted in that
mere fact of dissolution.
The third answer seeks a compromise:
everything impermanent in an Awakened One would be annihilated, but the
permanent aspect, the essence, his actual person, would remain.
The fourth answer tries to get out of the
predicament by formulating a “neither-nor” situation, which is meant
to be satisfying. [*] All four formulas have been rejected by the Buddha as
wrong view. They all presuppose that there is an “I” distinct from
the world, while in reality “I” and “world” are part of the
experience which arises because of consciousness.
[This “solution” is formulated with the idea that it is something
that words/concepts cannot describe, but it still uses “exist”
“not exist” and so was not accepted by the Buddha.]
Only the Enlightened Ones can actually see
this or those who have been their disciples, and unless this understanding is
awakened, the assumption is made that an “I,” and essentially
permanent “self,” is wandering through samsara, [*] gradually
ascending higher and higher until it is dissolved, which is liberation; this is
a belief held by some. Others conclude from this, that the Buddha teaches the
destruction of the “self.” But the Buddha teaches that there is no
“I” or “self,” which can be destroyed, that it has never
existed and has never wandered through samsara.
[Samsara: The rounds of birth and death, continually recurring.]
What we call “I” and what we call
“world” are in reality a constantly changing process, always in flux,
which always throws up the illusion of “I” and “world” born
in the present and speculated upon in the past and future. The way to liberation
is to stop speculating about the “I,” to become free from habitual
views and formulas, and come to the end of the mind’s illusory conjuring.
Not through increasing the thought processes
about phenomena, but through mindfulness of the arising of phenomena, which
leads to reducing the chatter in the mind, can liberation be attained.
Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, anything that can be
contained in consciousness, no matter how wide-ranging and pure it is, has
arisen due to causes; therefore it is impermanent and subject to decay and
Everything which is subject to decay and
change is not-self. Because the five clung-to aggregates are subject to
destruction, they are not “my” self, are not “mine.”
“I” cannot prevent their decay, their becoming sick, damaged, faulty
and their passing away. The conclusion that the self must then be outside of
the five aggregates does not follow either, because it, too, is a thought and
therefore belongs to one of the five clung-to aggregates (i.e., mental
Any designation of the Enlightened One after
death is therefore an illusion, born out of compulsion for naming, and cannot
be appropriate. Whoever has followed the teaching of the Awakened One, as Khema
did, is greatly relieved to see that the Buddha did not teach the destruction
of an existing entity, nor the annihilation of a self. But, on the contrary,
those not instructed by the Exalted One live without exception in a world of
perpetual destruction, of uncontrollable transiency in the realm of death.
Whatever they look upon as “I” and “mine” is constantly
vanishing and only upon renouncing these things which are unsatisfactory
because of their impermanence, can they reach a refuge of peace and security.
Just as the lion’s roar of the Exalted One proclaimed: “Open are the doors
to the deathless, who has ears to hear, come and listen.”
Khema tried to explain this to the King with a
simile. She asked him whether he had a clever mathematician or statistician,
who could calculate for him how many hundred, thousand or hundred-thousand
grains of sand are contained in the river Ganges. The King replied that that is
not possible. The nun then asked him whether he knew of anyone who could figure
out how many gallons of water are contained in the great ocean. That, too, the
King considered impossible. Khema asked him why it is not possible. The King
replied that the ocean is mighty, deep, unfathomable.
Just so, said Khema, is the Exalted One.
Whoever wished to define the Awakened One, could only do so through the five
clung-to aggregates and the Buddha no longer clung-to them. “Released from
clinging to form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness is
the Enlightened One, mighty, deep unfathomable as the great ocean.”
Therefore it was not appropriate to say he
existed or did not exist, or existed and did not exist, nor did he neither
exist nor not exist. All these designations could not define what was
undefinable. Just that was liberation: liberation from the compulsion to
stabilize as “self” the constant flux of the five aggregates, which
are never the same in any given moment, but only appear as a discharge of
tensions arising from mental formations.
The King rejoiced in the penetrating
explanation of the nun Khema. Later on he met the Enlightened One and asked him
the same four questions. The Buddha explained it exactly as Khema had done,
even using the same words. The King was amazed and recounted his conversation
with the wise nun Khema, the arahant. (S 44,1)
S 17,23; S 44,1; A I,24; II,62; IV,176; VIII,91. Thag. 139-144; J
354;397;501;502;534;539; Ap II No.18 (verse 96); Bu 26,19.
In Rajagaha, the capital of the kingdom of
Magadha, lived a girl of good family named Bhadda. Her parents protected her
very carefully, because she had a passionate nature and they were afraid that
she would be hurt due to her attraction to men. One day from her window Bhadda
saw how a thief was being led to the place of execution. He was the son of a
Brahman (priest-caste) but had a strong tendency towards stealing.
She fell in love with him at first sight. She
convinced her father that she could not live without him, and so he bribed the
guards who let the condemned man escape.
Soon after the wedding the bridegroom became
obsessed with the desire to get his wife’s jewelry. He told her he had made a
vow that he would make an offering to a certain mountain deity if he could
escape execution. Through this ruse he managed to get Bhadda away from his
home. He wanted to throw her down from a high cliff to gain possession of her
valuable ornaments. When they came to the cliff, he brusquely told her about
his intention. Bhadda, in her distress, likewise resolved to a ruse that
enabled her to give him a push so that it was he who fell to his death.
Burdened by the enormity of her deed, she did
not want to return to lay life. Sensual pleasures and possessions were no
longer tempting for her. She became a wandering ascetic. First she entered the
order of Jains and as a special penance, her hair was torn out by the roots,
when she ordained. But it grew again and was very curly. Therefore she was
called “Curly-hair” (Kundalakesa).
The teaching of the Jain sect did not satisfy
her, so she became a solitary wanderer. For fifty years she traveled through
India and visited many spiritual teachers, thereby obtaining an excellent
knowledge of religious scriptures and philosophies. She became one of the most
famous debaters. When she entered a town, she would make a sand-pile and stick
a rose-apple branch into it and would announce that whoever would engage in
discussion with her should trample upon the sand-pile.
One day she came to Savatthi and again erected
her little monument. At that time, Sariputta — the disciple of the Buddha with
the greatest power of analysis — was staying at the Jeta Grove. He heard of the
arrival of Bhadda and as a sign of his willingness for debate, he had several
children go and trample on the sand-pile. Thereupon Bhadda went to the Jeta
Grove, to Anathapindika’s Monastery, accompanied by a large number of people.
She was certain of victory, since she had become used to being the winner in
She put a number of questions to Sariputta. He
answered all of them until she found nothing more to ask. Then Sariputta
questioned her. Already the first question affected Bhadda profoundly, namely,
“What is the One?” She remained silent, unable to discern what the
Elder could have been inquiring about. Surely he did not mean “God,”
or “Brahman” or “the Infinite,” she pondered. But what was
it then? The answer should have been “nutriment” because all beings
are sustained by food.
Although she was unable to find an answer and
thereby lost the debate, she knew that here was someone who had found what she
had been looking; for during her pilgrimage of half a century. She chose
Sariputta as her teacher, but he referred her to the Buddha. The Awakened One
preached Dhamma to her at Mount Vulture Peak and concluded with the following
Though a thousand verses
are made of meaningless lines,
better the single meaningful line
by hearing which one is at peace.
— Dhp 101
Just as the wanderer Bahiya was foremost
amongst monks who attained arahantship faster than anyone else, she was
foremost amongst nuns with the same quality. Both grasped the highest Truth so
quickly and so deeply that admittance to the Order followed after attainment of
arahantship. Mind and emotions of both of them had long been trained and
prepared, so that they could reach the highest attainment very quickly.
Bhadda’s verses have been handed down to us in
the collection of the “Verses of the Elder Nuns,” as she summarizes
I traveled before in a single cloth,
With shaven head, covered in dust,
Thinking of faults in the faultless,
While in the faulty seeing no faults. [*]
When done was the day’s abiding, [**]
I went to Mount Vulture Peak
And saw the stainless Buddha
By the Order of Bhikkhus revered.
Then before Him my hands in anjali [***]
Humbly, I bowed down on my knees.
“Come, Bhadda,” He said to me:
And thus was I ordained.
Debt-free, I traveled for fifty years
In Anga, Magadha and Vajji,
In Kasi and Kosala, too,
Living on the alms of the land.
That lay-supporter — wise man indeed —
May many merits accrue to him!
Who gave a robe to Bhadda for
Free of all ties is she.
— Thig 107-111
* [Vajja: fault, can also mean “what is obstructive
to spiritual progress.”]
** [The daytime spent in seclusion for
*** [anjali: hands placed palms to palm
A I,24; Thig 107-111; J 509; Ap 11 No.21 (p.560).
There lived in Savatthi a girl called Gotami,
in poor circumstances, belonging to the lowest caste. Because she was very thin
and haggard, a real bean-pole, everyone called her the haggard (kisa)
Gotami. When one saw her walking around, tall and thin, one could not fathom
her inner riches. One could truly say about her:
beauty was an inner one
One could not see its spark outside.
She was despondent because due to her poverty
and lack of attractiveness, she was unable to find a husband. But one day it
suddenly happened that a rich merchant who appreciated her inner wealth and
considered that more important than her outer appearance, married her. However,
the husband’s family despised her because of her caste, her poverty and her
looks. This animosity caused her great unhappiness, especially because of her
beloved husband, who found himself in conflict between love for his parents and
love for his wife.
But when Kisagotami gave birth to a baby boy,
the husband’s whole clan finally accepted her as the mother of the son and
heir. Her relief about this changed attitude was immense and a great burden was
taken from her. Now she was totally happy and contented. The boy grew up and
soon started playing outside, full of energy and joy. However, one day her
happiness showed itself to be based on an illusion. Her little son died
suddenly. She did not know how to bear this tragedy. Beyond the usual love of a
mother for her child, she had been especially attached to this child, because
he was the guarantee for her marital bliss and her peace of mind.
His death made her fear that her husband’s
family would despise her again and that they would blame her, saying she was
karmically unable to have a son. “Kisagotami must have done some very
despicable deeds, to have this happen to her,” people would say. And even
her husband might reject her now. All such ideas and imaginings revolved in her
mind and a dark cloud descended upon her. She simply refused to accept the fact
that the child was dead, and became obsessed with the fantasy that her child
was only sick and that she had to get medicine for him.
With the dead child in her arms, she ran away
from her home and went from house to house asking for medicine for her little
son. At every door she begged: “Please give me some medicine for my
child,” but the people replied that medicine would not help any more, the
child was dead. But she did not understand what they were saying to her,
because in her mind she had resolved that the child was not dead. Others
laughed at her without compassion. But amongst the many selfish and
unsympathetic people, she also met a wise and kind person who recognized that
her mind was deranged because of grief. He advised her to visit the best
physician, namely the Buddha of the ten powers, who would know the right
She immediately followed this advice and ran
to Prince Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery, where the Buddha was staying.
She arrived in the middle of a discourse being given by the Buddha to a large
congregation. Totally despairing and in tears, with the corpse of the child in
her arms, she begged the Buddha, “Master, give me medicine for my
son.” The Awakened One interrupted his teaching and replied kindly that he
knew of a medicine. Hopefully she inquired what that could be.
“Mustard seeds,” the Enlightened One
replied, astounding everyone present.
Joyfully, Kisagotami inquired where she should
go to obtain them and what kind to get. The Buddha replied that she need only
bring a very small quantity from any house where no one had died. She trusted
the Blessed One’s words and went to the town. At the first house, she asked
whether any mustard seeds were available. “Certainly,” was the reply.
“Could I have a few seeds?” she inquired. “Of course,” she
was told, and some seeds were brought to her. But then she asked the second
question, which she had not deemed quite as important: whether anyone had died
in this house. “But of course,” the people told her. And so it went
everywhere. In one house someone; had died recently, in another house some time
ago. She could not find any house where no one had died. The dead ones are more
numerous than the living ones, she was told.
Towards evening she finally realized that not
only she was stricken by the death of a loved one, but this was the common
human fate. What no words had been able to convey to her, her own experience —
going from door to door — made clear to her. She understood the law of
existence, the being fettered to the always re-occurring deaths. In this way,
the Buddha was able to heal her obsession and bring her to an acceptance of
reality. Kisagotami no longer refused to believe that her child was dead, but
understood that death is the destiny of all beings.
Such were the means by which the Buddha could
heal grief-stricken people and bring them out of their overpowering delusion,
in which the whole world was perceived only in the perspective of their loss.
Once, when someone was lamenting the death of his father, the Buddha asked him
which father he meant: the father of this life, or the last life, or the one
before that. Because if one wanted to grieve, then it would be just as well not
only to feel sorrow for the one father. (Pv 8, J 352).
Another time a grief-stricken person was able
to see reality when the Buddha pointed out to him that his son would be reborn
and that he was only lamenting for an empty shell. (Pv 12, J 354).
After Kisagotami had come to her senses, she
took the child’s lifeless body to the cemetery and returned to the Enlightened
One. He asked her whether she had brought any mustard seed. She gratefully
explained how she had been cured by the Blessed One. Thereupon the Master spoke
the following verse to her:
In flocks and children finding delight,
with a mind clinging — just such a man
death seizes and carries away,
as a great flood, a sleeping village.
— Dhp 287
Because her mind had matured and she had won
insight into reality, it was possible for her to become a stream-winner after
hearing the Buddha proclaim just that one verse. She asked for admittance into
the Order of Nuns.
After having spent some time as a nun,
practicing and studying Dhamma, she watched her lamp one evening and compared
the restlessly hissing flames with the ups and downs of life and death.
Thereupon the Blessed One came to her and again spoke a short verse:
Though one should live a hundred years
not seeing the Deathless State,
yet better is life for a single day,
seeing the Deathless State.
— Dhp 114
When she heard these lines, she was able to
shed all fetters and became one of the arahants, the fully Enlightened Ones.
Ninety-two eons ago, in one of her former
lives, she had been the wife of a Buddha-to-be, at the time of the Buddha
Phussa. During the time of the last Buddha before the Sage of the Sakyas,
namely Buddha Kassapa, she had been a King’s daughter who became a nun. (J 409)
In the collection of “Verses of the Elder
Nuns” her stanzas can be found, in which she describes the great joy the
Buddha imparted to her. Therefore she praises friendship with the Noble and
The Sage has emphasized and praised
Noble friendship for the world.
If one stays with a Noble Friend,
even a fool will become a wise person.
Stay with them of good heart
for the wisdom of those who stay with them grows.
And while one is staying with them,
from every kind of dukkha one is freed.
Dukkha one should know well,
and how dukkha arises and ceases,
and the Eightfold Path,
and the Four Noble Truths.
— Thig 213-215
The compassion of the Buddha, the most noble
friend of all, had saved her from all suffering experienced in this and former
lives. She used as her model, the heartrending example of the nun Patacara who
had also been afflicted with temporary insanity after the death of not only
husband and two sons, but also parents and brothers. Because women’s longing
for men is so deeply ingrained, the Buddha said, “For a man does the woman
strive.” (A VI.52) From this attachment is born the torture of jealousy,
the lack of self-reliance, and the despair of loneliness.
Only when one penetrates a woman’s suffering
in this way can one realize the full impact of Kisagotami’s gratitude towards
the Buddha who showed her the way. So she says:
“Woman’s state is painful,”
declares the Trainer of tamable men.
“A wife with others is painful
and once having borne a child,
some even cut their throats;
others of delicate constitution
poison take, then pain again;
and then there’s the baby obstructing the birth,
killing the mother too.”
— Thig 216-217
After she attained to arahantship, she was
able to see her past lives and could now say:
Miserable woman, your kin all dead
and limitless dukkha you’ve known.
So many tears have you shed
in these many thousands of births.
— Thig 220
The third part of her verses finalizes her joy
in finding liberation and release from all suffering:
Wholly developed by me is
the Eightfold Noble Path going to Deathlessness,
I looked into the Mirror of the Dhamma.
With dart removed am I,
the burden laid down, done what was to be done,
The elder nun Kisagotami,
freed in mind and heart, has chanted this.
— Thig 222-223
When Mara,[*] as he had done so often before
with other nuns, came to tempt her, to distract her from meditation and asked
her whether she was lusting for man now that her child was dead, she
immediately replied, discerning the ruse:
[Mara is traditionally depicted as the “tempter” or
“temptation.” While here it is made to appear as if “he”
were an outer force, the Buddha taught that temptation arises in one’s own
heart and mind because of one’s own defilements.]
Passed is the time of my child’s death
and I have fully done with men;
I do not grieve, nor do I weep,
and I’m not afraid of you, friend.
Sensual delight in every way is dead,
for the mass of darkness is destroyed.
Defeating the soldiery of death,
I live free from every taint.
— S 5,3
Addressing Mara as “friend,” she
shows her lack of fear and her equanimity. Grumbling sullenly, Mara disappeared
just as before when he had tried in vain to fetter other nuns to the realm of
birth and death.
The nun Kisagotami, rising to holiness from
lowliest birth, was praised by the Buddha as amongst the seventy-five greatest
[She was pre-eminent in ascetic habits and was wont to wear garments of rough
fibers. (A I, 24).]
A I,24; S 5,3; Thig 213-223, J 438; Ap 11 No.22
There was a housewife in Savatthi who had ten
children. She was always occupied with giving birth, nursing, upbringing,
educating and arranging marriages for her children. Her children were her whole
life. She was therefore known as “Sona with many children.”
She was rather like Migara’s mother of the
same city, though the latter had twenty children. We may find such an abundance
of offspring in one family somewhat strange today. However, this was not
uncommon in Asia and even in some parts of the West.
Sona’s husband was a lay follower of the
Buddha. After having practiced moral conduct according to the precepts for
several years while living the household life, he decided that the time had
come to enter into the holy life, and so he became a monk. It was not easy for
Sona to accept this decision, yet she did not waste her time with regrets and
sorrow, but decided to live a more religiously dedicated life. She called her
ten children and their husbands and wives together, turned her considerable
wealth over to them, and asked them only for support for her necessities. For a
while all went well. She had sufficient support and could spend her time in
But soon it happened that the old woman became
a burden to her children and children-in-law. They had not been in agreement
with their father’s decision, and even less did they agree with their mother’s
devout attitude and religious speech. Indeed, they thought of their parents as
foolish because they would not indulge in the pleasures their wealth could
purchase. They considered their parents mentally unstable, religious fanatics;
this attitude made them despise their mother.
They quickly forgot that they owed all their
riches to their mother, that she had lavished many years of care and attention
on them. Looking only at the present moment, they considered the old woman a
nuisance. The words of the Buddha, that a grateful person is as rare in the
world as one who becomes a Noble One, proved true again in this case. (A III,
122; V, 143; V, 195).
The increasing disdain by her children was an
even greater pain for Sona than the separation from her husband. She became
aware that waves of bitterness arose in her, that reproaches and accusations
intermingled. She realized that what she had taken to be selfless love, pure
mother’s love, was in reality self love, coupled with expectations. She had
been relying on her children completely and had been convinced that she would
be supported by them in her old age as a tribute to her long years of
solicitude for them, that gratitude, appreciation and participation in their
affairs would be her reward. Had she not looked at her children as an investment
then, as an insurance against the fear and loneliness of old age? In this
manner, she investigated her motives and found the truth of the Enlightened
One’s words in herself. Namely, that it was a woman’s way not to rely on
possessions, power and abilities, but solely on her children, while it was the
way of the ascetic to rely on virtue alone. (A VI, 53).
Her reflections brought her to the decision to
enter the Order of Nuns so that she could develop the qualities of selfless
love and virtue. Why should she remain in her home where she was only
reluctantly accepted? She looked upon the household life as a gray existence
and pictured that of a nun as brilliant, and so was ready to follow here
husband’s path. She became a nun, a Bhikkhuni in the order of the Buddha’s
But after a while she realized that she had
taken her self-love along. The other nuns criticized her behavior in many small
matters. She had entered the Sangha as an old woman and had dozens of habits
and peculiarities which were obstacles in this new environment. She was used to
doing things in a certain way, and the other nuns did them differently.
Sona soon realized that it was not easy to
reach noble attainments, and that the Order of Nuns was not the paradise she
had envisioned — just as she had not found security with her children. She also
understood that she was still held fast by her womanly limitations. It was not
enough that her weaknesses were abhorrent to her, and that she was longing for
more masculine traits. She also had to know what to do to effect the change.
She accepted the fact that she had to make tremendous efforts, not only because
she was already advanced in years, but also because until now she had only
cultivated female virtues. The masculine characteristics which she was lacking
were energy and circumspection. Sona did not become discouraged, nor thought of
the Path as too difficult. She had the same sincerity and steadfastness as her
sister-nun-Soma, who said:
What’s it to do with a woman’s state
When the mind, well-composed
with knowledge after knowledge born,
sees into Perfect Dhamma clear?
For who, indeed, conceives it thus:
A woman am I, a man am I,
or what, then indeed, am I?
Such a one can Mara still address.
— S 5,2
It became clear to Sona that she had to
develop courage and strength to win victory over her willfulness and her
credulity. She realized that it was necessary to practice mindfulness and
self-observation, and to implant into her memory those teachings which could be
at her disposal when needed to counteract her emotions.
What use would be all knowledge and vows if
she were carried away by her emotions, and her memory fail her when it was most
needed? These were the reasons which strengthened Sona’s determination and
will-power to learn the Buddha’s discourses. Through many a night thereby she
attained the ability to memorize them. Furthermore, she took pains to serve her
sister-nuns in a loving way and to apply the teachings constantly. After having
practiced in this way for some time, she attained not only the assurance of
non-returner, but became an arahant, fully-enlightened, a state she had hardly
dared to hope for in this lifetime.
It happened without any special circumstances
to herald it. After she had made a whole-hearted commitment to perfect those
abilities which she lacked, no matter what the cost, she drew nearer to her
goal day by day. One day she was liberated from the very last fetter. The
Buddha said about her that she was foremost of the nuns who had energetic
courage. (A I, 24)
In the “Verses of the Elder Nuns”
she describes her life in five verses:
Ten children having borne
from this bodily congeries,
so I, now weak and old,
approached a Bhikkhuni.
The Dhamma she taught me —
groups, sense-spheres and elements, [*]
I heard the Dhamma,
and having shaved my hair, went forth.
While still a probationer
I purified the eye divine;
Former lives I knew,
and where I lived before.
the Signless [**] I developed,
unclinging now and quenched!
Knowing the five groups well,
they still exist; but with their roots removed.
Unmovable am I,
on a stable basis sure,
now rebirth is no more.
— Thig 102-106
* [The five groups (or aggregates), the twelve sense spheres and
the eighteen elements — see Buddhist Dictionary, B.P.S. Kandy, for definition.]
** [One of the three gates to freedom the
other two being the Desireless and Emptiness.]
Sona’s sister-nuns, who had formerly been her
severe critics, and who had thought that because of her age she would not be
able to change, now apologized to her sincerely and endeavored to follow her
A I, 24; Thig 102-106; AP. 11, No.26
When she was born, Nanda was lovingly welcomed
by her parents — the father of the Buddha and his second wife. Her name means
joy, contentment, pleasure, and was given when parents were especially joyful
about the arrival of a baby.
Nanda was extremely well-bred, graceful and
beautiful. To distinguish her from others by the same name, she was later
called “Rupa-Nanda,” “one of delightful form,” or sometimes
“Sundari-Nanda,” “beautiful Nanda.”
In due course many members of her family — the
royal house of the Sakyans — left the household for the homeless life,
influenced by the amazing fact that one of their clan had become the
fully-enlightened Buddha. Amongst them was her brother Nanda, her cousins, and
finally her mother, together with many other Sakyan ladies. Thereupon Nanda
also took this step, but it is recorded that she did not do it out of
confidence in the teacher and the teachings, but out of love for her relatives
and a feeling of belonging with them.
One can easily imagine the love and respect
accorded the graceful half-sister of the Buddha and how touched the people were
by the sight of the lovely royal daughter, so near in family ties to the
Blessed One, wandering amongst them in the garb of a nun.
But it soon became obvious that this was not a
good basis for a nun’s life. Nanda’s thoughts were mainly directed towards her
own beauty and her popularity with the people, traits which were resultants of
former good actions. These resultants now became dangers to her, since she
forgot to reinforce them with new actions. She felt that she was not living up
to the high ideals the people envisioned for her, and that she was far from the
goal for which so many noble-born clansmen had gone into the homeless life. She
was sure that the Blessed One would censure her on account of this. Therefore
she managed to evade him for a long time.
One day the Buddha requested all the nuns to
come to him, one by one, to receive his teaching, but Nanda did not comply. The
Master let her be called specially, and then she appeared before him, ashamed
and anxious by her demeanor. The Buddha addressed her and appealed to all her
positive qualities so that she listened to him willingly and delighted in his
words. When the Blessed One knew that the talk had uplifted her, had made her
joyful and ready to accept his teaching, he did not immediately explain
absolute reality to her, as is often mentioned in other accounts, frequently
resulting in noble attainment to his listener.
Because Nanda was so taken up with her
physical beauty, the Buddha used his psychic powers to conjure up the vision of
an even more beautiful woman, who then aged visibly and relentlessly before her
very eyes. Thereby Nanda could see, compressed within a few moments, what
otherwise one can only notice in people through decades — and often because of
proximity and habit one does not even fully comprehend: the fading away of
youth and beauty, the decay, the appearance of wrinkles and gray hair. The
vision affected Nanda deeply; she was shaken to the center of her being.
After having shown her this graphic picture,
the Buddha could explain the law of impermanence to her in such a way that she
penetrated the truth of its completely, and thereby attained the knowledge of
future liberation — stream-entry. As a meditation subject the Buddha gave her
the contemplation of the impermanence and foulness of the body. She persevered
for a long time with this practice “faithful and courageous day and
night”; (Thig 84) as she described in her verses:
Sick, impure and foul as well,
Nanda, see this congeries
With the unlovely, [*] develop mind
Well-composed to singleness.
As is that, thus will this likewise be.
Exhaling foulness, evil smells,
A thing it is enjoyed [**] by fools.
Diligently considering it,
By day and night thus seeing it,
With my own wisdom having seen,
I turned away, dispassionate.
With my diligence, carefully
I examined the body
And saw this as it really is —
Both within and without.
Unlusting and dispassionate
Within this body then was I:
By diligence from fetters freed,
Peaceful was I and quite cool.
— Thig 82-86
* [The meditations on seeing the body as unattractive, either as
parts, or in death. See “Bag of Bones,” Wheel 271/272.]
** [Play on her own name, Nanda or Joy and “abhinanditam.”]
Because Nanda had been so infatuated with her
physical appearance, it had been necessary for her to apply the extreme of
meditations on bodily unattractiveness as a counter-measure to find equanimity
as balance between the two opposites. For beauty and ugliness are just two
kinds of impermanence. Nothing can disturb the cool, peaceful heart ever again.
Later the Buddha raised his half-sister as
being the foremost amongst nuns who practiced Jhana.[*] This meant that she not
only followed the analytical way of insight, but put emphasis on the experience
of tranquillity. Enjoying this pure well-being, she no longer needed any lower
enjoyments and soon found indestructible peace. Although she had gone into
homelessness because of attachment to her relatives, she became totally free
and equal to the One she venerated.
[Jhana: Total meditative absorption.]
A I, 24; Thig 82-86; AP II, No.25 (54 verses).
In the days when India was the fortunate home
of an Awakened One, a husband and wife lived within its borders with an only
daughter, who was exceedingly beautiful. Their family life was a happy and
harmonious one. Then one day pestilence broke out in their hometown. Amongst
those fleeing from the disaster area was also this family with their grown-up
They went to Kosambi, the capital of the
kingdom of Vamsa in the valley of the Ganges. The municipality had erected a
public eating-hall for the refugees. There the daughter, Samavati, went to
obtain food. The first day she took three portions, the second day two portions
and on the third day only one portion.
Mitta, the man who was distributing the food,
could not resist from asking her somewhat ironically, whether she had finally
realized the capacity of her stomach. Samavati replied quite calmly: On the
first day her father had died and so she only needed food for two people; on
the second day her mother had succumbed to the dreaded disease, and so she only
needed food for herself. The official felt ashamed about his sarcastic remark
and wholeheartedly begged her forgiveness. A long conversation ensued. When he
found out that she was all alone in the world, he proposed to adopt her as his
foster-child. She was happy to accept and was now relieved of all worries about
Samavati immediately began helping her foster
father with the distribution of the food and the care of the refugees.
Thanks to her efficiency and circumspection,
the former chaos became channeled into orderly activity. Nobody tried to get
ahead of others any more, nobody quarreled, and everyone was content.
Soon the Finance Minister of the king,
Ghosaka, became aware that the public food distribution was taking place
without noise and tumult. When he expressed his praise and appreciation to the
food-distributor, the official replied modestly that his foster-daughter was
mainly responsible for this. In this way Ghosaka met Samavati and was so
impressed with her noble bearing, that he decided to adopt her as his own
daughter. His manager consented, even if somewhat woefully, because he did not
want to be in the way of Samavati’s fortune. So Ghosaka took her into his house
and thereby she became heiress of a vast fortune and became part of the most
exalted circles of the land.
The king, who was living in Kosambi at that
time, was Udena. He had two chief consorts. One was Vasuladatta, whom he had
married both for political reasons and because she was very beautiful, but
these were her only assets. The second one, Magandiya, was not only very
beautiful, but also very clever though without heart. So the King was not
emotionally contented with his two wives.
One day king Udena met the charming, adopted
daughter of his Finance Minister and fell in love with her at first sight. He
felt magically attracted by her loving and generous nature. Samavati had
exactly what was missing in both his other wives. King Udena sent a messenger
to Ghosaka and asked him to give Samavati to him in marriage. Ghosaka was
thrown into an emotional upheaval. He loved Samavati above all else, and she
had become indispensable to him. She was the delight of his life. On the other
hand, he knew his king’s temperament and was afraid to deny him his request.
But in the end his attachment to Samavati won and he thought: “Better to
die than to live without her.”
As usual, King Udena lost his temper. In his
fury he dismissed Ghosaka from his post as Finance Minister and banned him from
his kingdom and did not allow Samavati to accompany him. He took over his
minister’s property and locked up his magnificent mansion. Samavati was
desolate that Ghosaka had to suffer so much on her account and had lost not
only her, but also his home and belongings. Out of compassion for her adopted
father, to whom she was devoted with great gratitude, she decided to make an
end to this dispute by voluntarily becoming the king’s wife. She went to the
Palace and informed the King of her decision. The king was immediately appeased
and restored Ghosaka to his former position, as well as rescinding all other
measures against him.
Because Samavati had great love for everyone,
she had so much inner strength that this decision was not a difficult one for
her. It was not important to her where she lived: whether in the house of the
Finance Minister as his favorite daughter, or in the palace as the favorite
wife of the king, or in obscurity as when she was in the house of her parents,
or as a poor refugee — she always found peace in her own heart and was happy
regardless of outer circumstances.
Samavati’s life at the court of one of the
Maharajas of that time fell into a harmonious pattern. Amongst her servants,
there was one, named Khujjuttara the “hunch-backed.” Outwardly she
was ill-formed, but otherwise very capable. Everyday the Queen gave her eight
gold coins to buy flowers for the women’s quarters of the palace. But Khujjuttara
always bought only four coins worth and used the rest for herself. One day when
she was buying flowers again for her mistress from the gardener, a monk was
taking his meal there. He was of majestic appearance. When he gave a discourse
to the gardener after the meal, Khujjuttara listened. The monk was the Buddha.
He directed his discourse in such a way that he spoke directly to Khujjuttara’s
heart. And his teaching penetrated into her inner being. Just from hearing this
one discourse, so well expounded, she attained stream-entry. Without quite
knowing what had happened to her, she was a totally changed person. The whole
world, which had seemed so obvious and real to her until now, appeared as a
dream, apart from reality. The first thing she did that day was to buy flowers
for all of the eight coins. She regretted her former dishonesty deeply.
When the Queen asked her why there were
suddenly so many flowers Khujjuttara fell at the Queen’s feet and confessed her
theft. When Samavati forgave her magnanimously, Khujjuttara told her what was
closest to her heart, namely, that she had heard a discourse by the Buddha,
which had changed her life. She could not be specific about the contents of the
teaching, but Samavati could see for herself what a wholesome and healing
influence the teaching had had on her servant. She made Khujjuttara her
personal attendant and told her to visit the Monastery every day to listen to
the Dhamma and then repeat it to her.
Khujjuttara had an outstanding memory and what
she had heard once, she could repeat verbatim. Later on she made a collection
of discourses she had heard from the Buddha or one of his enlightened disciples
during these days at Kosambi, and from it developed the book now called Itivuttaka
(”It-was-said-thus”), composed of 112 small discourses.
When king Udena once again told his beloved
Samavati that she could wish for anything and he would fulfill it, she wished
that the Buddha would come to the palace daily to have his food there and
propound his teaching. The king’s courier took the message of this perpetual
invitation to the Buddha, but he declined and instead sent his cousin Ananda.
From then on Ananda went to the palace daily
for his meal and afterward gave a Dhamma discourse. The Queen had already been
well prepared by Khujjuttara’s reports, and within a short time she understood
the meaning and attained to stream-entry, just as her maid-servant had done.
Now, through their common understanding of the
Dhamma, the Queen and the maid became equal. Within a short time, the teaching
spread through the whole of the women’s quarters and there was hardly anyone
who did not become a disciple of the Awakened One. Even Samavati’s step-father,
the Finance Minister Ghosaka, was deeply touched by the teaching. Similarly to
Anathapindika, he donated a large monastery in Kosambi to the Sangha, so that
the monks would have a secure and satisfying shelter. Every time the Buddha
visited Kosambi he stayed in this Monastery named Ghositarama, and other monks
and holy people also would find shelter there.
Through the influence of the Dhamma, Samavati
became determined to develop her abilities more intensively. Her most important
asset was the way she could feel sympathy for all beings and could penetrate
everyone with loving-kindness and compassion. She was able to develop this
faculty so strongly that the Buddha called her the woman lay-disciple most
skilled in metta (”loving-kindness”). (A I.19)
This all-pervading love was soon to be tested
severely. It happened like this: The second main consort of the king,
Magandiya, was imbued with virulent hatred against everything
“Buddhist.” Once her father had heard the Buddha preach about
unconditional love to all beings, and it had seemed to him that the Buddha was
the most worthy one to marry his daughter. In his naive ignorance of the rules
of the monks, he offered his daughter to the Buddha as his wife. Magandiya was
very beautiful and had been desired by many suitors already.
The Buddha declined the offer but by speaking
a single verse about the unattractiveness of the body caused her father and
mother to attain the fruit of non-returning. This was the Buddha’s verse, as
recorded in the Sutta Nipata (v.835):
Having seen craving with Discontent and Lust,[*]
There was not in me any wish for sex;
How then for this, dung-and-urine filled, that
I should not be willing to touch with my foot.
[The three beautiful daughters of Mara (the tempter).]
But Magandiya thought that the Buddha’s
rejection of her was an insult and therefore hatred against him and his
disciples arose in her. She became the wife of King Udena and when he took a
third wife, she could willingly accept that, as it was the custom in her day.
But that Samavati had become a disciple of the Buddha and had converted the
other women in the palace to his teaching, she could not tolerate. Her hatred
against everything connected with the Buddha now turned against Samavati as his
representative. She thought up one meanness after another, and her sharp
intelligence served only to conjure up new misdeeds.
First she told the King that Samavati was
trying to take his life. But the King was well aware of Samavati’s great love
for all beings, so that he did not even take this accusation seriously, barely
listened to it, and forgot it almost immediately.
Secondly, Magandiya ordered one of her
maid-servants to spread rumors about the Buddha and his monks in Kosambi, so
that Samavati would also be maligned. With this she was more successful. A wave
of aversion struck the whole order to such an extent that Ananda suggested to
the Buddha that they leave town. The Buddha smiled and said that the purity of
the monks would silence all rumors within a week. Hardly had King Udena heard
the gossip leveled against the Order, than it had already subsided. Magandiya’s
second attempt against Samavati had failed.
Some time later Magandiya had eight specially
selected chickens sent to the King and suggested that Samavati should kill them
and prepare them for a meal. Samavati refused to do this, as she would not kill
any living beings. Since the King knew of her all-embracing love, he did not
lose his temper, but accepted her decision.
Magandiya then tried for a fourth time to harm
Samavati. Just prior to the week which King Udena was to spend with Samavati,
Magandiya hid a poisonous snake in Samavati’s chambers, but the poison sacs had
been removed. When King Udena discovered the snake, all evidence pointed
towards Samavati. His passionate fury made him lose all control. He reached for
his bow and arrow and aimed at Samavati. But the arrow rebounded from her
without doing any harm. His hatred could not influence her loving concern for
him, which continued to emanate from her.
When King Udena regained his equilibrium and
saw the miracle — that his arrow could not harm Samavati, he was deeply moved.
He asked her forgiveness and was even more convinced of her nobility and
faithfulness. He became interested in the teaching which had given such
strength to his wife.
When a famous monk, named Pindola Bharadvaja
stayed at the Ghosita Monastery, the King visited him and discussed the
teaching with him. He learned that the young monks, according to the Buddha’s
advice, instead of having contact with women tried to attain the feelings as
towards a mother, sister, or daughter thereby they overcame their dependence on
the opposite sex and could live joyously as celibates in spite of their youth.
At the end of the discourse, the King was so impressed that he took refuge in
the Buddha and became a lay disciple. (S 35,127)
Samavati had been thinking about the wonders
of the Dhamma and the intricacies of karmic influences. One thing had led to
another: she had come to Kosambi as a poor refugee; then the food-distributor
had given her shelter; the Finance Minister had taken her on as his daughter;
then she became the King’s wife; her maid-servant had brought the teaching to
her; and she became a disciple and stream-winner. Subsequently she spread the
teaching to all the women in the palace, then to Ghosaka and now lastly also to
the King. How convincing Truth was! She often thought in this way and then
permeated all beings with loving-kindness, wishing them happiness.
The King now tried more determinedly to
control his passionate nature and to subdue greed and hate. His talks with
Samavati were very helpful to him in this respect. Slowly this development
culminated in his losing all sexual craving when he was in Samavati’s company
as he was trying to attain the feelings towards women of mother, sister and
daughter in himself. While he was not free of sexual desire towards his other
wives, he was willing to let Samavati continue on her Path to emancipation
unhindered. Soon she attained to the state of once-returner and drew nearer and
nearer to non-returner, an attainment which many men and women could achieve in
lay-life in those days.
Magandiya had suspended her attacks for some
time, but continued to ponder how to harm the Buddha through Samavati. After
much brooding, she initiated a plan. She brought some of her relatives to her
point of view and uttered slander against Samavati to them. Then she proposed
to kill her. So that it would not attract attention, but would appear to be an
accident, the whole women’s palace was to be set on fire. The plan was worked
out in all details. Magandiya left town some time beforehand, so that no
suspicion could fall on her.
This deed of arson resulted in sky-high flames
which demolished the wooden palace totally and the 500 women [*] residing in it
were all killed, including Samavati. The news of this disaster spread around
town very quickly. No other topic of conversation could be heard there. Several
monks, who had not been ordained very long, were also affected by the agitation
and after their almsround they went to the Buddha and inquired what would be
the future rebirth of these women lay disciples with Samavati as their leader.
[Five hundred just means ‘a great many’ in Pali.]
The Awakened One calmed their excited hearts
and diverted their curiosity about this most interesting question of rebirth,
by answering very briefly: “Amongst these women, O monks, there are some
disciples who are stream-enterers, some who are once-returners and some who are
non-returners. None of these lay disciples failed to receive the fruits of
their past deeds.” (Ud VII, 10)
The Buddha mentioned here the first three
fruits of the Dhamma: stream-entry, once-returner and non-returner. All these
disciples were safe from rebirth below the human realm, and each one was
securely going towards the final goal of total liberation. This was the most
important aspect of their lives and deaths and the Buddha would not elucidate
any further details. Once he mentioned to Ananda that it was a vexation for the
Enlightened One to explain the future births of all disciples who died. (D 16
The Buddha later explained to some monks who
were discussing how “unjust” it was that these faithful disciples
should die such a terrible death, that the women experienced this because of a
joint deed they had committed many life-times ago. Once Samavati had been Queen
of Benares. She had gone with her ladies-in-waiting to bathe and feeling cold,
she asked that a bush be burned to give some warmth. She saw only too late that
a monk — a Pacceka Buddha — was sitting immobile within the bush; he was not
harmed, however, because one cannot kill Awakened Ones. The women did not know
this and feared that they would be blamed for having made a fire without due
caution. Thereupon Samavati had the deluded idea to pour oil over this monk who
was sitting in total absorption, so that burning him would obliterate their
mistake. This plan could not succeed however, but the bad intention and attempt
had to carry karmic resultants. In this lifetime the ripening of the result had
The Buddha has declared that one of the favorable
results of the practice of Metta (loving-kindness) is the fact that
fire, poison and weapons do no harm to the practitioner. This has to be
understood in such a way: during the actual emanation of loving-kindness the
one who manifests this radiance cannot be hurt, just as Samavati proved when
the king’s arrow did not penetrate her.
But at other times fire could incinerate her
body. Samavati had become a non-returner, and was therefore free of all sensual
desire and hate and no longer identified with her body. Her radiant, soft heart
was imbued with the four divine abidings [*] and was unassailable and untouched
by the fire. Her inner being could not be burned and that which was burned was
the body only. It is a rare happening that one of the Holy Ones is murdered
(see Mahamoggallana, Kaludayi) or that one of the Buddhas is threatened with
murder (see Devadatta’s attempt on the Buddha Gautama) and equally rare is it
to find that one perfected in metta and attained to non-returner should
die a violent death. All three types of persons, however, have in common that
their hearts can no longer be swayed by this violence.
[Four divine abidings: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy,
Samavati’s last words were: “It would not
be an easy matter, even with the knowledge of a Buddha, to determine exactly
the number of times our bodies have thus been burned with fire as we have
passed from birth to birth in the round of existences which has no conceivable
beginning. Therefore, be heedful!” Those ladies meditated on painful
feeling and so gained the Noble Paths and Fruits.
Two thousand years after the Parinibbana of
the Buddha, in 1582, soldiers burned a Buddhist Monastery in Japan and all the
monks inside were burned to death. The last thing the soldiers heard before
everything burned down were the words of the Abbot:
has liberated heart and mind,
For him fire is only a cool wind.
Referring to the tragedy of the fire at
Kosambi, the Buddha spoke the following verse to the monks:
world is in delusion’s grip,
Its form is seen as real;
The fool is in the “assets” [*] grip,
Wrapped about with gloom,
Both seem to last forever
But nothing is there for one who Sees.
[Assets: Upadhi. The basis for life and continued birth and death.]
King Udena was overwhelmed with grief at
Samavati’s death and kept brooding about who could be the perpetrator of this
ghastly deed. He came to the conclusion that it must have been Magandiya. He
did not want to question her directly because she would deny it. So he thought
of a ruse. He said to his Ministers: “Until now I have always been
apprehensive, because Samavati was forever seeking an occasion to slay me. But
now I shall be able to sleep in peace.” The Ministers asked the king who
it could have been that had done this deed, “Only someone who really loves
me,” the king replied. Magandiya had been standing near and when she heard
that, she came forward and proudly admitted that she alone was responsible for
the fire and the death of the women and Samavati. The King said that he would
grant her and all her relatives a boon for this.
When all the relatives were assembled, the
King had them burned publicly and then had the earth plowed under so that all
traces of the ashes were destroyed. He had Magandiya executed as a
mass-murderess, which was his duty and responsibility, but his fury knew no
bounds and he still looked for revenge. He had her killed with utmost cruelty.
She died an excruciating death, which was only a fore-taste of the tortures
awaiting her in the nether world, after which she would have to roam in samsara
[*] for a long, long time to come.
[Samsara: rounds of existence.]
Soon King Udena regretted his revengeful and
cruel deed. Again and again he saw Samavati’s face in front of him, full of love
for all beings, even for her enemies. He felt he had removed himself from her
even further than her death had done, because of his violent fury. He began to
control his temper more and more and to follow the Buddha’s teachings ardently.
Two women, who had been friends of Samavati,
were so moved by this tragedy and saw the impermanence of all earthly things so
clearly, that they entered the Order of Nuns. One of them soon became an
arahant, fully enlightened, and the other one after twenty-five years of
practice. (Thig 37 and 39).
Samavati, however, was reborn in the realm of
the Pure Abodes, where she would be able to reach Nibbana. The different
results of love and hate could be seen with exemplary clarity in the lives and
deaths of these two Queens. When one day the monks were discussing who was
alive and who dead, the Buddha said that Magandiya while living, was dead
already; while Samavati, though dead, was truly alive, and he spoke these
Heedfulness — the path to the Deathless,
heedlessness — the path to death,
the heedful ones do not die;
the heedless are likened to the dead.
The wise then, recognizing this
as the distinction of heedfulness,
in heedfulness rejoice, delighting
in the realm of Noble Ones.
They meditate persistently,
constantly; they firmly strive
the steadfast to reach Nibbana,
the Unexcelled Secure from bonds.
— Dhp 21-23
The Buddha declared Samavati to be foremost
among those female lay disciples who dwell in loving-kindness (metta).
Sources: Dhammapada Commentary to vv. 21-23;
Commentary to Anguttara Nikaya Vol. I (on those Foremost); “Path of
Purification” p. 417.
Patacara was the beautiful daughter of a very
wealthy merchant of Savatthi. When she was sixteen years old, her parents put
her in a seven-story high tower on the top floor surrounded by guards to
prevent her from keeping company with any young man. In spite of this precaution,
she became involved in a love affair with a servant in her parents’ house.
When her parents arranged a marriage for her
with a young man of equal social standing, she decided to elope with her lover.
She escaped from the tower by disguising herself, and the young couple went to
live in a village far away from Savatthi. The husband farmed, and the young
wife had to do all the menial chores which formerly had been performed by her
parents’ servants. Thus she reaped the results of her deed.
When she became pregnant, she begged her
husband to take her to her parents’ house to give birth there, saying to him
that father and mother always have a soft spot in their hearts for their child,
no matter what has happened. However, her husband refused on the grounds that
her parents would surely subject him to torture or imprisonment. When she
realized that he would not give in to her pleas, she decided to make her way to
her parents by herself. When the husband found her gone and was told by the
neighbors of her decision, he followed her and tried to persuade her to return.
However she would not listen to him.
Before they could reach Savatthi, the
birth-pains started, and soon a baby son was born. As there was no more reason
to go to her parents’ house, they turned back and resumed their family life in
Sometime later she became pregnant again. And
again she requested her husband to take her home to her parents. Again he
refused and she took matters in her own hands and started off, carrying the
older child. When her husband followed her and pleaded with her to return with
him, she would not listen, but continued on her way. A fearful storm arose,
quite out of season, with thunder and lightning and incessant rain. Just then
her birth-pains started, and she asked her husband to find her some shelter.
The husband went searching for material for a
shelter and set about to chop down some saplings. A poisonous snake bit him at
that moment and he fell dead instantly. Patacara waited for him in vain and
after having suffered birth pains, a second son was born to her. Both children
screamed at the top of their lungs because of the buffeting of the storm, so
the mother protected them with her own body all night long. In the morning she
placed the new-born baby on her hip, gave a finger to the older child and set
out upon the path her husband had taken with the words: “Come, dear child,
your father has left us.” After a few steps she found her husband lying
dead, his body rigid. She wailed and lamented and blamed herself for his death.
She continued on her journey to her parents’
house but when she came to the river Aciravati, it was swollen waist-deep on
account of the rain. She was too weak to wade across with both children, so she
left the older child on the near bank and carried the baby across to the other
side. Then she returned to take the first-born across. When she was mid-stream,
an eagle saw the new born baby and mistook it for a piece of meat. It came
swooping down and in spite of Patacara’s cries and screams, flew off with the
baby in its talons.
The older boy saw his mother stop in the
middle of the river and heard her loud yells. He thought she was calling him
and started out after her. Immediately, he was swept off by the strong current.
Wailing and lamenting Patacara went on her
way, half-crazed by the triple tragedy that had befallen her, losing husband
and both sons within one day. As she came nearer to Savatthi, she met a
traveler who was just coming from the city. She inquired about her family from
him but at first he refused to answer her. When she insisted, he finally bad to
tell her that her parents, house had collapsed in the storm, killing both of
them as well as her brother, and that the cremation was just taking place.
When she heard that, her reason left her,
because her grief was too much to bear. She tore off her clothes, wandered
around weeping and wailing, not knowing what she was doing or where she was
going. People pelted her with stones and rubbish and chased her out of the way.
At that time the Buddha was staying at the
Jeta Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery. He saw Patacara approaching from afar
and recognized that in a past life she had made an earnest resolve to become a
nun well versed in the Law. Therefore, he instructed his disciples not to
obstruct her, but to let her enter and come near him. As soon as she was close
to the Buddha, through his supernatural powers, she regained her right mind.
Then she also became aware of being naked and in her shame she crouched upon
One of the lay-followers threw her a cloak and
after she had wrapped herself in it, she prostrated at the feet of the Buddha.
Then she recounted to him the tragedy that had befallen her.
The Teacher listened to her with compassion
and then made it clear to her that these painful experiences she had gone
through were only tiny drops in the ocean of impermanence in which all beings
drown if they are attached to that which rises and ceases. He told her that all
through many existences, she had wept more tears over the loss of dear ones
than could be contained in the waters of the four oceans. He said:
little water do the oceans four contain,
Compared with all the tears that man hath shed,
By sorrow smitten and by suffering distraught.
Woman, why heedless dost thou still remain?
This exposition of the Awakened One penetrated
her mind so deeply that at that moment she could completely grasp the
impermanence of all conditioned things.
When the Enlightened One had finished his
teaching she had attained the certainty of future liberation by becoming a
stream-winner. She practiced diligently and soon realized final deliverance.
With plows the fields are plowed;
With seed the earth is sown;
Thus wives and children feed;
So young men win their wealth.
Then why do I, of virtue pure,
Doing the Master’s Teaching,
Not lazy nor proud,
Nibbana not attain?
Having washed my feet,
Then I watched that water,
Noticing the foot-water
Flowing from high to low.
With that the mind was calmed
Just as a noble, thoroughbred horse.
Having taken my lamp,
I went into my hut,
Inspected the sleeping-place,
Then sat upon the couch.
Having taken a pin,
I pushed the wick right down, and
Just as the lamp went out,
So all delusion of the heart went too.
— Thig 112-116
It had been enough for her to see the water
trickle down the slope, to recognize the whole of existence, each life a longer
or shorter trickle in the flood of craving. There were those that lived a short
time like her children, those — like her husband — who lived a little longer,
or her parents who lived longer yet. But all passed by a constant change, in a
never-ending rising and ceasing. This thought-process gave her so much
detachment, that she attained to total emancipation the following night.
The Buddha said about Patacara, that she was
the foremost “Keeper of the Vinaya” amongst the Nuns. Patacara was
thereby the female counterpart of the monk Upali. That she had chosen the
“Rules of Conduct” as her central discipline is easy to understand, because
the results of her former indulgences had become bitterly obvious to her.
She learned in the Sangha, that an intensive
study of the rules was necessary and purifying, and brought with it the
security and safety of self-discipline; she learned not to become complacent through
well-being or anxious and confused through suffering. Because of her own
experiences she had gained a deep understanding for the human predicament and
could be of great assistance to her fellow nuns.
She was a great comfort to those who came to
her in difficulties. The nun Canda said that Patacara showed her the right path
out of compassion and helped her to achieve emancipation. (Thag. 125)
Another nun, Uttara II, reported how Patacara
spoke to the group of nuns about conduct and discipline:
Having established mind,
As other, not as self.
— Thig 177
Uttara took Patacara’s words to heart and
When I heard these words —
After washing my feet —
I sat down alone.
— Thig 178
Thereby this nun, too, was able to attain to
the three “True Knowledges” (vijja) and final liberation. In
the “Verses of the Elder Nuns” we have a record of Patacara’s
instructions to the nuns and their resultant gains:
Having taken flails,
Young men thresh the corn.
Thus wives and children feed;
So young men win their wealth.
So likewise as to Buddha’s Teachings,
From doing which there’s no remorse.
Quickly cleanse your feet
And sit you down alone.
Devote yourselves to calm of mind,
And thus do Buddha’s Teachings.
When they heard these words —
Having washed their feet,
They sat down, each one alone,
Devoted themselves to calm of mind.
And thus followed the Buddha’s Teachings.
In the night’s first watch [*]
Past births were remembered;
In the middle watch of the night
The eye divine was purified;
In the night’s last watch
They rent asunder the mass of gloom.
Having risen, they bowed at her feet,
Her instructions having done;
We shall live revering you
Like the thirty gods to Indra,
Undefeated in war.
We are with triple knowledge true
And gone are all the taints.
— Thig 117-121
* [First watch of the night: 6-10 p.m; Middle
watch: 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; Last watch: 2-6 a.m.]
Patacara was able to effect the change from a
frivolous young girl to a Sangha Elder so quickly, because from previous births
she had already possessed this faculty. During the previous Buddha’s existence,
it is said that she had been a nun and had lived the holy life for many, many
years. The insights gained thereby had been hidden through her actions in
subsequent lives. But when the next Buddha appeared in the world, she quickly
found her way to him, the reason unbeknown to herself, spurred on by her
suffering. Relentlessly attracted to the Awakened One and his doctrine, she
entered into the homeless life and soon attained to eternal freedom.
A1,24; Thig 112-121,125,175,178; Ap. 11 No.20; J 547
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Now, Mayawati expresses possibility of mid-term elections, asks party
workers to be ready
LUCKNOW: BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday asked party workers to be ready
for the mid-term Lok Sabha elections, possibilities of which have
increased in the wake of changed political scenario of the country
after recent elections in five states, including UP.
Apprehending large scale violence against BSP supporters in the SP
regime, she also announced that the BSP will not contest any elections
in UP, including forthcoming urban local bodies polls, which are
conducted by the state machinery. She said that her party will
participate in only those elections which are conducted by the
Election Commission of India under Central security forces because
past experience show that elections conducted by state machinery under
SP rule have never been free and fair.
BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal have already expressed possibilities of
mid-term poll. Similar possibilities were also expressed by the
Trinmool Congress leader and union railway minister Dinesh Trivedi but
he later took a U-turn and denied that his party wants early Lok Sabha
Addressing All India Workers Convention, Mayawati said that the BSP
has lost assembly polls in UP but has got impressive vote share and
with little ground work can score big in the parliamentary elections.
She said that the difference between BSP and SP in assembly elections
was of only 24.50 lakh votes but it made SP win 144 more seats than
BSP. She also dissolved all party units at the district and assembly
levels and brotherhood committees formed to bring other castes and
communities close to BSP and blamed party coordinators for not
providing correct feedback of the ground situation which led to
Mayawati said that she would now personally supervise the overhauling
of party organisation and preparation for the parliamentary elections.
Mayawati also criticised both SP and Congress.
“Under Congress led UPA government, the country has only seen the rise
in corruption and prices,” she said.
She also said that the law and order is bound to collapse under SP
rule, the glimpse of which has been seen in the form of spurt in cases
of violence in the state from the day SP won the assembly elections.
“The goonda raj is back and in most of the violent cases witnessed so
far, BSP voters and leaders have been were targeted by the SP goons,”
she alleged. Under such circumstances, she claimed, contesting local
bodies elections would put life and property of the BSP supporters
under threat because SP, which has never performed well in civic
polls, this time would go to any extent to show that its base has
Interestingly, the BSP has not been contesting local bodies poll in UP
since 2002 because it does not have base in urban areas. Another
reason was that the local bodies elections were held just before the
assembly polls. Hence, a defeat in the local bodies polls would have
put an adverse impact on the assembly elections.
This time also, the local bodies elections were due in November 2011
but the then BSP government created a situation leading to
postponement of elections till April. Though the state election
commission had announced that it was ready to hold elections on time,
the BSP government delayed the process by taking plea that reservation
and delimitation of wards under urban local bodies is not complete
because of absence of adequate population data.
On BSP’s defeat in the assembly elections, Mayawati said the Congress
communalised the elections on the issue of Muslim quota and added that
the BJP tried to take advantage of the situation by trying to polarise
votes of religious lines.
Apprehending that polarisation of upper castes and backward classes
among Hindus may bring the BJP to power, she said over 70% Muslims
voted for SP.
Mayawati sticks to sarvjan policy, may go to RS
LUCKNOW: Mayawati will continue with her “sarvjan” policy, despite
assembly election drubbing. She seems to have decided to fight the
Rajya Sabha polls and focus on national politics, at least till the
next LS election. This emerged on Wednesday at a meeting of party
leaders in which the former UP CM distributed responsibilities of
leading the party in the state equally among Muslim, brahmin, SC/ST
and backward class leaders.
The election for the Upper House of Parliament will take place later this month.
Mayawati’s decision not to head the party’s legislative council has
indicated that she would move to RS, sources said on Saturday. In
2003, after losing power to the SP in the state, Mayawati had moved to
national politics by getting herself nominated to the RS.
The BSP won 80 seats in the just-concluded assembly elections, hence
the party can send only two members to the Upper House. The name of
Mayawati’s close aide and cabinet secretary in her government is also
doing the rounds for the RS nomination.
Mayawati decided to continue with her ‘Sarvjan’ policy and distributed
party responsibilities equally among Muslim, Brahmin, SC/ST and
backward class leaders at a BSP meeting here on Saturday.
BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya, who won from Padrauna in
Kushinagar, was elected leader of the party’s legislature group.
Maurya will also be the leader of opposition in the assembly as BSP
emerged as the second largest party.
Naseemuddin Siddiqui was made leader of the party’s legislative
council. Gurucharan Dinkar, who won from Naraeni of Banda, was made
deputy leader of the BSP Legislature Group. Former energy minister in
the Mayawati government Ramveer Upadhaya will be party’s chief whip in
the assembly, while another former minister Vedram Bhati will take the
responsibility of the whip.
This time, Mishra’s close aide and lawyer Gopal Narayan
Mishra was made deputy leader in the Legislative Council. Sunil Kumar
Chittod will be chief whip while Vinay Shakya the whip. Former
minister Indrajeet Saroj, who won from Manjhanpur in Kaushambi, was
made treasurer of the state legislative party.
Mayawati told party leaders not to be disappointed with the assembly
election results and continue to work for BSP. She asked her MLAs to
raise their voices at a proper forum and maintain law and order
Maya in mellow avatar
Uttar Pradesh’s Iron Lady does, after all, have a softer side to her.
Ms Mayawati invited all the bureaucrats in her secretariat for tea.
Over tea and savouries, she thanked them for helping her run the state
smoothly for five years and appreciated how they had worked beyond
office hours and had carried out her instructions. For each one, she
had a word of praise or appreciation. Even the junior staff,
comprising clerks and peons, was called in and thanked for their
services. The gesture, we believe, has touched the staff greatly.
Three BSP MLAs give support to
Congress in Uttarakhand
“On the direction of Mayawati, our party has decided
to give full support to Congress,” state BSP President Surajmal said.
Congress with 32 MLAs in the 70-member House enjoys
support of three Independents and a lone UKD member to reach the magic mark of
The party has already staked claimed to form government
and Governor Margaret Alva said she would invite Congress once it elects a new
Surajmal said his party would like to join the new
government. “We will like to share power with Congress,” he said.
Don’t give, teach us how to fish
A review of the data reveals that BSP lost 10 seats by less than
1,000 votes, 11 seats by 1,000-2,000 votes and four by 2,000-3,000 votes; going
by the political thumb rule, less than 3,000 votes is considered a narrow
In the euphoria of the dramatic
win of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the margin of which was unprecedented, in the
election to the Uttar Pradesh state assembly, it would be extremely contrarian
to suggest that it was not so one-sided. But then, that is what the facts tell
It is true that SP won a record 224 seats and so is the fact that
the incumbent Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ended up with 80 seats (compared with
206 in the 2007 assembly election). But, it is also true, and something that
has missed the headlines, that BSP ended up second in 211 seats. In contrast,
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came second in 55 seats and the Congress party
in 31 seats—effectively third and fourth in the assembly election; both
national parties were in serious contention in less than 100 seats each.
In contrast, BSP clearly emerges
as the party to beat. Taking its second place standing, it is clear that BSP
was in contention in about 300 seats. A review of the data reveals that BSP
lost 10 seats by less than 1,000 votes, 11 seats by 1,000-2,000 votes and four
by 2,000-3,000 votes; going by the political thumb rule, less than 3,000 votes
is considered a narrow margin.
This nugget of information
reveals a lot. First, BSP was not, despite the strong anti-incumbency mood, a
pushover. Second, and more importantly, the core Dalit vote of BSP has largely,
despite a sustained effort by the Congress party, remained loyal to Mayawati.
Since the Dalit community is spread out across the state, it provides a very
enviable electoral foundation for BSP. What has probably happened is that BSP
lost out on the increment votes that had accrued to it in 2007 when it forged
the rainbow coalition of castes by roping in the upper castes and sections of
the Muslim community. Finally, the trend, which endured in the 2007 assembly
election too, indicates that UP has veered around to a two-party race, leaving
Congress and BJP as fringe players.
Clearly, identity politics has
worked for BSP.
However, what has also come
through in this election is that the other arm of identity politics—religion—has
weakened. The Muslims, who account for a little less than a fifth of the
population of the state, have tended to vote tactically to defeat the BJP. This
time, for a combination of reasons, this has not necessarily played out. It was
partly due to the aspiration factor taking root—anecdotally apparent in the
spurt in the number of first-generation Muslim students. Also, the BJP
conducted a very under-the-radar campaign (in fact, a colleague who mapped the
campaign observed that the party was almost invisible at the ground level).
With BJP not playing up its aggressive Hindutva card, the fear of militant
Hinduism has receded. As a result, the Muslim vote was most likely cast on
winnability—where they saw SP as a clear winner.
Congress clearly misread the mood. While SP chose to address aspirations
through the promise of laptops—seen as the next tool of empowerment, where
earlier it was through affirmative action in government jobs—the Congress, in
its wisdom, chose to dwell on identity defined through religion. The party
promised reservations for Muslims and made a big deal about tokenism—all of
this of course premised on the fact that the Muslims, going by tradition, would
vote en bloc. This is exactly where it erred. Not only did the Congress end up
not rallying the Muslim vote, but may have actually ended up alienating some
Muslims through this presumptuous view of the community.
To sum up then, it is clear that
BSP was not a walkover, unlike what the final outcome would suggest. At the
same time, the paradigm shift—don’t give us fish, teach us how to fish—in the
Muslim vote suggests that in Uttar Pradesh the business of identity politics
may have peaked. Will the glue of caste politics be able to resist aspirations?
• • •
12 03 2012 LESSON 548 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through
http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org The Dhammapada Verses and Stories Dhammapada Verses 98
Khadiravaniyarevatatthera Vatthu Dwelling Of The Unblemished Is Alluring
THE BUDDHIST ON LINE GOOD NEWS
Practice a Sutta a Day Keeps
Verse 98. Dwelling Of The Unblemished Is Alluring
Whether in town or woods,
whether in vale, on hill,
wherever dwell the Arahats
so pleasing there the earth.
Explanation: Whether in the village, in the
forest, in a valley or in the plain, wherever arahats - noble saints - dwell,
that place is alluring in the extreme.
Sacred Statues in the Museum of
Chiang Mai, North Thailand
The standing Buddha in Myanmar is associated
with travelling and with leaving a footprint for followers. His right hand
makes the mudra that symbolizes peace, protection, and the dispelling of fear
and his left hand makes the mudra that symbolizes generosity and accomplishing
the benefit of others.
Metal casts of Lord Buddha’s
worshipped in a temple &
exhibited in the museum in Chiang
Mai, North Thailand
Shin Arahan converted the King
of Pagan, who unified Upper & Lower Burma
Dhammapada Verse 98
Game va yadi varanne
ninne va yadi va thale
yattha arahanto viharanti
Verse 98: In a village or in a forest, in a
valley or on a hill, wherever arahats dwell, that place is delightful.
The Story of Thera Revata
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the
Buddha uttered Verse (98) of this book, with reference to Thera Revata of the
Acacia (khadira) Forest.
Revata was the youngest brother of the Chief
Disciple, Sariputta. He was the only one of the brothers and sisters of
Sariputta who had not left home for the homeless life. His parents were very
anxious to get him married. Revata was only seven years old when his parents
arranged a marriage for him to a young girl. At the wedding reception, he met an
old lady who was one hundred and twenty years old, and he realized that all
beings are subject to ageing and decay. So, he ran away from the house and went
straight to a monastery, where there were thirty bhikkhus. Those bhikkhus had
been requested earlier by Thera Sariputta to make his brother a samanera if he
should come to them. Accordingly, he was made a samanera and Thera Sariputta
was informed about it.
Samanera Revata took a subject of meditation
from those bhikkhus and left for an acacia forest, thirty yojanas away from the
monastery. At the end of the vassa, the samanera attained arahatship. Thera
Sariputta then asked permission from the Buddha to visit his brother, but the
Buddha replied that he himself would go there. So the Buddha accompanied by
Thera Sariputta, Thera Sivali and five hundred other bhikkhus set out to visit
The journey was long, the road was rough and
the area was uninhabited by people; but the devas looked to all the needs of
the Buddha and the bhikkhus on the way. At an interval of every yojana, a
monastery and food were provided, and they travelled at the rate of a yojana a
day. Revata, learning about the visit of the Buddha, also made arrangements to
welcome him. By supernormal power he created a special monastery for the Buddha
and five hundred monasteries for the other bhikkhus, and made them comfortable
throughout their stay there.
On their return journey, they travelled at the
same rate as before, and came to the Pubbarama monastery on the eastern end of
Savatthi at the end of the month. From there, they went to the house of
Visakha, who offered them alms-food. After the meal, Visakha asked the Buddha
if the place of Revata in the acacia forest was pleasant.
And the Buddha answered in verse as follows:
Verse 98: In a village or in a forest, in a valley or on a
At the end of the discourse, all those bhikkhus attained
Buddhism In TamilNadu
The present day Tamil Nadu, the
land of the Tamils, was formed in November 1956 consequent upon the
reorganisation of the Indian States on linguistic basis in the light of the
recommendations of the States Reorganisation Commission. Its capital is Madras,
and in area Tamil Nadu is 1,30,069 sq. kms.
(1) Royal Patronage
The first royal patron of
Buddhism in the Tamil land was no doubt Asoka the Great. He built stupas at
Kanchi in the third century BC. According to the Tamil classic, Manimekhalai,
king Killivalan built a Buddha Vihara at Kanchi, The king is also said to have
dedicated a park to the Buddhist Sangha in which a shrine containing an imprint
of the Buddha’s feet was also created. The first Pallava king, Skandavarman,
who flourished towards the close of the third century AD, also helped the cause
of Buddhism. He had a son, Buddhavarman, who is mentioned as Yuvaraj in a grant
issued by his queen, Charudevi, perhaps a Buddhist. His other son was
The history of Tamil Nadu,
after Skandavarman till the sixth century is rather obscure. In the Tamil
literature, this period is called as one of the darkest period of history, and
the modern scholars often refer to this period as ‘the Kalabhra Interregnum’.
Not only that, the Kalabhras, who seem to have come to power in the Kanchipuram
area, the TondaimandaJam, as it was then called, are called ‘barbarians’ and
‘enemies’ of civilization’. About this Period, K.A. Nilakanta Sastri says:
“A long historical night
ensues after the close of the Sangam age. We knew little of the period of more
than three centuries that followed. When the curtain rises again towards the
close of the sixth century AD., we find a mysterious and ubiquitous enemy of civilization,
the evil rulers called Kalabhras (Kalappalar), have come and upset the
established political order which was restored only by their defeat at the
hands of the Pandyas and Pallavas as well as the Chalukyas of Badami.”
The identification of the Kalabhras
is a big question mark on the South Indian History. It is now generally agreed
that the Kalabhras originally hailed from the area around the modern Tirupati
in Andhra, and had migrated to Kanchi sometime in the third century AD. The
Tirupati hills were also known earlier as Pullikunram or the hill of the
Chieftain Pulli. The Sangam Age literature refers to Pulli, the chief of the
Kalavartribes in the Venkata or Vengadam hills. “The name of the hill was
Vengadam. . Milmulanur, the most important and perhaps the oldest poet, has
seven poems referring to Vengadam. He refers to Vengadam as belonging to Pulli,
the Chieftain of Kalavar, and notes that Vengadam was famous for its festivals.
In another poem he refers undoubtedly ta Tirupati as Pullikunran, the Hill of
Chieftain PulIi. Another poem says these Pullis were liberal in gifts.
The Pullis have been identified
with the Kalavaras or the kalabhras, who appeared to have migrated under
political compulsions from their native place to Kanchi where they made fortune
having established their rule there. According to Dr. S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar,
“The tightening of the hold of the Pallavas even as viceroys of the
Andhras by a pressure applied both from the north and west must have dislodged
these people from the locality of their denzienship, and set forward their
migration which ultimately overturned the Tondaimandalam first, Cholamandalam
next and a considerable part of the pandimandalam after that the Kalabhras then
were the Kalavar of the region immediately north of Tondaimandala who being
dislodged by the pressure of the Andhras penetrated the Tondaimandalam itself,
moved southwards till .. they produced the interregnum referred to in the
Velvikkudi plates in the Pandhya country
It the identification of the
Kalabhras, R. Sathianata Aiyer says “The identification of the Kalabhras
is very difficult problem of South Indian History. They have been identified,
with the line of Muttaraivar of Kondubalur (eighth to eleventh country). Others
regards them as Karnatas on the strength of a refrence in Tamil literature to
the rule of a Karnata king over Madura. A third view is that the Kalabhras were
Kalappalar, belonging to Vellala community and referred to in Tamil literature
and inscriptions. But the most satisfactory theory identifies the Kalabhras
with the Kalavar, and the chieftains of destribe mentioned in Sangam literature
are Tiraiyan of Pavattiri and Pulli of Vengadam or Tirupati. The latter is
described safe lifting robber chief of the frontier. The Kalavar must have
dislodged from their habitat near Tirupati by political of the third century
A.D., viz. the fall of the Satvahanas,in political confusion in Tondamandalam
in the following century. The Kalabhra invasion must have helmed the Pallavas,
the Cholas and the Pandyas.
In the Brahmanical literature,
the Kalabhras are “roundly as evil kings (kali-arasar) who uprooted many
and abrogated brahmadeya rights”. However, the modern researches have
shown that the Kalabhras were neither nor enemies of civilization but were a
very civilized people and in fact their reign saw the creation of excellent
Tamil mixture. The primary reason as to why they were ignored or by the
brahmins was because they were Buddhists. To the Nilakanta Sastri again from
some Buddhist books we of a certain Acchutavikkanta of the KaIabhrakula during
the region Buddhist monasteries and authors enjoyed much in the Chola country.
Late literary tradition in Tamil avers that he kept in confinement the three
Tamil kings “ the Chera, Chola and Pandya. Some songs about him are quoted by
Amitasagara, a Jain grammarian of Tamil of the tenth century A.D. Possibly
Accuta was himself a Buddhist, a political revolution which the kalabhras
effected was provoked by religious antagonism.”
The only Kalabhra king who is
known with a specific name is Accuta Vikranta. He is believed to have ruled
towards the close of the fifth century AD and the beginning of the sixth
century AD. Buddhadatta, a well-known Pali commentator who flourished in the
fifth century says in the Vinaya-viniccaya that “he wrote this work for
the sake of Buddhasiha while he was residing in the lovely monastery of
Venhudas (Vishnudas) in a city on the banks of the Kaveri, by name
Bhutamangalam and it was begun and completed at the time when Accuta Vikranta
of Kalabhra Kula was ruling over the earth.
The memory of Accuta Vikranta
lingered on for long among the Tamil Buddhists. In Yapparungalam, a Tamil work
of eleventh century AD, written by Amitasagarangar, the poet “prays to the
Buddha to grant Accuta with the long arms like the clouds in charity and with
the fighting spear so that he might wield his specture of authority over the
whole world”. From the testimony of Buddhadatta, who was contemporary of
Accuta Vikranta, and the praise showered upon the Kalabhra king by the poet in
Yapparungalam, it is evident that Acchuta Vikranta was a Buddhist and a liberal
patron of Buddhism
It is significant that during
the Kalabhra reign which lasted nearly 300 years, Buddhism was at its best in
and around Kanchi, ancient Tondaimandalam. And there flourished a number of
Buddhist saints and scholars, such as Nagaguttanar, author of Kundalakesi, (4th
century), Buddhadatta, the Pali commentator, (5th Century), Dinaga, the great
logician, (5th century), Dhammapala, another Pali commentator, (6th century),
and Bodhidharma, the great Dhyana teacher, (6th century). The association of
Buddhaghosha, the greatest Pali scholar and commentator, who was contempoary of
Buddhadatta, further confirms the ascendency of Buddhism during the Kalabhra
Interregnum in the Tamil land.
Even the Tamil literature got a
boost during the Kalabhra reign and this period was marked by great literary
activity. Nilakanta Sastri observes: “This dark period marked by the
ascendency of Buddhism and probably also of Jainism, was characterized also by
great literary activity in Tamil. Most of the works grouped under the head The
Eighteen Minor Works were written during this period as also the
Silappadikaram, Manimekhalai and other works. Many of the authors were the
votaries of the ‘heretical’ sects.
The Kalabhras were ousted by
the Pallavas who rose to prominence again under Simhavishnu (575-600 AD) who
founded a new dynasty which ruled for nearly 300 years. During the region of
the Pallava king, Narasimhavarman II (c. 700-728 or 69s,.722), a Buddhist
Vihara was constructed at Nagapattam for the use of Chinese mariners who called
over there for purposes of trade. This monastery was known as the Chinese
monastery and was been by Marco Polo in 1292 AD.
During the reign of the Cholas
(850-1200 AD), there were 1st settlements at Nagapattam (Na!:apattinam) on the
cast and at Sri ulvasam in the west. Raja Raja I, (985-1014 AD), particular,
gave generous support to the Buddhist institutions. And even Buddhism was,
considered sufficiently important for some scenes from Buddha’s life to be
represented in decorative panels in a balustrade of the great temple at Tanjore
(Thanjavur) built by him. He also encouraged Sri Mara unagavarman, the
Sailendra ruler of Sri Vijaya) to build a Buddha Vihara at Nagapatam. This
Vihara is called Sri Cudamani Vihara after the father of the ruler of Sri.
Vijaya. Later, another Sri Vijaya king sent embassy in 1090 to the Chola King
Kolotlunga ! (1070-1122) to enquire about the affairs of the Buddha Vihara
which his ancestors had built at Nagapattam. Chola endowments to the Buddha
Vihara at Nagapattam have also been recorded in their copperplate.
Evidence of royal support to
Buddhism after the Chola period is Jacking, though the Buddha Viharas at
Nagapattam flourished till about the 17th century.
(II) Buddhist Saints And Scholars
The first Tamil Buddhist poet was
IIambodhiyar who flourished during the last Sangam period of Tamil literature
(1st-2nd century AD). Iambodhiyar’s very name indicates that he was a Buddhist.
Since the Buddhists worshipped the Bodhi Tree, the Shaiva and Jaina Tamil works
often refer to Buddhists as “bodhiyar” or worshippers of Bodhi tree.
Several of Iambodhiyar are found in a work called Nattrinai or Narrinai
composed during the last Sangam period
The most famous Buddhist poet
in the Tamil land was Sittalai Sattanar, the author of the celebrated Tamil
epic Manimekhalai. Sattanar was a grain merchant of Madura (Madurai) and lived
in the second century AD. The Manimekhalai appears to have been composed by him
with a view to propagating the Buddha - Dhamma but its setting is historical.
Another great Tamil epic, the Silappadikaram (The Book of the Anklet), written
by lIango-Adigal, a jaina ascetic and brother of the Chera monarch,
Senguttuvan, deals with the tragic story of Kovalan, a rich merchant of
Kaveripattinam or Puhar who neglecting his wife, Kannaki, fell in love with
Madhavi, a dancing girl. Later, having realized his foIly, Kovalan returned to
his wife. Then both set out for Madura where Kovalan wanted to start life
afresh by pursuing trade. And when he went out to sell one of his wife’s gold
anklet, he was falsely accused of theft of queen’s anklet, and was executed by
the king without any investigation.
On hearing the news of the
death of Kovalan, Madhavi became disgusted with life. She, alongwith her
daughter, Manimekhalai, Sought solace from a Buddhist monk, who consoled in her
grief preaching the true Dhamma, The young Manimekhalai was so much impressed
by the teaching of love and compassion of the Buddha that she became a Buddhist
nun, Bhikkhuni. While narrating the story of Manimekhalai, Sattanar shows the
superiority of Buddhist doctrine evaluating it against the contemporary Hindu
and Jaina thought. Manimekhalai is a lasting monument to his scholarship,
encylopaedic knowledge, and excellence as a Tamil poet.
Several verses from other poems
of Sittalai Sattanar ate found in other works, such as, Nattrinai, Kurunthokai,
Purananuru and Ahananuru
Aravana Adigal was the first
Tamilian Buddhist monk who engaged himself in propagating the Dhamma in the
ancient Chera, Chola and Pandyan kingdoms of South India. He lived in the
second century AD, and was the head of a flourishing Buddhist monastery at
Kaveripattinam, also known as Puhar, This illustrious monk was the preceptor of
Manimekhalai, whose life story has been told told by Sittalai Sattanar, in the
classic Tamil epic, entitled ‘ManimekhaIai’, When Kaveripattinam was ravaged by
a ideal wave, Aravana Adigal went to Vanchi or Vanji, the Chera capitaI, where
he stayed for a short while before moving on to Manimekhalai, who had earlier
embraced Buddhism and the Sangha, the Order of the Buddhist nuns, also followed
in the footsteps of his preceptor, and came to live at kanchi. What was the
righteous path of the Dhamma expounded by Aravana Adigal has been summed up by
the poet in Book XXX of Manimekhalai. The saint begins with the Four Noble
Truths and then goes on to explain the essence of twelve Nidanas, (Dependent
Origination) and finally exhorts Manimekalai in these words:
Realizing that friendliness,
compassion and joy (at the well-being of others) constitute the best attitude
of mind, give up anger. By the practice of hearing (sruti), mentation
(cintana), experiencing in mind (bhavana) and realizing in vision (darsana)
reflect, realize give up all illusion. In these four ways get rid of the
darkness of mind.”
The daughter of Madhavi from
Kovalan, Manimekhalai, is the heroine of the famous Tamil epic, named after
her, and Written by Sittalai Sattanar. When Kovalan was executed on a false
accusation by the king of Madura (Madurai), Madhavi became disgusted with the
life, and sought solace in her-grief from Aravana Adigal, a Buddhist monk, who
was head of a Buddhist monastery at kaveripattinam (Puhar). On hearing the
excellent Dhamma, both mother and daughter became Buddhists. The young and
pretty Manimekhalai, who was already feeling disenchanted by the life of dance
and music, was immediately drawn to the sublime teachings of the Buddha and
decided to adopt the life of a Buddhist nun. Soon thereafter, she went on
pilgrimage to SriLanka and worshipped at the Buddha’s footprint at the Nagadipa
shrine on an island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. There a deity gave her
a miraculous, bowl from which she could feed any number of people without the
Supply of food becoming exhausted . On return to Kaveripattinam, Manimekalai
gave alms daily to the poor in a public hall. Later, Manimekhalai was
Implicated in a murder case on a false charge and imprisoned. When, however,
true facts came to light, she was freed, and the Chola queen, who had
manipulated her imprisonment begged her pardon.
Realizing that it was no longer
safe for her to live in Kaveripaitinam. Manimekhalai went on a pilgrimage to
Java. On return from this pilgrimage, she went to Vanchi, the Chera capital,
and further studied the Dhamma. Finally, she came to Kanchi where in the
meanwhile Aravana Adigal, her preceptor, had permanently settled. Thereafter,
she lived the holy life of a Buddhist nun in a Vihara specifically built for
her at Kanchi, and spent her life in meditation and service to humanity. The
present day Darupadiamman kovil is said to be on the site of the Manimekhalai
Nagaguttanar, who lived in the
fourth century AD, was, another Buddhist poet of eminence. He was the author of
Kundalakesi, one of the five famous kavyas in Tamil language. The story of
kundalakesi in this work is based on the biography of the Dhikkhuni Kundalakesi
found in the commentary on the Therigatha as well as in the Dhammapada
commentary. While narrating the story, the author had made an effort to refute
the judic and Jaina dectrines. Kundalakesi was originally a Jain nun, who was
fond of challenging anybody to refute her views. Duriputta, the chief disciple
of the Buddha, took up the challenge defeated her in a debate. Consequently,
Kundalakesi, need Jainism and embraced Buddhism. The author of the Tamil poem
depicts the Buddhist nun Kundalakesi championing because of Buddhism,
Kundalakesi is now lost, But the Jaina Nilakesi, written in response to
Kundalakesi, is still extant, at the Jain work contains references to
Kundalakesi. A commentary on the Nilakesi also refers to the story of
The first Pali scholar of Tamil
Nadu was Buddhadatta. He was at Uragapura, modem Uraiyur, in the fifth century
AD. He called Pali and Buddhism at the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka.
Buddhadatta was contemporary of the great Pali and commentator, Buddhaghosha.
It is said that when Buddhadatta was returning to India after completing his
studies, beat crossed another boat carrying Buddhaghosha to Sri Lanka. As they
met, they introduced themselves and exchanged countries. On knowing
Buddhaghosha’s plans, Buddhadatta was departing requested Buddhaghosha to send
copies of the commentaries, as and when compiled, to him in India. Buddhaghusha
appears to have done this.
To return from Sri Lanka,
Buddhadatta resided in a Vihara by a Buddhist minister named Krishnadasa,
Nagapattanam. While staying here, he wrote Madhurattha Vilasini (Commentary on
the Buddhavamsa). He wrote another famous work Abhidhammavatara (Summary of
Buddhaghosha’s commentaries on the Abhidhammapitaka) at the request of a
bhikkhu named Sumati. His another important work is Vinaya Vinicchaya (Summary
of the Buddhaghosha’s commentaries on the Vinaya-Pitaka). In a colophone at the
end of this Work, Buddhadatta says that “he wrote this work for the sake
of Buddhasiha while he was residing in the lovely monastery of Vehnudasa (Vishnudasa)
in a city on the banks of the river Kaveri, by name Bhutamangalam, and it was
begun and completed at the time when Accutata Vikranta of Kalabhra Kula was
ruling over the earth.
Another work attributed to
Buddhadatta is the Ultara Vinicchya which he is said to have written while he
was residing at Anuradhapura.
The greatest Pali scholar and
commentator was Buddhaghosha who flourished in the fifth century AD. According
to Mahavamsa , a chronicle of Sri Lanka, where Buddhaghosha accomplished his
literary pursuits, he was born in the vicinity of Bodh Gaya. Another tradition
is that he hailed from South India. K.R. Srinivasan contends that Buddhaghosha
was born at Morandakhetaka which he identifies with Moranam near Kanchi.
By the time Buddhaghosha came
on the scene Pali Buddhism had lost lustre in India. More and more scholars
were turning to Sanskrit. But the Bodh Gaya monks stood firm in their
allegiance, to Pali. Under their guidance, Buddhaghosha studied Buddhist
Philosophy diligently. He also compiled a treatise on Buddhism ‘Nanodaya’. He
also planned to compose commentaries on Abhidhamma and the Suttas. On knowing
his intention, his teacher, Mana Thera Revata advised Buddhaghosha to go to Sri
Thus encouraged and inspired,
Buddhaghosha went to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Mahanama (410-432) AD
and reached the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. While staying in the Mahavihara,
Buddhaghosha made a thorough study of the inhalese commentaries. He also heard
the tradition of the elders him. Thera Sanghapala. Convinced of their
usefulness, he then sought permission of the bhikkhu-Sangha of the Mahavihara
to translate the commentaries from Sinhalese to Pali. In order to test is
knowledge and his capabilities, the learned Theras asked Buddhaghosha to
comment on a Pali stanza. In response to this, buddhaghosha compiled a
compendium of the whole of the tripitaka, and named it Visuddhimagga or
“The Path of purification.”. Highly pleased with his performance, the
bhikkhus of the Mahavihara gave all the facilities to Buddhaghosha and placed
all the Sinhalese commentaries at the disposal.
Besides the Visuddhimagga,
Buddhaghosha wrote commentaries on the Vinaya-Pitaka, Patimokha, Digha-Nikaya,
hima-Nikaya, Anguttara-Nikaya, Khuddaka-Patha. The commentaries on the
Dhammapala and the Jataka are also described to Buddhaghosha. The voluminous
literature produced by Buddhaghosha exists to this day and is the basis for the
explanation of many crucial points of Buddhist philosophy which without them
would have been unintelligible.” The commentaries and the Visuddhimagga of
Buddhaghosha are not only a great achievement in post-Tripitaka literature but
they are be a key to the Tripitaka.
Buddhaghosha may or may not
have been born in Tamil Nadu but the - fact remains that he resided for some
time at Kanchi and some of the commentaries while staying there. ln the pohon
to the commentary on the Anguttara Nikaya, Manorathapurani, Buddhaghosha says
that at the time of impling the work he lived at Kanchipura with his friend
Mikkhu Jotipala, Again in the commentary on the Majjhima, Papancasudani, he
says that when he was formerly being at Mayrrapattanam ( the present day
Mayavaram), with the Buddhamitta, he was invited to write this. Buddhaghosha
and also visited Nagapattanam, the poor city, from where he had worked for Sri
Another Pali scholar produced
by Tamil Nadu was Dhammapala. He lived in the sixth century AD, and was a
native of the city of Tanja, which has been identified with Tanjore (Tanjavur).
According to Hiuen Tsang, Dhammapala was born at kanchipuram. Dhammapala also
stayed for some time at Nagapattam in the Dharmasoka Vihara. In the
Nettipakarna commentary, Dhammapala says that “he wrote this commentary
while he was residing at the monastery built by King Asoka at Nagapattam which
is like unto a port for embarking on the ocean of the Dhamma”.
Most probably, Dhammapala had
studied at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka as he mentions in his works the Atthukatha
of the Mahavihara of Anuradhapura. Further, he not only refers to the
commentaries of Buddhaghosha but also follows aImost his style. Dhammapala
wrote seven commentaries on such books of the Khuddaka-Nikaya, which had not
been covered by Buddhaghosha. His famous work the Parmattha-dipani, is an
exposition of the Khuddaka-Nikaya covering mainly Udana, Itivuttku,
Vimanavatthu, Peta-Vatthu, Thera-gatha, Theri-gatha, and Cariya-Pitaka. The
other commentaries attributed to Dhammapala are: Parmatta-manjusas (Commentary
on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga), and Netti - Pakarnassa Attha Samvannana
(Commentary on Netti, a postÂ canonical work).
Another work attributed to
Buddhadatta is the Ultara Vinicchya which he is said to have written while he
was residing at Anuradhapura.
A mighty Buddhist intellectual of
the early fifth century AD was Dinnaga or Dignaga. He was the founder of the
Buddhist logic, and is often referred to as the Father of the medieval Nyaya an
Dinnaga was born around 450 AD at
Simhavaktra, a suburb of kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. After completing his
studies, while quite young, Dinnaga became a Buddhist monk and joined the
Vatsiputriya school. It is said that one day, Nagadatta, his preceptor, asked
Dinnaga to meditate over the principle of the (Atman) which from the stand
point of the Vatsiputriyas was expressible and was neither identical with the
groups of dements (Skandhas), nor differing from them. When Dinnaga expressed
some scepticism about the existence of Ego, he was spelled from the community
by his teacher. After meeting similar failure and experiencing dissatisfaction
with some other teachers, Dinnaga finally came to Vasubandhu. Under Vasubandhu,
Dinnaga studied all aspects of the Buddhist philosophy and became well-versed
with all the texts of Buddhism. Thereafter, he began his literary career.
Dinnaga travelled all over India
holding religious contests with scholars. At Nalanda, he defeated a Brahmin
logician named durjaya in a religious discussion, In Orissa, Dinnaga is said to
be converted the royal treasurer, Bhadrapalita, who built in Dinnaga’s honour a
monastery. Generally, Dinnaga stayed in this monastery in the Bhorasila
mountain in Orissa. Often he also stayed in the Accra monastery in Maharashtra.
Dinnaga wrote about a hundred
treatises on logic, most of which are preserved in Chinese and Tibetan
translations. His most important works are Pramanasamuccaya ( The totality of
means of correct knowledge). Alambana- Pariksha ( The lamination of the Three
Times), Hetuchakradamru ( The wheel of capital Reasons), Nyaya-mukha, Hastavala
- prakarna, Arya naparmitavivarana, and Abhidharmakosha-MArma-Pradipa, a
commentary on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmokasa
Prior to Dinnaga all the Indian
schools of logic followed the epic of the realist Nyaya school. Dinnaga for the
first time produced new ideas in that logic, which then came to be recognized
as Buddhist logic.
An outstanding Indian
missionary who went to China was Buddhidharma, a seer of royal family of Kanchi
in Tamil Nadu. On seeing the Buddhist Sangha, he was initiated into Buddhism
by, a renowned teacher of the Dhyana or meditative form of Buddhism. After his
teachers death, he worked for few years to popularise the Dhyana teachings in
India. Later, he left for China in A.D. 526 for propagating his system of
Bodhidharma was cordially
welcomed by the emperor Wu-ti, who was a devout Buddhist, at his capital,
Nanking. Later, finding that the emperor was not able to appreciate his mystic
trend of philosophy, Bodhidharma left the capital, and went to the Shaolin
monastery, near Lo-yang, in north China.
It is said that Bodhidharma sat
at the Shao-Jin Temple doing pi-kuan, deeply absorbed in contemplation with
his face to the wall, without interacting with others for nine years. In
Chinese, pi means “wall” and kuan means “observation”. Thus
Bodhidharma to well-known for pi-kuan or “wall meditation” in China.
He lays stress on meditation by which alone, he said, “awakeness should be
attained”. The meditative school founded by Bodhidharma is known as Ch’an
Buddhism in China. The Ch’ an or Dhyana School teachers that we must discard
blind acceptance of scriptural authority. It also deprecates the worship of
images and priest craft. According to it, “Buddha is in the heart of man.
And Buddha-nature is always pure and bright, illuminating everywhere” The
mystic philosophy of Bodhidharma has exercised an abiding spiritual influence
among the Japanese Buddhists, where the Ch’an Buddhism become Zen Buddhism
(contemplative Buddhism) with certain modifications.
Dharmapala was the only South
Indian Buddhist savant who became the Vice-Chancellor of the world famous
Nalanda University, He was born at Kanchi in the seventh century AD. It is said
that when he was about to be married, he secretly went to a Buddhist monastery
and joined the Buddhist Sangha. Hiuen Tuang gives the traditional account of
Dharmapala’s initiation Buddhism as under: “The city of Kanchipura is the
native place of Dharmapala Bodhisattva. He was the eldest son of a great
minister of the country. From his childhood he exhibited much cleverness, and
as he grew up it increased and extended. Then he became a young man, the king
and queen condescended certain him at a (marriage) feast. On the evening of the
day heart was oppressed with sorrow, and being exceedingly decided, he placed
himself before a statue of Buddha and in earnest prayer (supplication). Moved
by his extreme, the spirits removed him to a distance, and there he hid
himself. After going many hundred Ii from this spot he came to a contain convent,
and sat down in the hall of Buddha. A priest opening to open the door, and
seeing this youth, was in doubt whether he was a robber or not. After
interrogating him on the , the Bodhisattva completely unbosomed himself and
told in the cause; moreover he asked permission to become a people. The priests
were much astonished at the wonderful and forthwith granted his request. The
king ordered to be made for him in every direction and at length finding in
that Bodhisattva had removed to a distance from the world, by the spirit (or,
spirits), then he redoubled his deep and admiration for him. From the time that
assumed the robes of a recluse, he applied himself unflagging earnestness to
learning. Concerning his brilliant we have spoken in the previous records.
Dharmapala travelled widely in
India. While at Kosambi, he in with the opponents of Buddhism displayed his
brilliant and encylopaedic knowledge tearing to shreds the of the Hindu
scholars. He became famous after his, and was selected to head the Nalanda
Mahavihara. He quite young at the age of 32. His pupil Silabhadra, succeeded
Vice-chancellor, under whom Hiuen Tsang studied Buddhism at Nalanda.
Dharmakirti, who lived in the
seventh century AD, was the great Buddhist logician. He was the son of
Korunanda of iaya in South India. In his childhood, Dharmakirti and the Vedas.
Later, he studied Buddhist philosophy at veda. While at Nalanda, Dharmakirti
joined the Buddhist. Order as a disciple of Dhannapala who was at that time the
Sanghasthavira (Chief) of the Nalanda Mahavihara, He studied logic from
Isvarsena, a direct pupil of Dinnaga, and made a thorough study of the
Pramanasamuccaya of Dinnaga. The date of Dharmakirti is not very clear, Some
scholars are of the view that he lived from circa AD 620-690.
Dharmakirti wrote seven
important works. These are,
6. Sambandhaparikasha, and
As in other cases, all the works of Dharmakirti were lost in India. For a long
time in modern India, nothing was known of Dharmakirti’s works except
Nyayabindu. Thanks are due to the Tibetan scholars who preserved his works,
Some in original Sanskrit and all in Tibetan translation. In modem times,
credit goes to Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan who made many hazardous trips to
Tibet and brought back to India some of the manuscript of Dharmakirti’s works
in Sanskrit and commentaries on them. Rahul Sankrityayana also edited
Dharmakirti’s monumental work Pramanavartika with three commentaries, as well
All the works of Dharmakirti
generally deal with the Buddhist theory of knowledge. Dharmakirti was a subtle
philosophical thinker and dialectician, and his writings mark the highest
summit reached in epistemological speculation by later Buddhism. Acknowledging
his unsurpassed genious, Dr.Stcherbatksy calls Dharmakirti, the Kant of India.
Apart from being a great
Buddhist logician and philosopher, Dharmakirti was also a great missionary. He
travelled throughout India and tried to re-establish, through philosophy, the
glory of Buddhism which was showing signs of decline.
Bodhiruchi, which literally
means “intelligence loving”, was orginally called Dharmaruchi. He
hailed from Tamil Nadu and to China in the seventh century AD duriag the days
of early ang dynasty. His original name Dharmaruchi was changed to Bodhiruchi.
By the orders of the empress Wu Tso- thien (AD - 705). In China, he studied
Buddhism under Yasaghosa, a Mahayana. There and became well - acquainted with
the entire Tripitaka within a period of only three years. Thereafter,
bodhiruchi devoted all his time and talents to the work of translating Sanskrit
works. During the period AD 693 - 713, he translated 53 works which ran into 111
volumes in Chinese. He is aid to have died in AD 727 when he was in his 156th
Vajrabodhi (661 - 730) was born
at Podiyakanda in the Pandiya country. Another view is that he was a native of
Kanchi. He called at Nalanda, and returned to his native place as a Mchayana
monk. He was contemporary of the Pallava king. Narasimhavarman II (c.700 - 728
AD). His missionary tours took him to Sri Lanka where he stayed for six months
at the bhayagiri Vihara. Later, along with his discipline Amoghavajra, went to
China for missionary work. He is said to have carried the text of
Mahaprajnaparamita with him to China.
How To Lead a Life
The spread of Buddhism in Germany
The Berlin Buddhist Vihâra (”Das
Buddhistisches Haus”) is now the most striking symbol of interaction
between the German and Sri Lankan cultures and a source of pride and
inspiration for people of both countries. It is the key centre in the dissemination,
learning and practice of Theravâda Buddhism in Germany and other continental
Of the many and varied figures who have left
their indelible mark in making Das Buddhistische Haus in Berlin – Frohnau, the
beacon for the propagation of Theravada Buddhism in Germany during the last
eighty four years, two outstanding figures rise high above the rest.
They are Dr. Paul Dahlke, founder of Das
Buddhistische Haus and one of the ‘ most efficient and able pens’ for the
Buddhist cause in Europe, and Asoka Weeraratna, founder of the German
Dharmaduta Society and indefatigable Buddhist missionary who pioneered the
establishment of the first Buddhist Vihara in continental Europe and the entry
of the Venerable members of the Maha Sangha to propagate Buddhism in Germany
and other European countries on a continuing footing. Both these figures
further contributed in their own distinctive ways in opening new vistas for the
strengthening of links between the people and the cultures of Germany and Sri
This article focuses briefly on the
contribution of Asoka Weeraratna to the propagation of Buddhism in Germany. He
is destined to be ranked in history as one of the notable figures of Sri
Lanka’s post-independence Buddhist resurgence. He will be remembered for three
monumental contributions that he made to the cause of Buddhism. They are:
1) The Founding of the German Dharmaduta
Society in 1952 (initially known as the Lanka Dhammaduta Society) with the
principal aim of propagating Buddhism in Germany and other Western countries,
2) The establishment of the Berlin Buddhist
Vihara in Germany ( in 1957 ) with resident monks, drawn mainly from Sri Lanka,
3) The founding of one of Sri Lanka’s finest
Buddhist Forest Monasteries i.e. The Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya ( Mitirigala
Forest Hermitage ) in 1967
All three achievements were substantial
undertakings that captured the imagination and spirit of the Buddhist public in
the 1950’s and 1960’s and made Asoka Weeraratna a household name.
Asoka Weeraratna was born on 12th December,
1918 as the youngest son of P.J.Weeraratna, the proprietor of a reputed
jewellery establishment in Galle. He was named Alfred by his parents who
followed the general trend in colonial Sri Lanka in naming their children after
members of the British Royalty. In his adult life he renounced the name Alfred
and adopted the name Asoka – an apt name for the Buddhist Dharmaduta work he
was to undertake later. He attended Mahinda College, Galle. (a leading Buddhist
School in South Sri Lanka).
Upon the death of his father, both Asoka and
his elder brother, Dharmasena became partners of the family business. In 1948
they re-located their business to Colombo. The business expanded rapidly after
they had diversified it to become importers and dealers in Swiss watches. Asoka
made a number of business trips to Europe in the 1950’s and imported a range of
well-known Swiss watches such as Paul Buhre, Boilat, Henry Sandoz, Roamer and
Enicar, and the German pen ‘ Reform ‘. In the late fifties, P.J.Weeraratna and
Sons became the largest importers of Swiss watches to Sri Lanka and a leading
business establishment in the country.
Though Asoka energetically developed the
family business as it was the source of his income, his main interest lay in
work associated with the dissemination of the Buddha Dhamma and strict
cultivation of the spiritual life through meditation and abstinence. In fact
the life he led, it could be said, was fashioned in response to two fundamental
questions that he would have asked himself, very early in his adult life:
a) What is the life worth leading?, and
b) How can one best serve the Buddha Sasana?
First visit to West Germany
On his first business visit to West Germany in
1951 the young Asoka came across many people who had lost their families – lost
their wealth – lost almost everything. It left in him a deep impression. At the
time the widespread sentiment all over Germany was “kaput, kaput, alles
kaput (finished, finished, everything is finished).” Asoka also realized
the growing thirst in that country, which was slowly recovering from total
devastation in the Second World War, for an alternative moral and spiritual
philosophy, that placed a very high emphasis on peace and non-violence.
War weary Germans failing to find answers to
their personal and their country’s political problems, in their own Western
religious traditions, without resorting to violence, were anxiously seeking to
experiment with moral and ethical ideas emanating from the East.
About the same time in post-independent Sri
Lanka, Lankans for the first time after 450 years of colonial rule were
beginning to dream of new vistas unfettered by the restrictions of the foreign
dominated past. They were acquiring a new sense of historical destiny and a
growing confidence that they were capable of playing a larger role in world
affairs than hitherto was thought possible. Taking Buddhism to the West was one
of these ambitious ideas which fired the energy and imagination of the public,
particularly that of the Buddhist Sangha.
It was the convergence of these factors i.e.
the upsurge in interest ‘ to look towards the East ‘ of the Germans and ‘take
Buddhism to the West ‘ spirit of the Sri Lankans that led to the events that
were to follow.
Founding of the Lanka Dhammaduta Society
On his return from West Germany and convinced
of the potential for growth of Buddhism in that country, Asoka Weeraratna
founded the Lanka Dhammaduta Society, on September 21, 1952 which was later
re-named the German Dharmaduta Society on May 8, 1957. The idea of forming this
Society was conceived by Asoka when visiting Europe in 1951. Ven. Ñânatiloka
Mahâthera, the well known German Scholar monk was the first Patron of the
In 1953, Asoka Weeraratna, who was by this
time the Honorary Secretary of the Society, paid a second visit to Germany and
conducted a survey of Buddhist activities in that country. On this trip Asoka
travelled widely all over Germany, meeting leaders of Buddhist organizations in
various German cities and enlisting their support for the cause of establishing
the Buddha Sasana in Germany. He was also asked to inspect a suitable site for
a Buddhist Centre and Vihara, and a Settlement for lay Buddhists and Upasakas.
Asoka visited a series of German cities and
towns i.e. Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, Bremen, Frankfurt, Bonn, Cologne
among others. In Hamburg, he met Dr. Helmut Palmie, President of the Hamburg
Buddhist Society. Dr. Palmie was a Pali Scholar and an ardent Buddhist. Dr.
Palmie convened a special meeting of the Hamburg Buddhist Society on 10th
March, 1953, on the occasion of Asoka’s visit. About 200 German Buddhists
attended the meeting which Asoka addressed. Asoka presented an ola-leaf book on
the Buddha Dhamma to Dr. Palmie as a token of good will from the Lanka
In Munich, Asoka met Dr. Von Meng, the
President of the Munich Buddhist Society and attended a meeting of this
Society. Asoka presented a small Buddha statue to Dr. Von Meng. This Society
published a monthly journal devoted to the propagation of Buddhism called ‘
Indische Welt ‘ (or ‘ Indian World ‘).
In Berlin, there were two Buddhist Societies
in 1953. One was called ‘ Gessellschaft Fur Freunde Des Buddhismus ‘ or
‘Society of the Friends of Buddhism ‘. Herr. F. Knobloch led this Society. The
other Society was called ‘ Buddhistche Gemeinde ‘ Herr Lionel Stutzer was the
head of this Society. Asoka attended a meeting of this Society held at
Stutzer’s house. In Berlin, Asoka also met Dr. K. Schmidt, a Pali Scholar and
lecturer on Buddhism.
On his return to Sri Lanka in early May 1953,
Asoka Weeraratna prepared a report under the heading ‘ Buddhism in Germany ‘
giving his impressions of his visit to Germany and the details of his meetings
with German Buddhists. This Report was subsequently published by the Society in
both English and Sinhala and thousands of copies were distributed to the public
all over the country.
German Outlook on Buddhism
In this Report, Asoka Weeraratna says:
” The general outlook of Germans has
greatly changed after the war. The bitter experiences of two great wars have
taught them but one lesson, that ” All conditioned things are impermanent
“. If you stop to ask about the past war, a German would have nothing else
to add but the words ‘ Alles kaput ‘, which mean ‘ All destroyed ‘.
Buddhism with its elucidation of the Four
Noble Truths and the Three Signs of ‘ Impermanence, Suffering and Soul-lessness
‘ as the characteristic feature of all things, has appeared to them as the most
perfect teaching ever made known to mankind ‘.
Public Meeting at Ananda College, Colombo on May 30, 1953
The main purpose of this meeting held at
Ananda College was to make public the findings of the survey carried out by
Asoka Weeraratna on the current state of Buddhist activities in Germany and the
prospects for a Buddhist Mission to Germany before the Buddha Jayanthi
celebrations in 1956, and to embark on a membership drive.
Hon. Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, Minister of
Local Government presided at the Meeting, which was largely attended and
comprised a very representative gathering of leading Buddhists.
Mr. Asoka Weeraratna in welcoming those
present explained the object of the meeting and presented a detailed account of
his survey of the present state of Buddhism in Germany made during his recent
visit. He pointed out the importance of Germany and the unique contribution it
has made towards the enrichment of European thought, culture and science. He
stated that Germany was the pulse of the European continent, and that the
largest number of Theravada Buddhists of Europe was at present found in
At the end of Asoka’s detailed presentation,
Hon. C. W. W. Kannangara moved the following Motion:
“This House is of the opinion that the
public of Ceylon should fully support the efforts of the Lanka Dhammaduta
Society for the establishment of the Sambuddhasasana in Germany and propagate
Buddhism in Europe “
Ven. Pandit D. Revata Thera seconded the
Motion, which was unanimously adopted by the House.
Next, Mr. C. D. A. Gunawardena moved the
“This House is of the opinion that the
Lanka Dhammaduta Society should take immediate steps to send a Buddhist Mission
to Germany before 1956 in order to commemorate the 2500th year of the birth of
the Buddha and further that the Society should take immediate steps to
establish a permanent Buddhist Centre in Germany comprising a Vihara, Preaching
Hall, Library, and Settlement for Upasakas”. Ven. Pandit Akuretiye
Amarawansa Thero seconded the Motion, which was unanimously adopted by the
House. Ven. Baddegama Piyaratana Maha Nayake Thera, Principal of Vidyodaya
Pirivena, Ven. Kirivattaduwa Pannasara Nayaka Thera, Principal of Vidyalankara
Pirivena, Ven. Nyanatiloka Maha Thera (the German monk) and Mudaliyar P. D.
Ratnatunga and Mr. H. L. Caldera all spoke in support of the work of the
Society and the great importance of sending a Buddhist Mission to Germany
before the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations in B.E. 2500 (1956 AD).
Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Maha Thera
added that one of the greatest services that one can do to the Sasana is to
help the Society to establish the Buddhist Dispensation in Europe with Germany
as its center.
Hon. C. W. W. Kannangara, Minister of Local
Government, speaking from the Chair said that he had known the Hon. Secretary
of the Society, Mr. Asoka Weeraratna from his boyhood and that he could vouch
for his integrity. The Hon. Minister added that the Society was going to serve
one of the greatest causes of Buddhism launched after the Great Emperor Asoka
of India. He therefore urged that all Buddhists should back the Society in
every way in order to help it to establish the Buddhasasana firmly in Germany
before the Buddha Jayanthi of 1956.
One significant outcome of Asoka Weeraratna’s
visit to Germany in 1953 was the recruitment of Friedrich Moller, a teacher of
Rackow College, Hamburg to engage in Buddhist propagation work. The Society
paid for the passage of. Moller, who arrived in Sri Lanka on the 5th of June,
1953. He became an Upasaka and was placed at the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa.
Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahathera instructed him. Moller was the first German trainee
of the Society. It was originally intended to train Moller in Dhammaduta work
for two and a half years and then make Moller a member of the first Buddhist
Mission to Germany that was planned to leave Sri Lanka in 1956 (the year of the
Buddha Jayanti). However he preferred to remain in Sri Lanka upon completing
his period of training and receiving ordination under the name of Bhikkhu
Nyanawimala. A pious monk, he was later known as Ven. Polgasduwe Nyanawimala
Maha Thera. He passed away in October 2005.
The German Dharmaduta Society was
privileged to have had Ven Nyanatiloka Maha Thera as its first Patron. The
Venerable monk stands like a colossus in the history of Buddhism in Germany. He
was the first German to join the order of the Buddhist Sangha. He arrived in
Sri Lanka in 1903, became a monk in Burma in 1904, and later settled down at
the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa that became reputed as an excellent Buddhist
Training Centre drawing spritually inclined and resolute individuals from many
foreign countries. It trained erudite and scholarly monks of the caliber of
Nyanavira, Nyanamoli, Nyanaponika, Nyanawimala, Lama Anagarika Govinda and
Ven. Nyanatiloka was hailed as the ‘
Buddhagosha ’ of Germany for his great literary output.
In a memorable message published in the
booklet ‘Buddhism in Germany ’ (1953) Ven. Nyanatiloka says as follows:
“ It was just 50 years ago in 1903, that I
came first to this Island which, since then, I have considered my spiritual
home, and I am therefore happy to be now a citizen of Sri Lanka. Yet, it will
be understood that it was the great wish of my heart to give the country of my
origin the best I possessed, i.e. the Dhamma. And to that end I have devoted
the greatest part of my 50 years in the Sangha. I did so in the firm conviction
that the Dhamma will take root in my home country, Germany, and may have a
great future there. Now it has been a very great pleasure to me to hear that
Mr. Weeraratna returned from Germany with the very same conviction, and was
able to report on lively Buddhist activities there. I believe that the chances
for Buddhist mission work in Germany are now greater than ever before. I am
therefore very happy that the Lanka Dharmadutha Society has undertaken that
great task of sending a well-prepared mission to Germany and to support
Buddhist work there, in general.
I greatly appreciate the initial work done by
the Society up to now, and particularly the sacrificing labour, devotion and
energy shown by the Founder and Secretary of the Lanka Dharmadutha Society, Mr.
Asoka Weeraratna. I should, indeed, regard it as a happy culmination of my life
if Vesak 1956, i.e. the year 2500, will see a well – established mission in
Germany, which will not fail to have a far-reaching influence on the other
Western countries, too. I wish the Society full success in their great and
noble enterprise. Selfless effort to give the Dhamma to those who are most in
need of it will be of great blessing to those who give and receive ”.
(May 25, 1953)
The Million Rupee Trust Fund
With great determination and energy, Asoka
Weeraratna launched in 1954 under the auspices of the Society a ‘ Million Rupee
Trust Fund ‘ for the permanent establishment of the Buddha Sasana in Germany,
as Arahant Mahinda had done it in Sri Lanka, and appealed to the public for
contributions. The Million Rupee Trust Fund was inaugurated at a Public Meeting
held at the Colombo Town Hall on September 6, 1954. Mr. Dudley Senanayake, the
former Prime Minister presided at this Meeting. The Board of Trustees of this
Trust Fund comprised the following persons:
Dudley Senanayake Former Prime Minister
H.H. Basnayake, Q.C. Attorney – General
H.W. Amarasuriya Proprietary Planter
H.Nelson H. Soysa Proctor S.C.
Asoka Weeraratna Merchant
Asoka Weeraratna contributed a sum of Rs. 25,
000 (Twenty Five Thousand Rupees) from his own personal funds to this Trust
Fund at the Inauguration of this Fund. This was in addition to the Rs. 1,000
(One Thousand Rupees) he had contributed to the Society on the day of its
formation i.e. September 21, 1952.
The Collection of Funds
With growing public support the Society soon
won the recognition and encouragement of the State and the Government declared
the ‘Million Rupee Fund’ an Approved Charity. Among the many benefactors who
contributed to this Fund, particular mention must be made of Dr. Walther
Schmidt, a German Buddhist, who left a valuable legacy of DM 550.000 to the
Society upon his death in 1957.
In 1955 the Government granted to the Society
an acre of vacant crown land in Bullers Road, Colombo on a 99 year old lease.
In August 1956, Hon. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister, declared open at a
ceremonial public meeting, amidst a large gathering, the newly built
Headquarters and Training Centre of the Society at 417, Bullers Road
(Bauddhaloka Mawatha), Colombo 7 consisting of a two-storeyed dormitory of 14
rooms, an Assembly Hall, Office and Library, built at a cost of Rs. 125.000.
First Buddhist Mission to Germany
The Society sponsored the first Buddhist
Mission to Germany, which left the Colombo Harbour by ship ‘SS Orantes ‘ on
June 15th, 1957. The three monks in this historic mission comprised Ven. Soma,
Ven. Kheminda and Ven. Vinîta. They were all recruited from the Vajiraramaya
Temple, Bambalapitiya. They were accompanied by W.J. Oliver Soysa, a close
associate of the Vajiraramaya monks. Dharmapriya Mahinda (formerly known as
Nelson Soysa) a Vice-President of the GDS had left for Germany earlier. Asoka
Weeraratna joined the Mission in Berlin having flown in from Colombo.
The purchase of “Das Buddhistische Haus”
One of Asoka Weeraratna’s most significant
contributions to the spread of Buddhism in the Germany was the critical role
that he played in the purchase of “Das Buddhistische Haus” built by
Dr. Paul Dahlke. This Buddhist Haus was considered the Center of German
Buddhism during Dr. Dahlke’s time.
Asoka Weeraratna personally negotiated with
the nephew of the late Dr. Paul Dahlke and overcame several obstacles that
stood in the way of the purchase of ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’. Asoka bought the
property in 1957 on behalf of and in the names of the five Trustees of the
German Dharmaduta Society. Asoka had to personally visit at his own expense the
owners of Das Buddhistische Haus who lived in an island called ‘ Sylt’(near
Denmark), in the extreme north of West Germany (over 500 km. from Berlin) to
negotiate the transfer of the land.
Asoka spent nearly six (6) months in Germany
in 1957 ( from June to December ) at his own personal expense attending to
various matters connected with the purchase of ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ and the
settling in of the first Buddhist Mission of three monks comprising Ven. Soma
Thera, Ven. Kheminda and Ven. Vinita Thera. ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ was
subsequently converted into a Buddhist Vihâra, by the German Dharmaduta Society
by providing residential and other necessary institutional facilities to
Buddhist Dharmaduta monks drawn mainly from Sri Lanka.
Since 1957 there has been a stream of Buddhist
monks from Sri Lanka and other countries, taking up residence in the Berlin
Buddhist Vihâra. Of these dedicated monks, special mention must be made of Ven.
Athurugiriye Ñânavimala Mahâthera who served as the Vihâradhipati of the Berlin
Vihâra for a period of 15 years (1966-1981).
Some of the more notable monks who spent more
than three years in residence were:
Ven. Badulla Shanthi Bhadra (1958 – 1962)
Ven. Talpitiye Anuruddha (July, 1964 – April,
Ven. Pandit Athurugiriye Sri Gnanawimala Maha
Thera (1966 – 1981)
Ven. Udugampola Wijayasoma (1968 – 1982)
Ven. Shanthi Deva (German Monk) (1972 – 1977)
Ven. Dikwelle Mahinda (1982 – 1991)
Ven. Attanagoda Pannavisudhi (1986 – 1990)
Ven. Walpola Kalyanatissa (1991 – 1994)
Ven. Rambukwella Devananda (1992 – 1998)
Ven. Rathmale Punnaratana (1996 – 2005)
Ven. Medhayo ( Scottish Monk) ( 2003 – 2006)
They have braved the cold winters of Europe
and the innumerable difficulties that prevail in Western countries,
particularly for Buddhist monks from Asia. These monks together with other
visiting monks and lay teachers comprising both men and women, using as their
base ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ have contributed in no small measure towards
correcting centuries old negative impressions about Buddhism in the Western
consciousness, and have given solace to a large number of Europeans seeking a
philosophy that places an emphasis on self- reliance, non – violence and loving
kindness to all living beings. It is an inspiring achievement.
The Berlin Vihara currently has two resident
monks namely Ven. Dikwelle Seelasumana Thera and Ven. Wilachchiye Dhamma Vijaya
Thera. The Vihara is being administered under the supervision of Mr. Tissa
Weeraratna, Trustee and Vice- President of the German Dharmaduta Society.
A German assessment of the Contribution of the German Dharmaduta
In a seminal article on the state of Buddhism
in Germany, Dr. Hans Wolfgang Schumann, the reputed scholar and chronicler of
the history of Buddhism in Germany, states as follows:
” Another important Buddhist Centre is
the ” Buddhist House’ founded by Paul Dahlke in Berlin – Frohnau in 1924.
It survived World War II in a dilapidated condition and probably would have
been auctioned and dismantled if the Ceylonese ‘German Dhammaduta Society’
(founded 1952) which inherited a large sum of money from a German Buddhist had
not come to its rescue. The GDS purchased the house in 1958, renovated it,
furnished it with additional rooms and a good library, and stationed some
Ceylonese Bhikkhus (monks) there who take charge of regular lectures and
Refer Hans Wolfgang Schumann ‘Buddhism and Buddhist Studies in
Germany’, Maha Bodhi Journal, Vol. 79, (February – March 1971) page 99.
Dr.Schumann further says in the concluding
paragraph of the above named article as follows:
” Seen from another angle, however, Asian
Buddhist mission was successful. The organizational help which Buddhist Societies
in Asia, in particular Ceylon, in several critical periods have extended, has
saved the flame of the Dhamma in Germany from being blown out by the storm of
historical events. Isn’t this for the Germans reason enough to be grateful?
Refer Hans Wolfgang Schumann ‘Buddhism and Buddhist Studies in
Germany’, Maha Bodhi Journal, Vol. 79, (February – March 1971) page 101
Mitirigala Forest Hermitage
At a period of time when Buddhism had lost its
most supportive and protective structure, namely meditation, Asoka Weeraratna
turned his attention in the 1960s to the construction of a Forest Hermitage not
very far from Colombo to enable Buddhist Yogi Monks to meditate and contemplate
in a suitable and peaceful environment. The Forest Hermitage was named
Nissarana Vanaya where thirty fully equipped independent dwellings for yogis
were constructed for meditation. Based at Mitirigala, it became one of Sri
Lanka’s most respected meditation monasteries under the guidance of the
outstanding Meditation monk Ven. Matara Sri Gnanarama Maha Thera. It was
declared open in 1967.
In addition to Sinhala Buddhist monks and
laymen, many foreign monks and laymen alike had the opportunity to engage in
the practice of meditation with full dedication, unobstructed by other tasks
and duties. Some of them arrived from USA, some from Canada, England,
Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Yugoslavia,
Czechoslovakia, Greece, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia, and
New Zealand. Upon returning to their respective countries after a period of
training at Mitirigala, they themselves have given leadership to Buddhist
communities in areas of learning and practice of the Dhamma and meditation.
Asoka Weeraratna enters the Order of Sangha
Asoka Weeraratna resigned from the post of
Secretary of the German Dharmaduta Society in 1972 having served the cause of
Buddhism in that capacity for a period of nearly 20 years. Having completed the
construction of the Mitirigala Forest Hermitage, Asoka himself entered the
Buddhist order under the name Ven. Dhammanisanthi Thera in August 1972. It is a
remarkable example of renunciation of all worldly possessions given that in the
1950’s and early 1960’s Asoka was one of Sri Lanka’s leading businessmen.
Ven. Mitirigala Dhammanisanthi Thera spent 27
years in the Sangha most of the time as a forest monk. He passed away
peacefully on July 2, 1999 at the age of 80 years.
Being an ascetic monk he left detailed
instructions that his funeral should reflect the fundamental Buddhist concepts
– Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. The funeral was conducted in a very simple austere
manner on July 3, 1999, the day following his death, at the General Cemetery
Kanatte in Colombo where his remains were cremated amidst the cries of
“Buduweva” “Buduweva” from a small crowd of faithful
mourners. Amongst them were a band of solemn monks from the Mitirigala Forest
Asoka Weeraratna’s courageous efforts,
sacrificial labours, unrelenting drive and limitless energy brought to bear on
whatever task he undertook is legendary. The full extent of Asoka
Weeraratna’s contribution to the spread of Buddhism in Germany awaits a
deeper study. However it is gratifying to note that his pioneering work in
sending the first Sri Lankan Buddhist Mission to Germany for the benefit of the
German people and thus paving the way for a series of successive Buddhist
missions thereafter, and his involvement in establishing the first
Buddhist Vihara in that country with resident monks, have contributed immensely
to the strengthening of religious and cultural links between Sri Lanka and
Senaka Weeraratna is the Honorary Secretary of the German Dharmaduta Society
BSP not to contest
local body polls: Mayawati
Lucknow: Smarting under poll debacle, BSP on Sunday
expressed fears about return of ‘goondaraj’ in Uttar Pradesh and said it would
not contest the upcoming local body polls, apprehending that the ruling
Samajwadi Party might target its candidates.
“SP’s record has always been bad in this regard. Under such circumstances
not only there is question on free and fair conduct of forthcoming local bodies
elections, but there is also apprehension of large scale violence and loss of
lives of our men, which I cannot tolerate,” BSP supremo Mayawati said
addressing a national workers convention here.
Announcing that the BSP had to take some strong decisions under the prevailing
circumstances, she ruled out BSP’s participation in any election in the state
which is not held directly under the supervision of the election commission or
the central forces.
“Barring Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, polls of
local bodies and panchayat are not held under direct supervision of the EC and
CPMF, but are conducted by state election machinery and police,” the
former chief minister said.
“As a result of this the BSP has decided not to contest any election,
including forthcoming local bodies elections, which is not held under the supervision
of the EC and CPMF…if any party leader or office-bearer participate in it
then he will be immediately suspended,” she said.
She said the decision was taken to protect the partymen from loss of life or
The BSP chief alleged that free and fair
elections were not possible under SP government with its administration and
She said the recently concluded elections had exposed the bitter truth that
despite a difference of 24.5 lakh votes, SP got absolute majority in the
Assembly as compared to BSP.
“Now the SP people are claiming election results to be a mandate in their
favour. They are considering that after this they have also got mandate to
estbalish jungleraj and goondaraj in the state,” she alleged.
She said after recent incidents of violence apprehensions of return of
goondaraj were being expressed.
“This is a matter of concern. It is a matter of special concern for the
BSP as partymen are being targeted,” she alleged.
Civic body polls are due to be held in Uttar Pradesh this year for which the
dates have not been announced.
Going into possible reasons behind the BSP’s defeat in UP, Mayawati said when
Congress raised the issue of Muslim quota, BJP opposed it and in the process
made an attempt to attract OBC votes.
“Wary of the fact that BJP may come to power, Muslims keeping in view weak
position of Congress transferred their nearly 70 per cent votes to SP
candidates,” she said.
Reviewing outcome of the assembly elections, she said difference of 24.5 lakh
votes between SP and BSP made unprecedented difference in 144 seats.
She said the political situation in the wake of assembly results of five states
would certainly affect state and national politics.
Noting that possiblity of mid-term polls cannot be ruled out, she said,
“It seems that the general elections of Lok Sabha would be held much
before 2014. Therefore, the party workers should remain prepared at all
levels,” she said.
Referring to issues of price rise, unemployment and corruption, Mayawati alleged
that anti-people and poor policies of Congress-led UPA government were
responsible for these problems.
She said time has come when power at the Centre should be in the “right
hands”. Mayawati also announced major changes in the organisation in the
state by dissolving all committees including bhaichara and zonal, party sources
MAY YOU BE EVER HAPPY, WELL AND
MAY YOU LIVE LONG
MAY ALL SENTIENT AND NON-SENTIENT BEINGS BE EVER
MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE CALM, QUIET,
EQUANIMITY MIND WITH A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING THAT
EVERYTHING IS CHANGING