Monday, August 15, 2011

Maha Buddhavamsa - The Bodhisatta's visit to Rajagaha City

Maha Buddhavamsa
The Great Chronicle of The Buddhas
by Tipitakadhara Mingun Sayadaw

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin

The Bodhisatta's visit to Rajagaha City after spending seven days in Anupiya mango grove
      After becoming a recluse, the Bodhisatta spent seven full days in ascetic bliss in the nearby mango grove called Anupiya and travelled a journey of thirty yojanas on foot in one single day and entered the city of Rajagaha. (This is the statement made in the Buddhavamsa Commentary and the Jataka Commentary.)
      (According to the Sutta Nipata Commentary, however,) the Bodhisatta, after becoming a recluse, observed the Ajivatthamaka Sila, the Precepts with pure livelihood as the eighth, and journeyed to Rajagaha, thirty yojanas away from the banks of Anoma in seven days.
Entering Rajagaha to go on alms-round
      When he was about to visit the city of Rajagaha for alms-food, he stood at the eastern gate of the city; then it occurred to him thus: "If I send a message to King Bimbisara about my visit, he will know that Prince Siddhattha, the son of King Suddhodana, has come to my city; and with due regard and attention he will send plenty of offerings. It is not proper for me as an ascetic to inform him and receive the four requisites. Right now, I should go on alms-round." So, after putting on the pamsukulika robes offered by Ghatikara Brahma and taking the bowl with his hand, the Bodhisatta entered the city by the eastern gate and went round from house to house for alms-food.
      Seven days before the Bodhisatta went into Rajagaha for alms, a festival was celebrated on a big scale and enjoyed by all. The day the Bodhisatta entered the city, King Bimbisara had the proclamation made to the people by beating the drum: "The festival is over. The people should now attend to their respective trades." At that time the citizens were still assembled in the palace ground. When the king opened the window based on a lion figure and looked out to give necessary instructions, he saw the Bodhisatta who was entering Rajagaha for alms, with his sense-faculties well composed.
      On seeing the incomparably graceful appearance of the Bodhisatta, the people of Rajagaha as a whole became wildly excited and the whole city turned into a state of commotion in the same way as it happened when Nalagiri the Elephant, also called Dhanapala, entered the city, or in the same way as the male and female residents of celestial Tavatimsa became agitated and perturbed when Vepacitti, King of Asuras, entered their abode.
      When the noble Bodhisatta went round with the elegance of a Chaddanta elephant-king for alms from house to house in the city of Rajagaha, the citizens seeing the incomparably graceful appearance of the Bodhisatta, were filled with strong feeling of joy and astonishment and became occupied with the sole intention of viewing the Bodhisatta's unique demeanour.
      One of the people then said to another: 'Friend, how's that? Is it the lunar mansion that has come down to the human abode with all its rays concealed in fear of Rahu the Asura-king?" The second man ridiculed the first by saying: "What are you talking, friend? Have you ever seen the big disc of the full moon coming down to the human world? The fact is that Kama Deva, God of Desire, seeing, the splendour of our king and his people, has come in disguise to play and have fun with us."
      Then the third person ridiculed the second by saying: "O friend, How's that? Are you crazy? Kama Deva is one whose body is jet-black as he has been terribly burnt by the flame of hegemony, arrogance and anger. The truth is that the person we are seeing now is Sakka, King of Gods, endowed with a thousand eyes, who has come into our city mistaking it for his abode of Tavatimsa."
      That third person was told in a rather smiling manner by the fourth: "How could you say so? Your words are self-contradictory. To name him Sakka, where are his thousand eyes? Where is his weapon of the thunderbolt? 'Where is his riding elephant Eravana? (If he is really Sakka, he must have a thousand eyes, the thunderbolt as his weapon and Eravana as his conveyance. He has none of them.) In fact, he is Brahmas who, knowing that Brahmins have forgotten their Vedas and all, has come to urge them not to forget their learning and to practise in accordance with them."
      Another man, a man of learning, reproached them and stopped them, saying: "This is neither the moon-disc, nor Kama Deva, nor Sakka nor Brahma. As a matter of fact, he is the most extraordinary man, the chief among men, the leader and teacher of the three worlds."
      While the citizens of Rajagaha were thus talking among themselves, each from his own point of view, royal servants went to King Bimbisara and reported thus: "Great King, a wonderful person whom nobody knows whether he is a celestial being, or a gandhabha or a naga or yakkha, is going round for alms-food in our city of Rajagaha", Upon hearing their words the king who had already seen the Bodhisatta while standing on the upper terrace of the palace was struck with wonder and sent his ministers with the order: "Go and make careful inquiries about the man; if he is a yakkha, he will disappear when out of the city, if he is a celestial being he will go through the air; if he is a naga he will sink into the earth and disappear. If he is a real human being, he will eat his alms-food at a certain place."
      With his sense-faculties and mind well composed and in his unique elegance, with down-cast eyes seeing only one length of a yoke (about four cubits) as if he were captivating the eyes of the Rajagaha people, he went round and collected food just enough for his sustenance—the food which included all kinds of eatables coarse and fine of various colours mixed up together. Then he asked the people: "Where do those ascetics who come to this city usually stay? The people answered: "They usually stayed at the entrance of the cave facing east on the top of Pandava mountain." And so the noble Bodhisatta left the city by the eastern gate, through which he had entered. Thereafter he sat, facing east at the entrance of the cave on the mountain and tried to eat the mixed meal of coarse and fine food that he had brought with him.
      Having enjoyed the kingly bliss which was as great as that of a Universal Monarch only a matter of days ago, he made an effort to eat a morsel of food which was a mixture of coarse and fine edible things in assorted colours. As he was about to put the morsel into his mouth he felt miserable and almost vomited with the intestines turning upside down, for he had never seen such kind of food in his life and found it particularly disgusting. Then he admonished himself by saying; "You Siddhattha, in spite of the fact that you have been reigning supreme in a palace where food and drinks are available at your pleasure and where you have meals of three-year-old seasoned fragrant rice with different delicacies whenever you like, you, on seeing a recluse in robe of rags contemplated, "When shall I eat the meals obtained by going on alms round from house to house after becoming a recluse like him? When will the time come for me to live on meals thus collected? And have you not renounced the world and become a recluse with such thoughts? Now that your dream has come true, why do you like to change your mind?" Then without the slightest revulsion he took the meal that was so rough.
      The ministers, three in number, sent by King Bimbisira for the investigation approached the Bodhisatta and explored all the facts concerning him. Then two of the three stayed behind while the third returned to the king and reported: "Great King, that recluse who had gathered alms-food is still sitting peacefully at the entrance of the cave facing east on the top of Mount Pandava absolutely without fear like a lion king, or a tiger king or a bull king, after eating in a normal manner, the meal that he had obtained." Thereupon, King Bimbisira made haste and went in an excellent chariot to the Bodhisatta's place on Pandava mountain as far as the chariot could go; and then leaving the chariot, he continued his journey on foot. When he got near the Bodhisatta, he sat down on the cold stone slab with permission and being very much impressed with the Bodhisatta's deportment, he gladly conversed with him. He said: "Friend, you are still young and tender in age. You are also endowed with handsome physique and characteristics. I think that you are of good birth belonging to a pure ruling class. I offer you as much royal pleasure and wealth; as you want in these two countries of Anga and Magadha which are under my control. Be a king and reign! Please also tell me your lineage." Thus the king asked about the Bodhisatta and offered kingship to him.
      Then the Bodhisatta considered: "If I had the desire to be a king, such Deva King as the Four Great Kings of the celestial world and others would have proposed to offer me their respective regal fortunes. Or, if I remained living a kingly life in my palace, it would have been certain that I would become a Universal Monarch. Not knowing this, this King Bimbisira has made such a proposal to me saying in such a way I will now let him know of my royal life." So thinking, he stretched out his right hand pointing in the direction whence he had come; and then he said in verse.
     (1) Ujum janapado kaja, Himavantassa passato dhanaviriyena sampanno Kosalesu niketino.
      "O, Noble king, you who please your people with mettaby ruling them with the four modes of support (four modes of supports: Sangaha-vatthu. See fn. 2 on p.89 and p. 115 of Vol.1. Pt.) In the land of the Kosalan people near the mountain titled Himavanta, which is straight from here in the direction of the north, exist the region of Kapilavatthu, full of grain, food and drink and famed like the divine city of Amaravati — the region that belongs to my father Mahasuddhodana, the excellent torch of the lineage of the sun that has long been aristocratic ancestry since the beginning of the world. It is the place which is endowed with seven kinds of treasure and men of valour, numbering eighty-two thousand, who have the ability of plucking the star at the end of the sky by means of their prowess.''
     (2) Adicca nama gottena, Sakiya nama jatiya tamha kula pabbajito' mhi kame abhipatthayam
      "O Noble King, you who are recognized as a Deva! Because I am not a stranger but related to the Sun-God; I am Adicca by clan which is pure; I am Sakiya by birth which is glorious, the new name which cropped up from the joyous utterance of King Ukkaka: "Sakyavata bho kumara". Coming from that Adicca clan and Sakiya royal lineage I have renounced the world with a view to become a Buddha, not because I aspire after objects of sensual pleasures."
     (3) Kamesvadinavam disva nekkhammam datthu khemato padhanaya gamissami ettha me ranjati mano.
      "O Noble King, you who recognized as a Deva! With my insight wisdom, I saw clearly more of suffering and less of enjoyment in the material objects of sensual pleasures; I also saw renunciation of both objects and defilements of sensual pleasures as a haven free from dangers. Having seen thus I became a recluse with Buddhahood as my goal. I will proceed to strive for the attainment of Nibbana, the ultimate reality that comes of renunciation and that excels all other states immensely in its quality of peace. My mind always yearns for that state called Nibbana which is far superior to all other states.
      With these three verses, the Bodhisatta told King Bimbisara that he had come from the lineage of Sakiya and had taken up an ascetic life; that he had no desire at all for material pleasures; and that, having become a recluse with the aim to achieve Nibbana, he would be retreating to the forest for practice of dukkaracariya in order to attain that very state of Nibbana speedily. When told thus King Bimbisara replied: "Venerable Sir, I have already heard that 'Prince Siddhattha, the son of King Suddhodana, after seeing the four omens with his own eyes, and renouncing the world to become a recluse, would attain Perfect self-Enlightenment, the Supreme leadership in the three worlds. Having seen myself your great aspiration after Nibbana, I firmly believe that you will certainly become a Buddha. Venerable Sir, let me make a supplication to you. When you have attained Buddhahood, please visit my country first and foremost!" After thus solemnly extending his invitation, King Bimbisara went back into the city.


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