Monday, August 15, 2011

Maha Buddhavamsa - The offering of Ghana milk-rice by Sujata

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

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin




The offering of Ghana milk-rice by Sujata
      After dreaming the Five Great Dreams and having himself interpreted their meaning, the Bodhisatta concluded: "It is true that I will certainly attain Buddhahood this very day". Then when day-break came (on the morning of the Full-moon day), he cleansed his body and departed from that place; and when he reached the banyan tree which was visited every year for worship by Sujata, the daughter of a wealthy man, he stopped and sat down at the base of the tree facing east while waiting for the time to go round for alms; and thereby the whole banyan tree shone brilliantly with his body radiance.
      At that time, in the market town of Sena in the locality of Uruvela forest, Sujata, the daughter of a rich man by the name of Senani, on coming of age, had prayed at the foot of the banyan tree thus: "O!, Guardian Deva of the banyan tree, if I be married into a rich family of the same caste, I will pay homage to you with the offering of Ghana milk-rice". The prayer of Sujata had been fulfilled. So the rich man's daughter, Sujata had been paying homage to the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree with Ghana milk-rice on the Full-moon day of Vesakha every year.
     (N.B. When reading the account of the offering of milk-rice by Sujata, readers are generally apt to think, if care is not taken, that Sujata paid homage for fulfilment of her prayer to the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree with the offering of milk-rice for the first time on that Full-moon day of Vesakha, the day on which the Bodhisatta was to attain the Buddhahood. In fact, the prayer had been fulfilled and the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree had been worshipped with offering of milk-rice since about twenty years before that day. For the said son of Sujata was in fact the wealthy young man Yasa, and in the year when the Buddha was to appear, Yasa was already a married man, enjoying the luxury of a well-to do family. In view of this fact, it should be noted that the rich man's daughter Sujata had been paying homage to the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree with the offerings of Ghana milk-rice every year on the Full-moon day of Vesakha over the past twenty years when her prayer for a first born son was answered.)
      Preparations made by lady Sujata, to make offerings to the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree on that Full-moon day of Vesakha when the Bodhisatta had completed six years practice of dukkaracariya: (1) She first let one thousand milch cows graze in the wood of liquorice; and the milk obtained from these one thousand milch cows was fed to other five hundred milch cows. (2) The milk produced by these five hundred cows was fed to other two hundred and fifty cows; (3) Again the produced by the said two hundred and fifty cows was fed to other hundred and twenty-five cows; (4) Then the milk produced by one hundred and twenty five cows was fed to other sixty-four cows. (5) Then, the milk from these sixty-four cows was fed to other thirty two cows. (6) Then the milk from these thirty two cows was fed to other sixteen cows; (7) Then the milk from these sixteen cows was to other eight cows. In this manner, lady Sujata took the above step by-step procedure of transfer of milk in order to obtain thick savoury and nutritious cow's milk to prepare milk-rice. (This account is narrated in the Jataka Commentary.)
      According to the Jinalankara Tika, lady Sujata first let one hundred milch cows to graze in the wood of liquorice. Then she let the hundred milch cows born of the first hundred cows graze in the same wood. Then, again she let the hundred milch cows born of the said second hundred ... the third hundred... the fourth hundred ... the fifth hundred ... the sixth hundred milch cows graze in the pasture of liquorice wood. In this manner, she milked the seventh generation milch cows and made preparation to cook Ghana milk-rice.
With the intention, 'I will make the sacrificial offering of Ghana milk rice early today', Lady Sujata rose early on the Full-moon day of Vesakha and had the above said eight milch cows milked. The calves, (without having to tie them with rope) did not come near the dugs of their mother milch cows. What was strange was that, even as the milk bowl was placed closely under the udder, the milk flowed down continuously in profusion without being drawn. Lady Sujata, on seeing such a wonderful event, conveyed with her own hand unlike in previous years the automatically flowing milk and pouring it into a new pot, and kindling the fire with her own hands, made an effort to cook the Ghana milk-rice.
The assistance rendered by Devas and Brahmas
      When the Ghana milk-rice was being thus cooked, (1) big froths appeared in large numbers turning round clockwise; but not even a drop spilled out; (2) smoke did not in the least rise above the oven; (3) the four Deva Kings, the Guardians of the world came and stood guard at the oven; (4) the great Brahma gave cover over the pot of Ghana milk-rice with an umbrella; (5) Sakka arranged the faggots evenly and set fire to them to burn in a blaze; (6) by their supernormal powers Devas collected the nutrients suitable for Devas and humans in the Four Continents surrounded by two thousand small islands; they did so as if they were gathering honey from honey combs hanging from branches; and then they poured the nutrients so collected into the pot of Ghana milk-rice.
      NB: At other times, Devas put the aforesaid nutrients suitable for Devas and humans into each and every morsel of food as the Buddha was preparing it to put into his mouth. On two special occasions, however, the day the Buddha attained Buddhahood and the day he passed into Parinibbana, Devas poured the said nutrients into the pot.
      Having seen in one single day many things of wonder as stated above at the place where the Ghana milk-rice was being cooked, Lady Sujata, called the maid servant, Punna, by name and ordered her thus: "Dear girl, Punna, today our Guardian Deva of the banyan tree appears to be in good mood. In this period of over twenty years, I have never seen such wonderful things. Make haste and go and clean up the banyan tree, the residence of the Guardian Deva." The maid servant, Punna, replying, "Very well, my lady", made haste and went near the banyan tree where she saw the Bodhisatta sitting at its foot facing east and also the whole tree shining golden yellow with the radiance emitted from the Bodhisatta's body. Frightened and thinking, 'Today Guardian Deva of the banyan tree has come down the tree; it seems to me he is sitting there to receive the offering with his own hands", she hurried back home and reported the matter to lady Sujata.
      On hearing the words of the maid servant, lady Sujata felt very happy and saying, "From today, be an elder daughter of mine', bestowed upon her all the apparel and ornaments befitting a daughter."
      It is customary (dhammata) for a Bodhisatta to be offered the alms food of Ghana milk-rice on the day he is to attain Buddhahood; and it is proper to receive that food only in a gold cup worth one lakh. The lady Sujata, intending, "I shall put Ghana milk-rice in a gold cup", had one worth one lakh taken out from her chamber. She then poured the cooked Ghana milk rice, into the cup tilting the pot. Thereupon, all the Ghana milk rice flowed into the cup to the last drop like water drops gliding down from a paduma lotus leaf. The entire Ghana milk rice was just enough to fill the cup to the brim, neither more nor less.
      The lady covered the gold cup full of Ghana milk-rice with another gold cup and wrapped them up with a piece of clean white cloth. Then, having adorned herself in hill attire and carrying the gold cup on her head, she went near the banyan tree with great pomp and grandeur. She was overjoyed on seeing the Bodhisatta and taking him to be the Guardian Deva of the banyan tree, she proceeded in a respectful manner from where she saw the Bodhisatta. She then lowered the gold cup from her head and opened it and carrying a golden jar of water perfumed with all kinds of fragrant flowers, approached the Bodhisatta and stood nearby.
      The earthen alms-bowls, which had been offered to the Bodhisatta by Ghatikara Brahma at the time of Renunciation and which had remained with him during the whole six years period of dukkaracariya, disappeared inexplicably just at the time when the rich man's wife Sujata came to offer the alms food of Ghana. Not seeing the bowl, the Bodhisatta spread out his right hand to receive the water. Lady Sujata offered the alms food of Ghana in the gold cup placing it in the hands of the Bodhisatta. The Bodhisatta looked at lady Sujata, who, understanding perfectly well the way the Bodhisatta looked, addressed him thus: 'O Venerable One, I have offered you the Ghana milk-rice in the gold cup; may you accept it together with the gold cup and go anywhere you like." Then, uttering words of' prayer, "My heart's desire is fulfilled. So too, may your hearts desire be fulfilled!" she departed without showing the least concern for the gold cup worth one lakh as if it were a withered leaf.
      The Bodhisatta also rose from his seat and , after circumambulating the banyan tree, proceeded to the bank of the River Neranjara carrying with him the gold cup containing the Ghana milk-rice. At the Neranjara river there was a bathing ghat, by the name of Suppatitthita, where many Bodhisattas went down and took bath on the day they were to attain Buddhahood. The Bodhisatta left the gold cup at the bathing ghat and, after taking bath, came up and sat facing east under the cool shade of a tree. Then, he prepared forty-nine morsels, no more and no less, of Ghana milk-rice, each about the size of the seed of a ripe palmyra nut (not about the size of a palmyra nut) and ate the whole lot without water. The Ghana milk-rice which was taken after being made into forty-nine morsels served as nutrient, (ahara), to sustain him completely for forty-nine days, (sattasattaha), while he was residing in the vicinity of the Bodhi Tree after his attainment of Buddhahood. During these forty-nine days, the Buddha passed the time absorbed in the peace of Jhana and of Fruition, without having any other meal, without taking bath, without washing the face and without making the body and the limbs clean.
      After he had partaken of the alms food of Ghana milk-rice offered by Sujata, the Bodhisatta made the resolution while holding the gold cup, "If I would attain Buddhahood today, may this gold cup float away upstream; if I would not attain Buddhahood today, let it float downstream with the current'. He then let the gold cup float in the channel of the Neranjara. The gold cup cut across the current and went straight to the mid-river and then floated upstream from there with the speed of a fast running horse for about eighty cubits and sank in a whirlpool. On reaching the mansion of Naga king, Kala, it hit all the three gold cups used by the three previous Buddhas, namely, Kakusanda, Konagamana and Kassapa on the day they were to attain Buddhahood, producing the (metallic) sound of 'kili, kili' and came to rest under the said three gold cups.
     On hearing the sound, Naga King Kala said: It was only yesterday that a Buddha appeared; today, another Buddha appears." and then he rose uttering words of praise in many verses, ( The period of time intervening the appearance of Kassapa Buddha and our Buddha was so long that in the meantime the Great Earth had risen by one yojana and three gavutas, But as for Kala Naga. it was so very short that he could say of these appearances as happening yesterday and today.
      Then, the Bodhisatta took rest for the day in the sala grove on the bank of the Neranjara which was replete with very fragrant flowers, verdant and delightful to everyone. He then proceeded to practise Anapana meditation; after attaining the eight mundane jhanas and the five Abhinnanas, at twilight in the coolness of the evening, he walked along the path decorated by Devas and Brahmas; having descended into the Neranjara and after taking a bath, he headed towards the Maha Bodhi Tree by the very path created by Devas and Brahmas. Thereupon, Nagas, Yakkhas and Gandhabba Devas paid homage to him with offerings of celestial flowers, perfumes and scented paste. They also sang soft and sweet celestial songs. Then the whole of the ten thousand world-systems was almost covered with celestial flowers and perfumes and also with wild acclaim by Devas and Brahmas.
      At that time, Sotthiya, a Brahmin grass-cutter was coming from the opposite direction carrying grass; sensing the wish of the Bodhisatta (from his manner) to have some grass, he offered him eight handfuls of grass. The Bodhisatta, carrying the eight handfuls of grass, went up the high ground of Maha Bodhi and stood south of the Maha Bodhi Tree facing north. At that moment, the southern part of the ten thousand world-systems sank so much so that it looked as if it would touch Maha Avici; and the northern part of the ten thousand world-systems rose so much so that it looked as if it would fly up to reach Bhavagga. On seeing this phenomenon, the Bodhisatta considered thus: 'This is not the place where Arahattamagga Nana and Sabbannuta Nana can be realized"; and so, making a clockwise turn round the Maha Bodhi Tree, he proceeded to the west of the tree and stood there facing east. Just at that moment, the western part of world-systems sank so much so that it looked as if it would touch Maha Avici; and the eastern part of it rose so much so that it looked as if it would fly up to Bhavagga. On seeing this phenomenon, the Bodhisatta considered again: 'This is not the place where Arahattamagga Nana and Sabbannuta Nana can be realized'; and so, making a clockwise turn round the Maha bodhi Tree, he proceeded to the north and stood there facing south. Just at that moment, the northern part of the world-system sank so much so that it looked as if it would touch Maha Avici; and the southern part of it rose up so much so that it looked as if it would fly up to reach Bhavagga. (The position of the great earth at the places in the south, the west and the north where the noble Bodhisatta had stood, was such that it sank at his back and rose in front of him ... like the wheel of a cart resting flat on its central hub on the ground; it rocks or reels when trampled upon at the fringe). On seeing this phenomenon, the Bodhisatta considered again; 'This is also not the place where the Arahattamagga Nana and Sabbannuta Nana can be realized'; and so making a clockwise turn round the Maha Bodhi Tree, he proceeded to the east and stood facing west.
     (In this matter, the Buddhavamsa Commentary mentions only this: "The Noble Bodhisatta proceeded to the Bodhi Tree, and circumambulating it three times, stood at the north-east corner - scattering the eight handfuls of grass." It does not mention the fact that the great earth tilted over to one side when he stood on the south, the west and the north. The Jinalankara Tika, however, states that "when the Bodhisatta stood on the south, the west and the north, the great earth trembled like the drop of water falling on the Paduma lotus leaf, and that standing at the north-east corner he scattered the eight handfuls of grass.")
      The locality where the unconquered throne, Aparajita, would appear to the east of the Maha Bodhi Tree stood unshaken and firm, being the place not to be abandoned; Avijahitatthana, where the thrones of all the Buddhas had appeared. Knowing that "This place is certainly the auspicious site of victory where all the Buddhas destroy the defilements", and holding their tips, the noble Bodhisatta scattered the eight handful of grass he had brought.
      The moment he scattered the eight handfuls of grass, they were transformed into a large jewel throne, fourteen cubits in size, which was so magnificent that no painter or sculptor would be able to paint or carve the likeness of it, and they existed in this marvellous form (of a jewelled throne).
      With the Maha Bodhi Tree as the back-drop, facing east and with a steadfast mind, the Bodhisatta declared:
     (1) Let only the skin remain,
     (2) Let only the sinews remain,
     (3) Let only the bones remain,
     (4) Let my whole body, and all the flesh and blood dry up, unless and until I attain Buddhahood, I will not in any way change the cross-legged posture I have now assumed. Thus developing a firm resolution of four factors, he sat on the jewel throne assuming the Invincible (Aparajita) cross-legged posture (the posture for conquering the enemies, not for conceding defeat), which cannot he destroyed though struck simultaneously by hundreds of thunderbolts.

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