___ Bhikkhu Ariyas Venerable Sariputta & Venerable Moggalana Part Two of Two ___
The Venerable Sariputta
One day, while Venerable Sariputta was deep in jhanic and magga absorption in honour of the Greatest Master in the three worlds he fully knew he would have to take final departure from this transient mundane world.
So before he entered into noble parinibbana, he wanted to repay the greatest gratitude he owed to his Brahmin mother, Rupasari. He clearly knew by his deep insight that if he preached the universal Four Noble Truths, his mother would attain ariya noble state. She might be freed from Four Evil States (Woeful Abodes) and attain the noble pure state of sotapanna-ariya. The Greatful Bhikkhu, therefore, taught the Four Noble Truths to his mother. His mother heard his Dhamma together with eight thousand villagers, her own relatives. Before he returned to his mother’s house he performed several miracles at the request of the Buddha himself. Also he preached the Dhamma while standing high up in the air by means of his Abhinna Powers. The moment he told the Buddha that he was going to enter into Parinibbana, even the Great Earth shook with a heavy downpour of rain to commemorate his Great Passing Away.
When his disciples knew that he was going to pass away, they wept very sorrowfully.
As soon as he entered the room of his birth he fell seriously ill. That made his mother very unhappy.
To help and nurse him, Four Guardian Devas, Sakka as well as Maha Brahmas, came and gave necessary help to him. But the Noble Thera told them he already had nursing bhikkhus by his side and no divine help was necessary. So the great devas returned to their celestial realms after paying homage.
Since divine beings had bright divine lights radiating from their bodies, the mother asked him several questions. “Who are they? What are these strange beings?”, she asked about the devas. The Thera replied:
“Dear Mother, the visitors are four devas from Catumaharajjika Celestial Abode“.
“Dear Son, do you surpass them in glory and power?”
“Dear mother, these great divine beings are our guardians or guards. They just came near me to serve as my ‘protectors’ “.
“Who and what are the next visitors to you, after Catumaharajjika Devas?”
“He is Sakka, the King of celestial beings”.
“Do you have more power or greater status than this King Sakka?”
“Yes, indeed. As a matter of fact, he served the Buddha as a novice-assistant carrying his robes and bowl”.
“What about the next guest coming near you?”
“This guest is no other than the Great Brahma who is worshipped by you. This Maha Brahma is supposed to be the creator of the universe and living beings but he is just like midwife as he had to hold baby bodhisatta in his net of golden cloth.
The mother thought to herself:
“Ah! I have now come to see my son’s status, power and glory. He is just a disciple of the Buddha. His teacher, the Buddha himself, must have greater power, status and glory than that Celestial Being who seemed to be the Creator but who is in fact an inferior person”.While she was deep in these thoughts, five kinds of piti (joy) overwhelmed her whole physical body. She realized the Buddha’s supreme powers and virtues were incomparable among the human and divine beings. At once the Thera knew it was the right and proper place and time to deliver a suitable noble sermon to his joyful and thoughtful mother.
“Son, these divine beings are inferior in status to you. I am thinking about the power, status and glory of your teacher, the Exalted Buddha, in comparison with this knowledge now. I have now come to believe that the Buddha’s powers are limitless, matchless and unique”.
“Mother, our Teacher, the Buddha was respected and greeted by all the world at the time of Birth, at the time of Great Renunciation, at the time of attainment of Buddhahood, at the time he delivered the Dhammacakka Pavattana Sutta. So even ten thousand universes shook acknowledging his matchless power and unique glory”. Then he preached the Four Ariya Truths to his mother. After hearing this Dhamma talk, the mother gained Sotapatti Phala Insight. That was his debt of gratitude to his mother repaid in full. Like all Ariyas, the Venerable then asked for forgiveness of his numerous bhikkhu followers. He asked the bhikkhus to forgive him for any bodily, verbal or mental misdeeds he might have done. In turn the bhikkhus requested him to forgive their own misdeeds, if any. After these words of reconciliation he passed away, never to be reborn again.
When her son passed away the mother cried aloud, feeling a great loss. But as a final gesture of respect and honour to her son, she built many golden pavilions for the funeral ceremony. Then the body was burnt to ashes.
His younger brother Venerable Cunda Thera carried the Arahat’s Holy Relics and Water Strainer to the Buddha in person. Also he wanted to report the news of glorious death while the Buddha was dewelling in Savatthi Country.
Now Venerable Ananda was a teacher of Venerable Cunda. So he approached Ananda Thera to give the news of Venerable Sariputta’s complete cessation of rebirths and to show the robe, relics and water strainer to the Exalted One. The Buddha accepted these donation items.
The Buddha said, “These are the white-coloured relics of the Venerable Sariputta who has perfected virtues of perfection for a great many thousands of years. He is able and fit to preach the Dhamma on my behalf. He is the Second Noblest Ariya after me. No one except me can equal him in wisdom in all the three worlds. The supreme virtues of my second greatest person on earth are as follows:
- In the past five hundred lives, he had renounced worldly attachments for a life of bhikkhu.
- His supreme virtue of patience (khandi perfection) is as great as this whose Earth in scope and power.
- His humility could be likened to the humbleness of a huge bull whose horns had been cut off.
When true virtues of the Arahat were openly and clearly praised by the Compassionate One, the Venerable Ananda felt a feeling of awful respect for Venerable Sariputta. The Buddha calmed him down and gave him the holy relics to be enshrined in a pagoda in Savatthi.
The Venerable Moggalana
At a time when the Buddha was residing in Veluvana Monastery, Rajagaha Country, the Venerable Moggalana Thera was staying on a stone slab on the slope of Isigili mountain range.
Since the Venerable Thera, by virtue of his past numerous perfection deeds, had won highest powers, physical, mental and spiritual, he could through Jhana Abhinna Powers, visit both the Apaya and Deva Realms as and when he wished to. After his return to earth he taught moral lessons: bad begets bad: good begets good: Evil doers suffer numerous big and small hells. Good persons reach, after death, the Six Deva Abodes with all kinds of joy. He recounted how Buddha’s followers, by virtue of wholesome kammic deeds, were reborn in celestial realms. But followers of heretics evil doers suffered in hells below. As a result of this preaching, people abandoned heretical and wrong views. A great number of people became disciples of the Buddha. So their former leaders, priests and prophets, became very poor and discredited. They therefore decided to kill Moggalana Thera in revenge. After several meetings and discussions, they hired a notorious assassin giving him one thousand silver coins as bribe.
So Samanaguttaka, with his cohorts surrounded the Kalasila Rock Slab Place to kill the Venerable Thera there and then. For six successive days they failed to killed him as he rose up in air when they came near him. On the seventh day, the Thera’s past Evil Kamma had matured.
In one of his many past existences, as a young husband of a beautiful wife, he followed her evil advice to kill his own kind-hearted, blind, poor father and mother. This evil wife made him concoct a plan to kill them making them believe that robbers were on their way to rob and kill them. However, he in his folly tried to murder his blind parents and beat them. Believing the robbers had really come to murder them they cried aloud and, loving their son, told him to leave there instantly. The parents sacrificed their lives for the sake of their son. When he knew his parents compassion and love, he felt a great repentance. So he told them that the robbers had left. He brought his parents back home.
This unwholesome kamma he had done in one of his past lives now ripened and produced its corresponding result. Knowing this by means of his supernormal powers he tried to use his jhanas and abhinna powers to escape from his enemies. But the robber caught him and beat him with several big swords and sticks. As a consequence the Venerable Thera’s physical body looked as if its bones were well-pounded rice. Thinking their victim to be dead, the robbers fled and hid in a thick bush. They tossed the body onto a thicket of trees in a forest. However the Venerable Moggalana remained composed by virtue of his power of concentration and managed to get up to pay homage to the Buddha as he was about to enter into Parinibbana. When he met the Buddha he told the Buddha that he was entering into Parinibbana. The Buddha said that there would never be anyone like him and that he should teach the Dhamma before he entered into Parinibbana. So after displaying
his supernormal powers to all on-lookers and teaching the Dhamma, he entered into Parinibbana on the Rock Slab in Kalasila forest.
To honour the Thera’s passing away into Nibbana, deities from the Six Deva Abodes came and cremated his remains. They burnt the sacred corpse on a pyre of sandalwood, 99 feet high. Only his bodily relics remained to be worshipped by the devotees. A rain of flowers came down on earth in honour and in commemoration of this Thera’s final demise. His relics, on the suggestion of the Buddha, were enshrined in a Dhatu Cetiya near the Veluvana Monastery. Honour was accorded to the late Maharthera by the Buddha himself.
Title- The Two Chief Disciples (Part-1 of 2)
Title- Ariyas, The Noble Ones