His original name was Vippali. His parents were rich Brahmins of high caste. As a youth, he looked nice and attractive.
When he was old enough for marriage, his parents repeatedly asked him to get married. So after repeated requests of his parents and in order to satisfy their wishes, he made a golden statue of young damsel, thinking no one, including his parents, would not be able to find any woman as beautiful as the statue. He gave it to his mother telling her to find a woman like it. He told his mother he would leave this tangle world to become a bhikkhu unless his parents could not find him such a beautiful woman.
Mother asked eight Brahmins well-versed in astrology to find the bride in various towns and villages. Fortunately they found the exact lookalike in the beautiful girl named Baddakapilani, the only daughter of a rich man named Kosiyagotta, the Brahmin. So on meeting this rare beauty they gave the golden statue to her and requested her to marry Vippali. Though they did not want to get married, they were married at long last. But they lived like brother and sister, observing total chastity.
When Vippali’s parents died he had to continue doing the same old trade as legacy. He possessed artificial ponds and lakes with mechanical devices for his pleasure. His land was 12 yujana wide. Besides, he owned a large cavalry of elephants, horses and vehicles with many attendants for his business.
One day a miracle for him happened. In his paddy fields where crops were often destroyed by pests and birds, workers happened to kill small, numerous insects such as snails, ants and small rats. So he inquired about these unpleasant scenes—being creatures devouring small ones as their daily food. His workers and servants said: “Rich man, we till the paddy field only to raise crops. But we often have to kill pests, insects and small animals for your sake. These are certainly unwholesome deeds. But you, too, must bear the consequences of these evil acts because we have worked for your sake. You, too, are responsible for Akusala actions done by us!” Hearing these facts about his workers’ daily duties, he instantly made a noble decision to renounce the worldly life: he left behind all his riches and possessions. His aim was to become a bhikkhu without cares, attachments, and daily troubles. He had a kind and mature enough heart to see the profound truths of mundane life.
Baddakapilani, too, came to learn life’s deep moral lessons. One day she found that many crows had stolen and eaten the sesame seeds of plants that had matured in her fields. Even small insects and small worms were eaten by crows daily. She asked her servants: “Sisters, I have seen these evil acts. Who is responsible for such a state of things (Akusala deeds)? The servants blamed her: “It is for your sake that we did cultivation and agriculture work which contains the evil deeds of killing animals. Now crows have also killed these pitiful animals. So you must bear the blame and responsibility for all those evils”. Realizing that such evils (Akusala) will cause her to spend a long time in the samsara without any hope of freedom, she decided to ask her rich husband to supervise the work for her, as she wished ardently to become a true bhikkhuni, faithfully following bhikkhuni rules and regulations.
Both the husband and the wife renounced their worldly lives and left for a lovely place to practice concentration and meditation. The man thought, monks and laymen will misunderstand our plans and behavior if we walk together on the same road though our purpose is noble. If people jeered at us and misunderstood our good aim they would go to hell in their next lives. To save them we two should go separate ways, each going alone. So at a road junction the two separated, each taking a different route. The rich man left his lovely wife for good.
While this noble “separation” took place the Great Earth shook in honour of them. Even the Cakkavala and Meru Mountains rose higher.
When this good “quake” occurred, the Buddha had to look with His divine eye for the cause of this unusual event. He saw instantly that it was caused by the separation of the two noble persons. To honour them, He paid a visit to their departing point and there He sat alone under a Bahuputta Banyan tree. Thus the golden light radiating from the Buddha’s body encompassed and covered the entire Bo Tree.
When he saw the Buddha sitting silently but with full grandeur he paid humble respects by bowing down with clasped hands. He said, “Lord, you are my only teacher showing the full, right path of Truth”. He said those words three times in homage. Only the Buddha could bear the powerful force of this worship, so great were the Venerable’s past virtues and spiritual powers. No one except the Buddha, could bear the impact of the respect by such a person of great virtue.
To give Dhamma inheritance to the Great Venerable, He told about the Ways of Discipline.
- 1.You must always practice with a sense of the highest moral shame (hiri) and moral fear (ottapa).
- 2.You must always listen to all Dhammas taught by me with due respect and bear them in your heart.
- 3.You must always have Kayagata Sati.
These instructions represented an act of formal initiation into bhikkhuhood. He was the “only bhikkhu” who was initiated into the Buddhist Order in this way.
Like the Buddha, Venerable Kassapa had 32 Marks of Great Man (Mahapurisa characteristics). He offered the Buddha his robe to use as a seat. The Buddha replied, “Kassapa, your robe is too fine and too soft. You exchange it for my own robe now”. So, in order to give a task for future Sasana perpetuation to him, the Buddha gave His robe to be worn by this Great, Noble Thera. It meant that Kassapa alone was worthy of the Buddha’s robe. The Great Earth shook in honour of this exchange of robes.
After practicing the 13 ascetic practices (duutingas) he attained arahatship on the eighth day of practice.
So the Buddha offered him a rare title: The Most Outstanding Bhikkhu among those who do Ascetic Practice, the Best Bhikkhu of all in such hard work.
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Title- Ariyas, The Noble Ones