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After dispatching the sixty monks, the Buddha arrived at the River Neranjara where camped hermits who were fireworshippers headed by three brothers, the eldest being Uruvela Kassapa. The compilers of the ancient texts mention through manifestations of psychic powers the Enlightened One convinced the brothers that their method of fire-worship was of no avail. The elder brother erroneously believed he was enlightened. The Buddha finally convinced him of his own self-deception and futility of their belief. He and his brothers, along with their 1,000 followers, then asked the Buddha for ordination as monks. To this new group of disciples, the Buddha taught a discourse called, aptly, the "Fire Sermon" in which He taught, in detail, that all things are on fire due to negligence with respect to guarding the sense-doors, including the mind-door (thinking). Heedlessness and lack of mindfulness become the fuel which feeds the burning pain of spiritual ignorance and the birth of many defilements. By establishing mindfulness at the sense-doors, one is well-protected. The pain of lust, hatred, grief and other mental taints are never born. One is indeed free. The minds of all the monks abandoned attachment and were delivered from all kinds of subtle defilements. Attaining the highest realization, they all became enlightened saints (arhats). 
The Great Being then traveled to Magadha where lived King Bimbisara. The news spread that the son of King Suddhodana had become a Buddha. Having learnt of this rare event, the King and his large retinue went to visit the Buddha and His monks who were residing in a palm grove. The King was struck by the fact that the famous Kassapa brothers and all their disciples had become followers of the Buddha. Uruvela Kassapa confirmed that all of them were now followers of the Blessed One. Gradually the Buddha led the King and his people to understand the merit of doing good deeds, thus gaining a purified mind. However, if the motive lay in doing good works merely for a favorable rebirth, all the deeds would not be as valuable as practicing loving-kindness which is the heart's release from greed, hatred and delusion. Then the Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths, the Law of Cause-and-Effect and Kamma (Karma, or volitional acitivity). The King and many of his people perceived the Dhamma (Truth) and became His lay followers. For the convenience of the Buddha and His retinue, the King donated a park, the beautiful Bamboo Grove, as a place ideal for seclusion and meditation practice.
 

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THE INTERVENING YEARS: Returning Home

THE BUDDHA'S FATHER
Seven years had passed in the Enlightened One's ministry. His renown as a spiritual teacher had spread to His home of Kapilavatthu. The King, now aged, wanted to see his son and have Him give the benefit of His teachings to the people. He invited the Buddha and many monks to return where he would accord Him a royal welcome. On seeing his son, the King observing the Buddha's determination was both proud and yet dejected that his son would never be heir to the throne. The Compassionate One said he knew the King's heart was full of affection and deeply grieved but to let those bonds of affection for a loss son be the ties which embrace with loving-kindness all humanity, receiving in place of a loss son one greater than Siddhattha: he will receive the Buddha, the teacher of Truth, and the peace of Nibbana will enter his heart. Not everyone in His hometown was convinced that He had realized Enlightenment. The texts state that the Buddha performed miracles to convince them, though He rarely permitted such displays. Residing in the forest grove, the Buddha, as usual, went on His almsround for His morning meal. The King confronted the Buddha and told Him how ashamed he was to see his son, born of a royal lineage, begging in the streets. The Buddha explained it was the custom of the Buddha-lineage to do so, and He shared the teachings of Truth with his father. The King reached the first stage of sainthood (Stream-entry) and, eventually, he realized Enlightenment as a lay follower.

THE BUDDHA'S FOSTER MOTHER
The wives of those who entered the Order of monks also wanted to renounce lay life and become nuns (bhikkhunis). These women requested Queen Maha Pajapati Gotami, whose husband the King had just passed away, to obtain the Buddha's consent to establish an Order of nuns. The Buddha attended His father's funeral and, at that time, He refused His aunt's request. Eventually, she was successful in obtaining His permission. She became a distinguished nun and was foremost in seniority and experience in the Nuns Sangha. She passed away at a very great age. The Buddha Himself visited the cremation site and paid respect to His enlightened foster mother by circumambulating it together with His disciples.
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THE BUDDHA'S FORMER WIFE
The Princess Yasodhara was anxious to renounce the world from the time she knew about the Great Renunciation of the Prince. To avoid any flight from the palace, King Suddhodana took steps to intensify security measures. The Princess, while grieving the loss of her husband and a father to their son, gradually became reconciled to His departure. Hearing that her husband had become an ascetic and to honor his austerities, she determined to live the simple life of a celibate renunciate within the palace walls. When the Buddha had greeted all His relatives and friends at His homecoming, He learned that Yasodhara refused to come into His presence. Knowing of her great sorrow, He requested His two chief disciples to accompany Him to her apartments. He told the monks to permit her grief to run its course during the time of reunion. She awaited Him, dressed in a yellow robe, with shorn hair. Her abundance of affection overflowed and she held Him by the feet and wept bitterly. Regaining her composure, the Buddha spoke gently to her, expressing His deep esteem and appreciation of her as His ever-faithful wife, her unfailing devotion to Him, and her great assistance in helping Him win Enlightenment. Princess Yasodhara entered the Nuns Order and later became an enlightened arhat. She predeceased the Buddha.
THE BUDDHA'S SON
Little Prince Rahula, seven years old, was sent by the Princess to ask for his inheritance. The Buddha, knowing of no other "inheritance" as matchless as the Truth, told Rahula He did not have gold and silver to give him, but asked if he were willing to receive spiritual treasures and whether he was strong enough to carry and keep them. Rahula replied with firmness that he was ready to be a novice monk. The Blessed One asked the Venerable Sariputta to ordain him. The King, discovering that now his grandson and a number of young men in the royal family had requested ordination, asked the Buddha only to ordain a minor with the consent of his parents or guardian. The Buddha assented. This rule was expanded to include the spouses of those intending to join the Order of monks and nuns. The Venerable Rahula was known for his humility and his desire for spiritual learning. He shunned any special consideration as the son of the Awakened One, and was noted for his high standard of discipline. Eventually, he realized Enlightenment. The Venerable Rahula predeceased the Buddha.

Contents | Birth | 4 Sights | Renunciation | Austeristies | Middle Way | Enlightenment | Teaching | Home | 2 Disciples | Women | Last Disciple | Death