- In the era of Gauthama Buddha he was conceived in the womb of a Malla princess
- Spiritual and intellectual progression as defined in the unique philosophy is totally independent of an individual’s maturity in age
Spiritual and intellectual progression as defined in the unique philosophy is totally independent of an individual’s maturity in age. Some were as old as eighty when they reached the summit of wisdom, some as tender as seven. Whilst personages as Arahant Bakkula stood at the farther end, the world was mesmerized by the attainment of the supreme mental state ever possible by younglings such as Sopaka, Suneetha, Sumana, Sukha, Seevali and Kumara Kassapa all in their seventh year in life. One who embellished the Buddhist narrative in a most extraordinary manner was Dabbamallaputta, the child saint of the Gauthama Buddha dispensation. None of them was however overnight an achievers so to say, of that position of zenithal knowledge but extremely rare individuals who set themselves upon an uncompromisingly arduous path of training from almost beginingless time.
A hundred thousand kalpas ago, a span too vast for the human mind to fathom, a handsome young nobleman witnessed Piyamatura Buddha designating a bhikkhu as foremost amongst those allocating dwelling places for visiting monks from distant places. Consequent to offering maha dana to Buddha and the congregation of monks for seven days, the nobleman made a fervent prayer to receive the identical ‘position’ before a future Buddha some day. Piyamatura Buddha having looked into his future confirmed the realization of his wish a hundred thousand kalpas later in the dispensation of Gauthama Buddha arising out of the ‘Okkaka’ clan. A kalpa is defined by Buddha as equivalent to the time it takes to unload a hundred cartloads filled with mustard seeds at the rate of removing a single seed once every hundred years.
Thenceforth the young nobleman transmitting between the worlds of gods and humans was born as Sakka three hundred times and as a Sakvithi King on over five hundred occasions. Ninety one kalpas ago in an inconceivable twist of human fickleness he ridiculed an Arahant disciple of Vipassi Buddha as a low caste ‘shudra’. Again vagaries of existence being as baffling as they are, he offered alms to a group of monks including the Arahant he disparaged before. Though he would spend hundreds of thousands of years in livid hell on account of that slur on the blameless being, kamma wouldn’t let go but trail him through unto his last life of sainthood in samsara.
Thenceforth the young nobleman transmitting between the worlds of gods and humans was born as Sakka three hundred times and as a Sakvithi King on over five hundred occasions
In a subsequent sojourn of the timeless journey he was born in India at a time when Kashyapa Buddha’s dispensation was on the wane, when he along with seven others ordained themselves as Buddhist monks. Unable to bear depraved men in yellow garb denigrating Buddha Sasana incessantly they decided to reach the summit of a rock with the help of a tall ladder in a final bid to end all suffering before the doctrine disappears from the face of the earth altogether. The ladder was thereafter pushed down. One of the seven monks reached the highest state of Buddhist aspirations, another became Anagami and was born on a pure abode whilst the other five including Dabbamallaputta perished on the rock.
In the era of Gauthama Buddha he was conceived in the womb of a Malla princess. When she died prior to delivery and was being burnt on the pyre her stomach burst open due to the intense heat and the infant who was flung out came to rest on a stack of wood unharmed due to his merit – hence he was named ‘Dabba’ by his grandmother. When he was just seven years of age, driven by his previous kamma he wished to enter the bhikkhu order upon his very first sight of the Buddha who was on a visit to Malla kingdom. At the request of the grandmother Buddha ordered a monk to ordain him. As was the practice on certain such occasions then, the handsome child was given the ‘thacha panchaka’ – contemplation of the first five impurities of the body. Along with the first three shaving strokes on the head he reached the three stages of enlightenment whilst the final stroke and attainment of Arahanthood occurred in tandem. The Arahant’s previous births are vividly recounted by himself in Apadanatta and Theragathattakatha.
While spending his time in secrecy and in solitude an idea dawned upon the young Dabbamallaputta Thero that since there was nothing more for him to accomplish in life he ought to employ himself in the service of bhikkhus in assigning their dwelling places and nominating them for upcoming alms-givings offered by laymen. When he conveyed his idea to Buddha He exclaimed “Very well, very well, Dabba” and when the congregation of monks was called for their opinion on the matter by a senior monk they all indicated their approval by maintaining silence. Later, Buddha pronounced “Though Dabba is yet a child, the position he occupies is great”.
A segment of Parajikapali in Vinaya Pitaka provides a most fascinating account of the young bhikkhu’s enthusiasm in executing the subject assigned to him. In allocating dwelling places for monks he determines the quarters according to their particular frames of mind. Bhikkuhs fond of reciting various suttas are quartered close to each other, so are those learned in the principles of bhikkhu discipline (Vinaya). Versatile preachers bent on discussing Dhamma are placed close to one another. Bhikkhus deft at entering absorptions (jhana) are placed together so there wouldn’t be disturbance caused to each other. Ones who are only keen on fattening themselves and indulging in bestial talk are grouped together. If bhikkhus arrive after daylight the Arahant enters the fire element (thejo dhatu) to show them their respective ‘kuti’ with the aid of his luminosity. Some bhikkhus arrive deliberately after darkness in order to witness the child Arahant’s supernormal powers. When he questions them of their preferences they name faraway places as Gijjakuta, Sorapatana, Issigili mountain, the Cold Forest, Gothama Rock, Thimbiri Rock, Thapodara, Jeevaka Mango Grove and Meddakuchchi Deer Park. Those who are too feeble to walk are levitated through his irdi power.
When many bhikkhus arrive at the same time he creates several figures all identical to himself (manomaya kaya) and guides them to their respective abodes walking ahead of them aided by the light emitted from his finger tips. Having taken them to their places of residence he shows them around and also apprises them of the code of rules to be observed on the premises as well as the applicable arrival and departure times. Having educated them thus he returns to Weluwanaramaya.
It was on seeing such a blaze of flares atop Gijukulu rock late one night that Punna the devout slave-maid down at Rajagaha city arrived at an emotive conclusion that venerable bhikkhus would have had to face a disturbing situation on the mountain such as snake-bite, and divulged it to the Blessed One the following morning after offering a stale rice cake to Him while on His alms round in the city, whereupon He dispelled her worries.
Later there came to be a group of irreligious novice monks called Meththiya Bhummajaka with no merit whatsoever. When other bhikkhus were being offered gourmet food by devotees the above group invariably received a meal of inferior rice and insipid soup. Around the same time a particular lay disciple named Kalyanabakthika met Dabbamallaputta Thero who delivered a dhamma talk that inspired the laymen uplifted him and made him rejoice. Upon being asked by the disciple Dabbamallaputta Thero informed him that Meththiya Bhummajaka monks have been named for alms at his residence the following day. ‘How can these profligate ones be entertained in my house’ he was worried, and he ordered the maid not to invite them in but to feed them in the out-house with bland food. The dissolute monks however had other ideas and it is said that in anticipation of a grand dana with various kinds of meats etc. from the well to do layman they did not have proper sleep that night. Following day when the maid did exactly as she was instructed by her master the infuriated monks came to the inevitable conclusion that the Arahant had poisoned the layman against them. They went back to their temple, hid their bowls and robes and lay on the temple floor with bent bodies, fuming in incomprehensible silence. Parajkapali provides a pithy account of the enthralling episode.
At this stage the Meththiya nun came up to the monks and worshipped them. When there was no response she worshipped them again and again. “Venerable sirs, I am worshipping you, what crime have I committed? Why aren’t you speaking to me” she said. When they finally blurted out “When Dabbamallaputta is hurting us so, you remain impassive”, she expressed her willingness to do whatever at their bidding to put the situation right. It was also the moment for the balance of dormant kamma biding its time to settle its score with the Arahant for insinuating Vipassi Buddha’s disciple ninety one kalpas ago.
The plot hatched by Meththiya Bhummajaka was the ultimate in imaginative viciousness. Meththiya nun was to complain to Buddha thus; “Lord, this is intolerable, unacceptable. Lord was any direction once fearless, sorrowless and hindrance free, now that direction is fearful, sorrowful and beset with obstacles. Was any place once turbulence free, now a storm has arisen. Water has been set afire; Dabbamallaputta Thero raped me.”
The shameful Meththiya monks wouldn’t be put off despite the collapse of their sinister plot, neither would the residue kamma of the monk come to rest over the calumnious utterance made over ninety one kalpas ago
True to her word the nun approached Buddha, worshipped Him and repeated exactly as was told her. The Blessed One then questioned Arahant Dabbamallaputta on the said issue in the presence of the congregation of monks. The inquiry that pursued as recorded on Patamaduttadosa precept of Vinaya Pitaka is indeed galvanizing.
Buddha – “Dabbaya, do you recollect an incident as narrated by this bhikkuni?”
Arahant – “Lord, I ought to be judged in the manner you have always judged me”
Buddha – “Dabbaya, do you recollect an incident as narrated by this bhikkhuni?” The Arahant replied in the manner he did before. He did so for the third time as well.
Buddha – “Dabbaya, ‘pundits’ do not resolve issues with other’s assistance. If you committed the act say so, if not, deny’.
Arahant – “Lord, from the day I was born, I cannot recollect having sought relations with a woman even in my dreams. How could I, when awake,”
“Monks, disrobe Meththiya nun. Also seek the views of the monks present,” said Buddha rose and left the Vihara. The monks affirmed the decision of the Buddha. Later when Mettiya Bhummajaka monks voluntarily confessed to having concocted the vicious scheme, they were subject to a severe Vinaya stricture.
The shameful Meththiya monks wouldn’t be put off despite the collapse of their sinister plot, neither would the residue kamma of the monk come to rest over the calumnious utterance made over ninety one kaplas ago. While descending from Gijjakuta Rock Meththiya monks happened to see a pair of goats mating and they struck upon another villainous idea. They were to claim that they spotted Dabbamallaputta Thero and Meththiya nun in an intimate posture on Gijjakuta. They maintained before Buddha that whereas the earlier evidence of theirs as to the offence proper was hearsay, now they were providing eye-witness accounts of a sordid affair. Again the Blessed One followed the same inquisitorial procedure as before by summoning Dabbamallaputta Thero and seeking an explanation from him, thereafter confronting his accusers with it. When questioned by the Supremely Faultless Being on earth, no one can speak an untruth, so the dissolute ones confessed to their wrongdoing and again a specifically distinct stricture was passed on them.
Above was a presentation of the Arahant Dabbamallaputta saga in the sketchiest of narratives. Vinaya Chapter consists of a vast volume of Sangha disciplinary rules spontaneously enunciated by the foremost lawmaker ever known to the world. The fundamentals of present day jurisprudence are irrevocably traceable to the great repository of law, the Vianaya Pitaka founded over two thousand five hundred years ago. The little Arahant did adorn the Vinaya and Sutta Pitaka in equal measure.