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สารบัญ

CHAPTER 3.

 

SEEKING AUDIENCE WITH THE BUDDHA RESIDES AT AMBHAVARA

 

Ambhavana Temple was situated between Raajagaha city wall and Gijjhakuta Mountain. Formerly the temple grounds had belonged to Jiivaka Komaarabhacca, but later he was to offer it to the Lord Buddha. At that time, Jiivaka had offered healing to Buddha until the Buddha had regained health. Jiivaka had offered two fine robes and had consequently attained stream-entry. Subsequently it occurred to him that he should follow up the health of the Buddha more often (two or three times per day) but found that neither Gijjhaku.ta or Ve.luvana Temple were sufficiently close to Raajagaha to allow him to make his medical visits. Thus Jiivaka had a temple built on his own land at Ambhavana and had a red-painted wall eighteen-cubits high wall built around it together with sufficient accommodation to serve the needs of the Buddha and the monastic community. He offered the completed temple to the Sa"ngha.

On this occasion, the Buddha was in residence at Ambhavana with 1,250 monks and the news of his sojourn reached all people of Raajagaha — news which greatly interested King Ajaatasattu.

After killing his own father King Ajaatasattu had become full of guilt — so much so that he hadn't been able to sleep from the day of his father's death. King Ajaatasattu felt need to search for holy men who could give him advice to relieve his anguish.

The tradition of the Ariyan people in those days was that every full-moon day, disciples would go to their respective temples in order to discuss spiritual matters with their teacher. Seeing that it was the full-moon night, Ajaatasattu exclaimed:

"Which holy master should I go to hear the teachings of tonight who will help to lighten my heavy heart"

Each of the courtiers suggested their favourite holy master of the time for the king's consideration. Each waxed lyrical about how great a community leader, how famous, how honoured, how publicly praised, how senior, how long-ordained was their sect leader. Each of the six contemporary religious gurus were mentioned:

1. Pura.na Kassapa
2. Makkhali Kosaala
3. Ajita Kesakamphol
4. Pakuddha Kaccaayana
5. Sa~njaya Vela.t.thaputta
6. Nigantha Naa.taputta

Each of the courtiers wanted to attract the king to be patron to their favourite teacher so they could receive a more trusted position from the king. In fact King Ajaatasattu had already been disappointed at the hands of all six teachers but was too polite to say so. He just looked at Jiivaka. Jiivaka kept his silence wanting to measure the King's strength of interest to visit the Buddha. King Ajaatasattu asked "Jiivaka why are keeping quiet?" Jiivaka knew that the King wanted to visit the Buddha but was scared to go himself because of guilt about his killing his own father Jiivaka told the King that the Buddha was at Ambhavana with 1,250 monks.

Jiivaka praises the Buddha

Jivaka praised the nine virtues of the Buddha with the words:

1. the Lord Buddha is pure of defilement, worthy to teach others, worthy of homage [namo tassa bhagavato arahato].

2. the Buddha is endowed with the highest mindfulness able to gain enlightenment by his own efforts [sammaa sambuddho].

3. the Lord Buddha is endowed with wisdom to have insight into all things, past, present and future, of the mundane and transcendental. Endowed with the highest conduct - with no-one his equal [vijjaa cara.na sampanno].

4. The Lord Buddha is "Well-gone" — bringing benefit wherever He sets foot, can lead beings to Nirvana (that has happiness alone and no suffering) [sugato].

5. The Lord Buddha is a seer of the world — knowing the nature of worldly existence, the suffering of cycle of existence - knows nature of being of the world who himself has nature of freedom from worldly ways, and is a refuge to beings of the world who are still caught up in worldly ways [lokavidu].

6. The Lord Buddha can train those suitable for training — being an unsurpassed excellent trainer of men knowing the mind of people of the world so that he can give training according to the disposition of the these people [anuttaro purisadammasaaratthi].

7. the Lord Buddha is a leader of men and angels because of the excellent qualities with which he is endowed, he is accepted and respected without question by both angels and men as their teacher [sattha sevaamanussaana.m].

8. the Lord Buddha is awakened and joyous — awakened from superstition practices, and able to awaken others from such gullibility — because He is no longer attached, deluded, or grasping — He is joyous, refreshed and unendingly happy [buddho].

9. the Lord Buddha is one able through His higher wisdom to analyse the Dhamma into groupings, headings and points — convenient for study and choice of practice according to disposition of the practitioner — unsurpassed and unequalled by any other world teacher [bhagavaa].

All other courtiers remained silent because they were amazed that any world teacher could be to well endowed with virtue. Meanwhile, King Ajaatasattu had many reasons for wanting audience with the Buddha:

 

  • - He had guilt remaining in his mind of having killed his father at the persuasion of Devadatta and conspiring with Devadatta to shoot the Buddha dead with an arrow.
  • - He wanted to ask the forgiveness of the Buddha and take refuge because could see no one else in world who might protect him from his retribution.

 

Ajaatasattu agreed to go to see the Buddha and had Jiivaka prepare the royal procession.

The procession

The procession consisted primarily of elephants - one for Ajaatasattu and five-hundred for his followers. Five-hundred (female) consorts were disguised as soldiers with swords, spears and daggers to frighten away enemies. Jiivaka positioned himself close by the king to be the first to lay down his life for the king if there should be any danger. Ajaatasattu was suspicious by nature and it was not often that the king would travel outside the closed city gates at night. The women would be no risk themselves to the king and would shield the king in case of ambush because enemies would never harm women. There was a section of the route where the moonlight would be obscured by Gijjhaku.ta's peak — presenting an obvious lair for ambush. Jiivaka wanted to avoid the king even suspecting danger. Furthermore, if Ajaatasattu had gone alone, maybe the Buddha would not have taught anything seeing that Ajaatasattu was beyond help — but if accompanied by a retinue, the Buddha would decide to teach for the benefit of the followers.

When the intention of the king was announced in the town, the people of the town forgot their festivities and brought flowers and incense to line roadside where the royal procession would pass.

Evil-doers are wont to suspicion

As procession neared Ambhavana the music was stopped out of respect. The elephants walked quietly. At the part of the route where the moon was obscured by the mountains, the king suddenly became fearful of ambush. The king feared deceit by Jiivaka because he could hear no single sound made by the 1,250 monks supposed to be there.

"You are not trying to trick me, are you, friend Jiivaka? You are not deceiving me, are you, friend Jiivaka? You are not betraying me to my enemies, are you friend Jiivaka? How indeed can it possibly be that with twelve hundred and fifty members of the bhikkhu community here, there should be no voice to be heard, not even a sneeze or a cough?"

Jiivaka's was within a hair's breadth of his life, but he reassured the king that the Buddha would not cheat him and that the large number of monks could be clearly seen by the number of lamps lit ahead.

As he came closer to the Buddha and all the assembly was still in silence without even a cough. The next fear of the Buddha was that the Buddha would not receive him.

The king asked, "Which monk is the Buddha?"

Jiivaka replied, "The Buddha is the monk sitting with his back against the central pillar facing East sitting in honour among the members of the bhikkhu community."

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