Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part III by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(55) The Story of Rojamalla

At one time, the Lord Buddha accompanied by one thousand, two hundred and fifty disciples (Sangha) made His way to Kusinara from a place called Apana. At that time, the ruling princes of Malla on hearing the news of Buddha’s proposed visit to Kusinara, issued a royal proclamation that any person who failed to turn up and welcome the Buddha and his Disciple Bhikkhus would be punished with a fine of five-hundred kyats. On Buddha’s arrival at Kusinara, Roja was one among the crowd who were present to welcome the Buddha. He was an intimate friend of the Venerable Ashin Ananda. When Ananda expressed his best wishes, being delighted to see his friend Roja, saying it was very nice of him to give a hearty welcome to the Lord Buddha, Roja was said to have replied as: I came out to meet the Buddha not because I have great respect and reverence for Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, but because I fear I would have to pay a penalty of five-hundred kyats which will be imposed upon me should I fail to be present on this occasion of according reception to the Buddha and his Disciples.”

Having heard this reply, Ashin Ananda felt sorry and wondered what had made Roja speak to him in that manner. Ashin Ananda then reflected, “Roja is very rude and impolite. He is ignorant of the great value of advantages that will be derived by paying his reverence to the triple Gem – Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. He would, therefore, lose all benefits which he should have gained.” After reflecting as such, Ashin Ananda appraised the Buddha of this matter and respectfully put up that if Roja were bent upon giving his best regards to this noble Sasana, he would have a lot of advantages.

Thereupon, Buddha exhorted Ashin Ananda to develop metta bhavana with his concentration fixed firmly on Roja only. Usually Buddha developed and radiated Metta equally on all beings. Buddha also used to radiate his compassionate feelings evenly balanced towards all beings. However, on this particular occasion, Buddha imagined thus: “This man Roja would fail to gain merits as he should, if he does not take the opportunity of paying his reverence despite his meeting with the Exalted One, personally.” He therefore, developed and put forth his metta concentrating on Roja only. It is something like a beam of searchlight. If the rays of the light were diffused, it would lose its brightness. If however, the light is focussed on only one single narrow opening or object, it would be very powerful and dazzling, something that resembles the light emitted by the rays of the sun during daytime. Heat is also intense. Similarly, when Buddha radiated His metta concentrating fixedly on Roja alone instead of spreading out the rays of metta towards all beings, it would be extremely powerful.

The immediate reaction was that a feeling of immense reverence had occurred in the mind of Roja. It was stated that the mind which revered resembled that of a newly born calf which had its deep and firm attachment to its mother cow with intense love and devotion. Hence, Roja immediately left the precincts of a small monastery to another and then another making his way hither and thither in search of the Exalted One. Eventually as directed by the Sanghas, he reached the perfumed Chamber of the premises where the Buddha was residing. He then took his seat in the presence of the Buddha worshipping and devotedly paying his obeisance. Buddha then gave his due admonition and delivered a discourse relating to the virtues of dana, sila, etc. After hearing the Sermon, he became a Sotapanna. He even entreated the Buddha to let the Sanghas recognise him as their benefactor and accept his offer of the four necessities relating to the monks, namely, monastery, robes, food and medicine, and not to accept offerings from others.

Relying on this incident, it is to be understood that if metta is developed and radiated towards others with concentrated attention, it would have a telepathic effect, and the recipients of metta would tend to love and respect in reciprocity. Not only human beings but also animals are likely to reciprocate love. Some time ago, a Home for the Aged had published a magazine in which a peculiar incident was mentioned.