WHEN THE BUDDHA DID NOT ADMIT ENLIGHTENMENT
Yăvakivańca me, Bhikkhave, imesu catusu ariyasaccesu evam tiparivaötam dvădasăkaram yathăhhutam ńănadassanam na suvisuddham ahosi, neva tavăham, Bhikkhave, sadevake loke samărake sabrhamake sassamanabrahmaniyă pajăya, sadevamanussăya anuttaram sammăsambhodim abhisambudhoti paccańńăsim.
“As long, Oh, Bhikkhus, as my knowledge of reality and insight regarding the four Noble Truths in three aspects and twelve ways was not fully clear to me, so long did I not admit to the world with its devas, maras and brahmas, to the mass of beings with its recluses, brahmins, kings and people, that I had understood, attained and realized rightly by myself the incomparable, the most excellent perfect enlightenment, in other words, the perfectly enlightened supreme Buddhahood.”
Sammăsambodhi is the arahatta magga ńăna which is attained only by the Buddhas. The Buddhas gain this arahatta magga ńăna intuitively by their own efforts without any instruction from others. By this ńăna, they rightly and perfectly know everything because with it arises simultaneously the sabbańńuta ńăna which knows everything. Therefore, this exclusive arahatamagga ńăna of the Buddhas is known as sammăsambodhi; sammă being rightly, sam is by oneself and bodhi means knowledge, knowledge rightly known by self. For Pacceka Buddhas, their arahattamagga ńăna is known only as sambodhi, self-known knowledge without the qualifying sammă (rightly). The arahattamagga ńăna of the disciples is simply known as bodhi, knowledge, enlightenment without the qualifying sammă and sam.
The arahattamagga ńăna that had arisen to the Buddhas was known by themselves and rightly. Hence, it is called sammăsambodhi. With this ńăna, arises simultaneously sabbanuta ńăna which knows all dhammas. After having acquired this faculty of knowing everything, Buddhahood which knows all dhammas was attained. Therefore, this sammăsambodhi ńăna is regarded as the knowledge responsible for attainment of Buddhahood. Thus, in the above passage, the Buddha said that he had not yet admitted attainment of sammăsambodhi ńăna which would give rise to Buddhahood.
For how long did he withhold this admission of Buddhahood? It was stated that he withheld it for as long as his knowledge of the four Truths in three aspects of sacca, kicca and kata ńăna for each truth, as explained earlier, was not fully clear to him. To fix a definite time limit, it meant that the admission was withheld till early dawn of the day after the full-moon day of Kason, just before he attained the arahattamagga.
By this pronouncement of non-admission till then, he made it clear that it was out of the question for him to make the claim of Buddhahood during the earlier period when he was engaged in extreme austerities.
In the above passage, three aspects mean sacca, kicca and kata ńăna for each of the four Truths. By twelve ways is meant the total number of ńănas evolved for all the four Truths, fourfold of these three ńănas. Arahattamagga ńăna together with these twelve ńănas which appeared before and after it is yathăbhuta ńăna, knowledge of seeing reality as it is. For as long as this yathabhuta ńăna was not fully clear to him, for so long as the Blessed One withheld admission of having attained Buddhahood, perfect enlightenment, sammăsambodhi.
To the query ‘Admist whom was this admission withheld?’, it may be answered. ‘In this world.’ In this world, there are powerful devas of sharp intellect; there are also maras who are antagonistic to the teaching, as well as brahmas, more powerful and more intelligent than the devas and maras. Was attainment of Buddhahood claimed before his knowledge of the four Truths was fully clear to him, it would have been difficult for him to give satisfactory replies and answers to questions, inquiries, disputations that would be raised by these devas, maras and brahmas. Keeping aside these devas, maras and brahmas who were not in close association with the human beings, there were in the human world, on the surface of the earth, recluses and ascetics known as samanas and brahmanas. There were also kings popularly designated as the devas and the common people. It would have been difficult, too, to reply to the investigative enquiries and queries they might happen to make. There were living in those days leaders of religious sects such as Purana Kassapa who claimed to know all about the past, the present and the future. When learned people, recluses and laymen began to scrutinize their claims, these religious leaders had been found to fall far short of their claims. Had Buddha pronounced his Buddhahood before actual attainment of sammăsambodhi ńăna, he could also have faced similar predicament.
At one time, even Buddha was confronted by King Pasenadi Kosala who, taking advantage of his kingly position, subjected the Buddha to a searching examination. “Oh, Gotama, do you also claim to understand, achieve, realize the incomparable, perfect Enlightenment otherwise the Buddhahood?” In those days, the leaders such as Purana Kassapa, etc., used to make bold claims of Buddhahood to the common people, but when examined by King Pasenadi Kosala, they faltered in their claims. “When even elderly leaders of religious sects hesitate to claim Buddhahood, you, Oh, Gotama, who is much younger in age and less experienced in religious life, do you really admit that you have become a Buddha?” the king persisted in his enquiries by repeating the question.
The Buddha, being true Buddha as he was, was able to give satisfactory answers to the king. Fully convinced with the Buddha’s supreme attainments, King Pasenadi Kosala took refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha and became a disciple of the Buddha from that time. Having in mind such people who might examine and investigate him, he said, “I did not declare yet to the world with its devas, maras and brahmas and to the mass of beings with recluses and brahmanas, kings and people that I had attained Buddhahood.”
With these words the Buddha let it be known that for so long as he had not become a true Buddha, he should not have made a claim to it. Accordingly, he did not. But when the time came when he should pronounce his Buddhahood, he did pronounce it. And this is how he made his declaration.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF BUDDHAHOOD
Yato ca kho, Bhikkhave, Imesu catusu ariyasaccesu evam tiparivattam dvădasăkăram yathăbhutam ńănadassanam suvisuddham ahosi, athaham, Bhikkhave, sadevake loke samărake sabrhmake sassamanabrahmaniya pajăya sadevamanussăya anuttaram sammăsambodhim abhisambuddhoti paccańńăsim.
“But when, Bhikkhus, my knowledge of reality and insight regarding the Four Noble Truths in three respects and twelve ways became fully clear to me, I declared to the world with its devas, maras and brahmas, to the mass of beings with its recluses, brahmanas, kings and people that I had understood, attained and realized rightly by myself the incomparable, the most excellent perfect enlightenment, in other words, the perfectly enlightened supreme Buddhahood.”
What he declared in the above passage was that only when his yathăbhuta ńăna, knowledge of seeing reality as it truly is, was fully clear in twelve ways derived from three ńănas of saccă, kicca and kata with respect to each of the four Truths, he admitted to attainment and realization of the incomparable, the most excellent perfect Enlightenment, the perfectly enlightened supreme Buddhahood. This declaration was made not just to that region, that part of the world but to the whole universe with its powerful devas of sharp intellect, with its maras hostile to the true Teaching, and with its more powerful and more intelligent brahmas. It was meant also for the whole of human world and with its learned recluses and brahmanas, with its kings and peoples.
This declaration was an open invitation to any doubting devas, măras or brăhmas or to any doubting recluses, brahmanas, kings or wise lay persons to investigate, scrutinize his claim and a guarantee to give satisfactory answers to all their searching enquiries. This is indeed a very bold, solemn declaration not made impetuously or impulsively without due verification, but only after he had scrutinized and reassured himself by retrospection that he had really attained Buddhahood.
Ńănańanca pana me dassamam udapădi “akuppă me vimutti, ayamantimă jăti, natthi dăni punabbhavo” ti.
“Indeed, knowledge and vision arose in me; unshakeable is my deliverance, (my liberation from defilements is achieved by means of arahattamagga and phala; not just vikkhambhana, putting away kilesa to a distance as by rupa jhăna or arupa jhăna. It is remainderless, rootless eradication of kilesa, a liberation which causes complete calm again. He knew, therefore, by reflection that the deliverance was unshakeable, indestructible). This is the last existence; now there is no more rebirth for me. Oh, Bhikkhus, such knowledge and vision had arisen in me,” he concluded.
In this concluding statement, the words ‘unshakeable is my deliverance’ means that his deliverance is not like that obtained by virtue of rupa jhăna and arupa jhăna which may be destroyed again. The individual who has obtained the stage of rupa jhăna and arupa jhăna is free from kilesas such as kămacchanda (sensual desire), vyăpăda (ill-will), etc. These kilesas remain calm, suppressed in him, but when his jhănic attainments deteriorate, sensual desires, ill-will, etc., make their appearance again. These jhănas only put away the kilesas to a distance (vikkhambhana). The deliverance won by the Buddha was of the samuccheda vimutti type, which completely eradicated kilesas without remainder, and of the patipassadi vimutti type, which again calmed down and tranquilized the potency of these defilements. Samuccheda vimutti is deliverance by arahatta magga ńăna, which eradicates without remainder all kilesas, whereas patipassadi vimutti is deliverance by means of arahatta phala ńăna, which calms down again the potency of all kilesas. These deliverances remain steadfast and indestructible.
Hence, the Blessed One reflected, ‘Unshakeable is my deliverance.’
Moreover, having eradicated tanhă, otherwise called samudaya saccă, by means of arahatta magga, the Blessed One was free from tanhă which could cause new becoming. For beings still saddled with tanhă, after passing away from one existence, they are reborn in the next, holding onto, as objects, one of the signs, kamma, kamma nimitta, gati nimitta, which appears to them as death approaches. There is always rebirth, a new existence, for beings not yet devoid of tanhă.
The Bodhisatta also had passed through many rounds of rebirths in successive existences. Thus, at the beginning of Buddhahood, the Blessed One had reflected: ‘Seeking in vain, the house-builder Tanhă, who repeatedly had framed and built this house of fresh existences, khandha, because I was not equipped with good vision of arahatta magga ńăna (aneka jăti samsăram sandhăvissam). I had hastened through many rounds of rebirths, cycles of existences. Now that with the attainment of sabbańńuta ńăna together with arahatta ńăna, I have found you. Oh, builder, Tanhă, never again shall you build this house, my khandha.’
In this manner, the Blessed One had given an account of his retrospection. Although fresh existence is no more possible for the Blessed One in the absence of tanhă, he still had to live the present life which had been brought forth by tanhă before its eradication. With retrospection insight, he said, ‘This is my last existence. Now there is no more rebirth for me.’ These are the concluding words of the Dhammacakka Sutta.
MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION
Careful study of the Dhammacakka Sutta, beginning with the words ‘dve me, Bhikkhave, anta pabbajitena na sevitabba’ and ending with the words ‘ayamanti mă jăti, natthi dăni punabbhavoti’, reveals that it deals with the path trodden by the Blessed One, the dhammas he had discovered and how he had discovered them. As to the practical details of the path, there was little mention of them in a direct way; only the opening lines ‘should not indulge in the two extremes’ conveys some sort of practical instructions to follow. It is, therefore, a matter for consideration how the early disciples attained the higher knowledge of the path and fruition, by what practical methods and in which manner they attained their goals. We shall explain this matter now.
HIGHER KNOWLEDGE FOR THE LISTENERS OF THE TEACHING
In the discourses taught by the Buddha, although there was no precise instructions such as ‘practise in this way; bear in mind in this manner’, it must be regarded that they contain exhortations and guidance as to what should be followed and what should be avoided. According to the ancient masters, ‘every word of the Buddha carries an injunction’. To illustrate.
Asevană ca bălănam, panditanańca sevană.
Pujă ca pujaniyănam, etam mangalamuttamam.
This verse in the Mangala Sutta gives only the enunciation of the three blessings, namely, ‘Not to associate with the ignorant, to associate with the wise, to honour those who are worthy of honour, this is the noblest blessing’. In this verse, there is no direct exhortation with whom one should dissociate, associate or whom to honour.
Nevertheless, it should be taken as an exhortation. Likewise, we do not find any direct exhortation or injunction in the Dhammacakka Sutta. The Blessed One said simply, ‘Avoiding the two extreme practices, I have discovered penetratingly the Middle Way.’ This should be regarded as meaning, ‘Like me, you must avoid the two extremes and follow the practice of the Middle Path.’
In stating ‘The Middle Path leads to vision, etc.’, it should be taken to imply ‘If you develop the Middle Path, vision will arise in you, too; higher knowledge will come to you, you will gain benefits till realization of Nibbăna’. In giving the enunciation of the Eightfold Path, it should be taken as giving instructions for promoting sila, samădhi and magga paths.
Then, the definition of dukkha saccă must be regarded as instructions to make an effort to understand dukkha saccă comprehensively. Likewise, it must be understood that what was taught as samudaya saccă was an instruction to remove it; as nirodha saccă and magga saccă as instructions to develop the magga saccă in oneself and realize the nirodha saccă.
Afterwards, when he taught the four saccă ńăna, it must be regarded as an exhortation to strive to attain the four saccă ńănas with regard to the four Truths; when he taught about four kicca ńănas, it was to instruct to understand the Truth of Suffering by contemplating on the phenomenon of anicca, etc. This is indeed very obvious. When it was described as dhamma which should be rightly and fully comprehended, it is very clear that it meant that effort should be made to achieve complete and rightful understanding of dukkha saccă. Dukkha saccă has already been explained previously to consist of jăti, etc., up to upădănakkhandhas which manifest themselves in oneself when seeing, hearing, etc. Thus, it is understandable that it means contemplation of the nature of anicca by noting every instance of seeing, hearing, etc.
‘Magga saccă is the path to be developed’ means development by noting each phenomenon of seeing, hearing, etc. Similarly, ‘samudaya should be eliminated’ means craving should be put away by contemplating on the Truth of Suffering. ‘Nirodha saccă should be realized’ means that after fully understanding the Truth of Suffering, through contemplation and developing the vipassană magga, ultimately nirodha saccă will be realized.
When the Buddha told them how he came to know what should be known by developing the Middle Path also called the Eightfold Path, his audience could understand what they too would come to know what should be known by developing the Middle Path. It is just like a person recounting how he was cured of the disease he was suffering from by taking a certain effective medicine. Persons having the same disease will realize that they could also cure their disease by the same medicine.
The Buddha’s audience at that time was made up of people who were already accomplished in păramis to attain higher knowledge by hearing the first sermon of the Buddha. They were in a position to understand what he meant. Accordingly, it could be taken that they contemplated on the Truth of Suffering at the moment of occurrence, developing vipassană ńăna in successive stages, and ultimately realized Nibbăna by means of the four ariya maggas.
There is no doubt that the good people forming this audience could also, by contemplating on the Truth of Suffering, by taking note of the phenomenon of rising and vanishing, come to know the four Truths as they should be known and realize the higher knowledge of the ariyan path and fruition.
Understanding the sermon in the manner I have just explained, one member of the audience at the first sermon of the Blessed One, the Venerable Kondańńa, noting all the phenomena of hearing, knowing, feeling of devotion and pleasure, feeling glad, touching, seeing that appeared to him at the time of rising, developed vipassană magga and realized sotăpatti path and fruition. How he realized them will be the subject of our discussion later.
Eighteen crores of brahmas likewise achieved similar realization. According to Milinda Păli text, innumerable kămavăcara devas also meditated in a similar way and attained the higher knowledge of the ariya path and fruition. Because all the beings who were developed sufficiently to receive the dhamma had attained higher knowledge and because he had completely covered all the dhammas he should teach, the Blessed One brought his sermon to conclusion with the words just quoted above. The reciters at the First Council had recorded this account of the termination of the sermon and how the group of five bhikkhus were gladdened by the sermon in these words.
RECORDS OF THE SANGHAYANA, THE FIRST GREAT COUNCIL
Idamavoca Bhagavă, attamană pańcavaggiyă Bhikkhu bhagavato bhăsitam abhinandunti.
Thus spoke the Blessed One, starting with ‘dve me, Bhikkhave, antă pabbajitena na sevitabba’ and ending with ‘natthi dăni punabbhavoti’, and the group of five Bhikkhus greatly rejoiced, welcomed the words of the Blessed One with delight.
Then the Theras of the first Council also recorded how the Venerable Kondańńa attained the higher knowledge.
Imasamińca pańńă veyyakaranasamin bhańńamăne ăyasamato Kondańńassa virajan vitamalam dhammacakkum udapădi . . . yam kińci samudaya dhammam, sabbam tam nirodha imam ti.
‘It is worthy of special note that while this discourse was being expounded or has just been expounded, the dust-free, stainless eye of dhamma, otherwise sotăpatti magga ńăna arose to the Venerable Kondańńa. Everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasing.”
Briefly, this record stated that the Venerable Kondańńa became a sotăpanna (stream-winner) by attainment of sotăpatti path and fruition. When did it happen? He attained it while the Blessed One was ‘expounding the discourse’. This is the precise translation of the grammatical tense as given in the text, namely, bhanamane, bhaniyamane. The Săratta Dipani sub-commentary reproduced the same tense, but Patisambhidă commentary preferred to take the perfect tense, past tense proximate to the present tense, bhanite, meaning ‘after being expounded’. We have similarly rendered it as ‘has just been expounded’.
HOW THE VENERABLE KONDAŃŃA ATTAINED HIGHER KNOWLEDGE WHILE LISTENING TO THE DISCOURSE
The Venerable Kondańńa could have developed the Eightfold Path and attained the ariya magga phala while the Blessed One was enunciating on the Middle Way, otherwise the Eightfold Path during the discourse. When he heard about the four Noble Truths, too, he could have contemplated on it know what should be known and attained the higher knowledge of magga phala. Especially, when he heard that the Truth of Suffering should be fully comprehended and magga should be developed, it is very probable that he could contemplate on the Truth of Suffering, otherwise the upădănakkhandhas and by developing the vipassană magga, attained the higher knowledge of sotăpatti path and fruition.
As for contemplating on suffering, by noting the sound of dhamma at every instant of hearing it, he would come to know the reality as it is and the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta, and in this way developed the Eightfold Path. When deep appreciation for the meaning of the discourse arose, it could be contemplated upon. Devotional appreciation of the dhamma and for the voice that delivered it could be noted, too, as it occurred. Rejoicing that came after appreciation, the thrill of joy (piti) that accompanied it could all be contemplated upon. It is quite probable that piti was taken as an object for contemplation. It was mentioned in the Păli text that at the moment when the mind was feeling fit and prepared, soft and tender, free from hindrances, elated and exultant, full of faith and devotion, hearing the discourse on the four Truths, many had attained to higher knowledge. The Eightfold Path could also be developed by taking note of what is taking place in the body, the sensations of sufferings or pleasure felt in the body, and by contemplating on the act of paying respectful homage to the Buddha.
Seeing, hearing, etc., mentioned above with respect to the năma and rupa presently arising are not just pańńatti, mere terms or names; they are paramattha dhammas (ultimate realities) which actually exist, which actually occur. Upădănakkhandhas are such realities. The dukkha saccă which should be fully comprehended is also a reality, paramattha dhamma. When, in accordance with the teaching that dukkha saccă should be fully comprehended, every phenomenon is noted, dukkha saccă is fully comprehended through understanding the nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. On each occasion of understanding in this way, craving which may arise because of the notion of nicca, sukha and atta, gets eliminated, having no opportunity to arise. This is then momentary abandonment of samudaya.
Delusion or ignorance with respect to the object under contemplation, together with kilesa, kamma and vipăka that may arise in connection with it, vanish and come to cessation too with each noting. This is momentary cessation achieved with each noting by virtue of having accomplished it. It goes without saying that vipassană maggas are being developed at each moment of observation. In this way, by noting what was seen, heard, etc., the Venerable Kondańńa developed vipassana which knows the four Truths as it should be known and attain the sotăpanna path and fruition while he was listening to the discourse on Dhammacakka. In other words, he became a sotăpanna by realizing the sotăpatti magga and phala just at the end of the discourse.
HOW MAGGA ŃANA IS DUST FREE AND STAINLESS
The sotăpanna ńăna attained by the Venerable Kondańńa was praised in the sutta as being dust-free and stainless. It would be profitable to consider how this sotăpanna ńăna was dust-free and stainless. Săratta Dipani sub-commentary states: It is dust-free, being free from the dust and dirt of răga (lust) which would lead to the nether worlds; stainless, being free from defilements of ditthi and vicikicchă. This is a figurative description of kilesas which are eliminated by sotăpatti magga, but Patisambhidă Magga commentary considers both dust as well as defilements as raga, etc. Lust (răga) tends to conceal, to cover up and, hence, is likened to dust. Again, lust is likened to impurities or defilements because it spoils or brings destruction.
Another consideration arises here. Does ‘being free from dust and defilements’ mean (a) arising of the eye of dhamma, otherwise magga ńăna, unaccompanied by dust and defilements; or (b) not hindering or interfering with magga ńăna so that Nibbăna could not be seen? Magga, however, has no association with kilesas. It is obvious, therefore, that it has no reference here to unaccompaniment of dust and defilements. Thus, ‘being free from dust and defilements’ should be understood in the sense of ‘not hindering or interfering with magga ńăna so that Nibbăna could not be seen’.
This is how hindrance is overcome. In spite or vipassana meditation, Nibbăna is not seen yet by means of sotăpanna ńăna whilst ditthi and vicikicchă (which should be eliminated by sotăpatti magga) and răga (which leads to the nether world) remain in force. It is just like the inability to see because of the cataract in the eye. But, when vipassană ńăna becomes fully accomplished and strengthened, the ditthi, vicikicchă and răga which would lead to the nether world would get weakened; they can no longer hinder so as not to see the Nibbăna, just as the layer of cataract which gets thinner can no longer completely cover up the eyesight. Then sotăpanna magga ńăna can see through and realise the Nibbană. Such capacity to perceive through and realize the Nibbăna is described as ‘being free from dust, virăga; free from stains, vitamala’.
Magga ńăna eradicates only after vipassana has done its utmost to eliminate.
The above interpretation falls into conformity with the figurative description of the ‘eye of dhamma’ and with the exposition in the Visuddhimagga and Mahătika which state that supramundane magga ńăna eradicates without remainder only those kilesas which have been weakened to the utmost by the mundane vipassană ńăna.
MAGGA ŃANA EVOLVES OUT OF VIPASSANA ŃANA
It should be especially noted here that supramundane magga ńăna does not come forth from nowhere. As successive consciousness arise out of preceding consciousness, magga ńăna can also be said, by way of unity, to have arisen out of vipassană ńăna. Thus, defilements such as ditthi, vicikicchă, etc., which have been debilitated by the power of vipassană ńăna can no longer keep the Nibbăna hidden from view. ‘By being dust-free and stainless’ is meant this inability of răgas, etc., to keep the Nibbăna hidden anymore.
Brahmăyu Sutta of Majjhima Pannăsa describes the three lowers maggas as the eye of dhamma. In the Cularahulova Sutta of of Uparisa Pannasa, all the four paths and fruitions are described as the eye of the dhamma. When, therefore, these higher attainments are stated to be dust-free and stainless’, it means that kama, raga and vyapada are so weakened by virtue of vipassană ńăna that they could not keep the Nibbăna hidden from view. We have taken the trouble of delving deeply into these points so as to make it easily comprehensible that ariya magga ńăna does not arise out of nowhere, but evolves only from vipassană ńăna by virtue of sufficing conditions in nature, pakatupanissaya.
The question arises then: how does this dhamma cakkhu, otherwise the sotăpatti magga ńăna arise? This ńăna arises by perceiving that ‘everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of passing away’. There are two modes of perceiving in this manner. At the moment of developing udayabhaya ńăna, seeing the phenomenon of origination and instant dissolution, realization comes that what arises passes into dissolution. This is perception by means of vipassană ńăna. When sankharupakkhă ńăna is fully established, while noting the continuous process of dissolution of rupa and năma, a stage is reached when (volitional activities of) năma, rupa and sankharas appear to get dissolved into a state of complete cessation. This is perceiving the peaceful bliss of Nibbăna by actually realizing it, when all the phenomena of constant arising come to complete cessation. This is perception by means of ariya magga ńăna.
The eye of dhamma, otherwise called sotăpatti ńăna, is developed by the second kind of perceiving. For this reason, attainment of sotăpatti magga is clearly indicated when all volitional activities of năma and rupa get dissolved into a state of complete cessation. Once realized by sotăpanna ńăna, the knowledge that perceives that ‘everything that arises gets dissolved’ remains firm, unshakeable. Hence, Cularăhulovada Sutta describes the realization of all the four magga ńănas in the same words. ‘The dust-free, stainless eye of dhamma arose: everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of passing away.’
All năma-rupa cease when Nibbăna becomes the object of magga ńăna.
Quoting Culaniddesa commentary which states, ‘By means of sotăpatti magga, these five akusala consciousness come to cessation: four consciousness connected with wrong view (ditthigata sampayutta) and one consciousness accompanied with doubt (vicikicchăsahagutta)’. A certain person is going round teaching and writing, attempting to refute the statement ‘at the moment of sotăpatti path and fruition, all năma-rupa sankhăras are perceived to have ceased’. He seems to hold that sotăpatti path and fruition has as its object only the cessation of the five akusala consciousness brought about by sotăpatti magga. This is a very wrong view for the simple reason that Nibbăna is not partial cessation of akusala nor cessation in parts of năma rupa dhammas. As a matter of fact, Nibbăna means complete cessation of three vattas, namely, kilesa, kamma and vipăka, the complete cessation of all năma rupa saďkhăras, all compounded things. Thus, to the question ‘what has ariya magga as its object?’ The reply would be that it has Nibbăna as its object and Nibbăna is, as just explained, complete cessation of all conditioned năma and rupas. Thus, the assertion ‘at the moment of attainment of sotăpatti path and fruition, one perceives only the coming into cessation of the sense-object known as well as the knowing mind’ is a factual statement of what is actually observed.
A careful study of Ajita Sutta in the Parăyana Vagga on which the exposition was given in the said commentary to Culaniddesa Păli text, will reveal the statement therein: ‘At this peace of Nibbăna all năma rupa cease’. Furthermore, if questioned, ‘Is Nibbăna, which is the object of sotăpatti magga, the same Nibbăna which is the object of the higher maggas?’ The answer would be ‘Yes, the same, there is no difference’. If sotăpatti magga were to have the five akusala consciousness as its object, and the other maggas have as their objects the cessation of respective consciousness they have eradicated, would the objects of four maggas be four different Nibbănas? There is, however, no such difference and it is obvious, therefore, that all the four maggas have as their objects the one and only Nibbăna.
For the reasons we have stated above, it is a totally wrong view to hold that ‘sotăpatti magga must have as its object only the cessation of the five akusala consciousness as its object’.
We have digressed from the main discourse to make some critical remarks about certain wrong assertions. We must now come back to the original topic by recounting the meaning of the Păli text: “While this discourse was being expounded or has just been expounded, the dust-free stainless eye of dhamma, otherwise sotăpatti magga ńăna, arose to the Venerable Kondańńa that ‘everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasing'”.
WAS NOT MAGGA ŃANA ATTAINED BY APPRECIATION OF THE DISCOURSE?
Here is a point for argument. Is it not a fact that in the passage just quoted, there is no mention of the Venerable Kondańńa engaging in the practice of vipassană? It mentions only that the eye of dhamma or sotăpatti magga was developed while the Blessed One was expounding the dhamma or had just finished expounding the dhamma. Could it not be that the sotăpatti magga ńăna was developed through appreciation of and delight in the discourse?
In that case, all the elaboration about how Kondańńa engaged himself in the practice of vipassana meditation is really redundant. This is the point for argument.
The elaboration’s are not redundant at all. In the Dhammacakka Sutta itself, it is definitely stated that the Eightfold path should be developed. In addition, the commentary exposition of sammăditthi states that dukkha saccă and samudaya saccă should be understood by contemplating on them. There are also statements that ariya magga ńăna is developed only when pubbabhăga magga, otherwise called vipassană magga, are fully accomplished. It is also definitely stated that without contemplating on any of the four subjects of meditation, namely , body, sensation, mind and dhamma, no vipassană pańńă nor magga pańńă could be attained (Part III of this discourse refers). Păli texts also clearly state that sammăsati magga could arise only by developing the fourfold mindfulness.
Because of these reasons, there can be no arising of ariya magga without developing the vipassană magga. These elaborations are given to facilitate understanding how vipassană could be developed while listening to the discourse. It must be taken, therefore, that by adopting one of the methods of meditating, as explained above, the Venerable Kondańńa had attained instantly the sotăpatti magga and phala.
After describing how the Venerable Kondańńa attained the sotăpatti magga ńăna, the Theras of the first council went on to describe the manner in which the Dhammacakka Sutta was acclaimed.
ACCLAMATION BY THE DEVAS AND BRAHMAS
Pavatti te ca pana Bhagavată dhammacakke bhummă devă saddamanussavesum, Etam bhagavată Varanasiyam Isipatane Migadaye anuttaram dhammacakkam pavattitam appati vattiyam samanena vă brahmanena vă devena vă mărena vă brahmună va kenaci vă lokasaminti.
What is worthy of special note is that when the Blessed One had set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma (according to the commentary, the Wheel of Dhamma means pativeda ńăna, penetrative insight and the knowledge of what and how to impart the dhamma (desana ńăna); by the teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta, it amounts to setting in motion this Wheel of Dhamma). In other words, when the Blessed One had given the discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta, the Bhuma devas, the earth-bound devas, proclaimed in one voice:
“The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma has been set in motion (the incomparable discourse on the Dhammacakka has been given) by the Blessed One at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary in the township of Vărănasi; a motion which no recluse nor brahmana nor any deva nor mara nor brăhma nor any other being in the world can reverse or prevent.”
Having heard this proclamation by the Bhumadevas, the Catumahărăjika devas and the devas in the upper realms of Tăvatimsa, Yăma, Tusita, Nimmănarati, Paranimitavasavati and the Brahmas, all proclaimed in one voice:
“The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma has been set in motion (the incomparable discourse on the Dhammacakka has been given) by the Blessed One at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary in the township of Vărănasi, a motion which no recluse nor brahmana nor any deva nor măra nor brăhma nor any other being in the world can reverse or prevent.”
Itiha tena khanena tena muhuttena yăva brahmalokă saddo abbhuggacchi.
“Thus, in an instant, in a moment, the voice or proclamation went forth up to the world of the brahmas.”
THE EARTHQUAKE AND APPEARANCE OF SHINING LIGHTS
Ayańca dasasahassi lokadhătu samkampi sampakampi sampavedhi. Appamăno ca ul.ăro obhăso loke paturahasi atikkamma devănam devănubhăvam ti.
“The entire cosmos of the thousand worlds shook in upward motion, quaked in upward and downward motion, and trembled in four directions. An immeasurable sublime radiance, caused by the mighty desană (teaching), surpassing even the majestic, divine radiance of the devas appeared on earth.”
Atha kho Bhagavă imam udănam udănesi: Ańńăsi vata bho Kond.ańńo, ańńăsi vata Kond.ańńo’ti. Iti hidam ăyasamato Kond.ańńassa ańńăsi Kond.ańńo tveva nămam ahosi’ti.Then, just after delivering the discourse, just after the appearance of the eye of dhamma or sotăpatti magga ńăna to the Venerable Kondańńa, the Blessed One made this joyous utterance: “Oh, friends, indeed Kondańńa has understood. Indeed, Kondańńa has understood. Thus, it was because of this joyous utterance that the Venerable Kondańńa had won the name of Ańńăsi Kondańńa, the one who has understood. Here ends the Discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta.” The concluding passage recited above marks the termination of the Dhammacakka Sutta as recorded in the Păli Canon of Mahă Vagga Samyutta. On reflection at the conclusion of the discourse, the Blessed One perceived that the Venerable Kondańńa had attained the higher knowledge of sotăpatti magga phala. So joyously he made the utterance, “Indeed, Kondańńa has perceived, Kondańńa has perceived”. It was in reference to this utterance that the Venerable Kondańńa became commonly known as Ańńăsi Kondańńa. According to the Samyutta Păli text, the Dhammacakka Sutta ends here, but the Vinaya Păli text continued on from there giving an account of how the Bhikkhu Sangha came into existence. We shall relate this account now.
THE VENERABLE AŃŃASI KONDAŃŃA’S REQUEST FOR ORDINATION
Atha kho ăyasamă ańńăsi Kond.ańńo ditthadhammo pattadhammo divitadhammo pariyogăl.hadhammo tinnavicikicco vigatakatthamkattho vesărajjappatto aparappaccayo satthusăsane bhagavantam etadavoca, “labheyyăham bhante bhagavato santike pabbajjam labheyyam upasampadanti”.
After the Blessed One had made the joyous utterance, the Venerable Kondańńa made the following request in these words: “Lord (Bhante), may I have leave to take up the ascetic life as a novice (pabbajjam) in the presence of the Buddha; may I receive (ordination) admission into the Buddha’s Order (upasampadam).”
NOT EASY TO GIVE UP ONE’S TRADITIONAL BELIEFS
The Venerable Kondańńa must have previously embraced some kind of traditional religious belief. To give up this old belief and desire for admission into the Buddha’s Order could not have come about with mere ordinary faith. In modern times, it is no easy matter for people of other faiths to join the Buddha’s Order after accepting Buddhism. For some people, not to say putting on the yellow robes, to take refuge in the Three Gems and keep the precepts for the purpose of practising meditation is a difficult task.
Apart from the Venerable Kondańńa, the remaining four of the group appeared to be indecisive to get admitted into the Buddha’s Order. Why then did Kondańńa seek permission to join the Buddha’s Order? The answer is that Kondańńa had become possessed of virtue and qualities which are described by such epithets as ditthadhammo, etc.
Fully vested with virtues such as Ddtthadhammo, etc., Kondańńa made the request for having seen the dhamma (ditthadhamma). He had seen nirodha saccă of the four Truths, that is, he had realized Nibbăna. Then, having seen the peace of Nibbăna, he saw the constant arising and vanishing of conditioned năma rupa as awesome suffering. He perceived, too, that the craving which took delight in them was the true cause of suffering. He realized at the same time that magga saccă consisting of sammăditthi, etc., was the true path that would lead to the peace of Nibbăna. Realizing thus the four Truths himself, firm confidence that the Buddha himself had also realized the four Truths arose. Such confidence is known as aveccappasada ńăna, knowledge born of complete faith. It is like the confidence a patient placed in his physician whose treatment has effectively cured him of his disease. Thus, for having seen the four truths exactly as expounded by the Buddha, Kondańńa had made the request for monkhood.
Ditthadhamma (having seen): to make sure it means seeing with the eye of knowledge and not by physical eye, it is qualified by pattadhammo (having arrived, attained, reached); to connote arriving through knowledge and not by any other means; it is qualified again by vidhitadhammo (having clearly known). To assure that such knowledge is not just partial or fractional but complete, the qualifying word pariyogaladhamma is mentioned, which means dive into, penetrate into conveying that he had penetrated fully into all aspects of the dhamma. All these words reflect the richness of Păli vocabulary of those days.
It is very important to see, to know by one’s own knowledge the Four Noble Truths. Without knowing the real truth yet, mere profession of the Buddhist faith will not have removed all doubts about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Misgivings on them may appear under certain circumstances. Doubts may arise also with regards to the practice of sila, samădhi and pańńă one is pursuing. By knowing what should be known by oneself, one may become free from scepticism to a certain extent.
The yogi who practices noting every instance of seeing, hearing, meeting, knowing, etc., knows when the power of concentration gets strengthened, knows the object observed (rupa) separately from the knowing mind (năma). Then he knows through his own experience that seeing takes place because there are the object and the eye; there is the act of going because of the desire to go. Because he fails to note the object, he wrongly takes it to be pleasant, thinking it pleasant, he takes delight in it. Because of delight, he craves for it. To satisfy the demands of his craving, he has to exert himself to suitable actions. All these become his own knowledge through personal experience. He also knows he faces difficulties and bad situations because of bad kamma; he enjoys good things because of good kammas. When his knowledge grows to this extent, he can become free of doubts as to whether there is soul, living entity or a creator.
When he continues on with the practice, he perceives the objects of năma rupa arising and vanishing even while he is observing them. He becomes convinced, while continuing with the noting, of their nature of impermanence, dreadful suffering and their being not self, not subject to control. This singular perception strengthens his confidence that ‘the Buddha who had given this discourse must have realized the Truth himself; he must be a true Buddha; his teachings are true and the Sanghas who are practising his teachings are true Sanghas engaged in the right practice’.
Then comes the stage when all conditioned năma and rupa dissolve into a state of complete cessation. This is realizing personally the peace of Nibbăna, in other words nirodha saccă. Simultaneously, the three remaining Truths are realized by virtue of having accomplished the tasks of fully and rightly comprehending dukkha, abandoning samudaya, and developing magga in oneself. Knowing the four Truths as it should be known, his confidence and faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha becomes firmly rooted, unshakeable. His confidence in the practice of sila, samădhi and pańńă also gets firmly established. With firmly rooted confidence and faith, vicikiccha (sceptical doubts) are well overcome. The Venerable Kondańńa had seen the four Truths himself and, thus, had left all uncertainties behind, tinnavicikiccho. For this reason, too, he made the request to the Buddha for ordination. When he was free from doubts and scepticism, he became free from wavering, irresolution, indecision (vigatakatamkato) which is synonymous with tinna, vicikiccho. He had made the request for this reason, too.
Furthermore, he made the request to the Buddha because he had acquired courage of conviction in the teaching vesăra japatto, courage born of knowledge of the Truth and also because he had become quite independent of the others, aparăpaccayo, in the matter of the doctrine of the teacher having acquired personal knowledge of it.
Most followers of various religious faiths in the world are dependent on others in the matter of their beliefs, being ignorant about them themselves. Some worship the deities of trees, forests and mountains because the practice has been handed down from generation to generation by ancestors of the family. No one has seen nor met those beings. Some worship the king of devas, brahmas or gods of the heaven. No one has the personal knowledge of these objects of worship. People take on trust what was told to them by their parents, teachers, etc. Amongst the people of the Buddhist faith, too, prior to attainment of what should be known, they are dependent on elders, parents and teachers in the matter of their beliefs. When some knowledge has been gained by one’s own effort, by means of practice of concentration meditation or vipassana meditation, self-confidence may be gained to a certain extent. When the stage is reached for attainment of jhănas, path and fruition, one has the personal knowledge of these attainments and the belief in them is no longer dependent on others.
CITTA, THE WEALTHY MAN AND NATAPUTTA
At the time of the Buddha, there lived a certain wealthy man by the name of Citta, who had attained the stage of the anăgami path. One day, he happened to arrive at the place of Nătaputta, the leader of the Niganda sect. The sect leader, Nătaputta, was worshipped as a supreme God by the followers of Jainism and was also known as Mahăvira. He was quite well-known since before the Enlightenment of the Buddha. Nătaputta addressed the rich man Citta, “Well, your teacher Gotama is said to have taught that there is jhăna samădhi free from vitakka, and vicăra. Do you believe so?”
Citta, the wealthy man, replied, “I acknowledge there is jhăna samădhi free from vitakka and vicăra, not because of my faith in the Buddha.” The great teacher Nătaputta made a wrong interpretation of this reply. He thought the rich man had replied that he had no faith in the Buddha. So he told his follows, “Look, Oh, disciples, the rich man Citta is very straightforward and honest. What he did not believe in, he said he did not believe. Well, this matter is really unbelievable. It’s impossible, just like trying to catch the air with a net, or to arrest the swift flowing waters of the Ganges with the fist or the palm of the hand. It’s impossible to get free from vitakka and vicăra.”
On hearing this wrong interpretation, the rich man Citta asked the great teacher Nătaputta, “Which is nobler, knowing or believing?” Nătaputta replied, “Knowing is of course nobler than believing.” The rich man Citta retorted then, “I can attain anytime I wish the first jhăna with vitakka and vicăra; the second jhăna free of vitakka and vicăra; also the third jhăna free from piti and the fourth jhăna devoid of sukha. In this matter of saying ‘there is jhăna samădhi unaccompanied by vitakka and vicăra’ when I am experiencing personally the jhăna samădhi not accompanied by vitakka and vicăra, is there any need for me to rely on other noble persons, samanas, for my belief?”
In this story, the rich man Citta, who had experienced personally jhăna samădhi unaccompanied by vitakka and vicăra, had no need to rely on others for believing this fact. Likewise, Kondańńa, who had personal experience of the four Truths was not dependent on others on the matter of Buddha’s teaching on the Eightfold path and sila, samădhi and pańńă. For thus personally knowing them, without depending on others, he requested the Buddha for admission to his Order. This passage is so inspiring and stimulates so much devotion that we shall recite it once again in full, complete with translation.
DEVELOPING DEVOTIONAL INSPIRATION
When the Blessed One had made the joyous utterance, the Venerable Ańńăsi Kondańńa, having seen the dhamma, that is the Four Noble Truths, having attained, reached the Four Noble Truths, having clearly understood the Four Noble Truths, having penetrated through the Four Noble Truths, leaving uncertainty behind, having overcome all doubts, being free from wavering, irresolution, having acquired the courage of conviction with respect to the Teaching of the Buddha (not being afraid to face the enquiry why one has changed faith), having the personal knowledge of the dhamma, not dependent on others with regard to the Teaching, made the request to the Buddha for leave to take up the life of samanera, samana, novice and monk, in the presence of the Buddha.
This record by the Theras of the First Council, describing the Venerable Kondańńa’s request, gives details of his qualifications and attainments to establish his eligibility for admission to the Order, develops in the reader intense devotional inspiration. The more one knows the dhamma, the more intensely one feels this devotional inspiration.
When the Venerable Kondańńa made the request in the above manner, the Blessed One permitted him to join the Order in these words.
ORDINATION BY EHI BHIKKHU
“Ehi Bhikkhu” ti Bhagavă avoca, “svăkkhăto dhammo cara brahmacariyam sammă dukkhassa antakiriyăyă” ti. Săva tassa ăyasamato upasampadă ahosi’ti.
First, the Blessed One said, “Come, Bhikkhu, join my order.” Then he said, “Well taught is the Dhamma. Come and practise the holy life of sila, samădhi and pańńă for the sake of the complete ending of suffering.” This invitation by the Blessed One saying ‘Come, Bhikkhu’ constitutes the act of ordination, and accordingly Kondańńa became a Bhikkhu of the Buddha’s Order.
Venerable Kondańńa was at that time already an ascetic, a samana but not of the Buddha’s Order. Therefore, he asked for admission to the Buddha’s Order from the Blessed One who permitted him to do so, by saying ‘Ehi Bhikkhu.’ This is acknowledgment by the Blessed One of his entry to the Buddha’s Order. Thus, the Venerable Ańńăsi Kondańńa had become a disciple of the Buddha as a member of the Buddha’s Order.
BEINGS WHO ATTAINED A HIGHER KNOWLEDGE THROUGH HEARING THE FIRST SERMON
At the time of delivery of the Dhammacakka Sutta, there were only five members of the human world, the group of five Bhikkhus, who heard the first sermon. And of them, only one single person, the Venerable Kondańńa, attained to higher knowledge. But it is stated in the Milinda Pańńa Păli Text that eighteen crores of brahmas and innumerable kămăvacara devas attained to the higher knowledge then.
At that time, only the Venerable Kondańńa had sought entry to the Buddha’s Order and became a samana disciple of the Buddha. The remaining four, namely, the Venerables Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahănăma and Assaji had not yet done so. Their hesitation may be accounted for by the fact that they were not fully accomplished yet in personally knowing the dhamma like the Venerable Ańńăsi Kondańńa. They were still deficient in the courage of conviction with respect to the Buddha’s teaching. But by virtue of hearing the Dhammacakka Sutta discourse, they had developed saddhă, faith in the teaching. Therefore, from the time of hearing the discourse, these four were being engaged in the practice of meditation under the guidance of the Blessed One. Vinaya Maha Vagga Păli Canon gives the following account of how they practised meditation and how they came to see and realize the dhamma.
HIGHER KNOWLEDGE ATTAINED ONLY AFTER ACTUAL PRACTICE
After the Venerable Kondańńa had been admitted to the Order, the Blessed One gave guidance and instructions on the practice of the dhamma to the remaining four members of the group. Being thus guided and instructed by the Blessed One, the dust-free, stainless eye of dhamma rose to the Venerable Vappa and Bhaddiya ‘that everything that has the nature of arising, has the nature of passing away’.
When the eye of dhamma opened and they became sotapanas, the Venerables Vappa and Bhaddiya requested the Blessed One for admission to the Order and the Blessed One accepted them into the order by saying “Ehi Bhikkhu . . .”
SYSTEMATIC GUIDANCE AND PRACTICE IN THE EARLY PERIODS OF THE SASANA
The Mahă Vagga Păli text continued.
After the Venerables Vappa and Bhaddiya had been thus admitted to the Order by the ‘Ehi Bhikkhu’ ordination, the Blessed One gave instructions on dhamma and guidance to the remaining Venerables Mahănăma and Assaji, without going on the rounds for alms-food in person. Three Bhikkhus went out for almsfood and all the six, including the Blessed One, sustained themselves on whatever food was brought back by the three. Being thus guided and instructed by the Blessed One on the practice of the dhamma, the dust-free, stainless eye of dhamma arose to the Venerables Mahănăma and Assaji that ‘everything that has the nature of arising, has the nature of passing away’. And these Venerables Mahanama and Assaji, having seen the dhamma, having reached, having clearly understood, having penetrated through to the dhamma, leaving uncertainty behind, having overcome all doubts, being free from wavering, irresolution, having acquired the courage of conviction with respect to the Teaching of the Buddha, having the personal knowledge of the dhamma, not depending on others with regard to the Teaching, made the following request to the Blessed One.
“Lord (Bhante), may we have leave to take up the ascetic life as novices in the presence of the Buddha; may we receive ordination (admission to the Buddha’s Order, upasampadam).” And the Blessed One replied, “Come, Bhikkhus. Well taught is the dhamma. Come and practise the holy life for the sake of complete ending of suffering.” This invitation by the Blessed One constitutes the act of ordination and accordingly the Venerables Mahănăma and Assaji became Bhikkhus in the Order of the Buddha.
In the Păli text of the Vinaya Mahăvăgga, it is mentioned that the four Bhikkhus attained higher knowledge in two groups of two each, whereas its commentary states that they attained higher knowledge one by one, which is stated as follows: ‘It should be understood that the eye of dhamma arose to the Venerable Vappa on the first waning day of Wăso, to the Venerable Bhaddiya on the second waning day, to the Venerable Mahănăma on the third waning day, and to the Venerable Assaji on the fourth waning day respectively.’
Furthermore, it should be specially noted that all this while, the Blessed One had remained in the monastery without going out for alms-food, ready to render assistance to the four Bhikkhus in removing the impurities (obstacles) and complications (difficulties) that may arise to them in the course of practising meditation. Every time impurities (obstacles) arose in the Bhikkhus, the Blessed One went to their aid travelling through space and removed them. On the fifth waning day of Waso, the Blessed One gathered all the five Bhikkhus together and instructed them by giving the discourse on the Anatta Lakkhana Sutta.’
In the above account in the commentary, the statement about the Buddha’s travelling through space to remove the impurities (obstacles) reveals the urgent nature of assistance needed by the meditating Bhikkhus. At the present time, too, it would be beneficial if meditation teachers could constantly attend on the yogis and give guidance.
The Pasarasi Sutta of the Mula Pannasa gives the following account on the subject. ‘Bhikkhus, when I gave instructions to the two Bhikkhus, the three Bhikkhus went round for almsfood. The group of six of us lived on the food brought back by the three Bhikkhus. When I gave instructions to the three Bhikkhus, the two Bhikkhus went round for alms-food. The group of six of us lived on the food brought back by the two Bhikkhus. Then, being thus instructed and guided by me, the group of five Bhikkhus, having in themselves the nature of arising in new existence, and seeing danger and wretchedness in fresh rebirths, searched and endeavoured for the noblest, Supreme Nibbăna, free from fresh rebirth and accordingly had attained the Supreme Nibbăna which is free from rebirth, free from yoga, attachment to rebirth.’ In this way, the Blessed One stated that the five Bhikkhus had attained the arahatta phala.
The commentary on this Sutta has this to say. ‘The Blessed One remained in the monastery ready to go and assist the Venerable Vappa, etc., in removing the impurities that arose in the course of their meditation. Whenever impurities and complications arose in them, the Bhikkhus came to the Blessed One and asked of him (informed him of their difficulties). The Blessed One himself also went to where the Bhikkhus were sitting in meditation and removed these impurities. Thus, without going out on alms-round, living on the almsfood brought to them and following the instructions given by the Blessed One, the Bhikkhus went on meditating. Of these Bhikkhus, the Venerable Vappa became sotăpanna on the first waning day of Wăso, the Venerable Bhaddiya on the second, the Venerable Mahănăma on the third and the Venerable Assaji on the fourth waning day of Wăso; the five Bhikkhus were assembled to one group and the Anatta Lakkhana Sutta was taught to them by the Blessed One. At the end of the discourse on the Suttas, all the five Bhikkhus attained Arahatship.’
MERE LISTENING TO THE DISCOURSE IS NOT SUFFICIENT ACTUAL PRACTICE IS NEEDED
According to the Vinaya and Sutta Păli texts, the attainment was described to be achieved in two groups of two Bhikkhus each, whereas the commentary gave a detailed description of how individual Bhikkhus attained sotăpanna stage on separate days. That was the only difference between the Păli texts version and the commentary version. It was not by just listening to the discourse, but only after actual practices that they attained sotăpanna. They did not go out for alms-round but worked continuously day and night. The Buddha himself stayed all the time in the monastery, ready to go to their assistance and give guidance. On these points, there is agreement in all versions.
It is very plain, therefore, that the Venerable Vappa began working in the evening of the full-moon day of Waso and attained sotăpanna on the first waning day for having striven as instructed and guided by the Blessed One, not just by listening to the discourse. The Venerable Bhaddiya had to strive for about two days and attained sotăpanna on the second waning day; the Venerable Mahănăma for about two days and attained sotăpanna on the third waning day; Venerable Assaji had to strive for about four days to attain sotăpanna on the fourth waning day of Waso. All of them had to put in great efforts for their attainments, they achieved sotăpanna not by listening to the discourse but by working for it strenuously under the close supervision and guidance of the Blessed One himself. This fact is very plain.
Venerable Bhikkhus of the group of five, such as the Venerable Vappa, etc., were no ordinary persons. It was said that they were the royal astrologers who had foretold the future of the Bodhisatta at the time of his birth. Some commentaries, however, said that they were the sons of these court astrologers. They were singular individuals who had given up household life and become recluses while the Bodhisatta was still in his teens. They were also endowed with remarkable intelligence, able to grasp easily the teaching of the Buddha. Were sotăpanna attainable by mere listening to the dhamma, they were the persons who would have realized it without having to strive strenuously for it for one day, two days, etc. The Blessed One would not have to urge them to endeavour earnestly; he would merely have taught them once to become sotăpannas and, if necessary, would have repeated the teaching twice or thrice, etc. Instead, he required them not to just listen to the dhamma but to practise meditation strenuously. His reason for doing so was quite obvious; on reflection, he knew them to belong to the neyya class of individuals, who need to practise under guidance.
Assertions are being made nowadays that ‘no concentration meditation nor Vipassană meditation is necessary to reach the mere stage of sotăpanna; appreciating and understanding what is taught by the teacher is enough to gain this stage’. These assertions only serve to discourage and dissuade the practice of samatha and Vipassană meditation. It must first be noted that these views are groundless and are causing great disservice and harm to the spread of Patipatti Săsană. It must be firmly noted too that believers and followers of such views will find the path to Nibbăna closed them.
HOW THE VENERABLE VAPPA, ETC., STROVE FOR ATTAINMENTS.
The Venerable Vappa, etc., of the group of five Bhikkhus strove hard for attainments by developing within themselves the Eightfold Path as taught in the Dhammacakka Sutta. And the Eightfold Path was developed, as described in detail earlier, by taking note of the phenomenon of seeing, hearing, etc., which is constantly occurring in oneself, so as to completely and rightly comprehend the Truth of Suffering, the upădănakkhandha.
The yogi, who first begins noting incessantly on the arising of năma rupa as it happens, may find himself troubled with wandering thoughts and imagination. Especially for the learned and instructed, scepticism and doubts are liable to arise. For some, unbearable pains will develop intensely in their bodies. Objects of strange vision and signs may distract them, giving them high opinions of themselves (with wrong conclusions as to their achievement). Some may hear whispering noises in their ears or get demoralised through sloth and torpor. Progress may also be retarded through imbalance between saddhă and pańńă (faith and knowledge) or between samădhi and viriya (concentration and effort). In the absence of concentrated effort, samădhi ńăna (one-pointedness of mind) may not be evolved.
At the stage of udayabhaya ńăna when strange phenomena such as light, piti, sukha and peculiarly intense mindfulness appear, it is generally noted that the yogi may become self-opinionated as to his own attainments. When such distractions, defilements, difficulties arise in the course of meditation, it becomes necessary for the teacher of meditation to give guidance and help to remove them. In the absence of a teacher to guide and help him, the yogi’s efforts at meditation may prove futile. That was the reason why the Blessed One waited in readiness without going out on the alms-round to give guidance while the Venerable Vappa, etc., were engaged in meditation.
With such guidance and assistance, the Venerable Vappa gained sotăpatti magga phala after about a day’s effort. When he gained further realization of the four Truths, he became established in dittha dhamma virtues and qualifications, etc. Knowing the truth personally, all doubts about the Teaching vanished. There came the courage of conviction, ready to face any questioning concerning the Teaching. Having established his eligibility thus, he requested of the Blessed One admission to the Order. And the Buddha acceded to his request by the welcoming words ‘Ehi Bhikkhu’.
The Venerable Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji also attained sotăpatti magga phala and having left uncertainty behind, gaining the courage of conviction in the dhammas, requested on the second, third and fourth waning days of Wăso, respectively, for admission to the Order. And the Buddha ordained them by saying, ‘Ehi Bhikkhu.’
On the fifth waning day of Wăso, the Blessed One assembled all the five Bhikkhus together and taught them the Anatta Lakkhana Sutta. At that time, while listening to the discourse, all the five Bhikkhus contemplated on the upădănakkhandha and developed the vipassană maggas by virtue of which they all attained Arahatship.
Tena kho pana samayena cha loke arahanto hon’ti.Thus recorded the compilers of the First Great Council in the Vinaya Mahavagga Păli Canon. ‘At the time, after the Anatta Lakkhana Sutta had been delivered, there were six arahats including the Buddha in this world, a really wonderful, unprecedented event.’ Let us know bring to a close this series of discourses on the Dhammacakka Sutta by having our minds on these accomplished Venerable Ones, the six Arahats and giving them our reverential homage: ‘We, the disciples of the Blessed One, bow with clasped hands to pay our homage and adoration with a deep sense of reverence to the Buddha, together with the group of five Bhikkhu Arahats who, having eradicated the kilesas, had become fully Accomplished Ones, two thousand five hundred and fifty-one years ago on the fifth waning day of Wăso, in the deer sanctuary, near Vărănasi.’
THE GREAT CONCLUDING PRAYER
May you all good people in this audience, by virtue of having given respectful attention to this great discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, otherwise called the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, which has been delivered with full elaboration in eight parts on eight occasions, from the new moon day of Tawthalin to the full-moon day of Hnaung Tagu of 1324 B.E., be able to avoid the extremely relaxed path of indulgence in sensuous pleasures as well as the extremely austere path of self-mortification. And, by developing the Middle Path, otherwise called the Noble Eightfold Path, may you become accomplished in parińńapativeda, parińńăbhisamaya (fully and rightly comprehending the Truth of Suffering), in pahănapativeda, pahănabhisamaya (abandoning of the Truth of the Origin of Suffering), in sacchikiriyapativeda, sacchikiriyabhisamaya (realization of the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering), and in bhăvanăpativeda, bhăvanăbhisamaya (developing the magga saccă in oneself) and very soon attain Nibbăna, the end of all sufferings.
This is the end of the Great Discourse on the Dhammacakka Sutta