Thursday, April 22, 2010


Sudatta was one of the most important lay disciples of the Buddha he offered the Buddha the famous Jeta Grove, the place where the Buddha spent maximum Vassa. Because of his generosity he was also called Anathapindika, Feeder of helpless and orphans. Among the disciples he was also known as “foremost in generosity”. The foundation of this long association was an exemplary meeting that took place at Rajgriha and it’s very well versed in Sudatta Sutta (SN 10.8)

Anathapindika was on a business trip to Rajgriha and found his brother-in-law busy supervising an organized meal for the Buddha and his Sangha the following day. He asked his preoccupied brother-in-law what this meant: "A wedding, a major sacrifice or a visit from the king?" The brother-in-law explained that the reverend ‘Enlightened one’ has accepted his invitation for meal and would be visiting them with his Sangha the following day.

The mention of the ‘Enlightened one’ caught Anathapindika complete attention and asked multiple times to confirm what he has heard before expressing his delight. Then, breathing a deep sigh of relief, Ananthapindika said, “Even the sound alone of these words is indeed rare in this world — the Enlightened One — can one really see him?" His brother-in-law answered that while that day was not the time, the following day would be appropriate to bask in his presence.

His excitement about the impending opportunity made his toss and turn all night, the thoughts and feelings of such an anticipation was hard to contain Finally he couldn’t pretend to sleep anymore and woke up before dawn and went in the direction of the monastery. In the pre-dawn darkness, however, fear overcame him, doubts arose within him, and all his worldly instincts told him to turn back, but an inner voice kept him motivated to continue on. So he walked resolutely, till he encountered an image in the misty dawn, a figure walking silently to and fro, Anathapindika stopped. The figure then reached out to him with an indescribably harmonious voice: "Come, Sudatta!"

Anathapindika was startled at being addressed by his name, for no one there knew him by his original name. He was only known as Anathapindika, and besides, he was unknown to the Buddha and had come unexpectedly. Now he was certain that he was in the presence of the Enlightened One. Overwhelmed by the gravity of the encounter, he fell at the feet of the Blessed One, and asked him in a stammering voice about his well-being. With the answer to this conventional question, Anathapindika came a little closer to the supramundane reality, since the Enlightened One explained that the arahants were always well, for they were beyond all possibilities for suffering. And then the Enlightened One, leading him step by step, spoke to him of giving, of virtue, of the heavens, of the perils, vanity, and defiling nature of sensual pleasures, and of the benefits of renunciation.

When the Blessed One saw that Anathapindika the householder was ready in heart and mind, pliable, unobstructed, uplifted and serene, he gave him the explanation of the Teaching which is unique to the Enlightened Ones: the noble truth of suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the path. With that, the pure eye of truth opened for Anathapindika: "Whatever has arisen must also cease." Anathapindika, who had understood the truth of the Teaching, had overcome all doubts and was without any wavering, certain in mind, and relying on no one else in the Master's Dispensation. He had achieved the attainment of stream-entry.

He then invited the Blessed One for a meal the next day at the home of his brother-in-law, and the Master accepted. After the meal, Anathapindika asked the Enlightened One if he might build a monastery for the Order in his hometown of Savatthi. The Buddha answered: "The Enlightened Ones love peaceful places." "I understand, O Master, I understand," answered Anathapindika, overjoyed with the acceptance of his offer. The Buddha sent Sariputra to lay out the plans for the buildings where he successfully designed lecture halls, meeting rooms, bedrooms, washrooms, a storage room, and other places of utilities; and thus became a renowned architect in the city.

Next Post: Kassapa (Mahakasaapa and foremost in asceticism) —Exchange of Robes

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