The Jina's Choice

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Chapter Fifteen: Preparing to Teach

The Perfectly Wise One passed that [first] week known as The Feast of Joy, being praised each day by all the various heavenly beings. 

He passed the second week being anointed from jars of water by heavenly beings, bodhisattvas and others. 

Then having bathed in the four oceans and taken his seat on his throne, he passed the third week restraining his eyes from seeing.

In the fourth week, he assumed many forms, and then stood triumphant on his throne, having delivered a being ready for conversion.

A deva named Samanta.kusuma bearing an offering of flowers, with palms together addressed the great Buddha seated there. "What is the name, Holy One, of this deep meditation in which you have so joyously just passed these four whole weeks?"

"Deva, it is called "Feast of Great Joy" for it is like the coronation of a king when he has vanquished his enemies."

And the Saint-of-the-Ten-Highest-Powers joyously continued, "Former perfect Buddhas also did not [immediately] leave the Bodhi Tree. [For] here the Kleshas (obscurations, stains) and Maras along with Ignorance and the Ashravas (karmic accumulations, inflow) have been conquered; the Perfection of Wisdom has been attained that will save the world.

"I resolved to follow the example of former Buddhas, and remain four whole weeks in fulfillment of my inauguration."

Then Mara, utterly despondent, addressed the Tathagata, "Holy One, please enter Nirvana since your desires are [now] accomplished."

"First I will establish in Perfect Wisdom worlds as numerous as the sand, and then I will enter Nirvana," replied the Buddha; so with a shriek Mara returned home.

Then Mara's three daughters, Lust, Thirst, and Delight, seeing their father lose face, approached the Tathagata.

Lust, her face [beautiful] as the moon and versed in all the arts of enchantment tried to infatuate him with descriptions of the pleasures of a husband's life.  "Just think, 'If I abandon an emperor's happiness, how meager will seem any other happiness that is left?  When [worldly] success is lost, what shall I have to enjoy?' So come on and join us, or else you'll be really sorry later on when you think of me and what you gave up."  But he closed his eyes in deep meditation just as if he were sleepy, and paid no attention to her words. 

Then Craving shameless as someone dying of thirst, addressed the Thirst-free One: "Shame, shame on you! You have abandoned your family duties, and fallen from all social obligations. [Don't you know that] without drive, no asceticism, sacrifice, or vow can be accomplished?  Those great Rishis --  Brahma and the rest of them -- all enjoy their present triumph [only] because they were endowed with drive.  

"I am the [great] drive called Thirst, and you had better worship me appropriately or else I will clasp hold of you with all my might and fling away your very life."

Motionless as one almost dead, he continued in meditation in remembrance of former Buddhas. 

Next, Delight (Pleasure) tried to win him over, he who was indeed hard to be won over by evil deeds.

Holy One, I am Delight.  I foster all practicable delights which makes me the (tutelary power, yidam? Dakini) inspiration of the yogi.  I am the one who brings delight within reach.'

But whether he was being flattered or being threatened; whether she uttered curses or blessings, he remained absorbed in meditation, and as perfectly tranquil as one who has entered Nirvana.

Then with despondent faces all three of them retired together to one side, consulted each other, and then came forward in their guise of youthful beauty.   Folding their hands in reverence, they then addressed the Tathagata, "Holy One, accept us as religious mendicants; we have come to take Refuge."

"We are Namuchi's daughters from Kashi (golden or gleaming city, Varanasi) and having heard of your famous achievements, we are abandoning the householder's life.  We want to get out from under the influence of our five hundred brothers -- to be freed from any master just as you yourself are  freed from all passions."

With his mind continually guided by the conduct which leads to Nirvana, he set himself to remember the (former) Buddhas, and he kept his eyes closed, absorbed in meditation.

So then again, having resolved on a new plan together, these enchantresses assumed an older aspect [this time], and approached once more to [try and ] fool him.

"We have come here after wandering {existence] embodied (avatara) as slaves.  Since you are the embodiment of a buddha, please establish us, [now] mature, in the true Buddha-dharma. For as we are old women now, bewildered by the fear of death and much to be pitied, we are worthy to be established in the doctrine of Nirvana which puts an end to all future births."

These words of the enchantresses were heard by him, yet he felt no anger; but then they all [really] became victims of old age through the manifestation of his divine power.

[So that now,] having beheld him plunged in meditation, as immovable as Mount Meru, they turned away their faces for they could not retain their [former] beauty.  

And with their decrepit limbs, they went on bended knee and begged their father [Mara:] "O Father,  Lord of the world of Desire, restore us to our own forms."

His daughters were dear, but he had no power to alter the effect of the will of Buddha.  Then their father said to them, "Go to the Refuge which he gives."

So in their various guises, they humbly bent at his feet, and implored the perfect Buddha, "Pardon our transgression; our minds were intoxicated with youth."

The teacher, that Mine of Forgiveness, silently restored them by his will, and having repeatedly worshipped and praised him, they went joyfully home.

Then again Mara, Lord of the world of Desire, completely shameless and assuming a fatherly guise, said to him from the sky:  "I worshipped you a long time ago, foretelling that you would become a Buddha, and it's through my blessings that you have to-day become Buddha Tathagata.  

"So, since you came from a kingdom of your own, you can now return as a Tathagata and [rule there] only now calling yourself, King Tathigata.  Once there, having resumed your royal station, you can meditate on the Three Jewels, cherish your father and mother, and delight Yasodhara. 

"[Then] possessing a thousand sons, and able to deliver the world [from suffering], be successively the supreme lord of every world from the Yama heaven (ie. Hell) on up.  Later,  as Supreme Lord of Bodhisattvas also, you can attain Nirvana.  Wise seer, return now to Kapilavastu so you can beget those sons.  Since you are also a Dharma-rajah, your sons  all will also be Tathagatas, and all activity and cessation of existence will then derive from you, Victorious One (Jina, hero.)"

(But) The All-wise replied, "Listen, here, Shameless One. You are Mara, and not the head of a clan or founder of the race of Shakyas.  An army of your kind, though they came in their myriads, could not harm me; I will go to my kingdom in my own time, and I will bring the world to perfect happiness."

"You are completely beaten, Namuchi; go back home.  I am off to turn the wheel of the Law in Varanasi."

On hearing that command, Mara gave a deep sigh, "Alas! I am crushed," and all dejected and companionless, left him and took off through the sky to his home.

Then he, Defeater of Mara, rising from that throne, set forth to journey alone to holy Varanasi.

The heavens became covered with clouds when they saw the chief of saints, and the king of the Nagas, Muchilinda, made this petition in reverential faith:

"O holy one, thou art all-wise, there will be stormy weather for seven days with wind, rain, and darkness; dwell, for the time being, in my abode."

Though he, himself, possessed all supernatural power, the Holy One thought of the world still involved in embodied existence, and sitting down on the Vajra Seat, he remained absorbed in meditation.

The king of the Nagas protected the Buddha, himself the source of all protection, from the rain, wind, and darkness by shielding his body with his own hood.

When the seven days had passed, the Naga paid homage and was gone, and the Hero proceeded to the bank of a river, near a forest where there were goat-herds.

While the Sugata was staying there, at night a deity called after the Indian fig-tree, came over to him and illumining the spot where he was, addressed him with palms together:  "That fig-tree was planted when I was born as a man called Buddha.  In hopes of delivering myself from evil, it was cared for to be the Bodhi tree.  By merit of that action, I was born in heaven, so in kindness to me,  my lord, please dwell here in triumph for seven days."

"So be it," said the chief of all saints, the True Wish-fulfilling Kalpa Tree to any faithful votary, and he stayed under that fig-tree absorbed in contemplation and like the full moon, shed glory all around. He stayed there seven days. 

Then in a Datura grove sitting at the foot of a palm, he remained absorbed in meditation.

In different spots the great saint, pondering and fasting, spent weeks meditating day and night, and then he went on his way longing to accomplish the world's salvation.

Then two wealthy merchants from the land of Uttara Utkala [Orissa] named Trapusha and Bhallika came with their wagon train of five hundred carts.

They had been freed from a sin involving their birth as hungry ghosts (pretas,) and they both joyfully worshipped Buddha with an offering of the three sweet substances (rice, ghee and honey) and milk, obtaining auspicious blessings for that. 

They obtained pieces of his nails and hair for a chaitya, and they also received a prophecy of their future birth, and an additional promise of a special stone. Then they went on their way.

Then Buddha accepted alms in his bowl from the goddess who dwelt in the acacia grove [the spot is called Tarayana,] and he blessed her, too.

The Victorious One (Jina) then blessed four bowls that had been offered by the four Kings (of the directions) as one, and ate the offering of milk with pleasure.

One day, the Jina ate a haritaki fruit (Chebulic myrobalan) offered to him by Shakra, and planting the seed, he made it grow into a tree.

 (Shakra, Indra) king of the devas, carried the news joyfully to the heavens, and then gods, men, and ashuras nurtured it with their reverential circumambulations.

A daughter of the gods named Bhadrika who had been a cow in her former birth heard about the haritaki seed, and recalling the whole history from start to finish, came down from heaven.

This daughter of the gods, smiling there with her companions, brought him a garment of rags hanging from a bough and said to the Jina:  "What am I doing here, Buddha? Please accept this tattered garment for it is through the merit of this offering of rags that I am now the daughter of heaven named Bhadrika."

"And by further development of that merit, you shall become a bodhisattva," said the Teacher in  blessing, as he accepted the rags.

Now, seeing those tatters the gods crowding the sky were amazed, and going, "Hee, hee," they flung down upon him garments of heavenly silk.

"These are not suitable for an ascetic," said he, and did not accept a single one only thinking in his equanimity, "These are only suitable for the pageantry of a king or a householder's finery."

He desired a scrub stone and some water in order to wash away the dirt (from the rags) so Shakra at that moment dug out a great river full of water [for him,] and four stones were brought by the four Kings.  He sat on one, he scrubbed on another and he lay the clothes out to dry on the third. Another he flung up into the sky and it flew to the Gleaming City and astonished all the worlds.

Now, after performing many forms of devotion, Trapusha and Bhallika erected a fine chaitya (or, stupa) and called it Shilagarbha (Matrix of Vows, or Discipline Sanctuary.)

The ascetics of the neighbourhood paid homage to the 'Three Stones' when they were made into a chaitya, and the nobly flowing stream became known as Holy River.  Those who bathe and perform worship in the holy river and worship at the Chaitya of Three Stones, all become Great-souled Bodhisattvas and attain Nirvana.

[How it came that Buddha first "Turned the Dharma Wheel"]

Then seated under a palm-tree the holy one contemplated: "The profound wisdom so hard to be understood is now known by me.  These sin-defiled worlds do not understand this most excellent Dharma (Law) and unenlightened [people] shamelessly disparage both me and my wisdom.

"Should I broadcast the Dharma? It is only produced by [direct] knowledge; I reached it all by myself through my own contemplations.  Am I strong enough to save the world?"

Reviewing everything he had discovered, he again considered, and then concluded and resolved, "I will explain it for the sake of liberating the world."

So Buddha the chief of saints, absorbed in contemplation, shone forth and roused the world by means of the light emitted in the dark of night from the hair tuft between his eyebrows.

When dawn came, Brahma, the other gods and the various rulers of the different worlds, begged the Sugata to Turn the Wheel of the Law.



2nd-3rd C. carving from Kushan. [Art Institute of Chicago ( ]

When the Jina from his silence uttered an assenting 'so be it,' they returned to their abodes, and the Lion of the Shakyas still shone there, still lost in contemplation.

Then the four yakshas (of the Bodhi tree,) Dharmaruchi and the others, asked, "Where, Teacher of the World, will the Holy One turn the wheel of the Law?"

"At the Deer Park in Varanasi, Deities, while seated in the fourth posture I will free the world by turning the wheel of the Law." 

At that, the Holy One, Bull of the Shakyas pondered, "For whom shall I first turn the wheel of the Law?"

The Glorious One reflected that [the teachers] Rudraka and Arida were dead, but then he remembered those others, the five men living as a dedicated group at Kashi (Varanasi.)

Then Buddha set out joyfully for Kashi, manifesting along the way a variety of supernatural influences on Magadhan life.

He turned a beggar into a person joyously learned in Dharma as he, the Glorious One, continued along illumining the country north of Gaya.

After staying the night at the home of the Naga prince named Sudarshana, he ate a breakfast consisting of five kinds of ambrosia, and gladdened him with his blessing when he left. 

Near Vanara, in the shade of a tree he taught a poor brahmin called Nandin the sacred knowledge (holy dharma.)

At Vanara he was lodged for the night in a householder's dwelling, and in the morning he had some milk and left after having given his blessing.

In the village called Vumdadvira he stayed at  the home of the yaksha named Vumda, and in the morning after taking some milk and giving his blessing he departed.

Next was the garden named Rohita.vastuka, and there the Naga-king Kamandalu along with his courtiers worshipped him.

Having delivered various beings in every place, the compassionate saint journeyed on to Gandhapura and was worshipped there by the yaksha, Gandha.

When he arrived at Sarathi, the townspeople volunteered to be his charioteers.  Then he arrived at the Ganges, where he bade the ferryman: "Good man, convey me across the Ganges, and you will earn the seven blessings." 

"I carry no one across unless he pays the fare."

"I have nothing; what can I give?"  So saying, he went by means of the sky like the king of birds,  and from that time [the ruler,] Bimbishara abolished the fare for all ascetics.

Then having entered Varanasi, the Jina illumining the city with his light, drew the attention and curiosity of all the inhabitants of Kashi.

In Shankamedhi garden, the King of Righteousness passed the night absorbed in meditation, a sight that gladdened those surprised by his presence, like a view of the moon.

The next day at the end of the second watch, having gone on his round collecting alms, he, the Unequalled, like Hari (Krishna,) proceeded to the Deer Park.

When they saw him, the group of five disciples said to one another, 'That is Gautama, the ascetic who abandoned self-control. He's wandering around now, greedy, impure in spirit and unstable with his senses under no firm control; [only] devoted to inquiries regarding [what's in] the frying-pan."

"Let's not ask after his health, rise to meet him, speak to him; nor offer him any welcome, a seat, or an invitation to our dwelling."

Quite aware of their attitude, the Buddha with a smiling face that shed light all around and holding his staff and begging-pot gradually came nearer.  And the five friends influenced by his majesty were forgetful of their agreement and rose up like birds in a cage scorched by fire.

Taking his begging-bowl and staff, they gave him refreshment and water for washing his feet and rinsing his mouth; and bowing reverentially they said to him, "Your (good) health, Honoured Sir.''

"We are healthy in every way already for that wisdom which is so hard to be won has been attained," said the Holy One in response to the five worthy associates, "But do not address me as "worthy Sir" for you should know that I am a Jina, and I have come to give the first [turn] of the wheel of the Law to you.  Accept this initiation from me and you will attain Nirvana."

Then the five, pure in heart, begged permission to undertake religious vows, and the Buddha in touching their heads received them into the order of mendicant monks.

At the mendicants' respectful request, the chief of saints bathed in the sacred pool ("tank") and after eating ambrosia, he reflected on the spots where realization had been achieved (the field of the Law.)

Remembering that the Deer Park and the field of Victory ( Jina) were there, he went joyfully with them and pointed out the sacred seats.

After worshipping three of the seats, he desired to visit the fourth, so when the worthy disciples asked about it, the teacher said:  "These are the four seats of the Buddhas of the (present) Bhadra (Overcoming) Age.  Three Buddhas have come this way and here I am, the fourth Possessor of Ten Powers."

So saying, the glorious one bowed to the throne of the Law bedecked with silken tapestries,  its stone inlaid with jewels like some golden mountain guarded by the kings of kings.  (For) two weeks earlier, during the bright fortnight (ashadha) on a day ruled by planet  Jupiter (Skt.: Guru) -- a day of the month sacred to Vishnu, and during an auspicious conjunction in the Anuradha asterism, at an auspicious muhurta (victorious moment) --  that was the night he had taken his stand on the throne.

While the five worthy disciples stood before him with joyful minds paying homage, the son of Shuddhodana performed the act of meditation called Arouser of all Worlds:  Summoned, each from his own realm, Brahma and the other gods appeared, surrounded by their attendants along with (future Buddha) Maitreya and the deities of Tushita heaven, for the occasion of the Turning of the Wheel of the Law.

When the multitude of sons of Jinas [the bodhisattvas] and ashuras gathered together from the ten directions of space, Dharmachakra, the noble chief of the sons of the Jinas, carrying the wheel of the Law, also came.   With head bowed reverentially, he placed the massive arrangement of gold and jewels before the Buddha and worshipping him, he asked him in the following way, "O Lord of Saints, turn the wheel of the Law as has been done by (former) Sugatas."

NEXT: Chapter 16 Turning the Wheel

establish others in Perfect Wisdom: This Buddha is not a pratyeka buddha, but will help others with his Wisdom;  he will not remain at Hinayana level.

Namuchi is the name of the Vedic divinity that is equated with Mara.

Merchants Trapusha and Bhallika:  It is significant that one of the first encounters after the Enlightement was with members, not of the higher social strata, but of the lower ones.  One tradition says that their caravan had got stuck in the mud, and they were attracted by a light emanating from the Buddha who was in the grove.  Also, his transmission to them was not a teaching of the Noble Truths, but of spells of success and of protection.  

Datura grove: There are several varieties of datura.  The Indian plant Datura meteloides or D. wrightii grows in bush form unlike its vine-like American cousin, and is known as the sacred datura (sadadhatura,) Shiva's topknot (Shivashekhera) or Angel's Trumpet.  It is a very fast growing plant that produces a large (10 cm. in length,) evening-blooming, sweet-scented flower that seems to glow in the dusk,  so that another name is "Moonflower."  Its seed pod resembles a chestnut. 

The largest type can grow into a 30-foot tree and is classified as D. Brugsmanii.  Its flowers often hang downwards from long zig-zag stalks and can be twice as large as D. meteloides

All the parts of a datura contain potent alkaloids. Scopolamine or, hyoscine, is its major active constituent and can cause hallucinations but when taken in excess, an amount that differs for each person and also depends on the "delivery method," can cause death. 

At we found,

"I have noticed, after speaking with Datura users, that at higher levels, it is impossible to discern between sleeping and wakefulness.  . . .  . Things happen that users label as hallucinations when in fact they may be only dreaming." 

Turn the Wheel of the Law:  Begin the revelation of the Dharma by teaching.  This has the effect of beginning to shake beings loose from the wheel; that is, from the round of rebirth.

Yakshas: nature spirits or deities.

Five first converts: Kaundinya, who is a saint (arhant) and the other four, V‚shpa, Bhadrika, Mah‚n‚man and Ashvajit.  (In transliterated Pali: Kondanna, Vappa,  Bhaddiya,  Mahanama, and Assaji.)

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