Thursday, June 25, 2009

Venerable Sariputra (Maha Thera)

Ven. Sariputra, Burma (

Śāriputra (Sanskrit: शारिपुत्र) or Sāriputta (Pāli) was one of two principal disciples of the Buddha. He became an Arhat renowned for his wisdom and is depicted in the Theravada tradition as one of the most important disciples of the Buddha.


1.1 Death
1.2 The Stupa of Śāriputra (Sariputta)
1.3 Śāriputra (Sariputta) as Krishna and Lakshman
2 Śāriputra in Mahayana
3 References
4 See also
5 External links

Śāriputra came from a Brahmin family and had already embarked on life as a spiritual ascetic when he encountered the teachings of the Buddha. Śāriputra had a close friend Mahāmaudgalyāyana (Pāli: Mahā Moggallāna), another wandering ascetic. They both renounced the world on the same day and became disciples of the sceptic Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta before converting to Buddhism.

Ven. Sariputra enlightened after questioning Ven. Assaji (

After hearing of the Buddha's teachings from a monk named Assaji (Sanskrit: Asvajit), Śāriputra sought out the Buddha and became an adherent to his teachings (the Dharma). These two are often depicted together with the Buddha, and several sutras regard interactions between Śāriputra and Mahā Moggallāna (who became renowned among the early Buddhists for his mastery of supernatural powers).

Ven. Sariputra being honored by humans and devas (

In one somewhat comical scene involving the two friends, a mischievous yakṣha (Pāli: yakkha) decides that it will attempt to irritate Śāriputra by striking him on the head. Mahā Moggallāna sees this occurring with his "divine eye" (a clairvoyant faculty often attributed to South Asian ascetics), and unsuccessfully attempts to warn Śāriputra. However, due to his great spiritual mastery, Śāriputra perceives the terrible blow the yakkha delivers as only a light breeze.

Mahā Moggallāna approaches and expresses his amazement that Sariputra barely noticed the terrible blow; Śāriputra replies in amazement that Mahā Moggallāna was able to perceive the invisible creature that dealt the blow.

While depictions of Śāriputra in the Pali Canon are uniformly positive, showing Śāriputra as a wise and powerful arhat, second only to the Buddha, his depiction in some Mahayana sources has often been much less flattering.

In the Vimalakīrti Sūtra and the Lotus Sutra, Śāriputra is depicted as the voice of the Hinayana or Śrāvaka tradition, which is presented in the Mahayana sutras as a "less sophisticated" teaching.

In these sutras, Śāriputra is unable to readily grasp the Mahayana doctrines presented by Vimalakīrti and others. And he is rebuked or defeated in debate by a number of interlocutors, including a female deity (deva) who refutes Śāriputra's "Hinayana" assumptions regarding gender and form.

However, in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha predicts that Śāriputra will become a fully awakened Buddha one day, named Flower Glow Tathāgata, at which Śāriputra's mind is said to "dance with joy" [Ref].

A dialogue between Śāriputra and Avalokiteśvara is also the context of the Heart Sutra, a brief but essential text in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.

No comments: