Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nirvana: "O, what happiness!"

Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda and Wisdom Quarterly translation
The Buddha radiated an aura of six colored rays in this Dhammapada (79) origin story.

One who drinks of the Dharma
Lives happily and serene in mind
For the wise ever in that Truth delight
Revealed by the Noble Ones (Dhp. 79)

VI:4 King and Court attain Sainthood
King Maha Kappina ruled in Kukkutavati (in the vicinity of Afghanistan-Pakistan-Kashmir). He had a queen named Anoja and a large retinue of ministers to help oversee the territory he ruled.

One day the king, accompanied by several of his ministers, was in the park. There they met traveling merchants from the prosperous city of Savatthi. On hearing about the Buddha (the enlightened teacher), Dharma (the teachings leading to enlightenment), and Sangha (the enlightened students) from these merchants, they set out for Savatthi.

The Buddha saw them in a vision coming towards Savatthi and intuited that they had the capacity to attain enlightenment. He therefore went and waited for them under a large banyan tree on the bank of the river.

Great Kappina and his ministers came by the river and saw a marvelous figure under a banyan tree. The Buddha was radiating six colorful rays from his body as they approached and bowed. He then delivered a sutra to the group. And as they listened to the discourse, the king and all his ministers realized the Dharma (stream entry) and became members of the Sangha.

Sangha can mean the instructed "Monastic Order" or the accomplished "Noble Order." They had just become ennobled members of the "accomplished community of Buddhist disciples" in reaching stream entry by penetrating the Four Noble Truths.

Meanwhile, Queen Anoja, on hearing that the king had gone to Savatthi, sent for the wives of the ministers. Together they followed the king's path. Eventually they, too, came to the banyan tree by the river. And seeing the Buddha with a halo of six colors, they bowed in reverence.

But the Buddha exercised supernormal power so that they did not see the men. If they had seen them in saffron robes with shaven heads, their minds would have been perturbed leaving them unable to realize the Dharma.

The queen enquired if the Buddha had seen the king and his retinue. The Buddha responded, "Sit and soon you will be able to see them even here." The queen and the other wives were overjoyed, so they sat down. The Buddha then delivered another sutra. And at the end of this discourse the king and his ministers attained full enlightenment -- sainthood -- and became arhats.

The queen and the other wives attained stream entry, the first stage of enlightenment. And at that very instant, the queen and her party saw the newly admitted monks. They recognized them as their former husbands.

The women followed suit and asked admission from the Buddha. They were directed to continue to Savatthi. There they entered the Monastic Order as Buddhist nuns and very soon they also attained full enlightenment.

The Buddha then returned to Jetavana monastery accompanied by the new monks. There Venerable Kappina resting by day or night would often exclaim: "O, what happiness! O, what happiness!" (Aho sukham! Aho sukham! )

The other monks on hearing him repeat this so often finally reported the matter to the Buddha. "Great Kappina having tasted the Dharma," the Buddha explained, "lives happily with a serene mind and repeats these words of exultation referring to nirvana."

One who drinks of the Dharma
Lives happily and serene in mind
For the wise ever in that Truth delight
Revealed by the Noble Ones.

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