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Arahat Sariputta:

Buddha's brilliant disciple

This is the story of Sariputta, one of the ten major disciples of the Buddhist Order. He was considered the most brilliant of Buddha's disciples.

Rajagaha in ancient India was an epic centre of learning, during the Buddha era. Many schools of philosophy flourished there. One such school of thought was Sanjaya Bellattiputta.

The Buddha's two chief disciples - Moggallana (Mugalan) and Sariputta (Sariyuth) were both born on the same day in adjacent villages just north of Rajagaha. The first was named Moggallana- Kolitha, while the second was called Upatissa. He was called Sariputta, Sari's son, as his mother was named Sari. The two of them grew up together.

Once, the two youth attended a gala sports festival known as Giraggasamajja. There were about one - hundred thousand spectators to witness this festival. After the festival was over the venue was empty.

Two friends

The two youth Upatissa and Kolitha after the festival realised how impermanent their life was. They became wandering ascetics under Sanjaya. They were not satisfied with their teacher Sanjaya and left in search of truth.

One day, when Sariputta was walking through Rajagaha, he saw a serene bhikku with full of grace and poise. His name was Assaji, one of the Buddha's disciples. Through Assaji, Sariputta met the Buddha. It was the turning point in his life. After listening to Ven. Assaji, “what the essence of the Buddha's doctrine,” Sariputta became a stream-winner. He straight away met his beloved friend Moggallana. He too noticed that his friend's mind, the faculties, were pure as crystal clear. When he questioned Sariputta, he stated that he has gained the first stages of Immortality by listening to Ven. Assaji.

Both of them met their first teacher Sanjaya Bellattiputta and informed him that they have decided to become disciples of the Buddha. Sanjaya was far from happy. With all of Sanjaya's pupils, nearly two - hundred - and - fifty disciples, they joined the Order of the Buddha Sasana.

Like geese (a water-bird larger than a duck), that migrate south for winter or north for summer, the leader Sariputta at a point of “V” formation navigated Sanjaya's disciples. The rest fanned behind Sariputta to meet the Enlightened One.

Trusted disciple

As soon as the Buddha saw the two young ascetics - Moggallana and Sariputta, the Blessed One knew that they would become his most efficient and trusted disciples and his chief disciples. Within a week, Moggallana was enlightened - the highest state of Samadhi, in which the mind is awakened and illuminated. Sariputta became illuminated after two weeks.

Sariputta was the foremost, the best to understand and explain the Dhamma. In this way, he was only second to the Buddha. He possessed a charming and pleasant personality and was a fountain of compassion and kindness.

Once the Buddha paid Sariputta the highest compliment thus:

“You are my General of Dhamma (Dhammasenapati) son of a universal monarch rules rightly as his father did, turn the wheel of Dhamma (Dhammachakka) for the betterment of all human beings. He possessed wisdom. He was blessed with very sharp and analytical mind, and quick to understand problems.”

Successful preacher

Ven. Sariputta was a very successful preacher and an effective orator. On one occasion, when Yasodhara was seriously ill her son Rahula consulted Ven. Sariputta for assistance to get medicine to his beloved mother. Ven. Sariputta was renowned for nursing the sick.

Another important aspect of Sariputta's life was that he was very much concerned about the poor.

He was a prominent social service worker too. Next to Sariputta was his best friend Moggallana, the wisest bhikkhu in the Buddhasasana. Of course, Moggalana's forte was - psychic powers (Iddhi).

Kundalakesi

The story woven round Kundalakesi and Sariputta is interesting.

Kundalakesi (curly hair), also called Bhadda, was a daughter of a rich merchant of Rajagaha. She was charming, pretty and beautiful.

One day, he saw a robber, taken to the city by guards, on the orders of the King for execution. The robber, was extremely handsome, impressive with a majestic personality.

Seeing the handsome youth Kundalakesi (Bhaddha) fell in love with him. She insisted that she must marry him or otherwise she would commit suicide. Her parents were very upset. To save their daughter, they bribed the guards and were able to release the robber. Instead of the robber, an innocent man became a poor victim.

There is a saying “You cannot hide the birth and heredity and environment.” The robber, to obtain her valuable jewels decided to kill his wife who saved his life.

One fine morning the robber took her to the notorious - robber's cliff in the guise of honouring a vow to throw her down the precipice. Intelligent Kundalakesi, reaching the mountain top realising her plight, embraced him and instantly pushed him, flung the vicious robber down the valley below.

She realised her folly - “love at first sight” and sexual passion “nearly cost her life,” entered the order of Mahavira while Nigantanatha's Order - Jainism. She was a brilliant debator a nun who carried a rose apple tree in her hand.

Once she came to Savatthi. She set up the apple tree at the gate of the city and went in search of alms. At that time the Buddha was dwelling at the Jetavanarama Monastry.Ven. Sariputta saw the rose plant in front of Jeta Giri inquired from the children in the neighbourhood, who and why it was planted there. Sariputta requested the children that this was not the proper place, to plant a tree, requested them to remove it and trample it.

When Kundalakesi or the Buddha noticed that the rose apple plant was removed she questioned Ven. Sariputta, why he got the children to trample it.

Mindfulness

“Let us have a debate” Kundalakesi challenged Sariputta. Kundalakesi put all her questions. Sariputta Thera answered them very satisfactorily. Then, Sariputta asked whether to ask a question from her. She agreed.

“Sister what is one?”

She could not give an answer.

Then, Ven. Sariputta taught her the Dhamma. She understood. She fell at Ven. Sariputta's feet, took refuge in Buddha Dhamma.

Kundalakeshi entered the Bhikkhuni Sasana.She concentrated, meditated, calm (Samatha) insight (Vipassana) and ultimately gained the bliss of Arahatship. Gender was no barrier.The bhikkhus were puzzled as to how Kundalakesi, who was responsible in throwing the robber husband down the precipice and having listened to a little bit of Dhamma gained Arahatship, so soon.

The Buddha said, “Don't measure Dhamma, as little. One sentence of mine is more important than thousands of meaningless words. The man or woman who vanquishes the defilements are victors.

The Blessed One, passed away at the age of eighty. His chief disiples Sariputta and Moggalana's demise was recorded three months earlier than that of the Buddha.

Sariputta's last words were - “Sampadetha Appamadenaesa Me Anusasana” (strive on with mindfulness. Arahat Sariputta was the foremost disciple of the Buddha.

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