Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda
Once there was the son of a Brahmin (the highest caste in India) in the court of
King Pasenadi of Kosala, whose name was Ahimsaka. He was sent to Taxila for his
studies. Ahimsaka was intelligent and obedient to this teacher; therefore he was
liked by both the teacher and his wife who did not have children of their own. This
made the other pupils jealous of him. So they went to the teacher and falsely accused
Ahimsaka of having an immoral relationship with his wife. At first, he did not believe
them, but after hearing it a number of times, he thought it was true and vowed to
have revenge on Ahimsaka. He thought that to kill him would reflect badly on himself.
His rage prompted him to ask the unthinkable of the young and innocent pupil, who
would have no choice but to obey his teacher. He told Ahimsaka that he must
kill a thousand human beings and to bring the right thumb of each as payment to
his teacher. The young man could not even bring himself to think of such a thing,
so he was banished from the teacher's house and returned to his parents.
When his father learned that Ahimsaka had been expelled for disobeying his teacher,
he became furious with his son, and would hear no excuses. That day as the rain
pouring down he ordered Ahimsaka to leave his house. Ahimsaka went to his mother
and pleaded with her, but she could not go against the will of her husband. Next
Ahimsaka went to the house of his betrothed (the ancient custom in India was for
children to be promised in marriage when they grew up), but when the family learned
that Ahimsaka had been turned out of school for disobeying his teacher, they drove
him off. The shame, anger, fear, and despair of Ahimsaka drove him out of his mind.
His suffering mind could only recollect the teacher's order: to collect 1,000 human
thumbs. And so he started killing, and as he killed, the thumbs he collected were
hung on a tree. They were destroyed by crows and vultures as they hung on
the tree so he later wore a garland of the thumbs to keep track of the number.
Because of this he came to be known as Angulimala (finger garland) and became the
terror of the countryside. The king himself heard about the exploits of Angulimala,
and he decided to capture him. When Mantani, Ahimsaka's mother, heard about the
king's intention, she went to the forest in a desperate bid to save her son. By
this time, the chain around the neck of Angulimala had 999 thumbs in it, just one
short of 1,000.
The Buddha learned of the mother's attempt to save her son. He reflected that if
he did not intervene, Angulimala, who was on the lookout for the last person to
kill to reach 1,000 might kill his mother because he did not recognize her. In that
case, he would have to suffer an even longer period for his evil kamma. Out of compassion,
the Buddha left for the forest to stop Angulimala.
Angulimala, after many sleepless days and nights, was very tired and near exhaustion.
At the same time, he was very anxious to kill the last person to make up his full
quota of 1,000 and so complete his task. He made up his mind to kill the first person
he met. As he looked down from his mountain perch, he saw a woman on the road below.
He wanted to fulfill his vow to complete the 1,000 thumbs, but as he approached,
he saw it was his mother. At the same time, the Buddha was approaching, and Angulimala
had just enough presence of mind to decide to kill the wandering monk instead of
his mother. He set out after the Blessed One with his knife raised. But the Buddha
kept moving ahead of him. Angulimala just could not catch up with him. Finally,
he cried out, "O Bhikkhu, stop, stop!" And the Enlightened One replied, "I have
stopped. It is you who have not stopped." Angulimala did not catch the significance
of these words, so he asked, "O Bhikkhu! Why do you say that you have stopped while
I have not?"
The Buddha replied, "I say that I have stopped because I have given up killing all
beings. I have given up the ill-treatment of all beings, and have established myself
in universal love, in patience, and in knowledge through reflection. But you have
not given up killing or ill treatment of others and you are not yet established
in universal love and patience. Hence, you are the one who has not stopped." On
hearing these words Angulimala was recalled to reality, and thought, these are the
words of a wise man. This monk is so very wise and so very brave that he must be
the leader of the monks. Indeed, he must be the Enlightened One himself! He must
have come here specially to make me see the light. So thinking, he threw away his
weapons and asked the Blessed One to let him become a monk, which the Buddha did.
When the king and his men came to capture Angulimala, they found him at the monastery
of the Buddha. Finding that Angulimala had given up his evil ways and had become
a bhikkhu, the king and his men agreed to leave him alone. During his stay at the
monastery, Angulimala ardently practiced meditation.
Angulimala had no peace of mind because even in his solitary meditation he used
to recall memories of his past and the pathetic cries of his unfortunate victims.
As a result of his evil actions before becoming a monk, he would become a
target of stones and sticks while seeking alms in the streets and he would return
to the Jetavana monastery with blood flowing from the wounds on his head, cut and
bruised. The Buddha would remind him: "My son Angulimala. You have done away with
evil. Have patience. This is the effect of the evil deeds you have committed in
this existence. Your evil kamma would have made you suffer through innumerable existences
had I not met you."
Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda, 'Love in Buddhism'
The Buddha's Awakening made his compassion and love boundless, and he was able and
ever ready to extend them even to those in mortal danger.
Once there was a boy by the name of Sopaka. When Sopaka he was only seven
years old, his father passed away and his mother remarried a man. The stepfather
was very cruel and unkind to Sopaka. The stepfather always scolded the boy and beat
him. After some time, a brother was born. One evening the little baby began to cry
in his cradle. The stepfather believed that Sopaka had done something to make him
cry. He squeezed the elder brother's ear and gave him a blow. When Sopaka began
to cry, his brother became afraid and cried too. Then Sopaka was afraid the stepfather
would hit him again.
Sopaka's mother was not home at the time, so there was nothing to stop the stepfather's
rage. Hearing Sopaka's sobs, he came to him with a rope to tie him up. Sopaka ran
as fast as his little legs would take him. Finally he found himself in a forest
cemetery, where many foul-smelling cadavers were strewn around.
The stepfather caught up with Sopaka in front of the cemetery. He took him and tied
him to one of the dead bodies. Sopaka cried out, begging his father not to leave
him tied up. The cruel man turned a deaf ear and went back home.
As the night grew darker Sopaka's fear increased. He heard the cries of jackals,
tigers, leopards, and other animals, and his own sobs became louder.
Meanwhile his mother had returned home, and couldn't understand what had become
of her first-born. The husband said nothing, so she set out to look for Sopaka.
She couldn't find him anywhere. She became more and more desperate, and began to
cry. She ran through the streets of Savastthi asking everyone if they had seen her
son, but no one could help her. Finally an old man told her there was only one person
who could tell her about her son, that was the Buddha, who was at the Jetavana monastery.
He told her the Buddha knew all past, present, and future. The poor distraught mother
went to the monastery and told the Buddha abut her missing child and her husband's
cruelty to the child. The Buddha told the woman to go home and return in the morning
to see him.
At midnight, with the power of his loving kindness, the Buddha saw that Sopaka
was at the cemetery, and went to him. Sopaka saw a soothing light as the Buddha
approached him and spoke:
"Child, I came in search of you. I have come to your aid. I will soon set you free."
The Buddha stroked the youngster's head and led him to a stream, where he bathed
him in pure water. Then Sopaka was led to the monastery, given some food to eat,
clothes to wear. The Buddha comforted him.
The boy was so exhausted that he fell into a deep sleep. The Buddha called his attendant
Ananda, who was waiting close by.
"Ananda, I saved the life of this poor boy who had been thrown into the cemetery
and bound to a corpse. I bathed him and brought him here. See, Ananda, how well
he sleeps. The supreme happiness that man can earn is to help a helpless being like
this and make him happy. Now carry him and take him to your room. Give him a bed
in a suitable place."
Early the next morning Sopaka's mother came to the monastery. The Buddha spoke kindly
"Don't worry, sister. Your son is safe. Here he is"
Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda
The Buddha's loving kindness knew no limits, as shown by one of his last acts before
Now it happened that a certain wandering ascetic called Subhadda was staying near
Kusinara, and when he heard that the Buddha was about to pass away, he resolved
to go and see him before the blessed one passed away. He was sure that the
Buddha could answer his question and clear up his doubts.
So, Subhadda went to the Sala Tree grove, and asked Ananda whether he could see
the Buddha, but Ananda said, "Enough, friend Subhadda, do not disturb the Buddha.
He is weary."
For a second and a third time, Subhadda made his request to be able to speak with
the Buddha. Each time Ananda replied in the same manner.
However, the Buddha heard a word or two of the conversation between Ananda and Subhaddha,
and he called Ananda to him and said, "Come, Ananda. Do not keep Subhadda
form seeing me, he is asking from a desire for knowledge and not to annoy me. And
whatever I may say in answer to his questions, he will quickly understand."
Granted permission, Subhadda approached the Buddha, asked his question and got his
answer. With his question answered he asked to join the order of monks. In
a short time after earnest and diligent effort following the teachings he became