[IV. In Rājagaha]

download

41: The Story of the Going-Forth of Sāriputta and Moggallāna

Then at that time the wanderer Sañjaya Apparently to be identified with Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta, one of the six famous teachers in Lord Buddha's time, who taught a radical scepticism.01 was living near Rājagaha together with a great assembly of wanderers, with two hundred and fifty wanderers. Then at that time Sāriputta and Moggallāna were living the spiritual life under the wanderer Sañjaya, and there was an agreement amongst themselves: “Whoever attains the Deathless first, he should inform the other.” The comm. explains that seeking the Deathless the two friends had joined Sañjaya's Wanderers, but soon realised that the essence (sāra = Nibbāna) was not to be found there, so they made the above pact.02

Then the venerable Assaji, having dressed in the morning time, after taking up his bowl and robe, entered Rājagaha for alms, pleasing in going forwards, in going back, in looking ahead, in looking around, in bending, in stretching, having downcast eyes, and endowed with good posture.

The wanderer Sāriputta saw the venerable Assaji walking for alms in Rājagaha, pleasing in going forwards, in going back, in looking ahead, in looking around, in bending, in stretching, having downcast eyes, and endowed with good posture, and having seen (him), this occurred to him: “Of those in the world who are Worthy or have entered the path to Worthiness this monk is a certain one of them. Now what if I, having approached this monk, were to ask: ‘On account of whom, friend, did you go forth, who is your teacher, what Dhamma do you prefer?’ ”

Then this occurred to the wanderer Sāriputta: “This is the wrong time to ask the monk, he has entered amongst the houses for alms. Now what if I were to follow along closely behind Word repetition normally signifies emphasis in Pāḷi: piṭṭhito = behind, piṭṭhito piṭṭhito = closely behind.03 this monk with a desire (to find) the path he has found?”

Then the venerable Assaji, after walking for alms in Rājagaha and taking his alms food, went back. Then the wanderer Sāriputta approached the venerable Assaji, and after approaching he exchanged greetings with the venerable Assaji, and after exchanging polite and courteous greetings, he stood on one side. While standing on one side the wanderer Sāriputta said this to the venerable Assaji: “Your faculties, friend, are very clear, purified is your skin and bright, on account of whom, friend, did you go forth, who is your teacher, what Dhamma do you prefer?”

“There is, friend, a Great Ascetic, a Sakyan Son, who has gone forth from the Sakya family, on account of that Gracious One I went forth, that Gracious One is my Teacher, that Gracious One's Dhamma I prefer.”

“But what is the doctrine of the venerable's Teacher, what does he say?”

“I am new, friend, one not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline, This Assaji is always identified as one of the group-of-five disciples, who listened to the Discourse that Set the Dhamma Wheel Rolling and became a Worthy One while listening to the Discourse on the Characteristic of Non-Self --- he was one of the five most senior disciples in the Saṅgha. It is hard to reconcile these facts with his self-characterisation here. Also there is no mention of Assaji accompanying the Buddha to Rājagaha. Assaji must have been a common name at the time, and I think it likely we are dealing with a different Assaji here to the one whom we met in Isipatana.04 I am not able to teach the Dhamma at length, but I can explain the meaning to you in brief.” Then the wanderer Sāriputta said this to the venerable Assaji: “Friend,

Speak little or much, but tell the meaning to me,
The meaning is useful to me, what to do with many words?” Byañjana literally means syllable in this context.05

Then the venerable Assaji recited this Dhamma instruction to the wanderer Sāriputta:

“Whatever things Comm: the five constituents (of mind and matter making up a human being).06 have a cause and source, their cause the Realised One has told,
And also that which is their cessation Regarding this famous verse the commentary points out that the first line refers to the Truth of Suffering the second to the Arising of Suffering, and the third to the Cessation of Suffering.07 - such is the Great Ascetic's doctrine.”

Then to the wanderer Sāriputta, after hearing this Dhamma instruction, the dust-free, stainless Vision-of-the-Dhamma arose:

“Whatever has the nature of arising, all that has the nature of ceasing.”

And he said: “This really is the Dhamma if you have penetrated the Sorrowless State, unseen through many myriads of past aeons.”

Then the wanderer Sāriputta approached the wanderer Moggallāna. The wanderer Moggallāna saw the wanderer Sāriputta coming while still far away, and after seeing (him), he said this to the wanderer Sāriputta: “Your faculties, friend, are very clear, purified is your skin and bright, have you, friend, attained the Deathless?”

“Yes, friend, I have attained the Deathless.”

“But how did you, friend, attain the Deathless?”

“Here, friend, I saw the monk Assaji walking for alms in Rājagaha, pleasing in going forwards, in going back, in looking ahead, in looking around, in bending, in stretching, having downcast eyes, and endowed with good posture, and having seen (him), this occurred to me: ‘Of those in the world who are Worthy or have entered the path to Worthiness this monk is one of them.’ Now what if I, having approached this monk, were to ask: “On account of whom, friend, did you go forth, who is your teacher, what Dhamma do you prefer?”

Then this, friend, occurred to me: “This is the wrong time to ask the monk, he has entered amongst the houses for alms. Now what if I were to follow along close behind this monk with a desire to find out the path?” Then, friend, the monk Assaji, after walking for alms in Rājagaha, and taking his alms food, went back.

Then I, friend, approached the monk Assaji, and after approaching I exchanged greetings with the monk Assaji, and after exchanging polite and courteous greetings, I stood on one side. While standing on one side, friend, I said this to the monk Assaji: “Your faculties, friend, are very clear, purified is your skin and bright, on account of whom, friend, did you go forth, who is your teacher, what Dhamma do you prefer?”

“There is, friend, a Great Ascetic, the Sakyan Son, who has gone forth from the Sakya family, on account of that Gracious One I went forth, that Gracious One is my Teacher, that Gracious One's Dhamma I prefer.”

“But what is the doctrine of the venerable's Teacher, what does he say?”

“I am new, friend, not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline, I am not able to teach the Dhamma at length, but I can explain the meaning to you in brief.”

Then, friend, I said this to the venerable Assaji: “Friend,

Speak little or much, but tell the meaning to me,
The meaning is useful to me, what to do with many words?”

Then, friend, the monk Assaji recited this Dhamma instruction:

“Whatever things have a cause and source, their cause the Realised One told,
And also that which is their cessation - such is the Great Ascetic's doctrine.”

Then to the wanderer Moggallāna, after hearing this Dhamma instruction, the dust-free, stainless Vision-of-the-Dhamma arose:

“Whatever has the nature of arising, all that has the nature of ceasing.”

And he said: “This really is the Dhamma if you have penetrated the Sorrowless State, unseen through many myriads of past aeons.”

Then the wanderer Moggallāna said this to the wanderer Sāriputta: “Let us go, friend, to the Gracious One, the Gracious One is the Teacher for us.”

“These two hundred and fifty wanderers, friend, are living here depending on us, looking to us, we should get their permission, then whatever they will think that they will do.”

Then Sāriputta and Moggallāna approached those wanderers, and after approaching, they said this to those wanderers: “We are going, friends, to the Gracious One, the Gracious One is the Teacher for us.”

“We are living here depending on you, venerable ones, looking to you, venerable ones, if you venerable ones will live the spiritual life under the Great Ascetic all of us will surely live the spiritual life under the Great Ascetic.”

Then Sāriputta and Moggallāna approached the wanderer Sañjaya, and after approaching, they said this to the wanderer Sañjaya: “We are going, friend, to the Gracious One, the Gracious One is our Teacher.” “Enough, friend, don't go, the three of us will look after this group.” I.e. he is offering them joint leadership of the group.08

For a second time Sāriputta and Moggallāna said this to the wanderer Sañjaya: “We are going, friend, to the Gracious One, the Gracious One is our Teacher.” “Enough, friend, don't go, the three of us will look after this group.”

For a third time Sāriputta and Moggallāna said this to the wanderer Sañjaya: “We are going, friend, to the Gracious One, the Gracious One is our Teacher.” “Enough, friend, don't go, the three of us will look after this group.”

Then Sāriputta and Moggallāna taking those two hundred and fifty wanderers approached the Bamboo Wood. But the wanderer Sañjaya right there threw up hot blood from his mouth.

The Gracious One saw Sāriputta and Moggallāna coming while still far away, and having seen (them), he addressed the monks, (saying): “These two companions who are coming, Kolita and Upatissa, will be my pair of Chief Disciples, an auspicious pair.”

After (they had) attained deep knowledge in the realm of unsurpassed liberation with the destruction of attachments This phrase is a locative absolutive, not as extraordinary as Rhys-Davids makes out.09
The Teacher then spoke about them in the Bamboo Wood, (saying):

“These two companions who are coming, Kolita and Upatissa
Will be my pair of Chief Disciples, an auspicious pair.”

Then Sāriputta and Moggallāna approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and falling with their heads at the feet of the Gracious One, they said this to the Gracious One: “May we receive the going-forth, venerable Sir, in the presence of the Gracious One, may we receive the full ordination.”

“Come, monks,” said the Gracious One, “the Dhamma has been well-proclaimed, live the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering.” Comm: the Elder Mahāmoggallāna was established in Worthiness within seven days, the Elder Sāriputta within half a month.10 That was these venerable ones' full ordination. The commentary explains that at the time of the Buddha Anomadassī there were two ascetics named Sarada and Sirīvaḍḍha who, seeing that Buddha's Chief Disciples, aspired to be Chief Disciples themselves, and later were reborn and became Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna respectively.11