Ekottarikāgama 21.5

Kokālika Accuses Śāriputra & Maudgalyāyana

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in Śrāvastī, at Jetṛ’s Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. Then the monk Kokālika went to where the Exalted One was. He bowed down his head at the Exalted One’s feet and sat down to one side. Then that monk said to the Exalted One:

“The intentions of the monks Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana are very wicked; there are many instances of misconduct on their part.”

“Do not say so,” demanded the Exalted One, “You whose heart takes delight in the Tathāgata, listen to me: Śāriputra’s and Maudgalyāyana’s conduct is absolutely virtuous and not at all unvirtuous.”

Now the monk Kokālika said to the Exalted One a second and third time, “What the Tathāgata says is true and not false. However the intentions of Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana are very wicked; they have no roots of merit.”

“You are a fool,” replied the Exalted One. “You do not, alas, trust what the Tathāgata says. By claiming that the monks Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana are very wicked this is now such an instance of misconduct on your part that before long you will face the consequence of it.”

Then that monk rose from his seat and his body became covered with terrible abscesses: first in the size of sesame seeds, then they turned pea-sized, gradually āmalaka-size, then even walnut-size and finally añjali-size. Pus and blood gushed from the abscesses, that monk’s body broke up, his life came to an end and he was reborn in the Lotus Hell.

When the Venerable Mahā-Maudgalyāyana heard that Kokālika’s life had come to an end, he went to where the Exalted One was, bowed down his head at the latter’s feet and sat down to one side. Instantly he rose from his seat again and asked the Exalted One, “Where was the monk Kokālika reborn?”

“When his life had come to an end, he was reborn in the Lotus Hell,” replied the Exalted One.

“Now I would like to go to that hell,” said Venerable Maudgalyāyana, “in order to instruct that person.”

“You need not go to him, Maudgalyāyana,” remarked the Exalted One.

“I would still like to go … to instruct that person,” repeated Maudgalyāyana. Thereafter the Exalted One remained silent and did not reply. Then, as fast as a strong man bends his arm, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana disappeared from Śrāvastī and arrived at the Lotus Hell.

Just at that time the monk Kokālika’s body was all ablaze, and there were a hundred head of cattle ploughing into his tongue. Sitting cross-legged in the air and snapping his fingers, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana signalled his arrival to that monk who at once asked, “Who are you?”

Maudgalyāyana answered, “I am a disciple of Śākyamuni Buddha. My personal name is Maudgalyāyana, my family name is Kolita.”

Having recognised Maudgalyāyana, the monk spat these malicious words at him, “Now I am sunk in this miserable destiny but, alas, without being spared from your presence.” He had hardly uttered these words when, consequentially, a thousand head of cattle appeared, ploughing into his tongue. When Maudgalyāyana had witnessed that, it saddened him all the more realising that in Kokālika there was no change of heart making him repent.

Maudgalyāyana returned to Śrāvastī and went to where the Exalted One was. He bowed down … and stood at one side. Then he reported the whole matter to the Exalted One who replied, “I told you before that it was not necessary to go to see that wicked man.” On this occasion, the Exalted One uttered the following verses:

“The man was born to have a hatchet in his mouth with
Which he cuts up himself. Through his malicious words
He has rendered both his and my breathing
Obnoxious, whereas breathing in and out
Is otherwise entirely wholesome. Such a person is
Sunk in a miserable destiny; his action was extremely
Wicked. Such wicked action directed against a
Tathāgata either past or present, entails the
Gravest consequences: Thirteen thousand and six
Aeons and yet one more of staying in the Hell of
Hot Ashes. He who commits wicked
Actions by deed or word such as abusing noble
Persons, will go to that hell.

Thereupon the Exalted One said to the monks, “You should train three things to perfect your conduct. In which three? In virtuous conduct by deed, word and thought. Thus, monks, you should train.”

After listening to the Buddha’s words, the monks were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice.