Saṃyutta Nikāya 16

Connected Discourses with Kassapa

11. The Robe

On one occasion the Venerable Mahakassapa was dwelling in Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Ānanda was wandering on tour in Dakkhiṇagiri together with a large Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Now on that occasion thirty bhikkhus—pupils of the Venerable Ānanda—most of them youngsters, had given up the training and had returned to the lower life.

When the Venerable Ānanda had wandered on tour in Dakkhiṇagiri as long as he wanted, he came back to Rajagaha, to the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. He approached the Venerable Mahakassapa, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side, and the Venerable Mahakassapa said to him: “Friend Ānanda, for how many reasons did the Blessed One lay down the rule that bhikkhus should not take meals among families in groups of more than three?”

“The Blessed One laid down this rule for three reasons, Venerable Kassapa: for restraining ill-behaved persons and for the comfort of well-behaved bhikkhus, with the intention, ‘May those of evil wishes, by forming a faction, not create a schism in the Saṅgha!’; and out of sympathy towards families. It is for these three reasons, Venerable Kassapa, that the Blessed One laid down this rule.”

“Then why, friend Ānanda, are you wandering about with these young bhikkhus who are unguarded in their sense faculties, immoderate in eating, and not devoted to wakefulness? One would think you were wandering about trampling on crops; one would think you were wandering about destroying families. Your retinue is breaking apart, friend Ānanda, your young followers are slipping away. But still this youngster does not know his measure!”

“Grey hairs are growing on my head, Venerable Kassapa. Can’t we escape being called a youngster by the Venerable Mahakassapa?”

“Friend Ānanda, it is just because you wander around with these young bhikkhus who are unguarded in their sense faculties…. But still this youngster does not know his measure!”

The bhikkhunī Thullananda heard : “Master Mahakassapa has disparaged Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage, by calling him a youngster.” Then, being displeased at this, she expressed her displeasure thus: “How can Master Mahakassapa, who was formerly a member of another sect, think to disparage Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage, by calling him a youngster?”

The Venerable Mahakassapa overheard the bhikkhunī Thullananda making this statement and said to the Venerable Ānanda: “Surely, friend Ānanda, the bhikkhunī Thullananda made that statement rashly, without consideration. For since I shaved off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and went forth from the home life into homelessness, I do not recall ever having acknowledged any other teacher except the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One.

“In the past, friend, when I was still a householder, it occurred to me: ‘Household life is confinement, a path of dust, going forth is like the open air. It is not easy for one living at home to lead the perfectly complete, perfectly purified holy life, which is like polished conch. Let me then shave off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness. ’ Some time later I had an outer robe made from patches of cloth; then, acknowledging those who were arahants in the world as models, I shaved off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and went forth from the household life into homelessness.

“When I had thus gone forth, I was travelling along a road when I saw the Blessed One sitting by the Bahuputta Shrine between Rajagaha and Nalanda. Having seen him, I thought: ‘If I should ever see the Teacher, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see. If I should ever see the Fortunate One, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see. If I should ever see the Perfectly Enlightened One, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see.’ Then I prostrated myself right there at the Blessed One’s feet and said to him: ‘Venerable sir, the Blessed One is my teacher, I am his disciple. Venerable sir, the Blessed One is my teacher, I am his disciple.’

“When I had said this, the Blessed One said to me: ‘Kassapa, if one who does not know and see should say to a disciple so single-minded as yourself: “I know, I see,” his head would split. But knowing, Kassapa, I say, “I know”; seeing, I say, “I see.” “‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “I will arouse a keen sense of shame and fear of wrongdoing towards elders, the newly ordained, and those of middle status.” Thus should you train yourself.

“‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “Whenever I listen to any Dhamma connected with the wholesome, I will listen to it with eager ears, attending to it as a matter of vital concern, applying my whole mind to it.” Thus should you train yourself.

“‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “I will never relinquish mindfulness directed to the body associated with joy.” Thus should you train yourself.’

“Then, having given me this exhortation, the Blessed One rose from his seat and departed. For seven days, friend, I ate the country’s almsfood as a debtor, but on the eighth day final knowledge arose.

“Then, friend, the Blessed One descended from the road and went to the foot of a tree. I folded in four my outer robe of patches and said to him: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One sit down here. This will lead to my welfare and happiness for a long time.’ The Blessed One sat down on the appointed seat and said to me: ‘Your outer robe of patches is soft, Kassapa.’–‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One accept my outer robe of patches, out of compassion.’–‘Then will you wear my worn-out hempen rag-robes? ’–‘I will, venerable sir.’ Thus I offered the Blessed One my outer robe of patches and received from him his worn-out hempen rag-robes.

“If, friend, one speaking rightly could say of anyone: ‘He is a son of the Blessed One, born of his breast, born of his mouth, born of the Dhamma, created by the Dhamma, an heir to the Dhamma, a receiver of worn-out hempen rag-robes,’ it is of me that one could rightly say this.

“Friend, to whatever extent I wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion…. As in §9, down to:

“Friend, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge.

“Friend, one might just as well think that a bull elephant seven or seven and a half cubits high could be concealed by a palm leaf as think that my six direct knowledges could be concealed.”

But the bhikkhunī Thullananda fell away from the holy life.