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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


Radha Thera

PTS: DPPN ii, pp730

He was a brahmin of Rajagaha who, being neglected by his children in his old age, sought ordination. The monks refused his request on the ground of his age, so he sought the Buddha who, seeing his upanissaya, asked Sariputta to admit him.[1] Soon after he won arahantship. He stayed near the Buddha, and, by reason of his skill, the Buddha declared him foremost among those who could inspire "speech in others (? patibhanakeyyanam).[2] He thereby earned the name of Patibhaniya Thera.[3] The Theragatha[4] contains two verses spoken by him in praise of concentration of the mind. The Radha Sanyutta[5] contains a large number of suttas preached by the Buddha in answer to Radha's questions on various topics. It is said that when the Buddha saw Radha he felt the inclination to talk on matters dealing with subtle topics, illustrating them with various similes.[6]

In the time of Padumuttara Buddha, Radha was a householder of Hansavati and held a great almsgiving in honour of the Buddha, wishing to gain pre-eminence in the power of inspiring others to speak. He gave ripe mangoes to Vipassi Buddha[7] and, as a result, was born in heaven.

Suradha Thera (q.v.) was his younger brother. Radha was, for some time, the Buddha's attendant.[8]




Radha Sanyutta. - The twenty-third section of the Sanyutta Nikaya. It contains various suttas preached by the Buddha in answer to Ridha's questions.[9]




Radha Sutta. - Radha asks the Buddha if ideas of "I" and "mine" are completely absent in him who knows and sees, regarding the body, consciousness and external objects. The Buddha answers in the affirmative.[10]




Radha Sutta. - Radha, before becoming an arahant, goes to the Buddha and asks for a teaching in brief. The Buddha tells him to abandon desire for what is impermanent - i.e., the eye, objects, eye-consciousness, etc.[11]




PTS: Psalms of the Early Buddhists, II. - Psalms of the Brethren, Mrs. Rhys Davids, trans., pp115


Reborn in the time of our Exalted One at Rajagaha, as a brahmin, he was in his old age unable to perform his various duties. Being passed over,[12] he went to the Master and revealed his needs. The Master, contemplating his graduation in essential conditions, ordered Sariputta to admit him. Soon after that he won arahantship. And thereafter, keeping near the Master, he became pre-eminent among those who, deriving from the Master's teaching,[13] could speak impromptu.

Now one day seeing how want of self-training occasioned governance by the passions, he exhorted thus:

E'en as into an ill-roofed house the rain
Doth pierce and penetrate continually,
So into mind by exercise untrained
Doth passion ever pierce and penetrate.
And as into a well-roofed house no rain
Doth pierce and penetrate continually,
So into mind by calm and insight trained
Doth passion never pierce and penetrate.[14]


[1]It is probably this incident which is referred to at ThagA. ii. 114[sub-1], where Sariputta is said to have ordained a poor brahmin named Radha, but no mention is made of any order from the Buddha. If the reference is to this same thera, Radha was, for some time, the attendant (pacchasamana) of Sariputta, and there is a verse in Thag.(993) spoken to him by Sariputta, who was pleased with Radha's gentle manner. DhA. ii. 104ff. gives more details of the ordination of Radha. There we are told that he went to the monastery where he performed various duties. But the monks would not admit him into the Order, and, owing to his disappointment, he grew thin. One day the Buddha, seeing him with his divine eye, went to him, and hearing of his wish to join the Order, summoned the monks and asked if any of them remembered any favour done by Radha. Sariputta mentioned that he had once received a ladleful of Radha's own food while begging in Rajagaha. The Buddha then suggested that Sariputta should listen to Radha's request for ordination. After ordination, Radha grew weary of the food of the refectory, but Sariputta constantly admonished him and found him most humble; later, he spoke highly of Radha's obedience, and the Buddha praised him. It was on Radha's account that the Alinacitta Jataka (q.v.) was preached. AA. i. 179 f. agrees, more or less, with the account given above; so does Ap. ii. 485 f.

[sub-1]ThagA. ii. 114 ... Again, the Thera [Sariputta] showing kindness to an unfortunate brahmin named Radha, caused him to leave tho world and enter the Order.[sub-2] Afterwards, while on tour, he admonished Radha, pleased with his gentle behaviour:

As one who shows where treasures hidden lie,
So is the man of wisdom who discerns
What to avoid, and utters sage rebuke:--
If such an able guide ye see and heed,
For you who follow, better 'tis, not worse.

[sub-2]This is more fully related in Dhammapada Commentary (Radha-thera-vatthu'), ii. 104 ff., on verse 76. Radha is probably the aged Thera of CXXVII., ordained by Sariputta.

[2]A. i. 25; ThagA. i. 253 f. patibhanakeyyanam Bhanaka would be a "reciter" of suttas, pati would indicate some sort of repartee - base meaning bounce or rebound - hear: rep-par-ti; plus the evidence in the suttas is not so much of his speaking, but of others being inspired to speak to him.

[3]SA. ii. 246.

[4]vss. 133-4 .

[5]S. iii. 188-201; see also Radha Sutta.

[6]SA. ii. 246; this was because of Radha's wealth of views (ditthisamudacara). and unwavering faith (okappaniya-saddha); AA. i. 179; also ThagA. i. 254.

[7]ThagA. i. 253; AA. i. 180; Ap. ii. 484.

[8]AA. i. 163.

[9]S. iii. 188-201.

[10]S. iii. 79.

[11]S. iv. 48f.


[13]The passage assigning him pre-eminence is then quoted from Ang., i. 25. Cf. with Vangisa's similar but not identical pre-eminence, Pa. CCLXIV. This Thera is possibly identical with the 'venerable Radha' addressed in many short discourses of the Sanyutta (iii. 79, 188ff.; iv. 48f.).

[14]"Exercise,''calm and insight' - in the text bhavana - the collective name for the systematized effort in self-training of the disciple who seeks perfection (Bud. Psy., p. 261, n. 2). Specified as 'calm and insight' in the Commentary. Cf. Compendium. p. 202 ff.

[233] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Beggars who is skilled in eliciting sutta recitation (patibhaneyyakanam) is Radho.

[SN 3.23: Radha-Samyutta]
K.S. iii, 66,
Brethren, 115.
SN 4 35.76
SN 4 35.77
SN 4 35.78