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[251] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Upasakas who has gathered-round a group by using the Four Basics for Making Friends (catuhi sangaha-vatthuhi parisam sanganhantanam) is Hatthako Alavako.

Hatthako Alavako

  (DPPN: An eminent lay disciple of the Buddha declared foremost among those who gather a following by means of the four bases of sympathy (catuhi vatthuhi parisam sanganhantanam). He was the son of the king of Alavi (hence his name Alavaka), and the Buddha saved him from being eaten by the Yakkha Alavaka. He was given the name of Hatthaka because he was handed to the Buddha by the Yakkha, after the latter's conversion, and by the Buddha to the king's messengers. He was thus "handed" from one to another (hatthato hattham gatatta).

When he grew up Hatthaka heard the Buddha preach, and, in due course, became an Anagamin. He was always accompanied by five hundred lay disciples, and was one of seven laymen who had such a following. The books record several conversations between the Buddha and Hatthaka. He once saw the Buddha at Gomagga in Simsapavana, near Alavi, and asked him if he were one of those who lived happily. The Buddha said he was always happy in any circumstances. On another occasion the Buddha asked Hatthaka how he could command the allegiance of such a large company. "By the four bases of sympathy," he answered, "by giving gifts, by kindly words, by kindly deeds, by equality of treatment." And when Hatthaka had gone, the Buddha praised him for his eminence, in that he possessed eight marvelous qualities: faith, virtue, conscientiousness, fear of blame, ability to listen well, charity, wisdom, modesty. Together with Citta-gahapati, Hatthaka is often held up as an example to be copied by others.

Hatthaka is said to have been reborn in Aviha, one of the Suddhavassa Realms, where anagamins are reborn in their last life.

From: PTS: Woodward, trans., The Book of the Gradual Sayings, The Book of the Threes [abbreviations are translators]

Hatthaka Of Alavi

Thus have I heard: On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying near Alavi, at Cowpath in Singsapa Grove, lodging on the leaf-strewn ground.

Now Hatthaka of Alavi was wandering there afoot, and as he went along he saw the Exalted One in that place, seated on the ground strewn with leaves. On seeing him he approached and saluting him sat down at one side. So seated Hatthakka of Alavi said this to the Exalted One:

'Pray, sir, does the Exalted One live happily?'

'Yes, my lad, I live happily. I am one of those who live happily in the world.'

'But, sir, the winter nights are cold, the dark half of the month is the time of snowfall. Hard is the ground trampled by the hoofs of cattle, thin the carpet of fallen leaves, sparse are the leaves of the tree, cold are the saffron robes and cold the gale of wind that blows.'

Then said the Exalted One:

'Still, my lad, I live happily. Of those who live happy in the world I am one. Now, my lad, I will question you about this and do you reply as you think fit. What think you, my lad? Suppose a housefather or housefather's son has a house with a gabled roof, plastered inside and out, with well-fitting doors and casements. Therein is a couch spread with a long-fleeced woolen rug, a bed-spread of white wool, a coverlet embroidered with flowers, spread with a costly skin of antelope, having a canopy overhead and a scarlet cushion at each end. Here is a lamp burning and four wives to wait upon him with all their charms. Now what think you, my lad? Would he live happily or not? How think you?'

'Yes, he would, sir. He is one of those who live happily in the world.'

'Well now, my lad, what think you? Would there not arise in that housefather or housefather's son torments of body or of mind that are born of lust so that, tortured by them, he would live unhappily?'

'They would arise, sir.'

'Well, my lad, as to those torments of body or of mind born of lust, tortured by which he would live unhappily, that lust has been abandoned by the Tathagata, cut off at the root, made like a palm-tree stump, made unable to become again, of a nature not to arise again in future time. That is why I live happily.

Again, would there not arise ... torments of body or of mind, born of malice, so that, tortured by them, he would live unhappily?'

'They would arise, sir.'

'Well, my lad, as to those torments ... that malice has been abandoned by the Tathagata ... That is why I live happily.

Again, would not there arise ... torments of body or of mind, born of delusion, so that, tortured by them, he would live unhappily?'

'They would arise, sir.'

'Well, my lad, as to those torments ... that delusion has been abandoned by the Tathagata ... That is why I live happily.

Yea, happily he lives, the Brahman set free

Whom lusts defile not, who is cooled and loosed from bonds,

Who hath all barriers burst, restraining his heart's pain.

Happy the calm one lives who wins the peace of mind.'

 


 

References:

AN 4.176
SN 2.17.23
AN 4.176
AN 1.251
AN 2.131
AN 3.34


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