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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas

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[231] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Beggars who advises the Beggars (bhikkhu-ovadakanam) is Maha-kappino.

Maha-kappino

(DPPN: One of the most eminent disciples of the Buddha, considered foremost among those who taught the monks (bhikkuovadakanam). He was older than the Buddha, and was born in a frontier kingdom three hundred yojanas [1 yojana = about 20 miles--mo] in extent, in the city of Kukkutavati. On the death of his father he became raja under the name of Maha-Kappina. His chief wife was Anoja from Sagala in the Madda kingdom. Every morning Maha-Kappina would send men out of the four gates of the city to stop any scholarly or learned men who might happen to pass along the road, and then to return and tell him of them ... One day, after the Buddha's appearance in the world, traders came from Savatthi to Kukkutavati and, after disposing of their goods, went to see Maha-Kappina. He received them and asked them about their country and the teaching which they followed. "Sire," they replied, "we cannot tell you with unwashed mouths." A golden jug of water was brought, and with cleansed mouths and clasped hands they told the king of the appearance of the Buddha. At the word "Buddha" Kappina's body was suffused with rapture. He made them utter the word three times, giving them one hundred thousand pieces. The men told him also of the Dhamma and the Sangha, and he trebled his gifts and forthwith renounced the world, followed by his ministers. They set forth to find the Buddha, and reached the bank of a river which they crossed by an "Act of Truth," saying, "If this teacher be a SammasamBuddha, let not even a hoof of these horses be wetted." [Note: this is not the usual use of an "act of truth." It is usually used in desperate circumstances and the truth asserted is usually related to the person making the act, and difficult to confess.] In this manner they crossed three rivers: the Aravaccha, the Nilavahana, and the Candabhaga. The Buddha perceived them with his divine eye, and after he had eaten at Savatthi, went through the air to the banks of the Candabhaga and sat down under the great Banyan-tree facing the landing stage of the river, sending forth Buddha-rays. Kappina and his men saw him and prostrated themselves. The Buddha taught them the Doctrine, and they became arahants and joined the Order, the formula "Ehi bhikkhu" being their sanction and their ordination.

Anoja and the wives of Kappina's ministers hearing that their husbands had renounced the world and gone to see the Buddha, determined to do likewise. They crossed the river in the same way as Kappina and his retinue, and approached the Buddha as he sat under the Banyan-tree and the banks of the Candabhaga. The Buddha made the husbands and wives invisible to each other and preached to the latter. They became sotapannas and were ordained by Uppalavanna, the Buddha taking the monks to Jetavana. Maha-Kappina spent his days in the ecstasy of jhana, and so full of happiness was he that he constantly repeated "aho sukham, aho sukham," which made the monks suspect that he was longing for the pleasures of kingship which he had left behind, until the Buddha dispelled their doubts [another story we have heard before of another Beggar in identical terms.]

One day the Buddha discovered that Kappina lived inactively, enjoying his happiness, and that he never taught anybody. He sent for him and asked him to teach the Doctrine to his associates. This Kappina did, and at the end of a single sermon one thousand listening recluses became arahants, hence the title conferred on him.

Although Kappina was famed as a teacher of monks, the Theragatha, curiously enough, contains verses in which he admonishes the nuns.

Kappina is described by the Buddha as pale, thin, and having a prominent nose. He possessed great iddhi-powers and had attained every samapatti [one's own pathing--attainment; includes the four Burnings and the four arupajhanas and sometimes the ending of perception and sense experience jhana] which could be attained. It has been remarked that the verses attributed to him are, for the most part, more gnomic sayings of popular philosophy than genuine Dhamma, and that they would have befitted an early Greek Pagan. Mrs Rhys Davids has an interesting theory that Kappina was Assaji's teacher. [The Beggar initially responsible for the conversion of Sariputta and Moggallana. I do not have the work in which Mrs. Rhys Davids puts forth her theory ( J.R.A.S. 1927, ii. P. 206f.) but off hand it seems hard to square with the story that we hear that Assaji was one of the first five individuals instructed by The Buddha. Perhaps the Buddha brought him to the state of sotapanna and Kappina finished the job.)

From: PTS: Mrs. Rhys Davids, trans., The Book of the Kindred Sayings II, The Nidana Book: Kindred Sayings about Brethren, #11: The Comrade, pp193

Kappina.

Now the venerable Maha-Kappina came into the presence of the Exalted One. The Exalted One saw him coming while afar, and seeing him he called the brethren:--

'Do you see, brethren, that brother coming to us, pale, thin, with a prominent nose?'

'Even so, lord.'

'That brother is highly gifted, brethren, of wondrous power. No easy matter is it to win that which he formerly had not won, even that for the sake of which clansmen rightly leave the home for the homeless, even that uttermost goal of the divine living which he has attained, wherein he abides, having come just here and now to know it thoroughly for himself and to realize it.'

The Exalted One spake this. The Wellfarer so saying, the Master spake this yet further: --

The noble is the best among the folk
Who put their trust in lineage.
But one in wisdom and in virtue clothed
Is best of all 'mong spirits and men.
By day the sun shines and by night the moon.
In armor shines the warrior; ardent, rapt,
The brahmin shines, but through both day and night
Shineth the Buddha's glowing (love for men).

(Mrs Rhys Davids footnote: These are simple ideas in simple Pali. I cannot give the play on words in jhayi, which means both burning and meditating, save that 'ardent' has an analogous double meaning. 'Glowing love for men' is freely rendered. Tejo also bears a double meaning, like 'ardent.' It means both 'heat' and that efflux of feeling and will for which we have no word as yet, but which Jesus meant by 'virtue,' and we mean by 'vim.')

[Note: the statement that the Noble is the best among the folk who put their trust in lineage. This reference to Khastryia (Kattiya) or the Nobility as opposed to the Brahman Cast is instructive in that both then and now the Brahman Cast held itself to be the highest Cast. This point was debated on occasion by the Buddha (himself a Khastryia) and the Buddha's position upheld and accepted — at least by those with whom he debated.]

From: PTS: Mrs. Rhys Davids, trans., The Book of the Kindred Sayings V, Kindred Sayings about In-Breathing and Out-Breathing, Chapter I, vii pp 279 [I have had to edit slightly in that this sutta is part of a long series and parts of it refer back to a previous sutta ... my changes in square brackets. Parentheses are trans.]

Kappina

Savatthi ... [an abbreviated form of the usual Nidana]

Now on that occasion the venerable Kappina the Great was not far off, sitting cross-legged, holding his body erect, with mindfulness set in front of him.

Then the Exalted One saw the venerable Kappina sitting not far off ... and on seeing him he said to the monks:

'Monks, do ye ever see any wavering or shaking of body in this monk?'

'Lord, so far as we have seen him, whether sitting amid the Order or sitting alone and solitary, we have never observed any wavering or shaking of body in that venerable one.'

'Monks, it is by the fact of cultivating and making much of [the] concentration [on in-breathing and out-breathing] that there is no wavering or shaking of body, that this monk can attain at will such concentration, can attain it without difficulty, attain it without trouble.

And by cultivating and making much of what sort of concentration is there no wavering and shaking of body? It is by cultivating and making much of the concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing that such is the result. And how cultivated, how made much of does such concentration have such a result?

[In this method, monks, a monk who has gone to a forest or the foot of a tree or a lonely place, sits down cross-legged, holding the body straight. Setting mindfulness in front of him, he breathes in mindfully and mindfully breaths out. As he draws in a long breath he knows: A long breath I draw in. [As he breaths out a long breath he knows: I breath out a long breath.] As he draws in a short breath he knows: A short breath I draw in. As he breasts out a short breath he knows: I breath out a short breath.

Thus he makes up his mind (repeating) [that is Mrs. Rhyd Davids parenthesis. This is impossible. Repeating words to one's self during meditation one would never get past the first Jhana. The word is sikkhati, translated in The Course "he trains himself". Initially it may prove helpful to repeat the words, at a more advanced stage one will simply make one's self aware of doing it, when one has become well trained it becomes second nature. Note that these instructions on breathing are more detailed than in the Satipatthana Sutta.]: "I shall breathe in, feeling it go through the whole body. Feeling it go through the whole body I shall breathe out. Calming down the bodily aggregate I shall breathe in. Calming down the bodily aggregate I shall breathe out."

Thus he makes up his mind (repeating): "Feeling the thrill of zest I shall breathe in. Feeling the thrill of zest I shall breathe out. Feeling the sense of ease I shall breathe in. Feeling the sense of ease I shall breathe out."

He makes up his mind (repeating): "Aware of all mental factors I shall breathe in. Aware of all mental factors I shall breathe out. Calming down the mental factors I shall breathe in. Calming down the mental factors I shall breathe out. Aware of mind I shall breathe in. Aware of mind I shall breathe out."

He makes up his mind (repeating): "Gladdening my mind I shall breathe in. Gladdening my mind I shall breathe out. Composing my mind I shall breathe in. Composing my mind I shall breathe out. Detaching my mind I shall breathe in Detaching my mind I shall breathe out."

He makes up his mind (repeating): "Contemplating impermanence I shall breathe in. Contemplating impermanence I shall breathe out. Contemplating dispassion I shall breathe in. contemplating dispassion I shall breathe out. Contemplating cessation I shall breathe in Contemplating cessation I shall breathe out. Contemplating renunciation I shall breathe in. Contemplating renunciation I shall breathe out."

That, monks, is how, when one cultivates and makes much of the concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing, there is no wavering or shaking of body, no wavering or shaking of mind.

From the Psalms:

Can ye but see that which is coming ere it come,
And mark such business as will benefit or harm,
Nor foes nor friends, howe'er they seek, will find a rift.
The man by whom the breathing exercise
With self-control is to perfection brought,
Practiced with method as the Buddha taught,
He casts a radiant sheen about the world,
As doth the moon emerging free from cloud.
Lo! Now the mind of me is white indeed,
Expanded beyond measure, practiced well,
Its nature understood, and strenuous;
Shedding a radiance on every side.
The wise man is alive and he alone,
Although his wealth be utterly destroyed;
And if the man of wealth do wisdom lack,
For all his wealth he doth not truly live.
Wisdom is arbiter of what is heard.
Wisdom doth nourish honorable fame.
With wisdom in his company a man
Even in pain and sorrow Findeth joys.
Here is a fact that's not of yesterday;
'Tis not abnormal nor anomalous:
'Where ye are being born, ye also die.'
What have we there save what is natural?
For after being born we do but lead
A life that is a dying hour by hour.
Whoe'er are born in that same life they die --
Such is the nature of all living things.
That brings no good to the dead which is good for the living.
Mourning the dead is no honor nor purification,
Nor is it praised by the wise, by recluses and Brahmins.
Mourning vexes the eye and the body, wasteth
Comeliness, strength (of body and mind) and intelligence.
If he be blithesome, all the four quarters become
Cordial well-wishers, e'en if his lot be not happy.
Wherefore let laymen desire to receive in their family
None but them that are wise and discreet and much learned
They by the power of their wisdom accomplished their business,
E'en as a boat doth effect a crossing o'er the full river.


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