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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas

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[248] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Upasakas[1] who first took Refuge[2] are Tapassu and Bhallika, the tradesmen.

Tapassu and Bhallika

(DPPN: [Tapassu] and his friend, Bhalluka (Bhalliya), while on their way to Rajagaha, saw the Buddha at the foot of the Rajayatana tree, in the eighth week after the Enlightenment. Urged by a deity, who had been their relation [their mother], they offered the Buddha rice-cakes and honey in a bowl provided by the Four Regent Gods. They became the first lay disciples of the Buddha, and their formula of Refuge contained no reference to the Sangha.

According to the Theragatha Commentary, Tapassu and Bhalluka were brothers, sons of a caravan leader of Pokkharavati. Some time later they visited the Buddha at Rajagaha, where he preached to them; Tapassu, thereupon, became a Sotapanna, while Bhaluka entered the Order and became an arahant.

From the Psalms:

Bhalliya:

One day when Mara appeared to the Brother in fearsome terrifying shape, Bhalliya, manifesting how he had passed beyond all fear, uttered a psalm to Mara's discomfiture:

Whoso hath chased away the Death-king and his host,
E'en as a mighty flood the causeway of frail reeds,
Victor is he, self-tamed. Fear cometh never more.
His is the Goal supreme. And utter steadfastness.

From: PTS; Hare, trans.; The book of the Gradual Sayings, IV; The Book of the Nines; The Great Chapter, x (41).

Tapussa

Thus have I heard: Once, when the Exalted One dwelt among the Mallas near their market-town called Uruvelakappa and had one morning robed early, taken bowl and cloak, entered Uruvelakappa for alms, gone his rounds, returned and eaten his meal, he called the venerable Ananda and said:

'Prithee wait here, Ananda, while I am gone into Mahavana for the midday rest.'

'Yes, lord, he rejoined; and the Exalted One entered Mahavana for the midday rest and sat down at the foot of a tree.

Now the goodman, Tapussa, visited the venerable Ananda, saluted him and sat down at one side; and so seated, he said thus:

"We householders, reverend Ananda, are pleasure-seekers, pleasure-fond, pleasure-doting, pleasure-mad and, being so, it seems a real precipice to us, this giving up of all, yet I've heard, reverend sir, that in this Dhamma-discipline the heart of every young monk leaps up at this giving up, becomes calm, steadfast and inclined thereto, seeing it is the peace. And just there, reverend sir, is the difference in this Dhamma-discipline 'twixt monk and the many folk, I mean in this giving up.'

'This, indeed, is a topic for a talk, goodman! Let us go and see the Exalted One; we will visit him and tell him the matter, and as the Exalted One explains, so we will bear it in mind.

'Very well, sir,' replied the goodman to the venerable Ananda.

And the venerable Ananda went with the goodman, Tapussa, and visited the Exalted One, saluted and sat down at one side; and the venerable Ananda told the Exalted One all the goodman had said ...

'It is verily so, Ananda, it is verily so! When I was but a being awakening, Ananda, and not wholly awakened, ere there was full awakenment, I thought thus: Good is the giving up of all; good it is to go apart — but my mind leapt not up, became not calm, steadfast, nor inclined to this giving up though I saw "It is the peace." And I thought: Now what's the cause, the reason ... ? Then I thought: The peril of pleasures is not seen by me, its not made much of by me; the advantage of this giving up is not won, is not enjoyed by me; so my mind leaps not up, becomes calm, steadfast, nor inclined to this giving up though I see it is the peace. And I thought: If, seeing the peril of pleasures, I were to make much of it; if, winning the advantage of this giving up, I were to enjoy it; it would surely happen that my mind would leap up, become calm, steadfast and inclined to this giving up on seeing it to be the peace.

And presently, Ananda, on seeing the peril I made much of it; on winning the advantage I enjoyed it; and my mind leapt up, became calm, steadfast and inclined to this giving up on seeing it was the peace.

And presently, Ananda, aloof from sense desires, ... [here the sutta provides the formulas for attaining the four Burnings (jhanas), the four Arupa Jhanas] And presently, Ananda, passing wholly beyond the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception, I entered and abode in the ending of perception and feeling and I saw by wisdom that the cankers were completely destroyed.

And so long, Ananda, as I attained not to, emerged not from these nine attainments of gradual abidings, both forwards and backwards, I realized not completely, as one wholly awakened, the full perfect awakening, unsurpassed in the world with its gods, Maras and Brahmas, on earth with its recluses, godly men, devas and men; but when I attained to and emerged from these abidings suchwise, then, wholly awakened, I realized completely the full perfect awakening unsurpassed ... Then knowledge and vision rose up within me: Mind's release for me is unshakable, this birth is final, there is now no becoming again.

 


[1] PED: a devout or faithful layman, a lay devotee; from upa + aas, (up seat) cp. Upasati: lit. "to sit close by", to go after, attend, follow, serve, honor, worship.

[2] Pathamam saranam gacchantanam. "Buddham saranam gacchami" Used as part of the "Going Forth" of Beggars, it is used by laymen as a declaration of faith. It is made to a representative of the Samgha, and should not be done lightly. It should be done with the full understanding of the meaning of the term Refuge: Here is a place of stability.


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