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 Presented by

   Ven. Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero




1 (6) The Story of  Monk Mahakala (Verses 7 & 8 )



Death overpowers the sensuous, undisciplined and gluttonous like the wind a weak tree.


Subhanupassim viharantam

indriyesu asamvutam

bhojanamhi amattannum

kusitam hinaviriyam

tam ve pasahati maro

vato reukkham'va dubbalam (1:7)

One who beauty contemplates,

whose faculties are unrestrained,

in food no moderation knows,

is languid, who is indolent:

That one does Mara overthrow

as wind a tree of little strength.


Sloth Defeats Spirituality


While residing in the neighbourhood of the town of Setavya, the Buddha uttered these verses, with reference to Mahakala and his brother Culakala.  For Culakala, majjhimakala, and Mahakala were three househloders who lived in Setavya, and they were brothers.  Culakala and Mahakala, the oldest and youngest respectively, used to travel abroad with their caravan of five hundred carts and bring home goods to sell, and Majjhimakala sold the goods they brought. Now on a certain occasion the two brothers, taking wares of various kinds in their five hundred carts, set out for Savatthi, and halting between Savatthi and Jatavana, unharnessed their carts. In the evening Mahakala saw Noble Disciples, residents of Savatthi, with garlands and perfumes in their hands, going to hear the Law. "Where are they were going?" he asked.  Receiving the answer that they are going to hear the Law, he thought to himself, "I will go too." So he addressed his youngest brother, "Dear brother, keep watch over the carts; I am going to hear the Law." So saying, he went and paid obeisance to the Buddha and sat down in the outer circle of the congregation. 

On that day the Teacher preached the Law in orderly sequence with the reference to Mahakala's disposition of mind, and quoting the Sutta on the Aggregate of Suffering, and other Suttas, discoursed on the sinfulness and folly and contamination of sensual pleasures. Mahakal, after listening to the discourse, became a monk under the Teacher. Culakala likewise became a monk. But the thought in Culakala's mind was, "After a time I will return to the world and take my brother with me."

Somewhat later Mahakala made his full profession, and approaching the Teacher, asked Him, "How many duties are there in this Religion?" The Teacher informed him that there him that there were two. Said Mahakala, "Venerable, since I became a monk in old age, I shall not be able to fulfill the Duty of Study, but I can fulfill the Duty of Contemplation." So he had the Teacher instructed him in the Practice of meditation in a cemetery, which leads to Arahatship. At the end of the first watch, when everyone else was asleep, he went to the cemetery, at dawn, before anyone else had risen, he returned to the Monastery. Now a certain young woman of station was attacked by a disease, and the very moment the disease attacked her, she died, in the evening without a sign of old age or weakness.  

In the evening her kinsfolk and friends brought her body to the burning-ground, with firewood, oil and other requisites, and said to the keeper of the burning-ground, " Burn this body." And paying the keeper the usual fee, they turned the body over to her and departed. When the keeper of the burning-ground removed the woman's dress and beheld her beautiful golden-hued body, she straightway thought to herself, "This corpse is a suitable Subject of Meditation to show to His reverence." So she went to the Venerable, paid obeisance to him, and said, "I have a remarkably good subject of Meditation; pray look at it, Venerable," "Very well," said the Venerable. So he went and caused the dress which covered the corpse to be removed, and surveyed the body from the soles of the feet to the tips of the hair. Then he said, "Throw this beautiful golden-hued body into the fire, and as soon as the tongues of fire lave laid hold of it, please tell me."  So saying, he went to his own place and sat down. The keeper of the burning-ground did as she was told and went and informed the Venerable. The Venerable came and surveyed the body. Where the flamed had touched the flesh, the colour of her body was like that of a mottled cow; the feet stuck out and hung down; the hands were curled back; the forehead was without skin. The Venerable thought to himself, "This body, which but now caused those who looked thereon to forget the Sacred Word, has but now attained decay, has but now attained death." And going to his night-quarters, he sat down, discerning clearly Decay and Death. Mahakala developed Spiritual Insight and attained Arahatship, together with the Supernatural Faculties.                                                          (cont'd next week)

                   * * * * *                                                  

subhanupassim- dwelling on the attractiveness of sensual pleasures;

viharantam - he who lives;

indriyesu - in senses  

asamvutam - unguarded;

bhojananhi ca- in food also; 

amattannum: immoderate;

kusitam: lazy;

hinaviriym: weak in making an effort;

tam: that person;

Maro: emotion personified as "Mara" (the equivalent of Devil);

ve - indeed;

pasahati - overpowers;

vato - the wind;

sdubbalam - weak

rukkham - tree

iva - like.

Those who dwell on the attractiveness of  sensual enjoyments, and live with the senses unguarded, and are immoderate in eating, they are slothful and weak in perseverance and will-power. Emotions overpower such persons as easily as the wind overpowers a weak tree.  





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