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Verse 101: The Story of Bahiyadaruciriya

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (101) of this book, with
reference to Bahiyadaruciriya.

A group of merchants went out to sea in a boat; their boat was wrecked at sea and all,
except one, died. The only survivor got hold of a plank and eventually came to land at the port
of Supparaka. As he was naked, he tied the plank to his body, got hold of a bowl, and sat in a
place where people could see him. Passersby gave him rice and gruel; some took him for an
Arahat and talked in praise of him. Some brought clothes for him to wear, but he refused,
fearing that by wearing clothes, people would give less to him. Besides, because some said
that he was an Arahat, he mistakenly came to think that he really was one. Thus, because he
was a man of wrong views, who was wearing a piece of wood as his clothing, he came to be
known as Bahiyadaruciriya.

At about this time, Mahabrahma, who had been his friend in one of his previous existences,
saw him going astray and felt that it was his duty to put Bahiya on the right path. So,
Mahabrahma came to him in the night and said to him "Bahiya, you are not an Arahat yet, and
what is more, you do not have the qualities that makes one an Arahat." Bahiya looked up at
Mahabrahma and said, "Yes, I must admit, that I am not an Arahat, as you have said. I now
realize that I have done a great wrong. But is there anyone else in this world now, who is an
Arahat?" Mahabrahma then told him that there lived in Savatthi Gotama Buddha, an Arahat,
who was perfectly self- enlightened.

Bahiya, realizing the enormity of his guilt, felt very much distressed and ran all the way to
Savatthi. Mahabrahma helped him by his supernormal power, so that the whole stretch of one
hundred and twenty yojanas was covered in one night. Bahiya found the Buddha going on an
alms-round with other Bhikkhus and respectfully followed him. He pleaded with the Buddha
to teach him the Dhamma, but the Buddha replied that since they were on an alms-round, it
was not yet time for a religious discourse. And again, Bahiya pleaded, "Venerable Sir, one
cannot know the danger to your life or to my life, so please talk to me about the Dhamma."
The Buddha knew that Bahiya had made the journey of one hundred and twenty yojanas in
one night, and also that he was overwhelmed with joy at seeing the Buddha. That was why the
Buddha did not want to talk about the Dhamma immediately, but wanted him to calm down to
enable him to take in the Dhamma properly. Still, Bahiya persistently pleaded. So, while
standing on the road, the Buddha said to Bahiya, "Bahiya, when you see an object, be
conscious of just the visible object; when you hear a sound, be conscious of just the sound;
when you smell or taste or touch something, be conscious of just the smell, the taste or the
touch; and when you think of anything, be conscious of just the mind-object."

After hearing the above discourse, Bahiya attained Arahatship and he asked permission from
the Buddha to join the Order. The Buddha told him to get the robes, the bowl and other
requisites of a Bhikkhu. On his way to get them, he was gored to death by a cow, which was, in
fact, an ogress in the likeness of a cow. When the Buddha and the other Bhikkhus came out
after having had their meal, they found Bahiya lying dead on a rubbish heap. As instructed by
the Buddha, the Bhikkhus cremated the body of Bahiya and had his bones enshrined in a
stupa.

Back at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha told the Bhikkhus that Bahiya had realized
Nibbana. He also told them that as far as speed was concerned in attaining Magga Insight
(abhinna), Bahiya was the fastest, the best (Etadaggam). The Bhikkhus were puzzled by the
statement made by the Buddha and they asked him, why and when Bahiya became an Arahat.
To this, the Buddha replied, "Bahiya attained Arahatship, while he listened to my instructions
given to him on the road when we were on the alms-round." The Bhikkhus wondered how one
could attain Arahatship after listening to just a few sentences of the Dhamma. So, the
Buddha told them that the number of words or the length of a speech did not matter, if it was
beneficial to someone.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 101. Better than a thousand verses that are senseless and unconnected with the
realization of Nibbana, is a single verse, if on hearing it, one is calmed.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.


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