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Verse 109: The Story of Ayuvaddhanakumara

While residing in a village monastery near Dighalanghika., the Buddha uttered Verse (109) of
this book, with reference to Ayuvaddhanakumara.

Once, there were two hermits who fixed together practising religious austerities
(tapacaranam) for forty eight years. Later, one of the two left the hermit life and got married.
After a son was born, the family visited the old hermit and paid obeisance to him. To the parents
the hermit said, "May you live long," but he said nothing to the child. The parents were puzzled
and asked the hermit the reason for his silence. The hermit told them that the child would live
only seven more days and that he did not know how to prevent his death, but Gotama Buddha
might know how to do it.

So the parents took the child to the Buddha; when they paid obeisance to the Buddha, he also
said, "May you live long" to the parents only and not to the child. The Buddha also predicted
the impending death of the child. To prevent his death, the parents were told to build a
pavilion at the entrance to the house, and put the child on a couch in the pavilion. Then some
Bhikkhus were sent there to recite the parittas* for seven days. On the seventh day the
Buddha himself came to that pavilion; the devas from all over the universe also came. At that
time the ogre Avaruddhaka was at the entrance, waiting for a chance to take the child away.
But as more powerful devas arrived the ogre had to step back and make room for them so
that he had to stay at a place two yojanas away from the child. That whole night, recitation
of parittas continued, thus protecting the child. The next day, the child was taken up from
the couch and made to pay obeisance to the Buddha. This time, the Buddha said, "May you live
long" to the child. When asked how long the child would live, the Buddha replied that he would
live up to one hundred and twenty years. So the child was named Ayuvaddhana .

When the child grew up, he went about the country with a company of five hundred fellow
devotees. One day, they came to the Jetavana monastery, and the Bhikkhus, recognizing him,
asked the Buddha, "For beings, is there any means of gaining longevity?" To this question the
Buddha answered, "By respecting and honouring the elders and those who are wise and
virtuous, one would gain not only longevity, but also beauty, happiness and strength."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 109. For one who always respects and honours those who are older and more virtuous, four
benefits, viz., longevity, beauty, happiness and strength, will increase.

At the end of the discourse, Ayuvaddhana and his five hundred companions attained
Sotapatti Fruition.

* parittas: religious stanzas that are usually recited for protection against harmful
influences.


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


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