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Verse 110: The Story of Samanera Sankicca

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (110) of this book, with
reference to Samanera Sankicca.

On one occasion, thirty Bhikkhus each took a subject of meditation from the Buddha and left
for a large village, one hundred and twenty yojanas away from Savatthi. At that time, five
hundred robbers were staying in a thick jungle, and they wanted to make an offering of
human flesh and blood to the guardian spirits of the forest. So they came to the village
monastery and demanded that one of the Bhikkhus be given up to them for sacrifice to the
guardian spirits. From the eldest to the youngest, each one of the Bhikkhus volunteered to go.
With the Bhikkhus, there was also a young samanera by the name of Sankicca, who was sent
along with them by Thera Sariputta. This samanera was only seven years old, but had already
attained Arahatship. Sankicca said that Thera Sariputta, his teacher, knowing this danger in
advance, had purposely sent him to accompany the Bhikkhus, and that he should be the one to
go with the robbers. So saying, he went along with the robbers. The Bhikkhus felt very bad
for having let the young samanera go. The robbers made preparations for the sacrifice; when
everything was ready, their leader came to the samanera, who was then seated, with his mind
fixed on jhana Concentration. The leader of the robbers lifted his sword and struck hard at
the young samanera, but the blade of the sword curled up without cutting the flesh. He
straightened up the blade and struck again; this time, it bent upwards right up to the hilt
without harming the samanera. Seeing this strange happening, the leader of the robbers
dropped his sword, knelt at the feet of the samanera and asked his pardon. All the five
hundred robbers were amazed and terror-stricken; they repented and asked permission
from Sankicca to become Bhikkhus. He complied with their request.

The young samanera, accompanied by five hundred new Bhikkhus, returned to the village
monastery and the thirty Bhikkhus felt very much relieved and happy on seeing him. Then
Sankicca and the five hundred Bhikkhus continued on their way to pay respect to Thera
Sariputta, his teacher, at the Jetavana monastery. After seeing Thera Sariputta they went
to pay homage to the Buddha. When told what had happened, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, if
you rob or steal and commit all sorts of evil deeds, your life would be useless, even if you
were to live a hundred years. Living a virtuous life even for a single day is much better than a
hundred years of a life of depravity.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 110. Better than a hundred years in the life of an immoral person, who has no control over
his senses, is a day in the life of a virtuous person who cultivates Tranquillity and Insight
meditation practice.

At the end of the discourse, the five hundred Bhikkhus attained Arahatship.

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


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