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The Story of Thera Sariputta (Verses 11 and 12)

While residing at Veluvana, the Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the Buddha uttered
Verses (11) and (12) of this book, with reference to Sanjaya, a former teacher of the
Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sariputta and the Venerable Moggallana (formerly
Upatissa and Kolita).

Upatissa and Kolita were two youths from Upatissa and Kolita, two villages near Rajagaha.
While looking at a show they realized the insubstantiality of things and they decided to
search for the way to liberation. First, they approached Sanjaya. the wandering ascetic
at Rajagaha, but they were not satisfied with his teachings. So they went all over
Jambudipa and came back to their native place, after searching for, but not finding the
true dhamma. At this point they came to an understanding that one who found the true
dhamma should inform the other.

One day, Upatissa came across Thera Assaji and learned from him the substance of the
dhamma. The thera uttered the verse beginning with "Ye dhamma hetuppabhava", meaning,
"those phenomena which proceed from a cause". Listening to the verse, Upatissa became
established in the Sotapatti Magga and Phala. Then, as promised, he went to his friend
Kolita, explained to him that he, Upatissa, had attained the state of Deathlessness and
repeated the verse to his friend. Kolita also become established in Sotapatti Fruition at
the end of the verse. They both remembered their former teacher and so went to Sanjaya
and said to him, "We have found one who could point out the Path to Deathlesseness; the
Buddha has appeared in the world; the Dhamma has appeared; the Sangha has appeared...
Come, let us go to the Teacher." They had hoped that their former teacher would go along
with them to the Buddha and by listening to the discourses he, too, would come to realize
Magga and Phala. But Sanjaya refused.

So Upatissa and Kolita, with two hundred and fifty followers, went to the Buddha, at
Veluvana. There, they were initiated and admitted into the Order as Bhikkhus. Upatissa as
son of Rupasari became known as Thera Sariputta; Kolita as son of Moggali became known
as Thera Maha Moggallana. On the seventh day after the initiation Maha Moggallana
attained Arahatship. Thera Sariputta achieved the same a fortnight after initiation. On
that day, the Buddha made them his two Chief Disciples (Agga-Savaka).

The two Chief Disciples then related to the Buddha how they went to the Giragga festival,
the meeting with Thera Assaji and their attainment of Sotapatti Fruition. They also told
the Buddha about their former teacher Sanjaya, who refused to accompany them.
Sanjaya had said, "Having been a teacher for so many pupils, for me to become his pupil
would be like a jar turning into a drinking cup. Besides, only few people are wise and the
majority are foolish; let the wise go to the wise Gotama, the foolish would still come to me.
Go your way, my pupils."

Thus, as the Buddha pointed out, Sanjaya's false pride was preventing him from seeing
truth as truth; he was seeing untruth as truth and would never arrive at the real truth.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows.

Verse 11: They take untruth for truth; they take truth for untruth; such persons can
never arrive at the truth, for they hold wrong views.

Verse 12:They take truth for truth; they take untruth for untruth; such persons arrive at
the truth, for they hold right views.

At the end of the discourse, many people came to be established in Sotapatti Fruition.

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


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