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Verse 91: The Story of Thera Mahakassapa

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (91) of this book, with
reference to Thera Mahakassapa.

The Buddha once spent the rains retreat at Rajagaha with a number of Bhikkhus. About two weeks
before the end of the rains retreat, the Buddha informed the Bhikkhus, that they would soon be
leaving Rajagaha and told them to prepare for departure. Some Bhikkhus stitched and dyed
new robes, some washed the old robes. When some Bhikkhus saw Mahakassapa washing his
robes, they speculated, "There are so many people inside and outside Rajagaha, who love and
respect Thera Mahakassapa and are constantly looking to all his needs; is it possible that the
thera would leave his lay devotees here and follow the Buddha elsewhere?"

At the end of fifteen days, on the eve of his departure, the Buddha thought that there might
be some occasions like alms-food offering ceremonies, initiation of novices, funerals, etc., and
so it would not be proper for all the Bhikkhus to leave. So he decided, that some Bhikkhus
should remain at the Veluvana monastery and that the most suitable person would be Thera
Mahakassapa. Consequently, Thera Mahakassapa remained in Rajagaha with some junior
Bhikkhus.

Then the other Bhikkhus said scornfully, " Mahakassapa has not accompanied the Buddha, just
as we have predicted!" The Buddha heard their remark and said to them, "Bhikkhus! Do you
wish to say that my son Kassapa is attached to his lay disciples of Rajagaha and to the things
they offer him? You are very much mistaken. My son Kassapa remains here under my
instruction; he is not attached to anything here."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 91. The mindful strive diligently (in the Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice);
they take no delight in the home (i.e., in the life of sensual pleasures); like swans (hamsa) that
forsake the muddy pool, they abandon all home life (i.e., all cravings).

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


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