1. Assaji Thera
The fifth of the Pañcavaggiya monks.
When the Buddha preached the
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, he was
the last in whom dawned the eye of Truth, and the Buddha had to discourse to him
and to Mahānāma while their three
colleagues went for alms (Vin.i.13. He became a
sotāpanna on the fourth day of the
quarter, AA.i.84). He became an arahant,
together with the others, at the preaching of the
Anattalakkhana Sutta (Vin.i.14; J. i.82).
He was responsible for the conversion of
Sāriputta and Moggallāna.
Sāriputta, in the course of his wanderings in search of Eternal Truth, saw
Assaji begging for alms in Rājagaha, and being
pleased with his demeanour, followed him till he had finished his round. Finding
a suitable opportunity, Sāriputta asked Assaji about his teacher and the
doctrines he followed. Assaji was at first reluctant to preach to him, because,
as he said, he was but young in the Order. But Sāriputta urged him to say what
he knew, and the stanza which Assaji uttered then, has, ever since, been famous,
as representing the keynote of the Buddha's teaching:
"ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesam hetum Tathāgato Āha tesañ ca yo nirodho,
Sāriputta immediately understood and hurried to give the glad tidings to
Moggallāna that he had succeeded in his quest. Vin.i.39ff.; the incident is
related in the DhA (i.75ff.) with slight variations as to detail.
Sāriputta held Assaji in the highest veneration, and we are told that from
the day of this first meeting, in whatever quarter he heard that Assaji was
staying, in that direction he would extend his clasped hands in an attitude of
reverent supplication, and in that direction he would turn his head when he lay
down to sleep (DhA.iv.150-1).
One day when Assaji was going about in Vesāli
for alms, the Nigantha Saccaka, who was
wandering about in search of disputants to conquer, saw him, and questioned him
regarding the Buddha's teaching because he was a well-known disciple (ñātaññatara-sāvaka).
Assaji gave him a summary of the doctrine contained in the
Anattalakkhana Sutta. Feeling sure that he
could refute these views attributed to the Buddha, Saccaka went with a large
concourse of Licchavis to the Buddha and questioned him. This was the occasion
for the preaching of the Cula-Saccaka Sutta
(M.i.227ff). The Commentary (MA.i.452) tells us that Assaji decided on this
method of exposition because he did not wish to leave Saccaka any loophole for
The Samyutta Nikāya (S.iii.124ff) records a visit paid by the Buddha to
Assaji as he lay grievously sick in
Kassapārāma near Rājagaha. He tells the
Buddha that he cannot enter into jhāna
because of his difficulty in breathing and that he cannot win balance of mind.
The Buddha encourages him and asks him to dwell on thoughts of impermanence and
2. Assaji.One of the leaders of the
Assaji-Punabbasukā, the other being
Punabbasu. He was one of the
Chabbaggiyā, the others being Mettiya,
Bhummajaka, Panduka and
Lohitaka. J. ii.387; MA.ii.668.
Assaji Sutta. Records the incident, mentioned above, of the Buddha's
visit to Assaji (1). S. iii.124-6.