Sariputta | Dhammapada | The Story of Thera Maha Moggallana Sariputta

The Story of Thera Maha Moggallana

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (137), (138), (139) and (140) of this book, with reference to Thera Maha Moggallana.

Once, the Nigantha ascetics planned to kill Thera Maha Moggallana because they thought that by doing away with Thera Maha Moggallana the fame and fortune of the Buddha would also be diminished. So they hired some assassins to kill Thera Maha Moggallana who was staying at Kalasila near Rajagaha at that time. The assassins surrounded the monastery; but Thera Maha Moggallana, with his supernormal power, got away first through a key hole, and for the second time through the roof. Thus, they could not get hold of the Thera for two whole months. When the assassins again surrounded the monastery during the third month, Thera Maha Moggallana, recollecting that he had yet to pay for the evil deeds done by him during one of his past existences, did not exercise his supernormal power. So he was caught and the assassins beat him up until all his bones were utterly broken. After that, they left his body in a bush, thinking that he had passed away. But the Thera, through his jhanic power, revived himself and went to see the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. When he informed the Buddha that he would soon realize parinibbana at Kalasila, near Rajagaha, the Buddha told him to go only after expounding the Dhamma to the congregation of bhikkhus, as that would be the last time they would see him. So, Thera Maha Moggallana expounded the Dhamma and left after paying obeisance seven times to the Buddha.

The news of the passing away of Thera Maha Moggallana at the hands of assassins spread like wild fire. King Ajatasattu ordered his men to investigate and get hold of the culprits. The assassins were caught and they were burnt to death. The bhikkhus felt very sorrowful over the death of Thera Maha Moggallana, and could not understand why such a personage like Thera Maha Moggallana should die at the hands of assassins. To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! Considering that Moggallana had lived a noble life in this existence, he should not have met with such a death. But in one of his past existences, he had done a great wrong to his own parents, who were both blind. In the beginning, he was a very dutiful son, but after his marriage, his wife began to make trouble and she suggested that he should get rid of his parents. He took his blind parents in a cart into a forest, and there he killed them by beating them and making them believe that it was some thief who was beating them. For that evil deed he suffered in niraya for a long time; and in this existence, his last, he has died at the hands of assassins. Indeed, by doing wrong to those who should not be wronged, one is sure to suffer for it."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 137: He who does harm with weapons to those who are harmless and should not be harmed will soon come to any of these ten evil consequences:

Verses 138: He will be subject to severe pain, or impoverishment, or injury to the body (i.e., loss of limbs), or serious illness (e.g., leprosy), or lunacy,

Verses 139: or misfortunes following the wrath of the king, or wrongful and serious accusations, or loss of relatives, or destruction of wealth,or lunacy, or misfortunes following the wrath of the king, or wrongful and serious accusations, or loss of relatives, or destruction of wealth,

Versee 140: or the burning down of his houses by fire or by lightning. After the dissolution of his body, the fool will be reborn in the plane of continuous suffering (niraya).
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