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The Bhikkhus Who Lived on the Bank of the Vaggumuda River

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While residing at the Mahavana forest near Vesali, the Buddha uttered Verse (308) of this book, with reference to the bhikkhus who spent the vassa on the bank of the Vaggumuda River.

At that time, there was a famine in the country of the Vajjis. So, to enable them to have enough food, those bhikkhus made it appear to the people that they had attained Magga and Phala although they had not done so. The people from the village, believing them and respecting them, offered much food to them leaving very little for themselves.

At the end of the vasa, as was customary, bhikkhus from all parts of the country came to pay homage to the Buddha. The bhikkhus from the bank of the river Vaggumuda also came. They looked hale and hearty while the other bhikkhus looked pale and worn out. The Buddha talked to all the bhikkhus and enquired how they fared during the vassa. To the bhikkhus from Vaggumuda River the Buddha specifically asked whether they had any difficulty in getting alms-food on account of the famine. They answered that they had no difficulty at all in getting alms-food.

The Buddha knew how those bhikkhus had managed to get enough alms-food. But he wanted to teach them on this point, so he asked, "How did you manage so well in getting alms-food throughout the vassa ?" Then the bhikkhus told him how they discussed among themselves and decided that they should address one another in such a way that the villagers would think that they had really attained jhana, Magga and Phala. Then the Buddha asked them whether they had really attained jhana, Magga and Phala. When they answered in the negative, the Buddha reprimanded them.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 308: It is better for one to eat a red-hot lump of iron burning like a flame than to eat alms-food offered by the people, if one is without morality (sila) and unrestrained in thought, word and deed.
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