Thus have I heard.

Upon a memorable occasion, the Lord Buddha while staying at the Jetavana Meditation Hall in the city of Sravasti delivered a discourse to twelve hundred Great Disciples who were all great Arhats and free from all intoxicants, that is, they were all perfectly emancipated from sensual attachments and defilements. They were true heirs of their Lord Buddha and worthy to share their Lord’s responsibility for the ever-continuing preaching of the Lord’s Dharma. They had all transcended phenomenal existence and could manifest their gracious presence by a Buddhist influence wherever they sojourned. They were so highly advanced in the transcendental attainments that they were perfectly qualified to receive the Dharma from their Lord and Master and had so greatly profited from the Lord’s teaching that they knew well how, with the Lord Buddha, to themselves turn the mysterious wheel of the true Dharma. They had kept the Precepts with such strict observance and perfect purity as to be qualified as perfect models for this triple world. They could assume innumerable appearance-bodies in response to the earnest prayer of any sentient being to rescue them and to perfect their emancipation. They were also willing to extend their helping hands into the future, so that all sentient beings in the future might become emancipated and free from all their fetters of earthly defilement.

Among the Great Bhikshus present, acting as leaders, were the wise Sariputra, the Great Maudgalyayana, the Great Kaus- tila, Puma Metaluniputra, Subhuti, Upanishada, and many others equally well known and highly regarded. In addition there were present many Pratyeka-Buddhas, who had mastered the teachings and perfected the practices, together with innumerable novice disciples.

They all came to pay homage to Lord Buddha and also to associate themselves with all the great Bhikshus and their disciples in this great Dharma assembly, which had gathered for the “Summer Devotion” where they could make public confession and practice Dhyana together.

Besides the great company of Bhikshus and Disciples that had gathered from far and near, there were present Bodhi- sattva-Mahasattvas from all the ten quarters of the Universe who had come to pay their highest respect to the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha as though it was an offering to a loving parent. Moreover, they came to entreat the Lord Buddha for some high teaching that would solve their mental puzzles and help them to get rid of the troublesome doubts which they occasionally experienced in their meditations.

Then the Lord Buddha ascended the Honorable Throne of Dharma and immediately became absorbed in profound con- templation with such noble solemnity and tranquillity that the whole company were spellbound by its profound silence and mystery. At the same time all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, as numerous as the particles of sand in the river Ganges, with Manjusri the Great Bodhisattva at their head, gathered about the Lord Buddha and merged their deep meditation with the Lord Buddha’s perfect Samadhi. Seldom, indeed, had any of them ever before experienced such serenity and quietness as then pervaded this Great Dharma Assembly. Wonderful music like the songs of the Kalavinka and Jiva-jiva birds seem to come from the Lord Buddha’s perfect Samadhi and to fill the air with its heavenly music, and floating away to pervade the ten quarters of the Universe.

Upon this occasion, Prasenajit the King of Sravasti in celebration of the anniversary of his father’s death, prepared a special feast of choice vegetables and dainties, and came personally to call upon the Lord Buddha and to invite him and all the Great Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas to attend a reception at the royal palace. At the same time the elders and wealthy laymen of the city added to the King’s celebration by preparing jointly another feast and invited all the Disciples of the Lord Buddha to attend while the Lord and the Great Disciples were with the King. The Lord Buddha, knowing all about it, bade his Great Disciple Manjusri to first lead part of the Bodhisattvas-Mahasattva and Arhats to attend the Laymen’s homes and to receive their offerings.

Ananda was the only one of the Great Disciples who was noticeably absent. Owing to a previous engagement in a distant district, he had not yet returned. He was quite alone and when he reached the Meditation Hall upon his return, he found it deserted, not a single disciple about, nor were there any offerings from their patrons in sight. Then Ananda, thoughtful as ever, took his alms bowl and entered into the city begging food from house to house in regular order, his only thought being to receive the offerings from all alike even to the last danapati. It mattered nothing to Ananda whether the offering was small or generous, attractive or repulsive, whether the giver was of the Kshatriya caste or the Candra caste, to him the all important thing was to practice kindness and compassion on all alike with no discrimination whatever. He sought only to attain the inestimable merit of delivering all sentient beings, treating them all alike.

Ananda had heard that the Lord on one occasion had rebuked Subhuti and Mahakatyayana for showing discrimination towards Arahats in their practice of begging. He greatly admired the Lord’s liberal mind and determined that he would not commit the same fault himself. He was proud of his good name and did not wish to give cause for people having suspicions or for slandering about himself, so he quietly crossed the dried moat that surrounded the city, entered the city-gate with solemn gravity. He was a noticeable figure in his neat attire and solemn manner as if he was on a special mission to receive some ceremonial offering.

While Ananda was begging in orderly succession, he came to the house of a prostitute named Maudenka who had a beautiful daughter named Pchiti. This young maiden was attracted by Ananda’s youthful and attractive person and pleaded earnestly, with her mother to conjure the young monk by the magic spell of “bramanyika.” This the mother did and Ananda coming under the spell of its magic became fascinated by the charm of the young maiden and entered the house and her room.

As soon as the feast was ended, the Lord Tathagata returned to the Meditation Hall in the Jeta Grove. King Prasenajit and his royal ministers and many of the prominent elders and wealthy laymen of the city returned with the Lord to listen further to his wonderful and precious teaching, the like of which they had never before heard. The Lord as usual first sitting quietly became absorbed in Samadhi, radiating from the crown of his head rays of soft and tender brightness, like lotus petals surrounded by innumerable leaves. In the center of the Lotus petals there was a vision of the Nirmanakaya Buddha sitting with feet crossed intuiting and radiating the intrinsic Dharani.

The Lord Buddha had known all along what was happening to Ananda and now called Manjusri and bade him repeat the Great Dharani at the place where Ananda was yielding to temptation. As soon as Manjusri reached the house, the magic spell lost its power and Ananda returned to self-control. Manjusri encouraged Ananda and Pchiti and they returned with him to meet the Lord Buddha.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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