Etadagga Recipients and Dhammapada Stories (9)
- Dear Friends,
Among Saavaka Bhikkhus, Vakkali Thera was declared by the Buddha as the foremost in attaining release through faith (saddhaadhimuttaana.m). Vakkali Thera was mentioned in the following Dhammapada story.
Dhammapada Verse (381)
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (381), with reference to Thera Vakkali.
Vakkali was a brahmin who lived in Savatthi. One day when he saw the Buddha going on an alms-round in the city, he was very much impressed by the noble appearance of the Buddha. At the same time, he felt much affection and great reverence for the Buddha and asked permission to join the Order just to be near him. As a bhikkhu, Vakkali always kept close to the Buddha; he did not care much about other duties of a bhikkhu and did not at all practise concentration meditation. So, the Buddha said to him, "Vakkali, it will be of no use to you by always keeping close to me, looking at my face. You should practise concentration meditation; for, indeed, only the one who sees the Dhamma sees me. One who does not see the Dhamma does not see me. So, you must leave my presence." When he heard those words Vakkali felt very depressed. He left the Buddha as ordered, and climbed the Gijjhakuta hill with the intention of committing suicide by jumping down from the peak.
The Buddha, knowing full well the extent of Vakkali's grief and despondency, reflected that because of his great sorrow and despondency Vakkali might miss the chance of attaining the Maggas. Accordingly, he sent forth his radiance to Vakkali, made him feel his presence and appeared as if in person to Vakkali. With the Buddha near him, Vakkali soon forgot all his sorrow; he became cheerful and very much heartened.
To him the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 381: The bhikkhu who frequently feels joy and is devoted to the Teaching of the Buddha will realize Nibbana: the Tranquil, the Unconditioned, the Blissful.
At the end of the discourse Vakkali attained arahatship.