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Eye-begging Brahman

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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eye-begging Brahman
乞眼の婆羅門 ( Jpn kotsugen-no-baramon )

    (1) A Brahman who begged for Shariputra's eye when the latter was practicing austerities in a previous existence.

The story is found in The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. In the distant past, Shariputra, practicing the bodhisattva way, engaged in the offering of alms.

When he had practiced almsgiving for sixty kalpas, a Brahman came to him and begged for his eye.

(Great Perfection of Wisdom itself does not depict this beggar as a Brahman, but in later references he is often described as such.) Shariputra gouged out one of his own eyes and gave it to him.

But the Brahman was so revolted by the smell of the eye that he spat on it, dropped it on the ground, and trampled it.

Seeing this, Shariputra thought it too difficult to lead such persons to salvation and decided to seek only his own liberation from the sufferings of birth and death; he withdrew from bodhisattva practice, backsliding into the Hinayana teachings, or the way of voice-hearers.

    (2) A Brahman who begged for the eye of Shakyamuni in a previous incarnation.

This tale of Shakyamuni offering his eye to the Brahman appears in the Jataka, or stories of the previous lives of Shakyamuni Buddha.

In one lifetime, Shakyamuni was a king named Shibi who endeavored to donate gold and various other goods to the people.

The king, thinking that the true offering was to selflessly donate his body, declared he would give his body to anyone who wanted it.

To test his resolve, the god Shakra assumed the form of a blind Brahman and appeared before the king.

The Brahman requested one of the king's eyes. The king willingly gave his eye to the Brahman and went on to give the other eye even without being asked.

Thereupon Shakra revealed his true form and with his powers restored to the king his eyes and vision.

Source

www.sgilibrary.org