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Hatthisāriputta

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Citta called Hatthirohaputta (Hatthisāriputta).-A thera, son of an elephant trainer, who, having entered the Order, studied under the Buddha and gained special proficiency in distinguishing subtle differences in the meanings of words. Six times he left the Order and six times returned. His last quarrel was with Mahā Kotthita, who objected to his constant interruptions of the Elder's discussions regarding the Abhidhamma. (This incident is recorded at A.iii.392ff).

It is said (DA.ii.378f.; AA.ii.688) that in the time of Kassapa Buddha, Citta and a friend entered the Order. When the friend expressed a desire to return to household life, Citta encouraged him to do so, coveting his belongings. This was the reason for Citta's inability to remain in the Order. He was a friend of Potthapāda, and when he had returned for the sixth time to a householder's life, Potthapāda brought him to the Buddha. Citta listened to their conversation and asked questions regarding personality. At the end of the discourse (recounted in the Potthapāda Sutta) Citta once more joined the Order, never again to leave it, for he soon after became an arahant (D.i.199ff).

The Kuddāla Jātaka (J.i.311f) gives the circumstances in which he first joined the Order. He was a youth of good family at Sāvatthi. One day, while on his way home from ploughing, he received from the bowl of a certain Elder some rich and dainty food. In order to gain similar food for himself, he became a monk, but soon after, lust overcame him and he left the homeless life. Even after he became an arahant his colleagues are said to have taunted him, asking when he would be leaving them, and it was only when the Buddha told them that such a time would never be were they satisfied.

The same story, except for certain details, is also found in the Dhammapada Commentary (DhA.i.305ff), but there Citta is called Cittahattha, and a different explanation is given of his name: esa cittavasiko hutvā vicarati ti Cittahatthan ti nāmam karimsu. It is further stated that on the last occasion of his leaving home he saw his pregnant wife lying asleep and was so filled with revolt that he returned to the Order. He started forth at once, a yellow robe tied round his waist, and as he walked to the vihāra, he became a sotāpanna. The monks were at first reluctant to re-ordain him, but his importunity was so great that they relented, and in a few days he became an arahant.

Source

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