The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Kanhapa showed early promise and took ordination in Somapuri where he was initiated into the mandala of the deity Hevajra by his guru Jalandhara. After 12 years of practice, he was rewarded with the vision of Hevajra. Inflated with pride, he was certain he gained his goal; but a scolding dakini appeared and warned him that his vision was part of the preliminaries. Chastened, he continued his practice.
However, he could not resist testing his achievements from time to time, and everytime he does it, the scolding dakini will return to send him back to meditation. But on the fourth occasion that he roused himself from his meditationn royal canopies floated above his head while 7 damaru skull drums filled the air with sound. He then told his disciple that no one can tell him he haven’t reached his goal and took off for the island of Lankapuri with 3000 disciples. When they reached the straits, he decided to show off his prowess and began skipping across the surface of the water thinking “even my guru cannot do this.” But no sooner had he spoken the fateful words than he sank beneath the surface of the waters. The waves soon deposited him on the edge of the sand and as he turned over his back to spit sand out of his mouth, he saw his guru Jalandhara floating in the sky above him.
To his guru, Kanhapa confessed his pride and its consequences. Jalandhara laughed and instructed him to go to Pataliputra in search of one of his pupil, a weaver, and to do everything the student of his asks.
Kanhapa then went to Pataliputra, there he left his disciples outside the city to look for the weaver with his penetrating gaze. Soon he located the weaver, and begged the yogin to teach him the ultimate truth. After he promised to do whatever the weaver say, the weaver then asked Kanhapa to eat a piece of flesh from a fresh corpse. Kanhapa took out his knife and began to cut the body, but the weaver scolded him and then transformed into a wolf himself and began feeding on the corpse. “You can only eat human flesh in animal form,” he told his astonished pupil.
Next, the weaver squatted down and defecated. He then took one of the 3 pieces of excrement and asked Kanhapa to eat it. Kanhapa however refused, whereupon the weaver ate one piece himself, gave the second to the celestial gods, and the third to the Naga serpents.
Then they returned to the city, where the weaver bought 5 pennies worth of food and liquor, and invited all 3000 of Kanhapa’s disciples to eat. Although the food was barely enough for one person, but as if by magic, endless quantities of food appeared. The feast lasted for 7 days and still there was no end in sight to the offerings. The weaver then gave them instructions, but Kanhapa refused to listen.
He traveled on and on, and at the outskirts of Bhadhokora he met a young girl beneath a tree laden with ripe fruit. He greeted the girl and asks if he might pick some fruits, but the girl refused to allow. However he became angry and plucked the fruit with his powerful gaze. No sooner had the fruit fallen than the girl sent it directly back to its proper place with her equally powerful gaze, revealing her true dakini nature. But Kanhapa, instead of propitiating the dakini, he cursed her with a mantra so powerful that she began bleeding profusely from every orifice. When a crowd gathered and muttered how wrong the doing was, he realized his mistake and undo the curse, but the girl already uttered a counter curse upon him. He fell to the ground vomiting and bleeding violently. He then called his faithful dakini companion Bhande and begged her to bring him a certain herb to cure him.
Bhande rushed off to find the herb and traveled for 7 days, but on her journey home, she met an aged crone weeping by the side of the road. Unfortunately Bhande failed to recognize the crone, whom was the seductress that cursed her master, and was lead to believe that Kanhapa has died. Upon hearing the news, Bhande threw away the herb, and continued on her way. She expected to see smoke of the funeral pyre, but instead, she found her master still alive but near death. Bhande began to weep and told Kanhapa how she was tricked.
Kanhapa prepared for death, knowing he only had seven days to instruct his disciples before he left for the Paradise of the Dakinis. He taught them the sadhanas that is now known as the Beheaded Vajra Varahi.
After Kanhapa breathed his last, Bhande searched for the mundane dakini and when she discovered the dakini, she cursed her with a spell so terrible the dakini remained in a mordant state forever after.