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Nagasena

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Nagasena

Nagasena (Skt. Nāgasena; Tib. Lü Dé; Wyl. klu sde) — one of the Sixteen Arhats.

Born into a royal family he saw that his future duties might involve him in war and judging others, so he renounced his inheritance, went to the Buddha and was accepted into the Sangha.

He studied the Tripitaka deeply and was renowned for his detachment from the world. In gratitude to the Buddha he devoted his life to teaching the Dharma and helping others to attain realization.

With 1,200 arhats he dwells on Mt. Vipulaparshva. Nagasena holds a monk’s staff in his right hand and a vase which removes poverty and spiritual deficiencies in his left. Visualizing his staff and listening for the sound of its bells frees the mind from confusion and awakens confidence in the Three Jewels.

Further Reading

  • Crystal Mirror, volume VI, Dharma Publishing 1984.

Source

RigpaWiki:Nagasena







Nāgasena was a Buddhist sage from Kashmir and lived around 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I (Pali: Milinda), the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India (now Pakistan), are recorded in the Milinda Pañha.


Etymology of Name

Sanskrit in origin, Nāga means cobra, snake, serpent, or dragon, and also can refer to snake-human hybrids, an ancient super-race who were the mythological founders of many Asian countries. Sena means army. Therefore the name can be translated as "Army of Nāga" or "Host of Dragons", signifying a very powerful supernatural presence.

Milinda Panha

There is almost universal agreement that this text was later expanded by numerous other authors, following the "Question and Answer" pattern established in the early books. The version extant today is very long, and has signs of inconsistent authorship in the later volumes. There is no agreed-upon point at which Nagasena's authorship may be said to end (and the work of other hands begins), nor has this been perceived as an inherently important distinction by monastic scholars.

The text mentions that Nagasena learned the Tripitaka under the Greek Buddhist monk Dhammarakkhita near Pātaliputta. He also reached enlightenment and became an arhat under his guidance.

Other personalities mentioned in the text are Nāgasena's father Soñuttara, his teachers Rohaa, Assagutta of Vattaniya and another teacher named Āyupāla from Sankheyya near Sāgala.

Thai tradition

There is a tradition that Nagasena brought to Thailand the first representation of the Buddha, the Emerald Buddha. According to this legend, the Emerald Buddha would have been created in India in 43 BCE by Nagasena in the city of Pataliputra (today Patna).

Nagasena is not known through other sources besides the Milinda Panha and this legend.

Depictions

Nagasena is one of the 18 Lohans or Arhats. Statues show a bald, elderly monk scratching his ear with a stick to symbolize purification of the sense of hearing. An adherent of Buddhism should avoid listening to gossip and other nonsense so that they are always prepared to hear the truth.

Source

Wikipedia:Nagasena