The Great Tunnel



“The Pancāla, with his entire army…” This the teacher related, dwelling in in Jetavana, referring to the Perfection of Wisdom.

One day, the monks were seated in the Dhamma Hall describing the Tathagata’s Perfection of Wisdom.

“Of great wisdom, friend, is the Tathaagata, of vast wisdom, of profound wisdom, of joyous wisdom, of swift wisdom, of sharp wisdom, of penetrative wisdom. Crushing the opposing doctrines and having, by the power of His own wisdom, tamed Kutadanta and other brahmins, Sabhiya and other ascetics, Angulimala and other thieves, Alavaka and other yakkhas, Sakka and other angels, Baka and other gods, He made them humble. Having given the going-forth to vast multitudes, He caused them to be established in the path and fruition. Of such great wisdom, friend, is the Teacher.”

The teacher, having come in, asked “What is the present discussion about which you are sitting engaged in?”

When they said “On just this…”, He replied “Not only now, o Bhikkhus, is the Tathagata wise; in the past as well, while immature in knowledge, conducting himself in conduct for the purpose of knowledge of enlightenment, He also possessed wisdom.”

Having said this, at their request, He told them of the past…

In the past, in the country of Videha, a king named Vedeha held sovereignty in Mithila.

His four advisors in profit and welfare were Senaka, Pukkasa, Kaminda and Devinda.

One day, in the time before dawn, on the day of the Bodhisatta’s gaining conception, the king saw the following dream:

In the palace courtyard, at the four corners, four masses of fire blazed, having risen to the height of the great wall. In their midst, a mass of fire the size of a fire-fly, having arisen, surpassed at that very moment the four masses of fire and, rising up to the Brahma World, illuminating the entire universe, remained thus; and even a thing lying on the ground the size of a mustard seed could be clearly seen.

To it, all worlds, including that of the angels, including that of the Maras, including that of the Brahmas, paid homage with scents and garlands. The great populace walked right through the fire, and acquired heat not even to the extent of the hair on their bodies or pores of their skin.

The king, having seen this dream, having arisen with fear and trembling, thinking “What indeed will become of me?” waited, sitting up, for the dawn to rise.

So, when the four sages, having come first thing in the morning, asked whether he had slept pleasantly thus, “did you sleep in happiness, o lord?”, he said, “how could I have a pleasant sleep? Such was the dream I saw…” and he told them everything.

At that, the sage Senaka said, “do not fear, great king. An auspicious dream this is! Prosperity will be for you.”

And when asked, “what is your reasoning, o teacher?”, he said, “having overcome us four sages, another, a fifth sage for you, will arise. We four sages are just like the four masses of fire; the mass of fire arising in their midst is like the other, fifth sage, who will arise. He, in the world together with all of the angels, will be peerless.”

On asking, “but where is this one now?”, he declared, by the power of his learning, as though himself seeing with the divine eye, “o great king, today, with the gaining of conception, or through his exiting from his mother’s stomach, he must surely have come into being.” And the king from then on remembered those words.

Now, in Mithila, at the four gates, there were four villages: East Barley Commons, South Barley Commons, West Barley Commons, and North Barley Commons. Of these, in East Barley Commons, a rich man named Sirivaddhana kept residence, and his wife was named Sumanadevi. The Great Being, that day, at the same time as the seeing of the dream by the king, having fallen from the Realm of the Thirty-Three, gained conception in her womb. And, at that very moment, another thousand angels, having fallen from the Realm of the Thirty-Three, gained conception in the familes of various wealthy men in that very village.

And Sumanadevi, with the passing of ten months, gave birth to a golden-coloured son.

At that moment, Sakka, looking at the world of humans, having come to know that the Great Being was coming out from the womb of his mother, said, “it is proper to make this one, who is destined to become a Buddha, well-known both in the world and among the gods.”

So, at the moment of the Great Being’s coming out from his mother’s womb, he, having gone with an invisible form, having placed a medicinal branch into his hand, was gone back to the Realm of Sakka.

The Great Being, having made a fist, held it fast. And in coming out from his mother’s womb, his mother was not even in the slightest pain – just as water comes out with ease from a strainer.

She, having seen the medicinal branch in his hand, said, “son, what have you got?”

“Medicine, mother,” he said, and placed the divine medicine in his mother’s hand. And having placed it there, he said, “mother, do you give this medicine to those who are diseased, no matter what disease they are afflicted by.”

She, pleased and delighted, told the rich man, Sirivaddhana. It so happened that he had a seven year affliction in the head. He, pleased and delighted, thought, “this one, coming, having obtained medicine while being born from his mother’s womb, talked with his mother at the very moment of his birth; medicine given by such a meritorious one will be of great power.” And, having taken that medicine, he rubbed it on the grindstone and smeared a little on his forehead. At that moment, his seven-year head affliction went, having receded like water from a lotus leaf. Touched by pleasure, he said, “this medicine is of great power.”

The fact that the Great Being had come bringing medicine became well-known all over. Whoever was in a state of affliction, they all came to the rich man’s house and begged for the medicine. Having taken a little, crushed it under the grindstone, and mixed it with water, he gave to all. And merely by rubbing the divine medicine on the body, all diseases were assuaged. And the happy people went away praising the “great power of the medicine in the house of the rich man, Sirivaddhana.”

So, on the Great Being’s naming day, the great rich man said, “it is not proper for my son to receive the name of my grandfather; from the fact of his having obtained medicine at his birth, he should be named ‘medicine’.” And indeed, he gave him the name “Great Medicine Child”.

And it came to him that, “my son is one of great merit. He will surely not have been born alone. Many boys should have been born together with him.” So he ordered an inspection, and heard that in fact a thousand boys had been born. Giving clothing to all of those youngsters, and causing them to be given nurses, he said, “they will be my son’s attendants.” And he performed a ceremony for them, together with the Bodhisatta, in a ceremonial location.
Having done this, they brought the boys to attend upon the Great Being. Playing together with them, the Bodhisatta grew up, and at the age of seven years, he was as beautiful as a golden statue.

Then, playing together in the middle of the village, their playground was destroyed at the coming of elephants, horses, and so on; at times of buffeting wind and heat the boys became weary; and one day, while they were playing, an unseasonable rain arose. Having seen it, the Bodhisatta, with the strength of an elephant, ran into some nearby hall. The other boys, running behind, bumping into one another’s feet, tripped and fell, and received cuts on their knees and so on.

And the Bodhisatta, thinking, “in this place, it would be proper to make a hall for playing – thus, we will play in wind or rain or heat, come what may,” said to those boys, “friends, in this place we will make a hall that will endure us to stand, sit or lie down, in wind or rain or heat, come what may; do you each bring a single coin.” And thus did they do.

The Great Being, having sent for a great carpenter, gave him the one thousand coins and said, “do you make a hall in this place.” He accepted, saying, “it is well,” and, having taken the one thousand coins, having broken up the stumps and thorn bushes and having made the ground level, he set out a string. The Great Being, disapproving of his way of setting out the string, said, “teacher, instead of setting it out thus, you should set it out properly.”

“Master, I set it out according to my skill; another way apart from this I know not.”

“Not knowing this much, how will you, having taken our wealth, make a hall? Bring the string – having set it out, I will give it to you.” Having had it brought, he set out the string himself. It was as though set out by the angel Vissakamma. Then he said to the carpenter, “will you be able to set it out thus?”

“I will not be able.”

“But will you be able to make it according to my plan?”

“I will be able, master.”

The Great Being planned out the hall, having made sure that in whatever place – in one section there was a place for the impoverished to dwell; in another, a place for poor women to give birth; in another, a place for visiting recluses and Brahmins to dwell; in another, a place for ordinary visitors to dwell; in another, there was a place for visiting merchants to keep their wares – in each of these places there was a door to the outside. He had a playground made here, a court there, an assembly hall there.

At the hall’s completion in verily a few days only, he had the painters called and, overseeing the work himself, had them paint a delightful mural. The hall was of a likeness to the “Sudhamma” Hall of the angel world.

Then, he thought, “the hall is not to this extent splendid; it is proper to make a lotus pond as well.”

He had a lotus pond dug and, having a brick mason called, he had him make a lotus pond with a thousand curves and a hundred beaches, overseeing the work himself. Covered with the five kinds of lotuses, it was like the lotus pond of Nanda.
On its bank, he had made a pleasure grove resembling the Nandana Forest, with a variety of trees bearing flowers and fruits.

And furthermore, he caused that hall to be established as a place of constant charity for the support of righteous Brahmins and recluses, visiting travelers, and so on.

These deeds of his were well-known everywhere and many people came to assemble. The great being, sitting in the hall, spoke on attainments and non-attainments, performance and non-performance, proper and improper; he delivered judgement, and it was like the time of the arising of a Buddha.

And King Vedeha, with the passing of seven years, remembered, “the four wise men declared to me that ‘a fifth wise man, having surpassed us, will arise.’ Where could he be now?”

He sent four ministers out the four gates, saying “may you all come to know his dwelling place.”

The ministers going out by the remaining gates did not see the Great Being, but the minister going out by the Eastern gate, having seen the hall and all of the rest, thinking, “Indeed, there must exist a wise man as either the maker of this hall or as the one causing it to be made.”

He asked some men, “this hall – by which carpenter was it made?”

The men said, “This was not made by a carpenter; it was made by the son of the rich man Sirivaddhana, Mahosadha the Wise, having planned it out by his own power of wisdom.”

“But how many years old is the wise one?”

“He has completed his seventh year.”

The minister having counted the years, starting from the day of dream-vision of the king, thought, “it agrees with the king’s dream-vision; certainly, this is that wise man!” He sent a message to the king, saying, “Lord, in the village of Eastern Barley Commons is the son of the rich man Sirivaddhano, named Mahosadha the Wise; verily, he is of seven years age exactly, he has thus planned out a hall of such a form, and has had made a pond and park. Having obtained this wise man, I will bring him back.”

The king, having heard that speech, of gladdened mind, had Senaka summoned. Having informed him of that matter, he asked, “What, o teacher? Shall we bring the wise man?”

He, being aviricious for gain, said, “great king, merely by having a hall made, and so on, one is not called wise. Anyone whatsoever could have that made; this is a trifle.”

The king, having heard his speech, thought “it must reasonably be so,” and was silent.

“Staying right there, he must investigate about the wise man.” He sent back the minister’s messenger.

Having thus heard, the minister, staying right there, investigated about the wise man.

Test One: The Flesh

One day, while the Bodhisatta was going to the playground, a hawk, grasping a piece of meat from a swollen plank, sprung forth into the sky. Having seen this, the boys followed after the hawk, thinking, “we will make it drop the piece of meat!” They, watching it high above and going after it, one behind the next, tripped over rocks and so on and became tired.

Then, the wise one said to them, “I will make it let go.”

“Make it let go, master!”

“Well then, do you watch.” He, not looking up above, ran with the speed of the wind, and having stepped on the hawk’s shadow, clapped his hands, sounding a great sound. Through his glory, that sound peicered through the belly of the hawk, as though it had emitted therefrom. Afraid, it dropped the meat. The Great Being, knowing this fact of dropping, watched the shadow and, without letting it fall to the ground, caught it right out of the air.

Having seen this wonder, the greater populace, yelling and clamouring and clapping their hands, made a loud noise. The minister, having come to know about this incident, sent a messenger to the king, saying, “by this means, he caused it to drop the piece of meat; may the Lord come to know this.”

Having heard this, the king asked Senaka, “what, Senaka? Shall we have the wise man come?”

He thought, “starting from the moment of his coming here, we will come to have no glory – the king will not know we even exist. It is not proper to cause him to come.” Out of this foolish avarice for gain, he said, “Great king, not by such is one called a wise man. This is something trifling.”

The king, indifferent, sent him back again, saying, “may he test him just there.”
Test Two: The Ox

One man, dwelling in the village of Eastern Barley Commons, thinking, “when the rain has fallen, I will plow,” bought some oxen from the village and, having brought them back, had them stay in his dwelling place.

On another day, sitting on the back of an ox collecting a patch of grass for the purpose of fodder, he became weary in body and, descending at the root of a tree, he lay down and fell right asleep. At that moment, a thief snatched the oxen and ran away. The man, having awoken, not seeing his oxen, looked hither and thither and, seeing the escaping thief who had snatched the oxen, leaped up with great speed and said, “where are you taking my oxen?”

“I am taking my oxen to the place of my desiring.”

Hearing their dispute, a great crowd assembled. The wise man, hearing the noise of their going past the door to the hall, had them both called in. Having regarded their behaviour, he knew, “this is a thief, this is an ox-owner.”

Though knowing, he asked “What are you arguing over?”

The ox-owner said, “master, these I bought from such-and-such a village, from the hand of one named so-and-so and, having brought them to my home, I kept them there. For the purpose of fodder, I led them to a patch of grass; then, seeing my heedlessness, this one snatched the oxen and ran away. Looking hither and thither and seeing this one, I pursued and seized him. One who dwells in such-and-such a village is aware of the fact of my buying and taking ownership of these.”

But the thief said, “these were born in my house. This one speaks falsely.”

Then, the wise one asked them, “if I will decide your case rightly, will you stand by my decision?”

“Yes, master, we will stand by it,” they said.

Thinking, “it is proper to obtain the consensus of the great crowd,” he first asked the thief, “what are these oxen made to eat by you, and what are they made to drink?”

“They are made to drink conjey and eat sesame butter and maasa beans.”

Then he asked the ox-owner.

He said, “master, from where for all of my hardship should conjey and so on be obtained? They are made to eat grass only.”

Having allowed the assembly to hear their speech, the wise one had piyangu leaves brought and, having had them pounded and mixed with water, caused the oxen to drink them.

The oxen vomited up the grass. The wise man showed the great crowd, saying, “let all see this!” Then he asked the thief, “are you the thief, or are you not the thief?”

He said, “I am the thief.” The Bodhisatta exhorted him thus, “then indeed, from now on, you must not do such things.” But the Bodhisatta’s company beat the man with hands and feet until he was weak.

Then, the wise one told him, “verily, at the present moment you receive suffering to this extent; but in future existence you will undergo great suffering in hell and so on. Friend, from now on, you must abandon this action.” Having said this, he gave to him the five precepts.

The minister had the king informed of this incident exactly as it occurred. The king asked Senaka, “what, Senaka? Should we call the wise one?”

“Anyone whatsoever, great king, could decide a case over oxen. You make him come just for that?” The king, indifferent, again sent back the very same message.

[In each part the conclusion should be understood thus. From here on, however, we will deal only with the list of topics, and will make known just that] – commentator
Test Three: The Braided Necklace

There was a certain poor woman who braided together a necklace with threads of various colours. Having taken the braided threadwork necklace from her neck, she placed it on a cloth and descended into the pond made by the wise one.

Afterwards, a young woman, having seen it, gave rise to desire for it. Holding it up, she said, “mother, this is most beautiful! How much they must charge to make these! I, too, will make one just the same for myself. I would put it around my neck just for the purpose of checking the measurements.”

The other, with unsuspecting mind, said, “go ahead, check it.”

Having put it around her neck, the girl went away.

The other, seeing this, quickly came out of the water, donned her clothes and, having given chase, seized the girl’s clothes, said, “where are you running off to with my necklace?”

The first said, “I am not taking your property; this neck ornament is indeed mine.”

Hearing them, a great crowd assembled. The wise, playing with some boys, heard their argument as they passed by the door of the hall and asked, “what noise is this?”

Having heard the cause of their dispute, he caused them to be summoned. Again, by their very manner he knew who was the thief and who was not the thief, but he asked them about the matter.

Then he said, “If I judge this according to the Dhamma, you must stand by my decision.”

They said, “yes, we will stand by it.”

At that, he first asked the thief, “while wearing this ornament, which sent to you anoint it with?”

“I always anoint it with ‘Altogether’.” (Altogether was the name of a compound purfume made by combining all sorts of scents.)

Then he asked the other. She said, “from where, master, could ‘Altogether’ be got by me in my poverty? I always anoint it just with Piyangu flowers.”

The wise one then had a bowl of water brought and, dropping that ornament therein, had a perfumer called. “Having sniffed this scent, may you find out what it is the scent of,” he said.

The man, sniffing it and knowing it to be from piyangu flowers, spoke this verse from the first book:

“‘Altogether’ it is not; piyangu permeates in sooth;
This here rascal tells a lie; the elder lady spoke the truth.”

The Great Being, having thus made the great crowd aware of that evidence, asked the girl, “are you the thief, or are you not the thief?”

So he made her acknowledge the fact of her being a thief. From that point on, common knowledge arose regarding the Great Being’s wise nature.
Test Four: The Thread

One woman who kept a cotton field, having taken some pure cotton therefrom, spun some fine thread and made it into a ball. Putting it on her hip, she headed back to her house. Thinking, “I will bathe in the wise one’s pond,” she went up to the bank and took off her clothes. Having put the ball of thread on top of her clothes, she descended into the pond to bathe.

Then, a certain greedy-minded person, saying, “my, mother, what a charming thread you have made,” tied it to her hip in what looked like the snapping of a finger-snap and left. The rest should be explained just as in the previous case.

The wise one first asked the thief, “in making the ball, what did you put inside to make it?”

“Verily, the seed of a cotton fruit, master.”

Then, he asked the other. She said, “a timaru seed, master.”

He, letting the assembly take in both of their speechs, caused the ball to be unwound and, seeing a timbaru seed, caused the one to accept that she was the thief.

The great crowd was full of joy, and let forth thousands of praises of “well-judged was the case!”
Test Five: The Son

One day, a certain women, carrying her son, went to the wise one’s pond, for the purpose of washing his face. Having caused her son to wash his face and putting him on her clothes, she went into the pond to wash her own face. At that moment, a certain female demon, having seen that boy and being desirous to eat him, took the form of a woman and said, “friend, beautiful indeed is this boy! Is he your son?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I would nurse him,” said the other.

“Go ahead, nurse him,” the mother said. Having taken him and causing him to play a little, the female demon, carrying him, ran away. The other, seeing this, ran after and, catching the demon, said, “where are you carrying my son off to?”

The demon said, “from what is it obtained that this is your son? My son this is.”

They, carrying on their argument, walked by the door to the hall. The wise one, hearing the noise made by their dispute, had them summoned and asked, “what is this?”

They related this matter to him. Having heard this, the great being, seeing that her eyes were not blinking and were indeed red-coloured, and that she was not afraid, and that she cast no shadow, knew that this was a demon.

He said, “you must stand by my decision.”

They said, “yes, we will stand by it.”

He had a line drawn out on the ground, and had the boy laid down on the line. Then, having the demon hold on at his hands and the mother hold on at his feet, he said, “now, may you both try to take him by dragging him across. Verily, he will be the son of the one who is able to drag him across.”

So, they both pulled. The boy being pulled, having become in pain, started to cry.

The mother, having become as though with heart broken, let go of her son and stood crying out loud.

The wise one asked the great crowd, “see here! Is it the heart of a mother that is soft, or of one who is not the mother?”

“The heart of a mother is soft.”

“What then? Is the one who stands having taken the boy the mother, or is the one who stands having let him go?”

“The one who stands having let him go, o wise one.”

“But do you all know who this child-thief is?”

“We do not know, o wise one.”

Then the wise one said to them, “a demon is this! She has taken hold of the boy to eat him.”

“How do you know, o wise one?”

“By the fact that her eyes don’t blink and moreover are of red colour; by the fact that she is unafraid; by the non-existence of a shadow; and by the fact that she lacks compassion.”

Then he asked her, “who are you?”

She said, “I am a female demon, master.”

“Why did you take hold of this boy?”

“I took hold of him in order to eat him, master.”

“You blind fool. Having done some evil deed in the past, you are born now as a demon, and now you perform further evil. Indeed, you are a blind fool.” Having said this, he caused her to be established in the five precepts and, saying, “from now on, you must not do any evil deeds of this sort,” he dismissed her.

And the boy’s mother, having obtained her boy said, “long may you live, master!” Having thus praised him, she went away, taking her son.
Test Six: Blackball

There was one man named Blackball – “ball” owing, it is said, to the fact that he was dwarfish just like a ball, and “black” owing to his blackish colour. Having performed labour for seven years, he acquired a wife.

She was named “Dīghatālā”. One day, he called out to her, “dear, please cook some breadstuffs. We will go to give them to my father and mother.”

She refused, saying, “What have you ever gotten from your father and mother?” But when he told her again and again up until the third time, he finally got her to cook the breadstuffs.

Taking travel provisions and souvenirs, he set out together with her on the path. Along the path, he saw a certain river which was actually a shallow stream but, since they had both been afraid of water from birth, thus they stood on the bank, not daring to cross it.

Then a certain poor, wandering man named Dīghapiṭṭhi arrived to that place. Having seen him, they asked him, “friend, is this river deep or shallow?”

He, having heard their speech and aware of their state of fear in regards to the water, said, “friend, this river is deep and scattered over with many ravenous fish.”

“Friend, how will you go across?”

He said, “I have had experience with sharks and crocodiles; the fish here won’t cause any difficulty for me.”

“Then indeed, friend, may you carry us across.”

He agreed, saying, “it is good.” So, they gave to him some foodstuffs. He, after having finished his meal, asked, “friend, which of you shall I carry over first?”

The dwarf said, “take our female friend across first, and take me over after.”

He agreed, saying, “it is good.” Putting her on his back and taking both the journey provisions and souvenirs, he descended into the river. Having gone out a little ways, he squatted down and went on in a crouched position.

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