The Story of Cakkhupala – One Who Guards His Vision

On our new Pali Forum, we’ve started translating the first story in the Dhammapada Commentary. Three paragraphs finished, here’s the translation so far:

In Savatthi, it is said, there was a land-owner named Greatgold, rich, of great wealth, of great property, without a son. One day he, having bathed and performed ablutions at the bathing ford, saw a majestic tree, fully-endowed with leaves and branches along the way, as he was returning. Thinking to himself, “this tree will certainly have been taken possession of by an angel of great power,” he ordered the cleaning of the area below, the making of a surrounding wall, the spreading of sand, and the raising of banner and flag. Then, adorning that majestic tree with ornaments, he raised his hands in reverence and made a vow thus: “If I should gain either a son or a daughter, I will perform great honour unto you!” and went away.

Then, in no long time, an embryo became established in his wife’s womb. She, having learned of her pregnancy, told him, and he gave complete care to her embryo. After ten months, she gave birth to a son. On his naming day, the rich man, having obtained the son because of the majestic tree he himself had protected, made his name “Protector”. Then, after some time, she had another son. They made his name “Little Protector”, and made the the other’s name “Big Protector”. Upon coming of age, they two became bound by the bonds of the household. After some further time, their mother and father made an end to their time on Earth, and all of their affluence went to others.

At that time the teacher, having turned the holy wheel of dhamma, having travelled in stages, was dwelling in the great monastery of Jeta’s grove, made by Anathapindika the great rich man giving up 540 million of his wealth, and was setting a great multitude on the path to heaven and the path to freedom.

The Thus-gone’s residence was as follows: whereas he only spent one rains-residence in the great monastery of Nigrodha made by his twice-eighty-thousand families of relatives (eighty from the maternal side, eighty from the paternal side), he spent nineteen rains in the great monastery in Jeta’s Grove made by Anathapindaka and six rains in Forepark monastery made by Visakha, relinquishing twenty-seven million of her wealth. He thus kept the rains-residence for twenty-five rains with Savatthi as his support, due to the greatness of virtue of these two families.

Both Anathapindika and Visakha, the great lay disciple, were bound to go to attend upon of the Thus-gone twice a day. And they, when going, never went empty-handed, thinking “the young novices will look upon our hands.” When going before mealtime, they went taking hard and soft foods; when going after mealtime, the five medicines and the eight drinks. Further, in their homes, meals mere ever appointed for two thousand bhikkhus each, and in regards to food, drink, and medicines, whatever was wanted was fulfilled just as desired.

Of the two, Anathapindika had never asked a question of the teacher on a single day. It is said that he didn’t ask questions out of excessive love for the teacher, thinking, “the Thus-gone is a delicate Buddha, a delicate noble; when teaching the dhamma to me with the thought, ‘of much support to me is this householder,’ he would become wearied.”

The teacher, however, while the other was just sitting there, thought, “this rich man protects me in a way that it is not proper to be protected. For I, when bringing to fulfilment the perfections over four uncountable periods of time and one-hundred-thousand eons, having had my own adorned and ornamented head cut off, having had my eyes pulled out, having had the flesh of my heart torn asunder, and having given away my wife and children who were as dear as life itself, brought them to fulfilment for the purpose of teaching the dhamma to others. This man protects me in a way that is not proper to be protected,” and so gave a teaching on the dhamma.

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