Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 1.3.8
Caṅkamasuttaṃ - Bound Together by Inclinations
Dhātusova, bhikkhave, sattā saṃsandanti samenti. Kalyāṇādhimuttikā kalyāṇādhimuttikehi saddhiṃ saṃsandanti samenti
It is through their disposition that beings connect and come together. Those disposed towards virtue and intent on performing wholesome actions get connected and come together and associate with those disposed towards virtue and intent on performing wholesome actions!
Many meditators who have been practicing for a long time and who have come together with others — walking on the path, meditating, giving service1 to support the spread of Dhamma together — will remember the immense joy generally experienced when they meet once again, even if it has been many years since they were physically together. Those thrilling encounters are based on a unique empathy and spirit as though they have never been apart.2
This kind of empathy is conveyed in the Caṅkamasuttaṃ, which introduces various eminent Bhikkhus to whom the Buddha had attributed etadagga3 titles. It occurred, when Buddha was staying near Rājagahe at the Gijjhakūṭe hill that he perceived his senior Theras walking up and down in his vicinity with their respective large group of disciples. All of these were foremost in certain disciplines and qualities. Most prominent amongst them were the two chief disciples, the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna. The Venerable Sāriputta was entitled foremost in great wisdom: Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ mahāpaññānaṃ yadidaṃ Sāriputto and was well known for his detailed analytical discourses and care for everyone.
The Venerable Mahā Moggallāna was entitled foremost in great supernormal power: Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ iddhimantānaṃ yadidaṃ Moggallāno and his outstanding demonstrations of the chaḷabhiññā.4
The Venerable Mantāniputta was entitled foremost amongst those who preach the Dhamma: Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ dhammakathikānaṃ yadidaṃ Mantāniputto. He had also aspired to become a disciple under a future Buddha during the same period of Buddha Padumuttara, as the Venerable Ānanda and the Venerable Anuruddha had done. He was the nephew of the Venerable Aññāsikoṇḍañño and was ordained by him.
The history of the other eminent disciples, the Venerable Mahā Kassapa, the Venerable Ānanda, and the Venerable Upāli will be introduced in the next chapter;5 for the Venerable Anuruddha one may refer to the Introduction under Maṅgala-āsiṃsanā.6 A short account of Devadatta is presented in the next sutta, the Saṅghabhedasuttaṃ.7
The two chief disciples, the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna had been maintaining a close, intimate friendship over many lives from the period of the Buddha Anomadassi onwards. In that period the future Sāriputta was born into a Brahmin family of great wealth by the name of Sarada; his intimate friend from early childhood was the future Moggallāna adn went by the name of Sirivaḍḍhana. While Sarada already left the householder’s life at an early age, Sirivaḍḍhana remained in the worldly life. When Sarada met the Buddha Anomadassi and listened to a talk held by the two chief disciples of that time, he was inspired by their illuminative speech and resolved to become chief disciple under a future Buddha himself. After he expressed his aspiration and had received confirmation by the Buddha Anomadassi, he visited his friend Sirivaḍḍhana to tell him his experience and ask him to make the same resolve to become the second chief disciple. Sirivaḍḍhana agreed then invited the Buddha and his disciples to his house for a great almsgiving; he got inspiration himself and aspired to become the second chief disciple along with his friend.
In their last existence both had been born on the same day in Brahmin families of long-standing close relation. They became well-educated and each had a large group of followers. Surprisingly they both — while in their boyhood watching activities and entertainments during a hilltop festival — independently developed a revulsion towards these kinds of worldly amusements and then decided to leave the householders’ life in search of the truth together. After they had undertaken training with the ascetic Sañjaya — and were not fully satisfied by his teaching — they left him and went to all parts of India together. They finally split up making a pact of friendship that whoever encountered liberation first would immediately inform the other. It was the Venerable Sāriputta who, while dwelling at Rājagaha, saw the Venerable Assaji8 and was deeply impressed by his serenity and mode of conduct. Eagerly waiting for the appropriate situation, he enquired about the teaching that had helped Assaji to develop in this way and insisted on hearing about it.9
Appaṃ vā bahuṃ vā bhāsassu, atthaṃyeva me brūhi; attheneva me attho, kiṃ kāhasi byañjanaṃ bahun’ti.
Whether it is little or much that you can tell, the meaning only, please tell me, my only quest is the meaning, what are those many words to me?
Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā,10 tesaṃ hetuṃ tathāgato āha; tesañca yo nirodho, evaṃvādī mahāsamaṇo’ti.
Of those states that have arisen from a cause, their cause is explained by the Tathāgata, and the cessation of those, this is what the great saint teaches.
3. etadagga: etad + agga: this + top — foremost, pre-eminent.
4. chaḷabhiññā: cha + ḷ + abhiññā — six + supernatural knowledges, or psychic ‘powers’; iddhi (magical power like flying across, through mountains, etc.); dibba sota (clairaudience); parassa cetoppariyañāṇa (knowing others’ thoughts); pubbe nivāsānussati (recollecting one’s previous lives); dibba cakkhu (knowing other people’s rebirths); and āsavakkhaya (certainty of emancipation already attained).
6. Under preparation: 4.3.9.
8. Venerable Assaji was one of the five that had been accompanying Buddha and to whom he preached the very first sutta: 3.1.3 Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ- 1 - Avoiding two Extremes and Pursuing the Middle Path and 3.2.3 Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ-2 - The Four Noble Truths Have to Be Fully Realized.
9. Sāriputtamoggallānapabbajjākathā, Mahāvaggapāḷi, Vinayapiṭake.
10. hetuppabhavā: hetu + uppa + bhavā — arising from, with a cause.
12. Atha kho sāriputtassa paribbājakassa imaṃ dhammapariyāyaṃ sutvā virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi – “kiñci samudayadhammaṃ, sabbaṃ taṃ nirodhadhamman”ti. Then, when the recluse Sāriputta listened to this exposition of dhamma, the dhamma-eye, free from any stain, free from any dirt arose: “What ever has the nature of arising has the nature of extinction!”