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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords
DhA.

X:7 Untimely death of Venerable Moggallana

Once, the Nigantha ascetics planned to kill Venerable Moggollana because they thought that by doing away with him, the fame of the Buddha would also be diminished. So they hired some assassins to kill Moggallana who was staying at Kalasila near Rajagaha at that time. The assassins surrounded the monastery; but Moggallana got away by using his supernormal power. Thus, they could not kill him for two whole months. When the assassins again surrounded his dwelling place during the third month, Moggallana, recollecting that he had yet to pay for the evil deeds* done by him during one of his past existences, did not exercise his supernormal power. So the assassins caught him, and beat him up. After that, they left his body in a bush, thinking that he was dead. But through his jhanic power he revived himself and went to pay his last respects to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. But his revival was temporary because the beating was so severe that he knew he was not going to live much longer. He informed the Buddha that he would soon attain parinibbana (final release from the earthly existence). However, before his parinibbana the Buddha asked him to expound the Dhamma to the congregation of bhikkhus, as that would be the last time they would have the opportunity to listen to his preaching. So Moggollana expounded the Dhamma and left after paying homage to the Enlightened One. He passed away soon after.

The news of the passing away of Moggallana at the hands of assassins spread like wild fire. King Ajatasattu ordered his men to investigate and arrest the culprits. The assassins were caught and sentenced to death. The bhikkhus felt very sorrowful over the death of Moggallana, and could not understand why such a personage like him should die at the hands of assassins. The Buddha explained, 'Bhikkhus! Considering that Moggallana had lived a noble life in this existence, he should not have met with such a death. But in one of his past existences, he had done a great wrong to his own parents, who were both blind. In the beginning, he was a very dutiful son, but after his marriage, his wife poisoned his mind and suggested that he should get rid of his parents. He took his blind parents in a cart into a forest, and there he killed them by beating them and making them believe that it was some thieves who were beating them. For that evil deed he suffered for a long time; and in this existence, his last birth, he has died at the hands of assassins. Indeed, by doing wrong to those who should not be wronged, one is sure to suffer more for it.'

55/170 Dhammapada & Commentary Khuddhaka J.i.106ff. despair


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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.