was born in a village in Magadha in southern India. When his
mother conceived him, she had extraordinary wisdom, which
was believed to be influenced by the baby in her womb.
the age of eight, Sariputra was able to understand all the
books he read. Once, a wealthy man held a banquet to entertain
the king, the princes, ministers and scholars. The eight-year-old
Sariputra was also one of the invited guests. He impressed
everyone at the banquet with his eloquent speech and great
wisdom. The king was so pleased that he awarded a village
Sariputra was twenty years old, he left his home and began
to search for the Truth. He became a disciple of a scholar,
and Mogallana was his best classmate. Both of them later decided
to leave their teacher as they felt that he could not satisfy
their quest for knowledge. Sariputra and Mogallana both thought
that they had great wisdom and no one could qualify to be
day, while walking on the street, Sariputra chanced to see
Venerable Assaji, one of Buddha's first five disciples. Assaji's
impressive and dignified manner attracted Sariputra's attention.
Sariputra approached Assaji and asked his name, who his teacher
was and what his teacher taught.
Assaji replied, "My name is Assaji and my teacher is
Sakyamuni Buddha. He always teaches us that ' all things arise
and fall according to causes and conditions', and he also
says that ' all things are impermanent and will finally extinguish'."
heard the words of Venerable Assaji, Sariputra suddenly saw
the light and all his doubts about the universe were dismissed.
He decided to pay a visit to the Buddha.
happy Sariputra returned home and told Mogallana about his
encounter that day. Mogallana was moved to tears, for at last
they had found a true teacher. The next day, together with
their two hundred students, they went to Venuvana (Bamboo-grove)
and became Buddha's disciples.
Past Life : Giving Of His Eyes
sixty aeons ago, Sariputra vowed to practise the Way of the
Bodhisattva and offer alms to the needy. He was willing to
give away all his property, even his body and life.
day, a deva disguised himself as a young man to test Sariputra's
determination. He cried sadly when he saw Sariputra walking
towards him. Sariputra approached him and asked what had happened.
"My mother is suffering from an incurable disease and
the doctor said that in order to cure her disease, an eyeball
of a monk is needed to decoct medicinal herbs. But where can
I find a monk's eyeball?" replied the young man who was
still crying sadly.
thought since he himself was a monk, why not offer one of
his eyeballs to the young man? Besides, he would still be
able to see with the other eye. Therefore, despite the pain,
Sariputra dug out his left eyeball and gave it to the young
man. However, the young man exclaimed: "Oh no! The physician
said that only the right eyeball can cure my mother."
was very shocked to hear that, but he only blamed himself
for not asking the young man before digging out his eyeball.
Determined to help the young man, Sariputra bravely dug out
his right eyeball. Without thanking Sariputra, the young man
took the eyeball and smelled it. Then he threw it on the ground
and scolded Sariputra: "Your eyeball is very smelly!
How can it be used to decoct medicinal herbs for my mother?
"After that, he even trampled on the eyeball.
Sariputra could not see, he could still hear. He then thought,
"It is difficult to save all beings and be a bodhisattva.
I think I'd better concentrate on the practice of self-salvation!"
then many devas appeared in the sky. They said to Sariputra,
"Don't be dejected. What has just happened is only our
arrangement to test your determination to become a bodhisattva.
You should bravely progress on."
hearing that, Sariputra resumed his compassion to save others.
For the next sixty aeons, he never stopped his spiritual practices.
During the lifetime when he met Buddha, he was able to achieved
all His disciples, the Buddha trusted Sariputra the most.
When His son, Rahula, joined the Sangha, Buddha asked Sariputra
to be Rahula's teacher.
day, Rahula followed Sariputra to beg for food and returned
to the monastery with a sulky look. When the Buddha asked
him why he was unhappy, the young Rahula replied resentfully,
"Buddha! When we are out to beg for food, the devotees
always give food to the elder monks and to the younger monks
like us, they usually offer food with no nutritious value.
But everyone needs food to maintain his health. And our elders
never take care of us when they receive the good food."
Buddha knew very well that nutritious food was necessary to
maintain health, and a healthy body was very important to
monks for if they were weak, they would not be able to concentrate
on their meditation practice. However, Buddha lectured Rahula
for being too concerned about food when he should pay his
attention to his practice. After Rahula had left, Sariputra
was called to see the Buddha. "Sariputra, do you know
that you have eaten "unclean" food today?"
asked the Buddha.
quickly threw up the food taken on that day and said: "Lord
Buddha, ever since I became you disciple, I have always been
following the rules of going for alms food set by you and
never dare to accept any "unclean" food."
Buddha then explained, "Sariputra, I know you have been
observing the rules accordingly but one cannot just mind his
own business in the Sangha. Rules should be fair to everyone
and benefits should be equally distributed. It is the responsibility
of the elders to take good care of the younger monks, even
when begging for food."
was not angry at all after hearing that. Instead, he gratefully
accepted the teachings of the Buddha.
had always been enthusiastic in Dharma propagation and he
was never fussy about personal comforts.
the Buddha and His disciples returned to the monastery after
they had been out giving teachings. However,a group of six
corrupt monks arrived at the Jetavana before the others and
occupied the best seats and beds, and even Sariputra's room.
later returned and saw his room being occupied by others.
He had no choice but to spend the night meditating under a
the Buddha realized what had happened the next morning, He
called the monks together and said, "Bhikkhus! You should
respect the elders of the Dharma, then you will be praised
by others in this life and be born in the upper realms in
future lives. Bhikkhus! You should respect, serve and make
offerings to the elders. Therefore, the elders deserve priority
regarding seats and beds, as well as food and drinks."
On hearing this, Sariputra was appreciative of the Buddha