to Practise a Religious Life
Kassapa was the only son in the family. He received every
care and love from his parents. Unlike other kids, he had
no desire for material comfort and pleasures, and he preferred
to be alone.
passed quickly, Maha Kassapa had grown into a handsome young
man and his parents wanted him to get married. Maha Kassapa
expressed his will to practise a religious life, but his
parents did not approve of it. Maha Kassapa thought out
a plan to stop his parents from forcing him to get married.
He hired a famous sculptor to sculpture a statue of a beautiful
lady out of gold. He then took the statue to his parents
and said, "If you want me to get married, you must
find a lady as pretty as this statue to be my wife."
parents were troubled by his request and finally they followed
the advice of a brahmin who placed the golden statue under
a great umbrella and sent it to every corner of the kingdom.
Whenever the statue was brought to a place, the Brahmin
would tell the crowd, "Ladies, give offerings to this
goddess and you will get your wish."
reached a city called Vaisali. There lived a rich Brahmin
who had a pretty daughter named Subhadra. One day, Subhadra,
noted for her great beauty, was invited by her friends to
worship the golden goddess. She was so pretty that the golden
goddess was overshadowed by her. The Brahmin was very delighted.
He then paid a visit to her family and her parents gladly
approved of the marriage.
wedding night, both of the bridegroom and the bride looked
worried and sat aside. Finally Maha Kassapa broke the silence
and asked Subhadra what troubled her. Subhadra replied,
"I would like to practise a religious life, but my
father was tempted by the wealth of your family and agreed
to this marriage. Now my hope of practising a religious
life is dashed."
Kassapa was glad to learn this, he said, "Do be patient,
our ambition will be fulfilled one day."
years passed and Maha Kassapa's parents had left the world.
One day, Subhadra ordered the servants to extract some sesame
oil. There were countless worms wriggling in the sesame
oil. Subhadra overheard a conversation by her servants,
"There will be a day of retribution as we have killed
so many living things. But this is not our fault, we just
carry out the order of our mistress." Subhadra was
very shocked to hear that and ordered the servants to stop
extracting the sesame oil. Then she stayed in her room and
immersed herself in thought.
same day, Maha Kassapa was inspecting the farm. He observed
that countless worms were killed by the plough. As Maha
Kassapa was disgusted at seeing all these living beings
suffer, he decided to go home.
he returned home, he saw his wife looking rather troubled.
After saying out what they had seen, both of them felt that
the worldly life was miserable and meaningless. Maha Kassapa
decided to renounce the world and he asked Subhadra to wait
for him at home. He promised her that once he had found
a good teacher, he would return and fetch her.
said that the day Maha Kassapa renounced the world coincided
with the day Lord Buddha attained perfect enlightenment.
Kassapa looked for a religious teacher everywhere, but none
could satisfy him. Two years later, he was told that Sakyamuni
Buddha was the Great Enlightened One. Maha Kassapa went
to Venuvana to listen to the teaching of the Buddha and
was deeply moved by the virtues and wisdom of the Buddha.
One day, after listening to a discourse of the Buddha, he
went home. On his way home, he saw the Buddha sitting under
a tree, as stately as a golden mountain. He was surprised
to see the Buddha there as he remembered that the Buddha
was still in Venuvana before he left there. He prostrated
himself before the Buddha and said, "Lord Buddha, my
great teacher, please take me as your disciple."
Buddha said, "Maha Kassapa, no one in this world is
qualified to be your teacher unless he had attained enlightenment.
Do come with me." Walking behind the Buddha, Maha Kassapa
shed tears of joy. The Buddha turned his head and said,
"I have heard about you for a long time and I know
you will come to see me one day. You will be a great help
in the spread of the Dharma."
Kassapa attained enlightenment within seven days.
years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, His foster
mother Mahaprajapati was allowed to enter the Order and
thus a religious group of nuns was formed. This reminded
Maha Kassapa of what he had promised Subhadra. Maha Kassapa
asked a nun to fetch her. Subhadra devoted every effort
to practising the Way and she also attained enlightenment.
From a Poor Old Woman
there was a poor woman who had neither relatives nor home.
Once she was seriously ill and lay in the open air. Sometimes,
when servants of a rich family happened to pour beside her
the water used for rinsing rice, she would use a piece of
tile to collect the dirty water for drinking.
Kassapa felt pity for her and paid a visit to her. The old
lady was surprised to see Maha Kassapa and said, "I
am in extreme poverty, no one else in this country is poorer
than me. Isn't there any person in this world giving offerings
to you monks?" Why do you come to see me? You should
instead try to save me from poverty."
Kassapa replied, "I am here to save you in poverty.
I have thought of helping you to meet your material needs,
but material goods can only save you for the time being
and you will become poorer in the future. It would be better
if you offer anything to me so that you can accumulate merits
for your future life and be reborn in a wealthy family or
the old woman could not find anything to offer to him and
she cried sadly, "I have neither food nor clothes to
offer to you."
who has the will to give alms is not a poor man, one who
has a sense of shamefulness is the follower of the Buddha.
You possess these two rare treasures in the world, hence
you are not poor at all. Those rich people who do not give
alms and are shameless are the most ignorant and poorest
old woman was in great joy upon hearing the preaching of
Maha Kassapa and she cherished much hopes for the future.
She offered Maha Kassapa the water used for rinsing rice.
Maha Kassapa drank it before her and her heart was filled
long after that, this old woman passed away and entered
heavens. Due to the merits of offering water to Maha Kassapa,
she became a beautiful fairy. Once, she recalled her good
karma and the kindness of Maha Kassapa, hence she descended
from the heavens and spread flowers on Maha Kassapa.
Kassapa was a strict observer of the austerity rules, they