thousands of Buddha's disciples, Purna was well-known as,
"pre-eminent in preaching."Purna is the shorter
term of "Purnamaitrayaniputra" which means boundless
preaching and compassion.
the State of Arahat After Renunciation
came from a rich and happy family. He was very much loved
by his parents. However, Purna felt that all the love and
wealth in this world were temporary so he bid farewell to
his relatives and took refuge in the Buddha. He vowed to
spread the truth to salvage sentient beings.
long after he became a monk, Purna became an Arahat which
was the highest state among the disciples.
Buddha talked to his disciples about causation. Purna stood
up and walked towards Buddha. He paid homage to the Buddha
and with devoted eyes, he stared at Buddha's compassionate
looks. He felt no words could express the meritorious virtues
of the Buddha so he stroke his chest with his hands, hoping
Buddha could understand his feelings.
understood Purna's meaning and said, "Purna! You helped
me spread the truth of the universe and convert sentient
beings. Among the preachers, you are number one. You shall
become a Buddha and your name will be Dharmaprabhasa Buddha."
prophecy made Purna cry with joy. He paid respects to the
Buddha again and returned to his seat.
prophecy had made the other bhikkhus very curious and surprised
because Purna had only attained the state of arahat and
not bodhi. Buddha knew they would think that way so he addressed
the assembly, "Fellow bhikkhus!" Purna is good
in preaching so he receives the Dharmaprabhasa. He is the
best among the preachers. Not only did he assist me preach
the Dharma, in his past lives, he supported and helped Buddha
preached and was always praised the number one preacher.
All of you must learn from him!"
Role In The Sangha
compassion and impressive virtues touched all the kings
in India and they took refuge in Buddha. The Kings ordered,
"Any criminals willing to renounce the world and take
refuge in Buddha will be released." And so some people
with bad moral characters mixed into the Sangha.
warned these bhikkhus who were there in name only, "You
cannot do things that are against the rules and precepts
of the Buddha. We are lucky to have the Buddha as our teacher
giving us an opportunity to repent. If you do things that
damage our religion, not only will you harm others but also
yourselves. I hope all of you practice seriously and obey
the teachings of the Buddha." The bhikkhus were touched
upon hearing this.
Purna did, he was always thinking of the future of Buddhism.
Buddha often praised Purna's admonitory role in the Sangha.
Widely Spread Buddha Dharma
was very enthusiastic in his preaching. He was not afraid
of difficulties when there were opportunities of spreading
the bodhi seeds. Once, while he walked past a forest, he
saw a few bhikkhus practising in solitude so he said, "
Fellow bhikkhus! We are Buddha's missionaries and our responsibility
is to convert sentient beings and not to stay away from
the bhikkhus saw it was Purna, they stood up to give their
seats to Purna and said, "Honoured venerable! We went
to various places to preach but people were stubborn and
immersed in the five desires, they also kill to make sacrifices
to god. We compassionately gave them our helping hands but
they ignored us. In that case, let them do what they like,
for one day when they have suffered enough, they will return."
knew they had met with difficulties in their missionaries
and had lost the enthusiasm so he guided them, "I do
not agree with your views. No doubt the work is tough but
in order to repay our gratitude to Buddha, we should dispel
all difficulties to accomplish our missions, if not we will
be going against the wishes of the Buddha. Sentient beings
are living in poverty, they are poor like beggars, how dare
they not readily accept the wealth of the Buddha Dharma
you give them? Our responsibility is to spread the Buddha
Dharma and let all sentient beings share the Dharma joy."
bhikkhus were moved by Purna's speech and continued their
of Purna, many people had the opportunity of knowing the
Buddha's truth and compassion. Purna spread the the Buddha
Dharma to many places and many people took refuge in the
Buddha after being converted by him. What unique power did
Purna posses? Nobody knew.
day, a few bhikkhus asked Purna, "Venerable! Even if
you preached in desolute land, the place will turn into
a holy place. When your Dharma voice appears, the people
will listen earnestly. Except for the Buddha, nobody can
preach as well as you do. How do you have such ability?"
answered modestly, "My success in preaching is due
to Buddha's help. Before I preach, I pray to the Buddha
hoping He will give me power. The people are moved by the
Buddha's truth and not because of me."
bhikkhus admired his modestly and continued asking, "Venerable!
You preached so frequently and even need to meditate but
you didn't eat nutritious food to strengthen your body,
what is the power holding you?"
you for your concern. When I think of the Buddha's sufferings,
what I did is really insignificant. After my preaching,
I will see the Buddha and listen to His advice. The Buddha's
Dharma speech is the best nutrients to me. I walk to various
places but Buddha's lights always protects me and His speech
remains in my heart so I didn't feel tired or tough. When
I see people prostrate and pray to the Buddha. I am very
moved, I pay homage to Buddha too, praying that Buddha will
receive them, give them confidence and strength."
was busy with preaching. Except the basic necessities like
clothes and almsbowl, he had no other possessions. One day,
he met a relative from his hometown. After paying respects
to Purna, the relative asked, "Venerable! Ever since
you left home, you have never returned to visit your hometown,
everybody missed you very much. You have no wealth at all,
why are you wandering around? When will you return home?"
answered, "I am busy with salvaging sentient beings
from suffering to happiness. The four seas are my home and
my relatives are everywhere. I am the disciple of the Buddha
and I have the responsibility of propagating Buddha Dharma.
Please say thank you on my behalf to relatives in my hometown
for their concern towards me."
I admired your selfless spirit for religion. When you return
home, I will surely give you a very warm welcome. I hope
you will bring the lights of Buddha into our hometown!"
you, it will be as your wish!"
saying, Purna continued his journey sowing Buddha's seeds.
knew the purpose of preaching was to salvage sentient beings
so the Dharma must suit them. To different people, he used
different methods. For instance when he saw a doctor, he
would ask, "A doctor can cure the illness of the body
but can he cure greed, anger and ignorance of the mind?"
I can't cure illness of the mind, can you?"
The teachings of the Lord Buddha can cleanse the dirt of
sentient beings. Precepts, concentration and wisdom can
cure the illness of greed, anger and ignorance."
the person was a court official, he would ask, "Can
you prevent people from committing crime?"
laws of the country cannot prevent people from committing
laws of the country, you need to receive and obey the Buddha
Dharma, the Five Precepts and rules of Cause and Effect."
skilful tactics in preaching had convinced many people to
take refuge in Buddha. Once he saw some farmers working
in the field and asked, "Do you want to know the ways
to plough for blessedness to increase your wisdom in life?"
but how?" the farmer asked.
confidence in the Triple Gem, respect the Sramana, care
for the sick, do charity, filial to parents, help relatives
and not killing, are ways of ploughing for blessedness."
farmers held their palms towards Purna. They were willing
to accept his teachings.
was quick-witted and flexible in his preaching so the Buddha's
teachings were widely accepted.
determinedly tackled all difficulties. Regardless of the
dangers and setbacks, he earnestly spread the Buddha's teachings.
Purna asked for Buddha's permission to preach in Sudana
but Buddha felt the place was undeveloped and the people
were cruel and uncivilized so he advised Purna not to go.
Purna said, "Lord Buddha, you loved us with compassion
for which I can find no words to express my gratitude. I
am willing to give all of me to Dharma and to all sentient
beings to repay my gratitude to Buddha. Sudana is an uncivilized
country where no preachers have been, that is why I want
to preach there. I beg you Lord Buddha to give me permission."
Buddha wanted to make use of the opportunity to teach his
disciples to learn from Purna so He asked Purna, "
Well said, Purna. What if the people of Sudana refuse to
accept your teachings and scold you instead?"