Chullapantaka: a Dumb yet Honourable Monk
Translated by Yasuo Saito from Kangi-Sekai Magazine

Once upon a time when the Buddha was alive…

A daughter of a wealthy merchant in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, fell in love with a young servant.
Of course, under the caste system, a love between a young man from the Sudras and a rich man's daughter would never be allowed.

"If Father and Mother become to know about us, they would kill us. Let's get away to a country far away."

The young man made up his mind by her words. They left the house together and drifted to an unknown land.
Soon she became pregnant, and she reached the last month of the pregnancy.

"I'm worried about giving birth here because there is nobody we know around us. I'd like to give birth at my parents' house."

"I understand. Let's leave tomorrow."

Even though the husband responded like this, he seemed to be reluctant.
He only responded the same for days.
One morning, she made up her mind, and she left alone toward Rajagaha.
The husband later found out that she was gone, and he ran after her.
When he caught up with her on the way to Rajagaha, she suddenly began labor and she gave birth to a baby body on the spot.

"Because the baby was born, we don't need to go to my parents' house. Let's go home."

After they returned home, they started thinking about the name for the baby.

"Since the baby was born on the side of a path, let's name him Pantaka (path)."

Several years later, she again became pregnant.
After the similar conversation with the husband, she headed toward her parents' house, and on the way she again gave birth a baby body on a road.

"Let's name the first child Mahapantaka (big path) and the second one Chullapantaka (small path)."

The two boys grew up active and healthy and when they reached a certain age, they asked:
"Mother, even though other kids have their grandfather and grandmother, why do we not have ones?"
"Not around here but if you visit Rajagaha, you will meet your fabulously rich grandfather and grandmother."


"If so, please take us there. We'd like to meet them soon."

Then she was worried about how to cope with this, so she asked her husband.

"I don't think my parents will kill us. How about taking the kids to their grandparents"
"I cannot show myself to them, but I can take the kids around their house," said the husband.

So the two of them took their children to Rajagaha, and by using a messenger they explained their situation to her parents.

"My daughter, I cannot forgive the two of you. I will give some my of assets and ask you to leave the city as soon as possible.
However, I will take care of your children, so bring them to my house."
When they thought about their children's future, they cannot help but follow what their parents said.

Thus, the two brothers started living with their grandfather and grandmother in Rajagaha.
The grandfather and grandmother were devoted Buddhists.
Chullapantaka was so young that the grandfather only took Mahapantaka to listen to the Buddha's teachings.
Mahapantaka was so smart that he understood the teaching well and he started wishing to be a disciple of the Buddha.

"Grandfather and Grandmother, if you allow me, I'd like to be a monk."

"Of course, you can do so.
We would be the happiest people in the world if you become a monk."

Then the grandfather took him to the temple and left him in the Buddha's care.
Being allowed to be a monk, Mahapantaka practiced hard as a Shramanera (student) reciting a lot of verses.
Later he grew up to be an adult and officially became a monk and practiced harder. Soon by eliminating delusions, he became an Arhat.

Mahapantaka went home and told the grandfather and grandmother:
"The state of enlightenment is a very sacred and wonderful thing. I'd like to give this achievement to my brother.
Please allow him to be a monk."

Obtaining the grandfather's agreement, Chullapantaka also went to join to the Buddha.

He was then eighteen years old.
He was, however, a bit slow, and unlike his brother, he had a difficulty to learn.
He could not memorize the verses that were given to him to memorize.

Like lotus flowers fragrantly blooming at sunrise,
Let the Buddha's light shine on the world.

When he barely memorized the first verse, he had forgotten the last one, and when he barely memorized the last one, he had already forgotten the first one.
Even after four months, he could not recite it by himself.

Though Mahapantaka expected something like this, he was disappointed indeed.
"Chullapantaka, it looks like you are not able to be a monk. If you don't memorize one verse, how can you continue the much-harder practices of monks?
You better give up and go home."

Chullapantaka was at a loss.
"Oh, no. I have no hope since Mahapantaka has given up me.
He did not know what to do. He was reluctant to leave the temple.
He did not want to, so he hesitated to leave at a corner of the yard and was very sad.

"Chullapantaka, what are you doing here?"

Chullapantaka turned his head with a surprise, he saw the Buddha standing there.

"Oh Buddha, I'm too dumb to memorize even one verse. Even my brother gave up me. I was thinking to go home."

"Chullapantaka, you came here by my permission. Since your brother gave up you, why don't you come with me? Come with me."

The Buddha took Chullapantaka to his Bamboo Grove and gave him a piece of white cloth.

"From now on, you wipe the feet of the monks coming back to the temple while you say 'I sweep off the dust. I remove the dirt.' This will be your training."

"The Buddha, I won't be able to memorize that."

"Don't worry. I will ask them to recite with you."

Thus, Chullapantaka recited, "I sweep off the dust. I remove the dirt" and wiped their feet with the cloth day by day.

The white cloth was getting darker and darker because how many times he wiped their feet, each time they had gone out, they had come back with their dirty feet.

He thought, "I sweep off the dust. I remove the dirt."
The darker the cloth got, he felt the whiter and purer his heart became.
"How amazing the cloth that the Buddha gave me is!
I'm just wiping their feet but I feel like the dirt of my heart is also getting away."
He became joyful and prayed the Buddha while reciting, "I sweep off the dust. I remove the dirt."

"I see, the dust means the dust in one's heart, and the dirt means the dirt in one's heart.
What one has to take away are the dust and the dirt in one's heart."
When he understood it, a light went to into his heart and he felt that the dust and the dirt were wiped away.

The Buddha sensed it and talked to him.
"That's right, Chullapantaka. The dust means the dust in your heart, and the dirt means the dirt in your heart."

The dust and the dirt, no matter how dirty they appear, Are not else dirtier than impureness in one's heart.
Greed, anger, and ignorance, by throwing away them,
A holy person lives in the pure teaching.

When the poem that the Buddha recited echoed in his soul, all the delusions went away from his heart and he had reached the enlightenment of Arhat that was filled with steady peace and full of joy.

So, when Chullapantaka was enjoying the stage of the enlightenment in his state of samadhi, the Buddha and his 500 disciples left the temple to receive the dinner offering hosted by a respected doctor, Jivaka.
When everybody sat on the each seat and the food was about to be brought, the Buddha said, "Jivaka, there is still a good Arhat in the temple. Can you bring him here?"
The disciples did not know Chullapantaka had reached to the enlightenment, and they said, "The Buddha, there is no one left in the temple."
However, just in a case, a messenger went to the temple.

When Chullapantaka knew the messenger was coming, he used his divine power and created the one thousand incarnations of disciples.
So many disciples stunned the messenger.

"Who are you people?" asked the messenger?

Then the one thousand monks responded together:
"I am Chullapantaka, an Arhat who knows the Teachings of the Buddha."

The messenger was scared. He quickly went back and reported to the Buddha.
"Ha, ha, ha. I see. Well, go there again and call 'Chullapantaka,' then grab the hand of the person who responds first and take him here."
When the messenger, as he was told, grabbed the hand of the disciple that responded, the other disciples disappeared and Chullapantaka was left.

When Chullapantaka was taken to Jivaka's house, they praised him and he received the warm dinner offering.

Even after reaching to the enlightenment, Chullapantaka couldn't manage to follow the complicated discussion, but he had the excellent divine power.
One day the Buddha was invited by King Pasenadi of Kosala Kingdom, so he and his disciples left to the king's castle.
When Chullapantaka with the Buddha's bowl was at the end of the line of the disciples, the guards of the castle who had heard that he was a kind of dumb blocked him at the gate to tease him.

"Now recite a verse. If you don't recite fluently, you might be a fake disciple, and we cannot let you in."

"I don't mind, but without this bowl, the Buddha won't be able to receive the offering. I need to hand it to him."

After he responded, his body stood still there but his arms with his hands holding the bowl expanded into the inside of the castle.
Finally his arms reached to the Buddha, who was talking with King Pasenadi.

The king was surprised. "The Buddha, whose hands are they!?"

"Don't worry, your majesty. They are Chullapantaka's, one of my disciples. It looks like he handed me the bowl from the outside of the gate."

"Since he is such a disciple with a wondrous power, I'd like provide him the offering myself."

Thus Chullapantaka received the several offerings from King Pasenadi.

In the mean time, the nuns would ask each of elder monks to give their sermons.

One day, Chullapantaka got his turn.
The nuns were talking about him.

"Today's sermon will be boring because the elder Chullapantaka only know the verses, 'I sweep off the dust. I remove the dirt.'"
"Well, why don't we recite these verses before the elder does?"
Then Chullapantaka appeared.

"Everybody, are you all practicing in harmony?"

"Yes, we are training ourselves in harmony."

"Now I'm going to recite important verses. Listen carefully."

When he was about to recite, there were sounds of snickers.
Some of them were trying to stifle their laughter.
Chullapantaka heard the snickers and he used his divine power to float himself in the air.
He was fading out in front of the nuns who were stunned with surprise.
When they were stunned, he became visible again, and he emitted fire from his entire body.
The nuns were speechless from witnessing this incredible scene.
The atmosphere in which they were making fun of him was gone, and now they were gazing at him with awe.
Then Chullapantaka finally started preaching.

This time, they were listening with their heart being moved.
He started feeling better and he continued his teaching more eagerly. He finished his teaching when the sun went down.

When the nuns were about to go back to their temple, the gate of the castle was already closed. So they had to go back next morning.

This time, even the Buddha scolded him.
However, by his effort, the uneducated people started having aspirations for enlightenment and realized how marvelous are the Teachings of the Buddha that are available to all equally.