The Buddha’s Admonition to lay disciples

Today is the Full Moon day of Medin (March). It commemorates mainly the Buddha’s first visit to his relatives at Kapilavatthu. After his Enlightenment the Buddha, went from place to place and delivered sermons for the welfare of the people of all walk of life. His father ,the King Suddhodana, heard about the son’s attainment of Enlightenment and the great service that he was rendering to the then society. So his anxiety to see his Enlightened Son grew stronger and stronger. Yet he was unable to fulfill his wish because the nine courtiers sent by him on nine successive occasions to invite the Buddha to come there ,did not convey the message.(as they attained Arahantship).

However, the disappointed king finally dispatched another faithful courtier, Kaludayi who was a playmate of the Buddha. He went to the Buddha and after listening to the word of the Buddha he also attained Arahantship. Thereafter he conveyed the message and persuaded the Buddha to visit his aged royal father. The Buddha was then dwelling at the bamboo grove in the city of Rajagaha. By the Full Moon day of Medin he decided to visit his father, the King Suddhodana and the relatives. The whole environment of the entire country turned into peace and fair. The trees were laden with fruits and flowers pervading fragrance all over the atmosphere . The Buddha accompanied with a large retinue of his disciples(more than 20.000)set out his journey to Kapilavatthu. According to the history of Buddhism ,it was because of this visit of the Buddha that the Prince Rahula, Nanda, Anuruddha, Bhaddiya, Devadatta, Bhagu and Kimbila etc. became the followers of the Buddha. While the Buddha was there at Kapilavatthu, on the second day, he went in the streets of Kapilavatthu seeking alms. On hearing this, the king greatly perturbed in mind hurried to the Buddha and said" Son why do you ruin me? I am overwhelmed with shame to see you begging alms." So the Buddha said: "I am not putting you to shame, O great king! I am following the custom of my lineage" . At this moment advising the King the Buddha further said: " Be not heedless in standing. Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next". As we all know, in this manner, during his great successful ministry, the Buddha admonished to the four fold society of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas.

Specially, the Buddha delivered many discourses such as the Singalovada Sutta, Vyaggapajja Sutta, Dhammika Sutta, etc. to the lay people, in order to show a righteous way of life. Today let us understand such an admonition given by the Buddha to the lay people for their success in daily life.

After his constant and unparallel service for 45 years, just before his passing away into Parinibbana, he lived at Pataligama, the village of Patalis. Then there the Buddha delivered this discourse to the people of Pataligama. According to that, once as the Buddha was accompanied with a large community of monks, the lay people of Pataligama came to where the Buddha was ,and paid their respect to the Buddha and sat on a side. Then they invited the Buddha to accept the village’s rest house. The Buddha consented in silence.

Thereupon the people went back and decked it fully all over, arranged seats, placed a pot of water, and provided and oil lamp. Then they went to the Buddha again and said " Venerable Sir, the entire rest house is decked completely ,seats are arranged, a pot of water is placed, and an oil lamp provided. Now may the Buddha act is it deems most suitable to him". There after the Buddha went along with the monks to where the village rest house was. In the hall, the Buddha sat facing the east alongside the center pillar. The monks too having entered the rest house sat alongside the western wall with the Buddha in front ,and facing the east. And the lay disciples too, having washed their feet entered and sat in front of the Buddha, alongside the eastern wall facing the West. Thereupon the Buddha addressed the lay disciples of Pataligama and gave this admonition. He said: "House holders there are these five consequences that befall an unrighteous person because of his lack of virtue" And then the Buddha explained them(the five) as follows:

  1. An unrighteous person fallen from moral virtue, suffers great loss of wealth through his indolence
  2. An unrighteous person fallen from moral virtue, suffers an evil reputation
  3. An unrighteous person fallen from moral and virtue, whatever assembly he enters whether of kings ,Brahmins, householders or recluses, he does so confused and troubled
  4. An unrighteous person fallen from moral virtue, dies bewildered in mind
  5. An unrighteous person fallen from moral virtue is born in a state of loss, evil existence of woe and of hell at the dissolution of the body at death.

After announcing these five fallen from moral virtue the Buddha again further proclaimed these five advantages that accrue to a virtuous person through his practice of virtuous conduct, namely:

  1. A virtuous person endowed with righteous conduct accumulates much wealth through his diligent ways
  2. A virtuous person endowed with righteous conduct gets a favourable loud acclaim of fame
  3. A virtuous person endowed with righteous conduct, what ever assembly he enters, whether of kings, Brahmins, householders or recluses, he does so unconfused and untroubled
  4. A virtuous person endowed with righteous conduct dies with an unconfused and alert mind
  5. A virtuous person with righteous conduct is born in some happy state in heaven at the dissolution of his body at death

Thus the Buddha instructed ,aroused, delighted and gladdened the lay disciples of Pataligama with religious discourse. Let us all strive to understand this utmost significant word of admonition elucidated by the Buddha and apply it to our daily life. May all beings be well and happy!.

By Bhikkhu Seelananda (Paramita Kadugannawa)