Venerable Sariputta Thera, the chief disciple of The Lord Buddha, knew his time was near; his mortal life drew close to its journey’s end and the vision of the state of Pari-Nibbana become manifested to him. It was on this point of his reflection that it devolved upon him his final duty to repay the many debt of gratitude he owed to his mother.
Lady Sari was a very fortunate woman to be the mother of seven Arahats, the greatest among whom was the Ven. Sariputta. Her belief was the worship of Brahma, and to this end she spared her entrie devotion to the utter neglect, to seek the real refuge in the Triple Gem. It was also Ven. Sariputta’s desire to win her faith in the Triple Gem, that made him seek that very place, wherin his Pari-Nibbana may be gained. Ven. Sariputta made his last request to the Lord Buddha about his Pari-Nibbana at the house of his mother as the last homage to be accorded to her. It was a great hour, when the chief disciple in deep reverence, paid his last respects to the Lord Buddha and taking his leave, accompanied by his five hundred followers, he walked slowly away.
Jetevana Temple was alive with a large crowd of devotees and people who came to see the Ven. Sariputta Thera. It was a scene heavy with the free offering of flowers and food, they paid their last respect to him, and cried in grief that with the departure of their beloved teacher the Ven. Sariputta, all was ended for him.
Like bleating lambs after their mother sheep, this huge congregation of men followed their teacher for a long distance, until the Ven. Sariputta gave them his final blessing and advised them to be heedful and diligent in their conduct. He then turned to go on his journey homeward together with his five hundred followers.
On the way thousands of men and woman were fortunate enough to hear the deliverance of the Dhamma by the Ven. Sariputta. On the seventh day, he reached the city and rested under the cool shade of a bunyan tree. Here he was met by his nephew Uparevata who paid him due respect. Ven. Sariputta requested his nephew that his mother be informed of his coming, and that arrangements be made for the accommodation of his five hundred followers.
When the news came to Lady Sari, she received it with mixed feeling of joy and surprise, and with her motherly love, she thought of her son who, perhaps with age advanced, considered it necessary to disrobe himself. So hastily she sent people to extend her welcome to his homecoming. Having set food in his mother’s house, Ven. Sariputta proceeded straight to the room where he was born, and was soon laid up in bed suffering from acute diarrhea and the Ven. Cunda Thera was in attendance all the time.
The mother greatly alarmed at her son’s sudden illness, came near to the room where her son was, to see what assistance she could render. A strange vision met her wondering eyes. She saw four figures with shining light radiating their whole personalities going in and out of the room. A short while after the first apparition, there appeared another figure brilliantly lit about his whole person, standing before The Ven. Sariputta and then moved away again. His place was taken by another figure of great bearing and with a greater array of light in glowing brilliance issued forth from his body. He also stood for some time and left.
Still wondering on the perplexity of the strange vision she had seen, she enquired of the Ven. Cunda about the visitors and their strange mission. Ven. Cunda went near to the great Thera and informed him about the presence of his mother. The Ven. Sariputta knew the time was opportune to have his mother realise the truth about the Lord’s Dhamma and calmly the Great Thera spoke to lady Sari:-
“What has brought you here at this hour of night?” Lady Sari, her mind fixed on the wellbeing of her noble son and kindled still with that affection and love of a great mother, said softly:-
Dear son, the only joy to warm my heart is to see you well and happy. Tell me. O! son what ails you, and what is your present state of health. Tell me too O! son the mission of your four noble guest, whose glowing light lit up the room you slept.”
The Ven. Sariputta replied, “It accounts for the presence of the four chief devas of the Caturmaharajika Heaven who came to pay their homage.
“O dear son great is the respect they accord thee. Art thou higher in thy virtue whereby these devas pay their humble homage?”
O Upasika, the four personalities thou glorify are the four guardians who with their drawn swords kept gracious guard over the Lord, The Buddha, from the very day of his confinement in His mother’s womb.”
Then, dear son, who is the one who appeared next after them?”
“O Upasika, he is Sakka, the king of devas.”
“O dear son, do thou in thy loftiness stand higher than this Sakka, the king of devas?”
“O Upasika, Sakka in thy esteem is like a Samanera (precept holder of lower ordination) whose glowing tribute is his attendance on a Bhikkhu. He was in attendance to our Lord, carrying his robes when He descended from the Tavatimsa Heaven.”
“Then O son, who is the great shining personality, the brilliance of whose light radiating forth, is greater than the moonbeams that cast upon this room?”
“O! Upasika, He is your blessed teacher Maha Brahma whom in thy devotion made most sincere.”
“Oh! dear son, do thou in thy excellence outshine the grandeur of my blessed teacher Maha Brahma?”
“Oh! Upasika, Maha Brahma great in thy exhaltation, is no other than the one who with outspread net received our Lord Buddha when He was born.”
There was silence. Lady Sari beamed with immense joy that she knew not how, what is her son’s supreme attainment that surpassed the greatness of her most blessed teacher, the Maha Brahma. Then Ven. Sariputta knew that her time was near to bring home the truth of the Lord’s doctrine.
“O Upasika, what is it that weighs in your mind now that this silence brings?”
“Oh dear son, I have known no greater joy than this realisation brings that, if my son strived for that great enlightenment with wondrous achievement, it places me in deep wonder, what greater exhaltation could his teacher dispose to.”
“Oh! Upasika, there is no comparison to bring forth the greatness of the most Exalted One, our Lord The Buddha, for this great earth tremored and quaked with tremendous force to herald the time of His birth; His great renunciation; His supreme Enlightenment and His first deliverance of the sermon, Turning the wheel of Law.
Throughout the expanse of the whole universe, no greater one ever lived, who can be likened unto Him, that in so far they become matchless in which He excelled in virtue, compassion and wisdom; a gateway to eternal bliss free from the bondage of lust, hate and ignorance.”
Lady Sari saw the new vision of truth on the nobility of Buddha Ratna (Gem of Buddha) and she attained the fruits of the first Path, Sotapatti. She exclaimed, “O! Dear son, Upatissa, why have I waited so long yet now only taste the bliss of truth, whereby I gain the complete freedom that is eternal.”
Another dawn of day broke the eastern sky, a day so young yet pregnant and full, waiting the passing away of the Great Aharant. All the five hundred followers assembled in the early hour, many with sorrowing hearts and the time came fast to a close. The last parting words rang out once more, the humbleness of the Great Thera, Sariputta, soliciting their forgiveness, any failing of his, that occurred to them throughout their fortyfour years of loyal service to him, and lying on his right side, the Great Arahant, the chief disciple of Lord Buddha, attained Pari-Nibbana.
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