Uggasena, The Circus Performer

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Uggasena, The Circus Performer

Post by yawares » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:43 am

Dear Members,

When I was young, my big sister and I went to see a Chinese Circus, we enjoyed
it very much. But the Hollywood movie " THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH" (Charlton
Heston) was the best CIRCUS to me! Today,I found a very nice circus story to
share with you all.

The story of Uggasena [" onclick=";return false;]

A troupe of five hundred circus performers came to Rājagaha every six months
and drew big crowds, earning much wealth. The people piled up stacks of beds in
order to watch. A young man named Uggasena, who was the son of a millionaire,
fell in love with a certain female acrobat. He told his parents he would die
unless he could marry her, and refused to eat in spite of being urged repeatedly
to take a wife more suited to his family's wealth. Unable to dissuade their
son, they sent a messenger to seek the girl's hand in marriage. Her father
refused, saying that if their son wanted to marry her, he would have to join
their troupe and travel with them. Uggasena joined the troupe to marry the
acrobat's daughter, and wandered from place to place, looking after the carts,
and so forth. In due course, his wife became pregnant and gave birth. As she
played with her son, she called him "Son of a cart-driver", "Son of a
firewood gatherer", "Son of a water-carrier", "Son of a know-nothing."
Hearing her talk like this, Uggasena decided to learn the art of tumbling. He
went to her father and asked him to teach him. After a year, he mastered the
art, and prepared to display his skill to the crowd for the first time at
Rājagaha. An announcement was made to the crowd that Uggasena, the son of the
millionaire, would perform, and he climbed to the top of a bamboo pole sixty
cubits high. Poised on top of the pole, he called for the crowd's attention,
ready to perform somersaults. At that very moment, the Buddha entered the city
for alms, and everyone paid attention to him. Uggasena performed seven
somersaults, landing safely back on top of the pole each time, but there was no
applause as no one was watching. Utterly deflated, he just stood there thinking
that his performance had been a complete failure. Knowing his thoughts, the
Buddha sent the Elder Moggallana to ask Uggasena to perform his feat again.
Thinking, "The Teacher wishes to see my performance", Uggasena turned
fourteen somersaults, and stood on top of the pole. The Buddha spoke to him,

"Uggasena, a wise man should give up attachment to the past, future, and
present to gain release from birth, old age, disease, and death".

Then the Buddha uttered the above verse, and on its conclusion, Uggasena gained
Arahantship together with analytical knowledge (patisamphita 4), even
while stood on top of the bamboo pole. Uggasena descended from the pole,
approached the Buddha, paid homage, and requested the Going Forth. The Buddha
ordained him with the words, "Come, monk".

Later, the monks asked him, "Were you not afraid as you descended from the
pole"? Uggasena replied that he had no fear, and the Buddha confirmed it,
uttering this verse (Dhp v 397):

"He who has cut off all fetters, who trembles not,
who has gone beyond ties, who is unbound" , him I call a brahmana.

On another occasion the monks were talking about Uggasena, wondering how the son
of a millionaire could become a wandering circus performer, and how could such a
person be endowed with the perfections for Arahantship. Having inquired about
the subject of their conversation, the Buddha related a story of the past.

Uggasena's past life:

When the golden cetiya of the Buddha Kassapa was being constructed, a husband
and wife, having taken abundant food, set out to work as labourers. On the way
they saw an elder walking for alms. The wife urged her husband to fetch his
almsbowl, and they offered him alms, both making an earnest wish to attain the
knowledge that he had gained. The elder, being an Arahant endowed with psychic
powers, looked into their futures and smiled. Seeing him smile, the wife said
that he must have been an actor, and her husband agreed. Thus due to these
words, the pair became actors, but due to their earnest wish they also attained
Arahantship. Uggasena's wife also retired from the world and gained
Arahantship, according to her wish in her previous life.


Love Buddha's dhamma,

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