At 5:10 AM today, I saw the beautiful half moon shining so brightly while I was walking-meditate outside my house. The street was so empty and peaceful, just me and the half moon and the twinkle stars. And on this lovely Uposatha Day, I proudly present this amazing story to you all.
Bahiya Daruciriya, the Bark-Clothed Wanderer
[Translated from Thai Dhammapada,Thai Version by Dr.Tep Sastri]
Once upon a time, a sea merchant named Bahiya earned his living by selling cargoes on a large ship to other cities along the coast line of the northern indian peninsula. One day the ship encountered a powerful hurricane and monstrous waves that finally wrecked the ship.
All of the crew members were drowned except Bahiya. He survived by means of a plank from the broken ship that kept him floating in the sea for a number of days until he reached the shore of 'Port Supparaka'. By that time he had no clothes to cover his body and had to use tree leaves and barks as clothing (that was why people called him Bahiya Daruciriya). Being very hungry, he went around the town begging for food. Strangely enough, the village people thought that he was a Holy Man who abandoned all the worldly things, so they offered him their best foods and treated him with great respect. They also thought that he was an arahant. So he ended up living that way for a long time. Bahiya enjoyed the respect of the people, and after encountering many persons who repeatedly saluted him as if he were an arahant, he finally was convinced that he must be an arahant himself.
Once in his past life Bahiya had intensively practiced dhammas with a good friend who later attained Fruition of the Non-return (Anagamiphala) and was reborn as a superdeva in the Suddhavas Heaven. This deva-friend knew about Bahiya's misunderstanding and wanted to help him rid of the ignorance. So through a magical power the deva re-appeared in front of Bahiya and told him the truth that he was no arahant during all these years. The kind deva friend further recommended that he go find the Gotama Buddha, who at that time was residing at the Jetavana-vihara, in order to teach the people of the City of Savatthi. Bahiya was both repented and gratefully thankful for the deva-friend's help, which pulled him out of ignorance. Without any more delay he departed on a non-stop travel towards the City of Savatthi.
Arriving at Savatthi early in the morning, he saw the town people offerring foods to the Buddha and his disciples. Bahiya the bark-clothed ascetic was struck by the Buddha's majestic appearance. He went down on both hands and knees in front of the Buddha, asking him for a brief teaching that would make him an arahant. Because of his faithful practice of the dhammas in the past lives, Bahiya's mind followed synchronously with Buddha's teaching. He was able to attain arahantship at the closing of the discourse. So he asked the Blessed One to admit him to the Sangha Order, but the Buddha told him that he must go find a robe and an alm first.
While Bahiya was going to town to find a robe and a bowl, a mad cow attacked and he was killed right there on the road; Bahiya died (nibbana) before he could be ordained as a monk.The Buddha later on ordered the disciples to cremate his body, and He later proclaimed Bahiya to be the etadagga who rapidly attained arahantship through just one listening to the Teaching.
Note: It has often been told that the Dhammapada 101 shows that a short teaching that is meaningful (to the specific listener) can produce peace (Nibbana).
"Though a thousand verses
Are made of meaningless lines,
Better the single meaningful line
By hearing which one is at peace." --Dhp 101.
And when bhikkhus asked the Buddha about Bahiya after he died where he would be reborn. Then the buddha excliamed:
Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
the sun is not visible,
the moon does not appear,
darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has known [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from bliss & pain,
he is freed.----[This beautiful verse translated by Bhikkhu Thanissaro]
Love Buddha's dhamma,