I would like to thank Bhikkhu Pesala so very much for giving me this wonderful story. I wish bhikkhus nowaday read this story so they will be afraid to do wrong things that bhikkhus should not do.
This lovely Wednesday morning, I proudly present the story of Kapila, The Goldfish.
The Beautiful Goldfish
After the parinibbāna of the Buddha Kassapa, two brothers went forth. The elder brother, named Sāgata, took upon himself the burden of meditation, while the younger brother, named Kapila, thought he could meditate when he was older, so took upon himself the burden of study. The Elder Sāgata lived with his preceptor for five years, then having taken a meditation subject, lived in the forest and gained Arahantship. The Elder Kapila gained a large following and many material gains due to his learning, and, becoming proud, began to disparage others. The well-behaved monks reported his behaviour to his brother, who admonished him three times, but Kapila wouldn’t listen and became wicked. One day, taking a fan, he began reciting the Pātimokkha in the usual way asking if any of the monks had any offence to confess. Thinking, “What is the use of answering this fellow, the monks said nothing.” Observing their silence, Kapila said, “What difference does it make if I recite the Pātimokkha or not?” So saying, he arose from his seat.1** Thus did he retard the dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa. After his death he was reborn in Avīci hell where he stayed until the time of the Buddha Gotama when he was reborn in the River Aciravatī as a golden fish. His mother and sister, having abused well behaved monks, were also reborn in Avīci hell.
Note 1**: ¹ Before entering the Uposatha hall for the recitation of the Pātimokkha, the monks confess any offences that they might have to one another in groups of two or three. Thus when the reciter asks, “If any monk has any offence, let him confess it” they always remain silent. The Elder Kapila was apparently blissfully unaware of this tradition as he had never bothered to train himself properly in the Vinaya discipline, thus when he asked the question he thought that the monks would confess their offences to him. Since they remained silent, he assumed that they were shameless, though they were just diffident to say anything to Kapila who had proved himself impossible to admonish.
Also during the time of the Buddha Kassapa, five hundred bandits fled into the forest to escape their pursuers. Seeing a forest monk they begged him for protection. The elder Kapila administered the five precepts to them, and admonished them to guard the precepts even at the cost of their own lives. They agreed. When the householders caught them, they executed the bandits, who were reborn as devas. During the time of the Buddha Gotama they were reborn at the same time in a fishing village by the Aciravatī river, and grew up together.
One day the goldfish was caught by the fishermen, and due to his remarkable golden colour the fishermen put it in a boat and took it to the king. The king thought, “The Buddha will know the reason for this, and had the fish taken to the teacher.” As soon as the goldfish opened its mouth, the bad smell of his breath pervaded the monastery. The Buddha questioned the goldfish and made him answer. “Are you Kapila?” “Yes venerable sir.” “Where have you come from?” “From Avīci hell, venerable sir.” “Where has your elder brother Sāgata gone?” “He attained parinibbāna, Venerable sir.” “Where are you mother and sister?” “In the great hell, venerable sir.” “Where are you going now?” “To Avīci hell, venerable sir.” Then the goldfish knocked its head against the side of the boat and died. Most in the audience became alarmed and horrified. The Buddha then taught the Kapila Sutta for the benefit of the audience. The five hundred fishermen, being stirred with religious emotion, requested the going forth from the Teacher.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
The craving of one who lives heedlessly grows like a creeper.
He jumps from life to life like a monkey seeking fruits in the forest.334
Whomsoever craving overcomes in this world,
his sorrows flourish like well-watered bīraṇa grass.335
Whoever overcomes this unruly craving in this world,
his sorrows fall away like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.336
I say this to you: Good luck to all who have assembled here!
Dig up the root of craving like one in quest of bīrana’s sweet root.
Do not let Māra crush you again and again as a flood (crushes) a reed.337
Love Buddha's dhamma,
Post sayings and stories you find interesting or useful.
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