Maudgalyāyana (Pali: Moggallāna), also known as Mahāmaudgalyāyana, was one of the Buddha's closest disciples. Described as a contemporary of disciples such as Subhuti, Śāriputra (Pali: Sāriputta), and Mahākasyapa, he is considered the second of the Buddha's two foremost male disciples, together with Śāriputra. Traditional accounts relate that Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra become spiritual wanderers in their youth. After having searched for spiritual truth for a while, they come into contact with the Buddhist teaching through verses that have become widely known in the Buddhist world. Eventually they meet the Buddha himself and ordain as monks under him. Maudgalyāyana attains enlightenment shortly after that.

Maudgalyayana and Śāriputra have a deep spiritual friendship. They are depicted in Buddhist art as the two disciples that accompany the Buddha, and they have complementing roles as teachers. As a teacher, Maudgalyayana is known for his psychic powers, and he is often depicted using these in his teaching methods. In many early Buddhist canons, Maudgalyāyana is instrumental in re-uniting the monastic community after Devadatta causes a schism. Furthermore, Maudgalyāyana is connected with accounts about the making of the first Buddha image. Maudgalyāyana dies at the age of eighty-four, killed through the efforts of a rival sect. This violent death is described in Buddhist scriptures as a result of Maudgalyāyana's karma of having killed his own parents in a previous life.

Through post-canonical texts, Maudgalyāyana became known for his filial piety through a popular account of him transferring his merits to his mother. This led to a tradition in many Buddhist countries known as the ghost festival, during which people dedicate their merits to their ancestors. Maudgalyāyana has also traditionally been associated with meditation and sometimes Abhidharma texts, as well as the Dharmaguptaka school. In the nineteenth century, relics were found attributed to him, which have been widely venerated.

Statue of Moggallana, depicting his dark skin color (blue, black).
TitleForemost disciple, left hand side chief disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha; second chief disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha
Bornyear unknown
Kolita village, Magadha (today in the Indian State of Bihar)
Diedc. 486 BCE[1]
Kālasilā Cave, Magadha
ParentsMother: Moggalī, father: name unknown
Senior posting
TeacherSakyamuni Buddha
Translations of
PaliMoggallāna Thera
SanskritMaudgalyāyana Sthavira
Shin Mahāmaugglan
(rōmaji: Mokuren/Mokkenren)
(Preah Mokelean)
(RR: Mongryŏn/Mokkŏllyŏn)
MongolianMolun Toyin
Sinhalaමහා මොග්ගල්ලාන මහ රහතන් වහන්සේ
TibetanMo'u 'gal gy i bu chen po
(RTGS: Phra Mokkhanlana)
Glossary of Buddhism


In the Pali Canon, it is described that Maudgalyāyana had a skin color like a blue lotus or a rain cloud. Oral tradition in Sri Lanka says that this was because he was born in hell in many lifetimes (see § Death).[2][3] Sri Lankan scholar Karaluvinna believes that originally a dark skin was meant, not blue.[3] In the Mahāsāṃghika Canon, it is stated that he was "beautiful to look at, pleasant, wise, intelligent, full of merits ...", as translated by Migot.[4]

In some Chinese accounts, the clan name Maudgalyāyana is explained as referring to a legume, which was eaten by an ancestor of the clan.[5] However, the Indologist Ernst Windisch linked the life of Maudgalyayana to the figure of Maudgalya (Mugdala) who appears in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, which would explain the name. Windisch believed the account of the diviner Maudgalya had influenced that of Maudgalyayana, since both relate to a journey to heaven. Author Edward J. Thomas considered this improbable, though. Windisch did consider Maudgalyāyana a historical person.[6]


Meeting the Buddha

According to Buddhist texts, Maudgalyāyana is born in a Brahmin family of the village Kolita (perhaps modern day Kul[7]), after which he is named. His mother is a female Brahmin called Mogallāni, and his father is the village chief of the kshatriya (warrior) caste.[2][7] Kolita is born on the same day as Upatiṣya (Pali: Upatissa; later to be known as Śāriputra), and the two are friends from childhood.[2][8][9] Kolita and Upatiṣya develop an interest in the spiritual life when they are young. One day while they are watching a festival a sense of disenchantment and spiritual urgency overcomes them: they wish to leave the worldly life behind and start their spiritual life under the mendicant wanderer Sañjaya Vairatiputra (Pali: Sañjaya Belatthiputta).[note 1] In the Theravāda and Mahāsāṃghika canons, Sañjaya is described as a teacher in the Indian Sceptic tradition, as he does not believe in knowledge or logic, nor does he answer speculative questions. Since he cannot satisfy Kolita and Upatiṣya's spiritual needs, they leave.[11][12][13] In the Mūlasarvāstivāda Canon, the Chinese Buddhist Canon and in Tibetan accounts, however, he is depicted as a teacher with admirable qualities such as meditative vision and religious zeal. He falls ill though, and dies, causing the two disciples to look further. In some accounts, he even goes so far to predict the coming of the Buddha through his visions.[14][15]

Regardless, Kolita and Upatiṣya leave and continue their spiritual search, splitting up in separate directions. They make an agreement that the first to find the "ambrosia" of the spiritual life will tell the other. What follows is the account leading to Kolita and Upatiṣya taking refuge under the Buddha, which is considered an ancient element of the textual tradition.[16] Upatiṣya meets a Buddhist monk named Aśvajit (Pali: Assaji), one of the first five disciples of the Buddha, who is walking to receive alms from devotees.[2][7] In the Mūlasarvāstivāda version, the Buddha has sent him there to teach Upatiṣya.[17] Aśvajit's serene deportment inspires Upatiṣya to approach him and learn more.[2][18] Aśvajit tells him he is still newly ordained and can only teach a little. He then expresses the essence of the Buddha's teaching in these words:[19][20][note 2]

Of all phenomena sprung from a cause

The Teacher the cause hath told;

And he tells, too, how each shall come to its end,

For such is the word of the Sage.

— Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids[22]

These words help Upatiṣya to attain the first stage on the Buddhist spiritual path. After this, Upatiṣya tells Kolita about his discovery and Kolita also attains the first stage. The two disciples, together with Sañjaya's five hundred students, go to ordain as monks under the Buddha in Veṇuvana (Pali: Veḷuvana).[18][23] From the time of their ordination, Upatiṣya and Kolita become known as Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana, respectively, Maudgalyāyana being the name of Kolita's clan.[24] After having ordained, all except Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana attain arhat (Pali: arahant; last stage of enlightenment).[19][23] Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra attain enlightenment one to two weeks later, Maudgalyāyana in Magadha, in a village called Kallavala.[23][25] At that time, drowsiness is obstructing him from attaining further progress on the path. After he has a vision of the Buddha advising him how to overcome it, he has a breakthrough and attains enlightenment.[19][23] In some accounts, it is said that he meditates on the elements in the process.[26] In the Commentary to the Pali Dhammapada, the question is asked why the two disciples attain enlightenment more slowly than the other former students of Sañjaya. The answer given is that Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana are like kings, who require a longer time to prepare for a journey than commoners. In other words, their attainment is of greater depth than the other students and therefore requires more time.[25]

Aśvajit's brief statement, known as the Ye Dharma Hetu stanza ("Of all phenomena..."), has traditionally been described as the essence of the Buddhist teaching, and is the most inscribed verse throughout the Buddhist world.[18][19][20] It can be found in all Buddhist schools,[7] is engraved in many materials, can be found on many Buddha statues and stūpas (structures with relics), and is used in their consecration rituals.[18][27] According to Indologist Oldenberg and translator Thanissaro Bhikkhu, the verses were recommended in one of Emperor Asoka's edicts as subject of study and reflection.[28][29][note 3] The role of the stanza is not completely understood by scholars. Apart from the complex nature of the statement, it has also been noted it has not anywhere been attributed to the Buddha in this form, which indicates it was Aśvajit's own summary or paraphrasing.[32][18] Indologist T.W. Rhys Davids believed the brief poem may have made a special impression on Maudgalyāyana and Sariputta, because of the emphasis on causation typical for Buddhism.[19] Philosopher Paul Carus explained that the stanza was a bold and iconoclastic response to Brahmanic traditions, as it "repudiates miracles of supernatural interference by unreservedly recognising the law of cause and effect as irrefragable", [27] whereas Japanese Zen teacher Suzuki was reminded of the experience that is beyond the intellect, "in which one idea follows another in sequence finally to terminate in conclusion or judgment".[33][34]

Although in the Pali tradition, Maudgalyāyana is described as an arhat who will no longer be reborn again, in the Mahayāna traditions this is sometimes interpreted differently. In the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 6 (Bestowal of Prophecy), the Buddha is said to predict that the disciples Mahākasyapa, Subhuti, Mahakatyayana, and Maudgalyāyana will become Buddhas in the future.[35][23]

Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana

Sariputra and Maudgalyayana become disciples of Buddha Roundel 31 buddha ivory tusk
Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana, together with Sañjaya's five hundred students, went to ordain as monks under the Buddha in Veṇuvana (Pali: Veḷuvana).[23]

On the day of Maudgalyāyana's ordination, the Buddha allows him and Śāriputra to take the seats of the chief male disciples.[2] According to the Pali Buddhavaṃsa text, each Buddha has had such a pair of chief disciples.[36] As they have just ordained, some other monks feel offended that the Buddha gives such honor to them. The Buddha responds by pointing out that seniority in the monkhood is not the only criterion in such an appointment, and explains his decision further by relating a story from the past.[2][37] He says that both disciples aspired many lifetimes ago to become chief disciples under him. They made such a resolution since the age of the previous Buddha Aṇomadassī, when Maudgalyāyana was a layman called Sirivadha. Sirivaddha felt inspired to become a chief disciple under a future Buddha after his friend, Śāriputra in a previous life, recommended that he do so. He then invited Buddha Aṇomadassī and the monastic community (Saṃgha) to have food at his house for seven days, during which he made his resolution to become a chief disciple for the first time. Afterwards, he and Śāriputra continued to do good deeds for many lifetimes, until the time of Sakyamuni Buddha.[2] After the Buddha appoints Maudgalyāyana as chief disciple, he becomes known as "Mahā-Maudgalyāyana", mahā meaning 'great'.[38] This epithet is given to him as an honor, and to distinguish him from others of the same name.[39]

Post-canonical texts describe Maudgalyāyana as the second chief male disciple, next to Śāriputra. The early canons agree that Śāriputra is spiritually superior to Maudgalyāyana, and their specializations are described as psychic powers (Sanskrit: ṛddhi, Pali: iddhi) for Maudgalyāyana and wisdom for Śāriputra.[40][note 4] In Buddhist art en literature, Buddhas are commonly depicted with two main disciples (Japanese: niky ōji, Classical Tibetan: mchog zung) at their side—in the case of Sakyamuni Buddha, the two disciples depicted are most often Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra. Although there are different perspectives among different Buddhist canons as to the merits of each disciple, in all Buddhist canons, Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra are recognized as the two main disciples of the Buddha. This fact is also confirmed by iconography as discovered in archaeological findings, in which the two disciples tend to be pictured attending their master.[42] Moreover, Maudgalyāyana is often included in traditional lists of 'four great disciples' (pinyin: sida shengwen)[43] and eight arhats.[44] Despite these widespread patterns in both scripture and archaeological research, it has been noted that in later iconography, Ānanda and Mahākasyapa are depicted much more, and Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra are depicted much less.[45]

The lives of Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra are closely connected. Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra are born on the same day, and die in the same period. Their families have long been friends. In their student years, Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra are co-pupils under the same teacher.[46][47] After having helped each other to find the essence of the spiritual life, their friendship remains. In many sutras they show high appreciation and kindness to one another.[2] For example, when Śāriputra falls ill, it is described that Maudgalyāyana used his psychic powers to obtain medicine for Śāriputra .[48] Śāriputra is considered the wisest disciple of the Buddha, but Maudgalyāyana is second to him in wisdom.[2][49] The one thing that gives them a strong bond as spiritual friends is the love for the Buddha, which both express often.[50]

Role in the community

Prince Rahula and Buddha
The Buddha gave Maudgalyāyana the responsibility to train the novice Rahula, the Buddha's son, here depicted in the middle.[2][51]

Several teachings in the Pali Canon are traditionally ascribed to Maudgalyāyana, including several verses in the Theragatha and many sutras in the Samyutta Nikaya. Besides these, there are many passages that describe events in his life. He is seen as learned and wise in ethics, philosophy and meditation. When comparing Śāriputra with Maudgalyāyana, the Buddha uses the metaphor of a woman giving birth to a child for Śāriputra, in that he establishes new students in the first attainment on the spiritual path (Pali: sotāpanna). Maudgalyāyana, however, is compared with the master who trains the child up, in that he develops his students further along the path to enlightenment.[2][52]

The Buddha is described in the texts as placing great faith in Maudgalyāyana as a teacher.[2] He often praises Maudgalyāyana for his teachings, and sometimes has Maudgalyāyana teach in his place.[53][54] Maudgalyāyana is also given the responsibility to train Rahula, the Buddha's son. On another occasion, the Buddha has Maudgalyāyana announce a ban on a group of monks living in Kitigara, whose problematic behavior has become widely known in the area.[55] Furthermore, Maudgalyāyana plays a crucial role during the schism caused by the disciple Devadatta. Through his ability to communicate with devas (god-like beings), he learns that Devadatta was acting inappropriately. He obtains information that Devadatta is enjoining Prince Ajatasatru (Pali: Ajatasattu) for help, and the two form a dangerous combination. Maudgalyāyana therefore informs the Buddha of this.[56][57] Later, when Devadatta has successfully created a split in the Buddhist community, the Buddha asks Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra to convince Devadatta's following to reunite with the Buddha, which in the Pali account they are able to accomplish.[2][51][note 5] Because Devadatta believes they come to join his following, he lets his guard down. They then persuade the other monks to return while Devadatta is asleep. After the split off party has successfully been returned to the Buddha, Maudgalyāyana expresses astonishment because of Devadatta's actions. The Buddha explains that Devadatta had acted like this habitually, throughout many lifetimes. In the Vinaya texts of some canons, the effort at persuading the split off monks is met with obstinacy and fails. French Buddhologist André Bareau believes this latter version of the account to be historically authentic, which he further supports by the report of the Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang, twelve centuries later, that Devadatta's sect had still continued to exist.[59]

Teaching through psychic powers

In the Anguttara Nikaya, Maudgalyāyana is called foremost in psychic powers.[60][61] In teaching, Maudgalyāyana relies much on such powers. Varying accounts in the Pali Canon show Maudgalyāyana travelling to and speaking with pretas (spirits in unhappy destinations) in order to explain to them their horrific conditions. He helps them understand their own suffering, so they can be released from it or come to terms with it. He then reports this to the Buddha, who uses these examples in his teachings.[2][51] Similarly, Maudgalyāyana is depicted as conversing with devas and brahmas (heavenly beings), and asking devas what deeds they did to be reborn in heaven.[51][62] In summary, Maudgalyāyana's meditative insights and psychic powers are not only to his own benefit, but benefit the public at large. In the words of historian Julie Gifford, he guides others "by providing a cosmological and karmic map of samsara".[63]

Maudgalyāyana is able to use his powers of mind-reading in order to give good and fitting advice to his students, so they can attain spiritual fruits quickly.[64] He is described as using his psychic powers to discipline not only monks, but also devas and other beings. One day some monks are making noise as they were sitting in the same building as the Buddha. Maudgalyāyana then shakes the building, to teach the monks to be more restrained.[51][65] But the most-quoted example of Maudgalyāyana's demonstration of psychic powers is his victory over the dragon (naga) Nandopananda, which requires mastery of the jhānas (states in meditation).[23][49] Many of his demonstrations of psychic powers are an indirect means of establishing the Buddha as a great teacher. People ask themselves, if the disciple has these powers, then how spiritually powerful will his teacher be?[66]

Rescuing his mother

The account of Maudgalyāyana looking for his mother after her death is widespread. Apart from being used to illustrate the principles of karmic retribution and rebirth,[67][68] in China, the story developed a new emphasis. There Maudgalyāyana was known as "Mulian", and his story was taught in a mixture of religious instruction and entertainment, to remind people of their duties to deceased relatives.[69][70] Its earliest version being the Sanskrit Ullambana Sutra,[71] the story has been made popular in China, Japan, and Korea through edifying folktales such as the Chinese bianwen (for example, The Transformation Text on Mu-lien Saving His Mother from the Dark Regions).[72][73] In most versions of the story, Maudgalyāyana uses his psychic powers to look for his deceased parents and see in what world they have been reborn. Although he can find his father in a heaven, he cannot find his mother and asks the Buddha for help. The Buddha brings him to his mother, who is located in a hell realm, but Maudgalyāyana cannot help her. The Buddha then advises him to make merits on his mother's behalf, which helps her to be reborn in a better place.[73][74][75] In the Laotian version of the story, he travels to the world of Yama, the ruler of the underworld, only to find the world abandoned. Yama then tells Maudgalyāyana that he allows the denizens of the hell to go out of the gates of hell to be free for one day, that is, on the full moon day of the ninth lunar month. On this day, the hell beings can receive merit transferred and be liberated from hell, if such merit is transferred to them.[76] In some other Chinese accounts, Maudgalyāyana finds his mother, reborn as a hungry ghost. When Maudgalyāyana tries to offer her food through an ancestral shrine, the food bursts into flames each time. Maudgalyāyana therefore asks the Buddha for advice, who recommends him to make merit to the Saṃgha and transfer it to his mother. The transfer not only helps his mother to be reborn in heaven, but can also be used to help seven generations of parents and ancestors.[77][78] The offering was believed to be most effective when collectively done, which led to the arising of the ghost festival.[79](see § Heritage)

Several scholars have pointed out the similarities between the accounts of Maudgalyāyana helping his mother and the account of Phra Malai, an influential legend in Thailand and Laos.[80][81] Indeed, in some traditional accounts Phra Malai is compared to Maudgalyāyana.[81] On a similar note, Maudgalyāyana's account is also thought to have influenced the Central Asian Epic of King Gesar, Maudgalyāyana being a model for the king.[82]

Making the Udāyana image

Another account involving Maudgalyayana, related in the Chinese translation of the Ekottara Agāma, in the Thai Jinakālamālī and the post-canonical Paññāsajātakā, was the production of what was described as the first Buddha image, the Udāyana Buddha. The account relates that the Buddha pays a visit to the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven (Pali: Tāvatiṃsa) to teach his mother. King Udāyana misses the Buddha so much that he asks Maudgalyāyana to use his psychic powers to transport thirty-two craftsmen to the heaven, and make an image of the Buddha there.[83][84] The image that is eventually made is from sandalwood, and many accounts have attempted to relate it to later Buddha images in other areas and countries.[85][86] Although the traditional accounts mentioned state that the Udāyana Buddha was the first image, there were probably several Buddha images preceding the Udāyana Buddha, made by both kings and commoners.[87] It could also be that these accounts originate from the same common narrative about a first Buddha image.[88]


Moggallana - paranibbana

According to the Pali tradition, Maudgalyāyana 's death comes in November of the same year as the Buddha's passing, when Maudgalyāyana is traveling in Magadha. He dies at the age of eighty-four.[89] Some accounts put forth that rivaling traditions stone him to death, others say that those people hire robbers. The Pali tradition states that Jain monks persuade a group of robbers led by a Samaṇa-guttaka to kill Maudgalyāyana, out of jealousy for his success. Maudgalyāyana often teaches about the visits he has made to heaven and hell, the fruits of leading a moral life, and the dangers of leading an immoral life. These teachings make the number of followers from rivaling traditions decrease.[3][52] Whoever kills Maudgalyāyana, the general agreement among different accounts is that he is killed in a violent fashion at the Kālasilā Cave, on the Isigili Hill near Rājagaha,[2][52] which might be equated with modern Udaya Hill.[1]

At that time, Maudgalyāyana dwells alone in a forest hut. When he sees the bandits approaching, he makes himself vanish with psychic powers. The bandits find an empty hut, and although they search everywhere, they find nobody. They leave and return on the following day, for six consecutive days, with Maudgalyāyana escaping from them in the same way.[90][91] On the seventh day, Maudgalyāyana suddenly loses the psychic powers he has long wielded. Maudgalyāyana realizes that he is now unable to escape. The bandits enter, beat him repeatedly and leave him lying in his blood. Being keen on quickly getting their payment, they leave at once.[2][92] Maudgalyāyana's great physical and mental strength is such that he is able to regain consciousness and is able to journey to the Buddha.[2][66] In some accounts, he then returns to Kalasila and dies there, teaching his family before dying. In other accounts, he dies in the Buddha's presence.[23][93]

It is described that in a previous life, Maudgalyāyana is the only son born to his family. He is dutiful, and takes care of all the household duties. As his parents age, this increases his workload. His parents urge him to find a wife to help him, but he persistently refuses, insisting on doing the work himself. After persistent urging from his mother, he eventually marries.[94] His wife looks after his elderly parents, but after a short period becomes hostile to them. She complains to her husband, but he pays no attention to this. One day, when he is outside the house, she scatters rubbish around and when he returns, blames it on his blind parents. After continual complaints, he capitulates and agrees to deal with his parents. Telling his parents that their relatives in another region wish to see them, he leads his parents onto a carriage and begins driving the oxen cart through the forest. While in the depths of the forest, he dismounts and walks along with the carriage, telling his parents that he has to watch out for robbers, which are common in the area. He then impersonates the sounds and cries of thieves, pretending to attack the carriage. His parents tell him to fend for himself (as they are old and blind) and implore the imaginary thieves to leave their son. While they are crying out, the man beats and kills his parents, and throws their bodies into the forest before returning home.[94][95] In another version recorded in the commentary to the Pali Jātaka, Maudgalyāyana does not carry the murder through though, touched by the words of his parents.[2][96]

After Maudgalyāyana's death, people ask why Maudgalyāyana had not protected himself, and why a great enlightened monk would suffer such a death. The Buddha then says that because Maudgalyāyana has contracted such karma in a previous life (the murder of one's own parents is one of the five heinous acts that reap the worst karma), so he could not avoid reaping the consequences. He therefore accepted the results. [97][23] Further, the Buddha states that even psychic powers will be of no use in avoiding karma, especially when it is serious karma.[89][23] Shortly after having left Maudgalyāyana for dead, the bandits are all executed. Religious Studies scholar James McDermott therefore concludes that there must have been "a confluence" of karma between Maudgalyāyana and the bandits, and cites the killing as evidence that in Buddhist doctrine the karma of different individuals can interact.[92] Indologist Richard Gombrich raises the example of the murder to prove another point: he points out that Maudgalyāyana is able to attain enlightenment, despite his heavy karma from a past life. This, he says, shows that the Buddha teaches everyone can attain enlightenment in the here and now, rather than enlightenment necessarily being a gradual process built up through many lifetimes.[98]

Gifford speculates that Maudgalyāyana believes he is experiencing heavy karma from a past life. This awareness leads him to want to prevent others from making the same mistakes and leading an unethical life. This may be the reason why he is so intent on teaching about the law of karmic retribution.[99]

After Maudgalyāyana's and Śāriputra's death, the Buddha states the monastic community has now become less, just like a healthy tree has some branches that have died off. Then he adds to that all impermanent things must perish.[1] In some accounts of Maudgalyāyana's death, many of his students fall ill after his death, and die as well.[100]


Chinese floating lotus lanterns
Floating lanterns made from lotus leaves: people make merits and transfer merit through several ceremonies, so the spirits may be reborn in a better rebirth.[101]

In Buddhist history, Maudgalyāyana has been honored for several reasons. In some canons such as the Pali Tipiṭaka, Maudgalyāyana is held up by the Buddha as an example which monks should follow.[2][60] The Pali name Moggallāna was used as a monastic name by Buddhist monks until the twelfth century C.E.[52]

In East Asia, Maudgalyāyana is honored as a symbol of filial piety and psychic powers.[102][103] Maudgalyāyana has had an important role in many Mahāyāna traditions. The Ullambana Sutra is the main Mahāyāna sūtra in which Maudgalyāyana's rescue of his mother is described {{See above|§ Rescuing his mother.[51][104] The sutra was highly influential, judging from the more than sixty commentaries that were written about it.[71] Although the original Sanskrit sutra already encouraged filial piety, later Chinese accounts inspired by the sutra emphasized this even more. Furthermore, Chinese accounts described merit-making practices and filial piety as two inseparable sides of the same coin.[105] The sūtra became popular in China, Japan, and Korea, and led to the Yulan Hui (China) and Obon (Japan) festivals.[106][72][107] This festival probably spread from China to Japan in the seventh century,[108] and similar festivals have been observed in India (Avalamba), Laos and Vietnam.[106][109] The festival is celebrated on the seventh lunar month (China; originally only on the full moon, on the Pravāraṇa Day[110]), or from 13 to 15 July (Japan). It is believed that in this period ancestors reborn as pretas or hungry ghosts wander around.[106][101][111] In China, this was the time when the yearly varṣa for monastics came to an end (normally translated as rains retreat, but in China this was a Summer Retreat).[112] It was a time that the monastics completed their studies and meditation, which was celebrated.[113] Up until the present day, people make merits and transfer merit through several ceremonies during the festival, so the spirits may be reborn in a better rebirth.[101][111] The festival is also popular among non-Buddhists,[101] and has led Taoists to integrate it in their own funeral services.[114][115]

The festival has striking similarities to Confucian and Neo-Confucian ideals, in that it deals with filial piety.[116] It has been observed that the account of rescuing the mother in hell has helped Buddhism to integrate into Chinese society. At the time, due to the Buddhist emphasis on the renunciant life, Buddhism was criticized by Confucianists. They felt Buddhism went against the principle of filial piety, because Buddhist monks did not have offspring to make offerings for ancestor worship.[71][79] Maudgalyāyana's account helped greatly to improve this problem, and has therefore been raised as a textbook example of the adaptive qualities of Buddhism.[117] Other scholars have proposed, however, that the position of Buddhism in India versus China was not all that different, as Buddhism had to deal with the problem of filial piety and renunciation in India as well.[118] Another impact the story of Maudgalyāyana's had was that, in East Asia, the account helped to shift the emphasis of filial piety towards the mother, and helped redefine motherhood and femininity.[71]

Apart from the Ghost Festival, Maudgalyāyana also has an important role in the celebration of Māgha Pūjā in Sri Lanka. On Māgha Pūjā, in Sri Lanka called Navam Full Moon Poya, Maudgalyāyana's appointment as a chief disciple of the Buddha is celebrated by various merit-making activities, and a pageant.[119][120]

There are several canonical and post-canonical texts that are traditionally connected to the person of Maudgalyāyana. In the Theravāda tradition, the Vimānavatthu is understood to be a collection of accounts related by Maudgalyayana to the Buddha, dealing with his visits to heavens.[121] In the Sarvāstivāda tradition, Maudgalyāyana is said to have composed the Abhidharma texts called the Dharmaskandha and the Prajñāptibhāsya,[122][123] although in some Sanskrit and Tibetan scriptures the former is attributed to Śāriputra.[124] Scholars have their doubts on whether Maudgalyāyana was really the author of these works.[124] They do believe, however, that Maudgalyāyana and some other main disciples compiled lists (Sanskrit: mātṛikā, Pali: mātikā) of teachings as mnemonic devices. These lists formed the basis for what later became the Abhidharma.[125] Despite these associations with Abhidharma texts, pilgrim Xuan Zang reports that during his visits in India, Śāriputra was honored by monks for his Abhidharma teachings, whereas Maudgalyāyana was honored for his meditation, the basis for psychic powers.[126][127] French scholar André Migot has proposed that in most text traditions Maudgalyāyana was associated with meditation and psychic powers, as opposed to Śāriputra's specialization in wisdom and Abhidharma.[127][128]

Traditions have also connected Maudgalyāyana with the symbol of the Wheel of Becoming (Sanskrit: bhavacakra, Pali: bhavacakka). Accounts in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya and the Divyāvadāna relate that Ānanda once told the Buddha about Maudgalyāyana's good qualities as a teacher. Maudgalyayana was a very popular teacher, and his sermons with regard to afterlife destinations were very popular. The Buddha said that in the future, a person like him would be hard to find. The Buddha then had an image painted on the gate of the Veluvaḷa monastery to honor Maudgalyāyana, depicting the Wheel of Becoming. This wheel showed the different realms of the cycle of existence, the three poisons in the mind (greed, hatred and delusion), and the teaching of dependent origination. The wheel was depicted as being in the clutches of Māra, but at the same time included the symbol of a white circle for Nirvana. The Buddha further decreed that a monk be stationed at the painting to explain the law of karma to visitors.[129][130][131] Images of the Wheel of Becoming are widespread in Buddhist Asia, some of which confirm and depict the original connection with Maudgalyāyana.[132]

Finally, there was also an entire tradition that traces its origins to Maudgalyayana, or to a follower of him, called Dharmagupta: this is the Dharmaguptaka school, one of the early Buddhist schools.[133][134]


In a Pali Jātaka account, the Buddha is said to have had the ashes of Maudgalyāyana collected and kept in a stūpa in the gateway of the Veluvaḷa.[2][136] In two other accounts, however, one from the Dharmaguptaka and the other from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, Anāthapiṇḍika and other laypeople requested the Buddha to build a stūpa in honor of Maudgalyāyana.[137] According to the Divyāvadāna, emperor Ashoka visited the stūpa and made an offering, on the advice of Upagupta Thera.[3] During the succeeding centuries, Xuan Zang and other Chinese pilgrims reported that a stūpa with Maudgalyāyana's relics could be found under the Indian city Mathura, and in several other places in Northeast India. However, as of 1999, none of these had been confirmed by archaeological findings.[138][139]

An important archaeological finding was made elsewhere, however. In the nineteenth century, archaeologist Alexander Cunningham and Lieutenant Fred. C. Maisey discovered bone fragments in caskets, with Maudgalyāyana's and Śāriputra's names inscribed on it, both in the Sanchi Stūpa and at the stūpas at Satdhāra, India.[52][140] The caskets contained pieces of bone and objects of reverence, including sandalwood which Cunningham believed had once been used on the funeral pyre of Śāriputra.[141] The finding was important in several ways, and was dated from the context to the second century BCE.[142]

Alexander Cunningham of the ASI 02
In the 19th century, archaeologist Alexander Cunningham discovered bone fragments attributed to Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra.[52][140]

Initially, Cunningham and Maisey divided the shares of the discovered items and had them shipped to Britain. Since some of Cunningham's discovered items were lost when one ship sank, some scholars have understood that the Sanchi relics were lost.[143] However, in a 2007 study, the historian Torkel Brekke used extensive historical documents to argument that it was Maisey who took all the relics with him, not Cunningam. This would imply that the relics reached Britain in their entirety. After the relics reached Britain, they were given to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1866.[144][note 6] When the relics were given to the V&A Museum, pressure from Buddhists to return the relics to their country of origin arose. Although at first the museum dismissed the complaints as coming from a marginal community of English Buddhists, when several Buddhist societies in India took notice, as well as societies in other Asian countries, it became a serious matter. Eventually, the museum was pressured by the British government to return the relics and their original caskets, for diplomatic reasons. After many requests and much correspondence, the museum had the relics brought back to the Sri Lankan Maha Bodhi Society in 1947.[147][148] They were formally re-installed into a shrine at Sanchi, India, in 1952, after it had been agreed that Buddhists would continue to be their caretaker, and a long series of ceremonies had been held to pay due respect. The relics were paraded through many countries in South and Southeast Asia, in both Theravāda and Mahāyāna countries.[149][148] At the same time, Indian Prime Minister Nehru used the opportunity to propagate a message of unity and religious tolerance, and from a political perspective, legitimate state power.[150] Indeed, even for other countries, such as Burma, in which the relics were shown, it helped to legitimate the government, create unity, and revive religious practice: "those tiny pieces of bone moved not only millions of devotees worldwide, but national governments as well", as stated by art historian Jack Daulton. For these reasons, Burma asked for a portion of the relics to keep there. In ceremonies attended by hundred of thousands people, the relics were installed in the Kaba Aye Pagoda, in the same year as India.[151]

Sri Lanka also obtained a portion, kept at the Maha Bodhi Society, which is annually exhibited during a celebration in May.[152] In 2015, the Catholic world was surprised to witness that the Maha Bodhi Society broke with tradition by showing the relics to Pope Francis on a day outside of the yearly festival. Responding to critics, the head of the society stated that no pope had set foot inside a Buddhist temple since 1984, and added that "religious leaders have to play a positive role to unite [their] communities instead of dividing".[153] As for the original Sanchi site in India, the relics are shown every year on the annual international Buddhist festival in November. As of 2016, the exhibition was visited by hundred thousands visitors from over the world, including Thai princess Sirindhorn.[154][155]

See also


  1. ^ According to some Chinese accounts, Maudgalyāyana waits until after his mother has died, and only after having mourned her for three years. But this may be a Confucian addition to the story.[10]
  2. ^ Some schools, such as the Mahīśāsaka school, relate this verse differently, with one line about the emptiness of the Dharma.[21]
  3. ^ Most scholars lean towards the interpretation that Emperor Asoka referred to the text Sariputta Sutta instead. However, this consensus is still considered tentative.[30][31]
  4. ^ Contradicting the fact that the canons state Śāriputra was spiritually the superior of Maudgalyāyana, in the popular traditions of China, Maudgalyāyana was actually more popular than Śāriputra, Maudgalyāyana often being depicted as a sorcerer.[41]
  5. ^ In the Dharmaguptaka, Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda canons, it is their own proposal to go, for which they ask the Buddha his permission.[58]
  6. ^ At the time, the museum was still called the South Kensington Museum.[145] Already in 1917, archeologist Louis Finot stated that Cunningham had no interest in the relics, only in the caskets.[146]


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External links

Blood Bowl Sutra

The Blood Bowl Sutra (Chinese: 血盆經; pinyin: Xuèpénjīng, Japanese: Ketsubon Kyō) is an apocryphal Mahayana sutra of Chinese origin. The earliest version of this text was likely composed around the end of the 12th century or the beginning of the 13th.


Dharmaskandha or Dharma-skandha-sastra is one of the seven Sarvastivada Abhidharma Buddhist scriptures. Dharmaskandha means "collection of dharmas". It was composed by Sariputra (according to the Sanskrit and Tibetan sources) or Maudgalyayana (according to Chinese sources). The Chinese edition was translated by Xuanzang, and appears as: T26, No. 1537, 阿毘達磨法蘊足論, 尊者大目乾連造, 三藏法師玄奘奉 詔譯, in 12 fascicles.

It begins with a matrka as a summary of the topics, showing its antiquity, as these were supposedly only assigned by the Buddha himself. It presents 21 subjects, the first 15 of which concern the practice of the spiritual path, and the realization of its fruits. The 16th deals with "various issues". Subjects 17 to 20 deal with the enumeration of the ayatanas, dhatus and skandhas as encompassing "all dharmas". The 21st is regards dependent origination.

Frauwallner concludes that the Dharmaskandha is from a period before then split between the Sanskrit and Pāli Abhidharma traditions, based on its correlation with the Pāli Vibhanga. He thus dates it to pre-Ashoka Buddhism. Yin Shun notes it being mentioned in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya-vyakaraṇa, indicating its early inclusion in the Sarvastivada canon. These two combined, would suggest the Mulasarvastivada having its own canon at quite an early date.

Yin Shun also cites three points for considering this text to be sourced in a pre-sectarian Abhidharma:

It similar analysis of rupa to the Sariputta Abhidhamma and the Dhammapariyaya (considered to be the oldest Abhidharma texts of any tradition).

No mention of avijnapti-rupa, as per the Sariputta Abhidhamma.

The emphasis on the five indriya and five bala, as paramount in the spiritual path.

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Monastery (also Gaden or Gandain) or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the "great three" Gelug university monasteries of Tibet. It is in Dagzê County, Lhasa. The other two are Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Je Tsongkhapa Lozang-dragpa, founder of the Gelug order. The monastery was destroyed after 1959, but has since been partially rebuilt. Another monastery with the same name and tradition was established in Southern India in 1966 by Tibetan exiles.

Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha (c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE), also known as Siddhārtha Gautama (सिद्धार्थ गौतम) in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama (शिद्धत्थ गोतम) in Pali , Shakyamuni (i.e. "Sage of the Shakyas") Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (śramaṇa), mendicant, sage, philosopher, teacher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region. He later taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala.Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism. He is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life, discourses and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

Ghost Festival

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, Zhongyuan Jie (中元節), Gui Jie (鬼節) or Yulan Festival (traditional Chinese: 盂蘭盆節; simplified Chinese: 盂兰盆节; pinyin: Yúlánpénjié; Cantonese Jyutping: jyu4 laan4 pun4 zit3) is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in certain Asian countries. According to the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh month (14th in parts of southern China). In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. Distinct from both the Qingming Festival (or Tomb Sweeping Day, in spring) and Double Ninth Festival (in autumn) in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, during Ghost Festival, the deceased are believed to visit the living.On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

Katyayana (Buddhist)

Kātyāyana was a disciple of Gautama Buddha. In Sanskrit his name is Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana; in Pāli Kaccāna, Kaccāyana, or Mahākaccāna; in Japanese 迦旃延 Kasennen, and in Thai he is called Phra Maha Katchaina (Thai: พระมหากัจจายนะ; Sinhala: මහා කච්චායන මහ රහතන් වහන්සේ).

Lhabab Duchen

Lhabab Düchen is one of the four Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions. Lhabab Düchen occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month according to Tibetan calendar and widely celebrated in Tibet and Bhutan. The festival is also celebrated in other Buddhist Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos where it is celebrated a few weeks before the Tibetan and Bhutanese version.

Lhabab Duchen is a Buddhist festival celebrated to observe the Buddha's descent from the Trāyastriṃśa heaven down to earth.

According to legend, the Buddha ascended the Trāyastriṃśa heaven temporarily at the age of 41, in order to give teachings to benefit the gods in that desire realm, and to repay the kindness of his mother by liberating her from Samsara.

He was exhorted by his disciple and representative Maudgalyayana to return, and after a long debate and under a Full Moon agreed to return. He returned to earth a week later by a special triple ladder prepared by Viswakarma, the god of machines. This event is considered to be one of the eight great deeds of the Buddha.

On Lhabab Duchen, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. It is part of Tibetan Buddhist tradition to engage in virtuous activities and prayer on this day.


Maha Kasyapa or Mahākāśyapa (Pali: Mahākassapa) or Kāśyapa was one of the principal disciples of Gautama Buddha. He came from the kingdom of Magadha. He became an arhat and was the disciple of the Buddha who was foremost in ascetic practice.

Mahākāśyapa assumed the leadership of the Sangha following the death of the Buddha, presiding over the First Buddhist Council. He is considered to be the first patriarch in a number of Mahayana School dharma lineages. In the Theravada tradition, he is considered to be the Buddha's third foremost disciple, surpassed only by the chief disciples Sariputta and Maha Moggallana.

Mulian Rescues His Mother

Mulian Rescues His Mother or Mulian Saves His Mother From Hell is a popular Chinese Buddhist tale first attested in a Dunhuang manuscript dating to the early 9th century CE. It is an elaboration of the canonical Yulanpen Sutra which was translated from Indic sources by Dharmarakṣa sometime between 265–311 CE. Maudgalyayana (Pali: Moggallāna), whose abbreviated Chinese transliteration is Mulian, seeks the help of the Buddha to rescue his mother, who has been reborn in the preta world (in canonical sutra) or in the Avici Hell (in elaborated tale), the karmic retribution for her transgressions. Mulian cannot rescue her by his individual effort, however, but is instructed by the Buddha to offer food and gifts to monks and monasteries on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, which established the Ghost Festival (Chinese: 鬼 節; pinyin: guǐjié). While Mulian's devotion to his mother reassured East Asians that Buddhism did not undermine the Confucian value of filial piety and helped to make Buddhism into a Chinese religion, it also reflected strong undercurrents of filial piety that existed throughout Indian Buddhism as evidenced through its canonical texts and epigraphical remains.The story developed many variations and appeared in many forms. Tang dynasty texts discovered early in the twentieth century at Dunhuang in Gansu revealed rich stories in the form of chuanqi ('transmissions of the strange') or bianwen ('transformation tales'). Mulian and his mother appeared onstage in operas, especially folk-opera, and have been the subject of films and television series. The story became a standard part of Buddhist funeral services, especially in the countryside, until the end of the twentieth century. The legend spread quickly to other parts of East Asia, and was one of the earliest to be written down in the literature of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.Another canonical version similar to the Yulanpen Sutra, has Sāriputta as the chief protagonist and is recorded in the Theravāda Petavatthu. It is the basis of the custom of offering foods to the hungry ghosts and the Ghost Festival in the cultures of Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Laos.


Nanzo-in (南蔵院) is a Shingon sect Buddhist temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is notable for its bronze statue of a reclining Buddha, said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.


The Petavatthu (lit. "Ghost Stories") is a Theravada Buddhist scripture, included in the Minor Collection (Khuddaka Nikaya) of the Pali Canon's Sutta Pitaka. It ostensibly reports stories about and conversations among the Buddha and his disciples, but in fact dates to about 300 BC at the earliest. It is composed of 51 verse narratives describing specifically how the effects of bad acts can lead to rebirth into the unhappy world of petas (ghosts) in the doctrine of karma. More importantly, it details how meritorious actions by the living can benefit such suffering beings.The scripture also includes stories of Maudgalyayana's travels to the Hungry Ghost realm and his discussions with Hungry ghosts and his understanding of the realm. It also includes a story of how Sariputta rescued his mother from hell by making offerings to the monks as a form of merit-making to increase the chance of a hungry ghost being reborn as a higher being.

The scripture gave prominence to the doctrine that giving alms to monks may benefit the ghosts of one's relatives seen in the Hungry Ghost Festival and ceremonies conducted in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Laos.


Prajnaptisastra (IAST: Prajñāptiśāstra) or Prajnapti-sastra is one of the seven Sarvastivada Abhidharma Buddhist scriptures. The word Prajnaptisastra means "designation" (of dharmas). It was composed by Maudgalyayana (according to the Sanskrit, Tibetan and MPPU) or Mahakatyayana. The Chinese translation is by Dharma-rakṣita: T26, No. 1538, 施設論, 西天譯經三藏朝散大夫, 試光祿卿傳梵大師賜紫, 沙門臣法護等奉 詔譯, in a somewhat shorter 7 fascicles.

The importance of this text is shown in its being quoted 135 times by the MVS

, though these references are not exclusively Sarvastivada in nature. The format is of matrka, followed by question and answer explanations, with references to the sutras for orthodoxy.

Yin Shun relates the name prajnapti through the Chinese 施設 and 假 to the Sariputra Abhidharma in regards the "false designation" of the bonds (saṃyojana), contact (sparsa) and mind (citta), thus indicating that it is a very early text.

Willemen, Dessein & Cox assign this text to the next period, based on its "abstract principles of organization" and "complexity of doctrinal analysis". However, though the content is different from the Samgiti and Dharma-skandha, one could scarcely consider it more abstract in nature. It simply reflects the nature of the sūtras upon which it is based. In fact, it has relatively more direct references to the sūtras for its overall size than many of the developed texts, and a similar use of questions and answers as the Samgita.


Preta (Sanskrit: प्रेत, Standard Tibetan: ཡི་དྭགས་ yi dags) also known as hungry ghost, is the Sanskrit name for a type of supernatural being described in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion as undergoing suffering greater than that of humans, particularly an extreme level of hunger and thirst. They have their origins in Indian religions and have been adopted into East Asian religions via the spread of Buddhism. Preta is often translated into English as "hungry ghost" from the Chinese adaptation. In early sources such as the Petavatthu, they are much more varied. The descriptions below apply mainly in this narrower context.

Pretas are believed to have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object. Traditionally, this is something repugnant or humiliating, such as cadavers or feces, though in more recent stories, it can be anything, however bizarre.Through the belief and influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in much of Asia, preta figure prominently in the cultures of India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.


Sāriputta (Pali) or Śāriputra (Sanskrit) was one of two chief male disciples of Gautama Buddha along with Moggallāna, counterparts to the bhikkhunis Khema and Uppalavanna, his two chief female disciples. He became an arhat renowned for his teaching and is depicted in the Theravada tradition as one of the most important disciples of the Buddha. Sariputta is regarded as the disciple of the Buddha who was foremost in wisdom.


Srughna, also spelt Shrughna, was an ancient city of India frequently referred to in early and medieval texts. It was visited by Chinese traveller, Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in the 7th century and was reported to be in ruins even then although the foundations still remained. Xuanzang described the city as possessing a large Buddhist vihara and a grand stupa dating to the time of the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka. Xuanzang saw several stupas, which commemorated the visit of the Buddha or enshrined the relics of Buddhist monks Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. Alexander Cunningham identified the lost city with the village of Sugh (or Sugha) situated 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Yamunanagar in the state of Haryana. The city probably lost its importance after the 7th century and the name survived in a localized form. Panjab University's 1965 excavation found artifacts dating from 600 BCE to 300 CE, including grey ware and red ware pottery, coins, seals, animal remains, male and female terracotta figurines, animal terracotta figurines and miscellaneous terracotta objects such as flesh rubbers, crucibles, rattle, gamesmen, stamp, seal impression, discs, frames and wheels, balls, goldsmiths heating cup, an ear ornament grooved on the exterior and a broken figurine of a headless child with writing board in lap with sunga (187 BCE to 78 BCE) period alphabets. Collection of these figurines belong to Sunga, Mauryan, Kushana, Gupta and medieval period.Srughna is regularly mentioned in Panini's Ashtadhyayi, Patanjali's Mahabhashya, the Divyavadana, the Mahabharata, the Mahamayuri, the Brihatsamhita of Varahamihira, etc. Tūrghna, another location mentioned in ancient literary texts, is considered synonymous with Srughna.The village of Sugh is now a well known archaeological site which has yielded a trove of coins. It was excavated by Cunningham in the 19th century. Suraj Bhan partially excavated the site in 1964–65.


Subhūti (Pali: Subhūti; Chinese: 须菩提; pinyin: Xūpútí) was one of the Ten Great Śrāvakas of Gautama Buddha, and foremost in giving gifts. In Prakrit and Pāli, his name literally means "Good Existence" (su: "good", bhūti: "existence"). He is also sometimes referred to as "Elder Subhūti" (Subhūti Thera). He was a contemporary of such famous arahants as Śāriputra, Mahākāśyapa, Maudgalyayana, Mahākātyāyana and Ānanda.

Ten Principal Disciples

The ten principal disciples were the main disciples of Gautama Buddha. Depending on the scripture, the disciples included in this group vary. The Vimalakirti Sutra includes:


Śāripūtra (Sanskrit), or Sāriputta (Pāli), is a top master of Wisdom. In Heart Sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara preaches to him.


Maudgalyāyana (Sk.) or Moggallāna(Pl.), also known as Mahāmaudgalyāyana or Mahāmoggallāna. He is a top master of supernatural powers. Maudgalyayana and Śāriputra were once disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the skeptic, but they became disciples of the Buddha. In Chinese Buddhism, the Mass that Maudgalyayana held to save his mother who had gone to the Hungry Ghost realm (one of the Six realms) is the foundation of ullambana (Ghost Festival).


Mahākāśyapa (Sk.) or Mahākassapa (Pl.). He was a top master of ascetic training. After the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, he assumes the leadership of the sangha, compiled the Buddha's sayings (suttas) with 500 other disciples (First Buddhist councils), and became the first man who preached the Buddha's teachings directly.


Subhūti (Sk. & Pl.) understood the potency of emptiness. He appears in several Sutras of Mahāyāna Buddhism which teach Śūnyatā (Emptiness or Voidness). He is the subject of the Subhūti Sutta.

Purna Maitrayani-putra

Pūrṇa Maitrāyaniputra (Sk.) or Puṇṇa Mantānīputta (Pl.). He was also called Purna for short. He was the greatest teacher of the Law out of all the disciples. He was the top master of preaching.


Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana (Sk.) or Mahākaccāna (Pl.). He understood Shakyamuni Buddha's lecture the best. Although he had only five master in the rural areas, he was permitted to learn Vinaya by the Buddha.


Anuruddha (Pl.) or Aniruddha (Sk.) was a top master of clairvoyance and the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana). Aniruddha was a cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha. He and Ananda became monks at the same time.


Upāli (Sk. & Pl.) was a top master of Vinaya. He was born in the Shudra class and worked as a barber, ayurveda vaidya. Buddha had denied the class system, he ranked his disciples according to the order in which they joined. So Upali was ranked ahead of the ex-princes. In the First Buddhist council, the Vinaya was compiled based on his memory.


Rāhula (Sk. & Pl.) was the only son of the Buddha (when he was still Prince Siddhartha) and his wife Princess Pṛthī. He was a scrupulous, strict and shrewd person. When the Buddha went to his hometown, he became the first Sāmanera (novice monk).


Ānanda (Sk. & Pl.) listened to the Buddha's teachings the most among the disciples. He was a cousin of the Buddha. Ananda means great delight. After he became a monk, he took care of the Buddha for 25 years, until the Buddha died. In the First Buddhist council, the suttas/sutras were compiled based on his memory. He lived to 120 years old.

Ye Dharma Hetu

Ye dharmā hetu (Sanskrit: ये धर्मा हेतु), is a famous Sanskrit dhāraṇī widely used in ancient times, and is often found carved on chaityas, images, or placed within chaityas.It is often used in Sanskrit, but is also found in Canonical Pali texts (Mahāvaggapāli PTS Vinaya Vol 1, pg 40).

It is referred to as the Dependent Origination Dhāraṇī.

These words were used by the Arahat Assaji (Skr: Aśvajit) when asked about the teaching of the Buddha. On the spot Sariputta (Skt: Śāriputra) attained the first Path (Sotāpatti) and later told them to his friend Moggallāna (Skt: Maudgalyayana) who also attained. They then went to the Buddha, along with 500 of their disciples, and asked to become his disciples.

Yulanpen Sutra

The Yulanpen Sutra, also known as the Ullambana Sutra (traditional Chinese: 盂蘭盆經; ; pinyin: yú lán pén jīng; Japanese pronunciation: urabon-kyō; Korean: 우란분경; Vietnamese: Kinh Vu Lan Bồn), is a Mahayana sutra concerning filial piety. It was translated from an Indic language (see History) and is found in Taisho 685 and Taisho 686 in Volume 16, the third volume of the Collected Sutra Section. Taisho 685 was translated by Dharmarakṣa from 265-311 CE and is entitled: ‘The Buddha Speaks the Yulanpen Sutra’. Taisho 686 was translated by an unknown or lost translator during the Eastern Jin Dynasty and is entitled: ‘The Buddha Speaks the Sutra of Offering Bowls to Repay Kindness’. According to Karashima, Taisho 686 is basically a more idiomatic adaptation of Taisho 685. It records the events which followed after one of the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, Maudgalyayana, achieves Abhijñā and uses his newfound powers to search for his deceased parents. In the end, Maudgalyayana finds his mother in the preta (hungry ghost) world and with the assistance of the Buddha, is able to save her. The East Asian Ghost Festival is based on this sutra.

Topics in Buddhism
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