Assaji

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Venerable Assaji
Buddha visiting his five old friends Roundel 26 buddha ivory tusk.jpg
Buddha preaches to Assaji and his four colleagues
Religious career
Teacher Gautama Buddha

Assaji (Pali: Assaji, Sanskrit: Aśvajit) was one of the first five arahants of Gautama Buddha. He is known for his conversion of Sariputta and Mahamoggallana, the Buddha's two chief male disciples, counterparts to the nuns Khema and Uppalavanna, the chief female disciples. He lived in what is now Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in northern India, during the 6th century BCE.

Background

Assaji was born into a brahmin family. His father was one of the eight brahmin scholars who were invited by Suddhodana, the monarch of the Sakyan kingdom to Kapilavastu to read the fortune of his son Siddhartha. Assaji's father and six of the other brahmins had predicted that Siddhartha would either become a great religious leader or a great military monarch. Kaundinya, the youngest was the only one to confidently state that Siddhartha would become a Buddha. As a result, when Siddhartha renounced the world, Kaundinya and Assaji, as well as Bhaddiya, Vappa and Mahanama, three sons of three of the brahmin scholars joined Siddhartha in the ascetic life. The five joined Siddhartha in self-mortification practices at Uruvela. When Siddhartha abandoned this practice to follow the Middle Way, they left him in disappointment, believing he had become indulgent.[1][2][3]

Arahanthood

But after the Enlightenment, the Buddha visited them at Sarnath, where they had journeyed after the split. The Buddha preached the Four Noble Truths and the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutra, and they became the first five bhikkhus of the sangha. Assaji was the last to understand the teachings, and the Buddha had to give further explanations to him and Mahanama while the other three bhikkhus went out on alms round. He was the last to reach sotapanna, the first stage of arahanthood. He became an arahant, together with the others, at the preaching of the Anattalakkhana Sutra.[1]

Conversion of Sariputta and Mahamoggallana

Assaji was on alms round in Rajagaha, when Sariputta in his search for enlightenment, spotted him. Being impressed by Assaji's demeanour, Sariputta followed him until he had finished his alms round. After Assaji sat down, Sariputta asked him about his teacher and the teaching he followed. Initially, Assaji was reluctant to preach, explaining that he was inexperienced, but relented at the urging of Sariputta. Assaji spoke a short verse:

Sariputta comprehended, gaining sotapanna, the first stage of arahanthood after hearing the teachings, which implied the Four Noble Truths. He went off to tell Mahamoggallana, his friend since childhood that he had been successful in his search for enlightenment. Both then became bhikkhus in the sangha and went on to become the two chief disciples of the Buddha.[4]

Assaji was highly venerated by Sariputta, and in whichever quarter Assaji was residing, Sariputta would extend his clasped hands in an attitude of reverent supplication in the direction, as well as turning his head when he lay down to sleep in the direction.[1]

One day when Assaji was going through Vesali for alms, the Nigantha Saccaka, who was looking for ascetics to debate, questioned him regarding the Buddha's Dharma because Assaji was a prominent disciple (ñātaññatara-sāvaka). Assaji delivered a summary of the doctrine contained in the Anattalakkhana Sutta. Confident of his ability to refute these views, Saccaka went with a large concourse of Licchavis to the Buddha and questioned him. This was the occasion for the preaching of the Cula-Saccaka Sutta.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Assaji". Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  2. "Pancavaggiya". Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  3. "Anna Kondanna". Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  4. "The Life of Sariputta". Buddhist Publication Society. 2006-09-23. Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 


Historical people list

Historical people

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Masao Abe Robert Baker Aitken Ron Allen (playwright) B. R. Ambedkar Ananda
Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero Angulimala Aniruddha Mahathera Anuruddha Nauyane Ariyadhamma Mahathera
Aryadeva Asai Ryōi Assaji Atiśa Nisthananda Bajracharya
Benimadhab Barua Joko Beck Sanjaya Belatthiputta Charles Henry Allan Bennett Hubert Benoit (psychotherapist)
John Blofeld Bodhidharma Edward Espe Brown Polwatte Buddhadatta Thera Buddhaghosa
Acharya Buddharakkhita Marie Byles Ajahn Chah Rerukane Chandawimala Thero Channa
Chokgyur Lingpa Edward Conze L. S. Cousins Brian Cutillo 1st Dalai Lama
2nd Dalai Lama 3rd Dalai Lama 4th Dalai Lama 5th Dalai Lama 6th Dalai Lama
7th Dalai Lama 8th Dalai Lama 9th Dalai Lama 10th Dalai Lama 11th Dalai Lama
12th Dalai Lama 13th Dalai Lama Bidia Dandaron Alexandra David-Néel Marian Derby
Devadatta U Dhammaloka K. Sri Dhammananda Dharmaditya Dharmacharya Dharmakirti
Dharmapala of Nalanda Anagarika Dharmapala Dharmottara Dignāga Dōgen
Dongchu Dongshan Liangjie Khakyab Dorje, 15th Karmapa Lama Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama
Heinrich Dumoulin Düsum Khyenpa, 1st Karmapa Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Walter Evans-Wentz Family of Gautama Buddha
Frederick Franck Gampopa Gelek Rimpoche Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel Gorampa
Maha Pajapati Mahapajapati Mahapajapati Gotami Rita Gross Gurulugomi
Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo Tsangpa Gyare Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso Dolpopa
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen Gyeongbong Han Yong-un Thich Nhat Hanh Walisinghe Harischandra
Eugen Herrigel Ernő Hetényi Marie Musaeus Higgins Raicho Hiratsuka Shin'ichi Hisamatsu
Hsuan Hua Huiyuan (Buddhist) Christmas Humphreys K. N. Jayatilleke 2nd Jebtsundamba Khutughtu
9th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu Jeongang Kadawedduwe Jinavamsa Mahathera Ken Jones (Buddhist) David Kalupahana
Dainin Katagiri Katyayana (Buddhist) Bob Kaufman Kaundinya Jack Kerouac
Bogd Khan Khema Ayya Khema Dilgo Khentse Dilgo Khyentse
King Suppabuddha Jamgon Kongtrul Kukkuripa Kumar Kashyap Mahasthavir Kunkhyen Pema Karpo
Drukpa Kunley Trevor Leggett Arthur Lillie Karma Lingpa Robert Linssen
Longchenpa John Daido Loori Albert Low Luipa Taizan Maezumi
Mahakasyapa Mahākāśyapa Mahamoggallana Mahasi Sayadaw Jyotipala Mahathera
Nagasena Mahathera S. Mahinda Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera Marpa Lotsawa Peter Matthiessen
Maudgalyayana Maya (mother of Buddha) Maya (mother of the Buddha) Gustav Meyrink Edward Salim Michael
Milarepa Mingun Sayadaw Sōkō Morinaga Hiroshi Motoyama Mun Bhuridatta
Myokyo-ni Nagarjuna Nagasena Soen Nakagawa Bhikkhu Nanamoli
Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera Nanavira Thera Nanda Naropa Nichiren
Kitaro Nishida Gudō Wafu Nishijima Nyanaponika Nyanaponika Thera Nyanatiloka
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Paramanuchitchinorot Pema Lingpa Prajñāvarman Punna Rāhula
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