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Arahant Mahakachchayana 1

Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Highest Self—Enlightened One!

Pali Kanon

Published: 2015-08-22

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One of the most eminent disciples of the Buddha, considered chief among expounders in full of the brief saying of the Buddha, (sankhittena bhasitassa vittharena attham vibhajantanam) (A.i.23). He was born at Ujjeni in the family of the chaplain of King Candappajjota, and was called Kaccana both because of his golden colour and because Kaccana was the name of his gotta. He studied the Vedas, and, on the death of his father, succeeded him as chaplain. With seven others he visited the Buddha, at the request of Candappajjota, to invite him to come to Ujjeni. Kaccana and his friends listened to the Buddha’s sermon, and having attained arahantship, joined the order. He then conveyed the king’s invitation to the Buddha, who pointed out that it would now suffice if Kaccana himself returned to Ujjeni.

Kaccana accordingly set out for Ujjeni with his seven companions, accepting alms on the way at the house of a very poor girl of Telappanali, who later became Candappajjota’s queen. For details see Telappanali.

Arrived in Ujjeni, Kaccana lived in the royal park, where the king showed him all honour. He preached constantly to the people, and, attracted by his discourses, numerous persons joined the Order, so that the whole city was one blaze of orange robes. It is said that after having duly established the sasana in Avanti, Kaccana returned once more to the Buddha. (Thus, the explanation of the Madhupindika Sutta was given at Kapilavatthu). Candappajjota consulted him on various occasions, and among the verses attributed to him in the Theragatha (Thag.vss.494 501), are several addressed to the king himself.

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It was in the time of Padumuttara Buddha that Kaccana had made his resolve to win the eminence he did, after listening to Padumuttara’s praise of a monk, also named Kaccana, for similar proficiency. Kaccana was then a vijjadhara, and offered the Buddha three kanikara flowers. So says the Apadana ii.463, but ThagA. says he was a vijjadhara in the time of Sumedha Buddha. In the time of Kassapa Buddha he was a householder of Benares, and offered a golden brick, worth one hundred thousand, to the cetiya which was being built over the Buddha’s remains, and then made a vow that in future births his body should be golden (ThagA.i.483f.; AA.i.117f).

According to the Apadana (Ap.ii.465), Kaccana’s father was called Tiritivaccha (or Tidivavaccha), and his mother Candapaduma. There is another account of Maha Kaccana in the Apadana (A.i.84f), in which it is said that in the time of Padumuttara Buddha he built a yandhakuti named Paduma in the shape of a lotus and covered with lotus flowers, and that thirty kappas later he became king under the name of Pabhassara.

Three suttas are mentioned (AA.i.118) as having obtained for Kaccana his title of eminence — the Madhupindika, the Kaccayana and the Parayana; several instances are given of people seeking Maha Kaccana’s assistance, for a detailed explanation of something said in brief by the Buddha — e.g., Haliddikani, Kali, Samiddhi, Uttara and Valliya (see also A.iii.314, 321; v. 225; M.iii.223). Among Kaccana’s pupils and followers and those who consulted him were Sonakutikanna, Isidatta, Avantiputta, Lohicca, Aramadanda, and Kandarayana.

In Avanti, Kaccana is said to have stayed, not in the king’s park, where he lived soon after his return from the Buddha, but chiefly in the Kuraraghara papata (E.g., S.iii.9; A.v.46; Ud.v.6; Vin.i.194; DhA.iv.101) and in a hut in Makkarakata forest. S.iv.116; see also VvA.259, according to which he stayed near Potali.

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Mention is also made of his staying at Varana on the bank of Kaddamadaha (A.i.65); at the Gundavana in Madhura (A.i.67; M.ii.83); at Tapoda in Rajagaha (A.iii.192), in Soreyya (DhA.i.325; for a curious incident connected with Kaccana’s visit see Soreyya), and in Kosambi (PvA. 140). According to Dvy. (551, 585, 586) he also stayed in Roruka.

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It is said (DhA.ii.176) that even when Kaccana was living at Avanti, a long distance away, he went regularly to hear the Buddha preach, and when the chief theras took their places in the assembly, they always left room for him. On one such occasion Sakka showed him great honour, falling at his feet, and the Buddha explained that this was because Maha Kaccana kept his senses well guarded.

The Majjhima Commentary (MA.ii.854) records a curious story in reference to Kaccana. Vassakara, minister of Ajatasattu, saw Kaccana descending Gijjhakūta and said he looked like a monkey. The Buddha read Vassakara’s thoughts, and warned him that after death he would be born as a monkey in Veluvana. He believed the Buddha, and made provision in Veluvana for his future comfort as monkey. And this be did indeed become, living in Veluvana and answering to the name of Vassakara!

Kaccana is identified with the charioteer in the Kurudhamma Jataka (J.276), and with Devala in the Sarabhanga Jataka (J.522).

According to tradition, Kaccana was the author of the Nettippakarana, the Pali grammar bearing his name, and of the Petakopadesa. It is probable that these works were the compilations of a school, which traced its descent to Maha Kaccana.

May all be happy and well!


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