11. Mata Pitu Upatthanam
To Honour, Respect, Support And Attend To Parents Is Most Blissful.
Ministering to parents is one of the sterling qualities of man. The Lord laid particular stress on the practice of this virtue on many occasions. In the observance of rules relating to His Order, no act of ministering by the bhikkhus to lay-men is permitted, yet in the case of ministering to parents, the Lord Buddha not only encouraged it, but made it a necessity to attend to the needs of their parents. From this instance, we can gather how pressing is the attention of parents, that it becomes the immediate duty of every man and woman to render all the assistance to their parents.
They are not to fail in this duty bound by their birth to their parents who in their love are ever watchful over their safety and well being. They took care of them through the time of their young and carefree days; with whatever care, love and sacrifice they have. No poverty or wealth is of any deterrent to the love and sacrifice a mother has for her tender ones. She is the potent guardian seeking no gain or honour but so pure and noble in her love, that she gives her life for the sole protection of her frail little child. This display of strong maternal love is also evident among the animals.
How, then, could it be justified for anyone to absolutely neglect their duties towards their parents at a time when they are so dependent upon the care and support of their children. It is the time when they should seriously reflect on the fore-going obligations that as age and care have their hold on their parents, it then becomes primarily their duties to give their helping hand to their parents.
May all those who look well after their parents, continue their good mission, gathering strength from day to day, and thus bring about their noblest virtue by ministering to their parents.
Venerable Sariputta Thera, the chief disciple of the Lord Buddha, knew that his time was near; His mortal life was drawing close to its journey’s end and the vision of Pari-Nibbana became manifested to him. It was on this point of his reflection that it dawned upon him his final duty to repay the many debts of gratitude lie owed to his mother. His choice on the place of his Pari-Nibbana then was to be settled in the residence of his mother.
Lady Sari was a very fortunate woman to be the mother of seven Arahants, the greatest among whom was the Ven.Sariputta. Her belief was the worship of Brahma, and to this end she spared her entire devotion to the utter neglect of seeking the real refuge in the Triple Gem.
It was also Ven.Sariputta’s desire to win her faith in the Triple Gem, that made him sought that very place, wherein his Pari-Nibbana may be gained. Ven. Sariputta made his last request to the Lord Buddha about his Pari-Nibbana to be at the house of his mother, as the last homage to be accorded to her. It was a great hour when the chief disciple in deep reverence having paid his last respects to the Lord Buddha and taking his leave, accompanied by his five hundred followers, he walked slowly away.
Jetavana Temple was alive with a large crowd of devotees and people came to see the Ven. Sariputta Thera. It was a scene with heavy atmosphere of solemnity and sad-ness for with the free offering of flowers and food, they paid their last respects to him. They cried in grief for with the departure of their beloved teacher, the Ven. Sariputta, all was ended for them. Like bleating lambs after their mother-sheep, this huge congregation of men followed their teacher for a long distance until the Ven. Sariputta gave them his final blessing and advised them to be heedful and diligent in their conduct. He then turned to go on his journey homeward together with his five hundred followers.
On the way, thousands of men and women were fortunate enough to hear the deliverance of the Dhamma by the Ven. Sariputta. On the seventh day, he reached the city and rested under the cool shade of a banyan tree. Here he was met by his nephew Uparevata who paid him due respect. Ven. Sariputta requested his nephew to inform his mother of his coming and that arrangement be made for the accommodation of his five hundred followers.
When the news came to Lady Sari, she received it with mixed feelings of joy and surprise, and with motherly love, she thought of her son who, perhaps with advanced age, considered it necessary to disrobe himself. So, hastily she sent people to extend her welcome to his homecoming. Having set foot in his mother’s house, Ven. Sariputta proceeded straight to the room where he was born. He was soon laid up in bed suffering from acute diarrhoea and the Ven. Cunda Thera was in attendance all the time.
The mother greatly alarmed at her son’s sudden illness, came Pear to the room where her son was, to see what assistance she could render. A strange vision met her wondering eyes. She saw four figures with shining light radiating their whole personalities going in and out of the room. A short while after the first apparition, there appeared another figure brilliantly lit about his whole person, standing before the Ven. Sariputta and then moved away again. His place was taken by another figure of great bearing and with a greater array of light in glowing brilliance issuing forth from his body. He also stood for some time and left.
Still wondering and perplexed by the strange vision she had seen earlier, she enquired Ven. Cunda about the visitors and their strange mission. Ven. Cunda went near to the great Thera and informed him about the presence of his mother.
The Ven. Sariputta knew the time was opportune to have his mother realise the truth about the Lord’s Dhamma and calmly the Great Thera spoke to Lady Sari:-
“What has brought you here at this hour of the night?”
Lady Sari, her mind fixed on the well-being of her noble son and kindled still with that affection and love of a great mother, said softly:-
“Dear son, the only joy to warm my heart is to see you well and happy. Tell me, O! Son, what ails you, and what is your present state of health. Tell me, too, O! Son, the mission of your four noble guests, whose glowing light lit up this room you are sleeping in.”
The Ven. Sariputta replied, “It is the presence of the four chief devas of the Catumaharajika Heaven who came to pay their homage.”
“O! Dear son great is the respect they accord thee. Art thou higher in thy virtue whereby these devas pay their humble homage?
“O! Upasika, the four personalities thou glorify are the four guardians who with their drawn swords kept gracious guard over the Lord, the Buddha, from the very day of his confinement in His mother’s womb.”
“Then, dear son, who is the one who appeared next after them?”
“O! Upasika, he is Sakka, the king of devas. “
“O! Dear son, do thou in thy loftiness stand higher than this Sakka, the king of devas?”
“O! Upasika Sakka in thy esteem is like a Samanera (precept holder of lower ordination) whose glowing tribute is his attendance to a Bhikkhu. He was in attendance to our Lord, carrying his robes when He descended from the Tavatimsa Heaven.”
“Then O! Son, who is the great shining personality, whose brilliant light radiating forth, is greater than the moon-beam that casts upon this room?”
“O! Upasika, He is your blessed teacher Maha Brahma whom in thy devotion made most sincere.”
“O! Dear son, do thou in thy excellence outshine the grandeur of my blessed teacher Maha Brahma?”
“O! Upasika, Maha Brahma great in thy exaltation, is no other than the one who with outspread net received our Lord Buddha when He was born.”
There was silence. Lady Sari beamed with immense joy even though she did not know, what her son’s supreme attainment was that surpassed the greatness of her most blessed teacher, the Maha Brahma. Then Ven. Sariputta knew that her time was near to bring home the truth of the Lord’s doctrine.
“O! Upasika, what is it that weighs in your mind now that this silence brings?”
“O! Dear son, I have known no greater joy than this realisation brings forth that my son strives for that great enlightenment with wonderous achievement, it places me in deep wonder what greater exaltation could his teacher be disposed to.”
“O! Upasika, there is no comparison to bring forth the greatness of the most Exalted One, our Lord Buddha, for this great earth tremored and quaked with tremendous force to herald the time of His birth: His great renunciation; His supreme Enlightenment and His first deliverance of the sermon on the “Turning of the Wheel of the Law.”
Throughout the expanse of the whole universe, no greater one ever lived, who can be likened unto Him, that in so far they become matchless in which He excelled, in virtue, compassion and wisdom; a gateway to eternal bliss free from the bondage of lust, hate and ignorance.”
Lady Sari saw the new vision of truth on the nobility of Buddha Ratna (Gem of Buddha) and she attained the fruits of the first Path, Sotapatti. She exclaimed, “0! Dear son, Upatissa, why have I waited so long yet now only taste the bliss of truth, whereby I gain the complete freedom that is eternal.”
Another dawn of day broke the eastern sky, a day so young yet pregnant and full, waiting the passing away of the Great Aharant. All the five hundred followers assembled in the early hour, many with sorrowful hearts and the time came fast to a close. The last parting words rang out once more, the humbleness of the Great Thera, Sariputta, soliciting their forgiveness for any failings of his that occurred to them throughout their forty-four years of loyal service to him. Lying on his right side, the Great Arahant, the chief disciple of the Lord Buddha, attained Pari-Nibbana.
Just that! *smile*
BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_