> Digital Library > Multimedia
Documentation > Jataka Stories > The
Story of Moggallana
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|090 - Moggallana|
popularly known as Maha Moggallana in the Pali tradition, was one of the
two chief disciples of the Buddha. He was ordained along with Sariputta;
and on the same day the Buddha, too, had declared that they were the Chief
Disciples. As Sariputta was best known for his wisdom, Moggallana was
best known for the possession of the supernatural powers. For example,
he was capable of creating manifold living shapes; and assuming any form.
Further, he shook the monastery called Migaramatupasada by the touch of
his great toe to warn some monks who were gossiping on the ground floor
despite the knowledge that the Buddha was upstairs.
Moggallana was born on
the same day when Sariputta was born. He derived his name from his mother
who was called Moggali (or Moggallani). He was also called Kolita, which
was the name of his village. The friendship between the families of
Moggallana and Sariputta existed for seven generations; and the two were
the friends since their childhood. Once, the two friends went to see a
mime-play (giraggasamajja) and
realised through the play that the “world itself is a drama” as “all
the worldly things are impermanent”. This realisation made them renounce
the world. First, they became the disciples of Sanjaya; and when
dissatisfied with his teachings they wandered all over the Indian
subcontinent to discuss with the scholars of the time. Eventually, not
being satisfied by them they separated with the understanding that each
would inform the other of any worthy discovery.
So, when Sariputta heard a discourse of Assaji, a disciple of the Buddha, he was impressed with his doctrine and became a Sotapanna. He then went to Moggallana to inform him of his discovery; who in turn also became a Sotapanna, soon after hearing the teaching of the Buddha. The two then marched to the Buddha along with five hundred disciples of Sanjaya. They all met the Buddha and heard his discourse and became the arahatas but for the two, Moggallana and Sariputta. Moggallana then went to the hamlet of Kallavala in Magadha and a week after his ordination he, too, attained a high stage of trance, where he received the exhortation of the Buddha and finally achieved the arahatahood.
and Sariputta on the foot of the Buddha
(Courtesy: Sakyamuni: An Exhibition of Rare Thankas Central
Institute of Buddhist Studies Choglamsar Leh; p.20)
demonstration of the great supernatural power was best exemplified in the
subjugation of the great serpent called the Naga Nandopananda, as he could
enter the fourth stage of the trance most quickly.
When there was a
schism in the Order engendered by Devadatta, the Buddha sent the two chief
disciples to Gayasisa to bring back the misguided monks. Both the monks
accomplished their task by bringing back all the five hundred monks to the
order. If Sariputta was the preceptor of Rahula (the son of the Buddha);
Moggallana was his teacher. Both Sariputta and Moggallana had a mutual
request for each other. Moggallana died a fortnight after Sariputta on a
new moon night.
Moggallana’s end was
pathetic as he was beaten and killed by the brigands in his cell in
Kalasila. He then crawled and dragged his body with several crushed bones
to the Buddha and sought his leave to depart from the world. According to
the tradition the cause of his pathetic end was due to his gross
misconduct against his old, senile and blind parents in one of his births,
as he had undertaken the ill-advice of his wife to carry them to a forest
and to beat them to death. He had followed that advice out of his
infatuation during that birth. As no one can escape the fruits of the karma,
he too had his death in the similar way in his current birth.
Moggallana is identified with numerous characters in the Jataka tales, e.g., Kisavaccha in the Indriya Jataka, the tortoise in the Kurungamiga Jataka, the tiger in the Tittira Jataka, the Garuda king in the Vidhurapandita Jataka and so on.
Copyright IGNCA© 2002