Two) 16. An Attempt to Discredit the Buddha
the twentieth year of the Buddha's ministry, two important events
took place. The first of these was the conversion of the bandit
Angulimala. The second happened at Savatthi, where some jealous
ascetics tried to discredit the Buddha. This is the story of
the second event.
Buddha and his disciples were famous and respected religious
teachers at Savatthi. Large numbers of people from the area
came regularly to listen to their sermons and to offer them
not all the people of Savatthi were followers of the Buddha.
There were many ascetics in the area who believed that their
teachings were superior. These other leaders were very jealous
when they saw more and more people going to the Buddha and his disciples
to offer alms and gifts of robes and medicine. Soon, overcome
by jealousy, they decided to do something about it.
Savatthi there was a female wandering ascetic by the name of
Sundari. She was young in age and bad in character. The ascetics
planned to attack the character and reputation of the Buddha
and the monks through this female ascetic.
you must try to help us do something about the Buddha,"
they told her. "He is attracting supporters away from
can I do for you?" Sundari asked.
can help us by visiting the Jeta's Grove regularly to find out
as much as you can about the Buddha. Find us a way we may try
to win the people back to support us."
visited the Jeta's Grove regularly to spy on the Buddha. She
did not know the real purpose an evil one of the
ascetics in asking her to go there. After a time, the ascetics
became sure that many people had seen Sundari going regularly
to the Jeta's Grove. They killed her and buried her in a nearby
ditch. They then went to King Pasenadi of Kosala and reported
that Sundari was missing and was last seen with the Buddha.
do you suspect she is?" asked the king.
may still be in the Jeta's Grove, Great King," they replied.
"We are worried because she has never been known to remain
very long after the Buddha has finished giving his sermon."
king said, "Then you must go immediately to search for
ascetics pretended to search for Sundari in the Jeta's Grove.
After searching for some time, they went to the spot where they
had buried her and dug up her body. Placing the corpse on a
stretcher, they carried it back to Savatthi. All the way they
shouted angrily at the top of their voices, "See Lords,
see the work of these monks who call themselves holy people.
They are shameless and wicked liars. See what they have done.
They have committed sexual misconduct with poor Sundari and
then they have killed her to hide their crimes."
Buddha's disciples became frightened by these accusations and
did not know what to do, but the Buddha calmly told them to
control their fears. There was nothing to be frightened about,
since they were innocent of the crime.
Buddha advised them, "The people will accuse you and scold
you, but you will do nothing except to recite these words: 'Those
who lie and those who deny what they have done are equal in
their evil deeds and both suffer.' Then be patient. The people
will see how calm you are and will grow tired of scolding you. Within
seven days, the shouting and accusations will subside."
disciples heeded the Buddha's advice and people soon began to
ask each other why the Buddha and his disciples were so calm.
Then they remembered that the Buddha and his disciples were
virtuous and that they had never been known to commit any evil crime.
"Someone else must have murdered poor Sundari!" they
cried. "It's impossible that such compassionate religious
teachers could have done it." In the end, the shouting
stopped and the Buddha used this incident to give some advice
to his disciples on how to endure abuse with patience: "When
harsh words are spoken to a bhikkhu, let him endure with an
some time, the king discovered that the very ascetics who had
warned of the evil deeds had committed the crime. When they
were brought before the king, they confessed their crimes in
public and were punished accordingly. After the incident the
Buddha and his disciples became more honoured and respected