was born in a village in Magadha at southern India. His father
was a noted Brahmin scholar. When his mother conceived him,
she had extraordinary wisdom, which was believed to be influenced
by the baby in her womb. Even her younger brother, also a noted
scholar, was defeated in every discussion with her. Knowing
that his sister conceived a baby who would become a man of great
wisdom, he left home to search for more knowledge so as not
to be outdone by his nephew in future.
the age of eight, Sariputra was able to understand all the books
he read. Once, a wealthy man held a banquet to entertain the
king, the princes, ministers and scholars. The eight-year-old
Sariputra was also one of the invited guests. He impressed everyone
at the banquet with his eloquent speech and great wisdom. The
king was so pleased that he awarded a village to Sariputra.
young Sariputra was a handsome scholar who enjoyed great reputation
in the academic field. When he was twenty years old, he left
his home and began to search for Truth. He actually became a
disciple of a Brahmin scholar, and Mogallana was his best classmate.
Both of them later decided to leave their teacher as they felt
that he could not satisfy their quest for knowledge. They then
set up a study group and recruited students on their own. Sariputra
and Mogallana shared a common ambition of a search for the Truth.
However, they both thought their wisdom was peerless and no
one could qualify to be their teacher.
day, while walking on the street, Sariputra chanced to see Venerable
Assaji, one of Buddha's first five disciples. Venerable Assaji
had attained Arahatship after several years of practices. His
impressive and dignified manner attracted the attention of Sariputra,
who then approached him and inquired his name, who his teacher
was and what his teacher taught.
Assaji replied, "My name is Assaji and my teacher is Sakyamuni
Buddha. He always teaches us that 'all things arise and fall
according to causes and conditions', and he also says that 'all
things are impermanent and will finally extinguish'."
heard the words of Venerable Assaji, Sariputra suddenly saw
the light and all his doubts about the universe were dismissed.
He decided to pay a visit to the Buddha.
happy Sariputra returned home and told Mogallana about his encounter
that day. Mogallana was moved to tears, for at last they had
found a true teacher. The next day, together with their two
hundred students, they went to Venuvana (Bamboo-grove) and became
the Buddha's disciples.
With The Heretics
trusted Sariputra very much after the latter became His disciple.
Once, Buddha assigned Sariputra to propagate Dharma in the northern
part of the country and at the same time, to supervise the construction
of Jetavana Vihara. Jetavana was actually a park belonged to
Prince Jeta. Anathapindika, a wealthy elder, brought it from
the prince and gave it to the Buddha for the use by the Sangha.
then was not popular in the north and heretical groups could
be found everywhere. The heretics were jealous of the development
of the Buddha Dharma when the construction of Jetavana began.
They asked Anathapindika not to build the monastery for the
Buddha and even talked him to betray Buddha. Being a devoted
follower of the Buddha Dharma, Anathapindika simply ignored
the heretics. With the hope to defeating the Buddha Dharma,
the heretics decided to hold an open polemic with Sariputra.
Sariputra gladly accepted their challenge as he considered it
a very good opportunity to propagate the Buddha's Teachings.
the polemic, Sariputra alone debated with a panel of heretics.
In the end, the well-read Sariputra, who was also an expert
in heretical books and records, defeated the heretics. As a
result, many people, including some of the heretics, were converted
Past Life : Giving Of His Eyes
sixty aeons ago, Sariputra vowed to practise the way of Bodhisattva
and offer alms to the needy. He was willing to give away all
his property, even his body and life.
day, a deva disguised himself as a young man to test Sariputra's
determination to practise the Right Way. He cried sadly when
he saw Sariputra walking towards him. Sariputra approached him
and asked what had happened. "My mother is suffering from
an incurable disease and the physician said that in order to
cure her disease, an eyeball of a monk is needed to decoct medicinal
herbs. But where can I find a monk's eyeball?" replied
the young man who was still crying sadly.
thought since he himself was a monk, why not offer one of his
eyeballs to the young man? Besides, he would still be able to
see with the other eye. Therefore, despite the pain, Sariputra
dug out his left eyeball and gave it to the young man. However,
the young man exclaimed: " Oh no! The physician said that
only the right eyeball can cure my mother."
was very shocked to hear that, but he only blamed himself for
not asking the young man before digging out his eyeball. Determined
to help the young man, Sariputra bravely dug out his right eyeball.
Without thanking Sariputra, the young man took the eyeball and
smelled it. Then he threw it on the ground and scolded Sariputra:
"Your eyeball is very smelly! How can it be used to decoct
medicinal herbs for my mother? "After that, he even trampled
on the eyeball.
Sariputra could not see, he could still hear. He then thought:
"It is difficult to save all beings and be a Bodhisattva.
I think I'd better concentrate on the practice of self-salvation!"
then many devas appeared in the sky. They said to Sariputra:
"Don't be dejected. What has just happened is merely our
arrangement to test your determination to practise the way of
a bodhisattva. You should bravely progress and continue your
hearing that, Sariputra resumed his compassion to save others.
For the next sixty aeons, he never stopped his spiritual practice.
During the lifetime when he met Buddha, he not only achieved
enlightenment but also attained divine vision.
Sariputra, who had great wisdom and divine power, was a chief
disciple of the Buddha, he always followed and obeyed the Buddha's
all His disciples, Buddha trusted Sariputra the most. When His
son, Rahula, joined the Sangha, Buddha asked Sariputra to be
day, Rahula followed Sariputra to beg for food and returned
to the monastery with a sulky look. When Buddha asked him why
he was unhappy, the young Rahula replied resentfully, "Buddha!
When we are out to beg for food, the devotees always give food
to the elder monks and to the younger monks like us, they usually
offer food with no nutritious value. But everyone needs food
to maintain his health. And our elders never take care of us
when they receive the good food."
Buddha knew very well that nutritious food was necessary to
maintain health, and a healthy body was very important to monks
for if they were weak, they would not be able to concentrate
on their meditation practice. However, the Buddha lectured Rahula
for being too concerned about food when he should pay attention
to his meditation practice.
Rahula had left, Sariputra was called to see the Buddha. "
Sariputra, do you know that you have eaten "unclean"
food today?" asked the Buddha.
quickly threw up the food taken on that day and said: "Lord
Buddha, ever since I became you disciple, I have always been
following the rules of begging set by you and never dare to
accept any "unclean" food."
then explained: "Sariputra, I know you have been observing
the rules of conduct, but one cannot just mind his own business
in the Sangha. Rules should be fair to everyone and the benefits
should be equally distributed. It is the responsibility of the
elders to take good care of the younger monks, even when begging
was not angry at all after hearing that. Instead, he gratefully
accepted the teachings of the Buddha.
had always been enthusiastic in Dharma propagation but he never
fussed about personal material comforts and reputation.
the Buddha and His disciples returned to the monastery after
a public discourse. However, the group of six corrupt monks
arrived at the Jetavana Grove before the others and occupied
the best seats and beds, and even Sariputra's room.
later returned and saw his room being occupied by others. He
had no choice but to spend the night meditating under a tree.
Buddha realized what had happened the next morning, He called
the monks together and said: "Bhikkhus, you should respect
the Elders in the Dharma, then you will be praised by others
in this life and be born in the upper realms in future lives.
Bhikkhus, there is no class or hierarchy in the Dharma, but
you should respect, serve and make offerings to the Elders.
Therefore, the elders should be giving first choice regarding
seats and beds, as well as food and drink." Everyone understood
why Buddha said that, and Sariputra was grateful to the Buddha.
was never tired of travelling far to teach even when he was
nearly eighty years old. One day, shortly after he left the
monastery, a monk said to the Buddha: "Lord Buddha, Sariputra
did not really go out to preach. He actually decided to go travelling
because he had insulted me and was feeling rather sorry for
immediately called Sariputra back to clarify the matter. In
front of everybody, Sariputra answered with great respect:"
Lord Buddha! Ever since I became you disciple, I have never
lied or argued with others on personal gains or losses. Everyday,
I repent and meditate. My mind is as clear as the water and
never have I harboured thoughts of resentment. How will I despise
Buddha! The earth can endure humiliation best as it can accept
all dirty things. My mind, just like the earth, is willing to
Buddha! The clear water can cleanse everything, be it good or
bad. My mind, just like the water, bears no thoughts of hate
Buddha! When the broom is used to sweep up the dust, it never
chooses between good and bad. Similarly, my mind has no likes
Buddha! Abiding by right mindfulness, I will never look down
on other monks. If I am really in the wrong, I will repent to
was deeply moved by Sariputra's words. The Buddha then lectured
the monk who slandered Sariputra and asked him to repent to
Sariputra. Feeling rather ashamed, that monk knelt before Sariputra.
Sariputra kindly patted that monk's head and said:" Bhikkhu!
To err is human. But it is a virtue to correct an error when
one becomes aware of it. I accept your repentance." It
is thus obvious that the large-minded Sariputra never haggled
with opponents and foes.
Harmed By Mara
Sariputra entered the stage of Vajrasamadhi (the last stage
of Bodhisattva) at Grdhrakuta (a mountain near Rajagrha), Mara
saw him. Thinking that monks were weak and vulnerable, the Mara
gave Sariputra a punch on the head. Sariputra, however, felt
as if a leaf had fallen on his head. When he opened his eyes,
he saw a Mara, whose body was covered with blood, falling into
a matter of fact, Vajrasamadhi is characterized by indestructive
power. That was why when Sariputra was in state of Vajrasamadhi,
the powerful Mara could not harm him. Instead, due to the evil
intention against Sariputra, the Mara had to sink into degradation
and suffer forever. As Sariputra always wandered in the states
of Samadhi and Vajrasamadhi, he could not be harmed
at all by external disasters.
Buddha announced that He would be entering Parinirvana after
three months, everyone was very sad, Sariputra could not bear
to see Buddha enter into the final Nirvana and he thought: "In
the past, the chief disciples of all Buddhas entered Nirvana
before their masters did. As a chief disciple of the Buddha,
I should also enter Nirvana before Buddha."So he asked
the Buddha's permission to enter Nirvana first. After some explanation,
he finally got the Buddha's consent and they prepared to return
to his hometown to enter Nirvana.
Sariputra left, Buddha gathered all disciples to say farewell
to him. Sariputra said to Buddha: "Lord Buddha! For the
past forty years, I have been guided by your compassionate teachings,
therefore I am able to understand the Truth and to attain enlightenment.
No word can describe my happiness and gratitude. I am glad that
I have been able to learn the Buddha Dharma which leads me to
attain liberation from all sufferings and enter Nirvana. Before
I leave, Buddha, please accept my reverence." Sariputra
prostrated himself in front of the Buddha. The atmosphere then
was filled with solemnity and silence.
said: "Sariputra! I predict one day you will become a Buddha
by the name of Pamaprabha. You will come to this world again
to save all living beings and achieve the highest state of Buddhahood."
that everyone sent Sariputra off. Many of the monks were so
sad that they could not help shedding tears.
said to those who were sending him off, "The appearance
of the Buddha in this world is as rare as the blooming of Udumbara
tree which happens once in thousands and millions of years.
Our human body is hard to come by. So is the Buddha Dharma.
But in this present life, we not only become monks but also
personally listen to Buddha's teachings, which is very rare
indeed. I hope all of you practise Dharma diligently so to achieve
that this was Sariputra's last discourse, everyone was very
sad and asked, "Venerable sir, you are the chief disciple
of the Buddha and elder of all the monks. The propagation and
development of the Buddha Dharma in future still needs you.
Why would you want to enter Nirvana so soon?"
replied, "Don't be sad. Has the Buddha not always told
us this is an impermanent world? Death is a fact of life. I
hope you can continue on in your Dharma practice, until you
are free from all sufferings. I also hope you strive to spread
the Dharma and work for the well being of the people. In future,
as long as beings wished to be free of suffering and attain
the final happiness of Nirvana, they will come forward to prolong
the wisdom-life of the Buddhas."
was very touched by what Sariputra had said. After bidding farewell,
Sariputra, together with Kunti (his devoted disciple), began
his journey home. Seeing him off, the monks shed tears of sorrow
as they knew they would never be able to see Sariputra again.
thoughts surged in Sariputra's mind when he was on his way home.
But he felt that brightness was just before him.
Sariputra reached his home, his mother was so glad that tears
started to roll down her face, simply because her son had not
been home for a long time. However, his mother and family were
very shocked to learn that Sariputra had returned home for the
purpose of entering Nirvana. So Sariputra said, "Don't
worry. This is different from the normal death. I accept and
practise the teachings of my master, Buddha and have already
attained liberation. As a matter of fact, nobody in this world
can escape death. I an indeed fortunate to be able to enter
the state of Nirvana with a clear mind. You ought to be happy
news that Sariputra had returned to enter Nirvana quickly spread
through the village. Though it was in the middle of the night,
villagers who had taken refuge in the Buddha before, and even
King Ajatasatru from Rajagrha and his ministers, had gathered
at Sariputra's house, all wishing to pay their respect to the
Venerable and listen to his last teachings. They waited quietly
outside Sariputra's room until the next morning when Kunti informed
them that Sariputra wanted to see them. They then happily gathered
in Sariputra's room.
said to the crowd, "For the past forty years, I have been
following the teachings of my master, Lord Buddha, and have
either preached at various places or learned the Dharma under
the Buddha's guidance. I feel very much indebted to my great
teacher, Lord Buddha. Though I feel ashamed for not being able
to fully comprehend. His profound teachings, I do understand
Buddha's compassion towards all living beings. I practise His
teachings diligently and have also attained enlightenment. I
hope you can understand that it is a rare opportunity to meet
the Buddha. Therefore, you should learn and practise His teachings
accordingly. Sariputra went into deep meditation and then entered
the bliss of Nirvana.
Sariputra had entered Nirvana for seven days, Kunti cremated
his body and brought his relics to the Buddha.
Buddha took the relics of Sariputra from Kunti and said to all
monks, "Bhikkhus! This is Sariputra whose wisdom is profound
and great. He realised the Truth and practised Dharma accordingly.
He also strived to propagate the Dharma for the sake of the
people. He had already attained liberation from all sufferings.
Just look, Bhikkhus! This is the relics of a Buddha's son!"
respect, all the monks prostrated themselves before the relics