thousands of Buddha's disciples, Purna was well-known as,
"pre-eminent in preaching." Purna is the shorter
term of "Purnamaitrayaniputra" which means boundless
preaching and compassion.
came from a rich and happy family. He was very much loved
by his parents. However, Purna felt that all the love and
wealth in this world were temporary so he bid farewell to
his relatives and took refuge in the Buddha. He vowed to
spread the truth to salvage sentient beings.
Widely Spread the Buddha Dharma
was very enthusiastic in his preaching. He was not afraid
of difficulties when there were opportunities of spreading
the Dharma. Once, while he walked past a forest, he saw
a few bhikkhus practising alone so he said, " Fellow
bhikkhus! We are the Buddha's missionaries and our responsibility
is to help sentient beings and not to stay away from them."
bhikkhus said, "Honoured venerable! We went to various
places to preach but people were stubborn and immersed in
the five desires, they also kill to make sacrifices to god.
We compassionately gave them our helping hands but they
ignored us. In that case, let them do what they like, for
one day when they have suffered enough, they will return."
knew they had met with difficulties in their missionary
work and had lost the enthusiasm so he guided them, "
I do not agree with your views. No doubt the work is tough
but in order to repay our gratitude to Buddha, we should
overcome all difficulties to accomplish our missions, if
not we will be going against the wishes of Buddha. Sentient
beings are living in poverty, they are poor like beggars.
Our responsibility is to spread Buddha Dharma and let all
sentient beings share the Dharma joy."
bhikkhus were moved by Purna's speech and continued their
knew the purpose of preaching was to help sentient beings
so the Dharma must suit them. To different people, he used
different methods. For instance when he saw a doctor, he
would ask, " A doctor can cure the illness of the body
but can he cure greed, anger and ignorance of the mind?"
I can't cure illness of the mind, can you?"
"Yes! The teachings of the Buddha can cleanse the dirt
of sentient beings. Precepts, concentration and wisdom can
cure the illness of greed, anger and ignorance."
the person was a court official, he would ask, "Can
you prevent people from committing crime?"
"Even laws of the country cannot prevent people from
"Besides laws of the country, you need to receive and
follow the Buddha Dharma, Five Precepts and understand the
rules of Cause and Effect."
skilful tactics in preaching had convinced many people to
take refuge in Buddha. Once he saw some farmers working
in the field and asked, "Do you want to know the ways
to plough for blessedness to increase your wisdom in life?"
but how?" the farmer asked.
confidence in the Buddha Dharma, the Triple Gem, respect
the Sangha, care for the sick, do charity, be filial to
parents, help relatives and not killing - these are ways
of ploughing for blessedness."
farmers held their palms towards Purna. They were willing
to accept his teachings.
Purna was quick-witted and flexible in his preaching so
Buddha's teachings were widely accepted.
tackled all difficulties with determination. Irregardless
of the dangers and setbacks, he earnestly spread Buddha's
Purna asked for Buddha's permission to preach in Sudana
but the Buddha felt the place was undeveloped and the people
were cruel and uncivilized so he advised Purna not to go.
Purna said, "Lord Buddha, you loved us with compassion
for which I can find no words to express my gratitude. I
am willing to give all of me to Dharma and to all sentient
beings to repay my gratitude to Buddha. Sudana is an uncivilized
country where no preachers have been, that is why I want
to preach there. I beg Buddha to give me permission."
wanted to make use of the opportunity to teach his disciples
to learn from Purna so He asked Purna, " Well said,
Purna. What if the people of Sudana refuse to accept your
teachings and scold you instead?"
doesn't matter because they are not that wilful."
if they attack you with punches, stones and sticks?"
doesn't matter as they did not injure me with a knife."
if they injure you with a knife?"
doesn't matter because they are still human enough as they
did not kill me."
if they kill you?"
I must thank them in letting me enter nirvana and allowing
me to repay Buddha's gratitude with my life and body."
was overjoyed. He praised Purna in having reached the absolute
left the Sangha and went to Sudana. Sudana was a poor country.
People there lived in poverty.
learned the native dialects and had no problems communicating
with them. However the natives were still wary of him. Purna
understood it was difficult to inspire the natives to practice
the Buddha Dharma in such backwards areas. It was no use
telling them the truth. What was more important was to improve
their living standards, so he started with treating the
sick people there.
Purna taught them words, instructed them in the steps of
farming and ways to keep the house. At night, he talked
to the native about the Five Precepts, and the Law of Cause
and Effect. The natives finally took refuge in the Buddha.
Purna had five hundred disciples there.
while the Buddha was giving a public discourse, Purna paid
homage to the Buddha in the crowd. Buddha was filled with
joy and said to him, "Purna, we missed you very much.
How are you doing in Sudana? I know you can manage in Sudana
because your preaching spirit and health are good and you
have very firm faith in the Triple Gem. You are compassionate,
steady, intelligent and healthy. You have good debating
skills and a dignified appearance. Fellow bhikkhus! Among
my disciples, Purna is the number one preacher, all of you
should learn from him."
knew when and where Purna entered Nirvana. We only knew
that Purna always preached the Buddha Dharma and served