(Continued from issue #41) by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien
This passage of the Amitabha Sutra names the principle Bhiksu disciples
of Sakyamuni Buddha. In the last lesson the Elder Sariputra was discussed and
now Mahamaudgalyayana, the disciple most skilled in spiritual penetrations and
magic powers will be considered.
means, "descended from people connected with beans."1 The derivation is
complex, but is based upon the Sanskrit word for the mung bean, mudga.2
Another interpretation is "descended from people connected with wild herbs and
roots."3 In either case, what is referred to is an Indian ascetic practice
involved with food. When they cultivated the Way, Mahamaudgalyayana’s
ancestors ate either beans or ate only food that grew wild in forests and
jungles, never touching any food that had been planted and harvested.
Although he was first in spiritual penetrations, Mahamaudgalyayana could not save his mother and went to the Buddha for help. At the first Ullambana Festival she was freed from her rebirth as a hungry ghost by the united power of the Sangha and was reborn in the heavens.(To be continued)