Mahakapphinena ca, 1    "and Mahakapphina,"

(cont. from issue #53)            by, Bhiksuni Heng Hsien


    The Buddha's disciple  Mahakapphina2 was king of Southern Kosala before he became a Bhiksu. Kapphina was his monastic name.3 Originally his parents named him for a naksatra "asterism,"4 one associated with Scorpio,5to whom they had prayed for his birth. Mahakappina eventually became the foremost of the Buddha's disciples in understanding of astrology.

    After Mahakapphina had left the home life and while he was still on the road going to find the Buddha in order to be ordained, the Buddha sent a transformation body to speak the Dharma for him. Mahakapphina heard the Dharma and attained one of the fruits of Arhatship "overnight."6 He then especially enjoyed the bliss of dhyana,7 constantly uttering aho sukham aho sukham, "ah bliss, 

ah bliss!" It was therefore very appropriate for the great Arhat Mahakapphina to be present in the Dharma assembly at the time when Sakyamuni Buddha was about to speak the Sukhavativyuha-Sutra,8 the Sutra of the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

1 Mahakapphinena ca appears after Mahakasyapena ca and before Mahakatyayanena in Max Muller's Sanskrit. We have emended the word order on the basis of the Chinese text.

2    ta1 chieh2 pin1 na4.

3 0ne explanation of his name meaning huang2 t'o2 "yellow head" relates it to the Sanskrit word kapila "tawny." Tibetan transliterates as ka-pi-na.

4 See Vajra Bodhi Sea #47

5 fang2 hsiu4, "house star." 

6 Perhaps in a "night's lodging," another meaning of the character , then 

pronounced su4. Pronounced hsin3 the same character also means "a night."

7 The word dhyana pronounced Middle-Indic fashion jhana comes into Chinese as the word ch'an and from Chinese into Japanese as zen. 

8 Sukhavati contains the word sukha(m) "bliss." See Vajra Bodhi Sea #24