Dhammapada: The Story of Garahadinna
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (58) and (59) of this book, with reference to a rich man named Garahadinna and the miracle of the lotus flowers.
There were two friends named Sirigutta and Garahadinna in Savatthi. Sirigutta was a follower of the Buddha and Garahadinna was a follower of the Niganthas, the ascetics who were hostile to the Buddhists. At the instance of the Niganthas, Garahadinna often said to Sirigutta, “What benefit do you get by following the Buddha? Come, be a follower of my teachers.” Having been told thus many times, Sirigutta said to Garahadinna, “Tell me, what do your teachers know?” To this, Garahadinna replied that his teachers knew everything; with their great power they knew the past, the present and the future and also the thoughts of others. So, Sirigutta invited the Niganthas to his house for alms-food.
Sirigutta wanted to find out the truth about the Niganthas, whether they really possessed the power of knowing other people’s thoughts, etc. So he made a long, deep trench and filled it up with excreta and filth. Seats were then placed precariously over the trench; and big empty pots were brought in and covered up with cloth and banana leaves to make them appear as if they were full of rice and curries. When the Niganthas arrived, they were requested to enter one by one, to stand near their respective seats, and to sit down simultaneously. As all of them sat down, the flimsy strings broke and the Niganthas fell into the filthy trench. Then Sirigutta taunted them, “Why don’t you know the past, the present and the future? Why don’t you know the thoughts of others?” All the Niganthas then fled in terror.
Garahadinna naturally was furious with Sirigutta and refused to talk to him for two weeks. Then, he decided that he would have his revenge on Sirigutta. He pretended that he was no longer angry, and one day asked Sirigutta to invite, on his behalf, the Buddha and his five hundred disciples to partake of alms-food. So Sirigutta went to the Buddha and invited him to the house of Garahadinna. At the same time, he told the Buddha about what he had done to the Niganthas, the teachers of Garahadinna. He also expressed his fear that this invitation might be a reprisal and so the invitation should be accepted only after due consideration.
The Buddha, with his supernormal power, knew that this would be the occasion for the two friends to attain Sotapatti Fruition, and therefore accepted the invitation. Garahadinna made a trench, filled it with live coals and covered it with mats. He also kept some empty pots covered with cloth and banana leaves to make them appear as if filled with rice and curries. The next day, the Buddha came followed by five hundred bhikkhus in single file. When the Buddha stepped on the mat over the trench, the mat and live coals miraculously disappeared, and five hundred lotus flowers, each as large as a cart wheel, sprang up for the Buddha and his disciples to sit upon.
Seeing this miracle, Garahadinna was very much alarmed and he said rather incoherently to Sirigutta, “Help me, dear friend. Out of my desire for revenge, I have truly done a great wrong. My bad designs have had no effect at all on your Teacher. The pots in my kitchen are all empty. Please help me.” Sirigutta then told Garahadinna to go and look at the pots. When Garahadinna found all the pots filled with food he was astounded and at the same time very much relieved and very happy. So the food was offered to the Buddha and his disciples. After the meal, the Buddha expressed his appreciation (anumodana) of the meritorious act and then said, “Ignorant worldlings, lacking in knowledge, do not know the unique qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha and so they are like the blind; but the wise, having knowledge, are like people with sight.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Dhammapada Verses 58 – 59: As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom shines forth far above the blind (ignorant) worldlings.
At the end of the discourse, both Garahadinna and Sirigutta attained Sotapatti Fruition.