Rediscovering the Buddha: Legends of the Buddha and Their Interpretation

By Hans H. Penner | Go to book overview

7
The Buddha Becomes a
Wonder-Worker

The Buddha finally arrived at Uruvela. At that time three brothers, all of them ascetics, were living there. One of the brothers was the leader and guide of five hundred matted-hair ascetics, the second brother was leader of three hundred, and the third was the head of two hundred ascetics.

As the Buddha approached the hermitage of Kassapa of Uruvela, the first brother, he said, “If it is convenient for you, Kassapa, let me stay for one night in the ritual fire-room.” Kassapa replied, “It is not convenient, venerable one, because there is a fierce Naga, a terribly venomous snake with superhuman power, living there. Do not let him harm you.” After repeated requests, and with the assurance that the serpent would not harm him, Kassapa said, “As you wish,” and let him in.

The Buddha entered the ritual room, sat down cross-legged on a grass mat with his back erect, and began to meditate. The Naga saw him and became distressed and began to blow smoke. Seeing this, the Buddha thought, “What if I match his fire with my own fire without destroying any part of him?” He then enacted the appropriate exercise of miraculous power and emitted a cloud of smoke. The Naga, losing control of his rage, emitted flames, and the Buddha converted his body into a mass of flame, and the room looked like it was burning with a raging fire. The matted-hair ascetics surrounded the room and agreed that the composure of the Buddha was simply wonderful but were certain that the Naga would do him harm. When

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