Saints Criticized and Condemned
Mahākāśyapa, Upagupta, and Śāriputra are preeminent saints, presented in a positive light within their respective traditions. Quite in contrast to them are other important saintly figures toward whom Indian Buddhism has a much more ambivalent attitude. This chapter contains discussion of two such masters, Piṇḍolabhāradvāja and Devadatta.
Piṇḍolabhāradvāja as a Saint
Throughout his hagiography, Piṇḍolabhāradvāja1 is depicted as a realized master, conforming to the paradigm of the Buddhist saint. Piṇḍola is not only a saint but one of the great enlightened disciples of the Buddha, characterized in the An + ̄guttaranikāya list of disciples and their specialties as "foremost among the lion- roarers" ( An 1:23 [WH., 1:171). 2 His conversion story is recounted in the Damamūkanidāna Sūtra (T., 202). 3 At one time, when the Buddha was staying in the park of Anāthapiṇḍada Śrāvastī, there was a brahmin named Piṇḍoladvāja who had an ugly and abusive wife who regularly reviled him. In addition, Piṇḍola was forced to support his seven daughters and their husbands. One day, he borrowed an ox to work his rice field, but the ox became lost in the marshes. This unfortunate event threw him into great anxiety, and in this state he wandered about in a forest. There Piṇḍola chanced upon the Buddha sitting under a tree and, seeing him, was inspired to renounce the world and become his disciple. Here we find reference to a number of features of the paradigm, including personal crisis (theme 1), renunciation of the world (theme 3), the idea of the forest (theme 4), the experience of darśan (theme 14), and the finding of a teacher (theme 5).
Like the Buddha, Mahākāśyapa, and Upagupta, and other exemplars of the paradigm, Piṇḍola becomes a forest renunciant who follows the dhutaguṇas (theme 4) and practices meditation in solitude. The Udāna, for example, describes him as "[sitting] in cross-legged posture, holding his body upright, being a forest- dweller, an alms-quester, a rag-robe wearer, using three robes, needing little, contented, a recluse shunning society, one of ardent energy, upholding the scru-