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Ajapala-nigrodha

A banyan tree that is famous in Buddhist literature. It was in Uruvelā, on the banks of the Nerañjarā, near the Bodhi tree, and a week after the Enlightenment the Buddha went there and spent a week cross-legged at the foot of the tree. There he met the Huṃhuṅkajātika Brahmin.¹ Two weeks later he went there again from the Rajāyatana.² It was then that the Brahma Sahampati appeared to him and persuaded him to teach the doctrine, in spite of the difficulty of the task.³ This was immediately after the meal offered by Tapassu and Bhalluka, so says the Majjhimanikāya Aṭṭhakathā.⁴ When the Buddha wishes to have someone as his teacher, Sahampati appears again and suggests to him that the Dhamma be considered his teacher.⁵

By Ajapāla-nigrodha it was, too, that, immediately after the Enlightenment, Māra tried to persuade the Buddha to die at once.⁶ Several other conversations held here with Māra are recorded in the Saṃyuttanikāya.⁷

Here, also, the Buddha spent some time before the Enlightenment,⁸ and it was here that Sujātā offered him a meal of milk-rice.⁹

Here, in the fifth week after the Enlightenment, Māra’s daughters tried to tempt the Buddha.¹⁰

Several etymologies are suggested for the name: (a) in its shadow goatherds (ajapālā) rest; (b) old brahmins, incapable of reciting the Vedas, live here in dwellings protected by walls and ramparts (this derivation being as follows: “na japantī ti = ajapā, mantānaṃ anajjhāyakā = ajapā, ālenti arīyanti nivāsaṃ etthāti = Ajapālo ti);” (c) it shelters the goats that seek its shade at midday.¹¹ The northern Buddhists say that the tree was planted by a shepherd boy, during the Bodhisatta’s six years’ penance, to shelter him.¹²

The Brahmā Sutta ¹³ and the Magga Sutta,¹⁴ both on the four foundations of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna), and another Brahmā Sutta ¹⁵ on the five controlling faculties (indriyāni), were concerning thoughts that occurred to the Buddha on various occasions at the foot of this tree, when he sat there soon after the Enlightenment. On all these occasions Brahma Sahampati appeared to him and confirmed his thoughts. Several old brahmins, advanced in years, visited the Buddha during this period and questioned him as to whether it were true that he did not pay respect to age. To them he taught the four Thera-karaṇā dhamma.¹⁶

¹ Vin.i.2‑3. ² Vin.i.4.

³ Vin.i.5‑7; in the eighth week after the Enlightenment, says Buddhaghosa, SA.i.152.

⁴ MA.i.385; J.i.81. ⁵ A.ii.20 f; S.i.138 f. ⁶ D.ii.112. ⁷ S.i.103 f. ⁸ D.ii.267.

⁹ J.i.16, 69. ¹⁰ J.i.78, 469. ¹¹ UdA.51.

¹² Beal, Romantic Legend of Buddha, 192, 238; Mtu.iii.302. ¹³ S.v.167.

¹⁴ S.v.185. ¹⁵ S.v.232 f. ¹⁶ A.ii.22.

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