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Kuṇḍadhāna Thera

v.l. Koṇḍadhāna, Koṇṭhadhāna, Kuḍḍadhāna.– An Arahant.

He was proclaimed the first among those who received meal-tickets (salāka) (A.i.24). He came of a brahmin family of Sāvatthi and his name was Dhāna. He knew the Vedas by heart, and when advanced in years, heard the Buddha teach and joined the Order. From that day, however, in all his movements the form of a young woman followed him wherever he went, though he himself could not see the figure. This caused great merriment and evoked many sarcastic remarks, which he could not understand. When he went for alms, women would put into his bowl two portions of food, saying, “One is for your Reverence and the other for your friend, the young lady, your companion.” In the monastery the novices and young monks would point at him and say: “Look, our venerable one has become a gigolo (koṇḍa).” From this he became known as Koṇḍa- or Kuṇḍadhāna. Driven to distraction by this teasing, he became abusive and was reported to the Buddha, who bade him to be patient as he was only being pursued by the remnant of an evil kamma. Pasenadi, king of Kosala, hearing of Kuṇḍadhāna, was interested, and being satisfied by personal investigation that the elder was blameless, provided him with all requisites, so that he need no longer go for alms. This enabled him to concentrate his mind, and he became an Arahant. Thereupon the figure of the woman disappeared.

Kuṇḍadhāna’s claim to be the first among receivers of meal-tickets was due to the fact that he it was who received the first meal-ticket when the Buddha visited Mahā-Subhaddā at Ugganagara, Cūḷa-Subhaddā at Sāketa, and Sunāparanta-janapada. Only Arahants were allowed to accompany the Buddha on these visits.

Kuṇḍadhāna’s determination to attain this special eminence was formed in the time of Padumuttara Buddha. Once he gave Padumuttara a well-ripened “comb” of bananas when the Buddha arose from a long trance. As a result he became king of the devas eleven times and king of men twenty-four times.

He was an earthbound sprite in the time of Kassapa Buddha. Seeing two monks, firm friends, on their way to the uposatha held by the Buddha, he had a mischievous desire to test their friendship, and when one of the monks retired into the forest leaving the other on the road, he followed the former, unseen by him, assuming the form of a woman arranging her hair, adjusting her garments, and so on. The second monk, seeing his friend return and shocked by his apparent misdemeanour, left him in disgust, refusing to perform the uposatha with him. Realising the effect of his practical joke, the sprite did all he could to make amends, but the friendship of the two monks was for ever spoilt. The sprite suffered the fears of hell for a whole Buddha-era, and even in his last birth as Kuṇḍadhāna his evil kamma pursued him, as seen above. AA.i.146 ff; Thag.A.i.62 ff; also Ap.i.81 f; Thag.15. The version given in DhA.iii.52 f differs very slightly in certain details.

Kuṇḍadhāna was among those to whom the Buddha taught the Naḷakapāna Sutta, and was therefore probably a friend of Anuruddha and the other Sākyan nobles present on that occasion (M.i.462).

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