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Mahā-Abhaya Thera

1. Mahā Abhaya Thera.– Usually called Dīghabhāṇaka-Abhaya. He was evidently an eminent Thera. It is said (Sp.ii.474 f; referred to at DhSA.399) that when news arrived that the brigand Abhaya was coming to Cetiyagiri to pillage it, the patrons of the vihāra informed Abhaya Thera of this. He asked them to collect various kinds of food and drink wherewith to entertain the brigand. The latter was greatly pleased, and, on learning that this hospitality was shown him at the instigation of Abhaya Thera, he visited the elder and took upon himself the protection of the vihāra from all danger. Later the monks questioned the right of the elder to entertain a robber with what belonged to the vihāra, but he convened an assembly of the monks and convinced them that he was guiltless, as his act had been solely for the protection of the belongings of the Saṅgha. This story shows that the elder lived at Cetiyagiri.

On another occasion (MA.i.65 f) Abhaya Thera taught the (practice of the) Mahā-Ariyavaṃsa Sutta, and the whole village (? Mahāgāma) came to hear him. After the discourse he received great honour. An elderly monk was full of envy and abused him, saying that under guise of teaching he had filled the night with noise. The two monks had to travel along the same road for the distance of a quarter of a league, and all the way the old monk abused Abhaya. When their roads separated, Abhaya worshipped the monk and took leave of him and said, when asked later, that he had heard none of the abuse because he had been all the time engaged in meditation.

One day, a certain woman who had come all the way from Ullabhakola­kaṇṇikā, a distance of five leagues, to hear Abhaya teach the Ariyavaṃsa Sutta, found that he was about to arise without finishing the discourse, and reminded him that he was omitting the most important part. The monk praised her and continued to teach until dawn, when the woman became a Stream-winner (AA.i.386). It is said that once Abhaya wanted to know if a certain alms-gathering (piṇḍapātika) monk were a worldling (puthujjana) or not. While this monk was bathing at the mouth of the Kalyāṇī River, Abhaya told a novice to dive into the water and catch hold of his foot. The monk, thinking it was a crocodile, screamed with fear, and Abhaya knew that he was a worldling (MA.ii.869). Thieves once bound an elder with creepers and made him lie down. A jungle fire spread to him, but before the creepers could be cut, he established insight and died an Arahant. Abhaya, coming along with five hundred others, saw the body, cremated it, and had a shrine built over the remains (Vism.36).

Abhaya’s opinion was evidently greatly respected, and he is mentioned as having been consulted by Mahā Dhammarakkhita (VibhA.81) and Mallaka (Vism.266) on problems connected with the Abhidhamma.

Abhaya is mentioned among those who could remember very early incidents in their lives. When he was only nine days old, his mother bent down to embrace him, but her hair became loose and the sumana-flowers she wore on her head fell on him, hurting him. In later life he could remember this incident. DA.ii.530; MNidA.234.

2. Mahā-Abhaya.– A monk of Uddalokaka-vihāra. Ras.ii.1.f.

Mahā Abhaya.– See Abhayagiri.