Kamma of Cakkhupala Thera

Bhikkhu Piyadassi


There lived at Savatthi a householder, Maha Suvanna by name. He had two sons, Mahapala and Cullapala. The children grew up and subsequently they become householders. Later, the parents passed away, leaving the whole estate to be administered by the tow sons. At this time the Buddha supreme was residing at Savatthi, in the Anathapindika’s monastery. One day Mahapala followed the devotees who were going to the monastery to pay homage to the Master. There at the Holy Feet of the Buddha Mahapala paid obeisance and sat to listen to the Dhamma. The Teacher, discerning the mind of Mahapala, delivered an appropriate sermon. Mahapala was completely transformed and he renounced all his ancestral possessions to join the Holy Order. Before long he learnt a Formula of Meditation and went with sixty of his brother monks to a remote place to meditate.

There he stayed and made a determined effort to gain Arahantship. Without any rest he meditated and meditated until his eyes gave him pain. Nevertheless, the heroic elder never lay himself on a mat even to treat his eyes. The illness gradually increased and it was beyond recovery. His eyes became blind, but that very instant he attained Nibbana, his heart’s desire. Now remorse overtook his fellow monks and they attended upon him.

Later the Thera Mahapala, being invited by his brother Cullapala, went over to Savatthi and lived there known by the name Cakkhupala, Broken-Eyed. Now on a rainy day a party of monks visited him and while examining his cloister-path (Cankamana) they saw a large number of insects being killed. The monks blamed Cakkhupala Thera and reported the matter to the Buddha. Then the Teacher told them that Cakkhupala was an arahant –a perfect saint- and therefore, incapable of killing any living thing intentionally, and explained the reason why he lost his eyes.

The Past Story

Once upon a time when King of Kasi was reigning at Benares Cakkhupala, who was a physician, was in the habit of going from village to village ministering to the sick. One day he met a woman with a weak eyes and promised to cure her eyes on condition she and her children became his servants in return. The woman gained her eyesight by one single application of the prescribed medicine. But tried to deceive the physician who knowing her plan gave her another ointment to destroy her eyesight. She applied the ointment and lost her two eyes eventually.

By that evil action he lost both eyes in his last birth.
Having related the story of the past the Blessed One uttered the following solemn verse:

Manopubbangama dhamma – manosettha manomaya
Manasa ce padutthena – bhasati va karoti va
Tato nam dukkhamanveti – cakkam va vahato padam.

Mental states have mind as their fore-runner. Mind is chief every mental state is mind made. If with a polluted mind one speaks or acts, pain follows him consequently, as cartwheel dogs feet of the beast of burden.

Esala Perahara – Kandy