The Legend and Cult of Upagupta, 3



Patriarchs and the Forest-Monk Tradition


pp. 57-8 the 3 sons of S`an[.]a[ka]-vasin

p. 57

"one hundred years after the parinirvan.a of the Buddha, the elder S`an.aka[-]vasin, having founded the Nat.abhat.ika monastery on Mount Uru[-]mun.d.a, began to wonder whether Upa[-]gupta had yet been born in Mathura. He knew that

the Buddha had predicted

{Any praediction made by any buddha must, of course, have been discovered by that that buddha's having been told by a committee of deities that such was a projected episode in the universal plan of the deities. All buddha-s, however, are so lacking in common decency as to not explain the source of their knowledge; so that all buddha-s are very much guilty (shamefully!) of gross plagiarism throughout their dishonest careers.}

that a great teacher by that name would be born into the family of Gupta, the perfumer, and that it would be up to him, S`an.akavasin, to ordain him into the Buddhist Order."

p. 58

"a son was born to Gupta the perfume merchant, and he was given the name As`va[-]gupta {'horse-guarded'}. ...

After some time, a second son was born to Gupta, and he was given the name Dhana[-]gupta {'wealth-guarded'}. ...

Finally, Gupta the perfumer had a third son. ... And ... he was given the name Upa[-]gupta {'lesser-guarded'}."

pp. 59-60 Upa-gupta together with his 2 elder brethren are repraesented by 3 stones

p. 59

"In ... Laos and northern Thailand, when the stones that are to symbolize Upagupta are fetched from the swamp ..., the person performing the ritual ... invites Upagupta to come ... . A

p. 60

second man ... declares, "I am not Upagupta ... . ..." The same exchange takes place at the second stone.

It is only at the third stone that "Upagupta" replies ... . There ... these first rocks represent Upagupta's elder brothers".

{Cf. the 3 divine brethren Poseidon, Haides, and Zeus : the 1st 2 (Poseidon & Haides) of these brethren swallowed by Kronos, but for the 3rd (Zeus) there is substituted a stone (which is swallowed in his stead).}

pp. 61-4 Maha-kas`yapa

p. 61

"the arhat Gavam[-]pati ... was residing at the time of the parinirvan.a in the S`iris.a (Pali : Serisaka) -- one of th heavens of the Catur[-]maharajika world. Upon learning of the Buddha's death from the monk Purn.a, who has come to urge him to return to earth, he refuses ... . ... Indra and the four loka[-]pala[-]s ... go to Maha[-]kas`yapa and tell him that [Gavam-pati hath refused to come] ... .

p. 62

Maha[-]kas`yapa's reaction is ... [that] he issues an injunction forbidding arhat[-]s from entering parinirvan.a ... . ... [According to] The Maha[-]prajn~a[-]paramita s`astra ..., Maha[-]kas`yapa beats a great gong and pronounces in a voice that can be heard

throughout the Trichiliomegachiliocosm :

{litterally 3 * 1000 (but according to commentators, 1000^3 = 1,000,000,000) inhabited planetary systems, i.e., the total number in a single galaxy -- nothing beyond is in known in Hina-yana cosmology, though Maha-yana cosmology is more compraehensive}

... Do not enter into Nirvan.a!

These ... proclamations ... that the attainment of final Nirvan.a should somehow be postponed ...

could be seen to be at the root of the bodhisattva ideal. ... .

{The scriptures of the Dharma-gupta (but no other Hina-yana) denomination "included a Bodhisattva Piṭaka" (ChBE"DhS").}

... Maha[-]kas`yapa goes to Ananda and formally passes the Dharma on to him. ... Maha[-]kas`yapa ... now ... ascends Mount Kukkut.a[-]pada {'Chicken-Foot'} near Raja[-]gr.ha and sits himself

p. 63

down between {among/amidst} the three summits of that peak. There he makes a firm resolve that his body, his bowl, and his monastic robe (which had been given to him by the Buddha) ... should remain perfectly preserved inside Mount Kukkut.a[-]pada until the advent of the future Buddha Maitreya.

Then he enters into the trance of cessation; the mountain opens up to receive him and miraculously encloses his body."

{"when a king in Scotland named Elinas weds a fairy, Presine, ... the daughters ... muster their inherent supernatural powers to enclose him forever within a mountain" (MNHL).}

"Maha[-]kas`yapa ... is able to convene and preside over the First Buddhist Council at Rajagr.ha.

Ananda is asked to recite the Sutra pit.aka,

Upali is asked to recite the Vinaya, and

Maha[-]kas`yapa himself recites the Matr.ka, the scholastic summaries that are the predecessors of the Abhidharma." [Przyluski 1926, pp. 36-53]

{Praesumably, Maha-KAS`YAPa is himself the reputed founder of the KAS`YAPiya denomination; whereas the DHARMA-GUPTA denomination must have been founded by Upa-GUPTA and have included the Abhi-DHARMA.} {There have been found "very early manuscripts belonging to the Dharmaguptakas in the Gandhāra region" (ChBE"DhS"); this region would include (ChBE"G") Purus.a-pura (modern Pes.awar).}

"Hsu:an-tsang , who visited the mountain in the seventh century {Chr.Ai.}, claims [T. 2087, 51:919b-c (Engl. transl. Beal 1884, vol. 2, pp. 142-4)] that, with Maitreya's arrival, Maha[-]kas`yapa will emerge from his trance, perform miracles ... .

The Mi le ta ch>eng fo ching ... tells [T. 456, 14:433b (Germ. transl., Watanabe in Leumann 1919, pp. 276-8)] how Maitreya will first knock on the summit of Maha[-]kas`yapa's peak and then open it ... . The god Brahma will then anoint Maha[-]kas`yapa's head with divine oil, strike a gong, and blow the conch shell of the Dharma. This royal consecration will then awaken the saint from his trance; he will ... kneel in front of Maitreya, and offer him the robe that the Buddha had confided to him. ... Another Maitreyist text, the Khotanese Maitreya samiti, describes [Leumann 1919, pp. 107-10] ...

p. 64

[how] Maha[-]kas`yapa, coming out of his trance, ... launches into a long sermon, explaining how the "leftover disciples," initiated but not brought to final Nirvan.a by one Buddha, are usually saved by the next. He then displays his magical powers".

Przyluski 1926 = Jean Przyluski : Le Concile de Rajagr.ha. Paris.

ChBE"DhS" = "Dharmagupta School".

MNHL = Jean d'Arras : Melusine; or, The Noble History of Lusignan.

ChBE"G" = "Gandhara".

Leumann 1919 = Ernst Leumann : Maitreya samiti, das Zukunfstideal der Buddhisten. Strassburg : Karl J. Trübner.

pp. 65-6 how A-nanda transmitted the Dharma to Madhya-antika

p. 65

"Ananda gets to be an old man. The one day, in the Venuvana monastery, he overhears a young monk reciting ... some verses ... :

"It would be better ... to live a single day and see a marsh fowl ["shui hu kuan"] ... ." {"The crane (or perhaps the grey heron) was thought to have associations with the moon." ("RCDCIM")} ...

{This may refer to [the S^in-gon and Zen tradition concerning] a so-called "moon buddha", who may not remain alive more than a single day after achieving bodhi (as contrasted with a "sun buddha", who is destined to live sufficiently long to recruit disciples).}

Ananda ... decides it is time for him to enter parinirvan.a as well. ...

p. 66

Then, sending word to King A[-]jata[-]s`atru ..., he heads for the Ganges ... . He has resolved to enter parinirvan.a there, in a boat in midstream so as to prevent a dispute over his relics from breaking out between the people of Vais`ali to the north of the river and those of Raja[-]gr.ha to the south. ... however, ... at the last moment, five hundred Brahmanical ascetics ([-]s) arrive and request admittance into the Buddhist Order.

Ananda agrees to this and ordains them on a golden island {'Golden Province' Hiran.maya Vars.a being similar site, for worship of god Kurma ("EDBhP")} which he magically creates in the midst of the Ganges,

{"The Echinades Islands, lying at the mouth of the river, were reputed to have been miraculously created by" Akheloios (DCM, s.v. "Achelous", p. 4a).}

They all immediately attain arhatship, and their leader, because he was ordained in the middle (madhya) of the river

at midday,

{/EKHiNad-/ may be cognate with Skt /AHaN-/ 'day'.}

comes to be known as Madhyantika {/madhya/ + /antika/}. He is also destined to be one of the Masters of the Law, and Ananda promptly transmits the Dharma to him ... .

Finally, ... Ananda ... rising up into midair, ... passes into parinirvan.a, his body manifesting all sorts of extraordinary displays. His relics, as planned, fall into four shares :

one for the people of Rajagr.ha on the southern bank of the river,

one for the people of Vais`ali to the north,

one for the gods in Indra's heaven, and

one for the naga[-]s under the water." (T. 2042, 50:115c-6b -- French transl, Przyluski 1923a, pp. 337-40)

"RCDCIM" = "The Ritual of the Crane Dance Curse in Irish Mythology".

"EDBhP" = "Essence Of Devi Bhagavatha Puran.a ".

{The name /a-NANDa/ is similar to /NANDin/, the name of a bull-god : similarly, Akheloios "turned himself into a bull" (DCM, s.v. "Achelous", p. 4a).} {"Midday" is known as the time when an upight post casteth the shortest shadow; and with such post cf. mt Mandara, the mountain set (in order to churn the Samudra Ks.ira 'Ocean-of-Milk') upon the back of god Kurma ('Turtle') : cf. the name /Maha-kas`yapa/ 'Great Descendant of the Tortoise' (who became miraculously enclosed within a mountain).}

pp. 309, 66 was it Madhya-antika who transmitted the Dharma to Upa-gupta?

p. 309, n. 48

"according to ... the M[ula-]S[arva-asti-vada-]V[inaya]. (GilgMss. 3, pt. 1:3; T. 1448, 24:41c ["Fr. trans., Przyluski 1914:519"]), it is Madhyantika who converts Upagupta."

p. 309, n. 49

"S`an.aka[-]vasin ... in the Pali tradition ... is ... Sambhuta San.a[-]vasi -- an elder who ... wore a robe made of hemp (san.a). [p. 306, n. 2 : "The name is variously spelled S`an.aka[-]vasin, S`an.a[-]vasin] ... . In any case, it means "wearer of hempen cloth.""]

{[ChBE"DhS]"According to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, the robes of monastics should be sewn out of no more than 18 pieces of cloth, and the cloth should be fairly heavy and coarse." (This could imply hempen cloth.)} {Otherwise 'hemp' is Strong's 8242 /s`aq/, translated 'sackcloth', and associated with the />eper/ 'ashes' (bhasma, smeared on Pas`u-pata devotees).}

p. 66

"Madhyantika is sent off to ... Kashmir ..., and indeed the subsequent account of Madhyantika's conquest of the dragon of Kashmir is reminiscent of the Buddha's own ... ." {According to the Maha-vams`a, this dragon's name is /ARAVAla/ (EH&CK).}

{cf. /ARAWA/ as the name of the canoe whereaboard sailed (MM&L, s.v. "Ngatoro-i-Rangi", p. 126a) Natoro-i-Rani; whereas the name of the volcanic deity "thrust ... down into the mountain" (ibid., p. 126b) is /Tama-o-hoi/ -- /hoi/ 'earlobe; deaf' (M-PCD, p. 78), perhaps among the "Long-Ears" of Rapa-nui (Easter Island).}


{Madhya-antika caused a wood-carver of idols "to ascend into the Tushita (Tu-si-to) heaven ... three times" (BRWW 3).}

{When Natoro-i-Rani "set out into the interior on a journey of discovery", "the shreds that fell from his cape grew into tall trees." (MM&L, p. 126b).}


{From the dragon, Madhya-antika requested (BRWW 3) "a spot in the middle of the lake just big enough for my knees." Therewith sufficing, he drained the lake.}

{"Water mother ... Raised her knee above the surface" (Kalevala 1.196-7) : when born from her, Va:ina:mo:inen "Struggling up with knee and elbow ... stood up to see the world" (Kalevala 1.335-6).}

EH&CK = Sunil Chandra Ray : Early History and Culture of Kashmir.

MM&L = Maori Myth and Legend.

M-PCD, p. 78

BRWW 3 = Xuan Zang (Hiuen Tsiang) : Buddhist Records of the Western World, Book III.

Kalevala 1

pp. 67, 69 S`an.aka-vasin

p. 67

"Raising his hand in the air, S`an.aka[-]vasin opens it to reveal that it is full of milk. "Of what samadhi is this the sign"" he asks, but Upagupta is at a loss to answer."

{This is evidently the Dharma-GUPTAka aequivalent to the KAS`YAPiya display to Maha-kas`yapa of a waterlily-blossom held in the hand of S`akya-muni (BW"FS").}

p. 69

"Upagupta decides to invite ... S`an.aka[-]vasin, who has been meditating in Kashmir.

{This is exceedingly strange, inasmuch as not S`an.aka-vasin, but instead Madhya-antika, is stated (p. 66 supra) to have immigrated into Kas`mir! Is this "S`an.aka-vasin" intended to be the aitheric-body aspect of Madhya-antika?}

The latter soon arrives by means of his supernatural powers.

{This would definitely imply his arrival not in the physical body, but rather in the aitheric body, by projection of the aitheric double (in the manner of a vidya-dhara, as described in IFIBB, passim).}

He is wearing his hempen robes ...; his hair is long, he is sporting a beard, and he enters directly into Upagupta's chamber, where he sits down on Upagupta's seat to wait for him. Upagupta's disciples ... rush to find their master and tell him that a mahalla monk has ... his place. ...

Mahalla monks, like S`an.aka[-]vasin,

{A meaning of /mahallaka/ is 'mansion' (in S-ED, q.v.) : this must be from Persian /mahal/ 'palace'. "Mahalla monks" must, surely, be frequenters of heavenly palaces of the deities, which they may attain by projection into the aitheric plane.}

have long ... hair and

{typical of ingesters of entheogenic drugs (wherethrough projection of one's non-material subtle bodies is achieved)}

wear coarse {hempen, i.e., ascetical} ... robes."

{indicative of their inability, due to being incessantly tripped-out on drugs, to feel the roughness of their robes -- though in this case, the robe must be, alike to the body, aitheric rather than material}

BW"FS" = "Flower Sermon". {Much as the waterlily-blossom (typical of the Pure Land of Dhyani-buddha-s) groweth out of mud (typical of samsara, i.e., the material universe), likewise milk (typical of the divinely Promised Land, "flowing with milk and honey") emergeth from the udder of cow (dweller in the material world). There would also be an allusion to the finger of Indra, extracting praeternatural milk from the Man-in-the-Moon by finger-pointing at the moon (emblematic of the sublunary material world).}

IFIBB = Guillaume Rozenberg (transl by Ward Keeler) : The Immortals : Faces of the Incredible in Buddhist Burma. Univ of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2015.

pp. 70-2 aran.yaka behaviour & traditions

p. 70

"in Burma, historically, there was a sect of long-haired monks known as the Ari ... . They were (perhaps) tantrically inclined,

wore dark robes,

{"These Ari monks ... wore dark brown robes and conical hats." ("F-EBB")}

had long hair, advocated the worship of naga[-]s, and ... claimed the ius primae noctis, the right of deflowering newlywed village girls.

Interestingly, the leader and patron saint of the Ari was a monk named

Mahakassapa, who, as his name indicates, was felt to be a reincarnation of the Buddha's disciple Mahakas`yapa". (Than Tun 1959b, p. 117)

{This name may indicate a derivation of the Ari of Burma from the KAS`YAPiya religious order.}

We may [Huber 1909; Than Tun 1959b, p. 99] "accept the derivation of Ari from aran~n~aka (Sanskrit aran.yaka), meaning "forest-dwelling [monk]"."

p. 71

As for "Mahakas`yapa, ... His robes ... seem to have been made of rags of hemp (san.ani pamsukulani). ...

p. 72

The Pamsukulani[-]samsam ... tells the story of the very first pamsukula : A rich merchant of Uruvela had a daughter who died giving birth to her first child, who was stillborn. The merchant then ... took an expensive piece of cloth, wrapped it around the dead foetus and the afterbirth of his daughter, and ... deposited it on the road where he knew the Buddha was due to pass. [p. 310, n. 88 : "A similar story is told in Lal., p. 265 (Fr. trans., Foucaux 1884:229)."] The Buddha, seeing it, ... picked it up; the ... foetus and afterbirth fell on the ground, which then shook and trembled ... . ... Later the Buddha exalts the wearing of ragheap {actually, cemetery-derived, winding-sheets of cadavres} robes".

"F-EBB" = Maung Htin Aung : "Folk-Elements in Burmese Buddhism : Alchemy, Spirits, and Ancient Rituals". ATLANTIC MONTHLY, Febr 1958.

Huber 1909 = Edouard Huber : "[Review of] The Report of the Superintendant, Archaeological Survey, Burma, for the Year Ending 31st March 1908." BULLETIN DE L'ECOLE FRANC,AISE D'EXTRE^ME ORIENT 9:584.

Than Tun 1959b = Than Tun : "Mahakassapa and His Tradition". J OF THE BURMESE RESEARCH SOC 42, pt. 2:99-118.

p. 73 Astika (Varn.a-As`rama Dharma) aequivalents to the 2 vocation of bhiks.u


beginning age

abiding in __











John S. Strong : The Legend and Cult of Upagupta : Sanskrit Buddhism in North India and Southeast Asia. Princeton Univ Pr, 1992.