The Legend and Cult of Upagupta, 4



Lay-life, Ordination, and Arhantship


p. 75 perfumes vs. stench

"Business in the perfume shop is good. According to the Divyavadana, this is because Mara has filled the whole city [Mathura] with such a horrible stench that its inhabitants are prompted to purchase many perfumes." {Apparently, Mara was doing this perfume-sales promotion on behalf of Upagupta's father, whom he evidently favored. Stench-producing is, likewise, a function of Angro Mainyu in Zarathustrian lore.}

p. 75 white strips vs. black strips {cf. white pebbles vs. black pebbles}

(Divya-avadana, p. 352 -- Engl. transl. by Strong 1983b:179) "S`an.aka[-]vasin ... teaches Upa-gupta a simple technique for keeping track of the states of his thoughts : he gives him [according to the Burmese text] some black and {some} white strips of cloth or of wood [p. 311, n. 4 : "T. 2042, 50:117c (Fr. trans., Przyluski 1923a:348) has "black and white stones"; so, too, does T. 202, 4:442 (Ger. trans. of Tibetan, Schmidt 1843, 2:384; Eng. trans. of Mongolian, Frye 1981:232). Durt (1979:451) compares these pat.t.ika ['strips'] to s`alaka ['wooden tally-rods'] {whence the text-translator into Burmese (or else into Pali) must have deduced them, doubting the original text (Samskr.ta) -- which original text was not doubted by translators into Japanese, Bodish, and Mongolian.}

{Members of the bKa>-gdams-pa "carried around a small bag of pebbles, half {entirely} white and half {entirely} black. Whenever they had a very good thought, or said something very positive to another person, or did someone else a kindness, they would take a white pebble out and put it say in their left pocket. Every time they had a negative thought about someone else, or said or did something unkind to another person, they would take a black pebble out of the bag and put it in their right pocket. At the end of the day, just before going to bed, they would take all the pebbles out of their pockets and count up the black and the white." (The Diamond Cutter -- S&P"BEK")}

Durt 1979 = Hubert Durt : "Chu". In :- Jacques May (ed.) : Hobogirin. Tokyo. pp. 431-56.

S&P"BEK" = "A Book Excerpt on Kindness".

pp. 76-7 Vasava-datta

p. 76

"Vasava[-]datta, the most famous courtesan nof Mathura, ... Ks.emendra's Avadana[-]kalpalata. There the tale begins with Upagupta in the perfume bazaar "selling yellow sandal{wood}, musk, camphor, and aloe ... ." Vasava[-]datta ... becomes "intent on ["sexual"] uinion with him."" ... Vasava[-]datta sends her maid ... inviting him to come and "pursue pleasure" with her, but he gently turns down the offer ..., saying that this is not yet the time for them to meet. ...

p. 77

She therefore invites him again, offering herself free of charge; but ... Upagupta refuses her once more . ... A handsome young caravaneer from the North Country arrives in Mathura ... determined to have her. Vasava-datta ... is deemed guilty, and ... her hands, feet, nose, and ears are cut off ... . ...

It is then that Upagupta decides to visit her. Accompanied by a servant ...,

he goes to the cremation ground. Vasava[-]datta's maid ... has ... seen ... that Upagupta has come there for sex[ual intercourse], "impelled by passion and desire." ...

{According to Publius Ovidius Naso : Ars Amatoria, prostitutes often have sexual intercourse with male clients in cemeteries at night.} {Cf. also, in Jakarta, "the scene at the Kebayoran cemetery, where prostitutes sell their bodies" ("QuL&DK").}

p. 78

He then launches into a diatribe on ... impermanence ... . ... This sermonic diatribe ... brings about Vasavadatta's salvation, for ... she quickly attains the fruit of entering the stream (she becomes a srotapanna). ...

{"Lucian, in his satire Dialogues of the Courtesans, wrote ... that many workers of the sex industry employed magical methods" (FATERL, pp. 10-11).} {"prostitutes received attention, at least literary, for their magical prowess." (Ibid., p. 41).} {"The conversation between Glycera and Thais showcases ... the regularity of magical methods. ... Don’t you know that her mother, Chrysarium, is a witch who knows Thessalian spells, and can bring the moon down? Why, they say she even flies of a night." (Ibid., p. 69)} {Among the Yoruba, goddess "Osun is ... the Patroness of Prostitutes and Courtesans. She is a great Witch" (BPhAL"O").}

Second, it has a soteriological effect on Upagupta, for, "... with his own preaching of Dharma, he attained the fruit of a nonreturner ["anagamin"]."

p. 79

And Upagupta, "... experiences arhatship.""

"QuL&DK" = "... Quests, Labyrinths and the Dance of Kali ...". ETROPIC 1.2 (2002).

FATERL = Alicia M. Deadrick : For All Time : an Examination of Romantic Love through Curse Tablets. Thesis, San Jose' State Univ, 2011.

BPhAL"O" = "Orisha Archives".

p. 77 sexual intercourse of monks with dying women, and with cadavres of dead women {Herodotos mentioneth that in some mortuaries in Aiguptos, male undertakers have sexual intercourse with the cadavres of dead women (including of noblewomen) before embalming them to make mummies of them.}

"The Buddhist Vinaya mentions ... sexual intercourse with all sorts of women, alive, half-alive, and dead; and

its commentary lists more forms of sexual acts performed by monks". [p. 312, n. 23 : "Bapat and Hirakawa 1970:199-204."]

Bapat & Hirakawa 1970 = P. V. Bapat & A. Hirakawa : Shan-Chien-P>i-P>o-Sha : a Chinese Version by Sanghabhadra of Samantapasadika [by Buddhaghos.a]. BHANDARKAR ORIENTAL SERIES, 10. Poona.

pp. 79, 312 exhaustion of unfavorable karman

p. 79

"the basic division ... was ... between those who are on the Path (pr.thagjana) and those who are already on it : stream-winners (srotapanna), once-returners (sakr.d[-]agamin), nonreturners (an[-]agamin, and arhats. ... The arhat is not somehow more enlightened than the others on the Path, for ... They have all experienced the liberating sight and sound of True Dharma; they have all had their Dharma-eyes opened ..., all put behind them the possibility of rebirth in one of the lower realms, all ceased producing new karma; and for all of them, parinirvan.a (final liberation {'around extinction'} is a certainly. The difference between {among} them thus lies ... in the amount of karmic residue left over from their previous lives that still needs to be worked out. ... for the an[-]agamin, it will be accomplished after death but prior to what would have been the next rebirth, either in a sort of intermediate state {antarabhava/bar-do} or in one of the Pure Abodes of the realm of form; for the arhat, it will be done in this very life span."

p. 312, n. 38

"This scheme, however, is complicated by the fact that there are several different types of once-returners ... . See Masefield 1986:105 f. ... ."

Masefield 1986 = Peter Masefield : Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism. Colombo : Sri Lanka Institute of Traditional Studies ; London : Allen & Unwin.

p. 81 realization by preacher by means of own preachment

Upa-gupta : "from this clear understanding of the Truth that came with his own preaching of the Dharma ["atmiyaya dharmades`anaya saha"], he attained the fruit of a nonreturner." (Div., p. 356 (Engl. transl., Strong 1983b, p. 183)

"In the Milinda[-]pan~ha, Naga[-] sena, while still a young monk, preaches a sermon to a laywoman, who thereby reaches the track of stream-winner. At the same time, however, he, too, reaches that goal, "having felt the force of the truths he himself had preached." (Mil. 1:15-16, Engl. transl., T. W. Rhys Davids 1890-4, 1:25-6) {In Vajra-yana lore, howbeit, the usual mode wherein a man and a woman achieve moks.a together is their engaging in caerimonious sexual intercourse together.}

{This so-called "Truth" is that samsara (intended to include not only the material universe, but also the the subtle, immaterial universes) is abhorrent -- but is not such an assertion quite impracticable and productive of worsening conditions, insofar as the currently tolerable state of the world (dependent on technology, technical knowledge, work, and the like) could not well be maintained, but would it not degenerate into worsening circumstances, if we were not working constantly to uphold its condition? In fact, such "Truth" (of a condition's being regarded as abhorrent) can be meaningful only when applied to oppression of the working-classes by the ruling-classes; but cannot be meaningful when applied to industrial technology in generality, nor when applied to productive work being performed by the working-classes. As if to indicate that the ruling-classes are responsible the basic deleterious nature of "samsara", canonical commentators assert that the term "suffering" would primarily referr to tortures inflicted on prisoners -- all such tortures being, of course, inflicted by the henchfolk of the ruling-class. [written May 2016]}

p. 84 living woman envisaged as living skeleton

"the courtesan positions herself right beneath his podium, where, visible to all but the preacher,

she proceeds to seduce the crowd with her dancing.

{The Mu religion indigenous to Korea is controlled by priestesses who, as their main public religious caerimony, perform stylized dances while being observed by admiring men.}

The men, gawking at her ..., increasingly give rise to feelings of lust ... .

{This is highly reminiscent of the situation when, according to S^into mythology, goddess Ame-no-UZUMe [a name cognate with /USUMacinta/, the name of a river (in Olmec territory) flowing into the Gulf of Mexico?] danced a striptease-dance while being viewed by male gods, who became overjoyed at that spectacle.}

The Master of Dharma ... uses his magical powers to transform her into a sort of living skeleton -- only bones devoid of all flesh and skin. {The story would have been more symmetrical is it had stated that, adscititiously, the men praesent were seen by her as also lacking in flesh and in skin.} ...

{According to standard, orthodox <islam, the h.uwriy women of Paradise have bodies which are transparent, except for their bones/bone-marrow (which are opaque). Conversion to faith in >islam is, primarily, an acceptance of the understanding that all men who are worthy will be awarded sexual access to such women in Paradise.}

The Master of Dharma then magically restores her to her former self ... . And among the crowd, some become stream-winners, and others become nonreturners, and still others ... attain arhatship." (p. 313, n. 55 "Huber 1908:105-16.")

Huber 1908 = E'douard Huber : Sutralamkara by As`vaghos.a. Paris : Ernest Leroux.

pp. 85-6 layfolk can, indeed, without ordination, each become an arhant (but only at the moment of death)

p. 85

"an important feature of Upagupta's enlightenment is that, after becoming a nonreturner (anagamin), he switches tracks and becomes an arhat -- with his ordination as a bhiks.u intervening between these two events. ...

This position -- that arhatship was not possible for laypersons -- did not ... go unchallenged. ... a sect known as the Uttara[-]pathaka[-]s ("those of ... the Northern road" {half-year "when the sun moves northward" [Maitra-ayana Brahman.a 6:14]; i.e., "the six months when the sun moves northward, from these months into the territory of gods" [Br.hat Aran.yaka 8] : so that [Chandogya 5:9:2 -- "RThK"] "From these months ... is the path leading to the gods."}) ... held that arhatship was possible for laypersons ... ." ...

p. 86

Upagupta, as a lay anagamin, could wait for his final liberation after death in the rupadhatu, but ordination makes possible his final liberation in this lifetime ... . ... Upagupta enters the arhat track very shortly after ordination. So do all the arhat[-]s of the Avadana[-]s`ataka, and even the Pali canon contains examples of monks who become arhat[-]s immediately upon ordination".

Maitra-ayana Brahman.a 6


"RThK" = "Readings in the Theory of Karma".

pp. 87-8 deities' own definition of /arhant/ as 'fainted person'

p. 87

"in the Majjhima Nikaya's account of the Buddha's ... practice of breath retention, ... when he collapses in a faint, some deities ..., seeing the situation rightly, declare, [M., 1:245 -- Engl. trans. Horner 1954-59, 1:299] "... he is an arhat, for the comportment of an arhat is just like this."

{The direct meaning of this statement by deities could be, that when a mortal is in a fainted condition, such a mortal's soul is at that time visiting those deities' own abode, and that their word for such a mortal visitor to a divine realm is /arhant/.}

I. B. Horner, puzzled by this last statement, speculated that

p. 88

... these deities ... were using the word arhat in a pre-Buddhist sense."

{The deities' own definition of any word would necessarily be prae-Bauddha -- for the deities themselves are regarded as having existed on Earth long before Siddha-artha became a buddha, and to have had a language of their own as of then.}

Horner 1954-9 = Isaline Blew Horner : The Collection of Middle Length Sayings. 3 voll. London : Luzac.

{That the deities have their own terminology is the subject-matter of one of the poe:ms in the Poietic Edda -- namely, Alvi`ss-Ma`l, stanzas 11-35.}

Alvi`ss-Ma`l translation

Alvi`ss-Ma`l translation with notes

pp. 88-9 significance of monastic robes, and of monastic belt {cincture}


"The monastic robes ... can be ... cremation-ground rags by origin, scraps of shrouds taken from dead bodies [p. 314, n. 79 "Bizot 1981:13-32; G. Martini 1973. See also the story of the first pamsukula in chapter 3, and in Lal., p. 265 (Fr. trans., Foucau 1884:229)."]; and

p. 89

the monastic belt which is sometimes used in the ceremony to bind the candidate's hands or to bind his robes to his neck may ... be

{This would be performed in order to bind any evil spirits praesent within the body of the candidate. According to the New Testament, every human body is similar to an inn, insofar as having numerous sojourner-spirits within it as an inn hath guests. Merion's half-brother (DCM, s.v. "Idomeneus", p. 228b) Ido-meneus's daughter Kleisi-thera ('inn-feral') was murdered by (DCM, s.v. "Idomeneus", p. 229a) Leukos ('white [scil., ghost]') son of TALoS [a name cognate with Cymry /TALieSin/] son of (DCM, s.v. "Talos 1") [W]Oino-pion ('wine-bibber', DCM, s.v. "Oinopion") -- apparently because she had neglected to bind/expell feral ghost Leukos [expulsion = exorcism].}

homologized to the garland of corpses with which Upagupta binds Mara".

{Why not homologize it, instead, with the "garland around the elder's [Upa-gupta's] neck" (infra p. 94), hung by Mara?}

Martini 1973 = Ginette Martini : "Brapamsukulanisamsam". BULLETIN DE L'ECOLE FRANC,AISE D'EXTRE^ME ORIENT 60:55-76.



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