Sự tích 16 vị La-hán được chép trong sách Pháp Trụ Ký. Sách này do vị Ðại A-la-hán Nan Ðề Mật Ða La (Nandimitra) trước thuật và Tam Tạng Pháp sư Huyền Trang (600-664) dịch ra chữ Hán. Ngài Nan Ðề Mật Ða La (còn có tên là Khánh Hữu) người Tích Lan, ra đời khoảng năm 800 năm sau Phật Niết bàn. Theo Pháp Trụ Ký (Fachu-chi), thì Ngài chỉ lược thuật lại kinh Pháp Trụ Ký do Phật thuyết giảng mà thôi.
Sách này trình bày danh tánh, trú xứ và sứ mệnh của 16 vị La-hán. Các Ngài đã đạt được Tam minh, Lục thông và Bát giải thoát, vâng thừa giáo chỉ của Phật, kéo dài thọ mạng, trụ tại thế gian tại thế gian để hộ trì chánh pháp và làm lợi lạc quần sanh. Mỗi khi các tự viện tổ chức lễ hội khánh thành, làm phúc, cúng dường trai Tăng, các Ngài cùng với quyến thuộc thường vận dụng thần thông đến để chứng minh, tham dự, nhưng chúng ta không thể nào thấy được.
Hiện nay, tuổi thọ trung bình của loài người là 80 tuổi. Tuổi thọ này - theo Pháp Trụ Ký - sẽ giảm dần còn 10 tuổi là giai đoạn cuối cùng của kiếp giảm. Sau đó, sang giai đoạn kiếp tăng, tuổi thọ con người từ 10 tuổi tăng dần đến 70.000 tuổi. Bấy giờ các Ngài sẽ chấm dứt nhiệm vụ và nhập Niết bàn. (Bởi vì khi tuổi thọ loài người đến 80.000 tuổi thì đức Phật Di Lạc sẽ ra đời). Danh tánh và trú xứ của các Ngài như sau:
1. Tân Ðâu Lô Bạt La Ðọa Xà (Pin-tu-lo Po-lo-to-she; S: Pindolabharadvàja), vị tôn giả này cùng 1000 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Tây Ngưu Hóa châu.
2. Ca Nặc Ca Phạt Sa (Ka-no-ka Fa-tso; S: Kanakavatsa), vị tôn giả này cùng với 500 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại phương Bắc nước Ca Thấp Di La.
3. Ca Nặc Ca Bạt Ly Ðọa Xà (Ka-no-ka Po-li-tou-she; S: Kanakabharadvàja), vị tôn giả này cùng 600 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Ðông Thắng Thân châu.
4. Tô Tân Ðà (Su-p'in-t'e; S: Subinda), vị tôn giả này cùng với 700 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Bắc Cu Lô châu.
5. Nặc Cự La (No-ku-lo; S: Nakula), vị tôn giả này cùng 800 vị A-la-hán phần lớn cư trú tại Nam Thiệm Bộ châu.
6. Bạt Ða La (Po-t'e-lo; S: Bhadra), vị tôn giả này cùng 800 vi A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Ðam Một La châu.
7. Ca Lý Ca (Ka-li-ka; S: Kàlika, Kàla), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1000 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Tăng Già Trà châu.
8. Phạt Xà La Phất Ða La (Fa-she-lo Fuh-to-lo; S: Vajraputra), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1100 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Bát Thứ Noa châu.
9. Thú Bát Ca (Shu-pa-ka, Kuo-pa-ka; S: Gopaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 900 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Hương Túy.
10. Bán Thác Ca (Pan-t'o-ka; S: Panthaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1300 vị A-la-hán cư trú tại cõi trời 33.
11. La Hỗ La (Lo-hu-lo; S: Ràhula), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1100 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại Tất Lợi Dương Cù châu.
12. Ma Già Tê Na (Na-ka-si-na; S: Nàgasena), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1200 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại núi Bán Ðộ Ba.
13. Nhân Yết Ðà (Yin-kie-t'e; S: Angida, Angila), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1300 vị A Lan Hán, phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Quảng Hiếp.
14. Phạt Na Bà Tư (Fa-na-p'o-ssu; S: Vanavàsa), vị tôn giả này cùng 400 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Khả Trụ.
15. A Thị Ða (A-shih-to; S: Ajita), vị tôn giả này cùng với 1500 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú tại trong núi Thứu Phong.
16. Chú Trà Bán Thác Ca (Chu-ch'a Pan-t'o-ka; S: Chùlapanthaka), vị tôn giả này cùng với 600 vị A-la-hán, phần lớn cư trú trong núi Trì Trục (còn có phiên âm là Châu Lợi Bàn Đặc). Sau khi Pháp Trụ ký được dịch sang chữ Hán, Thiền sư Quán Hưu (832-912), vốn là một họa sĩ tài ba đã vẽ ra hình ảnh 16 vị A-la-hán. Tương truyền, nhân Thiền sư nằm mơ cảm ứng thấy được hình ảnh của các Ngài rồi vẽ lại. Những hình ảnh này ngày nay người ta còn tìm thấy tàng trữ nơi vách tường Thiên Phật động tại Ðôn Hoàng thuộc tỉnh Cam Túc, Trung Quốc. Sau Thiền sư Quán Hưu còn có hoạ sĩ Pháp Nguyện, Pháp Cảnh và Tăng Diệu cũng chuyên vẽ về các vị La-hán.
Vì sao 16 vị La-hán trở thành 18 vị?
Từ khi có hình ảnh 16 vị La-hán, các chùa thường tôn trí hình ảnh của các Ngài, và từ con số 16 người ta thêm tôn giả Khánh Hữu thành 17 và tôn giả Tân Ðầu Lô thành 18 (nhưng không biết ai là tác giả đầu tiên của con số 18 này).
Thật ra tôn giả Khánh Hữu (Ch'ing-yu, tên dịch nghĩa ra chữ Hán) vốn là Nan Ðề Mật Ða La (tên phiên âm từ chữ Phạn Nandimitra), người đã thuyết minh sách Pháp Trụ Ký; còn Tân Ðầu Lô chính là Tân Ðầu Lô Bạt La Ðọa Xà, vị La-hán thứ nhất trong 16 vị. Do khômg am tường kinh điển và không hiểu tiếng Phạn mà thành lầm lẫn như thế! Về sau, Sa môn Giáp Phạm và Ðại thi hào Tô Ðông Pha (1036-1101) dựa vào con số 18 này mà làm ra 18 bài văn ca tụng.
Mỗi bài đều có đề tên một vị La-hán. Rồi họa sĩ Trương Huyền lại dựa vào 18 bài văn ca tụng của Tô Thức mà tạc tượng 18 vị La-hán, nhưng lại thay hai vị 17 và 18 bằng tôn giả Ca Diếp và Quân Ðề Bát Thán. Do thế mà từ con số 16 lần hồi trở thành con số 18. Từ đời Nguyên trở đi, tại Trung Quốc cũng như Việt Nam, con số 18 này được mọi người mặc nhiên chính thức công nhận, con số 16 chỉ còn lưu giữ trong sổ sách mà thôi. Nhưng, tại Tây Tạng, ngoài 16 vị trên, người ta thêm Ðạt Ma Ða La (Dharmatara) và Bố Ðại Hòa Thượng (Pu-tai Ho-shang); hoặc thêm hai tôn giả Hoàng Long và Phục Hổ, hoặc thêm Ma Da Phu nhân (Maya) và Di Lặc (Maitreya) để thành ra 18 vị.
Ngoài ra, còn có hai sự tích khác về 18 vị La-hán
1. Sự tích thứ nhất được kể trong tập sách viết bằng chữ Hán của thầy Giáo thọ Hoằng Khai, trụ trì chùa Càn An, tỉnh Bình Ðịnh, vào năm Tự Ðức thứ tư (1851). Theo sách này thì nước Triệu có nàng công chúa tên là Hy Ðạt, vốn rất chí thành mộ đạo, nàng chuyên niệm danh hiệu đức Phật A Di Ðà. Năm 15 tuổi, nàng ăn một đóa hoa sen vàng rồi hoài thai đến 6 năm mới sinh ra 18 đồng tử. Các đồng tử ấy về sau được đức Quan Âm hóa độ và thọ ký để họ trở thành 18 vị La-hán. Nội dung sự tích này khá lý thú, tương đối có giá trị về mặt văn chương, nhưng cốt truyện lại pha trộn tinh thần Phật, Khổng, Lão nên ít có giá trị về mặt lịch sử.
2. Sự tích thứ hai: tương truyền ngày xưa tại Trung Quốc có 18 tên tướng cướp rất hung hãn. Về sau họ hồi tâm cải tà quy chánh, nương theo Phật pháp tu hành và đắc quả A-la-hán. Sự tích này tương đối có ý nghĩa, nhưng lại có tính cách huyền thoại, do đó ít được người ta chấp nhận. Thích Phước Sơn Tham khảo: - Phật Quang Ðại Từ Ðiển, tr.359, 394, 4791, 6787;
- Phật Học Ðại Từ Ðiển, tr. 2844-2845;
- Pháp Trụ Ký, Hán tạng tập 49 tr.12;
- Phật Tổ Thống Kỷ, quyển 33, Hán tạng tập 49, tr. 319;
- Phật Thuyết Di Lặc Hạ Sanh Kinh, Hán tạng tập 14, tr.421
Source: LotusNet Production, http://www.lotuspro.net/ English Article The Eighteen Lohans of Chinese Buddhist Temples.
WATTERS, T. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1898.04, pp.329--347 -oOo- When you enter the chief hall of a Buddhist temple in China you cannot fail to notice two rows of large yellow figures -- one along the east and the other along the west wall. These figures, which are usually numbered and labelled, are called the Eighteen Lohan, and if you ask your guide what they are he will probably reply "belong jess."
This answer may not be deemed satisfactory, but further inquiry will only elicit the information that these are images of Buddha's eighteen great disciples. The names, however, show that this information is not quite correct, some of them being unknown to the original Buddhist canon. If you go on to Korea and visit the curious old Buddhist temples in that country, you will find that Buddha's Hall has rows of similar figures, but sixteen in number. If you continue your journey and visit Japan, you will find there also Sixteen Rakan lining the side walls of the Buddhist temples. Lohan and Rakan are for A-lo-han, the Chinese way of expressing the Sanskrit word Arhan for Arhat.
Suppose you could go back and travel to Lhassa, there also you would find Sixteen Arhats, or as they are called there, Sthaviras, in the Chief Hall of Buddha's temples. Tibet, however, seems to have also its Eighteen Lohan, imported from China apparently in modern times. When we examine the Buddhist literature preserved in the libraries of the great monasteries in China, we find in it mention of only sixteen great Arhats, the number eighteen being apparently unknown even to the comparatively modern native treatises. As for the pictures and images of these sixteen, they are mainly derived from the works of one or two painters of the T'ang dynasty.
About the year 880 an artist named Kuan Hsiu made pictures of the Sixteen Lohan, which were given to a Buddhist monastery near Ch'ien-t'ang in the province of Chekiang. These became celebrated, and were preserved with great care and treated with ceremonious respect. In the reign of Kien-lung of the present dynasty an official, while on duty in the district, had copies of these pictures made by competent artists and sent them to the emperor.
His Majesty had further copies made, and ordered them to be printed and distributed. It was found that wrong names had been given to several of the figures, so the emperor ordered that all the names should be compared with the original and correctly transcribed according to the new system. But the question remains, who are these Arhats? and the answer is to be found in the Buddhist scriptures.
They are patrons and guardians of Sakyamuni Buddha's system of religion and its adherents, lay and clerical. An early mention of spiritual protectors of Buddha's religion after his decease is found in the "Sutra of Sari putra's Questions," No. 1,152 in Mr. Bunyio Nanjio's Catalogue. We do not know when or by whom this book was translated or when it Teas brought to China, but its translation has been referred to the fourth century of our era. In this treatise the Buddha is represented as com mitting his religion to the protection of Sakra and the four Devarajas. He also entrusts the propagation of his system after his death to four "Great Bhikshus." The names of these are given as Mahakasyapa, Pindola, Kun te-pan-t'an, and Rahula.
These men were to remain in existence and not experience final Nirvana until the advent of Maitreya as Buddha. Three of these names are well known, and the unknown one is apparently the Kun-t'ou p'o-han of the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching " (ch. 23). These characters evidently represent the Pali name Kundo-vahan, which means Mungoose-bearing, a name to be remembered in connection with what follows. The composition of this sutra may probably be referred to the end of the last century B.C. Then in a sastra, the name of which is restored as " Arya-Vasumitra-bodhisattva- sangiti-sastra," Nanjio, No. 1,289, we find mention of sixteen "Brahmans" over whom Buddha is lord.
These are probably the Sixteen Arhats, although a note added to the text gives the name of the second one as Ajita- Maitreya. This treatise, which was probably composed in the first century of our era, was translated in the year 384. In another treatise called the "Ju-ta-sheng-lun," the " Mahayanavataraka-sastra" of Nanjio, No. 1,243, we have further mention of guardians of Buddhism. Here we have ninety-nine lakhs of " great arhats" and also sixteen called "Great Sravakas." Of these only two names are given, Pindola and Rahula, the reader being supposed to be acquainted with the sutras from which the author quotes.
These guardians of Buddha's religion are dispersed over the world, the names of some of their spheres being given. Among these are Purva-Videha, the Wheat (Godhuma) region, the Chestnut (Priyangu) region, the Lion (Simha) region, and the "Bhadrika place." This sastra was corn posed by the learned Buddhist Sthiremati, and translated into Chinese by Tao-t'ai and others about A.D. 400.
The test, however, from which all our knowledge of the names of the Sixteen Arhats or Lohan of Buddhist temples in China, Japan, and Korea may be said to be derived is that entitled " Ta-A-lo-han-Nan-t'i-mi-to-lo-so-shuo-fachu-chi." This means "The record of the duration of the law, spoken by the great Arhat Nandimitra." The treatise, which was translated by the celebrated Yuan-chuang (Hiouen Thsang), is No. 1,466 in Nanjio's Catalogue.
The name of the author is not known, but he must have lived long after the time of Nandimitra, and apparently he was not a native of that arhat's country. There seems to have been also a previous translation of the same or a similar original, and to it Yuan-chuang and other writers appear to have been indebted. The book begins with the statement that according to tradition within 800 years from Buddha's decease there was an arhat named Nandimitra at the capital of King Sheng-chun in the Chih-shih-tzu country.
Nanjio took Sheng-chun to be Prasenajit and Chih-shih-tzu to be Ceylon according to the Chinese notes in the " Hsi-yu-chi." But Prasenajit's capital was Sravasti in Kosala, and we do not find any king with that name in the annals of Ceylon. The " Chih-shih-tzu " country of this passage is probably the Shih-tzu-kuo which we know from the 16th chapter of the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching " was in the Vrijjian territory.
The original home of the Aryan immigrants into Ceylon was not far from this district, and the name Simhala-dvipa may have been derived from this Lion-country. The words Sheng-Chun may stand for either Prasenajit or Jayasena. (1)
The sutra then proceeds to narrate how the great Arhat Nandimitra answered the questions of his perplexed and desponding congregation about the possible continued existence of Buddhism in the world. He tells his hearers that the Buddha when about to die entrusted his religion to sixteen great Arhats. These men are to watch over and care for the religious welfare of the lay-believers and generally protect the spiritual interests of Buddhism. They are to remain in existence all the long time until Maitreya appears as Buddha and brings in a new system.
Then, according to Nandimitra, the Sixteen Arhats will collect all the relics of Sakyamuni and build over them a magnificent tope. When this is finished they will pay their last worship to the relics, rising in the air and doing pradakshina to the tope. Then they will enter an igneous ecstasy and so vanish in remainderless nirvana. At his hearers' request Nandimitra gives the names of these Protectors of the Faith, their homes or spheres of action, and the numbers of their retinues.
These Arhats are the Sixteen Rakan of the Japanese and Koreans and constitute sixteen of the Eighteen Lohan of the Chinese.
They have incense burnt before their images, but generally speaking they are not worshipped or consulted like the gods and P'usas of the temples. The names of the Sixteen Arhats or Lohan, together with their residences and retinues, are now given according to this sutra of the Duration of the Law and in the order in which that work gives them.
Variations as to the names which have been noticed in other lists and in different temples are also given. But as to the pictures and images of the Sixteen we must remember that these, whether merely works of art or consecrated to religion, are not supposed to be faithful representations of the men indicated by the names attached. The pictures and images are to be taken merely as symbols or fanciful creations. (2)
1. Pin-tu-lo-Po-lo-to-she, Pindola the Bharadvaja. He has a retinue of 1,000 arhats, and his place is the Godhanga region in the west. Sometimes the name of this arhat is transcribed Pin-tou-lo, and sometimes he is styled Bharadvaja simply. Pindola was one of Buddha's great disciples, became an arhat, and was distinguished as a successful disputant and defender of orthodoxy, with a voice like the roar of a lion. (3)
But he had a weakness for exhibiting his magical powers before all sorts of people, and sometimes for unworthy objects. On one occasion, according to the Pali and other editions of the Vinaya, in order to show his superhuman powers, he rose in the air, took a sandal-wood bowl off a very high pole, and floated about with it for a time over the heads of an admiring crowd. This proceeding brought a severe rebuke from the Master, and was the occasion of a rule prohibiting the use of sandal-wood bowls. (4)
The Buddha also on this occasion announced to Pindola that he was not to "take Nirvana," but was to remain in existence protect Buddha's system until the coming of Maitreya. (5) We read also of Pindola working a miracle with a hill in order to go to a breakfast given by Sudatta's wife, and some make this to be the occasion on which Buddha rebuked him and told him he was to remain in existence to foster Buddhism until the advent of Maitreya to bring in a new system. (6) But Pindola sometimes wrought miracles for good purposes, and his exhibition of magical powers at Rajagriha led to the conversion of an unbelieving lady. (7)
Pindola has been living ever since Buddha's time, and he has appeared on several occasions to pious workers for Buddhism. In India it was once the custom for lay believers when giving an entertainment to the Buddhist monks to " invite Pindola." The arhat could not be seen, but the door was left open for him, and it was known by the appearance of the flowers or the condition of the mat reserved for him whether he had been present. (8) When King Asoka summoned his great assembly Pindola was living on the Gandhamali (or Gandhamadana) mountain with a company of arhats 60,000 in number.
Called to the assembly, he flew swan-like to the place of meeting, and on account of his undoubted seniority he was chosen president. He was then a very old man with white hair and long eyebrows, which he had to hold back with his hands in order to see." (9) As he often has very long eyebrows in his pictures and images, the Chinese have come to know him popularly as the "Ch'ang-mei-seng" or "Long-eyebrowed Monk." But Lohans with other names also have this characteristic in the fancy portraits which adorn temples and pictures.
In the seventh century Pindola came to China and appeared to Tao-hsuan, the great Vinaya doctor and signified his approval of the work which that zealous monk had been doing. (10) We find the name Pindola explained in Chinese com mentaries as meaning Pu-tung or Unmoved, but this cannot have been intended for a translation of the word. The Tibetans give "Alms-receiver" as the equivalent, connecting the name with pinda, but it may have been derived from the name of a place transcribed Pin-t'ou in Chinese.
This was a town or village in the Kosala country in Buddha's time. In a far-back existence Pindola had been a bad son and a cruel man, and owing to his bad Karma he had to suffer in hell for a very long period. Here his food was "tiles and stones," and even when he was born to be a pious arhat of wonderful powers, he retained a tendency to live on "tiles and stones." (11) We cannot wonder that he was thin and ribbed. Some pictures and images represent Pindola sitting and holding a book in one hand and his alms-bowl in the other; others have him holding a book reverently in both hands; and sometimes we find him with an open book on one knee and a mendicant's staff at his side. 2. Ka-no-ka-Fa-tso, Kanaka the Vatsa.
This arhat is appointed to Kashmir with a retinue of 500 other arhats. He was originally a disciple of Buddha, and it was said of him that he comprehended all systems good and bad. (12) The Tibetans, in their usual manner, have translated the name literally "Gold calf." 3. Ka-no-ka-Po-li-tou-she, Karaka the Bharadvaja. This arhat's station is in the Purva-Videha region and he has 600 arhats under his authority. He is sometimes pictured as a very hairy old man, and some paintings give him a small disciple at his side. 4. Su-p'in-t'e, Subhinda. His sphere of action is the Kuru country in the north, and he has a retinue of 800 arhats.
This name does not occur in several of the lists, but it is found in the temples in China, Korea, and Japan. Instead of it we find occasionally Nandimitra, and the new recension and the Tibetan give A-pi-ta, which may be for Abhida. The Tibetan translation of the name is inseparable or indissoluble, and this seems to point to an original like Abhinda or Abhida. This arhat appears as a venerable sage with a scroll in his right hand, or as sitting in an attitude of meditation. He is also represented as sitting with an alms-bowl and an incense-vase beside him, holding a sacred book in the left hand, while with the right he "cracks his fingers."
This gesture is indicative of the rapidity with which he attained spiritual insight. 5. No-ku-lo, Nakula. The sphere of this arhat's action is Jambudripa, that is, India, and his retinue is composed of 800 arhats. This name is found in the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese temples, but in some lists instead of it we find Pa-ku-la or p'u-ku-lo, that is, Vakula. This was the name of one of Buddha's great disciples, often mentioned in the scriptures.
Vakula became an arhat, but he led a solitary, self-contained life; he never had a disciple and he never preached a word. He was remarkable for his wonderful exemption from bodily ailments and for the great length of life to which he attained. When King Asoka visited his tope and showed his contempt for Vakula by offering a penny, the arhat was equal to the occasion and refused the coin. (l3) We must, however, go by Yuan-chuang's text and read Nakula. This word means Mungoose, and we remember the arhat called Kundo-vahan or Mungoose-bearer already mentioned.
We read also of a Nakula's father, in Pali. Nakula-pita, who became a devoted lay adherent of Buddha's teaching. Nakula was a Vrijjian resident at Uruvilva, but we do not find much about him in the scriptures. He may be the same person with Nakulapita converted when he was 120 years old, but made young and happy by Buddha's teaching. (14) Nakuls is often represented, as in the Tibetan picture, with a mungoose as his emblem, and sometimes instead of that animal he has a three-legged frog under his left arm.
Sometimes he is represented as meditating or as teaching with a little boy by his side. 6. Po-t'e-lo, Bhadra. This arhat was appointed to T'an-mo-lo-Chow, that is, Tamra-dvipa or Ceylon, and he was given a retinue of 900 other arhats. We sometimes find him called Tamra Bhadra, apparently from the name of his station.
The Bhadra of the Buddhist scriptures was a cousin of the Buddha and one of his great disciples. He was a good preacher, and could expand in clear and simple language the Master's teaching. Hence he is often represented as expounding the contents of a book which he holds in one hand. He took his profession very seriously and aimed at spiritual perfection. Bhadra often appears in pictures and images accompanied by a tiger which he soothes or restrains, but he is also represented without the tiger and in an attitude of worship. 7. Ka-li-ka, Kalika or Kala.
This arhat has 1,000 other arhats under him and resides in Seng-ka-t'a. This has been supposed to be Ceylon, but it is evidently the name of some other region. The Chinese characters may stand for Simhata, and something like this may have been the name of the "Lion country " in the Vrijjian territory already mentioned. (l5) This arhat is apparently the great disciple called "Lion King Kala", who attained arhatship and was honoured by King Bimbisara. (16)
He is represented as studying a scroll or sitting in meditation, or holding a leaf of a tree, or he has extremely long eyebrows which he holds up from the ground. 8. Fa-she-lo-fuh-to-lo, Vajraputra.
He has 1,100 arhats and resides in the Po-la-na division of the world, that is, in Parna-dvipa perhaps. In some temples and lists of the Lohan the name is given as Vajriputra. This may be the Vajjiput of the village of the same name who became a disciple and attained to arhatship. (17) He is represented as very hairy, or as very lean and ribbed. 9. Shu-po-ka, Supaka perhaps. This arhat is stationed on the Gandhamadana mountain and has an establishment of 900 arhats. Instead of the character for Shu we find in some places Kie, that is Ka, making the name Kapaka, but this is evidently wrong.
In the new transcription we have Kuo-pa-ka, that is, Gopaka. The Tibetans have the two Chinese transcriptions Kapaka and Supaka, but their translation is Sbed-byed, which requires the form Gopaka (or Gopa), meaning protector. We do not know of any disciple of Buddha named Supaka, but we read of one named Gopaka, a sthavira at Pataliputra. The representations of this arhat often show him with a small figure of a saint above his right shoulder or close to his side, but he also appears with a book or a fan in his hand. 10. Pan-t'o-ka, Panthaka or Pantha. This arhat's sphere is the Trayastrimsat Heaven, and he is attended by 1,300 arhats.
He is sometimes called simply Pantha or Panthaka, and sometimes Ta or Maha-Panthaka, Great Panthaka, to distinguish him from his young brother, who is No. 16 of this list. The name is explained as meaning way or road, or "born on the road," and a legend relates how it was given to the two boys because their births occurred by the roadside while their mother was making journeys. (l8)
But we find the name also explained as meaning "continuing the way," that is, propagating Buddhism, and the Tibetan translation gives "doctrine of the way" as its signification. But this explanation belongs rather to the younger brother, who also is frequently styled simply Pantha or Panthaka. We occasionally find in books Pa (or Sa) -na-ka for Pan- thaka, apparently a copylst's error.
Pantha is also found transcribed Pan-t'a, and for the second syllable we find t'u or t'e. Panthaka was distinguished as among the highest of Buddha's disciples, who " by thought aimed at excellence." (19) He was also expert in solving doubts and difficulties in doctrine for weaker vessels, and he had extraordinary magical powers. (20)
He could pass through solids and shoot through the air, and cause fire and water to appear at pleasure. He could also reduce his own dimensions little by little until there was nothing left of him. (21)
These magical powers were called into request by Buddha when he made his expedition to subdue and convert the fierce dragon-king Apalala. (22)
The various pictures and images represent Panthaka as sitting under a tree or teaching from an open book, or as holding a scroll, or as sitting in profound meditation with his arms folded. He is also frequently depieted in the act of charming a dragon into his alms-bowl. This Panthaka is not to be confounded with the Upasaka of the same name who accompanied Mahinda in his mission for the conversion of Ceylon. 11. Lo-hu-lo, Rahula.
To Rahula was assigned the Priyangu-dvipa, a land of aromatic herbs, (23) and he had a suite of 1,100 arhats. Rahula, the son of Buddha, was distinguished as a disciple for his diligent study of the canon and his uncompromising thorough strictness in carrying out the rules of his profession. He is often represented in pictures and images as having the large "umbrella-shaped" head, prominent eyes, and hooked nose which some books ascribe to him. But in many cases he is apparently represented without any distinctive features or attribute. It is his lot to die and return to this world as Buddha's son for several times, and he is not to pass finally out of existence for a very long time. 12. Na-ka-si-na, Nagasena.
This arhat was appointed to the Pan-tu-p'o or Pandava Mountain in Magadha, with a retinue of 1,200 arhats. Nagasena is, I think, the disciple called Seni in the " Tseng-i-a-han-ching " and the "Fen-pie-kung-te- lun." In the former this bhikshu is selected for praise as an orthodox expounder of the principles or essentials of Buddhism.
The latter treatise also calls him first in exposition. It adds that he was a bhikshu thirty years before he attained arhatship, because he made the laying down of dogma the one chief thing postponing to this release from sin, that he was skilled in analysis and the logical development of principles, and that he left a treatise embodying the results of his studies. (24)
Now this Se-ni is, I think, the Nagasena who composed the original work which was afterwards amplified into the "Questions of Milinda." In the " Tsa-pao-tsang-ching " We have this Nagasena, called also Se-na, a man of commanding presence, proud and learned, subtle-minded and ready-witted, and he is put through a severe ordeal by a king called Nan-t'e or Nanda. (25) Then these Nanda and Nagasena are evidently the Min-lin-t'e and Nagasena of one translation of the '' Abhidharma-kosa-vyakhya-Sastra '' and the Pi-lin-t'e and Lung-chun, Dragon-host of the other translation. (26) They are also the Mi-lan and Na-hsien of the " Na-hsien-pi-chiu-ching " (27) and the Milinda and Nagasena of the " Questions of Milinda." (28)
This Nagasena was, or was taken to be, a contemporary of the Buddha and Sariputra, although he is also supposed to be living long after Buddha's time. He is called arhat by the author of the introduction to the "Questions," but in the body of the book he is not an arhat. In this treatise he defends against his cross-examiner the unity and consistency of Buddha's teachings, and explains and expands hard doctrines with great learning and richness of illustration. He became the head of the Church in Milinda's country to watch over and maintain Buddhist orthodoxy.
His treatise must have existed in various lands and in different forms from a comparatively early period. The " Abhidharma-kosa-sastra " and the " Tsa-pao-tsang-ching " quote from a text which is neither the "Na-hsien-pi-chiuching" nor the "Questions," and these two last differ very much. 13. Yin-kie-t'e, Angida. This arhat's station is the mountain called Kuaug-hsie or Broad-side, that is, Vipulaparsva, and he has a retinue of 1,300 arhats.
In one place I have seen Mu instead of Yin, and the Tibetans have Angija, but all other tran- scriptions are apparently either Angida, or Angila. One of Buddha's great disciples was named Angaja, and he was noted for the cleanness and fragrance of his body. (29) Another great disciple was Angila, who was described as being perfect in all things. (30) These two names may possibly indicate only one person. The Lohan called Angida is sometimes the fat, jolly creature who is supposed to be Maitreya or his incarnation.
Other pictures or images make him a lean old monk with a staff and a book containing Indian writing. This latter is the old traditional representation handed down from the period of the T'ang dynasty. 14. Fa-na-p'o-ssu, Vanavasa.
A Korean temple has Fa-lo-p'o-ssu, giving Varavasa, but all the other transcriptions seem to have Vanavasa. This arhat, who has a retinue of 1,400 other arhats, is stationed on the K'o-chu or Habitable Mountain. He is sometimes represented sitting in a cave meditating with eyes closed, or his hands make a mudra, or he nurses his right knee. 15. A-shih-to, Asita or Ajita.
These characters do not represent Yuan-chuang's ordinary transcription either for Asita or Ajita, and it is probable that here he adopted the transcription of a predecessor. The new authorized reading gives Ajita, and it is so in the Tibetan. But Ajita is Maitreya, and that Bodhisattva, according to all accounts, remains in Tushita Paradise until the time comes for him to become incarnate on this earth. So he cannot properly be a guardian of Sakyamuni's system, which must have passed away before he can become Buddha.
This arhat, whom we may call Asita, resides on the Gridhrakuta Mountain, and has 1,500 arhats in his suite. It cannot be that he is the old seer Asita who came from his distant home to see the newly-born infant who was to become Buddha. The images and pictures generally represent the arhat as an old man with very long eyebrows, nursing his right knee or absorbed in meditation. 16. Chu-ch'a, (t'a) -Pan-t'o-ka, Chota-Panthaka.
The first part of the name is also given as Chou-li or Chu-li. These transcriptions stand for the Sanskrit Kshulla and Pali Chulla (or Chula), and Chota is a dialectic form still preserved in the vernacular. The words mean little, small, and this Panthaka received the above name in order to distinguish him from his elder brother already noticed. He is also called Hsiao-lu or Little Road, the elder brother being Ta-lu or Great Road.
Chota-Panthaka has a household of 1,600 arhats, and his station is the Ishadhara Mountain, a part of the great range of Sumeru. As a disciple Little Pantha was at first and for a long time exceedingly dull and stupid, the result of bad Karma. He could not make any progress in the spiritual life, being unable to apply his mind or commit to memory even one stanza of doctrine. (31) He was accordingly slighted by the Brethren and their lay patrons, but the Master always had pity and patience.
On one occasion the King invited Buddha and the disciples to breakfast, but Little Pantha was excluded. When Buddha discovered this he refused to sit down to breakfast until the despised disciple was bidden to the feast. (32) And when Little Pantha was expelled by his elder brother as being incorrigibly dull and stupid, Buddha brought him back and would not allow him to be expelled.
He comforted the sorrowing disciple and gave him the words "Sweeping broom" to repeat and keep in mind. In the effort to do so the intellectual faculties of the poor dullard were stimulated, and he came to see that the two words meant that all attachment to things of this world was defilement and to be swept away by the broom of Buddha's doctrine. (33)
Having entered on the good way he went on towards perfection, and became noted as one of the first disciples in "mental aiming at excellence"; he was chiefly occupied with the mind and mental contemplation. (34) By his determined perseverance he attained a thorough insight into religious truths, and expounded these with such power and eloquence that even giddy nuns, who came to laugh and mock, remained to be impressed and edified. (35) In process of time Little Pantha attained arhatship, with the powers of flying through the air and of assuming any form at pleasure.
He had also other miraculous powers, and on one occasion he produced 500 strange oxen and proceeded to ride one of them. (36) This arhat is sometimes pictured as an old man sitting under and leaning against a dead tree, one hand having a fan and the other held up in the attitude of teaching. He is also represented as a venerable sage sitting on a mat-covered seat and holding a long staff surmounted by a hare's head. 17 and 18.
There does not seem to be any historical account of the first introduction of the Lohan into the Halls of Buddhist temples, nor can it be ascertained when the number of these guardians was raised from sixteen to eighteen in Chinese temples.
In some of these, down to the present time, the number of the Lohan is still sixteen, e.g. in the Pao-ning-ssu, near Mount Omi, visited by Mr. Baber. (37) Some Chinese have supposed that there were formerly eighteen gods regarded as protectors of Buddhist temples, and that the Lohan took their places. But we know nothing about these gods, and the supposition need not be taken into consideration. Another suggestion, and one which seems not improbable, is that the Buddhists in this matter imitated a certain Chinese institution.
When we read the history of the reigns of T'ang Kao Tsu and T'ai Tsung, we find the record of an event which may have given the idea of grouping the Lohan in the Chief Hall of a temple and of raising their number to eighteen. In the year 621 T'ai Tsung instituted within the palace grounds a very select college composed of eighteen members. These dons were officials of high standing, of sound learning and good literary attainments, and faithful adherents and personal friends of the founder. Among them were such famous men as Tu Ju-mei and his friend Fang Hsuan-ling; Yu Chi-ming, learned scholar and loyal statesman, who wrote the preface to Yuan-chuang's " Hsiyu-chi "; Lu Te-ming, and K'ung Ying-ta.
The members took their turns in batches of three in attending on duty, and while in the college they were liable to be visited and interrogated by the emperor. He had portraits of the members made for the college, and each portrait was furnished with a statement of the name, birthplace, and honours of the original. The merits of each were described in ornate verse by one of the number, Chu Liang. These favoured men were called the Shih-pa-hsue-shih or Eighteen Cabinet Ministers, and they were popularly said to have teng-ying-chou, to have become Immortals. It is this Hall of the Eighteen which I think may have led to the installation of the Eighteen Arhats in Buddha's Hall.
The names of these venerable ones are given, and sometimes their stations and retinues are added. There are also temples in which the Lohan are arranged in groups of three. But these Eighteen Lohan have never received authoritative recognition, and they are not given even in the modern accepted Buddhist treatises. We find them, however, occasionally in modern Chinese works of art. The South Kensington Museum has a pair of bowls on which they are painted, and the British Museum has them on an incense-vase.
This vase is remarkable for departing so far from the established doctrine of the Lohan as to represent three of the eighteen as boys or very young men. The modern Chinese artist, followed by the Japanese, apparently takes the Lohan to be Immortals, and he shows them crossing to the Happy Land of Nirvana or leading lives of unending bliss among the pines of the misty mountain-tops. As to the persons who should be admitted as guardian Lohans of Buddha and his religion, there has been a great diversity of opinion, and consequently different worthies have been added in different places. In many old temples we find the 17th and 18th places given respectively to Nandimitra and a second Pindola.
This Nandimitra, in Chinese Ch'ing-yu, is the arhat already mentioned as describing the appointment and distribution of the Sixteen Arhats. As one of the additional Lohans we sometimes find the well-known Imperial patron of Buddhism, Liang Wu Ti (A.D. 502 to 550), or Kumarajiva, the great translator who flourished about A.D. 400.. In some temples we find Maitreya or his supposed incarnation the Pu-tai-ho shang, or Calico-bag (cushion) Monk. This monk is said to have lived in the sixth century A.D., but he was not honoured as a Lohan until modern times. He is the special patron of tobacco-sellers, and his jolly fat little image often adorns their shop-fronts.
Another interesting person sometimes found among the Eighteen Lohan is the Indian Buddhist Dharmatara (or Dharmatrata), in Chinese Fa-Chiu. This is perhaps the Dharmatara who was a great master of Dhyana and learned author, and lived about the middle of the first century of our era probably.
He is sometimes called a great Upasaka, and is represented as receiving or introducing the Sixteen (or Eighteen) Lohan. Writing about Lhassa the learned Mr. Chandra Das has the following: "In the Na-chu Lha Khang Chapel erected by one of the Sakya Lamas named Wang Chhyug Tsondu, were the most remarkable statue-like images of the Sixteen Sthaviras called Natan Chudug, arranged to represent the scene of their reception by Upashaka Dharma Tala, one of the most celebrated and devout Buddhists of ancient China." (38) In Tibet the Sixteen Arhats are called Sthaviras, and "Natan Chudug" means Sixteen Sthaviras. Then "Dharma Tala" is for Dharmatara, who was Indian, not Chinese.
He is also now one of the Eighteen Lohan in Tibet as in China. Another illustrious personage installed as one of these Lohan in many temples is Kuanyin P'usa. He appears as such in his capacity as Protector of Buddhism and Buddhists. NOTES: (1) The " Chih-shih-tzu-kuo" of this sutra and the " Shih-tzu-kuo" of the " TSeng-i-a-han-ching" are probably the Simhadvipa of Schiefner's " Tara- natha," S. 83.
This last cannot be Ceylon, and the mention of the Lusthain. in it reminds us of the garden in the Shih-tzu-kuo. In the Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 8, we have mention of a Shih-tzu district which lay between Sravasti and Rajagriha. (2) For illustrations and details of the Lohan see Anderson's "Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum"; Pandar's "Das Pantheon d. Tschangtscha Hutuktu, " S. 83f.; Hsiang-chiao-p'i-pien, ch. 2. (3) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3 (Bun., No. 543, tr. A.D. 385) ; Fo-shuo-a-lo-han-chu-te-ching (Bun., No. 897, tr. about 900). (4) Vinaya Texts, iii, p. 79. (5)
Ch'ing-Pin-t'ou-lu-ching (or-fa) (Bun., No. 1,348, tr. 457). (6) Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 23 (Bun., No. 544, tr. between 420 and 479). (7) Tsng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 20. (8) Ching-Pin-t'ou-ching. (9) Divyavadana, p. 402; Burnouf, Introd., p. 397; Tsa-a-han-ching, l.c. (10) Ta-Sung-seng-shi-liao, ch.2. (11)
Ken-pen-shuo-i-ch'ie-yu Vinaya Yao-shi, ch. 16 (tr. by I-ching about 710) (12) Fo-shuo-a-lo-han-chu-te-ching. (13) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, chs. 3, 23. (14) Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 5; A-lo-han-chu-te-ching. (15) In the Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 8, we find mention of the "Lion Town" which lay between Sravasti and Rajagriha. (16) Sarvata Vinaya Yao-shih, ch. 17. (17) Tsa-a-han-ching, ch. 29. (18)
Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch. 5 (Bun., No. 1,290, tr. perhaps about 200). (19) Abhidharma pa-kan-tu-lun, ch. 27 (Bun., No. 1,273, tr. 383). (20) A-lo-han-chu-te-ching. (21) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3. (22) Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, l.c. (23) But the Chinese pilgrims were taught that priyangu was the Indian name for the chestnut. (24) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3; Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch. 5. (25) Tsa-Pao-tsang-ching, Ch. 9 (Bun., No. 1,329, tr. 472). (26)
Abhidharma-kosa-vyakhya-sastra, ch. 22 (Bun., No. 1,269, tr. 565) ; Abhidharma-kosa-sastra, ch. 30 (Bun., No. 1,267, tr. 652). (27) Na-hsien-pi-chiu-ching (Bun., No 1,358, tr. between 317 and 420). (28) " The Questions of King Milinda Milinda," translated from the Pali by T. W. Rhys Davids. (29) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch. 3. (30) A-lo-han-chu-te-ching. (31)
Tseng-i-a-han-ching, ch 11; Fen-pie-kung-te-lun, ch 5; Sarvata Vinaya Yao-Shih, ch. 17. Compare the account of Chulla-Panthaka in Jataka (Chalmers), p. 14, and see note at p. 20. (32) Fa-chu-pi-yu-ching, ch. 2 (Bun., No. 1,353, tr. about 300) ; Ch'u-yao- ching, ch. 19 (Bun., No. 1,321, tr. 399). (33) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, l.c. (34) Abhidharma-pa-kan-tu-lun, ch. 27 (Bun., No. 1,273, tr. 383) ; Abhidharma- fa-chih-lun, ch. 18 (Bun., No. 1,275, tr. about 660). (35) Fa-chu-pi-yu-ching, I.c. (36) Tseng-i-a-han-ching, chs. 3 and 22. (37) " Travels and Researches in Western China," p. 31. (38) "Narrative of a Journey to Lhasa," p. 145.
Source: Fulltext Archives, National Taiwan University, http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/cf_eng.htm
Or, The 18 Lohans
Eighteen Lohans Bring Serene Energy Into Homes
An Arhat (or Lohan, in China) is a Buddhist who has reached the highest state of peace and enlightenment. Seated in this lovely garden are the Eighteen Arhats (or Lohans, in China). They have realized the truth of non-self, and that all is a composite of the five aggregates dependent on other phenomena, originally empty and subject to impermanence.
Having eradicated all passions, desires, and attachments to worldly things, each is foremost in his discipline. The Arhats (or Lohans, in China) have overcome the defilements of greed, anger, and ignorance. Their unique ways of practicing Bodhisattvahood have been inspirational for many Buddhists followers since the time of the Shakamuni Buddha. Although their outward appearances may be deceiving, their traits are subtle and beautiful in their own special ways. If only one is able to recognize his or her own potential and work diligently to benefit oneself as well as others, the path towards Buddhahood can ultimately be attained. (This beautiful Arhats Garden is located at Hsi-Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, Southern California, www.hsilai.org)
After his enlightenment, Shakamuni Buddha frequently visited Mount Grdhrakuta near Rajagrha, the capital of Magadha where he gathered an assembly of disciples and propagated his teachings. This mountain is also called the Vulture Peak because of the shape of its peak. Each time when the Buddha was there, his disciples of monks, arhats, Bodhisattavas of foreign lands, asuras and other sentient beings, etc. would gather at the same location and listened attentively to the Buddha's teachings of the Dharma.
The Chinese have long held dear the desire to invite the Eighteen Lohans into their homes. They have believed that the presence of these great beings will not only protect the home and its residents from mental and spiritual pollutions, they also help residents attain high spiritual awakenings through meditative practices that bring happiness, harmony and liberation from day-to-day aggravations.
In the main hall of many Chinese Buddhist temples and martial arts centers, there are usually two rows of large yellow figures - one along the East and another along the West Wall. These are the Eighteen Lohans, Buddha's great disciples, referred to as shravakas in Sanskrit.
Buddhism describes them as Arhats, while the Chinese refer to them respectfully as Lohans, i.e. someone who follows the Eightfold Path and has achieved liberation from wordly existence. Arhats have successfully subdued all cravings for sensual pleasures and from their minds have been banished all ignorance and wrong views. Lohans have achieved liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth and they are known for their great wisdom, courage and supernatural powers.
Their presence in any living and work space wards off evil, so these Lohans have over the years become the protectors of temples, palaces and large mansions. Many people who embrace the spiritual path, also invite the images of these Lohans into their living space. The names of the Lohans provide insights into their attributes, special skills, or the spiritual attainments they symbolize.
The Eighteen Lohans
The following images of 18 Great Arhats (or Lohans in China) are my version of these holy personalities. They were disciples of the Buddha who had realized the meaning of the Four Truths and completely freed themselves from the cycles of cause and effect.
(1) Calico Bag Lohan: Angaja, the Indian snake-catcher whose aim was to prevent the snakes from biting those passing by. He removes the venomous fangs of the snakes and then releases them in the mountains. His great kindness of heart protects you from getting bitten by snakes and his presence in the home prevents all poison from coming into the home. Detaching himself from all worries, Angaja is uninfluenced by destruction, fame, possessions, losses or other outside factors. He is compassionate and accommodating, regardless of the events and gossips of the outside world. Like his accompanying sack, he is always joyful and untroubled.
(2) Deer-Sitting Lohan: Ajita, who comes from a high caste Brahmin family, once a powerful government official highly trusted by his king who becomes a Buddhist monk living in a monastery deep in the mountains. He returns to the palace riding a deer and recognizing him, royal guards run to tell the king who begs him to return. But Ajita instead successfully advises the royal ruler to abdicate and return to the monastery with him. The Lohan on a deer in your home signifies spiritual awakening, a very auspicious sign.
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(3) Doorman Lohan: Cudapanthaka was one of Buddha's favorite disciples. When he went alms-begging, he would bang on people's doors. One time he did that, the old and rotten door fell apart, and he had to apologize to the owner of the house. So Buddha gave him a tin staff and told him, "When you go alms-begging, you don't have to bang on people's doors any more. Just tap this staff. If the people inside want to to give you alms, they will come out." The tin staff had several rings on it and made a light noise when tapped. The tin staff has become the symbol of this Lohan. Prior to leading an ascetic monastic life, he had been regarded as forgetful and foolish. While sweeping the dust off the floor, he awakened to the teachings of the Buddha that one must practice diligently in order to eradicate the greed, anger and ignorance existing in one's mind.
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(4) Elephant Riding Lohan: Also known as Kalika. In legend, the elephant is known for its immense strength and power, endurance and perseverance. The precious elephant is regarded as a very special animal by the Buddhists and having this Lohan riding the elephant in your home is exceptionally auspicious as it brings excellent descendents luck. The elephant also brings victory over evil forces. Sometimes Kalika is portrayed with a duster. With his mind so pure and compassionate, he uses his duster to wipe out the problems of sentient beings.
(7) Long-Eyebrow Lohan: Pindola, the Arhat with long eyebrows, was the leader of the Eighteen Arhats. According to legend, Pindola was born with two long white eyebrows. The story goes that in a previous life he was a monk who, though having tried very hard, could not attain enlightenment even at a ripe old age, when only two long white eyebrows were left. When he was born, his father was told that Shakamuni Buddha also has two long eyebrows, therefore his son had the look of the Buddha in him. As a result , Pindola was sent to a monastery to become a monk, eventually attaining enlightenment. He is foremost in his boundless virtues and wisdom. He would accept offerings from sentient beings, thereby bestowing givers the divine merits.
(8) Meditating Lohan: Nakula, originally a warrior, has immense strength. He gives up a life of fighting and killing to meditate and becomes a monk, finally attaining enlightenment. During his meditation, Nakula was engrossed in deep thoughts, searching for the truth of the universe. His sphere of influence extends throughout all of India and he is considered one of Buddha's favorite disciples. Occasionally he is portrayed as a teacher holding a Buddhist rosary with a small boy beside him. His presence in the home enhances the serenity of the home.
(Spring Liao, 9/12/08)
THE EIGHTEEN ARHATS (2)
Or, The 18 Lohans
Eighteen Lohans bring Great Energy Into Homes
(9) Open Heart Lohan: Gobaka, once the crown prince of a kingdom who defeated a rebellion led by his younger brother by renouncing the throne and embracing a life dedicated to Buddha's teachings. Gobaka literally means "man of heart," someone who might be weak physically, but is strong of spirit. Baring his chest, Gobaka reveals to sentient beings that if we could sustain the purity of our mind, abstain from evils and work hard on altrustic deeds, we are no different from the Buddha and our heart is thus the Buddha's heart. The painting depicts that he shows an image of the Buddha on his chest.
(10) Overseas Lohan: Bodhidarma, who crosses the river like the dragonfly dipping on water, sails far and wide spreading Buddha's teachings. Climbing mountains and fording streams for the deliverance of humanity, Bodhidarma is described as having been born under the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. He is always graceful and carefree. He had transcended the boundless Samsara's ocean of suffering. His presence in the home is highly revered by the Chinese, who also see him as the Great Master of martial arts. In China, he is known as Damo . Bodhidarma was the founder of Chinese Chan Buddhism, the founder of the Shaolin (Kung Fu) School, and also the father of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
(11) Plantain Lohan: Vanavasin, according to legend, was born during a heavy downpour, and thus was named Vanavasin, which means "rain" in Sanskrit. Later on he becomes enlightened after becoming a Buddhist monk and meditating under a plantain tree (banana tree) , hence he is named the Plantain Lohan. His mind is always at peace and undisturbed by worries. He is sometimes shown meditating in a cave with eyes closed and hands folded over his knees. Having him in the home brings the guru into your life.
(12) Raised Bowl Lohan: Kanakaharadvaja, a Buddhist monk, is famous for asking for alms with a raised bowl. He accepts almsgiving without discrimination, thereby according divine merits to the almoners. He teaches the Dharma to sentient beings with his kind words and altruistic deeds. The begging bowl is a powerful symbol of humility and it signifies that one may be poor materially but as long as one is rich spiritually, then one will attain eternal happiness.
(13) Raised hand Lohan: Panthaka is said to be a monk who liked to meditate in the half-lotus style. Upon waking up, he would raise his both arms, let out a deep breath, and stretch himself, hence he is named Raised Hand Lohan. He was the elder brother of the Doorman Lohan. The two brothers were born while the mother was travelling, so were given the Sanskrit name "born on the road." His presence in the home brings harmony amongst siblings.
(14) Raised Pagoda Lohan: Subinda was the last disciple the Buddha has accepted into the Sangha Community. He carries a special pagoda in memory of his Master and this signifies the mind of the Buddha being always with him forever and ever. The pagoda is usually a container for Buddha's bones, and it symbolizes the mind of the awakened one. Holding the pagoda is a depiction of attainment in Buddhahood. Having this Lohan in the house signifies the presence of the holy Buddha's mind which is incredibly auspicious.
(15) Scratched Ear Lohan: Nagasena, whose name means "an army of dragons," symbolizes strong supernatural powers. He was also regarded as the one with a sharp sense of hearing. An eloquent speaker and debater, he is famous throughout India for his preaching on the "hear no evil" maxim. The sense of hearing is one of the six sources through which mankind become aware of the world. Therefore a practitioner of Buddhism should avoid listening to decadent sounds and in particular, other people's secrets. He is often portrayed scratching his ear, a gesture symbolizing the purification of the sense of hearing in search for peace and quiet.
(16) Taming Dragon Lohan: Mahakassapa is one of the ten great disciples of the Buddha. He is called the Taming Dragon Lohan for a brave act he performed. In ancient India, the people of a small kingdom, after being incited by a demon, went on a rampage against the Buddhists and monasteries, stealing the Buddhist sutras. The king of the undersea flooded the kingdom and rescued the sutras, which he put in his palace. Mahakassapa subdued the dragon guard and restored the sutras back to earth. Hence he is called the Taming Dragon Lohan. He is renowned for that symbolic moment at the Vulture Peak's assembly when the Buddha motioned a flower without uttering a word. Only he smiled because he realized the Truth had to come from within one's heart which words could never express.
(17) Taming Tiger Lohan: Pindola was a Brahmin general who because of his devotion to Buddhism, which forbids killing, was ordered by the king to become a monk. He thrived in his cultivation of the mind and compassion and ultimately overcame the ferocious tiger in him, i.e. the desire, greed, anger and hatred that existed in his mind. In legend, Pindola joined a monastery in the mountains where he could hear a tiger howling every day. He said that the tiger was probably hungry and should be fed some vegetarian food. Otherwise the tiger might become a man-eater. So Pindola collected food from the monks and put it in a bucket which he left outside the monastery. The tiger did come for the food every night. After a period of time, the tiger was tamed. Thus Pindola was referred to as the Taming Tiger Lohan.
(18) Thinking Lohan: Rahula, who is said to have been born during a lunar eclipse and given the name Rahula, the constellation that caused the phenomenon. Rahula who was the youngest and one of the Buddha's ten favorite disciples, was well-known for his meditative power. He is foremost in tolerating insults and privately pursuing his practice. It is believed that he became omnipotent and omniscient during meditation. When deep in thought, he was ruminating wisdom and action. His presence in the home brings enormous blessings from his meditation.
(Spring Liao, 9/12/08)
(Hsi-Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, Southern California, www.hsilai.org)