Date: 6/26/2009 2:21:05 AM
Subject: [CASonline] II: The Third Perfection & taming the Evil One

Tamer of the Evil One - Lord Upagupta

Upagupta and Mara the Evil One


Soon thereafter, he was asked to preach at a Dharma meeting; and the word spread throughout Mathura that, on that day, a Buddha without the marks named Upagupta would expose the Dharma. And hearing this, several hundred thousand persons set out.


The elder Upagupta the entered into meditation and examined the matter of how the assembly of the Tathagata had customarily been seated. He perceived that the assembly sat down in the shape of a half-moon. Next, he contemplated the way the Tathagata had preached the Dharma, and he perceived that the Buddha made an exposition of the Truth after giving a step-by-step discourse. Therefore, he too preached a step-by-step discourse, and then began to expose the Truth.

Just then, however, Mara caused a shower of strings of pearls to rain down on the assembly; and the minds of those who were about to be converted became agitated [by greed], and not one of them came to see the Truth. The elder Upagupta carefully considered the matter of who was causing this disturbance, and he perceived that it was Mara.

Then, on the second day, a very large number of men arrived in Mathura, thinking, "Upagupta preaches the Dharma and strings of pearls come down in shower!" And again, on that day, just when Upagupta had finished a step-by-step discourse and was beginning to expose the Truth, Mara caused a shower of gold to rain down on the assembly; the minds of those who were about to be converted were agitated, and not one of them came to see the Truth.

Then, on the third day, an even larger number of men came out, thinking "Upagupta preaches the Dharma and showers of pearls and gold fall down." And again, on that day, he had finished the step-by-step discourse and had just started to expose the Truths, when not very far off, Mara began a theatrical performance; heavenly instruments were played and divine apsaras started to dance, and the once dispassionate crowd of men, seeing the divine forms and hearing the heavenly sounds, was drawn away by Mara.

Mara was so pleased that he had attracted Upagupta's assembly to himself, that he hung a garland around the elder's neck. Upagupta then focused his mind [on the question] "Who is this?" And he perceived that it was Mara."

He took therefore three carcasses - a dead snake, a dead dog, and a dead human being - and by means of his magical powers, he transformed them into a garland of flowers and went up to Mara. When Mara saw him [and he flowers], he was delighted and thought that he had won over even Upagupta. He resumed, therefore, his own bodily form, so that Upagupta could garland him personally. Then the elder crowned him with the snake carcass and hung the dead dog around his neck, and the human corpse over his ears, and taking hold of them, he said:

Just as you, sir, have bedecked me with a garland,

Which is inappropriate for a man who is a monk,

So I have bound around you these carcasses,

Which are unfit for a man of desires.

Show whatever powers you have,

But today you have encountered a son of the Buddha.

Even when the water of the ocean surges up,

Its swollen waves blown by the wind,

It still loses its force

In the caverns of Mount Malaya.  


Now Mara started to try to take off one of the carcasses; but, as he had entered into it personally, he was not able to remove it, just an ant cannot lift up a great mountain. Indignant, he rose up into the air and said:

"If I myself am not able to remove

This dog's carcass from around my neck,

The other gods, whose power is greater than mine will release me!"


Mara went to Mahendra, to Rudra, to Upendra,to the Lord of Riches; to Yama, Varuna, Kubera, and Vasava, and to the other gods as well, but he did not achieve his purpose. Finally, he went to Brahma.

The latter said: " Pass me by, my child, for

Who can break the bounds

That the disciple of the Buddha himself

Has set with his magical powers?

They are like the limit of the ocean;

It would be easier to bind and uproot

The Himalayas with ropes of lotus stalk

Than for men to remove the dead dog

That is fastened around your neck.

Granted, my power is great,

But even so I am no match

For the son of the Tathagata.

There is, without a doubt, some brilliance

In the light of the planets,

But it is not like that which is

In the fiery disk of the sun."


When Mara realized how much power the disciple of the Tathagata had, he reflected:


The power of the Buddha must be immeasurable,

If Brahma so reveres the Teaching

Of one of his disciples!

The Holy One could have inflicted

Any punishment he wanted to on me,

But he did not do so, out of forbearance.

Instead, he spared me!

But why say more?

Today, I have discovered how greatly compassionate

Is the Sage who is exceedingly kind.

His mind is free from all oppressions

And his luster is like that of a mountain of gold.

Blind with delusion, I harassed him

Again and again with all sorts of schemes.

Nevertheless, not once did that Mighty One

So much as utter an unkind word to me.


Then Mara, the lord of the Realm of Desire, realized that, for him, Upagupta was the only way out [of his predicament]. Thus, he gave up all [his attempts to free himself], so sought the elder, fell at his feet, and said: "Reverend sir, you well know the hundreds of wicked things I did to the Blessed One at the Tree of Enlightenment and elsewhere.?"

The elder said:

"Evil One, how can you,

Without even considering the matter,

Refer to a disciple [sravaka] in terms

Of the great virtues of the Tathagata?

How can you equate Mount Meru

With a mustard seed, the sun

With a firefly, the ocean

With a handful of water?

The Buddha's compassion for living beings

Is exceptional, my friend; a disciple

Does not have great compassion.?"


The elder replied: "Listen, my friend, you are guilty of many offenses against the Blessed One. There is only one way to wash away your demerits: faith in the Tathagata, who alone can cut them out."


Then, with a mind filled with faith in the Blessed One, Mara recollected for a long time the virtues of the Buddha. He fell at Upagupta's feet and said:

"Today you did me the very greatest favor,

When you introduced me to the venerability

Of the Buddha.

But, out of loving kindness, do now release me

From this ornament of a great sage's anger

That is still hanging around my neck!?


Upagupta replied: I will release you on one condition.?


"What condition?"asked Mara.


"First,"said the elder, "from this day forth, you will no longer harass the monks.?"


Mara said: "I will not do so. What else do you command?"


The elder replied: "I have already seen the Dharma-body.

But I have not seen the physical body of the Lord of the Triple World,

Who resembles a mountain of gold.

Thus, in return for this "very greatest favor",

[I want you] to make manifest here

The physical form of the Buddha.

Truly, nothing would be more pleasing to me

Than this, for I am eager [to see]

The body of the Buddha."


"Then wait a bit,"said the Mara, "while I enter the forest."


Upagupta removed the carcasses [from Mara's neck]; he then stood by, anxiously waiting for the sight of form of the Tathagata. Then Mara, after he had gone far into the forest and [magically] taken on the form of the Buddha, emerged again from that wood like an actor wearing a bright costume.

Now when he had fashioned the form of the Blessed One, adorned with a pure fathom-wide nimbus, [Mara also magically created the forms of] the elder Sariputra on the Buddha's right, and the elder Mahamaudgalyayana on his left, and the Venerable Ananda behind him, his hands busy with the Buddha's bowl. And he also created forms of the other great disciples, starting with the elders Mahakasyapa, Aniruddha, and Subhuti; and he made manifest the figures of thirteen hundred fifty monks gathered in a half-moon around the Buddha. Then Mara approached the elder Upagupta, and Upagupta rejoiced, thinking "this is what the form of the Buddha looks like!"


He exclaimed:

"Oh! Sweet is the fruit of acts

That are pure in their intention.

By karma was this body made,

Not by power or by accident.

By giving, patience, meditation, wisdom, and restraint,

This arhat has purified that which was produced

By [the acts of] body, speech, and mind,

During innumerable kotis

Of thousands of aeons.

In this way he produced this pure form

That is pleasing to the eyes of men.

Even an enemy would be greatly delighted by it,

How much more so someone like me! "


Then Upagupta, because of his affection for the Wholly Enlightened One and thinking that this image was Buddha, he fell at Mara's feet with his whole body, like a tree cut off at the root.


[ Unable to stand to stand a prostration borne out of pure devotion ],  Mara made the form of the Buddha disappear, did obeisance to the elder Upagupta, and departed.


Then the elder Upagupta preached a step-by-step discourse and exposed the Truths. And upon hearing [his Teaching], many hundreds of thousands of living beings planted roots of merit conducive to liberation. Some attained the fruit of non-returner, and the others the fruit of once-returning, and still others the fruit of stream entering. Finally, eighteen thousand persons were initiated into the monastic order, and all of them, disciplining themselves, soon attained arhatship.


Extracted from "The legend of King Ashoka" - John S Strong, Motilal Banarsidass Delhi.