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Sivali

Posted by myanmarpedia on September 27, 2007

I. Immediate family of the Buddha
1.King Suddhodana(father)

2.Queen Maha Maya(mother)
3.Maha Pajapati Gotami(aunt and foster mother)
4.Yasodhara(cousin and wife)
5.Rahula(son)

II. Male Disciples
6.Sariputta (first chief male disciple)
7.Moggallana (second chief male disciple)
8.Ananda(cousin and personal attendant)
9.Maha Kassapa(preserver of the Dhamma)
10.Anuruddha (cousin and foremost in divine eye)
11.Maha kaccana (foremost in explaining deep and complex sayings )
12.Bakkula (foremost in good health and longevity)
13.Sivali (foremost in obtaining monastic requisites)
14.Angulimala(murderer turned saint)
15.Nanda(stepbrother)
16.Devadatta(cousin and brother-in-law)

III. Female Disciples
17.khema (first chief female disciple)
18.Uppalavanna (second chief female disciple)
19.Bhadda Kundalakesa(debating nun, foremost in quick understanding)
20.Patacara(foremost in discipline)
21.Sundari Nand (stepsister)
22.Bhadda Kapilani (foremost in recollecting past births)
23.Kisa Gotami (foremost in wearing coarse rag-robes)
24.Isidasi
25.Sona(foremost in effort)

IV. Royal Patrons
26.king Bimbisara
27.Queen mallika
28.King Pasenadi
29.Queen Samavati

V. Lay Disciples
30.Anathapindika(chief male lay disciple)
31.Visakha (chief female lay disciple)
32.Citta (foremost lay disciple in teaching the Dhamma)
33.Rohini(cousin of the Buddha)
34.Jivaka(physician)
35.Ashin-upagotes

Sivali

At the time of the Buddha Gotama there reigned a righteous King and Queen named Koliya and Suppavasa. After some time Queen Suppavasa conceived a child. The unborn child brought great fortune to the kingdom. Not only did the queen receive many gifts from friends and relatives, but the whole kingdom became prosperous. Crops grew in abundance and everyone was well-fed and healthy.

The queen grew heavy with child but when the natural time for the birth arrived, she failed to deliver the baby. She grew uneasy as time passed by with still no signs of the birth, and asked the King to invite the Buddha and His retinue of monks for a meal. After the meal the Buddha blessed the queen by saying:

“May Suppavasa, daughter of the Koliya clan,
Be happy and healthy and give birth to a healthy son.”

After the Buddha left, the queen gave birth to a beautiful, healthy son. As a mark of respect for the Buddha, who had eased the queen’s heavy burden with His blessings, He and His retinue were invited to receive alms at the palace for seven days. The prince was named Sivali, as from the time of his conception, the people’s hardships were alleviated through an abundance of rich crops.

One day when Sariputta was on his alms round he visited the prince and informed him of the suffering that he and his mother had undergone because of the delayed pregnancy. Sariputta then went on to explain to the prince the unwholesome action that his mother and he had performed and the resulting effects of their actions.

In a previous birth Sivali had been born as the King of Benares and had waged war on a neighbouring kingdom. He had surrounded the kingdom and told the citizens to surrender or fight back. When they refused to surrender, in collaboration with his consort, his present mother, he had decided to surround the city and hold them hostage until they did so. The citizens, who did not want to fight back or live under the rule of such a king, had not surrendered. As a result they had suffered greatly without food for a very long period. Many of the sick and the elderly had died but the arrogant king and his queen had not given in. Many months later the King had withdrawn his troops and released his hostages but he had paid dearly for the suffering he had caused. At death he was reborn in Avichi hell. The delayed pregnancy and the suffering he and his mother had undergone resulting from the delay were the residual effects of this action.

After illustrating the Noble Truth of suffering, Sariputta asked the prince if he would like to join the Noble Order so that he could seek the path to end all suffering. The prince was overjoyed at this invitation and agreed to join the order with his mother’s permission.

The queen, who was a devoted follower of the Buddha, agreed. She escorted Prince Sivali in procession to the monastery to be ordained. On the day of ordination when his hair was shaved, Sariputta advised Sivali to meditate on the impurities of the body. Sivali, who was spiritually advanced resulting from previous wholesome actions, focused his mind as instructed. Before the completion of the shaving of his hair, Sivali attained the supreme wisdom of Nibbana.

The monks soon noticed a strange phenomenon when they were with Sivali. Sivali always seemed to have an abundance of rich, fragrant food and the other requisites (robes, shelter and medicine). Monks who were with him also had the opportunity to share in the bounty. Wherever Sivali went people flocked around to prepare food for him. Sivali was indeed blessed with all the requisites of a monk.

And so it was that wherever Sivali travelled he was well taken care of. He and his retinue of 500 monks were in an uninhabited forest for seven days, but they were not short of food. The Devas made sure that all their requirements were met. Similarly when Sivali was travelling through the desert his requisites were provided. The Buddha, seeing that Sivali was fulfilling a previous aspiration in His reign, declared that he was foremost among the monks in obtaining requisites. He also instructed monks who were travelling on long, tedious journeys through uninhabited terrain to be accompanied by Sivali, as with him by their side they would be ensured of the requisites. In fact, on one occasion when the Buddha and His retinue of 30,000 monks were travelling to visit the monk Khadhiravaniya Revata (Sariputta’s younger brother) they had to cross an uninhabited forest. Ananda, fearing that they would not be able to obtain food in the jungle for such a large number of monks, questioned the Buddha about the logistics of the journey. The Buddha assured Ananda that they had nothing to worry about as Sivali was with them. With Sivali present there would be no shortage of food because even the Devas revelled in taking care of his requirements.

In general the effects of one’s wholesome and unwholesome intentional actions are reaped only by the doer. However, there are instances, as with Sivali, that others too benefit from unusually strong actions of another. This overflow of the results of the effect of a persons strong kamma on others is known as nissandha pala (overflowing results of kamma). While vipaka pala (results of kamma) are reaped only by the doer nissandha pala are experienced by others who happen to be with you. Nissandha pala could be both wholesome and unwholesome in accordance with the deed performed. For instance Sariputta did not obtain alms in one instance resulting from the nissandha pala of Losaka’s strong unwholesome deeds.

To seek the cause of this strange phenomenon we need to go back many aeons to the time of the Buddha Padumuttara. Sivali, who had been born as a poor man, had the opportunity to see the Buddha Padumuttara confer on another monk the honour of being foremost among monks who obtain the requisites. Fascinated by the way everyone desired to provide alms and robes to this monk, Sivali had decided that he too would like to hold a similar position in a future birth. He had then performed many acts of generosity to the Buddha Padumuttara and His retinue and made an aspiration.

The Buddha Padumuttara, foreseeing that Sivali’s aspiration would be fulfilled, had prophesied that at the time of the Gotama Buddha he would be foremost among the monks who obtained requisites. From this point onwards, Sivali had started in earnest to work toward his aspiration. At death he was reborn in a heavenly realm where he enjoyed many years of heavenly bliss.

The next documented birth story took place at the time of the Buddha Vipassi, 91 world cycles before our Gotama Buddha. Sivali was born as a merchant in the City of Bandhumati. The City was preparing a great alms-giving for the Buddha Vipassi and His retinue of monks, when they realized that they were short of curd and honey, a delicacy that was often served after the noonday meal. Messages were sent all over the city to obtain the required delicacy. Unable to obtain the quota required, the king’s men raised the price of the curd and honey from one gold coin to 100 coins.

In the meantime Sivali, a merchant who sold curd and honey, was approached and offered 100 gold coins for his merchandise. Sivali was surprised at the unusually high offer and asked for whose consumption they were buying the curd. On being told that it was for the Buddha Vipassi and His retinue of monks, Sivali asked permission to donate his wares to the Buddha. He then renewed his aspiration to be foremost among the monks who received requisites. The Buddha Vipassi, seeing that Sivali’s aspiration would be fulfilled, blessed him by saying, “May your aspiration be fulfilled.” Sivali then became a devotee of the Vipassi Buddha and practised His Dhamma.

Resulting from this strong aspiration and the meritorious deeds and efforts performed in previous births, Sivali fulfilled his aspiration to be foremost among the monks who obtained requisites at the time of the Gotama Buddha. To date, Buddhists venerate the Arahanth Sivali, and often keep a picture or a discourse known as the Sivali Paritta in their home as a symbol of abundance of food and prosperity.

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