After an arduous trip from Sankisa to Sravasti, which took us 8 hours, we arrived at the Royal Residency hotel. We are surrounded by Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Taiwanese mainly women. All very devoted to the Buddha.
Today we went to Jetavana Park. The place the Buddha camped out 24 times during the rainy season. It is like this, the Buddha would just wounder about from village to city, living of alms and possesing nothing but his robe and his begging bowl. He asked his followers to do the same. This was called leaving the life of a householder and becoming a sravaka, meaning a monk who lives on his own in the forest. However many stuck to the villages, because there aren’t many alms in the forest. during the three months of the rainy season the roads were all muddy. So it was almost impossible to travel. Then the Buddha would camp down with many of his followers. And because he also had very rich followers, they bought pieces of land for him to camp on in those periods.
One of these followeres was Anathapindika, he was very rich and a very devoted follower of the Buddha. There was a park outside of Sti that was owned by prince Jeta. The prince was very fond of this park and when Anathapindika asked to buy it for the Buddha the prince refused to sell it. But he thought he asked a such an exorbitant price that he was convinced Anathapindika wouldn’t buy it. He said, “If you cover the park with gold then I will sell it. And so the park was covered with gold and could then be offered to the Buddha. The Buddha liked it so much that he returned at least 24 rainy seasons there. Many sutras originated there and many stories took place there. It is really a nice place to be. It feels very restful.
A great Bodhi tree is there which is a descendent of a sapling from the original B tree in Bodhgaya. That Anathapindika had brought here and planted.
We meditated there and recited our prayers.
In the afternoon we visited the stupa of Anathapindika and the stupa of Angulimala, the former murderer who liked to cut of a finger from his victims and put it on a necklace around his neck. When he wanted to take the finger of the Buddha he couldn’t reach him. Through this encounter he converted and took refuge, which caused trouble. The story shows that it is always possible to turn back from an evil life style, however you can’t escape your karma. So very often he was beaten up when he went out for alms. He came back in the sangha all bleeding, but he never fought back.
So we said some prayers for Angulimala and Anathapindika.