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Renunciation Day of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

One time, when the Buddha was preaching the Dharma at the Vulture Peak near the city of Rājagṛha in Magadha, two hundred heavenly beings felt it was arduous to attain buddhahood, and their bodhicitta (the aspiration for supreme enlightenment) was about to retrogress. The Buddha then made an almsgiver appear [through his supernormal powers], who was holding a bowl of hundred-flavored food to offer it to the Buddha. The Buddha accepted the bowl, but Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva stood up, and with his palms joined, he said to the Buddha that when enjoying the offerings of food, he should remember the kindness from the past. Venerable Śāriputra felt puzzled and wondered what virtue Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva had that could make him say these words to the Buddha. Accordingly, the Buddha put the bowl on the ground, which kept falling until it reached the land of Buddha King Radiance, beyond buddha-lands to the numbers of seventy-two grains of sand of Ganges Rivers. The Buddha told Venerable Śāriputra to fetch the bowl. Imbued with the great power of the Buddha, and by his own power of wisdom, Venerable Śāriputra still failed to find the bowl. Venerable Maudgalyāyana, Venerable Subhūti, and other five hundred bhikṣus all tried to locate the bowl with their supernormal powers, but they failed, too. Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, without leaving his seat or leaving the presence of the Buddha and the site of the assembly, pointed his hand to the ground; then his hand reached downward continuously, passing through the many buddha-lands, and brought back the bowl. He bowed and then offered the bowl to the Buddha.

The Buddha said to Venerable Śāriputra that countless eons ago, there was a Buddha named Brave and Invincible, and his buddha-land was called Impermanence. A bhikṣu, named Wisdom King, went to the town for alms around and got various kinds of food of a hundred flavors. A son of a noble family, named Stainless King, was held by his wet nurse, waiting outside the city gate. When the little boy saw Bhikṣu Wisdom King coming in the distance, he broke free from the arms of the wet nurse and then went to the bhikṣu, asking for food. The bhikṣu gave him a honey pancake. The boy liked the sweet taste of the food, so he followed the bhikṣu all the way to the place of Buddha Brave and Invincible. Bhikṣu Wisdom King gave his own bowl of food to the boy and told him to offer it to the Buddha. The bowl was automatically refilled with food after the offering was given to the Buddha. Hence the little boy continued to make offerings of food in the bowl to eighty-four thousand bhikṣus and twelve thousand bodhisattvas. They have all eaten their fill, but the bowl was never empty of food. The boy Stainless King made offerings of food to the Buddha, bhikṣus, and bodhisattvas for seven days running. The Buddha guided him to take refuge in the Three Jewels and imparted the Five Precepts to him, encouraging him to clear away sins, accumulate the collections of merit and sublime wisdom, and develop bodhicitta. To look for their son, the parents of the boy Stainless King came to the presence of the Buddha. The boy bowed to his parents and praised the virtues of the Buddha, and he beseeched them to allow him to follow the Buddha, to go forth into homelessness for practice. His parents gave their consent wholeheartedly, and they also asked for renouncing the secular life. Thereupon, his parents and other five hundred people all initiated bodhicitta and became monastics under the seat of Buddha Brave and Invincible.

Bhikṣu Wisdom King was Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, and the little boy Stainless King was the former life of Śākyamuni Buddha. Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva was the first teacher who caused the Buddha to initiate bodhicitta. The Buddha’s ten powers, four kinds of fearlessness, and inconceivable wisdom were all inspired by Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva. And many other countless buddhas like Śākyamuni Buddha were also guided by Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva to develop bodhicitta. Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva is the parent and teacher of bodhisattvas. The Buddha told Venerable Śāriputra,

"All I have attained are thanks to the kindness of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva,”

The two hundred heavenly beings each reflected,

“For all teachings, only those who wish to study them could make accomplishments. We too can make it. Śākyamuni Buddha attained buddhahood through cultivation because Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva exhorted him to make great vows. How come we are so sluggish?”

Thinking in this way, their bodhicitta became firm. Numerous people, after seeing Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva’s miraculous power of fetching the bowl with his hand, were inspired to emulate him and gave rise to bodhicitta.


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