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The Buddha and the bandit - a story of redemption through the Dharma

News & Updates, 25/3/2022 02:53
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“What an extraordinary feat never achieved before, oh the World-Revered One (the Buddha)! Only you can save people that no one in the world can save! Only you can calm the disturbances in peoples minds that no one else in the world can calm. With great compassion, you have saved people from the darkest places, guided them back to the light in a miraculous way. Your deed has made me wonder, with all my power, my weapons, whether there is a way to make people redeem themselves from their evildoings. That question was stuck in my head, and now it has been answered by you.” Those are the words the character of King Pasenadi, in a play, said in praise of the Buddha, when he learned that He had converted the cruel bandit Angulimal and ordained him.  The 8th day of the second lunar month is the Anniversary of the renunciation of Prince Siddartha (later the Buddha). To commemorate this important event, lay Buddhists at Ba Vang Pagoda received permission from Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh (the abbot) to recreate this story about the Buddha and the bandit Angulimal - a criminal who had slaughtered numerous people for his zealotry in heretical belief.

Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh said: “The Buddhas Dharma is undiscriminating, equal to every sentient being, and able to save everyone.” The story of Angulimal is one such example.

Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh said: “The Buddhas Dharma is undiscriminating, equal to every sentient being, and able to save everyone.” The story of Angulimal is one such example.

Angulimal was initially a devout Brahmin youth named Ahimsaka, hoping to become an excellent religious teacher one day. Thus, he sought tutelage from a Brahmin master.

Angulimal was initially a devout Brahmin youth named Ahimsaka, hoping to become an excellent religious teacher one day. Thus, he sought tutelage from a Brahmin master.

Being an upstanding man, Ahimsaka refused her advance. Infuriated by this, the wife framed him for having indecent acts with her to his teacher.

Being an upstanding man, Ahimsaka refused her advance. Infuriated by this, the wife framed him for having indecent acts with her to his teacher.

Blinded by the rage, the teacher came up with an evil plan: he asked Angulimal to go kill 1000 people and collect 1000 fingers from them as proof to receive secret teaching from him. In truth, he hoped Angulimal will be killed by this crime. Afraid, but lacking the courage to disobey his teachers word, Angulimal became a killer, with the desperate wish of fulfilling his master's order and achieving the secret teaching.

Blinded by the rage, the teacher came up with an evil plan: he asked Angulimal to go kill 1000 people and collect 1000 fingers from them as proof to receive secret teaching from him. In truth, he hoped Angulimal will be killed by this crime. Afraid, but lacking the courage to disobey his teachers word, Angulimal became a killer, with the desperate wish of fulfilling his master's order and achieving the secret teaching.

>>>Doing Bad Deeds for Good Purposes: How Does Karma Work?

When King Pasenadi came across to visit the Buddha, he met Angulimal and was taken aback by his transformation. Then the Buddha explained to him the story of Angulimala, he was overjoyed and grew even more respectful of the Buddha.

When King Pasenadi came across to visit the Buddha, he met Angulimal and was taken aback by his transformation. Then the Buddha explained to him the story of Angulimala, he was overjoyed and grew even more respectful of the Buddha.

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Thanks to his diligent cultivation, Angulimal not only redeemed himself from his dark past, but also attained Arhatship, benefiting countless sentient beings.

Thanks to his diligent cultivation, Angulimal not only redeemed himself from his dark past, but also attained Arhatship, benefiting countless sentient beings.

>>> Life of Monks: Challenging But Noble

Lay Buddhists at Ba Vang pagoda also attended the performance.

Lay Buddhists at Ba Vang pagoda also attended the performance.

The story of the bandit Angulimala is genuinely unique in Buddhist history. One of the meanings given by this story is that the Buddha and his teachings are equal and capable of saving all sentient beings without regard to distinctions of class or race. Sentient beings of all classes exist in the ocean of the Buddhas teachings: from kings, queens, princesses, mandarins, dukes, and captains, to the needy of society, including Upali a hairdresser and Ambapali a prostitute who also entered the nirvana way. The Buddha came into this world to save sentient beings, to bring them light, and to open their eyes so that they could clearly see their own path to light, enlightenment and liberation.

>>> 03 mindsets that lead to happiness by the Buddha

Through the story, we grow even more grateful for the Tathagatas renunciation. Because of his decision to leave behind his secular life, he found a way out of the suffering for all beings, a way that can save everyone, even those who are deemed beyond saving. Lets relive these wonderful moments on the stage last night (10 March 2022) through these pictures.

Read more: Infographic: 4 things difficult to have in life

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