The Story of Adhimanika Bhikkhus

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While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (149) of this book, with reference to some bhikkhus who over-estimated themselves.

Five hundred bhikkhus, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went into the woods. There, they practised meditation ardently and diligently and soon attained deep mental absorption (jhana) and they thought that they were free from sensual desires and, therefore, had attained arahatship. Actually, they were only over-estimating themselves. Then, they went to the Buddha, with the intention of informing the Buddha about what they thought was their attainment of arahatship.

When they arrived at the outer gate of the monastery, the Buddha said to the Venerable Ananda, "Those bhikkhus will not benefit much by coming to see me now; let them go to the cemetery first and come to see me only afterwards." The Venerable Ananda then delivered the message of the Buddha to those bhikkhus, and they reflected, "The Enlightened One knows everything; he must have some reason in making us go to the cemetery first." So they went to the cemetery.

There, when they saw the putrid corpses they could look at them as just skeletons, and bones, but when they saw some fresh dead bodies they realized, with horror, that they still had some sensual desires awakening in them. The Buddha saw them from his perfumed chamber and sent forth the radiance; then he appeared to them and said, "Bhikkhus! Seeing these bleached bones, is it proper for you to have any sensual desire in you?"

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 149: Like gourds thrown away in autumn are these dove-grey bones; what pleasure is there in seeing them?

At the end of the discourse, those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.
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