Stories of Select Disciples of the Buddha: Prince Bodhi
The prince Bodhi of Kosambi was a devoted follower of the Buddha. When he constructed a new palace, he invited the Buddha and his Sangha to the palace. Prince Bodhi waited at the entrance to welcome the Buddha. When the Buddha arrived, the prince requested him to climb the stairs. Out of reverence for the Buddha, he had laid a white cotton carpet on the stairs. The Buddha did not step on it. When the prince could not understand why the Buddha had stopped, Ven. Ananda told the prince,
Saṃhartu rajkumāra, dussāni,
-Prince, please remove these carpets.
Na bhagavā chelapatikaṃ akkamissati,
-The Blessed One does not walk on carpets.
Pachimaṃ janataṃ tathāgato anukampati,
-The Buddha is being compassionate towards future generations.
He did not want to start any wrong practice due to which future generations of teachers would make this a custom and burden their followers with this improper custom.
After the meal, the Buddha gave a sermon. While answering one of the questions asked by the prince, he said that if a worthy person starts following the path taught by the Buddha in the morning, he will gain liberation by the evening. Similarly a person who starts following the path in the evening can get fully liberated by the morning of the next day.
On hearing this, the prince exclaimed,
“Aho Buddho, aho Dhammo, aho Dhammassa svākkhātatā!”
-Great is the Buddha, great is the Dhamma, great is the lucid explanation of the Dhamma!
-(Majjhimanikayo 2.326, 345, Bodhirājakumāra-suttaṃ)
Prince Bodhi said that during his mother’s pregnancy with him she had paid respects to the Buddha and had said,
‘Venerable sir, this fetus of mine takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Please give it refuge.’
Later, his wet-nurse had taken him to the Buddha and had said,
‘Venerable sir, this young prince takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Please accept him as your follower.’
And now for the third time I myself take refuge in Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. From now onwards, the Buddha may please take me in his refuge for all my life.
-(Majjhimanikayo 2.346, Bodhirājakumāra-suttaṃ)
This important discourse of the Buddha should make future teachers realize that one should not teach pure Dhamma for personal gain or fame. Whenever a teacher teaches the Dhamma for name and fame, he harms himself, harms his followers and harms the Dhamma. Unwise followers do not practice Dhamma but they erroneously feel that by merely worshiping the teacher they have fulfilled their duty.