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Cakkhupāla Thera

An Arahant. He was the son of a landowner, Mahā Suvaṇṇa of Sāvatthi, and was called Mahā-Pāla (major Pāla), his brother being Cūḷa-Pāla. The boys were called Pāla on account of being born through the favour of a tree deity.

Mahā-Pāla heard the Buddha teach at Jetavana and entered the Order. After five years of novitiate he went with sixty others to a woodland spot to meditate. There he fell a victim to ophthalmia and was prescribed for by a doctor; but he neglected his eyes, devoting his whole time to the duties of recluseship. He became an Arahant but lost the sight of his eyes, hence his name. Later, Cakkhupāla’s colleagues returned to Sāvatthi and, at his own request, Cakkhupāla’s brother sent his nephew Pālita, ordained as a monk, to fetch him. On the way through the forest, Pālita was attracted by the song of a woodcutter’s wife and, bidding his uncle wait, went and sinned with her. When Cakkhupāla, by questioning the novice, learnt of this, he refused to be accompanied by him, even though he should die on the way. Sakka’s throne was heated, and he led the elder safely to Sāvatthi, where he was looked after by his brother to the end of his days (Thag.95; ThagA.i.195 f).

It is said that in a previous birth he had been a physician, and because a woman, whose disease of the eye he had cured, tried to cheat him out of his promised reward, he gave her a drug which completely ruined her eyes. DhA.i.15 ff, where several details are given regarding Cakkhupāla which are not mentioned here.

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