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Channa

1. Channa.– A Wanderer, classed among those who wore clothes (paṭicchannaparibbājaka). He is only mentioned once, in the Aṅguttaranikāya (A.iii.215), where we are told that he visited Ānanda at Sāvatthi and asked him questions about the Buddha’s teaching (see Channa Sutta). Both the Sutta and the Commentary (AA.i.432) add that he was pleased with Ānanda’s explanation, and admitted that the Buddha’s teachings were worthy of being followed, though it is not explicitly stated that he accepted them.

2. Channa v.l. Chandaka.– An elder. No particulars of his early life are available. He once stayed at Gijjhakūṭa, dangerously ill and suffering much pain. He was visited by Sāriputta and Mahā-Cunda, and when they discovered that he contemplated suicide, they tried to deter him, promising to provide him with all necessaries and to wait on him themselves. Finding him quite determined, Sāriputta discussed with him the Buddha’s teachings and then left him. Soon afterwards Channa committed suicide by cutting his throat. When this was reported to the Buddha, he explained that no blame was attached to Channa, for he was an Arahant at the moment of death (M.iii.263 ff; S.iv.55 ff).

Buddhaghosa explains (MA.ii.1012 f; SA.iii.12 f ) that after cutting his throat, Channa, feeling the fear of death, suddenly realised that he was yet a worldling. This thought so filled him with anguish that he put forth special effort, and by developing insight became an Arahant.

Channa had friends and relations in the Vajjian village of Pubbavijjana (v.l. Pubbajira), and came himself from there.

3. Channa.– Gotama’s charioteer and companion, born on the same day as Gotama (J.i.54; Mtu.ii.156, 164, 189, 233; iii.91, 262; BuA.233; SA.ii.231; DhsA.34. ThagA. (i.155) says he was the son of a servant woman of Suddhodana). When Gotama left household life, Channa rode with him on the horse Kaṇṭhaka as far as the river Anomā. There Gotama gave him his ornaments and bade him take Kaṇṭhaka back to his father’s palace (A thūpa was later erected on the spot where Channa turned back; Dvy.391). When, however, Kaṇṭhaka died of a broken heart, Channa’s grief was great, for he had suffered a double loss. It is said that he begged for leave to join Gotama as a recluse, but this leave was refused (J.i.64 f). He therefore returned to Kapilavatthu, but when the Buddha visited his Sākyan kinsfolk, Channa joined the Order. Because of his great affection for the Buddha, however, egotistical pride in “our Buddha, our Doctrine” arose in him and he could not conquer this fondness nor fulfil his duties as a bhikkhu. (ThagA.i.155; his verse (No.69) quoted in Theragāthā does not, however, refer to any such remissness on his part).

Once, when in the Ghositārāma in Kosambī, Channa committed a fault but was not willing to acknowledge it. When the matter was reported to the Buddha, he decreed that the formal act of suspension (ukkhepaniya-kamma) be carried out against him, forbidding him to eat or dwell with the Saṅgha. He therefore changed his residence, but was everywhere “boycotted,” and returned to Kosambī subdued and asking for reprieve, which was granted to him. Vin.ii.23 ff. His obstinacy and perverseness are again mentioned elsewhere — e.g., Vin.iv.35, 113, 141. A patron of his once erected a vihāra for him, but he so thatched and decked it that it fell down. In trying to repair it he damaged a brahmin’s barley field (Vin.iii.47). See also Vin.iii.155 f., 177.

Later, in a dispute between the monks and the nuns, he deliberately sided with the latter; this was considered so perverse and so lacking in proper esprit de corps, that the Buddha decreed on him the carrying out of the Brahmadaṇḍa whereby all monks were forbidden to have anything whatsoever to do with him. This was the last disciplinary act of the Buddha, and the carrying out thereof was entrusted to Ānanda. D.ii.154. It would, however, appear from DhA.ii.110 that the Brahmadaṇḍa was inflicted on Channa for his having repeatedly reviled Sāriputta and Mahā-Moggallāna in spite of the Buddha’s warning. In this version other details also vary.

When Ānanda visited Channa at the Ghositārāma and pronounced on him the penalty, even his proud and independent spirit was tamed; he became humble, his eyes were opened, and dwelling apart, earnest and zealous, he became one of the Arahants, upon which the penalty automatically lapsed (Vin.ii.292). In the past, Channa met Siddhattha Buddha going towards a tree, and being pleased with him, spread for him a soft carpet of leaves round which he spread flowers. Five world-cycles ago he became king seven times, under the name of Tiṇasanthāraka (ThagA.i.155).

He is probably identical with Senāsanadāyaka of the Apadāna (i.137).

Channa is identified with the hunter in the Suvaṇṇamiga (J.iii.187), the Gijjha (J.iii.332), the Rohantamiga (J.iv.423), the Cūḷahaṃsa (J.v.354), and the Mahāhaṃsa (J.v.382) Jātakas, with the wrestler in the Sālikedāra Jātaka (J.iv.282) and with Cetaputta in the Vessantara Jātaka (J.vi.593). See also Channa Sutta (1).

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