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Lāḷudāyī Thera (Vatthu)

An elder who possessed the knack of saying the wrong thing. He would go to a place where people were enjoying a holiday and recite stanzas suitable to a funeral and vice versa (DhA.iii.123 ff). When the Buddha heard of this he related the Somadatta Jātaka, showing that in past births, too, Lāḷudayī had possessed the same propensity. He is identified with the foolish father (Agnidatta) of the story (J.ii.167; DhA.iii.125). We also read of his jealousy of the praises bestowed on Sāriputta and Mahā-Moggallāna for their knowledge and exposition of the Dhamma, and he claimed that he possessed knowledge equal to theirs. However, one day when asked to teach, he sat on a seat holding a painted fan, but found nothing to say. He thereupon agreed to teach in the evening; but the same thing happened, and he barely escaped with his life, so furious was his audience. The Buddha, on hearing of this, related the Sūkara Jātaka (in which Lāḷudāyī was the pig), showing that in the past, too, he had covered himself with disgrace because of his boastfulness. J.ii.344 ff; but according to the introductory story of the Jātaka itself (in J.ii.9 ff.), Lāḷudāyī’s name is not mentioned, and the incident described differs somewhat.

On another occasion, he had a dispute with Dabba Mallaputta regarding the allotment of the rice tickets, and the monks, in order to teach him a lesson, handed him the tickets to distribute. However, he created such confusion that there was a great uproar, and Ānanda was sent by the Buddha to find out what was happening. When Ānanda returned with this story, the Buddha related the Taṇḍulanāḷi Jātaka to show that in the past Lāludāyī had been a foolish appraiser (J.i.123 ff). The Naṅgalīsa Jātaka gives another example of his folly and ineptitude (J.i.446 ff); so does also the Pādañjali Jātaka (J.ii.263 f), where he is identified with Pādañjali, an idle, lazy loafer. In the Umaṅga Jātaka (J.vi.478) he is identified with the somewhat foolish king, Vedeha.

Lāḷudāyī once had a discussion with Pasūra, who, at first, thought him to be clever and wise, and accepted him as teacher, being ordained by him. However, later, Pasūra easily defeated him in discussion (SNA.ii.540). Others, too, visiting Jetavana, and seeing him in the teacher’s seat, mistook him for an eminent elder, but soon discovered their mistake (e.g., DhA.ii.31).

On one occasion (A.iii.192 f; AA.ii.628) Lāḷudāyī even dared to contradict Sāriputta regarding birth among the mind-made devā (manomayadevā). Three times Sāriputta repeated his statement and three times Lāḷudāyī contradicted him, and, there being no monk in the assembly who supported Sāriputta, he took Lāḷudāyī to the Buddha, where he three times repeated the same statement, being three times contradicted. Then the Buddha called Lāḷudāyī “a witless fool” and silenced him. Ānanda was witness to the dispute, but took no part in it, thereby winning the Buddha’s censure.

Elsewhere (A.iv.414 f; AA.ii.810), however, we find Lāḷudāyī listening in all humility to a discourse by Sāriputta on nibbāna, as the happiness which is not sensed (avedayitasukha). Though Udāyī’s knowledge of the Dhamma was not profound, he did not hesitate to take part in a discussion, even with the Buddha himself, when occasion arose. We find him twice censured by the Buddha for this exhibition of his ignorance, once in the Mahākammavibhaṅga Sutta (M.iii.208) and once again in a discussion on recollection (anussati) (A.iii.322 f). In both instances Ānanda is present, and, in the discussion on recollection, he earns the Buddha’s praise for his knowledge compared with Udāyī’s ignorance. This annoyed Udāyī, for we find him confronting Ānanda with the fact that though he had been in the constant society of the Buddha he had not profited by it, a remark which earned the censure of the Buddha and his assurance that Ānanda would certainly reach perfection in that very life (A.i.228; AA.i.441).

Buddhaghosa (ThagA.ii.7; some of the MSS. read nātakācariyaputta) calls Lāḷudāyī Kovariyaputta. It is not clear whether this means that his father was called Kovariya.

The Vinaya (Vin.iii.110) mentions a monk called Udāyī who was a colleague of Seyyasaka. He persuaded Seyyasaka to commit the first Saṅghādisesa offence, saying that he himself acted likewise. For this the rehabilitation (mānatta) penalty was imposed on him.

According to the Commentaries, (Sp.iii.517; DhA.iii.5) this Udāyī is to be identified with Lāḷudāyī, and if this be correct, it was perhaps the same monk who was guilty of several Vinaya offences attributed to Udāyi — see Udāyi (2) — though the Vinaya Commentary does not elsewhere (e.g., Sp.iii.541, 549, 552, where he is simply called Udāyi) definitely so identify him, except once (Sp.iv.804), where he is mentioned as having made an embroidered robe for a nun, which he persuaded her to wear in the assembly of the nuns! Was this because the Commentator regarded the two Udāyis as distinct persons? (e.g., MA.i.348).

Lāḷudāyī is given as an example of a person who did no good either to himself or to others (neva attahitāya patipanno no parahitāya). Buddhaghosa elsewhere (Sp.iii.517) describes him as “bhantamigasappatibhāgo niddārāmatādiṃ anuyuttānaṃ aññataro lolabhikkhu.”

1. Lāḷudāyīthera Vatthu.– The story of Lāḷudāyī’s past life as Aggidatta (DhA.iii.123 ff). Cp. the Somadatta Jātaka.

2. Lāḷudāyīthera Vatthu.– The story of Lāḷudāyī’s futile attempt to excel Sāriputta and Mahā-Moggallāna in the power of teaching. DhA.iii.344 ff.