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Poṭṭhila Thera

v.l. Poṭhila Thera.– During the dispensation of seven Buddhas, he was learned in the Tipiṭaka and taught large numbers of monks, but he failed to win any attainment for himself. Wishing to rouse him to exert himself, the Buddha constantly referred to him as “Tuccha-Poṭṭhila — empty-headed Poṭṭhila.” Poṭṭhila took the hint, and, travelling one hundred and twenty leagues, arrived at a forest hermitage where lived thirty monks. He asked their leader to help him, but he referred him to a junior monk, who, in his turn, referred him on, and so on, until at last he was forced to apply to the seven year old novice who sat doing needlework. With his pride humbled, Poṭṭhila asked him for advice. In order to test him, the novice asked him to jump into a pool with his robes on. This Poṭṭhila did, and the novice, satisfied as to his earnestness taught him how, in the case of an anthill with six holes into which a lizard entered, anyone, wishing to capture the lizard, would close up five of the holes. So with the six doors of the senses; close five doors, and concentrate on the door of the mind. At the end of the discourse, the Buddha appeared before Poṭṭhila in a ray of light and Poṭṭhila became an Arahant (DhA.iii.417‑21).

Two verses, addressed to him by Mahā-Moggallāna, are given in the Theragāthā (Vs. 1174‑5).

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