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Saṅkicca

1. Saṅkicca Thera.– He was born in a very eminent brahmin family of Sāvatthi. His mother died just before his birth and was cremated, but he was found unburnt on the funeral pyre (Cf. the story of Dabba). The men who burnt his mother’s body, turning the pyre over with sticks, pierced the womb and injured the pupil of the child’s eye. Hence his name (Saṅkunā chiṇṇakkhikotitāya = Saṅkicco). When he was discovered, they consulted soothsayers, who told them that if he lived in the household seven generations would be impoverished, but if he became a monk he would be the leader of five hundred. At the age of seven he came to know of his mother’s death and expressed a wish to join the Order. His guardians agreeing to this, he was ordained under Sāriputta. He won Arahantship in the Tonsure hall (ThagA.i.533).

At that time, thirty men of Sāvatthi, who had entered the Order and had practised the duties of higher ordination for four years, wished to engage in meditation. The Buddha, foreseeing danger for them, sent them to Sāriputta. Sāriputta advised them to take with them the novice Saṅkicca, and they reluctantly agreed. After a journey of one hundred and twenty leagues, they came to a village of one thousand families, where they stayed at the request of the inhabitants, who provided all their needs. At the beginning of the rains, the monks agreed among themselves not to talk to one another; if any among them fell ill, he was to strike a bell. One day, as the monks were eating their meal on the banks of a neighbouring river, a poor man who had travelled far stood near them and they gave him some food. He then decided to stay with them, but after two months, wishing to see his daughter, he left the monks without a word. He travelled through a forest where lived five hundred robbers, who had vowed to offer a human sacrifice to a spirit of the forest.

As soon as they saw him, they captured him and prepared for the sacrifice. The man then offered to provide them with a victim of far higher status than himself, and led them to the monks. Knowing their habits, he struck the bell and they all assembled. When the robbers made known their design, each one of the monks offered himself as a victim, and in the end Saṅkicca, with great difficulty, persuaded the others to let him go. The thieves took Saṅkicca, and, when all was ready, the leader approached him with drawn sword. Saṅkicca entered into samādhi, and when the blow was struck, the sword buckled and bent at the end and split from hilt to top. Marvelling at this, the thieves did obeisance to Saṅkicca, and, after listening to his teaching, asked leave to be ordained. Saṅkicca agreed to this, and, having ordained them, took them to the other monks. There he took leave of them and went with his following to the Buddha. In due course, Saṅkicca received the higher ordination, and ten years later he ordained his sister’s son, Atimuttaka (Adhimuttaka), who, likewise, ordained five hundred thieves. DhA.ii.240 ff; for the story of Atimuttaka. Saṅkicca’s story is often referred to — e.g., Vism.313; J.vi.14.

The Nāga-petavatthu contains a story of another of Saṅkicca’s pupils (PvA.53 ff). The Theragāthā (Thag. vs. 597‑607) contains a series of stanzas spoken by Saṅkicca in praise of the charms of the forest in reply to a layman who, wishing to wait upon him, wished him to dwell in the village.

Saṅkicca is one of the four novices mentioned in the Catusāmaṇera Vatthu. Saṅkicca’s psychic power is described as ñāvavipphāra iddhi. (Ps.ii.211; BuA.24). The iddhi referred to in this connection is Saṅkicca’s escape from death while his mother’s body was being burnt. Vism., p.379.

2. Saṅkicca.– See Kisasaṅkicca, where Saṅkicca is given as a clan (gotta) name.

3. Saṅkicca.– The Bodhisatta, born as an ascetic. See the Saṃkicca Jātaka.

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