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Yasa

1. Yasa Thera.– He was the son of a very wealthy treasurer of Bārāṇasī, and was brought up in great luxury, living in three mansions, according to the seasons and surrounded with all kinds of pleasures. Impelled by antecedent conditions, he saw one night the indecorum of his sleeping attendants, and, greatly distressed, put on his gold slippers and left the house and the town, non-humans opening the gates for him. He took the direction of Isipatana, exclaiming: “Alas! What distress! Alas! What danger!” The Buddha saw him in the distance and called to him, “Come Yasa, here is neither distress nor danger.” Filled with joy, Yasa took off his slippers and sat beside the Buddha. The Buddha taught him a graduated discourse, and when he had finished teaching the Four Noble Truths, Yasa attained realisation of the Dhamma.

To Yasa’s father, too, who had come in search of his son, the Buddha taught the Doctrine, having first made Yasa invisible to him. (This is given as an example of the Buddha’s psychic power, Vism.393). At the end of the discourse he acknowledged himself as the Buddha’s follower, thus becoming the first disciple to take threefold refuge (tevācika upāsaka), and Yasa, who had been listening, became an Arahant. When, therefore, Yasa’s presence became known to his father, who asked him to return to his grieving mother, the Buddha declared that household life had no attractions for Yasa and granted his request to be admitted to the Order. The next day, at the invitation of Yasa’s father, he went, accompanied by Yasa, to his house, and there, at the conclusion of the meal, he taught Yasa’s mother and other members of the household, who all became his followers, thus becoming the first female disciples to take the threefold refuge (tevācikā upāsikā). When Yasa’s intimate friends, Vimala, Subāhu, Puṇṇaji, and Gavampati, heard of Yasa’s ordination they followed his example and joined the Order, attaining Arahantship in due course, as did fifty others of Yasa’s former friends and acquaintances (Vin.i.15‑20; DhA.i.72).

In the time of Sumedha Buddha, Yasa was a king of the Nāgā and invited the Buddha and his monks to his abode, where he showed them great honour and hospitality. He then gave costly robes to the Buddha and to each monk a pair of valuable robes. In the time of Siddhattha Buddha he was a Treasurer, and offered the seven kinds of jewels at the Bodhi tree. In the time of Kassapa Buddha he was a monk. For eighteen thousand world-cycles he was a deva king and one thousand times he was king of men. Wherever he went he had a gold canopy, and in his last life over his funeral pyre was a gold canopy (ThagA.i.232 f). He is evidently identical with Sabbadāyaka of the Apadāna (Ap.i.333 f). A verse attributed to him is found in the Theragāthā (vs.117).

Yasa is often quoted as one who enjoyed great luxury in his lay life (AA.ii.596).

The Dhammapada Commentary (DhA.i.82 f ) states that, in a past life, Yasa and his four companions wandered about engaged in various acts of social service. One day they came across the dead body of a pregnant woman, which they took to the cemetery to be cremated. There the others went away, leaving Yasa to finish the work. While burning the corpse his mind was filled with thoughts of the foulness of the human body; he drew the attention of his friends to this idea, and, later, of his parents and wives, all of whom approved of what he said. For this reason Yasa felt revulsion against the household life, and his friends and members of his family were able to realise the Dhamma early in the Buddha’s career.

The ordination of Yasa was one of the scenes of the Buddha’s life to be sculptured in the Relic Chamber of the Mahā Thūpa (Mhv.xxx.79).

According to the Aṅguttaranikāya Commentary (AA.i.218 f), Sujātā Senānīdhītā (who gave the Buddha a meal of milk-rice just before his Enlightenment) was Yasa’s mother. She became a Stream-winner after listening to the Buddha’s discourse.

2. Yasa.– Called Kākandakaputta. He was the son of the brahmin Kākandaka and was a pupil of Ānanda. It is said he was fortunate enough to see the Buddha alive (Mhv.iv.57 f).

When he arrived at the Kūṭāgārasālā in the Mahāvana, he discovered that the Vajjī monks had raised the “Ten Points” (dasavatthu) contrary to the Buddha’s teachings, and that they were publicly asking for money from their lay disciples. Yasa thereupon protested against such misdemeanours, and the Vajjī monks, hoping to win him over, offered him a share of the money they had collected.

This offer he rejected with scorn, and the monks passed on him the Paṭisāraṇīya kamma (obliging him to seek pardon from the laity). This necessitated that Yasa should be sent among the laymen, accompanied by a messenger, presumably to ask their pardon for having misinformed them. However, instead of this, Yasa told the lay people that the behaviour of the Vajjī monks was completely at variance with the rules laid down by the Buddha, and quoted the Buddha’s discourses to prove his charge.

When the Vajjī  monks heard of this, they pronounced on him a formal Act of Suspension (Ukkhepanīya Kamma), but when they assembled to carry it out, Yasa disappeared through the air to Kosambī, from where he sent messengers to the monks of Avanti, of the west (Pātheyyakā or Pāveyyakā) and of the south (Dakkhiṇāpatha), asking for their assistance in checking the corruption of the religion. With them he visited Sambhūta-Sānavāsi at Ahogaṅga-pabbata, and there they decided to consult Revata who lived in Soreyya. Yasa, therefore, went to Revata, following him through Saṅkassa, Kaṇṇakujja, Udumbara, Aggalapura and Sahajāti. Having found Revata, he questioned him regarding the ten points, and obtained from him promise of assistance.

Together they returned to Vesāli, where lived Sabbakāmī, the oldest Thera of the day. After obtaining his opinion on the matter, an assembly of the monks was held and a committee was appointed — to settle the matter by a referendum (ubbāhikā) — of four from the East: Sabbakāmī, Sāḷha, Khujjasobhita, and Vāsabhagāmika; and four from the West: Revata, Sambhūta-Sānavāsi, Yasa, and Sumana. They debated the question at the Vālikārāma, Revata acting as questioner and Sabbakāmī answering his questions. At the end of the enquiry the decision was given against the ten points of the Vajjī monks, and this decision was conveyed to the assembly. Then the recital of the Vinaya was held in which seven hundred monks participated; this recital was called the Sattasatī. Vin.ii.294 ff; Mhv.iv.9 ff;; Dpv.iv.45 ff; v.23. The Mhv. says that at first the king (Kāḷāsoka) was inclined to support the Vajjī, but his sister, Nandā Therī, warned him against this (iv. 37 ff.).

The monks who refused to accept the findings of the committee held another convocation, which was called the Mahāsaṅgīti (Dpv.v.30 ff.). The Sattasatī Recital (also called The Second Recital) was also named (e.g., AA.i.251; MA.ii.880) Yasathera Saṅgīti, evidently because of the prominent part played by Yasa.

Yasa is ranked (See, e.g., DA.ii.525) among the great benefactors of the religion.

3. Yasa.– A deva, present at the teaching of the Mahāsamaya Sutta. D.ii.259; perhaps the name is Yasasa (DA.ii.690).

4. Yasa.– A monk, author of the Porāṇa-ṭīkā on the Khuddasikkhā (Svd.1208). See also Mahāyasa Thera.

5. Yasa.– A king of twenty-nine world-cycles ago; a previous birth of Rāmaneyya Thera. ThagA.i.121.

6. Yasa.– A palace occupied by Padumuttara Buddha in his last lay-life. Bu.xi.20; BuA. (158) calls it Yasavatī.

7. Yasa.– A palace occupied by Kassapa Buddha. Bu.xxv.35; BuA. (217) calls it Yasavā.

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