1. Rāhula Thera
Only son of Gotama Buddha. He was born on the day on which his father left
the household life (J.i.60; AA.i.82, etc.; cf. J. i.62). When the Buddha visited
Kapilavatthu for the first time after his Enlightenment and accepted
Suddhodana's invitation, Rāhula's mother (Rāhulamātā) sent the boy to the Buddha
to ask for his inheritance (dāyajja). The Buddha gave him no answer, and, at the
conclusion of the meal, left the palace. Rāhula followed him, reiterating his
request until at last the Buddha asked Sāriputta to ordain him. (According to
SnA.i.340, Moggallāna taught him the kammavācā; see also J. ii.393). When
Suddhodana heard of this he protested to the Buddha, and asked as a boon that,
in future, no child should be ordained without the consent of his parents, and
to this the Buddha agreed (Vin.i.82f.; the story of Rāhula's conversion is also
given at DhA.i.98f).
It is said (AA.i.145) that immediately after Rāhula's ordination the Buddha
preached to him constantly (abhinhovādavasena) many suttas for his guidance.
Rāhula himself was eager to receive instruction from the Buddha and his teachers
and would rise early in the morning and take a handful of sand, saying: "May I
have today as many words of counsel from my teachers as there are here grains of
sand!" The monks constantly spoke of Rāhula's amenability, and one day the
Buddha, aware of the subject of their talk, went amongst them and related the
Tipallatthamiga Jātaka (J.i.160ff ) and the Tittira Jātaka (J.iii.64ff ) to show
them that in past births, too, Rāhula had been known for his obedience. When
Rāhula was seven years old, the Buddha preached to him the Ambalatthika
Rāhulovāda Sutta (q.v.) as a warning that he should never lie, even in fun.
Rāhula used to accompany the Buddha on his begging rounds. Sometimes he would
accompany Sāriputta on his begging rounds. DhA.iv.164f).
Rāhula noticed that he harboured carnal thoughts fascinated by his own
physical beauty and that of his father, the Buddha preached to him, at the age
of eighteen, the Mahā Rāhulovāda Sutta (q.v.). Two other suttas, also called
Rāhulovāda, one included in the Samyutta and the other in the Anguttara (see
below), formed the topics for Rāhula's meditation (Vipassanā). To these Suttas
Buddhaghosa (MA.i.635) adds the Sāmanera, or Kumārapañhā, and proceeds to
enumerate the different purposes which the Buddha had in view in preaching these
suttas; see also AA.ii.547. SnA.i.340 says, about the Rāhula Sutta (q.v.), that
the Buddha constantly preached it to Rāhula. See also the Rāhula Samyutta.
Later, the Buddha, knowing that Rāhula's mind was ripe for final attainment,
went with him alone to Andhavana, and preached to him the Cūla Rāhulovāda Sutta.
At the end of the discourse, Rāhula became an arahant, together with one hundred
thousand crores of listening devas. SA.iii.26 says these devas were among those
who, in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, had heard Rāhula's wish to be born as
the son of a future Buddha. They were subsequently born in various deva worlds,
but on this day they all assembled at Andhavana in order to be present at the
fulfilment of Rāhula’s wish. This scene was one of the incidents sculptured in
the Relic Chamber of the Mahā Thūpa, as was also the ordination of Rāhula.
Afterwards, in the assembly of monks, the Buddha declared Rāhula foremost
among those of his disciples who were anxious for training (sikkhākāmānam).
A.i.24; the Vinaya (iii.16) gives a story illustrating Rāhula's extreme
conscientiousness in the observance of rules. He arrived one evening at Kosambī,
when the Buddha was staying there in the Badarikārāma. Rāhula was told there of
a new rule which had been laid down to the effect that no novice should sleep
under the same roof as a fully ordained monk. Unable to find any resting place
which did not violate this rule, Rāhula spent the night in the Buddha's jakes.
When the Buddha discovered him there the next morning, he modified the rule.
This incident and Rāhula's keenness in observing rules are described again in
greater detail at J. i.161f. There the Buddha is said to have found fault with
Sāriputta for his neglect of Rāhula (see also Sp.iv.744). On another occasion,
finding no place in which to sleep because monks who had arrived late had taken
his sleeping place, Rāhula spent the night in the open, in front of the Buddha's
cell. Māra, seeing him there, assumed the form of a huge elephant and trumpeted
loudly, hoping to frighten him. But the plot failed. This was eight years after
Rāhula had attained arahantship (DhA.iv.69f.).
In the time of Padumuttara Buddha, both Rāhula and Ratthapāla were rich
householders of Hamsavatī, who, realizing the vanity of riches, gave all away to
the poor. One day they entertained two ascetics of great power. The ascetic to
whom Rāhula ministered was in the habit of visiting the abode of the Nāga king,
Pathavindhara, and had been impressed by its magnificence. Therefore, in
returning thanks to Rāhula for his hospitality, he wished that his host might
resemble Pathavindhara. Rāhula remembered this, and after death he was born in
the Nāga world as Pathavindhara, his friend being born as Sakka. He was,
however, dissatisfied with his lot, and one day when, with Virūpakkha, he was on
a visit to Sakka, Sakka recognized him, and finding out that he was
dissatisfied, suggested to him a remedy. Pathavindhara invited the Buddha to his
abode. The Buddha, attended by Sumana and one hundred thousand arahants, came
and was entertained by him. In the company of monks was Uparevata, the Buddha's
son, seated next to him, and Pathavindhara was so fascinated by him that he
could not take his eyes off him. Discovering who he was, Pathavindhara expressed
a wish that he, too, might be born as the son of a future Buddha. Later, in the
time of Kassapa Buddha, Rāhula was born as Pathavindhara, the eldest son of King
Kiki, later becoming his viceroy. His seven sisters built seven residences for
the Buddha, and, at their suggestion, Pathavindhara built five hundred
residences for the monks. The story of the past as given here is taken from
AA.i.141ff.; part of it is given in MA.ii.722 under Ratthapāla. There the Nāga world is called Bhumindhara, and the Nāga
king, Pālita. SnA.i.341 See also
ThagA.ii.30. The Apadāna (i.
60f.) says Rāhula gave Padumuttara Buddha
a carpet (santhara), as a result of which, twenty one kappas ago, he was born as
a khattiya named Vimala, in Renuvatī. There he lived in a palace, Sudassana,
specially built for him by Vissakamma.
Four verses uttered by Rāhula are included in the Theragāthā (vs.295 98;
Mil.413 contains several other stanzas attributed to Rāhula).
It is said that the news of Rāhula’s birth was brought to the Bodhisatta when
he was enjoying himself in his pleasances on the banks of the royal pond after
being decked by Vissakamma. As soon as the news was announced, he made up his
mind to renounce the world without delay, for he saw, in the birth of a son, a
new bond attaching him to household life ("Rāhulajāto, bandhanam jātam"
the word rāhula meaning bond). J. i.60; DhA.i.70. The Ap. Commentary, however,
derives Rāhula from Rāhu; just as Rāhu obstructs the moon, so would the child be
as obstruction to the Bodhisatta's Renunciation.
According to the Dīgha and Samyutta Commentaries (DA.ii.549; SA.iii.172),
Rāhula predeceased the Buddha and even Sāriputta, and the place of his death is
given as Tāvatimsa. For twelve years he never lay on a bed. (DA.iii.736).
In numerous Jātakas, Rāhula is mentioned as having been the Bodhisatta's son
- e.g., in the Uraga, Kapi (No. 250), Kumbhakāra, Khandahāla, Culla
Sutasoma, Daddara, Bandhanāgāra, Makkata, Makhadeva, Mahājanaka, Mahāsudassana,
Vidhurapandita, Vessantara, Sīhakotthuka and Sonaka. He was also Yaññadatta, son
of Mandavya (Sāriputta) and the young tortoise in the Mahāukkusa. The Apadāna
(ii.551) says that in many births Uppalavannā and Rāhula were born of the same
parents (ekasmim sambhave) and had similar tendencies (samānacchandamānasā).
Rāhula was known to his friends as Rāhulabhadda (Rāhula, the Lucky). He
himself says (Thag. vs. 295f ) that he deserved the title because he was twice
blest in being the son of the Buddha and an Arahant himself. Mention is often
made in the books (DhA.i.124; MA.i.537; Mil.410 attributes this statement to
Sāriputta; SnA.i.202 expands it to include others) that, though Rāhula was his
own son, the Buddha showed as much love for Devadatta, Angulimāla and Dhanapāla
as he did for Rāhula.
Asoka built a thūpa in honour of Rāhula, to be specially worshipped by
novices. Beal., Records i. 180, 181.
One of the four monks who accompanied Chapata to Ceylon. These monks later
became the founders of the Sīhalasangha in Burma. Later, at one of the festivals
of King Narapati, Rāhula fell in love with an actress and went with her to
Malayadīpa, where he taught the king the Khuddasikkhā and its Commentary. With
the money given to him by the king he became a layman. Sās. 65; Bode, op. cit.,
The eighteenth section of the Samyutta Nikāya. It consists of a series of
lessons given by the Buddha to Rāhula, showing him the fleeting nature of all
things (S.ii.244 56). Buddhaghosa says (MA.ii.635f ) that these suttas were
preached on various occasions, from the time Rāhula entered the Order, to the
time of his attainment of arahantship. They contain mention of qualities which
mature emancipation, vimuttiparipācanīyadhammā (SA.ii.159).
1. Rāhula Sutta
The Buddha tells Rāhula that a monk should cultivate the thought that, in the
four elements, either in one's own body or in external objects, there is neither
self nor what pertains to the self. A.ii.164; this same topic is discussed in
greater detail in the Ambalatthika Rāhulovāda Sutta.
Buddhaghosa says (AA.ii.547) that the Buddha here declares catukotikasuññatā
(emptiness in the four things i.e., elements).
2. Rāhula Sutta
Rāhula visits the Buddha and asks him how to get rid of the insidious idea of
"I" and "mine," both with regard to one's own body and with all external
objects. The Buddha replies that one should see things as they really are, that
in none of the five khandhas is there any "I" or "mine." This is right insight.
S.iii.135; this sutta is given at S. ii.252 as Anusaya Sutta. Buddhaghosa
describes both this sutta and the next as Rāhulovāda vipassanā (AA.ii.547).
3. Rāhula Sutta
Similar to No. 2. Rāhula asks how one's mind can be removed from such vain
conceits. S. iii.136. This sutta is given at S. ii.253 as the Apagata Sutta.
4. Rāhula Sutta
The discourse which brings about the attainment of arahantship by Rāhula
(S.iv.105f). It is the same as the Cūla Rāhulovāda Sutta (q.v.).
5. Rāhula Sutta
A series of stanzas which, according to Buddhaghosa (SnA..i.340), were
frequently recited by the Buddha for the guidance of Rāhula. The Buddha reminds
him that he (Rāhula) is a follower of "the torch bearer among men." He has left
the world to put an end to sorrow. He should, therefore, associate with good
friends, in good surroundings. He should be free from attachment to food or
clothes. He should free his mind from all evil tendencies and fill it with
thoughts of renunciation. Sn. vv. 335 42. Buddhaghosa says (MA.ii.532, 635) that
the purpose of this sutta was to emphasize the value of good association (kalyānamittūpanissaya).