The pigeon who became a pandit

- through Francois Leclercq

Published on

A memorable illustration of the action of habits taken voluntarily or not.

In Buddhism, the notion of karma is fundamental, but it is also very complex. In summary, the least of our activities, on the physical, oral and mental levels, leaves traces, or even potentialities in our mind. Some of them are called karmas. Conveyed by our spirit, the potentialities can pass from one life to another, until they meet the favorable conditions to give results, for example in the form of births, tendencies or others. Here is an illustration with the story of Pandit Sthiramati.

Around the middle of the XNUMXth century, somewhere in South India, a father named Coudra was amazed when he heard his newborn son say to him: “Where is my Master? »
"Who is your master?" asks in return Coudra, who, if he is amazed at the precocity of his offspring, admits Reincarnation like many Indians.
“Vasubandhu,” replies the young Sthiramati.

Following this unusual event even in India, as a caring father eager to satisfy his son, Coudra tirelessly questions all the itinerant merchants who travel the country and pass through his village. In the absence of newspapers and directories, they were the best sources of information available at the time. One day, a merchant replies to him that he has heard of a certain Vasubandhu in central India, a great philosopher, all the more venerable for being quite old. Coudra knows that her son possesses exceptional abilities and desires more than anything to find his beloved master. For him, it is normal and legitimate. He is even very proud of his offspring.

When the student reveals

Without excessive haste, but without wasting time, Coudra meticulously prepares the expedition. Finally comes the long-awaited moment. The boy being old enough to undertake the journey, the father and the son set off. The journey is long and perilous, the directions of the merchant vague, but their perseverance is rewarded when they find themselves in the presence of the famous Vasubandhu. The master gives them a warm welcome and explains to them the beginnings of their common history.

Again, Coudra does not believe his ears. He is told that, in his previous life, his son Sthiramati was… a pigeon! And this pigeon had taken up residence in the foliage of a tree. What could be more normal for a bird, you will say? Yes, except that it was the tree under which Vasubandhu used to sit when he recited the innumerable texts he had memorized. And the master told them that he then immersed himself in a tub filled with lukewarm oil, a very effective remedy for avoiding nervous tension. Perched on a branch above him, the pigeon was generally dozing peacefully.

Sthiramati the pigeon had taken up residence in the tree under which Vasubandhu used to settle down to chant works of theAbhidharma.

It was thus that several days in a row, without paying attention to it, he had heard the monk chanting works of theAbdhidharma, which deal with very diverse subjects such as cosmogony or metaphysics. Shortly after, the pigeon died. As the cycle of existence dictates, he was reborn in a much more favorable form, as a human. And so he became the son of Coudra. We understand better why barely born, his first instinct was to claim Vasubandhu.

The Master having given his agreement to ensure the education and instruction of the young Sthiramati, after resting, Coudra returns home fully reassured: he knows that he is leaving his son in good hands. Trained with rigor and kindness by the old pundit, Sthiramati in turn became a learned philosopher, famous for having surpassed his master's knowledge in… Abhidharma !

This should give courage to those of our contemporaries who dream of learning a foreign language while sleeping. And encourage us to filter a little better the sound information that floods, day and night, our children and ourselves. This may not be as trivial as we imagine

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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