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Devadatta - Greatest Enemy of Buddha

devadatta
Devadatta, one of the disciples of Lord Buddha, is also the greatest enemy of Buddha. He made many attempts to kill Gautama Buddha. One of the attempt to kill Buddha was by sending an elephant which was drugged. But the elephant keep calm when Lord Buddha

Devadatta was a Buddhist monk and was a cousin as well as brother-in-law of Gautama Buddha and was the brother of Ananda, one of the close disciples of Buddha. According to Pali TipitakaDevadatta was the greatest enemy of Lord Buddha and was believed to split the Sangha by persuading about 500 Buddhist monks who admired and followed him.

Devadatta was the son of Shakya King Suppabuddha and Queen Pamita and brother of Yasodhara (wife of Buddha ). He entered the order of Sangha at the same time as Ananda and other Shakya princes. Devadatta was quite jealous of Gautama Buddha.

Story of Devadatta

In early days, when Devadatta entered the order, he was a good monk and was known for his elegance and his psychic power. But he became quite arrogance and desire worldly fame. And when he became unable to attain arhat, his anger and jealousy grew even more and began thinking that he should be the leader of the Order of monks. One day he asked Lord Buddha to retire from the order and to make him the leader and take over the running of Sangha. But Lord Buddha declined immediately and said that he was not worthy of letting him take over the Order. And that was the main reason that triggered the anger, ill-will and jealousy of Devadatta towards Lord Buddha and became Buddha’s enemy.

    Coup d'Ć©tat of Devadatta

    prince-devadatta

    Prince Ajatasattu, son of King Bimbisara, was greatly impressed by the psychic power of Devadatta and became the disciple of Devadatta. And when Buddha turned down his proposal, Devadatta was full of anger and wanted to take revenge on Lord Buddha. Then he encouraged Prince Ajatasattu and made an evil plan to take revenge on Lord Buddha and Prince would assume his position as the king of Magadha by killing king Bimbisara. But being the devout of Buddha, he gave over the throne to the prince. After the prince became the king, he provided Devadatta with mercenaries and ordered them to kill Lord Buddha and Devadatta would take over the Sangha.

    The plan was to send two mercenaries to kill Lord Buddha, and those two will be killed by other four hired mercenaries and hire even more to kill the four mercenaries so that he could cover his tracks on the plan. But this plan failed since the hired mercenaries could do anything in front of Lord Buddha and were converted to Buddhist instead. The angered Devadatta then decided to kill Buddha by himself. His first attempt to kill Lord Buddha was to throw a rock from high while Lord Buddha was walking on the mountain. But the rock broke into the pieces. His next attempt was letting an intoxicated elephant “Nalagiri” to kill Lord Buddha. But the elephant became calm when it appeared in front of Buddha.

    Since the two attempts to kill Lord Buddha failed massively, he tried another deceitful plan by turning 500 misled monks so that he could split the Sangha Community. He proposed a list of few extra rules that must be made compulsory for all monks. They were:

    • All monks must live in the forest

    • All monks must live on alms obtained from begging

    • All monks must wear robes made of discarded rags and accept no robes from laity

    • All monks must live at the foot of trees

    • All monks must not eat fish or meat

    And Buddha responded by saying those who wants to follow the first four rules could follow them and didn’t approve to make the rules mandatory. And Devadatta used this chance to mislead the 500 monks and became the leader. Later Sariputra and Moggallana on the order of Buddha went to Devadatta and taught the misled monks about the true meaning of Dharma and became successful. And 500 monks returned to Lord Buddha upon hearing the true meaning of Dharma from the chief disciples of Lord Buddha.

    After failing in every attempt to take revenge on Buddha, he fell ill due to his evil karma. At near death, he regretted his evil actions and seeks to see Lord Buddha before he died. But he died before he could see Lord Buddha.

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