[from V. The Third Recital]

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[Tissa and Sumitta’s Story]
520-536 ≠ Mhv 212-226

Formerly a woodman from Pāṭaliputta, while roaming in a forest, became intimate with a harpy Kinnarī (masc.: kinnara) have a bird’s wings and legs, and a human’s torso and head. In Greek mythology the harpy is exactly the same, though under the influence of Christianity they were later demonised.01 called Kuntī. As a consequence of that she gave birth to two sons, the eldest was called Tissa, and the younger brother was called Sumitta. In time they received the going-forth in the presence of the Elder Mahāvaruṇa, and they both attained Worthiness and the six psychic powers.

Later the elder was stung on the foot by a poisonous insect and was suffering, and when asked by his younger brother he said he needed a measure of medicinal ghee.

The Elder opposed informing the King about that illness and roaming for ghee after the morning meal. The reason being to maintain the Disciplinary rules, which state that a monk cannot ask for for his needs without being invited, and cannot seek for food after the morning meal. 02 “If you receive ghee on your alms round, please bring it,” said the Elder Tissa to the supreme Elder Sumitta.

But while wandering for alms he did not receive medicinal ghee, and the illness grew so that even one hundred pots of ghee could not accomplish a cure. Eventually, through that illness, the Elder came to the end of his life, and after advising the monks, he formed the intention of passing away.

After sitting in the sky, through the meditation on the fire element and fixing his determination on the body, as he desired he attained Emancipation. The fire element emitted from his body burned the Elder’s whole body and flesh to ashes, but his bones did not burn.

Having heard about the Elder Tissa’s passing away, the Lord of the Earth went to his monastery surrounded by a great army of people. The King, going on the back of an elephant, brought the bones down from the sky and, after paying respects to the relics, he asked the Community about the illness.

The Community said this to the King: “The illness increased greatly,” and after hearing that he became anxious thinking: ‘While staying in this country medicine was not given to the Community of monks, and without medicine he passed away.’

He had a pit dug at the four city gates and after having them dug and cleaned he filled them with medicine, and he had medicines for the Community of the four directions given, thinking: ‘Do not let medicine for the Community of monks be difficult to obtain.’

The Elder Sumitta passed away while walking in the cloister and through that the mutlitude gained faith in the Awakened One’s Dispensation. Kuntī’s two sons were Elders who sought the benefit of the world, they passed away in King Asoka’s eighth year as King. According to MhvṬ this story was introduced here as it began the increase in the success of the Dispensation, which led to rogue monks entering the Community, which is related next.03