A few days ago, we had a class with Master Zhen-Ru. “It is said in the biography of the Bodhisattva Asvaghosa…” she began.
Before Asvaghosa became a Buddhist practitioner, he challenged the practitioners at Nalanda Monastery. He was blessed by Maheśvara, the supreme king of all devas, and so he defeated many and turned many against the faith. If he won the debate, Nalanda Monastery would have to give up their faith; If he lost, he would lose his life – this was a battle that would go down in Buddhist history! Just as things were starting to look devastating, Aryadeva, the disciple of the two great trailblazers, came to the rescue!
With a couple of secret weapons under his sleeves – goddess Raksasi, a parrot who’s really the supreme deva in disguise, and a magic soapstone, would Aryadeva really be able to defeat Asvaghosa?
“You’re not my opponent!” hollered Asvaghosa.
First up is goddess Raksasi. To his surprise, Aryadeva sends out a shameless man who chased the goddess away. Next, Asvaghosa sends out the parrot and the magic soapstone, only to be defeated by Aryadeva’s cat and bottle filled with oil. Terrified by the ball of dirt Aryadeva had prepared beforehand, even Asvaghosa’s trump card, Maheśvara went against his promise of blessing Asvaghosa. Asvaghosa lost and as promised, took refuge in Buddhism. As he learned more about the faith, he was deeply touched by Buddha’s wisdom, and as such, created numerous writing praising the Buddha’s merits and virtue. One-Hundred Fifty Praises is one of them.
“I see the cat!” “Is that the shameless man?” “Where’s the bottle filled with oil?” After listening to Asvaghosa Bodhisattva’s incredible story, curious, all the nuns gathered around the thangka of the Aryadeva Bodhisattva after class. As an homage to the author of the One-Hundred Fifty Praises, Master Zhen-Ru brought the story of Asvaghosa Bodhisattva and the great battle to life. Everyone listened attentively as if it was happening right before their eyes. Each and every word not only carried Master Zhen-Ru’s thoughts for everyone but also the dedication of those who’ve made this possible. They’ve worked throughout the night to translate the story from Tibetan to Chinese. At the end of the night, everyone walked away in high spirits, looking forward to the upcoming class.