Sopaka was a seven year old boy who was left in the mercy of his cruel and abusive uncle after his biological father died. Since his uncle was very poor too, Sopaka’s mother had to work and supplement his uncle’s household income. Unfortunately, her work hardly contributed much and his uncle was resentful of the additional financial burden.
Like any boy of his age, Sopaka was oblivious to the adult’s world. He was playful and mischievous and would play with his cousin as equals. One day Sopaka made his cousin cried and that drove his cruel uncle mad with anger.
Sopaka was carried to the open cemetery by his uncle and was tied to a corpse as punishment. (In ancient India, corpse of poor people where left in open cemetery)
When he realized what was being done, Sopaka could only scream and plead for mercy. His apologies were met with a cruel determination to harm him. As the night approach, wild animals such as jackals and wild dogs began to appear. Sopaka was wailing and crying helplessly when the astral form of Buddha suddenly appeared in front of him. Buddha was smiling and glowing with a golden light.
The rope untied miraculously and Sopaka was magically transported to Buddha’s monastery. He recognized the physical Buddha and felt safe. Buddha bathed the boy together with fellow monks and gave Sopaka food to eat. Sopaka felt safe and asked if he could stay with Buddha and his monks. He was terrified of his uncle.
Meanwhile, Sopaka’s mother returned home to find her son missing. When asked about Sopaka’s whereabout, his uncle pretended to be unaware. His mother was sick with worry and searched through the night for her missing son.
At dawn, someone at the market told her to ask Buddha since the enlightened Shakyamuni was reputed to be aware of everything happening in the world. She came to Buddha’s monastery but Buddha concealed Sopaka with his supernatural power.
Buddha preached to her and helped her realize the Truth. Consequently, she attained the first stage of enlightenment (on the spot). Then Buddha revealed Sopaka to his mother and she consented to Sopaka’s request to become a monk.
Sopaka grew up to became an enlightened monk named Sopaka Thera.
In this story, we learned that the Buddhist monastic order had helped orphans and helpless woman since the Buddha’s time. Although Buddhism is about sharing wisdom and helping people to gain enlightenment, we also offer safe place, refuge and comfort to unfortunate people too.
Even today, various Buddhis organizations continue to offer free food, medicine and lodging to help the less fortunate people in the world.
May all be well and happy.
Categories: Buddha and Bodhisattva
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