Chapter 11: Makkaliphala
When I was young, I lived with my grandmother. At that time I was not interested in merit and Phra Vessantara Story at all. But my grandmother was very interested in the ricital of verses about the Great Birth (Vessantara Bhodhisatva Story). It was considered achieving great merit to listen to the recital until finish.
Grandmother invited three monks. One of them recited the Gathapan verse until finish. The other two asked questions and provided answers in musical tune. That recital was performed in a day, from one to five o’clock in the afternoon. She organized this twice a year.
I was young and did not undrstand. Grandmother wanted me to listen. But I always sneaked out to play. So, she tied me to the pillar until the recital finished. I listened boringly, without understanding. I learned the fact after I was ordained and listened to the story of Vessantara the sage in Himavana forest.
When I was young grandmother talked to me about this story. I told her that the Vessantara Story was a lie. I did not accept and I did not believe in it. Grandmother told me the following story.
When grandmother was a young girl she used to cook a meal and presented to Luang Poh Chang. Luang Poh Chang had been to Himavana forest. He attained a state of serene contemplation. He was the abbot of Wat Tuekraja, Muang District, Singhburi Province. Grandmother presented him a meal every day. He consumed one meal a day, resided in the graveyard.
One day grandmother met a foreigner from somewhere. So, she asked Luang Poh. He told her that the man had flown from Himavana forest and fallen down, broken his leg, unable to continue. So, Luang Poh healed him. He still stayed with Luang Poh for the time being. Grandmother listened to Luang Poh. At that time, she was a young girl, presented the meal on behalf of great grandmother.
Finally, when the stranger got well, he told Luang Poh that he was a yogi. He had flown from Himavana forest together with another friend. The other yogi attained a state of serene contemplation. But this yogi obtained the magic mercury from him to hold in the mouth, so he could also fly. It happened that they had had an argument. This yogi dropped the magic mercury from his mouth and fell to the ground, broken his leg. It did not matter if you believe this or not.
The yogi begged Luang Poh Chang to send him back to Himavana forest, telling him that Himavana forest is an enjoyable place. There were girls on the makkaliphala trees in front of the entrance to the path leading to the residence of Vessantara the sage. The yogi clearly told that Himavana forest was 16 yojana (Thai measurement of length, equals to 256 kilometres or 159.04 miles) further from the Himalayas.
Luang Poh Chang said he did not want to see. But the yogi pleaded, until Luang Poh thought he might as well helped him. The yogi forewarned Luang Poh not to accept the food offerred there. Otherwise Luang Poh would not be able to return because he attained only a state of serene contemplation.
Having heard this forewarning, Luang Poh Chang said he would not go. The yogi brought up the issue of makkaliphala to persuade Luang Poh again because he missed his home in Himavana forest. So, he gave the formula to make magic mercury to Luang Poh, asking Luang Poh to make magic mercury for him to hold in his mouth in order that he could fly. Luang Poh agreed to that.
Finally, he asked grandmother to buy mercury and other ingredients. I still have this secret formula until now. Luang Poh made the magic mercury for the yogi to put in his mouth and took him back to Himavana forest. When he returned he told grandmother that he had seen makkaliphala. When grandmother told me this story I was still a child. Later, grandmother passed away at the age of 99. This story is still in the back of my mind.
I saw the mural painting that Hame Vejakara (Thai famous painter) had drawn at the wall of Wat Phra Prangmuni1 . Makkaliphala tree looked like the real one. The leaves looked like mango leaves. There were 5 fruits in a bunch. But I could not believe that a tree could bear fruit that looked like a girl and the fruit could also have sexual intercourse like a real person. So, I did not believe at all.
Later, I was ordained. I still thought of this story in the back of my mind because grandmother kept telling me every day. She told me in detail. Since she hosted the recital of the Great Birth verse twice a year, she could remember all the verses from beginning to the end, even though she was not fluently literate.
Later, in 1972 when I have already been positioned to Wat Ambavana, Her Highness Princess Poonpitsamai and H.E. Sanya Dhammasakti – The President of Buddhism Society of Thailand under Royal Patronage at that time invited me to join the World Buddhist Association Conference in Sri Lanka. The Conference was held during Visakhapuja season.
I noted where I would like to go during my trip to Sri Lanka.
1. I had an impression and would like to see Sigiriya Hill where the savage Tamil imprisoned the king and slaughtered all monks and novices in the whole of Sri Lanka except those who fled into the forest. The king liberated his country. He then sent a letter to the King of Ayudhya asking for Phra Upali Thera to be the Supreme Patriarch of Sri Lanka. From then on there have been 15 successive Supreme Patriarchs until now. Buddhism in Sri Lanka is now called Siamvongsa.
2. I would like to pay homage to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree that Phra Sanghamitta Theri, daughter of King Ashoka the Great, took the offshoot from the original tree in India and planted in Sri Lanka.
3. I would like to make a sight-seeing trip to Wat Karaniya because I had learned that the abbot of Wat Karaniya had murdered the Prime Minister. Mrs Sirimavo then succeeded her husband as the Prime Minister.
4. I would like to pay homage to the Buddha’s tooth relic on the full moon day of Vesak month. I entered the place by many miracles which I would not relate here.
5. I would like to study the Thai language used by Thai Arhom race. How did they speak and write.
My five intentions were accomplished as I had wished. The trip to Sigiriya Hill was made in a bus of 30 people. When the bus arrived at the foothill no one wanted to go up. Madame Nuang Imsombat, ex-secretary of H.E. Sanya Dhammasakti, tried to walk up the hill with me. She was more than 70 years old then. So we walked, contemplating ‘left stepping thus’, ‘right stepping thus’ and arrived at the top of the hill not before long. No other person in our bus went up to the hill top.
Looking from the top of Sigiriya Hill downward, the bus was the same size as a match box. On top of the hill, I went to see the prison where the king was confined and the place where savage Tamil killed monks and novices. That event occurred during our Ayudhya period.
I considered one wheel of karma. During our Sukhothai period, Sri Lanka had brought Buddhism to disseminate in Thailand. That was the good conduct. After the country had lost religion successors, monks and novices, they asked for their previous investment in Thailand to extend the religion in their own country. So, Thailand sent Phra Upali Thera to set up Buddhism there, which has been called Siamvongsa until now. This is the wheel of karma that has truned around.
Madame Nuang Imsombat and I sat down to meditate. But an unusual thing occurred to me. I felt very much like urinating. What should I do? There was no restroom. Madame Nuang pointed to the way downhill saying that it was uninhibited thicket. So I walked down.
Somehow I went into a cave and met a Singhalese monk with untidy beard, wearing black robe, sitting meditated in the cave. I had to meet makkaliphala next.
I raised my palms together, paying obeisance. He talked to me in Singhalese. I was clever at guessing, which usually was right. He pointed to the cave wall. So, I turned around to see a beautiful girl. After seeing her, there was a beautiful scent like expensive perfume. It was very nice smell.
I thought that the monk was terrible. He should not have kept a girl who wore nothing with him. I turned left and right but did not say anything.
He uttered in Singhalese language telling me to scrutinize with insight. I applied my own motto, ‘eyes looking, ears listening, mouth shutting’. I almost opened my mouth to criticize him.
Makkaliphala was as large as a girl of sixteen. I scrutinized it with insight, crawling near to have a look. It looked very pretty. The eyebrows almost connected. The neck had ring lines. I looked at it and thought further. Fingers were equally long but not equally slender like our fingers. Thumb was a clear evidence. They were long with long finger nails. The neck had three ring lines. It’s collar bones did not show. All together it looked very pretty. It did not wear any clothing. The eyes were large. Pupil part was golden and the white part was bluish. Complexion was like marian plum (Bouea burmanica Anacardiaceae). The hair was golden like westerners. When I looked again I saw the stem like that of a mangosteen on top. The hair was long.
I then realized that I had known about makkaliphala before. The story was still in the back of my mind. But I never believed it. I wanted to touch it but felt it was not proper in front of the monk. Had the monk not been there, I would have squeezed to see if it had bones. It was like a balloon with no bones. Later I squeezed another one when it came to this temple, not that one.
Hands and feet were beautiful. No sinew was shown. They were equally smooth. Knuckles were equally slender. It looked really pretty. It was a flower. I did not lift it up to gauge the weight. It had body organs like ordinary human being. The breast was a little bit different. Height and features are like a sixteen year old girl.
Then I turned around to pay him obeisance. The monk looked as if he was older than me. He told me that he got it from Himavana forest2 . I guessed that he attained a state of serene contemplation. He began to tell the story which was exactly the same as what Luang Poh Chang had told my grandmother.
Long time ago Phussati presented heartwood of sandalwood to the Vipassi Buddha. She made a wish to be a Buddha’s mother later. The Buddha blessed that her wish would come true.
Heartwood of sandalwood was a scented material at that time. It was not expensive. But the quality was good. It was fit for the kings.
What he told was similar to what I had heard before. The story of Vessantara happened many ten thousands years ago, not two thousand.
Having received the blessing, Phussati became the wife of Indra. That was the end of Vipassi Buddha’s blessing. When Indra learned that his wife wanted to be a Buddha’s mother, when she was about to shift to another existence, he allowed her to wish for another blessing. Phussati wished for 10 blessings. But I would mention only one. That was she wished for a good looking son full of virtues and fortune. This wish extended her previous wish to be a Buddha’s mother. So, she was born in the world using the same name and became the wife of the King of Sanjaya City.
When Indra knew by his magic sense that Phussati still had no son, he invited a bodhisatva to be conceived in her womb. After that he constructed by magic power the forest residence where the royal family of four will have to become ascetics in Himavana forest.
He then created by magic power 16 makkaliphala trees at the same time as the residence. They were not natural trees. There were two reasons for creating it.
1. Dirty minded yogi (ascetics), gandharva (heavenly musicians) and learned deities had been in Himavana forest for several ten thousands years. When they had sexual intercourse with makkaliphala, they would be unconscious for four months and would not be able to attain Nibba-na. This was the dhamma-puzzle of the five sensual pleasures.
2. Indra wanted Madri to go out for picking up fruits undisturbed. The dirty minded group would be absorbed in the sixteen makkaliphala trees.
Since the case was so, makkaliphala did not bloom seasonally. When Madri would go to the forest, it blossomed. There were 5 girls in a bunch. They bloomed and closed. After the flowers had come out for three days, they menstruated. That meant they were grown up.
Those makkaliphala would sing and dance from morning to evening. Gandharvas, learned deities and ascetics came to have sexual intercourse with them and became unconscious afterwards. The jhana (state of serene contemplation) deteriorated. Those who had not attained the jhana waited at the bottom of the trees, to pick up the makkaliphala that would ripe and fall in seven days.
After seven days makkaliphala would expire and the whole bunch would fall. There were five girls in a bunch. The Singhalese monk told me this. It corresponded to what Luang Poh Chang told grandmother. So, my memory has been recalled.
I listened to the monk further that makkaliphala expired in 7 nights after blossoming. It was dead, fallen from the tree. When opening its eyes, the eyes were large like eggs. Eyebrows were curved as if drawn. The nose was protruding. Eyebrows started from the top of the nose and curved like a crescent. It looked like a Buddha image from Sukhothai period.
The monk continued that he had attained jhana. He had gone to Himavana forest and picked that makkaliphala from there through his jha-na. Then he looked at it to scrutinize in detail. I was fortunate to meet it because I wanted to urinate coincidentally. So, I asked Madame Nuang Imsombat to witness it. Now she has passed away.
I received many secret techniques from the Singhalese monk. Thus, I made a wish in front of him if I was fortunate enough, I would like to mee it in Thailand. Then he told me many secret techniques in meditation such as what to do when I wanted to meet any one or send telepathy. But I will not state here because no one has asked.
Several years after I returned from that trip to Thailand, I met makkaliphala.
There was a temple in the middle of a field in Lopburi Province. One day a smelly man carrying a kitbag arrived at the temple, paying obeisance to the abbot and spoke to him.
“I have made a long journey. It is also a long journey home. May I rest in this temple for seven nights?” the abbot thought that although that old man was smelly he spoke wittily. So, he allowed the old man to stay for seven days.
The leader of the lay community protested the abbot. He did not want the man to stay, thinking that the man might be a drug addict or alcoholic, fearing that he would steal valuable things. But the abbot let him stay.
That day, there was a merit making ceremony. The abbot asked the patron to offer food to the vagabond. Patrons disagreed. So, the abbot brought him some food every day.
After seven days, the man bid the abbot farewell to continue his journey. The abbot saw him off at the back of the temple where there was a large rice field. The old man said, “The abbot has been very kind. I am on a trip and have nothing much. But I would like to leave you a present. I would like to tell you that if you want to do anything, complete it within four years. You have to leave this temple definitely.” Then the old man gave the abbot his kitbag. The abbot did not know what it was. The old man bid him farewell and continued his journey.
The abbot opened the bag. There was a letter written in Khom language, saying that I have obtained these two makkaliphala from Himavana forest. I leave them here as a present to you. There were a few more lines about the situation.
The abbot thought it as a miracle. So, he asked a patron to follow the old man. But the old man had disappeared. The place where he slept, which was smelly then turned to be a smell of incense, candle and sandalwood oil spreading all over the temple.
Later, the abbot had meditation practitioner residence built within four years. He then passed away according to the old man’s prophecy. This abbot was ordained twice. He left monkhood after the first ordination. After having a son, he became ordained again. I supported his son. When the son stayed at this temple, I sent him to school. I supported his ordination. When he disrobed I also supported his wedding ceremony.
After the abbot passed away his son went to help organizing his father’ s funeral. When the funeral ceremony was over, the disciple gave those to the son. The son left them with me for eight years. They were large then. I have never told any one because I learned about them from Sri Lanka according to the Singhalese monk’s narration. So, I just kept them. Then I happened to give a dhamma teaching at an auditorium on the second floor of S. W Building at Wat Bovornives, in the ‘Man Freed From the World’ programme. College students and retired high ranking civil servants asked a lot of questions. Students asked if there really was a Buddha. I answered logically. Some asked if there really was Himavana forest. I answered logically. Then they asked about makkaliphala tree. I described makkaliphala to them. The students asked if I had one, since I described it clearly. I told them I had. For this reason, they came to see it here. That caused much publicity. The large makkaliphala has reduce its size, not looking like human any more. It was a flower. So, it withered and shrank gradually.
Miracles manifested by makkaliphala
There were two miracles manifested by makkaliphala. When I kept them, people talked a lot about them. Mrs. Sopa was a wife of a district chief officer in Chantaburi Province and a meditation disciple of this temple. She and several doctors knew this story well. One day she organized for a merit making ceremony at her home on the border of Chantaburi and Rayong Province. She invited me to lunch. The doctors asked me to bring makkaliphala with me. He wanted to study because he had never met me when he came to the temple. I was on the two minds if I should bring them with me or not. Finally, I decided to bring them. I put them on a pedestal plate, wrapped them with white cloth and put them in the car. We left Wat Ambavana at 7 o’clock in the morning. I fell asleep as soon as I got on board. We arrived Rayong at 8 o’clock in the morning. It took us one hour to arrive at the host’s. We had to wait for many hours before it was time for chanting and lunch. That was a miracle.
Patron Charn Kornsritipa found out about the story. He said he would have a merit making ceremony on the occasion of his birthday at Wat Sribunrueng in Bangkok. He invited me and asked if I could bring makkaliphala with me since his son who had come back from America would like to see. So, I brought them in my kitbag. When we arrived at Wat Sribunrueng, there were many Chao Khun (the Right venerable) who gathered at the abbot’s residence. But no one knew about it except patron Charn Kornsritipa. After a while, a strange voice came out from my kitbag singing a song sweetly. Only the abbot, Phra Khru Sripariyattiguna, heard it. So, he asked if I had brought a cassette tape with me. He said the song was nice and he would like to see the cassette. I told him I was not a type of monk who carried cassette tape. He did not believe me. I thought what was that and tried to keep my kitbag with me while he wanted to look inside the bag. It just happened that I felt like going to the toilet. So, I took my bag with me. The abbot said that the restroom was far away, leave the bag with him. I forgot and left the bag with him while going to the toilet. The abbot opened the kitbag because he heard a sweet song. So, he wanted to see. Finally, a crowd gathered around it. People made a phone call summoning homefolks to see. That day, there was no chanting ceremony on birthday occasion. Chao Khun of Wat Po, Wat Pamok and many other Chao Khun had not seen them before. They had a look until late evening. That was a miracle.
In short, they vanished in the end. I made a wish from Sri Lanka to Thailand. They could really come as I have told. I would end the story of makkaliphala here. When Buddhism comes to an end, 1) The magically created makkaliphala tree and the forest residence will vanish. 2) The Buddha’s relics will become charcoal. This has been told clearly. Those who have not experienced would not believe in the story. A person who has seen with his own eyes has to accept that he believes it 100%. Others may not believe it because they have not seen it. If I have not seen it, I would not believe it. I also took three bundles of soil from Sri Lanka. They became Buddha relics upon return. A doctor from Siriraj (hospital) asked for permission to cut open one makkaliphala, the inside were like human’s. He cut open and took photographs by large camera. There was a heart, intestine, lung, stomach like human. The petal starts to open at six in the morning and close at six in the evening. The petals are like lotus petals. They keep 5 girls inside and bloom again in the morning. They fell from the tree in 7 days. When they fell the eyes are still open.
Credit: eBooks. Wat Amphawan.