BY THEIR EFFORTS THE WISE CREATE THEIR OWN HEAVENS
Utthanenappamadena sannamena damena ca
Dipam kayiratha medhavi yam ogho nabhikirati.
By sustained effort, earnestness, discipline, and self control, let the wise man make for himself an island which no flood overwhelms.
A certain banker had two grandsons named Maha Panthaka and Cula Panthaka. Maha Panthaka, being the elder, used to accompany his grandfather to listen to religious discourses. Later, Maha Panthaka joined the Holy Order and in the course of time became an Arahant. Cula Panthaka followed his brother and also became a bhikkhu. But, because in a previous existence Cula Panthaka had made fun of a bhikkhu who was very dull, he was born a dullard in the present existence. He could not even memorise one verse in four months. Maha Panthaka then suggested that it would be better for his brother to leave the Holy Order.
One day, Jivaka the doctor invited the Buddha and the resident bhikkhus to his house for almsfood. Cula Panthaka's name was not on the list of the bhikkhus who could go. When he learnt about this he was very depressed and decided to return to the life of a householder. Knowing his intention, the Buddha made him sit in front of the monastery where the Buddha was residing at that time. He was given a clean piece of cloth and told to sit there facing the East and to simply rub the piece of cloth. At the same time, he was to repeat the word 'Rajoharanam' which means 'taking off impurity.' The Buddha then went to the residence of Jivaka, accompanied by the bhikkhus who had been selected by his brother.
When the Buddha was away, Cula Panthaka went on rubbing the piece of cloth diligently, all the time muttering the word 'Rajoharanam'. Very soon, the cloth became soiled. Seeing this change in the condition of the cloth, his previous good kamma finally bore fruit and he came to realise the impermanent nature of all conditioned things. From the house of Jivaka, the Buddha through his supernormal power learnt about the progress of this young bhikkhu. He sent forth a radiance so that the Buddha appeared to be sitting in front of him saying, 'It is not the piece of cloth alone that is made dirty by the dust; within oneself also there exist the dust of passion (raga), the dust of ill-will (dosa), and the dust of ignorance (moha), (i.e. the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths). Only by removing these can one achieve one's goal and attain Sainthood.' Cula Panthaka understood the message and continued meditating and in a short while attained Arahanthood * together with extraordinary knowledge and mental powers.
At the house of Jivaka, they were about to pour water into a bowl as a symbol of offering but the Buddha covered the bowl with his hand to prevent the offering and asked, 'Are there any bhikkhus left at the monastery?' On being told that there were none, the Buddha replied that there was one and directed them to fetch Cula Panthaka from the monastery. When the messenger from the house of Jivaka arrived at the monastery he found not only one bhikkhu, but a large number of bhikkhus, all identical! They had all been created by Cula Panthaka, who by now possessed supernormal powers. The messenger was baffled and he reported the matter to Jivaka. The messenger was sent to the monastery for the second time and was instructed to say that the Buddha summoned the bhikkhu by the name of Cula Panthaka. But when he delivered the message, many voices responded, 'I am Cula Panthaka.' Again baffled, he returned for the second time. Then he was sent to the monastery for the third time. This time, he was instructed to get hold of the bhikkhu who first said that he was Cula Panthaka. As soon as he got hold of that bhikkhu all the rest disappeared, and Cula Panthaka accompanied the messenger to the house of Jivaka. After the meal, as directed by the Buddha, Cula Panthaka delivered a religious discourse confidently.
Later, when the subject of Cula Panthaka cropped up among the bhikkhus, the Buddha said that one who was diligent and steadfast in his striving would certainly attain Arahanthood.