This is a terrible sin. To slander someone and dishonor his reputation is just as bad as killing him, or worse, especially when that person is an enlightened Saint and doing nothing harmful to no one. Just preaching good and reminding people to do good, or teaching them a liberation path. That's why.
They called her to come because somebody advised them that this woman, if you engage her, you can defame the Buddha. But they also didn't know what to do. So they just called her there, and then she stood there, and they stood there, and they didn't know what to say.
So finally… She kept asking many times, so they said, “OK, do whatever you can to defame the Gautama, the Buddha.” So she said she will do it. Woman, clever. “From that time on, she employed all her skills in the art of a woman to affect her purpose.”
“When the residents of Sravasti were returning from Jetavana, after listening to the Dharma from the Buddha, she would put on a cloak of red color, and bearing perfumes and garlands in her hands, would walk in the direction of Jetavana.” The followers and the disciples of the Buddha were walking from Jetavana, to go home. And she, this woman, so-called nun, wearing a red coat, meaning very, very opulent, very eye-catching clothes, and perfume and flowers, and decorating, make-up herself, was walking the opposite direction to Jetavana, to where the Buddha resided. And you probably understood already what's going on.
“And then the people, of course asked her, ‘Where are you going at this time of day?’” “And she said, ‘What business of yours is it where I am going?’” Saying, “Mind your own business.” She didn't even answer. “And then she would reply that. And then she would spend the night near Jetavana, at the monastery of the sectarians. And early in the following morning, when throngs of lay disciples were coming out of the city for the purpose of rendering the morning greeting to the Buddha, she would wend her way back and re-enter the city.” As if she stayed the whole night in Jetavana Park. But she didn't. She stayed in the temple of these sectarian, jealous teachers.
“So people asked again, ‘Where have you spent the night?’” people asked her. “So she said, ‘It's not your business where I spent my night.’ And then she just left again. So, after the lapse of a month and a half, she kept doing like this. Whenever they asked her this question, she would reply, ‘I spent the night at Jetavana alone with the monk Gautama in the Perfumed Chamber.’” Perfumed Chamber is the place where they built specially for the Buddha alone to stay, apart from other monks and people. So she said she spent the night with Gautama the Buddha in His Perfumed Room. So, after one month and a half, then she replied like that. Before she just said, “No, none of your business.” But after a while, five, six weeks, she said, “I spent the night with the Buddha.” She didn't say, “The Buddha.” She said, “Gautama, the monk.”
“And by her answer she caused doubts and misgivings to spring up in the minds of those who were still worldlings.” Meaning the ones who were not truly enlightened yet. They were not very highly enlightened and not very diligent in practice, in order to perceive inside knowledge. Not just by hearing, but knowing intuitively inside. Or by vision, or by wisdom, knowing that it's not true or it is true. So they listened to her. This kind of people, easily swayed, faith is not firm. Enlightenment little, ego big, ignorance bigger. So they kind of doubted now. They felt like believing in her, something, somewhat. So these people were still “worldlings,” meaning they were not saintly yet. Even though they were monks, even though they followed the Buddha, but they were not above the world level yet, not above human level yet. They call them “worldlings.” So these worldlings had doubts in their minds. “So they said to themselves…” But who wouldn't? Who wouldn't? It is too obvious, right? The way she was doing, was too obvious. Who wouldn't believe, right? Doesn't matter saint or not saint. Maybe people were just thinking like that.
“So they said to themselves, ‘Is this true, or is this false?’ When three or four months had gone by, she wrapped her belly about with bandages, to create the impression that she was pregnant, and dressing herself in a scarlet cloak. She went about, saying, ‘I have conceived a child by the monk Gautama.’ Thus did she deceive utter simpletons.” You know, stupid people. “When eight months or nine months had gone by, she fastened a disc of wood to her belly, drew a cloak over it, and produced swellings all over her body by pounding her hands and feet and back with the jawbone of an ox, and pretending to be physically exhausted. Then she went one evening to the Hall of Truth and stood before the Tathāgata,” meaning the Buddha.
“There in His gloriously adorned Seat of Truth, sat the Tathāgata teaching the Dharma. And standing there before Him, Ciñcā Mānavikā opened her lips and reviled Him, saying, ‘Mighty monk, mighty is the throng to which You teach the Dharma. Sweet is Your voice, soft are Your lips. Nevertheless, You are the one by whom I have conceived a child, and the time of my delivery is near at hand. But in spite of all this, You make no effort to provide a lying-in chamber for me, nor do You offer to provide me with ghee or oil, and such other things as I need. And failing Yourself to attend to Your duty…’” You know, as a father. “‘Neither do You say to any one of Your supporters, the king of Kosala, or Anāthapiṇḍika or Visākhā, Your eminent female disciple: “Do for this young woman what should be done for her.” You never said anything like that. You know well enough how to take Your pleasure, but You do not know how to look after the child You have begotten.’ So, thus, she was reviling the Buddha in the midst of the congregation,” in the public, at that time, in the public. “Even as a woman with a mass of dung in her hand might seek to defile the face of the moon.” Maybe just useless, that's what they mean. How can you defile the face of the moon?
Today is a good story because we have Moon Festival. (The moon.) I did not think like that, but it's a proper story. Moon Festival, moon story.
“So the Tathāgata stopped His discourse, and like a lion’s roar, He cried out, He yelled out.” Normally the Buddha doesn't yell, but He probably was upset or angry at these lies. So He yelled like, He roared like a lion, saying, “Sister, as to whether what you have said is true or false, that is something which only you and I know.” He didn't even deny it. But this is the thing, Buddha’s behavior. They behave like that, very noble. He didn't say, “No, you tell lies, you woman, you’re wicked, you do not say things like this about me. You know it's not true.” He didn't say that. He said, “Whatever you said, true or not true, only you and I know.” He meant to her that she knew it was not true. And He knew it was not true. But He didn't deny. He didn't, kind of like, trash her or anything. So noble, in front of the whole assembly of lay disciples, monks and nuns and kings and everybody, He said nothing like that. “So she said, ‘Yes, mighty monk, but who is to decide between the truth and the falsehood of what is known only to you and to me?’” She meant: How can we tell anybody else? Everybody else should know about that.
“So at that moment, Śakra…” Śakra, the god, the Lord of the 33 gods in the 33 Pleasure Heaven, “his seat suddenly became hot in Heaven.” It’s just a sign of something wrong in the world, some connection with him somehow. So he felt heated, his seat. “So, therefore, he pondered the cause and became aware of the following: Ciñcā Mānavikā is falsely accusing the Tathāgata.” “Tathāgata” is one of the titles of the Buddha, meaning, “Thus come.” “So he said to himself,” “the god Śakra said to himself, ‘I will clear up this matter.’ So he set out with four deities, four of his assistants from Heaven. And these four deities, his assistants, turned themselves…”
Stretch your legs, man, stretch. Turn, stretch correctly. Don't worry about the Indian custom with the Guru and stretching leg in front of the Guru. Nothing. Don't worry about it. I'm not Indian, so you're free. In the Indian custom, you don't stretch your… (Yes.) You don't put your legs toward the Guru. You don't sleep with your legs, your foot, toward the Guru. You don't sit in the same height seat as the Guru. Something like that. But I said, “I'm not Indian.” I'm not a Mataji in India. So you're free. You stretch your legs wherever you want. Be comfy, because it's not comfortable sitting long on the floor. I'm sorry we cannot provide any more than this. (It’s OK.) Yeah, all right.
And also we age, you and I age. And when we age, the body complains, quietly, but very loudly. And here it’s a little bit humid in this season, so your bones will feel a little trouble. I put two boxes of medicine, small boxes of medicine outside next to the boiler machine, (Yes.) where you boil your tea. You use it to rub. You rub whenever you like and then return it there so other people can use it. There are instructions inside. OK? (Yes.)
“So Śakra, the god, he set forth with his four deities, four assistant deities, the Heavenly assistants,” his secretaries. And probably his drivers, and his housekeeper, and another sub-secretary or shadow secretary, what they call it in England: shadow secretary. “Shadow,” sounds not very trustworthy, is it? In America, they say vice secretary. But shadow secretary... (Shadow.) And even shadow minister. Oh, I thought this is... What a name. It sounds dubious, sounds scary. All right then.
So he went down with the four shadow sub-gods. And then these four deities, or devas, or whatever, they changed themselves, by magic power, into mice, rats. “And with one bite of their teeth…” They came down. They came down from Heaven, all the way down to where the Buddha sat, and they turned themselves into mice. “And then with one bite of their teeth, these little mice severed the cords with which the disc of wood was fastened to the belly of the woman. At that moment, the wind blew up the cloak which was wrapped around her, and the disc of wood fell upon her feet, cutting off the toes of both her feet as well. Thereupon the multitude cried out, ‘A hag is reviling the Supreme Enlightened One!’ So they spat on her head, and taking clods of earth and sticks in their hands, drove her out of Jetavana,” where the Buddha was.
The Buddha didn't say anything, but it just happened like that. “As she passed out of sight of the Tathāgata, the great earth split apart, an abyss opened under her feet, and flames shot up from Avīci hell. Thus, she was swallowed up, enveloped as it were in a scarlet blanket, such as is presented by a wealthy family, and reborn in the Avīci hell.”
Avīci hell is the hell that is non-stop punishment. You don't have one second of rest. They punish you forever and forever and forever. And it could be a very, very long time, like eternity. And this is called also like a non-stop, non-interrupted hell, one of the non-interrupted hells. Meaning, whatever punishment they meted out to you, you have it all day long, 24 hours, every second of the day. They make you die, they make you suffer, and then you revive again. And then you live again, and then continue again and again, and again and again.
This is the worst hell of all, without any repose in between. It’s reserved for the real deep criminals. The bad, the worst. It's not that the Buddha wanted it that way. It's just her karma drew her down there, not the Buddha. The Buddha never wanted to punish anybody at all. Not even did the Śakra god want that. Just the karma draws people to where they belong. This is terrible, to slander the innocent Buddha. That's why. The slanderers who slander normal people, yes, you will also reap punishment. But to slander an enlightened Saint, this is the worst you can do to yourself. So she went direct, immediately, with flames even, shooting up, to drag her down to the Avīci hell.
“From that time, the gain and honor of the sectarians decreased even further.” They wanted to gain more, but now they got less. “But the offerings presented to the Master,” Buddha, “increased more and more.” Of course, now His fame was more than before. So actually, she was helping the Buddha. And the sectarians, in a way were helping the Buddha. But as you sow, so shall you reap. They did not intend to help the Buddha that way. They intended to harm Him. Therefore, they had to reap the consequences like that.
And this is not yet to do with the other teachers yet. It's just the girl only. Because she's the one, herself, thought of this scheme. They also did not tell her what to do, or they also didn't know what to do to defame the Buddha. But she herself, though being a nun in the Brahmin sect, is also very noble, thought of this way to really slander Him, degrade Him in front of the multitude. This is a terrible sin. To slander someone and dishonor his reputation is just as bad as killing him, or worse, especially when that person is an enlightened Saint and doing nothing harmful to no one. Just preaching good and reminding people to do good, or teaching them a liberation path. That's why.