In 2010 I came to know that a friend who was staying in the same monastery as myself was visually challenged and wasn’t able to read the translations I had made, or at least not easily.
At that time I started recording my translations for her, and others with similar disabilities; later I also found out many people these days are time challenged and can listen to but not read texts themselves.
By now I have over 135 hours of recordings mainly of translations I have made, though I also have some recordings in the original languages too. As far as I know this is the largest collection of audio files of its type that has been made.
Recently I announced the publication of the Dhammapada Commentary stories, and have been recording some of these also. Some of them are very long and how many I can eventually record is a moot point at present, given that I have many other projects on as well.
Here you can find the whole collection of stories, and below the I introduce some more of the stories from the collection that I have published so far:
The first story, which I introduced previously, is the famous tale of Cakkhupāla, who gives up his eyes, but will not give up his determination to attain Awakening, which he does in fact achieve. The Buddha also relates a previous life story to explain why Cakkhupāla lost his eyesight in his last life.
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The second story concerns a miser who is so tight with his money that he lets his own son die rather than pay for a physician to treat him.
The Buddha, seeing the dying boy, shows himself and the boy pays reverence to him just before dying, and is reborn in the World of the Thirty-Three gods for his piety.
His father is overcome with grief, but his former son comes, and in verses shows him the reward of faith and converts him to good works.
The father offers dāna to the Buddha and the monastics and the Buddha summons the new deity to give witness to the assembly who are then also converted.
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The third of these recordings concerns Tissa, an elderly cousin of the Buddha, who is puffed up when he ordains in old age and almost lets senior monks attend on him, and when it is discovered gets angry and takes it to the Buddha.
The Buddha reprimands him, asks him to apologise, and when he refuses, tells a Jātaka story of a past life where Tissa was an ascetic, and was equally obstinate almost to the point of causing his own destruction.
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The next story concerns a barren woman who brings in a young wife for her husband, but every time the new wife gets pregnant gives her a potion that causes an abortion, until finally she kills the wife also.
They are reborn through many lives seeking and wreaking revenge on each other until in one life they meet the Buddha, who shows them that it is not by hatred that hatred ceases, but only by love.
They stop their animosity, and start to help each other instead, and are so helpful that the whole village benefits from it.
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The fifth story is one of the most famous in Buddhist literature. The followers of two monks from Kosambi fall into a dispute about a minor point of discipline and the Buddha tries to reconciles them.
As they refuse to settle the dispute the Buddha withdraws to Pārileyyaka Forest, where he is served by an elephant and a monkey for the period of a Rains Retreat; meanwhile the lay people withdraw support from the quarrelsome monks until they come round.
At the end of the retreat Ven. Ānanda goes to request the Buddha to return and he agrees, but the elephant is reluctant to let him go, eventually the Buddha persuades him and the elephant dies of grief and is reborn in Tāvatiṁsa Heaven.
The monks come and are humbled in the midst of the assembly and beg forgiveness and the Buddha admonishes them and gives them a Dhamma teaching in verse on the need to be restrained.
The next story is about two brothers who ordain, the first out of faith, but the second thinking he would be able to persuade his brother to return to the lay life.
The elder brother puts forth great effort, and goes and spends his nights is a charnel ground where he is shown the body of a dead woman, before and after the body has been burned, and quickly attains Arahatship.
His younger brother, however, is enticed back to the lay life by his former wives; when the elder brother’s wives try to do the same thing, the Buddha allows them, knowing that they can no longer succeed.
The final story released at this time is about Devadatta. Ven. Sāriputta gives a Dhamma teaching about generosity and a lay man who hears it decides to give dāna to the Chief Disciple and his following of 1,000 monks.
He not only prepares alms himself, but encourages others to do so too, and one merchant gives an expensive robe, which eventually the lay supporters give to Devadatta.
The Buddha hears the story, and shows how Devadatta wore a similar robe in a past life when he was an elephant hunter, with the purpose of fooling and capturing elephants.