The story of Angulimala & Gautama Buddha

In topic



Angulimala was a murderer, who had vowed to murder 101 people, cut their thumbs and wear them like a garland around his neck. One day Gautama came to the village, and he was to go that way. How Gautama transformed a murderer into a sage.


Duration: 11 min


Your browser does not support the audio element. /wp-content/uploads/How-Buddha-tranformed-a-murdered-into-a-sage_PD.mp3


6 min read

The story of Angulimala & Gautama Buddha

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

It happened that there was a man. His original name we forget. The name that people gave to him is Angulimala. Something happened to him, he felt the society has been unfair to him – became an angry man. You know, when you are young, you think everything is unfair to you. So, he became very angry with the society and he took a vow – this town which has been unfair to him, he is going to kill 101 people. 101 people he will kill and he will cut each one of their thumb, and wear it as a rosary around his neck, a garland of fingers or thumbs.

So, he went about doing this. People were terrified to go this way. He is housed in a jungle but this is the pathway to go to many other places. People got killed. Over a few years, he killed one hundred people. He just wants one more to satisfy his lust. So, one day Gautama Buddha came to this town. So, by now because he is wearing a garland of these fingers, they called him Angulimala, that means one who wears fingers as his garland. He just needs one more finger for him to complete his vow.

Gautama came and he was to go that way. People said, “Don’t go this way. This is an animal, this is not a man. This is not somebody you can go and give teaching or make him meditative. Just don’t go because just one more life he wants, we don’t want yours to be that one.” Then Gautama said, “If I don’t go, who will go? And he will remain unfulfilled. He just needs one more finger, if I do not go, who else will go? Let me go.” So he went.

Angulimala was sitting on on a rock, he saw this monk coming quietly. By now he is enjoying his reputation. People are terrified of him, he likes it. Just the mention of his name, people tremble. He is beginning to enjoy it. So, sitting there on the rock he roared, just to make this monk know that “I am here and this is your end coming.” Gautama looked at him, kept walking with a smile on his face quietly. He didn’t like this. Usually when they see him or when they hear him, people run helter-skelter wanting to save their lives, he likes that. This man is just walking. He didn’t like it.

He jumped off the rock and came and stood in front of him. He said, “Who the hell are you? And do you know who I am?” He showed his mala, all fingers. “You know about me?” Gautama said, “Well, I have heard a lot about you. What about it?” and he kept walking. “Where do you think you are going? You’re still going when I am talking to you?” Gautama said, “I stopped going long time ago. My going stopped long time ago. I have arrived. You are the one who’re trying to go somewhere.” Then Angulimala laughed. He said, “Rubbish, you are definitely an insane man. I am standing still, you say I am going. You are walking, and you say you are not going. What’s wrong with you?”

He said, “No, no, I have arrived long time ago. I am not going anywhere. You are the one who is trying to go somewhere. But you don’t know how to go there. You want my finger or you want my neck? Hang my head as a pendant. You got fingers, you can hang my head, now it will be good pendant for the necklace. Because I am done, I have arrived. It doesn’t matter whether I am physically here or not. You can do what you want.”

See, the pleasure of this killing is only when you are terrified and you don’t want to die. When someone wants to die, they don’t care. What’s the use of killing this guy? And it looks like even if you kill this guy, your lust for 101 lives will not be fulfilled, because this guy doesn’t give you the pleasure. Then he said, “Wait, you tell me, what is this about? You are moving and you are saying you have arrived and you are not moving. I am not moving and you say I am moving.”

“You are looking for fulfillment in your own way – 101. I am fulfilled. This is the big difference, and you can take my life. If you think you are going to be fulfilled, do it because this is my work, to fulfill people. If it’s going to happen so easy that without a teaching, just by slashing my throat, you’re going to be fulfilled, just do it, what’s the problem?” Now Angulimala became his star disciple. Then Gautama said, “You must go into the town, from which you have killed hundred people.” In a small town, hundred people means almost every family has lost somebody to this man. So, he made him into a monk.

Gautama’s monks were called bikkus. Bikkus means beggars literally. So, he gave him a yellow cloth and a begging bowl. He said, “Go, look for some food in the town.” So Angulimala came into the town, as a monk. People saw this, and they were terrified, they don’t know why he has come. They all went and stood on their terraces because they are afraid, what he will do. Then when they saw he has become tamed, he is not the same fierce man, then they started throwing stones at him because each family has lost somebody to him. So, he continued, stones hit him, he was bleeding all over. Then when it became, stone throwing became little in excess, then Gautama came in, asked the people to stop and said, “This is not the same man. This man is an extension of me. You are throwing stones at me. Just stop. There is no point killing this man because this man in a very hard way has come to realization. You can’t waste this man now by killing him.”

And Angulimala became, as I said, a star disciple, went all over the country spreading Buddha’s way of teaching, you know, living and knowing.

So, it doesn’t matter what kind of fulfillment you are looking for. You think it will happen with education or at least you thought. The moment you got educated, you felt like a fool. “If I don’t have a job, what is the use of this education?” You got a job. You felt great. Then after some time, you felt like a fool, “What do I do with this money, if I don’t find my dream man or dream woman?” That happened. After some time, you felt like a fool. This goes on. Desire is simply to expand, that’s your desire. If you choose physical, material ways to expand, you can go that far [little] or that far [further] or that far [even further], but still there will be desire. Yes? If I make you the king of this planet, you will look at the other planets. If I give you the solar system, you will look at the galaxy. If I give you one galaxy, you will look at the other galaxies.

Now, what you are looking for is not this or that, you’re looking for expansion. If you look at it consciously, you will become yoga. Yoga does not mean twisting and turning, you will come to union with the rest of the creation. If you do it unconsciously, it becomes compulsive desire, that’s all.


More Wisdom

Show All>