Angulimala – The Garland of Fingers
During Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, an Indian boy was born. Named “Ahimsaka” meaning harmless in Sanskrit, he was later known as Angulimala.
The Pali word ‘Angulimala’ directly translates to “finger mala” or a rosary of fingers. It is a story about a man named Angulimala who quickly excelled in his Dharma studies, but then found himself going down a dark and dangerous path. He lived the younger years of his life spiritually, but due to the jealousy from his peers he was shunned by his community… even by his parents!
He decided to take on a life as a robber and set out to make a mala-like garland of 1,000 fingers – one from every person he killed! For his 1,000th finger, Buddha Shakyamuni appeared before him. Angulimala saw him as his final victim and ran after him. But as much as Angulimala tried to get closer to his last victim, Buddha Shakyamuni always remained one step ahead of him.
Buddha Shakyamuni then gave a short teaching, and Angulimala broke down and cried and requested to be taken in as Shakyamuni’s student.
Angulimala’s life story is especially famous within the Theravadan school. His story shows how it is possible to change your life for the better even after committing so many negative deeds. A lot of people may feel that after creating so much negativity, there’s no turning back. Perhaps they don’t know how to change their life for the better, or that perhaps no one would give them a chance.
Like Milarepa – there are some saints who have hurt and killed many people… however, despite that, they are able to attain the state of Nirvana in that lifetime. Perhaps then, there is a way?
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Read the comic to find out why he wanted so many fingers… !
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