Culapanthaka Story

Hello all,

It’s said that Culapanthaka was a dullard because in previous existence he had made fun/ criticise (other translation) a bhikkhu who was very dull. But in life in general, sometimes we are praised or blamed or criticised. We may criticise (whether through speech or mind) other people, they can be monastic members or lay people.

I heard a monastic member said in the Dhamma talk, Culapanthaka became dull because he criticised a monk that has attained a degree of enlightenment, I assume four stages of enlightenment (Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahat).

Considering seriously the consequences of Culapanthaka’s action in previous existence, does it mean whoever criticises monastic members will be born stupid?

Sorry if this question sounds silly.

Edit: The story sounds like encouraging people not to be an as*****, although I’m not sure the authenticity of this story.

Hi SC;
As I have heard mahapanthaka was an arhant, but I am not sure about it. If mahapanthaka was an arhant why would he ill treat his own brother?

All I can say from the story is that it is definetely unwise to waste your time criticizing or finding fault anyone but ourselves. :blush:

“Not finding fault, not hurting,
and restraint in regard to the Pātimokkha,
Knowing the correct measure in food,
and living in a remote dwelling place,
Being devoted to the higher mind—
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.”

Fools looking to find fault in others,
But bereft of virtues themselves,
Will wander about, insolent,
Like cantankerous beasts.


They’ll love white clothes,
And they’ll detest the deep-dyed ochre robe,
The banner of the arahants,
Which is worn without disgust by the free.

They’ll want lots of things,
And be lazy, lacking energy;
Weary of the forest,
They’ll stay in villages.

Being unrestrained, they’ll keep company with
Those who obtain lots of things,
And who always enjoy wrong livelihood,
Following their example.

They won’t respect those
Who don’t obtain lots of things,
And they won’t associate with the wise,
Even though they’re very amiable.

Disparaging their own banner,
Which is dyed the colour of copper,
Some will wear the white banner
Of the followers of other religions.

Then they’ll have no respect
For the ochre robe;
The monks will not reflect
On the nature of the ochre robe.


The conceited, arrogant fool,
Who has no virtue,
Is worthy of a white robe—
What use is an ochre robe for them?

In the future, monks and nuns
With corrupt hearts, disrespectful,
Will disparage those
With hearts of loving-kindness.

Though trained in wearing the robe
By senior monks,
The unintelligent will not listen,
Wild, doing what they like.

With that kind of attitude to training,
Those fools won’t respect each another,
Or take any notice of their mentors,
Like a wild horse with its charioteer.

So, in the future,
This will be the practice
Of monks and nuns,
When the latter days have come.

Before this terrifying future arrives,
Be easy to admonish,
Kind in speech,
And respect one another.

Have hearts of loving-kindness and compassion,
And keep your precepts;
Be energetic, resolute,
And always strong in exertion.

Seeing heedlessness as fearful,
And heedfulness as security,
Develop the eight-fold path,
Realising the deathless state.”


Those who discuss
when angered, dogmatic, arrogant,
following what’s not the noble ones’ way,
seeking to expose each other’s faults,
delight in each other’s misspoken word,
slip, stumble, defeat.
Noble ones don’t speak in that way.

If wise people, knowing the right time, want to speak,
then, words connected with justice,
following the ways of the noble ones:
That’s what the enlightened ones speak,
without anger or arrogance,
with a mind not boiling over,
without vehemence,
without spite.
Without envy
they speak from right knowledge.
They would delight in what’s well-said
and not disparage what’s not.
They don’t study to find fault,
don’t grasp at little mistakes.
don’t put down, don’t crush,
don’t speak random words.

For the purpose of knowledge,
for the purpose of [inspiring] clear confidence,
counsel that’s true:
That’s how noble ones give counsel,
That’s the noble ones’ counsel.
Knowing this, the wise
should give counsel without arrogance.”


Thanks for your reply. But it’s not necessarily finding faults, although we know lay people are not always in the wrong side. Until we experience this, maybe lay people always in the “wrong side” since everyone is pursuing worldly gain. When someone does something wrong to you, for example, do you praise them or have a neutral mind state or none of them?

this person i knew, their mom use to tell them, if you make fun of other people for being fat, then one day you’re going to be fat.

this person grew up to be fat. and they believed it was because they made fun of others for being fat when they were a kid.

i stayed at a monastery for 3 years. 8 precepts was the norm there, no food after solar noon. many yogis and monastics also experimented or were regulars of eating once in one sitting per day.

i experimented with eating once a day, and i loved it until the 4th day when my energy just collapsed. the amount of body fat and energy i could eat in one sitting per day, could only last a few days. i tried it a few times over 3 years, but each time was about the same. the food was mostly vegan with eggs available most days. so i could usually get enough protein, but not enough fat. when i got back to the USA, i tried again, eating just one sitting a day, this time i added a bowl of ice cream at the end of the meal. now this time, i could last about 12 days before my energy collapsed.

another yogi was about 30 pounds overweight, he started eating once per day. week by week you could see him getting skinnier. after about 6 months, he was about as skinny as me. i’m skinny. i suspect if he continued with one meal a day, he would start having the problem i had of energy collapsing.

so back to the main point.

this is the kamma of eating:
if you eat more calories than the calories you lose from metabolic activity, you will gain weight.
if you don’t get enough calories you will lose weight.
that’s the primary kamma of being fat or not fat.
(of course disease and side effects of the abominable common pharmaceuticals people use can be an overriding factor)

this is one type of kamma for making fun of other people for being dull:
other people will think you’re a conceited inconsiderate jerk.
and what to people do to jerks? they’ll use any convenient opportunity to make trouble for jerks.

this is the path to becoming dull:
watch tv all day, don’t think, don’t reflect, blindly accept dogma, take intoxicants that harm the mind, eat unhealthy food, don’t exercise.

this is the path to being intelligent:
ask questions of intelligent people, think about this, reflect, don’t blindly accept dogma without considering it carefully

similar template for wisdom as with intelligence, noting that wisdom is much more important, intelligence can be way akusula unwholesome

now the culapanthaka situation involves one more element that goes beyond my knowledge and experience. that is, doing something mean to an ariya, what would be the repercussions? would one be born in hell?
there’s one side of me that thinks there’s fear mongering going on by the patriarchs of the orthodoxy, but there’s another side of me that says, what the heck, it’s to my benefit if i just pretend everyone is an ariya and treat them with respect even if they act like a jerk.

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Just reflect on who benefits from such a rule and you have your answer right there

Thanks for your reply, but it is said one can be a “jerk”, at the same time has attained a degree of enlightenment. The reason is, everyone’s character is different.

@Gabriel As said above, criticism doesn’t have to be spoken verbally, it is possible criticism is done through the mind, for example, when one sees someone does something wrong, is it not?

You ask as if you wouldn’t know, while I’m sure you do. Criticism is in mind, in acts, in words, in intentions, in moods of aversion, consciously, unconsciously, in whatever level of subtlety you want.
As a coarse rule this is a self-protection of a monastic community, ensuring its survival and status. As a subtle rule it makes us look inward to detect states of mind, like doubt and aversion that are keeping us from developing an undivided mind.

If that is the case, then, all if not most people will become a “stupid Culapanthaka”. A monastic member, for example, speak or do something that is truly improper. And, say you are the victim. The mind goes “It’s not proper for him to speak or do such and such thing”, accompanied by disappointment. I assume that is a criticism hence makes no difference as what Culapanthaka did in the story, is that right?

I’m afraid I don’t understand what your question is. My sanity tells me that I’m not going to hell because I criticize anyone. But to walk around with a criticizing mindset will be an impediment. Additionally if I put my trust in the buddhist teaching and then criticize monks or teachers then I’m undermining the very teaching I take as a means for liberation which is obviously a serious obstacle.

Is that what the text says? No, the text is a primitive rule similar to the ones we frighten children with.
Does the text represent reality? I have no idea, and I don’t think you will find someone who knows.


Should we replace “anyone” with “one that has attained a degree of enlightenment”? Thanks.

From a teaching on “Nagarjuna’s Precious Jewel” by the venerable Thubten Chödron, a similar question came to my mind. I asked if we should treat everyone as an Ariyan, since we don’t know who is or isn’t for sure, or should we treat everyone as an Ariyan but pay special respect to those we suspect are attained in enlightenment. The venerable confirmed this, adding that those on the path, by virtue of the commitment made to renunciation alone, was enough to warrant special veneration above and beyond other worldlings. As to your question of criticism in the case of a monastic behaving inappropriately, I am reminded of the saying that those who upset you are your greatest teachers, and are thereby worthy of our respect and gratitude.

With Metta,


Of course everyone is our teacher and the best is we don’t have an enemy at all. We learn everything from everyone and everyone is our best friends. But is there such thing such as good and bad teacher?

Since criticism does not always have to be expressed from speech, is thinking “it’s not proper for him to speak or do such and such thing” considered a criticism? Things don’t get more simpler if the person who clearly does wrong thing to someone is suspected to be a person who has attained a degree of enlightenment.

I’d like to raise a slightly different point here, if I may. This criticism exposes what I think is perhaps our most important form of unexamined discrimination: discrimination against the less intelligent.

Think about it. We have all kinds of discussions of discrimination on the basis of skin color, gender, body type, and so on. We know that it’s wrong to criticize someone because of the color of their skin (“racism”) or their sexual preference (“homophobia”) or their gender (“sexism”) or their body (“fat-shaming”) or their sexual behavior (“slut-shaming”) or their disabilities (“ableism”) and so on. Of course, all these things still go on, and the struggle for equality continues. Right now I’m staying in Taiwan, as it happens, which looks to be taking the regional lead in same-sex marriage: yay Taiwan!

But our language is full of words that demean people of lower intelligence. “Dumb”, “idiot”, “cretin”, “moron”. People use these as terms of abuse all the time, and never stop to think: well, what if it’s true? What if that person really just is not very intelligent? Is that something that I should despise them for? Should I humiliate them and put them down? Or, perhaps, would it be better to have compassion for them? To spend some time to help them understand, even though it may take longer?

We can’t even really talk about it in polite conversation. What’s the preferred nomenclature? “People of lesser intelligence”? Normally we just dance around it and say, “less educated” or something like that.

The situation is not helped by the vagueness and lack of proper definition of intelligence. There’s no simple biological basis for or definition of “race” either, and it involves just as much of a complex interaction of social, historical, personal, and genetic factors as does intelligence.

And sure, there are many different types of intelligence, or aspects of intelligence, and sometimes people who are weak in one area are strong in another. But this, too, is skirting the issue. What of those who are not good at any of them? Surely they exist.

And while it makes sense that intelligence should be a criterion in assessing whether someone should be a physics professor, lack of intelligence doesn’t make you any less of a mother, a friend, a carer, a grower, a builder, a cook, or a swimmer. It doesn’t make you any less of a human. Yet it does form one of the most persistent and powerful forms of discrimination in pretty much every field of life, including employment. Most jobs don’t really require that much intelligence, any more than they require extraordinary physical strength. But the more intelligent applicant is strongly preferred, even if there’s little reason to think it will affect their job performance.

As a culture, we have, despite all the backlash, moved to a greater openness and acceptance. I think discrimination on the basis of intelligence will be the next big social movement.

But it will be a hard one. Social change can only really happen when the people most affected stand up for themselves. It will take someone with a lot of guts to stand up and say, “I’m an idiot, and proud of it!”