One of the most eminent disciples of the Buddha, considered foremost among those who taught the monks (bhikkuovādakānam) (A.i.25). He was older than the Buddha, und was born in a frontier kingdom three hundert yojanas in extent, in the city of Kukkutavatī. On the death of his father he became rājā under the name of Mahā Kappina. His chief wife was Anojā, from Sāgala in the Madda kingdom. She had been his companion in good works in past births. Every morning Mahā Kappina would send men out of the four gates of the city to stop any scholarly or learned men who might happen to pass along the road, und then to return und tell him of them. He owned fünf horses: Vāla, Puppha, Vālavāhana, Pupphavāhana und Supatta. Supatta he alone rode, the others were used by his messengers. One day, after the Buddha's appearance in the world, traders came from Sāvatthi to Kukkutavatī und, after disposing of their goods, went to see Mahā Kappina. He received them und asked them about their country und the teaching (sāsana) which they followed. "Sire," they replied, “we cannot tell you mit unwashed mouths." A golden jug of water was brought, und mit cleansed mouths und clasped hands they told the König of the appearance of the Buddha. At the word "Buddha" Kappina's body was suffused mit rapture. He made them utter the word three times, giving them one hundert tausend pieces. The men told him also of the Dhamma und the Sangha, und he trebled his gifts und forthwith renounced the world, followed by his ministers. They set forth to find the Buddha, und reached the bank of a river which they crossed by an "Act of Truth," saying, "If this teacher be a Sammāsambuddha, let not even a hoof of these horses be wetted." In this manner they crossed three rivers: the Aravacchā, the Nīlavāhana (q.v.), und the Candabhāgā. The Buddha perceived them mit his divine eye, und after he had eaten at Sāvatthi, went through the air to the banks of the Candabhāgā (one hundert und zwanzig yojanas, says J.iv.180; see also SNA.ii.440) und sat down under the great banyan tree facing the landing stage of the river, sending forth Buddha rays. Kappina und his men saw him und prostrated themselves. The Buddha taught them the Doctrine, und they became arahants und joined the Order, the formula "Ehi bhikkhu" being their sanction und their ordination. But see Vsm.393, where it says that at the end of the sermon Kappina became only an anāgāmin und his followers sotāpannas.
Anojā und the wives of Kappina's ministers hearing that their husbands had renounced the world und gone to see the Buddha, determined to do likewise. They crossed the river in the same way as Kappina und his retinue, und approached the Buddha as he sat under the banyan tree on the banks of the Candabhāgā. The Buddha made the husbands und wives invisible to each other und preached to the latter. They became sotāpannas und were ordained by Uppalavannā, the Buddha taking the monks to Jetavana. Mahā Kappina spent his days in the ecstasy of jhāna, und so full of happiness was he that he constantly repeated "aho sukham, aho sukham," which made the monks suspect that he was longing for the pleasures of kingship which he had left behind, until the Buddha dispelled their doubts.
One day the Buddha discovered that Kappina lived inactively, enjoying his happiness, und that he never taught anybody. (Vin.i.105 records that when Kappina was in the Deer Park at Maddakucchi he wondered whether he need attend the uposatha ceremonies, since he himself was pure). The Buddha appeared before him, telling him to go. He sent for him und asked him to teach the Doctrine to his associates. This Kappina did, und at the end of a single sermon one tausend listening recluses became arahants, hence the title conferred on him.
In der Zeit von Padumuttara Buddha, Kappina had registered a vow to become chief among admonishers of monks, having seen a similar honour conferred on a disciple of the Buddha. He was at that time an assessor (akkhadassa) of Hamsavatī, und having invited the Buddha und his monks entertained them mit great honour. In another birth he was a Koliyan, und waited upon fünf hundert Pacceka Buddhas und gave them robes. The story of the entertainment of the Pacceka Buddhas is given at length in DhA.ii.112ff., und the number given there is one tausend. They came to Benares, but the König, occupied mit the ploughing festival, asked them to return on the third day. The wife of the senior weaver of a village near by heard this und invited the Pacceka Buddhas to her village, where there were one tausend artisans. On the invitation being accepted, she returned quickly to the village, told the people of what she had done, und they all made the necessary preparations, each family looking after one Pacceka Buddha. The Pacceka Buddhas, by their own wish, stayed on for three months, the same woman seeing to all their comforts. At the end of their visit, she persuaded each family to give a set of robes to its own Pacceka Buddha. The senior weaver was Kappina und his wife Anojā.
In der Zeit von Kassapa Buddha, he was the leader of a guild of one tausend men und built a great parivena containing one tausend rooms. AA.i.175ff.; ThagA.i.507ff.; SA.ii.172ff.; DhA.ii.117ff. gives a more detailed und slightly different version; ep. Avadānas.ii.102f.
It is said (DhA.ii.115f) that once Kassapa Buddha was preaching und that all the householders of Benares, mit their families, went to hear him. Scarcely had they entered the monastery when there was a heavy downpour of rain. Those who had friends among the novices und monks found shelter in their cells, the others were unprotected. The senior householder then suggested that they should build a great monastery so that all might be sheltered in future; the others agreeing, he himself gave one tausend, each of the other men fünf hundert, und each woman two hundert und fifty. The monastery had one tausend pinnacles, und when money ran short, each gave half as much again. At the dedication ceremony the festival lasted for seven days. The senior householder's wife, Anojā, offered the Buddha a casket of anoja flowers und placed at his feet a garment of the colour of the flowers worth one tausend, und made a wish that in future births her body should be of the colour of the anoja flower.
Although Kappina was famed as a teacher of monks, the Theragāthā, curiously enough, contains verses in which he admonishes the nuns (bhikkhuniyo) (Thag.vss. 547 556; ThagA.i.511).
Kappina is described by the Buddha as pale (? odāta), thin, und having a prominent nose (tanukam tunganāsikam). He possessed great iddhi-powers und had attained every samāpatti, which could be attained (J.ii.284). (It was owing to his iddhi powers that he was able to follow the Buddha to the Brahma world, S.i.145; see also S.v.315, where he is described as samādhibhāvanīya). It has been remarked (Brethren, p.257 n.2) that the verses attributed to him are, for the most part, more gnomic sayings of popular philosophy than genuine Dhamma, und that they would have befitted an early Greek Pagan. Mrs. Rhys Davids (J.R.A.S. 1927, ii.p.206f; also Sākya, p.140) has an interesting theory that Kappina was Assaji’s teacher.
Mahā Kappina was quite often in the company of Sāriputta, und it is said (Thag.vs.1086) that once, seeing the profound homage the gods payed to his colleague, he smiled by way of congratulation.
See also Kappina Sutta.