Angulimala Sutta: Part 1

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There is a special paritta (protection) chanting called Angulimala Paritta. It is employed to ward off problems faced by pregnant women during gestation period and delivery.

In fact, someone came over to seek Bhante Aggacitta’s help as his wife was due for delivery in a month but the fetus had yet to turn. Bhante chanted the paritta, directing the energy into a bottle of water, which the man then brought back to his wife. For two days after drinking the water, his wife experienced discomfort in her womb and back as if there was a lot of movement there. Later she went for a scan and found to her delight that the baby had miraculously turned!

How does it work? We do not know. All we know is that it works.

This paritta is found in the Angulimala Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. Anguli means ‘finger’; mala means ‘garland’. We shall see why this sutta is so called.

Angulimala was a bandit who lived during the time of the Buddha in the kingdom of Kosala. He went around killing people and cutting off their fingers to thread the bones round his neck as a garland. That was why he was called Angulimala.

It came to a time when Angulimala was waiting for his next victim to collect one more finger to add to his collection of 999 fingers. The Buddha, with his psychic powers, saw that Angulimala’s next victim would be his own mother who was going to him to tell him to stop killing. If he killed his mother, he would have committed one of five acts that will doom a person to hell. The five are patricide, matricide, killing an Arahat, drawing the blood of a Buddha, and causing schism in the Sangha.

The Buddha walked towards where Angulimala was before his mother could. As he was approaching there, many warned him about Angulimala. Nevertheless, he continued on his journey.

When Angulimala spotted the Buddha, he quickened his pace to catch up with and kill him. To his confusion, he found that however fast he ran, he could not catch up with the Buddha who was walking at a normal pace. He finally stopped and called out to the Buddha, “Stop!”

Lord Buddha continued walking and replied, “I have stopped. So should you.”

Flabbergasted, he asked, “What do you mean? I have stopped moving but you are still moving. Yet you say you have stopped and tell me to do likewise.”

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