The Buddha performs the twin miracle to trounce the ascetics of other sects at the Gandamapikkha mango tree
In this picture we see the episode of the Buddha's display of the yamaka patihariya at Savatthi, in the state of Kosala, on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month, one day before the beginning of the rains retreat.
A patihariya is a display of something miraculous, something that ordinary people or people who have never learnt it cannot possibly do. It begins on the lowest level as magical tricks, and on the higher levels includes sinking into the earth, walking through fire, eating nails, as yogis are want to do, and even flying through the air, walking in the air, as people with psychic powers may do. An unenlightened person may perform them, and so can an enlightened being who has developed jhana and psychic powers.
Yamaka means "twin" or "two." Thus the yamaka patihariya is the "twin miracle": water with fire. When performing the miracle, a great water pipe sprouted from the upper half of the Buddha's body, while a great flame shot from the lower half of his body.
The twin miracle can only be performed by one person-a Buddha. The Arahat disciples and ascetics of other sects can only perform ordinary patihariya, such as walking on water or sinking into the earth.
The place where the Buddha performed the twin miracle on this occasion was the foot of a mango tree, called gandamapikkha, in the town of Savatthi. The reason for his showing the miracle was that ordinees of other religions had challenged him to a "competition of psychic powers." The members of other sects knew that the Buddha would display the twin miracle only at the foot of a mango tree, so they and their supporters cut down all the mango trees. Wherever they knew there was a mango tree they used whatever means they could manage to buy it and cut it down. They even uprooted the tiny mango seedlings sprouted on that very day, leaving none left.
But the Buddha managed to display the twin miracle at the foot of a mango tree. Someone had offered him a ripe mango for the meal. Having eaten the mango, he instructed the seed to be planted. Then he used the water for washing his hands to water it and the seedling sprouted up and grew voraciously, sending out branches and reaching up to a height of 50 sork. In the end the members of other sects lost the competition.
The story of the twin miracle is a part of Buddhist mythology. It has been created by Buddhist writers in order to exalt the Buddha over other sects. The reader must read it as a story, looking at the Buddha as like a god, and bearing in mind the motives of the writers.
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