Bhaddiya the Little Person

In days when we cared less about the feelings of others, he was called Bhaddiya the Dwarf, which these days brings to mind Tolkien. The little hint that we get about Bhaddiya in suttas such as this one hint at a very impressive man indeed. I imagine him as the leader of the outcast monks, the outsiders of the outsiders. It sounds to me like the setup for an incredible novel of historical fiction.

I love that this short sutta shows the Buddha’s love and admiration for all people, even if some of his monks don’t live up such high ideals.

Once the Buddha was living at Anathapindika’s Monastery near Savatthi, when he saw Bhaddiya the Little Person behind a group of monks. He was short, deformed, and ugly. All of the other monks averted their eyes and did their best to ignore him.

But when the Buddha saw him he said, “Do you see that small monk back there? Well, he is a monk of incredible power. He has achieved every spiritual attainment that the sons of good families want to achieve when they take up the holy life. His liberation is total and unsurpassed.”

With that, the Buddha offered this little poem:

With a perfect wheel

Covered in white

A chariot with one wheel rolls on

The peaceful one comes

The one who has cut off the flood

The one who is free

-Lakuntakabhaddiya Sutta, Udana 7.5


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