Kanmen and Jingzuo Arhats

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on December 5, 2016.)

Kanmen Arhat wards off evil at Huayan Temple, Datong, Shanxi Province

Our next two Arhats are named Kanmen and Jingzuo.

Kanmen is the Chinese name reflecting his attribute of "Watching the Door"; his Sanskrit name is Cudapanthaka, which is transliterated into Chinese as Zhucha Bantuojia. The Sanskrit name means "Little Panthaka" or "Panthaka the Younger"; his older brother is Tanshou Luohan, the "Raised Hand Arhat" whom we met a few weeks ago. That one's Sanskrit name is Panthaka, meaning that he and his little brother were "born by the roadside," perhaps a reference to being on the Buddha's path.

Kanmen is famed for his slowness of wit. So slow was he that the other disciples made fun of him, thinking he couldn't learn. But the Buddha gave him a simple verse and task: "Sweeping floor." By repeating this over and over, he learned to focus his mind, attained enlightenment, and actually became a great teacher.

Why "door-watching"? For one thing, due to his great strength he once accidentally bashed in a door when simply knocking to beg for food. And "sweeping the floor" is an analogy for "cleaning the senses." Combining these incidents, we get "watching the door of the senses to keep things pure."

He is often depicted with hands held in front of him, as if warding off an intruder.

Jingzuo Luohan (Sanskrit Nakula, transliterated Nuojuluo) has a simpler story. He is the "Silently-seated" Arhat who simply sits in meditation, sometimes holding beads.

A former warrior, he is said to have had great physical strength, which translates into the ability to remain seated and focused for long periods.

Jingzuo Arhat holding beads at Huayan Temple, Datong, Shanxi Province

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