The Untouchable

by Dr. Pran Rangan

One day, the Buddha was seated under a tree in front of a number of disciples in a spiritual gathering. He had to give a spiritual discourse. But today he was very quiet, so some of the disciples were worried lest he might be unwell.

"Sir, why are you so quiet? Are you not well?" a disciple asked inquisitively. But the Buddha kept quiet.

"Why haven't I been permitted to attend the discourse?" a man shouted angrily, all of a sudden, standing at a distance.

The Buddha didn't speak as he was doing meditation.

"Why haven't I been permitted to attend?" shouted the man again.

When some of the disciples supported him that he must be permitted to attend the discourse, the Buddha opened eyes and told: "He is an untouchable."

"Buddhism doesn't uphold the caste system. So how can he be untouchable?" said some of the disciples.

The Buddha explained: "He is angry today. An angry person can cause violence - verbal or physical. That is why nobody comes near him and he becomes untouchable. Let him stand quietly away from others till he can calm down."

The angry man, who was listening to the Buddha, realized his grave mistake and apologized profusely to him for his behavior. He took an oath in front of all that he would never lose his temper thenceforth.

This exhibits that one becomes untouchable when one loses temper because no one likes to go near such a person.

The Buddha has said:

Anger is just like a burning piece of coal. It would burn your hand first, when you pick it up to throw on others.

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