Mahakausthila was Shariputra’s maternal uncle. His name means “big knees,”40 because big knees ran in the family. He, too, was gifted in debate. In order to defeat his nephew, he went to Southern India to study non-Buddhist debating theories, rushing through his meals and gulping down water, studying so hard that he didn’t even take time to wash his face or cut his nails. His nails grew so long, in fact, that he was nick-named, “The big-nailed Brahmin.”
Revata means “constellation.”41 He was named after the fourth of the twenty-eight constellations, “the house, the rabbit, and the sun,”42 because his parents prayed to this constellation in order to have their son.
Revata also means “false unity.”43 One day he went walking. When it got dark, he was far from home and decided to spend the night in a shack beside the road. Just as he was about to fall asleep two ghosts walked in, a big ghost and a small ghost. The big ghost was really big, with a green face, red hair, and a huge mouth with six teeth hanging like elephants’ tusks from it. One look at him would have scared you to death! The little ghost was even uglier. His eyes, ears, nose, and mouth had all moved to the middle of his face.
The two came in dragging a corpse, and asked Revata, “What do you think? Should we eat this corpse or not?”
What they meant was, “If you tell us to eat the corpse, we’ll eat you instead. If you tell us not to eat the corpse, we won’t have anything to eat, and so we’ll have to eat you.” The ghosts were going to eat him no matter what he said.
Revata didn’t say a word. The big ghost bit off the corpse’s legs and the little ghost ripped off Revata’s legs and stuck them on the corpse. Then the ghost ate the corpse’s arms and the little ghost ripped off Revata’s arms and stuck them on the corpse. The big ghost ate the entire corpse and the little ghost replaced its parts, one by one, with parts of Revata’s body.
Revata then thoughts, “My body has been used to repair the corpse and so now I don’t have a body!” The next day he ran screaming down the road asking everyone he met, “Hey! Take a look. Do I have a body?”
“What?” they said. The townspeople had no idea what he was talking about, but he kept pestering them until, finally, no one would come near him. “He’s nuts,” they said. Finally Revata met two High Masters. “Shramanas,” he asked, “do I have a body?”
The two High Masters happened to be Arhats. Seeing that Revata’s potential for enlightenment was nearly mature, and that he would soon certify to the Dharmabody, they instructed him saying, “The body is basically created by a combination of causes and conditions. When the causes and conditions separate, the body is destroyed. There is nothing that is you and nothing that is not you.” Just as they said this, “Ah!” Revata was enlightened. He left home and certified to the fruit and thus his name means, “false unity.” Of the Buddha’s disciples he is foremost in being “not upset or confused.”