I've heard a story about venerable Moggallana (after he became enlightened). Moggallana, the left chief disciple of the Buddha, got lost in space when he tried to find the limits of the universe. Then when he was about to give up on life, the Buddha sent his aura(a beam of light) to show venerable Moggallana the way back to earth. Anyone has a reference to this story?

  • Did Tathagata find the end of universe?
    – user10804
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 13:52
  • 1
    @Rajas. There is no conceivable end. Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 14:52
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    Tathagata did find end of the world, where elements have no footing but not by travelling. " ‘Bhikkhus, I say that the end of the world cannot be known, seen, or reached by travelling. Yet, bhikkhus, I also say that without reaching the end of the world there is no making an end to suffering,’"
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 15:03
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    Saṃyutta Nikāya 35,116. Going to the End of the World
    – user8527
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 15:09
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    @Inb4dead didn't find the verse
    – user10804
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


It is just a fable. It is not come from the ancient theravada pali cannon, both tipitaka and commentary. Because in Thailand we have many translated pali cannons, included those both, but no one found this fable in any cannon.

However, it maybe derived from SN Sagāthavagga, rohitassasutta, and KN Jātaka, javanahaṅsajātaka's commentary, which bodhisatta had helped the past life of moggallana.

  • i'm aware of the Rohitassa sutta. But this story is not connected to that. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 2:13
  • I added some more source, above.
    – Bonn
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 6:57
  • No it's not a Jataka story. It's something that said to have happened during time of the Buddha after venerable Moggallana became the foremost in magical powers. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 7:24

This story occurs in chapter 40 (kindred sayings about moggallana) of the Salayatana-vagga, which is the fourth book of the Samyutta-nikaya (book of kindred sayings).

The relevant passage, (section 5, entitled ‘space’) can be summed-up as follows:

(Then I thought, friends) : “They say, ‘The realm of infinite space, the realm of infinite space.’ Now what is the realm of infinite space?

Then, friends, this occurred to me: Herein a brother, passing utterly beyond the perception of objects, by the coming to an end of the perception of resistance, by not attending to perception of diversity, with the idea of “infinite is space,” enters on and abides in the realm of infinite space. This is called “ the realm of infinite space.”

So I, friends, passing utterly beyond the perception of objects . . . entered on and abode in the realm of infinite space.

But when I had thus abode (and had emerged from trance), perception and work of mind, connected with the perception of objects, still continued.

Thereupon, friends, the Exalted One by magic power came to me and said: “Moggallana, Moggallana, be not remiss in the realm of infinite space, brahmin ! **Make steadfast the mind, make the mind one-pointed, compose the mind in the realm of infinite space.”

So after that, friends, passing utterly beyond objects . . . I entered on and abode in the realm of infinite space.

Now, friends, if any would rightly say: “Helped by the Master the disciple won great super-knowledge,” of me would he rightly say: “Helped by the Master did the disciple win great super-knowledge.”’

Translation by Mrs. Rhys Davids.


  • Nice! But that is about meditation and it is before venerable Moggallana became enlightened. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:06
  • I don't understand your comment. First of all, are you looking for sources regarding Moggallana, AFTER he became enlightened? If so please mention this in your question. Second, does it matter that this story regards meditation, when one considers that the phrase "getting lost in space" doesn't necessarily restricts to the context of one's own mental sphere? If you are looking for specific answers, please mention in your question. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 19:52
  • Well, it is not about meditation. It was about him travelling through space using magical powers and it is said to have happened after he became enlightened. Now you know :) Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 1:10
  • I still don't fully understand the context. If he was already enlightenend, then why came that "he was about to give up on life"? And secondly, by saying "the way back to earth" you mean that he was present on the earth in an enlightened form? Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 13:50
  • Approved your edit. No, he physically travelled. Give up on life as in deciding to stop using his magical powers to sustain life in space as he didn't know the way back to earth. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 14:02

This also appears in the Amitabha Sutra commentaries:

Once when Sakyamuni Buddha was teaching the Dharma, [he told his disciples that] his voice could be heard many distant lands away and that the force of his voice could be felt in many worlds. One of the Buddha's disciples, Maudgalyayana, who was the foremost in supernatural power, was skeptical that the Buddha's voice could reach such far-off places. He decided to investigate for himself and used his supernatural power to go to a Buddha Land that was ten billion Buddha Lands away. In this Buddha Land, Tathagata Lokesvaraja was preaching the Dharma. At this particular moment, a person in the audience picked up something on his body and exclaimed, "Why is a little worm crawling on my body?"

Tathagata Lokesvaraja said, "This is not a little worm; this is Maudgalyayana, a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha from the saha world." Actu-ally, Maudgalyayana was not small; it was just when compared with the people of this Buddha Land, he was no bigger than a little worm. Then Tathagata Lokesvaraja told Maudgalyayana, "The eminence and virtues of all Buddhas are not something that can be comprehended and equaled by sravakas. You should not test them with your supernatural power." From then on, Maudgalyayana firmly believed that there are limitless worlds and limitless Buddhas in the vast immenseness of space

  • This is Mahayana. I'm looking for a Theravada source. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 9:54

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