At the time of the Buddha Gotama there reigned a righteous King and Queen named Koliya and Suppavasa. After some time Queen Suppavasa conceived a child. The unborn child brought great fortune to the kingdom. Not only did the queen receive many gifts from friends and relatives, the whole kingdom became prosperous. Crops grew in abundance and everyone was well-fed and healthy. The queen grew heavy with child but when the natural time for the birth arrived, she failed to deliver the baby. She grew uneasy as time passed by with still no signs of the birth, and asked the King to invite the Buddha and His retinue of monks for a meal. After the meal the Buddha blessed the queen by saying:
"May Suppavasa, daughter of the Koliya clan,
Be happy and healthy and give birth to a healthy son."
After the Buddha left, the queen gave birth to a beautiful, healthy son. As a mark of respect for the Buddha, who had eased the queen’s heavy burden with His blessings, invited the Buddha and his retinue to receive alms at the palace for seven days. They named the prince Sivali, as from the time of his conception; the people’s hardships were alleviated through an abundance of rich crops.
One day when Phra Sariputta was on his alms round he visited the prince and informed him of the suffering that he and his mother had undergone because of the delayed pregnancy. Phra Sariputta then went on to explain to the prince the unwholesome action that his mother and he had performed and the resulting effects of their actions.
In a previous birth Phra Phra Sivali had been born as the King of Benares and had waged war on a neighboring kingdom. He had surrounded the kingdom and told the citizens to surrender or fight back. When they refused to surrender, in collaboration with his consort, his present mother, he had decided to surround the city and hold them hostage until they did so. The citizens, who did not want to fight back or live under the rule of such a king, had not surrendered. As a result, they had suffered greatly without food for a very long period. Many of the sick and the elderly had died but the arrogant king and his queen had not given in. Many months later the King had withdrawn his troops and released his hostages but he had paid dearly for the suffering he had caused. At death he was reborn in Avichi hell. The delayed pregnancy and the suffering he and his mother had undergone resulting from the delay were the residual effects of this action.
After illustrating the Noble Truth of suffering, Phra Sariputta asked the prince if he would like to join the Noble Order so that he could seek the path to end all suffering. The prince was overjoyed at this invitation and agreed to join the order with his mother’s permission.
The queen, who was a devoted follower of the Buddha, agreed. She escorted Prince Sivali in procession to the monastery to be ordained. On the day of ordination when they shave his hair, Phra Sariputta advised Phra Sivali to meditate on the impurities of the body. Phra Sivali, who was spiritually advanced resulting from previous wholesome actions, focused his mind as instructed. Before the completion of the shaving of his hair, Phra Sivali attained the supreme wisdom of Nibbána.
The monks soon noticed a strange phenomenon when they were with Phra Sivali as Phra Sivali always seemed to have an abundance of rich, fragrant food and the other requisites (robes, shelter and medicine). Monks who were with him also had the opportunity to share in the bounty. Wherever Phra Sivali went, people flocked around to prepare food for him. Donors offered Phra Sivali with all the requisites of a monk every time he went on his alms round.
Therefore, it was that wherever Phra Sivali travelled both people and devas supported him. He and his retinue of 500 monks were in an uninhabited forest for seven days, but they were not short of food. The Devas made sure that they fulfil all his requirements. Similarly, when Phra Sivali was travelling through the desert he was well provided with requisites. The Buddha, seeing that Phra Sivali was fulfilling a previous aspiration in His reign, declared that he was foremost among the monks in obtaining requisites. He also instructed monks who were travelling on long, tedious journeys through uninhabited terrain be accompanied by Phra Sivali, as with him by their side they would be ensured of the requisites. In fact, on one occasion when the Buddha and His retinue of 30,000 monks were travelling to visit Phra Khadhiravaniya Revata (Phra Sariputta’s younger brother) they had to cross an uninhabited forest. Phra Ánanda, fearing that they would not be able to obtain food in the jungle for such a large number of monks, questioned the Buddha about the logistics of the journey. The Buddha assured Phra Ánanda that they had nothing to worry about as Phra Sivali was with them. With Phra Sivali present, there would be no shortage of food because even the Devas reveled in taking care of his requirements.
In general, only the doer reaps the effects of one’s wholesome and unwholesome intentional actions. However, there are instances, as with Phra Sivali, that others too benefit from unusually strong actions of another. This overflow of the results of the effect of a persons strong kamma on others is known as nissandha pala (overflowing results of kamma). While vipaka pala, results of kamma are reaped only by the doer nissandha pala are experienced by others who happen to be with you. Nissandha pala could be both wholesome and unwholesome in accordance with the deed performed. For instance, Phra Sariputta did not obtain alms in one instance resulting from the nissandha pala of Losaka’s strong unwholesome deeds.
To seek the cause of this strange phenomenon we need to go back many aeons to the time of the Buddha Padumuttara. Phra Sivali, who had been born as a poor man, had the opportunity to see the Buddha Padumuttara confer on another monk the honor of being foremost among monks who obtain the requisites. Fascinated by the way, everyone desired to provide alms and robes to this monk; Phra Sivali had decided that he too would like to hold a similar position in a future birth. He had then performed many acts of generosity to the Buddha Padumuttara and His retinue and made an aspiration.
The Buddha Padumuttara, foreseeing that Phra Sivali’s aspiration would be fulfilled had prophesied that at the time of the Gotama Buddha he would be foremost among the monks who obtained requisites. From this point onwards, Phra Sivali had started in earnest to work toward his aspiration. At death, he was reborn in a heavenly realm where he enjoyed many years of heavenly bliss.