by Paul Carus
THE Bodhisattva went in search of a better system and came to
settlement of five bhikkhus in the jungle of Uruvela; and when the
Blessed One saw the life of those five men, virtuously keeping in
check their senses, subduing their passions, and practicing austere
self-discipline, he admired their earnestness and joined their
company. With holy zeal and a strong heart, the Sakyamuni gave himself
up to meditative thought and a rigorous mortification of the body.
Whereas the five bhikkhus were severe, the Sakyamuni was severer
still, and so they revered him, their junior, as their master.
So the Bodhisattva continued for six years patiently torturing
himself and suppressing the wants of nature. He trained his body and
exercised his mind in the modes of the most rigorous ascetic life.
At last, he ate each day one hemp grain only, seeking to cross the
ocean of birth and death and to arrive at the shore of deliverance.
And when the Bodhisattva was ahungered, lo! Mara, the Evil One,
approached him and said: "Thou art emaciated from fasts, and death
is near. What good is thy exertion? Deign to live, and thou wilt be
able to do good work." But the Sakyamuni made reply: "O thou friend of
the indolent, thou wicked one; for what purpose hast thou come? Let
the flesh waste away, if but the mind becomes more tranquil and
attention more steadfast. What is life in this world? Death in
battle is better to me than that I should live defeated."
And Mara withdrew, saying: "For seven years I have followed the
Blessed One step by step, but I have found no fault in the Tathagata."
The Bodhisattva was shrunken and attenuated, and his body was like a
withered branch; but the fame of his holiness spread in the
surrounding countries, and people came from great distances to see him
and receive his blessing. However, the Holy One was not satisfied.
Seeking true wisdom he did not find it, and he came to the
conclusion that mortification would not extinguish desire nor afford
enlightenment in ecstatic contemplation.
Seated beneath a jambu-tree, he considered the state of his mind and
the fruits of his mortification. His body had become weaker, nor had
his fasts advanced him in his search for salvation, and therefore when
he saw that it was not the right path, he proposed to abandon it. He
went to bathe in the Neranjara River, but when he strove to leave
the water he could not rise on account of his weakness. Then espying
the branch of a tree and taking hold of it, he raised himself and left
the stream. But while returning to his abode, he staggered and lay
as though dead.
There was a chief herdsman living near the grove whose eldest
daughter was called Nanda; and Nanda happened to pass by the spot
where the Blessed One had swooned, and bowing down before him she
offered him rice-milk and he accepted the gift. When he had partaken
of the rice-milk all his limbs were refreshed, his mind became clear
again, and he was strong to receive the highest enlightenment.
After this occurrence, the Bodhisattva again took some food. His
disciples, having witnessed the scene of Nanda and observing the
change in his mode of living, were filled with suspicion. They
feared that Siddhattha's religious zeal was flagging and that he
whom they had hitherto revered as their Master had become oblivious of
his high purpose.
When the Bodhisattva saw the bhikkhus turning away from him, he felt
sorry for their lack of confidence, and was aware of the loneliness of
his life. Suppressing his grief he wandered on alone, and his
disciples said, "Siddhattha leaves us to seek a more pleasant abode."
THE Holy One directed his steps to that blessed Bodhitree beneath
whose shade he was to accomplish his search. As he walked, the earth
shook and a brilliant light transfigured the world. When he sat down
the heavens resounded with joy and all living beings were filled
with good cheer. Mara alone, lord of the five desires, bringer of
death and enemy of truth, was grieved and rejoiced not. With his three
daughters, Tanha, Raga and Arati, the tempters, and with his host of
evil demons, he went to the place where the great samana sat. But
Sakyamuni heeded him not. Mara uttered fear-inspiring threats and
raised a whirlwind so that the skies were darkened and the ocean
roared and trembled.
But the Blessed One under the Bodhi-tree remained calm and feared
not. The Enlightened One knew that no harm could befall him.
The three daughters of Mara tempted the Bodhisattva, but he paid
no attention to them, and when Mara saw that he could kindle no desire
in the heart of the victorious samana, he ordered all the evil spirits
at his command to attack him and overawe the great muni. But the
Blessed One watched them as one would watch the harmless games of
children. All the fierce hatred of the evil spirits was of no avail.
The flames of hell became wholesome breezes of perfume, and the
angry thunderbolts were changed into lotus-blossoms.
When Mara saw this, he fled away with his army from the
Bodhi-tree, whilst from above a rain of heavenly flowers fell, and
voices of good spirits were heard: "Behold the great muni! his heart
unmoved by hatred. The wicked Mara's host 'gainst him did not prevail.
Pure is he and wise, loving and full of mercy. As the rays of the
sun drown the darkness of the world, so he who perseveres in his
search will find the truth and the truth will enlighten him."
THE Bodhisattva, having put Mara to flight, gave himself up to
meditation. All the miseries of the world, the evils produced by
evil deeds and the sufferings arising therefrom, passed before his
mental eye, and he thought:
"Surely if living creatures saw the results of all their evil deeds,
they would turn away from them in disgust. But selfhood blinds them,
and they cling to their obnoxious desires. They crave pleasure for
themselves and they cause pain to others; when death destroys their
individuality, they find no peace; their thirst for existence abides
and their selfhood reappears in new births. Thus they continue to move
in the coil and can find no escape from the hell of their own
making. And how empty are their pleasures, how vain are their
endeavors! Hollow like the plantain-tree and without contents like the
bubble. The world is full of evil and sorrow, because it is full of
lust. Men go astray because they think that delusion is better than
truth. Rather than truth they follow error, which is pleasant to
look at in the beginning but in the end causes anxiety, tribulation,
And the Bodhisattva began to expound the Dharma. The Dharma is the
truth. The Dharma is the sacred law. The Dharma is religion. The
Dharma alone can deliver us from error, from wrong and from sorrow.
Pondering on the origin of birth and death, the Enlightened One
recognized that ignorance was the root of all evil; and these are
the links in the development of life, called the twelve nidanas: In
the beginning there is existence blind and without knowledge; and in
this sea of ignorance there are stirrings formative and organizing.
From stirrings, formative and organizing, rises awareness or feelings.
Feelings beget organisms that live as individual beings. These
organisms develop the six fields, that is, the five senses and the
mind. The six fields come in contact with things. Contact begets
sensation. Sensation creates the thirst of individualized being. The
thirst of being creates a cleaving to things. The cleaving produces
the growth and continuation of selfhood. Selfhood continues in renewed
birth. The renewed births of selfhood are the causes of sufferings,
old age, sickness, and death. They produce lamentation, anxiety, and
The cause of all sorrow lies at the very beginning; it is hidden
in the ignorance from which life grows. Remove ignorance and you
will destroy the wrong desires that rise from ignorance; destroy these
desires and you will wipe out the wrong perception that rises from
them. Destroy wrong perception and there is an end of errors in
individualized beings. Destroy the errors in individualized beings and
the illusions of the six fields will disappear. Destroy illusions
and the contact with things will cease to beget misconception. Destroy
misconception and you do away with thirst. Destroy thirst and you will
be free of all morbid cleaving. Remove the cleaving and you destroy
the selfishness of selfhood. If the selfishness of selfhood is
destroyed you will be above birth, old age, disease, and death, and
you will escape all suffering.
The Enlightened One saw the four noble truths which point out the
path that leads to Nirvana or the extinction of self: The first
noble truth is the existence of sorrow. The second noble truth is
the cause of suffering. The third noble truth is the cessation of
sorrow. The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path that leads to the
cessation of sorrow.
This is the Dharma. This is the truth. This is religion. And the
Enlightened One uttered this stanza:
"Through many births I sought in vain
The Builder of this House of Pain.
Now, Builder, You are plain to see,
And from this House at last I'm free;
I burst the rafters, roof and wall,
And dwell in the Peace beyond them all."
There is self and there is truth. Where self is, truth is not.
truth is, self is not. Self is the fleeting error of samsara; it is
individual separateness and that egotism which begets envy and hatred.
Self is the yearning for pleasure and the lust after vanity. Truth
is the correct comprehension of things; it is the permanent and
everlasting, the real in all existence, the bliss of righteousness.
The existence of self is an illusion, and here is no wrong in this
world, no vice, no evil, except what flows from the assertion of self.
The attainment of truth is possible only when self is recognized as an
illusion. Righteousness can be practiced only when we have freed our
mind from passions of egotism. Perfect peace can dwell only where
all vanity has disappeared.
Blessed is he who has understood the Dharma. Blessed is he who
does no harm to his fellow-beings. Blessed is he who overcomes wrong
and is free from passion. To the highest bliss has he attained who has
conquered all selfishness and vanity. He has become the Buddha, the
THE Blessed One tarried in solitude seven times seven days, enjoying
the bliss of emancipation. At that time Tapussa and Bhallika, two
merchants, came traveling on the road near by, and when they saw the
great samana, majestic and full of peace, they approached him
respectfully and offered him rice cakes and honey.
This was the first food that the Enlightened One ate after he
And the Buddha addressed them and pointed out to them the way of
salvation. The two merchants, seeing the holiness of the conqueror
of Mara, bowed down in reverence and said: "We take our refuge,
Lord, in the Blessed One and in the Dharma." Tapussa and Bhallika were
the first that became followers of the Buddha and they were lay
THE Blessed One having attained Buddhahood while resting under
shepherd's Nigrodha tree on the banks of the river Neranjara,
pronounced this solemn utterance:
"How sure his pathway in this wood,
Who follows truth's unchanging call!
How blessed, to be kind and good,
And practice self-restraint in all!
How light, from passion to be free,
And sensual joys to let go by!
And yet his greatest bliss will be
When he has quelled the pride of 'I'.
"I have recognized the deepest truth, which is sublime and
peace-giving' but difficult to understand; for most men move in a
sphere of worldly interests and find their delight in worldly desires.
The worldling will not understand the doctrine, for to him there is
happiness in selfhood only, and the bliss that lies in a complete
surrender to truth is unintelligible to him. He will call
resignation what to the enlightened mind is the purest joy. He will
see annihilation where the perfected one finds immortality. He will
regard as death what the conqueror of self knows to be life
everlasting. The truth remains hidden from him who is in the bondage
of hate and desire. Nirvana remains incomprehensible and mysterious to
the vulgar whose minds are beclouded with worldly interests. Should
I preach the doctrine and mankind not comprehend it, it would bring me
only fatigue and trouble."
Mara, the Evil One, on hearing the words of the Blessed Buddha,
approached and said: "Be greeted, thou Holy One. Thou hast attained
the highest bliss and it is time for thee to enter into the final
Then Brahma Sahampati descended from the heavens and, having
worshiped the Blessed One, said: "Alas! the world must perish,
should the Holy One, the Tathagata, decide not to teach the Dharma. Be
merciful to those that struggle; have compassion upon the sufferers;
pity the creatures who are hopelessly entangled in the snares of
sorrow. There are some beings that are almost free from the dust of
worldliness. If they hear not the doctrine preached, they will be
lost. But if they hear it, they will believe and be saved."
The Blessed One, full of compassion, looked with the eye of a Buddha
upon all sentient creatures, and he saw among them beings whose
minds were but scarcely covered by the dust of worldliness, who were
of good disposition and easy to instruct. He saw some who were
conscious of the dangers of lust and wrong doing. And the Blessed
One said to Brahma Sahampati: "Wide open be the door of immortality to
all who have ears to hear. May they receive the Dharma with faith."
Then the Blessed One turned to Mara, saying: "I shall not pass
into the final Nirvana, O Evil One, until there be not only brethren
and sisters of an Order, but also lay disciples of both sexes, who
shall have become true hearers, wise, well trained, ready and learned,
versed in the scriptures, fulfilling all the greater and lesser
duties, correct in life, walking according to the precepts-until they,
having thus themselves learned the doctrine, shall be able to give
information to others concerning it, preach it, make it known,
establish it, open it, minutely explain it, and make it clear-until
they, when others start vain doctrines, shall be able to vanquish
and refute them, and so to spread the wonderworking truth abroad. I
shall not die until the pure religion of truth shall have become
successful, prosperous, widespread, and popular in all its full
extent-until, in a word, it shall have been well proclaimed among
Then Brahma Sahampati understood that the Blessed One had granted
his request and would preach the doctrine.
Now the Blessed One thought: "To whom shall I preach the
first? My old teachers are dead. They would have received the good
news with joy. But my five disciples are still alive. I shall go to
them, and to them shall I first proclaim the gospel of deliverance."
At that time the five bhikkhus dwelt in the Deer Park at Benares,
and the Blessed One rose and journeyed to their abode, not thinking of
their unkindness in having left him at a time when he was most in need
of their sympathy and help, but mindful only of the services which
they had ministered unto him, and pitying them for the austerities
which they practiced in vain.
Upaka, a young Brahman and a Jain, a former acquaintance of
Siddhattha, saw the Blessed One while he journeyed to Benares, and,
amazed at the majesty and sublime joyfulness of his appearance, said
to him: "Thy countenance, my friend, is serene; thine eyes are
bright and indicate purity and blessedness."
The holy Buddha replied: "I have obtained deliverance by the
extinction of self. My body is chastened, my mind is free from desire,
and the deepest truth has taken abode in my heart. I have obtained
Nirvana, and this is the reason that my countenance is serene and my
eyes are bright. I now desire to found the kingdom of truth upon
earth, to give light to those who are enshrouded in darkness and to
open the gate of deathlessness."
Upaka replied: "Thou professest then, friend, to be Jina, the
conqueror of the world, the absolute one and the holy one.
The Blessed One said: "Jinas are all those who have conquered self
and the passions of self; those alone are victorious who control their
minds and abstain from evil. Therefore, Upaka, I am the Jina."
Upaka shook his head. "Venerable Gotama, he said, "thy way lies
yonder," and taking another road he went away.
ON seeing their old teacher approach, the five bhikkus agreed
among themselves not to salute him, nor to address him as a master,
but by his name only. "For," so they said, "he has broken his vow
and has abandoned holiness. He is no bhikkhu, but Gotama, and Gotama
has become a man who lives in abundance and indulges in the
pleasures of worldliness." But when the Blessed One approached in a
dignified manner, they involuntarily rose from their seats and greeted
him in spite of their resolution. Still they called him by his name
and addressed him as "friend Gotama."
When they had thus received the Blessed One, he said: "Do not call
the Tathagata by his name nor address him as 'friend,' for he is the
Buddha, the Holy One. The Buddha looks with a kind heart equally on
all living beings, and they therefore call him 'Father.' To disrespect
a father is wrong; to despise him, is wicked. The Tathagata, the
Buddha continued, does not seek salvation in austerities, but
neither does he for that reason indulge in worldly pleasures, nor live
in abundance. The Tathagata has found the middle path.
"There are two extremes, O bhikkhus, which the man who has given
up the world ought not to follow-the habitual practice, on the one
hand, of self-indulgence which is unworthy, vain and fit only for
the worldly-minded and the habitual practice, on the other hand, of
self-mortification, which is painful, useless and unprofitable.
"Neither abstinence from fish and flesh, nor going naked, nor
shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough
garment, nor covering oneself with dirt, nor sacrificing to Agni, will
cleanse a man who is not free from delusions. Reading the Vedas,
making offerings to priests, or sacrifices to the gods,
self-mortification by heat or cold and many such penances performed
for the sake of immortality, these do not cleanse the man who is not
free from delusions. Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry,
deception, envy, self-praise, disparaging others, superciliousness and
evil intentions constitute uncleanness; not verily the eating of
"A middle path, O bhikkhus avoiding the two extremes, has been
discovered by the Tathagata-a path which opens the eyes, and bestows
understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom,
to full enlightenment, to Nirvana! What is that middle path, O
bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the
Tathagata-that path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding,
which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full
enlightenment, to Nirvana? Let me teach you, O bhikkhus, the middle
path, which keeps aloof from both extremes. By suffering, the
emaciated devotee produces confusion and sickly thoughts in his
mind. Mortification is not conducive even to worldly knowledge; how
much less to a triumph over the senses!
"He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness,
and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail. And how
can any one be free from self by leading a wretched life, if he does
not succeed in quenching the fires of lust, if he still hankers
after either worldly or heavenly pleasures? But he in whom self has
become extinct is free from lust; he will desire neither worldly nor
heavenly pleasures, and the satisfaction of his natural wants will not
defile him. However, let him be moderate, let him eat and drink
according to the need of the body.
"Sensuality is enervating; the self-indulgent man is a slave to
his passions, and pleasure-seeking is degrading and vulgar. But to
satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in
good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim
the lamp of wisdom, and keep our minds strong and clear. Water
surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals. This is the
middle path, O bhikkhus, that keeps aloof from both extremes." And the
Blessed One spoke kindly to his disciples, pitying them for their
errors, and pointing out the uselessness of their endeavors, and the
ice of ill-will that chilled their hearts melted away under the gentle
warmth of the Master's persuasion.
Now the Blessed One set the wheel of the most excellent law rolling,
and he began to preach to the five bhikkhus, opening to them the
gate of immortality, and showing them the bliss of Nirvana.
The Buddha said: "The spokes of the wheel are the rules of pure
conduct: justice is the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the
tire; modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which the immovable
axle of truth is fixed. He who recognizes the existence of
suffering, its cause, its remedy, and its cessation has fathomed the
four noble truths. He will walk in the right path.
"Right views will be the torch to light his way. Right aspirations
will be his guide. Right speech will be his dwelling-place on the
road. His gait will be straight, for it is right behavior. His
refreshments will be the right way of earning his livelihood. Right
efforts will be his steps: right thoughts his breath; and right
contemplation will give him the peace that follows in his footprints.
"Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering:
Birth is attended with pain, decay is painful, disease is painful,
death is painful. Union with the unpleasant is painful, painful is
separation from the pleasant; and any craving that is unsatisfied,
that too is painful. In brief, bodily conditions which spring from
attachment are painful. This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth
"Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of
suffering: Verily, it is that craving which causes the renewal of
existence, accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now
here, now there, the craving for the gratification of the passions,
the craving for a future life, and the craving for happiness in this
life. This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin
"Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction
of suffering: Verily, it is the destruction, in which no passion
remains, of this very thirst; it is the laying aside of, the being
free from, the dwelling no longer upon this thirst. This, then, O
bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction of suffering.
"Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the way
which leads to the destruction of sorrow. Verily, it is this noble
eightfold path; that is to say: Right views; right aspirations;
right speech; right behavior; right livelihood; right effort; right
thoughts; and right contemplation. This, then, O bhikkhus, is the
noble truth concerning the destruction of sorrow.
"By the practice of loving-kindness I have attained liberation of
heart, and thus I am assured that I shall never return in renewed
births. I have even now attained Nirvana."
When the Blessed One had thus set the royal chariot wheel of truth
rolling onward, a rapture thrilled through all the universes. The
devas left their heavenly abodes to listen to the sweetness of the
truth; the saints that had parted from life crowded around the great
teacher to receive the glad tidings; even the animals of the earth
felt the bliss that rested upon the words of the Tathagata: and all
the creatures of the host of sentient beings, gods, men, and beasts,
hearing the message of deliverance, received and understood it in
their own language.
And when the doctrine was propounded, the venerable Kondanna, the
oldest one among the five bhikkhus, discerned the truth with his
mental eye, and he said: "Truly, O Buddha, our Lord, thou hast found
the truth!" Then the other bhikkhus too, joined him and exclaimed:
"Truly, thou art the Buddha, thou hast found the truth."
And the devas and saints and all the good spirits of the departed
generations that had listened to the sermon of the Tathagata, joyfully
received the doctrine and shouted: "Truly, the Blessed One has founded
the kingdom of righteousness. The Blessed One has moved the earth;
he has set the wheel of Truth rolling, which by no one in the
universe, be he god or man, can ever be turned back. The kingdom of
Truth will be preached upon earth; it will spread; and
righteousness, good-will, and peace will reign among mankind."
HAVING pointed out to the five bhikkhus the truth, the Buddha
said: "A man that stands alone, having decided to obey the truth,
may be weak and slip back into his old ways. Therefore, stand ye
together, assist one another, and strengthen one another efforts. Be
like unto brothers; one in love, one in holiness, and one in your zeal
for the truth. Spread the truth and preach the doctrine in all
quarters of the world, so that in the end all living creatures will be
citizens of the kingdom of righteousness. This is the holy
brotherhood; this is the church, the congregation of the saints of the
Buddha; this is the Sangha that establishes a communion among all
those who have taken their refuge in the Buddha."
Kondanna was the first disciple of the Buddha who had thoroughly
grasped the doctrine of the Holy One, and the Tathagata looking into
his heart said: "Truly, Kondanna has understood the truth."
Therefore the venerable Kondanna received the name "Annata-Kondanna
that is, "Kondanna who has understood the doctrine." Then the
venerable Kondanna spoke to the Buddha and said: "Lord, let us receive
the ordination from the blessed One." And the Buddha said: "Come, O
bhikkhus! Well taught is the doctrine. Lead a holy life for the
extinction of suffering."
Then Kondanna and the other bhikkhus uttered three times these
solemn vows: "To the Buddha will I look in faith: He, the Perfect One,
is holy and supreme. The Buddha conveys to us instruction, wisdom, and
salvation; he is the Blessed One, who knows the law of being; he is
the Lord of the world, who yoketh men like oxen, the Teacher of gods
and men, the Exalted Buddha. Therefore, to the Buddha will I look in
"To the doctrine will I look in faith: well-preached is the doctrine
by the Exalted One. The doctrine has been revealed so as to become
visible; the doctrine is above time and space. The doctrine is not
based upon hearsay, it means 'Come and see'; the doctrine to
welfare; the doctrine is recognized by the wise in their own hearts.
Therefore to the doctrine will I look in faith.
"To the community will I look in faith; the community of the
Buddha's disciples instructs us how to lead a life of righteousness;
the community of the Buddha's disciples teaches us how to exercise
honesty and justice; the community of the Buddha's disciples shows
us how to practice the truth. They form a brotherhood in kindness
and charity, and their saints are worthy of reverence. The community
of the Buddha's disciples is founded as a holy brotherhood in which
men bind themselves together to teach the behests of rectitude and
to do good. Therefore, to the community will I look in faith."
The gospel of the Blessed One increased from day to day, and many
people came to hear him and to accept the ordination to lead
thenceforth a holy life for the sake of the extinction of suffering.
And the Blessed One seeing that it was impossible to attend to all who
wanted to hear the truth and receive the ordination, sent out from the
number of his disciples such as were to preach the Dharma, and said
"The Dharma and the Vinaya proclaimed by the Tathagata shine forth
when they are displayed, and not when they are concealed. But let
not this doctrine, so full of truth and so excellent, fall into the
hands of those unworthy of it, where it would be despised and
contemned, treated shamefully, ridiculed and censured. I now grant
you, O bhikkhus, this permission. Confer henceforth in the different
countries the ordination upon those who are eager to receive it,
when you find them worthy.
"Go ye now, O bhikkhus, for the benefit of the many, for the welfare
of mankind, out of compassion for the world. Preach the doctrine which
is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, and glorious
in the end, in the spirit as well as in the letter. There are beings
whose eyes are scarcely covered with dust, but if the doctrine is
not preached to them they cannot attain salvation. Proclaim to them
a life of holiness. They will understand the doctrine and accept it."
And it became an established custom that the bhikkhus went out
preaching while the weather was good, but in the rainy season they
came together again and joined their master, to listen to the
exhortations of the Tathagata.
AT that time there was in Benares a noble youth, Yasa by name,
son of a wealthy merchant. Troubled in his mind about the sorrows of
the world, he secretly rose up in the night and stole away to the
Blessed One. The Blessed One saw Yasa coming from afar. Yasa
approached and exclaimed: "Alas, what distress! What tribulations!"
The Blessed One said to Yasa: "Here is no distress; here are no
tribulations. Come to me and I will teach you the truth, and the truth
will dispel your sorrows."
When Yasa, the noble youth, heard that there were neither
distress, nor tribulations, nor sorrows, his heart was comforted. He
went into the place where the Blessed One was, and sat down near
him. Then the Blessed One preached about charity and morality. He
explained the vanity of the thought "I am"; the dangers of desire, and
the necessity of avoiding the evils of life in order to walk on the
path of deliverance.
Instead of disgust with the world, Yasa felt the cooling stream of
holy wisdom, and, having obtained the pure and spotless eye of
truth, he looked at his person, richly adorned with pearls and
precious stones, and his heart was shamed.
The Tathagata, knowing his inward thoughts, said: "Though a person
be ornamented with jewels, the heart may have conquered the senses.
The outward form does not constitute religion or affect the mind. Thus
the body of a samana may wear an ascetic's garb while his mind is
immersed in worldliness. A man that dwells in lonely woods and yet
covets worldly vanities, is a worldling, while the man in worldly
garments may let his heart soar high to heavenly thoughts. There is no
distinction between the layman and the hermit, if but both have
banished the thought of self."
Seeing that Yasa was ready to enter upon the path, the Blessed One
said to him: "Follow me!" And Yasa joined the brotherhood, and
having put on a bhikkhu's robe, received the ordination.
While the Blessed One and Yasa were discussing the doctrine,
Yasa's father passed by in search of his son; and in passing he
asked the Blessed One: "Pray, Lord, hast thou seen Yasa, my son?"
The Buddha said to Yasa's father: "Come in, sir, thou wilt find
thy son"; and Yasa's father became full of joy and he entered. He
sat down near his son, but his eyes were holden and he knew him not;
and the Lord began to preach. And Yasa's father, understanding the
doctrine of the Blessed One, said:
"Glorious is the truth, O Lord! The Buddha, the Holy One, our
Master, sets up what has been overturned; he reveals what has been
hidden; he points out the way to the wanderer who has gone astray;
he lights a lamp in the darkness so that all who have eyes to see
can discern the things that surround them. I take refuge in the
Buddha, our Lord: I take refuge in the doctrine revealed by him: I
take refuge in the brotherhood which he has founded. May the Blessed
One receive me from this day forth while my life lasts as a lay
disciple who has taken refuge in him." Yasa's father was the first
lay-member who became the first lay disciple of the Buddha by
pronouncing the three-fold formula of refuge.
When the wealthy merchant had taken refuge in the Buddha, his eyes
were opened and he saw his son sitting at his side in a bhikkhu's
robe. "My son, Yasa, he said, thy mother is absorbed in lamentation
and grief. Return home and restore thy mother to life."
Then Yasa looked at the Blessed One, who said: "Should Yasa return
to the world and enjoy the pleasures of a worldly life as he did
before?" Yasa's father replied: "If Yasa, my son, finds it a gain to
stay with thee, let him stay. He has become delivered from the bondage
When the Blessed One had cheered their hearts with words of truth
and righteousness, Yasa's father said: "May the Blessed One, O Lord,
consent to take his meal with me together with Yasa as his attendant?"
The Blessed One, having donned his robes, took his alms-bowl and
went with Yasa to the house of the rich merchant. When they had
arrived there, the mother and also the former wife of Yasa saluted the
Blessed One and sat down near him.
Then the Blessed One preached, and the women having understood his
doctrine, exclaimed: "Glorious is the truth, O Lord! We take refuge in
the Buddha, our Lord. We take refuge in the doctrine revealed by
him. We take refuge in the brotherhood which has been founded by
him. May the Blessed One receive us from this day forth while our life
lasts as lay disciples who have taken refuge in him." The mother and
the wife of Yasa, the noble youth of Benares, were the first women who
became lay disciples and took their refuge in the Buddha.
Now there were four friends of Yasa belonging to the wealthy
families of Benares. Their names were Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji, and
When Yasa's friends heard that Yasa had cut off his hair and put
on bhikkhu robes to give up the world and go forth into
homelessness, they thought: "Surely that cannot be a common
doctrine, that must be a noble renunciation of the world.
And they went to Yasa, and Yasa addressed the Blessed One saying:
"May the Blessed One administer exhortation and instruction to these
four friends of mine." And the Blessed One preached to them, and
Yasa's friends accepted the doctrine and took refuge in the Buddha,
the Dharma, and the Sangha.
AT that time there lived in Uruvela the Jatilas, Brahman hermits
with matted hair, worshiping the fire and keeping a fire-dragon; and
Kassapa was their chief. Kassapa was renowned throughout all India,
and his name was honored as one of the wisest men on earth and an
authority on religion. And the Blessed One went to Kassapa of
Uruvela the Jatila, and said: "Let me stay a night in the room where
you keep your sacred fire."
Kassapa, seeing the Blessed One in his majesty and beauty, thought
to himself: "This is a great muni and a noble teacher. Should he
stay overnight in the room where the sacred fire is kept, the
serpent will bite him and he will die." And he said: "I do not
object to your staying overnight in the room where the sacred fire
is kept, but the serpent lives there; he will kill you and I should be
sorry to see you perish."
But the Buddha insisted and Kassapa admitted him to the room where
the sacred fire was kept. And the Blessed One sat down with body
erect, surrounding himself with watchfulness. In the night the
dragon came, belching forth in rage his fiery poison, and filling
the air with burning vapor, but could do him no harm, and the fire
consumed itself while the World-honored One remained composed. And the
venomous fiend became very wroth so that he died in his anger. When
Kassapa saw the light shining forth from the room he said: "Alas, what
misery! Truly, the countenance of Gotama the great Sakyamuni is
beautiful, but the serpent will destroy him."
In the morning the Blessed One showed the dead body of the fiend
to Kassapa, saying: "His fire has been conquered by my fire." And
Kassapa thought to himself. "Sakyamuni is a great samana and possesses
high powers, but he is not holy like me."
There was in those days a festival, and Kassapa thought: "The people
will come hither from all parts of the country and will see the
great Sakyamuni. When he speaks to them, they will believe in him
and abandon me." And he grew envious. When the day of the festival
arrived, the Blessed One retired and did not come to Kassapa. And
Kassapa went to the Buddha on the next morning and said: "Why did
the great Sakyamuni not come?"
The Tathagata replied: "Didst thou not think, O Kassapa, that it
would be better if I stayed away from the festival?" And Kassapa was
astonished and thought: "Great is Sakyamuni; he can read my most
secret thoughts, but he is not holy like me."
The Blessed One addressed Kassapa and said: "Thou seest the truth,
but acceptest it not because of the envy that dwells in thy heart.
Is envy holiness? Envy is the last remnant of self that has remained
in thy mind. Thou art not holy, Kassapa; thou hast not yet entered the
path." And Kassapa gave up his resistance. His envy disappeared,
and, bowing down before the Blessed One, he said: "Lord, our Master,
let me receive the ordination from the Blessed One."
And the Blessed One said: "Thou, Kassapa, art chief of the
Jatilas. Go, then, first and inform them of thine intention, and let
them do as thou thinkest fit." Then Kassapa went to the Jatilas and
said: "I am anxious to lead a religious life under the direction of
the great Sakyamuni, who is the Enlightened One, the Buddha. Do as
ye think best."
The Jatilas replied: "We have conceived a profound affection for the
great Sakyamuni, and if thou wilt join his brotherhood, we will do
likewise." The Jatilas of Uruvela now flung their paraphernalia of
fire-worship into the river and went to the Blessed One.
Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa, brothers of the great Uruvela
Kassapa, powerful men and chieftains among the people, were dwelling
below on the stream, and when they saw the instruments used in
fire-worship floating in the river, they said: "Something has happened
to our brother. And they came with their folk to Uruvela. Hearing what
had happened, they, too, went to the Buddha.
The Blessed One, seeing that the Jatilas of Nadi and Gaya, who had
practiced severe austerities and worshiped fire, were now come to him,
preached a sermon on fire, and said: "Everything, O Jatilas, is
burning. The eye is burning, all the senses are burning, thoughts
are burning. They are burning with the fire of lust. There is anger,
there is ignorance, there is hatred, and as long as the fire finds
inflammable things upon which it can feed, so long will it burn, and
there will be birth and death, decay, grief, lamentation, suffering,
despair, and sorrow. Considering this, a disciple of the Dharma will
see the four noble truths and walk in the eightfold path of
holiness. He will become wary of his eye, wary of all his senses, wary
of his thoughts. He will divest himself of passion and become free. He
will be delivered from selfishness and attain the blessed state of
And the Jatilas rejoiced and took refuge in the Buddha, the
Dharma, and the Sangha.
THE Blessed One having dwelt some time in Uruvela went to
Rajagaha, accompanied by a number of bhikkhus, many of whom had been
Jatilas before. The great Kassapa, chief of the Jatilas and formerly a
fire worshiper, went with him.
When the Magadha king, Seniya Bimbisara, heard of the arrival of
Gotama Sakyamuni, of whom the people said, "He is the Holy One, the
blessed Buddha, guiding men as a driver curbs bullocks, the teacher of
high and low," he went out surrounded with his counselors and generals
and came to the grove where the Blessed One was. There they saw the
Blessed One in the company of Kassapa, the great religious teacher
of the Jatilas, and they were astonished and thought: "Has the great
Sakyamuni placed himself under the spiritual direction of Kassapa,
or has Kassapa become a disciple of Gotama?"
The Tathagata, reading the thoughts of the people, said to
Kassapa: "What knowledge hast thou gained, O Kassapa, and what has
induced thee to renounce the sacred fire and give up thine austere
Kassapa said: "The profit I derived from adoring the fire was
continuance in the wheel of individuality with all its sorrows and
vanities. This service I have cast away, and instead of continuing
penances and sacrifices I have gone in quest of the highest Nirvana.
Since I have seen the light of truth, I have abandoned worshiping
The Buddha, perceiving that the whole assembly was ready as a vessel
to receive the doctrine, spoke thus to Bimbisara the king: "He who
knows the nature of self and understands how the senses act, finds
no room for selfishness, and thus he will attain peace unending. The
world holds the thought of self, and from this arises false
apprehension. Some say that the self endures after death, some say
it perishes. Both are wrong and their error is most grievous. For if
they say the self is perishable, the fruit they strive for will perish
too, and at some time there will be no hereafter. Good and evil
would be indifferent. This salvation from selfishness is without
"When some, on the other hand, say the self will not perish, then in
the midst of all life and death there is but one identity unborn and
undying. If such is their self, then it is perfect and cannot be
perfected by deeds. The lasting, imperishable self could never be
changed. self would be lord and master, and there would be no use in
perfecting the perfect; moral aims and salvation would be unnecessary.
"But now we see the marks of joy and sorrow. Where is any constancy?
If there is no permanent self that does our deeds, then there is no
self; there is no actor behind our actions, no perceiver behind our
perception, no lord behind our deeds.
"Now attend and listen: The senses meet the object and from their
contact sensation is born. Thence results recollection. Thus, as the
sun's power through a burning-glass causes fire to appear, so
through the cognizance born of sense and object, the mind originates
and with it the ego, the thought of self, whom some Brahman teachers
call the lord. The shoot springs from the seed; the seed is not the
shoot; both are not one and the same, but successive phases in a
continuous growth. Such is the birth of animated life.
"Ye that are slaves of the self and toil in its service from morn
until night, ye that live in constant fear of birth, old age,
sickness, and death, receive the good tidings that your cruel master
exists not. Self is an error, an illusion, a dream. Open your eyes and
awaken. See things as they are and ye will be comforted. He who is
awake will no longer be afraid of nightmares. He who has recognized
the nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent will cease to
"He who has found there is no self will let go all the lusts and
desires of egotism. The cleaving to things, covetousness, and
sensuality inherited from former existences, are the causes of the
misery and vanity in the world. Surrender the grasping disposition
of selfishness, and you will attain to that calm state of mind which
conveys perfect peace, goodness, and wisdom."
And the Buddha breathed forth this solemn utterance:
"Do not deceive, do not despise
Each other, anywhere.
Do not be angry, and do not
Secret resentment bear;
For as a mother risks her life
And watches over her child,
So boundless be your love to all,
So tender, kind and mild.
"Yea cherish good-will right and left,
For all, both soon and late,
And with no hindrance, with no stint,
From envy free and hate;
While standing, walking, sitting down,
Forever keep in mind:
The rule of life that's always best
Is to be loving-kind.
"Gifts are great, the founding of viharas is meritorious,
meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart, comprehension of
the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is loving-kindness.
As the light of the moon is sixteen times stronger than the light of
all the stars, so loving-kindness is sixteen times more efficacious in
liberating the heart than all other religious accomplishments taken
together. This state of heart is the best in the world. Let a man
remain steadfast in it while he is awake, whether he is standing,
walking, sitting, or lying down."
When the Enlightened One had finished his sermon, the Magadha king
said to the Blessed One: "In former days, Lord, when I was a prince, I
cherished five wishes. I wished: O, that I might be inaugurated as a
king. This was my first wish, and it has been fulfilled. Further, I
wished: Might the Holy Buddha, the Perfect One, appear on earth
while I rule and might he come to my kingdom. This was my second
wish and it is fulfilled now. Further I wished: Might I pay my
respects to him. This was my third wish and it is fulfilled now. The
fourth wish was: Might the Blessed One preach the doctrine to me,
and this is fulfilled now.
"The greatest wish, however, was the fifth wish: Might I
understand the doctrine of the Blessed One. And this wish is fulfilled
"Glorious Lord! Most glorious is the truth preached by the
Tathagata! Our Lord, the Buddha, sets up what has been overturned;
he reveals what has been hidden; he points out the way to the wanderer
who has gone astray; he lights a lamp in the darkness so that those
who have eyes to see may see. I take my refuge in the Buddha. I take
my refuge in the Dharma. I take my refuge in the Sangha."
The Tathagata, by the exercise of his virtue and by wisdom, showed
his unlimited spiritual power. He subdued and harmonized all minds. He
made them see and accept the truth, and throughout the kingdom the
seeds of virtue were sown.
SENIYA BIMBISARA, the king, having taken his refuge in the Buddha,
invited the Tathagata to his palace, saying: "Will the Blessed One
consent to take his meal with me tomorrow together with the fraternity
of bhikkhus?" The next morning the king announced to the Blessed One
that it was time for taking food: "Thou art my most welcome guest, O
Lord of the world, come; the meal is prepared."
The Blessed One having donned his robes, took his alms-bowl and,
together with a great number of bhikkhus, entered the city of
Rajagaha. Sakka, the king of the Devas, assuming the appearance of a
young Brahman, walked in front, and said: "He who teaches self-control
with those who have learned self-control; the redeemer with those whom
he has redeemed; the Blessed One with those to whom he has given
peace, is entering Rajagaha Hail to the Buddha, our Lord! Honor to
his name and blessings to all who take refuge in him." Sakka intoned
"Blessed is the place in which the Buddha walks,
And blessed the ears which hear his talks;
Blessed his disciples, for they are
The tellers of his truth both near and far.
"If all could hear this truth so good
Then all men's minds would eat rich food,
And strong would grow men's brotherhood."
When the Blessed One had finished his meal, and had cleansed his
bowl and his hands, the king sat down near him and thought:
"Where may I find a place for the Blessed One to live in, not too
far from the town and not too near, suitable for going and coming,
easily accessible to all people who want to see him, a place that is
by day not too crowded and by night not exposed to noise, wholesome
and well fitted for a retired life? There is my pleasure-garden, the
bamboo grove Veluvana, fulfilling all these conditions. I shall
offer it to the brotherhood whose head is the Buddha."
The king dedicated his garden to the brotherhood, saying: "May the
Blessed One accept my gift." Then the Blessed One, having silently
shown his consent and having gladdened and edified the Magadha king by
religious discourse, rose from his seat and went away.