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.
AT that time Sariputta and Moggallana, two Brahmans and chiefs
the followers of Sanjaya, led a religious life. They had promised each
other: "He who first attains Nirvana shall tell the other one."
Sariputta seeing the venerable Assaji begging for alms, modestly
keeping his eyes to the ground and dignified in deportment, exclaimed:
"Truly this samana has entered the right path; I will ask him in whose
name he has retired from the world and what doctrine he professes."
Being addressed by Sariputta, Assaji replied: "I am a follower of
the Buddha, the Blessed One, but being a novice I can tell you the
substance only of the doctrine."
Said Sariputta: "Tell me, venerable monk; it is the substance I
want." And Assaji recited the stanza:
"Nothing we seek to touch or see
Can represent Eternity.
They spoil and die: then let us find
Eternal Truth within the mind."
Having heard this stanza, Sariputta obtained the pure and spotless
eye of truth and said: "Now I see clearly, whatsoever is subject to
origination is also subject to cessation. If this be the doctrine I
have reached the state to enter Nirvana which heretofore has
remained hidden from me." Sariputta went to Moggallana and told him,
and both said: "We will go to the Blessed One, that he, the Blessed
One, may be our teacher."
When the Buddha saw Sariputta and Moggallana coming from afar, he
said to his disciples, These two monks are highly auspicious." When
the two friends had taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the
Sangha, the Holy One said to his other disciples: "Sariputta, like the
first-born O son of a world-ruling monarch, is well able to assist the
king as his chief follower to set the wheel of the law rolling."
Now the people were annoyed. Seeing that many distinguished young
men of the kingdom of Magadha led a religious life under the direction
of the Blessed One, they became angry and murmured: "Gotama
Sakyamuni induces fathers to leave their wives and causes families
to become extinct." When they saw the bhikkhus, they reviled them,
saying: "The great Sakyamuni has come to Rajagaha subduing the minds
of men. Who will be the next to be led astray by him?"
The bhikkhus told it to the Blessed One, and the Blessed One said:
"This murmuring, O bhikkhus, will not last long. it will last seven
days. If they revile you, answer them with these words: 'It is by
preaching the truth that Tathagatas lead men. Who will murmur at the
wise? Who will blame the virtuous? Who will condemn self-control,
righteousness, and kindness?" And the Blessed One proclaimed:
"Commit no wrong, do only good,
And let your heart be pure.
This is the doctrine Buddhas teach,
And this doctrine will endure."
AT this time there was Anathapindika, a man of unmeasured wealth,
visiting Rajagaha. Being of a charitable disposition, he was called
"the supporter of orphans and the friend of the poor." Hearing that
the Buddha had come into the world and was stopping in the bamboo
grove near the city, he set out on that very night to meet the Blessed
And the Blessed One saw at once the sterling quality of
Anathapindika's heart and greeted him with words of religious comfort.
And they sat down together, and Anathapindika listened to the
sweetness of the truth preached by the Blessed One. And the Buddha
said: "The restless, busy nature of the world, this, I declare, is
at the root of pain. Attain that composure of mind which is resting in
the peace of immortality. Self is but a heap of composite qualities,
and its world is empty like a fantasy.
"Who is it that shapes our lives? Is it Isvara, a personal
creator? If Isvara be the maker, all living things should have
silently to submit to their maker's power. They would be like
vessels formed by the potter's hand; and if it were so, how would it
be possible to practice virtue? If the world had been made by Isvara
there should be no such thing as sorrow, or calamity, or evil; for
both pure and impure deeds must come from him. If not, there would
be another cause beside him, and he would not be self-existent.
Thus, thou seest, the thought of Isvara is overthrown.
"Again, it is said that the Absolute has created us. But that
which is absolute cannot be a cause. All things around us come from
a cause as the plant comes from the seed; but how can the Absolute
be the cause of all things alike? If it pervades them, then,
certainly, it does not make them.
"Again, it is said that Self is the maker. But if self is the maker,
why did it not make things pleasing? The causes of sorrow and joy
are real and touchable. How can they have been made by self?
"Again, if we adopt the argument that there is no maker, our fate is
such as it is, and there is no causation, what use would there be in
shaping our lives and adjusting means to an end? Therefore, we argue
that all things that exist are not without cause. However, neither
Isvara, nor the absolute, nor the self nor causeless chance, is the
maker, but our deeds produce results both good and evil according to
the law of causation.
"Let us, then, abandon the heresy of worshiping Isvara and of
praying to him; let us no longer lose ourselves in vain speculations
or profitless subtleties; let us surrender self and all selfishness,
and as all things are fixed by causation, let us practice good so that
good may result from our actions."
And Anathapindika said: "I see that thou art the Buddha, the Blessed
One the Tathagata, and I wish to open to the my whole mind. Having
listened to my words advise me what I shall do. My life is full of
work, and having acquired great wealth, I am surrounded with cares.
Yet I enjoy my work, and apply myself to it with all diligence. Many
people are in my employ and depend upon the success of my enterprises.
"Now, I have heard thy disciples praise the bliss of the hermit
and denounce the unrest of the world. 'The Holy One,' they say, 'has
given up his kingdom and his inheritance, and has found the path of
righteousness, thus setting an example to all the world how to
attain Nirvana.' My heart yearns to do what is right and to be a
blessing unto my fellows. Let me then ask thee, Must I give up my
wealth, my home, and my business enterprises, and, like thyself, go
into homelessness in order to attain the bliss of a religious life?"
And the Buddha replied: "The bliss of a religious life is attainable
by every one who walks in the noble eightfold path. He that cleaves to
wealth had better cast it away than allow his heart to be poisoned
by it; but he who does not cleave to wealth, and possessing riches,
uses them rightly, will be a blessing unto his fellows. It is not life
and wealth and power that enslave men, but the cleaving to life and
wealth and power. The bhikkhu who retires from the world in order to
lead a life of leisure will have no gain, for a life of indolence is
an abomination, and lack of energy is to be despised. The Dharma of
the Tathagata does not require a man to go into homelessness or to
resign the world, unless he feels called upon to do so; but the Dharma
of the Tathagata requires every man to free himself from the
illusion of self, to cleanse his heart, to give up his thirst for
pleasure, and lead a life of righteousness. And whatever men do,
whether they remain in the world as artisans, merchants, and
officers of the king, or retire from the world and devote themselves
to a life of religious meditation, let them put their whole heart into
their task; let them be diligent and energetic, and, if they are
like the lotus, which, although it grows in the water, yet remains
untouched by the water, if they struggle in life without cherishing
envy or hatred, if they live in the world not a life of self but a
life of truth, then surely joy, peace, and bliss will dwell in their
ANATHAPINDIKA rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One and said:
dwell at Savatthi, the capital of Kosala, a land rich in produce and
enjoying peace. Pasenadi is the king of the country, and his name is
renowned among our own people and our neighbors. Now I wish to found
there a vihara which shall be a place of religious devotion for your
brotherhood, and I pray you kindly to accept it."
The Buddha saw into the heart of the supporter of orphans; and
knowing that unselfish charity was the moving cause of his offer, in
acceptance of the gift, the Blessed One said: "The charitable man is
loved by all; his friendship is prized highly; in death his heart is
at rest and full of joy, for he suffers not from repentance; he
receives the opening flower of his reward and the fruit that ripens
from it. Hard it is to understand: By giving away our food, we get
more strength, by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty;
by donating abodes of purity and truth, we acquire great treasures.
"There is a proper time and a proper mode in charity; just as the
vigorous warrior goes to battle, so is the man who is able to give. He
is like an able warrior a champion strong and wise in action. Loving
and compassionate he gives with reverence and banishes all hatred,
envy, and anger.
"The charitable man has found the path of salvation. He is like
the man who plants a sapling, securing thereby the shade, the flowers,
and the fruit in future years. Even so is the result of charity,
even so is the joy of him who helps those that are in need of
assistance; even so is the great Nirvana. We reach the immortal path
only by continuous acts of kindliness and we perfect our souls by
compassion and charity."
Anathapindika invited Sariputta to accompany him on his return to
Kosala and help him in selecting a pleasant site for the vihara.
ANATHAPINDIKA, the friend of the destitute and the supporter of
orphans, having returned home, saw the garden of the heir-apparent,
Jeta, with its green groves and limpid rivulets, and thought: "This is
the place which will be most suitable as a vihara for the
brotherhood of the Blessed One." And he went to the prince and asked
leave to buy the ground. The prince was not inclined to sell the
garden, for he valued it highly. He at first refused but said at last,
"If thou canst cover it with gold, then, and for no other price, shalt
thou have it." Anathapindika rejoiced and began to spread his gold;
but Jeta said: "Spare thyself the trouble, for I will not sell." But
Anathapindika insisted. Thus they contended until they resorted to the
Meanwhile the people began to talk of the unwonted proceeding, and
the prince, hearing more of the details and knowing that Anathapindika
was not only very wealthy but also straightforward and sincere,
inquired into his plans. On hearing the name of the Buddha, the prince
became anxious to share in the foundation and he accepted only
one-half of the gold, saying: "Yours is the land, but mine are the
trees. I will give the trees as my share of this offering to the
Then Anathapindika took the land and Jeta the trees, and they placed
them in trust of Sariputta for the Buddha. After the foundations
were laid, they began to build the hall which rose loftily in due
proportions according to the directions which the Buddha had
suggested; and it was beautifully decorated with appropriate carvings.
This vihara was called Jetavana, and the friend of the orphans invited
the Lord to come to Savatthi and receive the donation. And the Blessed
One left Kapilavatthu and came to Savatthi.
While the Blessed One was entering Jetavana, Anathapindika scattered
flowers and burned incense, and as a sign of the gift he poured
water from a golden dragon decanter, saying, "This Jetavana vihara I
give for the use of the brotherhood throughout the world." The Blessed
One received the gift and replied: "May all evil influences be
overcome; may the offering promote the kingdom of righteousness and be
a permanent blessing to mankind in general, to the land of Kosala, and
especially also to the giver."
Then the king Pasenadi, hearing that the Lord had come, went in
his royal equipage to the Jetavana vihara and saluted the Blessed
One with clasped hands, saying: "'Blessed is my unworthy and obscure
kingdom that it has met with so great a fortune. For how can
calamities and dangers befall it in the presence of the Lord of the
world, the Dharmaraja, the King of Truth. Now that I have seen thy
sacred countenance, let me partake of the refreshing waters of thy
teachings. Worldly profit is fleeting and perishable, but religious
profit is eternal and inexhaustible. A worldly man, though a king,
is full of trouble, but even a common man who is holy has peace of
Knowing the tendency of the king's heart, weighed down by avarice
and love of pleasure, the Buddha seized the opportunity and said:
"Even those who, by their evil karma, have been born in low degree,
when they see a virtuous man, feel reverence for him. How much more
must an independent king, on account of merits acquired in previous
existences, when meeting a Buddha, conceive reverence for him. And now
as I briefly expound the law, let the Maharaja listen and weigh my
words, and hold fast that which I deliver!
"Our good or evil deeds follow us continually like shadows. That
which is most needed is a loving heart! Regard thy people as men do an
only son. Do not oppress them, do not destroy them; keep in due
check every member of thy body, forsake unrighteous doctrine and
walk in the straight path. Exalt not thyself by trampling down others,
but comfort and befriend the suffering. Neither ponder on kingly
dignity, nor listen to the smooth words of flatterers.
There is no profit in vexing oneself by austerities, but meditate on
the Buddha and weigh his righteous law. We are encompassed on all
sides by the rocks of birth, old age, disease, and death, and only
by considering and practicing the true law can we escape from this
sorrow-piled mountain. What profit, then, in practicing iniquity?
"All who are wise spurn the pleasures of the body. They loathe
lust and seek to promote their spiritual existence. When a tree is
burning with fierce flames, how can the birds congregate therein?
Truth cannot dwell where passion lives. He who does not know this,
though he be a learned man and be praised by others as a sage, is
beclouded with ignorance. To him who has this knowledge true wisdom
dawns, and he will beware of hankering after pleasure. To acquire this
state of mind, wisdom is the one thing needful. To neglect wisdom will
lead to failure in life. The teachings of all religions should
center here, for without wisdom there is no reason.
"This truth is not for the hermit alone; it concerns every human
being, priest and layman alike. There is no distinction between the
monk who has taken the vows, and the man of the world living with
his family. There are hermits who fall into perdition, and there are
humble householders who mount to the rank of rishis. Hankering after
pleasure is a danger common to all; it carries away the world. He
who is involved in its eddies finds no escape. But wisdom is the handy
boat, reflection is the rudder. The slogan of religion calls you to
overcome the assaults of Mara, the enemy.
"Since it is impossible to escape the result of our deeds, let us
practice good works. Let us guard our thoughts that we do no evil, for
as we sow so shall we reap. There are ways from light into darkness
and from darkness into light. There are ways, also, from the gloom
into deeper darkness, and from the dawn into brighter light. The
wise man will use the light he has to receive more light. He will
constantly advance in the knowledge of truth.
"Exhibit true superiority by virtuous conduct and the exercise of
reason; meditate deeply on the vanity of earthly things, and
understand the fickleness of life. Elevate the mind, and seek
sincere faith with firm purpose; transgress not the rules of kingly
conduct, and let your happiness depend, not upon external things,
but upon your own mind. Thus you will lay up a good name for distant
ages and will secure the favor of the Tathagata."
The king listened with reverence and remembered all the words of the
Buddha in his heart.
WHEN the Buddha was staying at the Veluvana, the bamboo grove at
Rajagaha, he addressed the brethren thus: "Whether Buddhas arise, O
priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise, it remains a fact and the
fixed and necessary constitution of being that all conformations are
transitory. This fact a Buddha discovers and masters, and when he
has discovered and mastered it, he announces, publishes, proclaims,
discloses, minutely explains and makes it clear that all conformations
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not
arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of
being, that all conformations are suffering. This fact a Buddha
discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains and
makes it clear that all conformations are suffering.
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not
arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of
being, that all conformations are lacking a self. This fact a Buddha
discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely
explains and makes it clear that all conformations are lacking a
And on another occasion the Blessed One dwelt at Savatthi in the
Jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika. At that time the Blessed One
edified, aroused, quickened and gladdened the monks with a religious
discourse on the subject of Nirvana. And these monks grasping the
meaning, thinking it out, and accepting with their hearts the whole
doctrine, listened attentively. But there was one brother who had some
doubt left in his heart. He arose and clasping his hands made the
request: "May I be permitted to ask a question?" When permission was
granted he spoke as follows:
"The Buddha teaches that all conformations are transient, that all
conformations are subject to sorrow, that all conformations are
lacking a self. How then can there be Nirvana, a state of eternal
And the Blessed One, this connection, on that occasion, breathed
forth this solemn utterance: "There is, O monks, a state where there
is neither earth, nor water, nor heat, nor air; neither infinity of
space nor infinity of consciousness, nor nothingness, nor perception
nor non-perception; neither this world nor that world, neither sun nor
moon. It is the uncreate. That O monks, I term neither coming nor
going nor standing; neither death nor birth. It is without
stability, without change; it is the eternal which never originates
and never passes away. There is the end of sorrow.
"It is hard to realize the essential, the truth is not easily
perceived; desire is mastered by him who knows, and to him who sees
aright all things are naught. There is, O monks, an unborn,
unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this
unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape
from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O
monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and unformed,
therefore is there an escape from the born, originated, created,
THE Buddha's name became famous over all India and Suddhodana,
father, sent word to him saying: "I am growing old and wish to see
my son before I die. Others have had the benefit of his doctrine,
but not his father nor his relatives." And the messenger said: "O
world-honored Tathagata, thy father looks for thy coming as the lily
longs for the rising of the sun."
The Blessed One consented to the request of his father and set out
on his journey to Kapilavatthu. Soon the tidings spread in the
native country of the Buddha: "Prince Siddhattha, who wandered forth
from home into homelessness to obtain enlightenment, having attained
his purpose, is coming back."
Suddhodana went out with his relatives and ministers to meet the
prince. When the king saw Siddhattha, his son, from afar, he was
struck with his beauty and dignity, and he rejoiced in his heart,
but his mouth found no words to utter. This, indeed, was his son;
these were the features of Siddhattha. How near was the great samana
to his heart, and yet what a distance lay between them! That noble
muni was no longer Siddhattha, his son; he was the Buddha, the Blessed
One, the Holy One, Lord of truth, and teacher of mankind. Suddhodana
the king, considering the religious dignity of his son, descended from
his chariot and after saluting his son said: "It is now seven years
since I have seen thee. How I have longed for this moment!"
Then the Sakyamuni took a seat opposite his father, and the king
gazed eagerly at his son. He longed to call him by his name, but he
dared not. "Siddhattha," he exclaimed silently in his heart,
"Siddhattha, come back to thine aged father and be his son again!" But
seeing the determination of his son, he suppressed his sentiments,
and, desolation overcame him. Thus the king sat face to face with
his son, rejoicing in his sadness and sad in his rejoicing. Well might
he be proud of his son, but his pride broke down at the idea that
his great son would never be his heir.
"I would offer thee my kingdom," said, the king, "but if I did, thou
wouldst account it but as ashes."
And the Buddha said: "I know that the king's heart is full of love
and that for his son's sake he feels deep grief. But let the ties of
love that bind him to the son whom he lost embrace with equal kindness
all his fellow-beings, and he will receive in his place a greater
one than Siddhattha; he will receive the Buddha, the teacher of truth,
the preacher of righteousness, and the peace of Nirvana will enter
into his heart."
Suddhodana trembled with joy when he heard the melodious words of
his son, the Buddha, and clasping his hands, exclaimed with tears in
his eyes: "Wonderful in this change! The overwhelming sorrow has
passed away. At first my sorrowing heart was heavy, but now I reap the
fruit of thy great renunciation. It was right that, moved by thy
mighty sympathy, thou shouldst reject the pleasures of royal power and
achieve thy noble purpose in religious devotion. Now that thou hast
found the path, thou canst preach the law of immortality to all the
world that yearns for deliverance." The king returned to the palace,
while the Buddha remained in the grove before the city.
YASODHARA, THE FORMER WIFE
ON next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out to beg his
food. And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhattha is going from
house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride in
a chariot attended by his retinue. His robe is like a red clod, and he
holds in his hand an earthen bowl."
On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great haste and
when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why dost thou thus disgrace me?
Knowest thou not that I can easily supply thee and thy bhikkhus with
food?" And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of my race."
But the king said: "how can this be? Thou art descended from
kings, and not one of them ever begged for food."
"O great king," rejoined the Buddha thou and thy race may claim
descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas of old. They,
begging their food, lived on alms." The king made no reply, and the
Blessed One continued: "It is customary, O king, when one has found
a hidden treasure, for him to make an offering of the most precious
jewel to his father. Suffer me, therefore, to open this treasure of
mine which is the Dharma, and accept from me this gem": And the
Blessed One recited the following stanza:
"Arise from dreams and delusions,
Awaken with open mind.
Seek only Truth. Where you find it,
Peace also you will find."
Then the king conducted the prince into the palace, and the
ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him with
great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did not make her
appearance. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she replied: "Surely,
if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha will come and see me."
The Blessed One, having greeted all his relatives and friends,
asked: "Where is Yasodhara?" And on being informed that she had
refused to come, he rose straightway and went to her apartments.
"I am free, the Blessed One said to his disciples, Sari putta and
Moggallana, whom he had bidden to accompany him to the princess's
chamber; "the princess, however, is not as yet free. Not having seen
me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless her grief
be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she touch the
Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."
Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in mean garments, and her hair
cut. When Prince Siddhattha entered, she was, from the abundance of
her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain her love.
Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord of the
world, the preacher of truth, she held him by his feet and wept
Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt ashamed,
and rising, seated herself reverently at a little distance.
The king apologized for the princess, saying: "This arises from
her deep affection, and is more than a temporary emotion. During the
seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard that
Siddhattha had shaved his head, she did likewise; when she heard
that he had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she also
refused their use. Like her husband she had eaten at appointed times
from an earthen bowl only. Like him she had renounced high beds with
splendid coverings, and when other princes asked her in marriage,
she replied that she was still his. Therefore, grant her forgiveness."
And the Blessed One spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her
great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been again
and again of great assistance to him. Her purity, her gentleness,
her devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisattva when he aspired to
attain enlightenment, the highest aim of mankind. And so holy had
she been that she desired to become the wife of a Buddha. This,
then, is her karma, and it is the result of great merits. Her grief
has been unspeakable, but the consciousness of the glory that
surrounds her spiritual inheritance increased by her noble attitude
during her life, will be a balm that will miraculously transform all
sorrows into heavenly joy.
RAHULA, THE SON
MANY people in Kapilavatthu believed in the Tathagata and took
refuge in his doctrine, among them Nanda Sidhattha's half-brother, the
son of Pajapati; Devadatta, his cousin and brother-in-law; Upali the
barber; and Anuruddha the philosopher. Some years later Ananda,
another cousin of the Blessed One, also joined the Sangha.
Ananda was a man after the heart of the Blessed One; he was his most
beloved disciple, profound in comprehension and gentle in spirit.
And Ananda remained always near the Blessed Master of truth, until
death parted them.
On the seventh day after the Buddha's arrival in Kapilavatthu,
Yasodhara dressed Rahula, now seven years old, in all the splendor
of a prince and said to him: "This holy man, whose appearance is so
glorious that he looks like the great Brahma, is thy father. He
possesses four great mines of wealth which I have not yet seen. Go
to him and entreat him to put thee in possession of them, for the
son ought to inherit the property of his father."
Rahula replied: "I know of no father but the king. Who is my
father?" The princess took the boy in her arms and from the window she
pointed out to him the Buddha, who happened to be near the palace,
partaking of food.
Rahula then went to the Buddha, and looking up into his face said
without fear and with much affection: "My father!" And standing near
him, he added: "O samana, even thy shadow is a place of bliss!"
When the Tathagata had finished his repast, he gave blessings and
went away from the palace, but Rahula followed and asked his father
for his inheritance. No one prevented the boy, nor did the Blessed One
Then the Blessed One turned to Sariputta, saying: "My son asks for
his inheritance. I cannot give him perishable treasures that will
bring cares and sorrows, but I can give him the inheritance of a
holy life, which is a treasure that will not perish."
Addressing Rahula with earnestness, the Blessed One said: "Gold
and silver and jewels are not in my possession. But if thou art
willing to receive spiritual treasures, and art strong enough to carry
them and to keep them, I shall give thee the four truths which will
teach thee the eightfold path of righteousness. Dost thou desire to be
admitted to the brotherhood of those who devote their life to the
culture of the heart seeking for the highest bliss attainable?"
Rahula replied with firmness: "I do. I want to join the
brotherhood of the Buddha."
When the king heard that Rahula had joined the brotherhood of
bhikkhus he was grieved. He had lost Siddhattha and Nanda, his sons,
and Devadatta, his nephew. But now that his grandson had been taken
from him, he went to the Blessed One and spoke to him. And the Blessed
One promised that from that time forward he would not ordain any minor
without the consent of his parents or guardians.
LONG before the Blessed One had attained enlightenment,
self-mortification had been the custom among those who earnestly
sought for salvation. Deliverance of the soul from all the necessities
of life and finally from the body itself, they regarded as the aim
of religion. Thus, they avoided everything that might be a luxury in
food, shelter, and clothing, and lived like the beasts in the woods.
Some went naked, while others wore the rags cast away upon
cemeteries or dung-heaps.
When the Blessed One retired from the world, he recognized at once
the error of the naked ascetics, and, considering the indecency of
their habit, clad himself in cast-off rags.
Having attained enlightenment and rejected all unnecessary
self-mortifications, the Blessed One and his bhikkhus continued for
a long time to wear the cast-off rags of cemeteries and dung-heaps.
Then it happened that the bhikkhus were visited with diseases of all
kinds, and the Blessed One permitted and explicitly ordered the use of
medicines, and among them he even enjoined, whenever needed, the use
of unguents. One of the brethren suffered from a sore on his foot, and
the Blessed One enjoined the bhikkhus to wear foot-coverings.
Now it happened that a disease befell the body of the Blessed One
himself, and Ananda went to Jivaka, physician to Bimbisara, the
king. And Jivaka, a faithful believer in the Holy One, ministered unto
the Blessed One with medicines and baths until the body of the Blessed
One was completely restored.
At that time, Pajjota, king of Ujjeni, was suffering from
jaundice, and Jivaka, the physician to king Bimbisara, was
consulted. When King Pajjota had been restored to health, he sent to
Jivaka a suit of the most excellent cloth. And Jivaka said to himself:
"This suit is made of the best cloth, and nobody is worthy to
receive it but the Blessed One, the perfect and holy Buddha, or the
Magadha king, Senija Bimbisara."
Then Jivaka took that suit and went to the place where the Blessed
One was; having approached him, and having respectfully saluted the
Blessed One, he sat down near him and said: "Lord, I have a boon to
ask of the Blessed One." The Buddha replied: "The Tathagatas,
Jivaka, do not grant boons before they know what they are."
Jivaka said: "Lord, it is a proper and unobjectionable request."
"Speak, Jivaka, said the Blessed One.
"Lord of the world, the Blessed One wears only robes made of rags
taken from a dung-heap or a cemetery, and so also does the brotherhood
of bhikkhus. Now, Lord, this suit has been sent to me by King Pajjota,
which is the best and most excellent, and the finest and the most
precious, and the noblest that can be found. Lord of the world, may
the Blessed One accept from me this suit, and may he allow the
brotherhood of bhikkhus to wear lay robes."
The Blessed One accepted the suit, and after having delivered a
religious discourse, he addressed the bhikkhus thus: "Henceforth ye
shall be at liberty to wear either cast-off rags or lay robes. Whether
ye are pleased with the one or with the other, I will approve of it."
When the people at Rajagaha heard, The Blessed One has allowed the
bhikkhus to wear lay robes, those who were willing to bestow gifts
became glad. And in one day many thousands of robes were presented
at Rajagaha to the bhikkhus.
SUDDHODANA ATTAINS NIRVANA
WHEN Suddhodana had grown old, he fell sick and sent for his son
to come and see him once more before he died; and the Blessed One came
and stayed at the sick-bed, and Suddhodana, having attained perfect
enlightenment, died in the arms of the Blessed One.
And it is said that the Blessed One, for the sake of preaching to
his mother Maya-devi, ascended to heaven and dwelt with the devas.
Having concluded his pious mission, he returned to the earth and
went about again, converting those who listened to his teachings.
WOMEN IN THE SANGHA
YASODHARA had three times requested of the Buddha that she might
be admitted to the Sangha, but her wish had not been granted. Now
Pajapati, the foster-mother of the Blessed One, in the company of
Yasodhara, and many other women, went to the Tathagata entreating
him earnestly to let them take the vows and be ordained as disciples.
The Blessed One, foreseeing the danger that lurked in admitting
women to the Sangha, protested that while the good religion ought
surely to last a thousand years it would, when women joined it, likely
decay after five hundred years; but observing the zeal of Pajapati and
Yasodhara for leading a religious life he could no longer resist and
assented to have them admitted as his disciples.
Then the venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One thus: "Are women
competent, venerable Lord, if they retire from household life to the
homeless state, under the doctrine and discipline announced by the
Tathagata, to attain to the fruit of conversion, to attain to a
release from a wearisome repetition of rebirths, to attain to
saintship?" The Blessed One declared: "Women are competent, Ananda, if
they retire from household life to the homeless state, under the
doctrine and discipline announced by the Tathagata, to attain to the
fruit of conversion, to attain to a release from a wearisome
repetition of rebirths, to attain to saintship.
"Consider, Ananda, how great a benefactress Pajapati has been. She
is the sister of the mother of the Blessed One, and as foster-mother
and nurse, reared the Blessed One after the death of his mother. So,
Ananda, women may retire from household life to the homeless state,
under the doctrine and discipline announced by the Tathagata."
Pajapati was the first woman to become a disciple of the Buddha
and to receive the ordination as a bhikkhuni.
ON CONDUCT TOWARD WOMEN
THE bhikkhus came to the Blessed One and asked him: "O Tathagata,
our Lord and Master, what conduct toward women dost thou prescribe
to the samanas who have left the world?"
The Blessed One said: "Guard against looking on a woman. If ye see a
woman, let it be as though ye saw her not, and have no conversation
with her. If, after all, ye must speak with her, let it be with a pure
heart, and think to yourself, 'I as a samana will live in this
sinful world as the spotless leaf of the lotus, unsoiled by the mud in
which it grows.'
"If the woman be old, regard her as your mother, if young, as your
sister, if very young, as your child. The samana who looks on a
woman as a woman, or touches her as a woman, has broken his vow and is
no longer a disciple of the Tathagata. The power of lust is great with
men, and is to be feared withal; take then the bow of earnest
perseverance, and the sharp arrow-points of wisdom. Cover your heads
with the helmet of right thought, and fight with fixed resolve against
the five desires. Lust beclouds a man's heart, when it is confused
with woman's beauty, and the mind is dazed.
"Better far with red-hot irons bore out both your eyes, than
encourage in yourself sensual thoughts, or look upon a woman's form
with lustful desires. Better fall into the fierce tiger's mouth, or
under the sharp knife of the executioner, than dwell with a woman
and excite in yourself lustful thoughts.
"A woman of the world is anxious to exhibit her form and shape,
whether walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping. Even when represented
as a picture, she desires to captivate with the charms of her
beauty, and thus to rob men of their steadfast heart. How then ought
ye to guard yourselves? By regarding her tears and her smiles as
enemies, her stooping form, her hanging arms, and her disentangled
hair as toils designed to entrap man's heart. Therefore, I say,
restrain the heart, give it no unbridled license."
VISAKHA AND HER GIFTS
VISAKHA, a wealthy woman in Savatthi who had many children and
grandchildren, had given to the order the Pubbarama or Eastern Garden,
and was the first in Northern Kosala to become a matron of the lay
When the Blessed One stayed at Savatthi, Visakha went up to the
place where the Blessed One was, and tendered him an invitation to
take his meal at her house, which the Blessed One accepted. And a
heavy rain fell during the night and the next morning; and the
bhikkhus doffed their robes to keep them dry and let the rain fall
upon their bodies.
When on the next day the Blessed One had finished his meal, she took
her seat at his side and spoke thus: "Eight are the boons, Lord, which
I beg of the Blessed One."
Said the Blessed One: "The Tathagatas, O Visakha, grant no boons
until they know what they are." Visakha replied: "Befitting, Lord, and
unobjectionable are the boons I ask."
Having received permission to make known her requests, Visakha said:
"I desire, Lord, through all my life long to bestow robes for the
rainy season on the Sangha, and food for incoming bhikkhus, and food
for outgoing bhikkhus, and food for the sick, and food for those who
wait upon the sick, and medicine for the sick and a constant supply of
rice milk for the Sangha, and bathing robes for the bhikkhunis, the
sisters." Said the Buddha: "But what circumstance is it, O Visakha,
that thou hast in view in asking these eight boons of the Tathagata?"
Visakha replied: "I gave command, Lord, to my maidservant, saying,
'Go, and announce to the brotherhood that the meal is ready.' And
the maid went, but when she came to the vihara, she observed that
the bhikkhus had doffed their robes while it was raining, and she
thought: 'These are not bhikkhus, but naked ascetics letting the
rain fall on them. So she returned to me and reported accordingly, and
I had to send her a second time. Impure, Lord, is nakedness, and
revolting. It was this circumstance, Lord, that I had in view in
desiring to provide the Sangha my life long with special garments
for use in the rainy season.
"As to my second wish, Lord, an incoming bhikkhu, not being able
to take the direct roads, and not knowing the place where food can
be procured, comes on his way tired out by seeking for alms. It was
this circumstance, Lord, that I had in view in desiring to provide the
Sangha my life long with food for incoming bhikkhus. Thirdly, Lord, an
outgoing bhikkhu, while seeking about for alms, may be left behind, or
may arrive too late at the place whither he desires to go, and will
set out on the road in weariness.
"Fourthly, Lord, if a sick bhikkhu does not obtain suitable food,
his sickness may increase upon him, and he may die. Fifthly, Lord, a
bhikkhu who is waiting upon the sick will lose his opportunity of
going out to seek food for himself. Sixthly, Lord, if a sick bhikkhu
does not obtain suitable medicines, his sickness may increase upon
him, and he may die.
"Seventhly, Lord, I have heard that the Blessed One has praised
rice-milk, because it gives readiness of mind, dispels hunger and
thirst; it is wholesome for the healthy as nourishment, and for the
sick as a medicine. Therefore I desire to provide the Sangha my life
long with a constant supply of rice-milk.
"Finally, Lord, the bhikkhunis are in the habit of bathing in the
river Achiravati with the courtesans, at the same landing-place, and
naked. And the courtesans, Lord, ridicule the bhikkhunis, saying,
'What is the good, ladies, of your maintaining chastity when you are
young? When you are old, maintain chastity then; thus will you
obtain both worldly pleasure and religious consolation.' Impure, Lord,
is nakedness for a woman, disgusting, and revolting. These are the
circumstances, Lord, that I had in view."
The Blessed One said: "But what was the advantage you had in view
for yourself, O Visakha, in asking the eight boons of the Tathagatha?"
Visakha replied: "Bhikkhus who have spent the rainy seasons in
various places will come, Lord, to Savatthi to visit the Blessed
One. And on coming to the Blessed One they will ask, saying: 'Such and
such a bhikkhu, Lord, has died. What, now, is his destiny?' Then
will the Blessed One explain that he has attained the fruits of
conversion; that he has attained arahatship or has entered Nirvana, as
the case may be.
"And I, going up to them, will ask, "Was that brother, Sirs, one
of those who had formerly been at Savatthi?' If reply to me, He has
formerly been at Savatthi then shall I arrive at the conclusion, For a
certainty did that brother enjoy either the robes for the rainy
season, or the food for the incoming bhikkhus, or the food for the
outgoing bhikkhus, or the food for the sick, or the food for those
that wait upon the sick, or the medicine for the sick, or the constant
supply of rice-milk.'
"Then will gladness spring up within me; thus gladdened, joy will
come to me; and so rejoicing all my mind will be at peace. Being
thus at peace I shall experience a blissful feeling of content; and in
that bliss my heart will be at rest. That will be to me an exercise of
my moral sense, an exercise of my moral powers, an exercise of the
seven kinds of wisdom! This Lord, was the advantage I had in view
for myself in asking those eight boons of the Blessed One."
The Blessed One said: "It is well, it is well, Visakha. Thou hast
done well in asking these eight boons of the Tathagata with such
advantages in view. Charity bestowed upon those who are worthy of it
is like good seed sown on a good soil that yields an abundance of
fruits. But alms given to those who are yet under the tyrannical
yoke of the passions are like seed deposited in a bad soil. The
passions of the receiver of the alms choke, as it were, the growth
of merits." And the Blessed One gave this thanks to Visakha:
"O noble woman of an upright life,
Disciple of the Blessed One, thou givest
Unstintedly in purity of heart.
"Thou spreadest joy, assuagest pain,
And verily thy gift will be a blessing
As well to many others as to thee."
THE UPOSATHA AND PATIMOKKHA
WHEN Seniya Bimbisara, the king of Magadha, was advanced in years,
he retired from the world and led a religious life. He observed that
there were Brahmanical sects in Rajagaha keeping sacred certain
days, and the people went to their meeting-houses and listened to
their sermons. Concerning the need of keeping regular days for
retirement from worldly labors and religious instruction, the king
went to the Blessed One and said: "The Parivrajaka, who belong. to the
Titthiya school, prosper and gain adherents because they keep the
eighth day and also the fourteenth or fifteenth day of each
half-month. Would it not be advisable for the reverend brethren of the
Sangha also to assemble on days duly appointed for that purpose?"
The Blessed One commanded the bhikkhus to assemble on the eighth day
and also on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of each half-month, and to
devote these days to religious exercises.
A bhikkhu duly appointed should address the congregation and expound
the Dharma. He should exhort the people to walk in the eightfold
path of righteousness; he should comfort them in the vicissitudes of
life and gladden them with the bliss of the fruit of good deeds.
Thus the brethren should keep the Uposatha. Now the bhikkhus, in
obedience to the rule laid down by the Blessed One, assembled in the
vihara on the day appointed, and the people went to hear the Dharma,
but they were greatly disappointed, for the bhikkhus remained silent
and delivered no discourse.
When the Blessed One heard of it, he ordered the bhikkhus to
recite the Patimokkha, which is a ceremony of disburdening the
conscience; and he commanded them to make confession of their
trespasses so as to receive the absolution of the order. A fault, if
there be one, should be confessed by the bhikkhu who remembers it
and desires to be cleansed, for a fault, when confessed, shall be
light on him.
And the Blessed One said: "The Patimokkha must be recited in this
way: Let a competent and venerable bhikkhu make the following
proclamation to the Sangha: "May the Sangha hear me Today is Uposatha,
the eighth, or the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the half-month. If
the Sangha is ready, let the Sangha hold the Uposatha service and
recite the Patimokkha. I will recite the Patimokkha.' And the bhikkhus
shall reply: 'We hear it well and we concentrate well our minds on it,
all of us.' Then the officiating bhikkhu shall continue: 'Let him
who has committed an offense confess it; if there be no offense, let
all remain silent; from your being silent I shall understand that
the reverend brethren are free from offenses. As a single person who
has been asked a question answers it, so also, if before an assembly
like this a question is solemnly proclaimed three times, an answer
is expected: if a bhikkhu, after a threefold proclamation, does not
confess an existing offense which he remembers, he commits an
intentional falsehood. Now, reverend brethren, an intentional
falsehood has been declared an impediment by the Blessed One.
Therefore, if an offense has been committed by a bhikkhu who remembers
it and desires to become pure, the offense should be confessed by
the bhikkhu; and when it has been confessed, it is treated duly.'"