[II. Progress of the Sāsana]

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20: The Tale of the Good Group of Friends

Then the Gracious One, having dwelt in Bārāṇasī as long as he liked, left on a walking tour for Uruvelā. This is where he had attained Awakening before coming to Bārāṇasī and Isipatana. It is strange indeed that the Buddha seems to have made this journey alone.01 Then the Gracious One, having gone down from the road, approached a certain jungle thicket, Named as Kappāsiya in Jā Nid.02 and after approaching and entering that jungle thicket, he sat down at the root of a certain tree.

Then at that time a group of thirty good friends, At the beginning of the commentary to the Kaṭhinakkhandhaka they are said to have been 30 brothers having the Kosalan king as father.03 together with their wives, In Mahāvastu this group are all said to be batchelors and they only bring along one harlot, who is named as Upārdha Kasikā, which indicates that she was from a farming background.04 were amusing themselves in that jungle thicket. One, who was not married, Lit: not a husband.05 had for that reason brought along a harlot. Literally vesī means a woman belonging to the third caste, but the word had come to mean a prostitute or a harlot. If Mahāvastu is correct about the name, then she would actually belong to the sudda caste.06 Then that harlot, while they were amusing themselves heedlessly, having taken his belongings, ran away.

Then those friends, doing their friend a service, were searching for that woman and wandering around in that jungle thicket. They saw the Gracious One sitting at the root of a certain tree, and after seeing (him) they approached the Gracious One, and after approaching they said this to the Gracious One: “Can the Gracious One, venerable Sir, see a woman?”

“But why, young men, (look for) a woman?”

“Here, venerable Sir, we, a group of thirty good friends, together with our wives, were amusing ourselves in this jungle thicket. One, who was not married, had for that reason brought along a harlot. Then that harlot, venerable Sir, while we were amusing ourselves heedlessly, having taken his belongings, ran away. Therefore we, venerable Sir, doing our friend a service, are searching for that woman and wandering around in this jungle thicket.”

“What do you think of this, young men, what is better for you: that you should search for a woman, or that you should search for yourselves?” Horner: seek for the self; which gives the wrong impression, as though they were to seek for their Higher Self. The word attānaṁ however is plural and no indication of the Self is given in the text.07 “This is better for us, venerable Sir, that we should search for ourselves.” “Then, young men, be seated, I will teach the Dhamma to you.” “Certainly, venerable Sir,” said that group of good friends, and after worshipping the Gracious One, they sat down on one side.

The Gracious One spoke about the gradual teaching to them, that is to say: talk about giving, talk about virtue, talk about heaven, the danger, degradation, and defilement of sensual desires, and the advantages of renunciation, (these) he explained.

When the Gracious One knew that they had ready minds, pliable minds, open minds, uplifted minds, confident minds, he explained to them the Dhamma teaching the Awakened Ones have discovered themselves: Suffering, Origination, Cessation, Path.

Just as it is known that a clean cloth without a stain will take the dye well, just so to them on that very seat, the dust-free, stainless Vision-of-the-Dhamma arose: Comm: to some arose the path of Stream-Entry, to some Once-Returning, to some Non-Returning.08

“Whatever has the nature of arising, all that has the nature of ceasing.”

They, having seen the Dhamma, attained the Dhamma, understood the Dhamma, penetrated the Dhamma, crossed over uncertainty, being without doubts, having attained full confidence, having become independent of others in the Teacher's teaching, said this to the Gracious One: “May we receive the going-forth, venerable Sir, in the presence of the Gracious One, may we receive the full ordination.” “Come, monks,” Notice that the Buddha is still giving the ehi-bhikkhu ordination, even after the new going-for-refuge ordination procedure has been introduced. Indeed even much later he will give Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna the ehi-bhikkhu ordination also, see below.09 said the Gracious One, “the Dhamma has been well-proclaimed, live the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering.” That was these venerable ones' full ordination. Jā Nid mentions that these too were sent off to teach in the different directions.10

The Tale of the Good Group of Friends is Finished

The Second Section for Recital (is Finished)