[I: The First Teachings]

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4: The Story about the Royal (Tree) At this point the Vinaya and the Udāna diverge, but interestingly the discourse that occurs next in the Udāna is called Rājasuttaṁ.01
(Tapussa and Bhallika)

Then with the passing of seven days, the Gracious One, after arising from that concentration, approached the Royal (tree) Scientific name: Buchanania latifolia; FF: a medium-sized straight tree with rough bark and dense pyramid-shaped clusters of white flowers. It was south of the Bodhi Tree according to the commentary.02 from the root of the Mucalinda (tree), and after approaching the root of the Royal (tree) he sat in one cross-legged posture for seven days experiencing the happiness of liberation. According to the Jā Nid seven weeks have passed by now. It also mentions that, before the following events, Sakka brought the Buddha medicinal myrobalan to clean his stomach, and a tooth-pick to clean his teeth and water to wash his face.03

Then at that time the merchants Tapussa and Ballika The commentary says they were brothers, and Jā Nid says they were leading a caravan of 500 carts.04 were in that district travelling along the highway from Ukkalā. According to DPPN Ukkalā was in what is modern day Orissa. They were therefore coming from the south, and were apparently on their way to Rājagaha.05 Then a god who had (formerly) been a blood relative AA specifies that the devatā was formerly their Mother (source: DPPN).06 of the merchants Tapussa and Bhallika said this to the merchants Tapussa and Bhallika: “The Gracious One, Sirs, is dwelling at the root of the Royal (tree), in the first (period) after the complete and perfect Awakening. Go and wait upon the Gracious One with milk-rice and honey-balls and for a long time An idiom, literally meaning: for a long night.07 that will be for your benefit and happiness.”

Then the merchants Tapussa and Bhallika having taken milk-rice and honey-balls approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One they stood at one side. While standing on one side the merchants Tapussa and Bhallika said this to the Gracious One: “Please accept our milk-rice and honey-balls, venerable Sir, Gracious One, that for a long time will be for our benefit and happiness.”

Then it occurred to the Gracious One: “Realised Ones This is how the Buddha regularly refers to himself. Although not entirely clear, the prime meanings seem to be One who has Gone (or Come) to the Real. Maybe it is formed parallel to the term Titthaṅkara (Ford-Maker) which was already in use at the time, and is commonly used of the Jaina saints.08 do not accept (food) in the hands, now how can I accept the milk-rice and honey-balls?” According to Jā Nid the Buddha's bowl had ‘disappeared’ after taking Sujātā's milk-rice, which seems to be an anomaly.09

Then the (gods called the) Four Great Kings, knowing with their minds the reflection in the mind of the Gracious One, brought from the four directions four bowls made of (green) stone Comm: bowls made of rock coloured like green peas. Jayawickrama (SGB) translates as granite, though that rock is not green. The commentary and Jā Nid mention that first the four kings brought a sapphire bowl, but the Gracious One would not accept it, presumably because jewelled bowls are not allowed in the Vinaya (see Cullavagga Khuddhakavatthukkhandhakaṁ, 8), but there only two bowls are allowed, those made of iron and of earthenware.10 to the Gracious One (saying): “Please accept, venerable Sir, Gracious One, the milk-rice and honey-balls here (in the bowls).”

The Gracious One accepted in the new bowl Comm: having taken the four (bowls they) became as one bowl through determining. Paccagghe is explained as meaning either precious (its normal meaning) or new in the commentary, it seems the latter is intended here.11 made of stone the milk-rice and honey-balls, and having accepted (it) he ate.

Then the merchants Tapussa and Bhallika said this to the Gracious One: “We, venerable Sir, are those who go to the Gracious One for refuge, and to the Dhamma, There was still no Saṅgha at that time, so they took the double refuge; in Mahāvastu, on the contrary they go for refuge in the Three Treasures.12 please bear in mind that we are lay disciples who have gone for refuge from today forward for as long as we have the breath of life,” and they became the first lay disciples in the world with the two(-refuge) formula. Comm: then the Gracious One brushed his head and hair stuck to his hand, and he gave it to them (saying): “Take this with you.” After receiving the hair relics, consecrated by the Deathless, joyful and satisfied, and worshipping the Gracious One, they departed. Same story in Jā Nid.13

The Story about the Royal (tree) is Finished