IV: Stories of the Disciples

Story of Rāhula

The Buddha, staying in the atmosphere, showed various miracles. Chiefs of Asuras, Rāhu, Vemacitrī, Mucilinda together with their companions were initiated into the Dharma. King Śuddhodana saw these miracles and with folded hands he said to the Lord, “I have gained much as I have got you as my son. Your renunciation of kingdoms and relations has been successful. Your meditation for six years has been crowned with success, and [150] my birth has met with success inasmuch as I was blessed with a child like you. Take your food in the palace for the days you will be here in Kapilavastu.” The town was well decorated. Various edibles were arranged. The Buddha entered the town with Sāriputra in his right, Maudgalyāyana on his left, and with Ānanda behind him. Horses neighed while entering into the city. The peacocks danced, and cuckoes cooed. Various instruments were played. The blind regained eyesight. The deaf got back the sense of hearing. The insane regained their lost memory. All sorts of evil disappeared. The irreverent began to respect their superiors. The earth quaked. The Buddha entered the palace. The Śākyas declared that capital punishment would be inflicted on those who would speak out the Buddha’s identity to Rāhula. The Lord used to take his meal in the palace. Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī invited him with the bhikkhus. Various edibles were brought. The house was well-decorated. The Buddha and the bhikkhus took their seats. Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī herself served the dinner. The Buddha gave religions instructions to Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī and other inmates. Rāhula took his seat where the shadow of the Buddha fell.

He gazed steadfastly at the Buddha. He asked his mother where his father was.

Yaśodharā said, “Your father has gone to the Deccan” (Dakṣiṇāpatha). [151]

Rāhula said, “Why has he gone there?”

Yaśodharā said, “To trade.”

Rāhula said, “Why does not my father send some good articles?”

Yaśodharā said, “It is against the custom of the kṣatriyas. He will bring articles when he will come.”

Rāhula said, “Is this Sramaṇa a relation of ours? I am getting interested in him. He appears to be like my father.”

Yaśodharā said, “No, he is not your father.”

Rāhula said, “Tell me please truly what he is to me.”

Yaśodharā was moved. She neglected the declaration of capital punishment and said, “Yes, this śramaṇa is your father.” Rāhula caught hold of the outskirts of the Buddha’s robe and said that he would enter the holy orders if the śramaṇa was his father and that he would follow his father’s footsteps. The inmates cried. King Śuddhodana heard of this cry and learnt everything on enquiry. His eyes were full of tears. He bowed down to the Buddha and prayed for Rāhula. His prayer was not granted. Buddha said that Rāhula was, by virtue of the merits acquired by him in his previous births, destined to attain Nirvāṇa. In seven days, the ceremonies of Jātakarna (the first of the ten purification ceremonies performed shortly after birth), of first tonsure and Kuntalavardhana (ceremony for the growth of long hair) were performed. Yaśodharā [152] spoke to him about the sufferings of the hermit­life, and also about the enjoyment of royal happiness. She tried her utmost to restrain Rāhula from entering holy orders. But all was in vain. Yaśodharā marked his determination and gave him advice.

By order of king Śuddhodana the city of Kapilavastu was adorned. Prince Rāhula entered the holy order and accepted discipleship of his father. The Lord received him with tenderness and some words of exhortation. He charged Sāriputra to ordain Rāhula who repeated the triśaraṇa and the daśaśīla. The barber cut Rāhula’s hair, whilst the Lord exhorted him to perfection. Yaśodharā sadly touched the hair that had been cut off from her son, while she lamented. Maudgalyāyana and Sāriputra conferred the ordination on the young prince, Rāhula; under the direction of Sāriputra, he began his monastical career. On the last day Yaśodharā invited the Buddha.

She prepared a brilliant reception and tried to seduce him and to change his dispositions by the jewels with which she adorned herself and the daintiness that she offered to him; but all was of no avail. The Lord went away after having informed the King and the women.

The Lord attained Perfect Enlightenment and stayed underneath the Bodhi-tree for a week. Gods showered flowers from heaven. All creatures worshipped the Buddha. Gazing steadfastly at the Bodhi-tree for a week he passed the second week [153] there with a cheerful heart. In the third week, Tandri and Arati, daughters of Māra, seeing their father lamenting over his defeat, forced themselves in spite of the disappointing advice of their father to triumph over the Buddha, firstly by sensuality, by surrounding them with seducing apparitions to which the Buddha remained indifferent; then by asking him questions to which he replied in such a way as to confound them. They went away defeated and Māra proclaimed their defeat.

Story of Dharmalabdha

Kāla, king of the snakes, came to the Buddha and told him that previous Buddhas used to go to his abode. He invited the Buddha who came to Kāla’s house and spent the fourth week. At the request of Mucilinda, king of the snakes, the Buddha spent the fifth week at his house. With his hood, Mucilinda protected the Buddha from the untimely shower during the whole week. The sixth week the Buddha spent under the Nyagrodha tree. The seventh week he spent in the Khīrikāvana at the Bahudeva Caitya. Thus the Buddha spent seven weeks without any food.

Story of Trapusa and Bhallika

At this time, Trapusa and Bhallika, two merchants, while coming from Utkal (Orissa) came to grief near Khīrikāvana. They were greatly frightened but gods favoured them with assurance of security and asked them to offer the Buddha his first food, the delicious madhutarpana, after his forty-nine days’ fast. The Buddha was thinking [154] of taking them. Just at this time four Mahālokapālas brought four plates. As soon as the four plates were taken by the Buddha, they merged into one. The Buddha took honeyed butter on the plate and recited the “Svastika maṅgala”, the stanzas of blessing which protect in all regions. The two merchants received the Triśaraṇa, and begged of the Buddha some articles for worship. The Buddha gave them as relics, some hair from his head and some clippings of nails from his fingers. On these relics, the two merchants built in Keśasthali the Kedastūpa (hair stūpa), at Bālukṣa the Nakhastūpa (nail stūpa), at Silukṣa, a monument, the stones of which came by themselves to be put in place, through the miraculous power of the Lord Buddha. Śakra came in his turn to offer the Buddha a haritakī of which, he planted the stalk, which, at once, transformed itself wonderfully into a tree covered with flowers and fruits. While the Buddha was engaged in deep meditation for six years at the Senāpatigāma in Uruvilvā, a public woman, named Gavā, kept a coarse cloth on the bough of a tree for Buddha’s wear after meditation. By virtue of this noble deed Gavā was re-born in heaven as a nymph. At her prayer, the Buddha took that coarse cloth, rejecting the cloth given by Gods. Water was required to wash the cloth. The King of Gods dug with his hands a river which still bears the name of Pāṇikhāta. A slab of stone was required. Four lokapālas brought [155] four pieces of stone. On one slab he washed his cloth, on the second he spread the cloth to dry, the third he threw away in the names of Trapusa and Bhallika, inhabitants of Śilukṣanagara, who established that piece of stone in a Caitya. Still there exists in the kingdom of Gāndhāra, a town named Śila. On the fourth the Buddha took his seat and stitched the cloth. Over these four slabs of stone four Caityas were built. The Buddha, after washing and stitching that cloth, bathed in the Pāṇikhata river and got up from the river by holding the arm of the God Kakubha, the presiding deity of the tree named Kakubha, which stood on the banks of the river. The Buddha placed one of his hands on the tree which still bears the impression of the five fingers of the Buddha’s palm. Then the Buddha took his seat underneath the Nyagrodha tree of the goat-herd. He made up his mind to keep his Doctrine to himself as it was too deep to be understood and accepted by the world.

Knowing the Buddha’s dispositions, Brahmā with Śakra and other Gods came to request him to promulgate his doctrine, but they went away disappointed.

At that time, false doctrines reigned at Magadha; Brahmā took the opportunity of requesting Buddha to enlighten men. The Buddha reflected that out of the three species of beings, who were quite in the wrong, or quite in the right, or who [156] were neither one nor the other, the third at least would profit by his instructions. Remembering his past resolutions and yielding to the petition of the gods, Buddha promised to turn the Wheel of Law. From heaven to heaven the news spread up to the Brahmaloka. Then he looked for him who was able to follow his instruction. He thought of preaching his dharma to Udraka Rāmaputra but afterwards he learnt that Udraka had passed away seven days ago. Then he thought of Ārāḍa Kālāma and came to know that he too had died three days ago. Then he found that those who had followed him during his austerities were the five Bhadravargiyas who were at that time staying at ṣipatana Mgadāva at Benares. He intended to preach dharma to these persons. From Bodhi he proceeded towards Benares. Gods adorned with magnificent splendour the road that separated the Bodhi from Benares. From Uruvilvā, the Buddha came to Gayā, from Gayā to Apara Gayā where he was invited by Sudarśanā, king of snakes. The Buddha took his meal there and came to Vaśālā where he preached his doctrine to a Brāhmaṇa, named Nadi. A householder of Vaśālā gave him cloth. From Vaśālā he went to a city named Cundadvīla, where he announced to the Ājīvaka named Upaka, that, without a master, he had become an Arhat, Jina, and Buddha, and that he would promulgate the law. Buddha was invited by Cunda and passed one night in his house. From Cundadvīla [157] he came to Lohitavastuka where he passed one night as a guest of Kamaṇḍaluka, king of snakes. From Lohitavastuka he came to Gandhapura when he was invited by the Yakṣa named Kandha. After halting there for one night he came to Sārathipura and from Sārathipura he came to the banks of the Ganges. The boatman did not agree to take him free. So Buddha crossed the Ganges like a duck Editor’s note: it says no such thing in Mahāvastu, rather he crossed by his superntaural powers. and reaching Benares he waited at Saṅkhamedhī till the hour for begging in the town had come. On coming back from his round, he came to ṣipatana and was cordially received by the five Bhadravargiyas named Ājñātakauṇḍinya, Aśvaka, Bhadraka, Vāṣpa, and Mahānāma who in spite of their concerted project, could not help standing up at his approach and were ordained monks by the Buddha. Buddha recognised the place where the former Buddhas had made the Wheel of the Law turn. He enumerated to the five monks the dimensions of the nimbuses of a certain number of Buddhas. He instructed the five monks about the middle path and āryasatya (perfect truth). The sight of the Law was revealed to Kauṇḍinya and to eighteen koṭis of devas. At Benares, Buddha taught the five monks that the five Skandhas (elements of being), viz., Rūpa (form), Vedanā (sensation), Saṁjñā (perception), Saṁkhāras (pre-existent dispositions), and Vijñāna (consciousness) were without any substance. They are the source of torment. They are impermanent; in recognising [158] their impermanence, the torment of which they are the source, is suppressed. Ājñātakauṇḍinya received “the privilege of strength,” the four others deprived themselves forever of the āśravas, Editor’s note: the pollutants, craving, hatred and delusion. and koṭis of devas received the Enlightenment of the Law.

The Buddha, while at ṣipatana, instructed the three bhikṣus (who had gone to Benares to beg) that one must consider one’s self to be able to discover the source of suffering; the sufferings were discovered by recognising the impermanence of suffering. The three bhikṣus received “the privilege of strength” and eighty koṭis of devas, the pure sight of the Law.

It was on the twelfth day of the second fortnight of Āṣāḍa, the shadow having one and a half the height of the objects, under the naṣkatra, Anurādha, at the hour called Vijaya, that the Buddha turned the Wheel of the Law. The five Bhadravargiyas were converted into the Buddhist faith.

Story of Pūrṇa Maitrāyaniputra

Pūrṇa was the son of a rich brahmin at Droṇavastuka in Kośala. His mother was named Maitrāyaniputra. Having heard of Siddhārtha and his doctrine, Pūrṇa devoted himself to the religious life. He had twenty-nine disciples with whom be came to ṣipatana. There they paid homage to the Buddha who ordained all of them and conferred on them the privilege of strength.

Story of Nālaka

In the village named Markaṭa in Avanti, there [159] lived a rich brahmin belonging to the Kātyāyana gotra. The brahmin was the priest of the King Ujjhebhaka Toncharaka. He had two sons named Uttara and Nālaka. Uttara used to study the Vedas with his uncle Asita. Nālaka was very intelligent. He learnt the Vedas by listening to his brother’s reading the Vedas. He came to Asita. Wonderfully gifted as he was, he devoted himself to the religious life under the direction of his uncle. By the permission of Asita he came to Benares where at that time six preachers, viz., Pūraṇa Kāśyapa, Gosālikaputra Maṣkali, Ajita Kesakambalī, Kātyāyana Kakuda, Vairaṭiputra Sañjayī, and Jñātriputra Nirgrantha, preached the dharma. Nālaka went to all of these preachers but none of them could satisfy him.

At that time there were four rich men, Saṅkha at Benares, Paduma at Mithilā, Piṅgala at Kalinga, and Elāpatra at Takṣaśilā. Every month, they used to celebrate in Benares a feast of the Saṅkha, one of the four great treasures, to which were invited rich nāgarājās. Elāpatra, the nāga king, put to the Buddha some questions, answers to which satisfied Nālaka so much that he presented himself before Buddha and asked him to give him ordination. Once ordained Nālaka put to the Buddha some questions regarding the essential laws of religious life. These questions were answered by the Buddha. They became celebrated as Nālaka questions. [160]

Story of Sabhika

There lived in Mathurā a rich banker who had an unlucky daughter whom he made over to a parivrājaka. The ascetic brought her up at the banker’s expense and gave her religious instruction; she distinguished herself by her knowledge and cleverness in the discussions. She discussed Śāstras with the ascetics. None could defeat her. At this time a brahmin learned in all Śāstras came to Mathurā from the Deccan for discussion. It was arranged that the discussion would be held between the brahman and the girl. But before the discussion commenced, the brahmin came to see the girl and at first sight both of them felt for each other a mutual passion, and decided to pledge that one who would be defeated in discussion would submit to the winner and that the girl-ascetic would willingly be defeated, so that they could easily be united without being defamed by the public. Then the discussion continued for seven days before kings, princes, and learned men. At last the girl-ascetic willingly admitted her defeat. People declared the victory of the brahmin. The girl-ascetic in accordance with the terms of the previous arrangement with the brahmin yielded to the latter and left the place of discussion. In due course the girl ascetic conceived. Both of them started for the Deccan. In the tenth month of her pregnancy they reached Śvetavalākā where they spent the night. There the girl-ascetic brought forth a son who was named Sabhika on [161] account of his being born in the meeting. Sabhika read all the Śāstras in his youth. When he came to the age of understanding, he looked for the Buddha everywhere and finally arrived at ṣipatana Mgadāva. There Sabhika put to the Buddha some questions, answers to which pleased him, and he embraced Buddha’s faith and took holy orders.

Story of Yaśoda

In Benares on the banks of the river Varaṇā, there was a huge Nyagrodha tree which granted anything that was desired. A childlesss banker of Benares was not blessed with a child even after performing many sacrifices. Along with his wife he came to the Nyagrodha tree and prayed for a son making a vow that he would build a temple for the tree and worship it with grandeur if he were blessed with a child, otherwise he would extirpate it. The god of the tree got frightened, came to Śakra and told him of his imminent danger. Śakra ordered a god of the Trayastriṁśa heaven who was approaching the end of his divine existence, to be born as a son of the banker. This god was given the hope that he would be able to receive ordination from the Buddha. He was born of the banker and was named Yaśoda.

He passed his youthful days in great happiness in palaces which were built for his residence during the autumn, the summer, and the rainy seasons. Thousands of wives were kept in different harems.

One day, when a householder came to their [162] house from the east on business, the banker was at that time in the palace on a special business. In course of his conversation with the householder, Yaśoda learnt much about the Buddha. One midnight, while the inmates were all asleep, Yaśoda left home and took refuge in the Buddha. He was given various instructions by the Buddha. He acquired knowledge and various miraculous powers.

At daybreak, Yaśoda’s parents could not find their son at home. Leaving home in the company of many men in search of their son, they reached the banks of the river. There they found their son’s sandals and began to cry. At length, they came to the Buddha and asked him about their son. Yaśoda was present there but nobody could see him. By order of the Buddha, Yaśoda demonstrated his supernatural powers by performing all sorts of miracles, such as staying in the air, etc. The Śramaṇa Ulukapakṣikabhaginī and other heretics were astonished at the sight of these miracles. The Buddha recited two stanzas to certify that it was the internal virtue and not the external practices such as having a shaved head, or matted pair, or besmearing one’s body with unguents, etc., that made a man a true monk.

He gave various instructions to Yaśoda’s parents and their companions. He discoursed on alms­giving, moral precepts, heaven, virtue, and the results of virtuous deeds. He explained to them four [163] sublime truths (ārya satya), e.g., suffering (duḥkhaṁ), the cause of suffering, (duḥkhasamudayaṁ), the cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodhaṁ), the path leading to the cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodhamārgaṁ). Yaśoda’s parents were greatly pleased to hear the Buddha and asked him to confer ordination on their son. Yaśoda received ordination from the Buddha.

“In his previous birth”, said the Buddha, “Yaśoda came of a poverty-stricken family in Benares. One day he was delighted to find the Pratyeka-Buddha Bhadrika, while on his round for alms, invited him to his house, and fed him to his satisfaction. Yaśoda then wished that he would never be born in a poor family. While Bhadrika, after taking his meal, flew away through the air like a duck, Yaśoda then desired to acquire such merit. In course of time his wishes were fulfilled.”

The Buddha being at the ṣipatana, told the five monks to go away as far as they could in order to preach his doctrine to the largest number of people. He further told them that he himself would go to Uruvilvā in order to convert the Jaṭilas, i.e., the Kāśyapas. On hearing this, Māra came there to frighten the Buddha but he was unsuccessful and went away in sorrow. The Buddha discussed that desire was transient and painful in the end and the body was also impermanent and painful in the end. Māra again came to frighten him but he fled away in fear. [164] The Bhadravargiyas said, “Shall we beg saying, ‘Bhavati bhikṣāṁ dehi’ (give me alms)?”

The Buddha said, “No, you should not ask for anything but present yourselves in silence.”

Story of Asthisena

In ancient times in Benares, there was a prince whose companion was Asthisena, son of the royal priest. Asthisena realised the existence of suffering in kāma (desire) and became a wandering religious mendicant. The prince on ascending the throne, in course of time, asked Asthisena to inform him about his desired object. Asthisena said, “Begging is unpleasant; not to get the thing prayed for is also unpleasant; so I do not want anything.” The King of Kāśī said, “One who does not take the thing when asked to pray for, cannot acquire merit, and destroys one’s own soul (ātmanā vihanyati). Asthisena retorted, “Begging is like shedding tears; not to give is to like weeping in return (Yācanāṁ rodanam-āhu adānaṁ pratirodanaṁ). An ārya saint should not beg.” The king being pleased with him presented him with a thousand bulls. Buddha was at that time Asthisena.

The bhikkhus learnt from the Buddha that in begging for their food, they would not have to ask for anything or thank for the same.

After the bhikkhus had left the place after the Varsa, the divinities of the place were sorry and enquired of the Buddha as to where they had gone. The Buddha told them, in reply, that the bhikkhus had gone to Magadha, Kośala, and [165] Vajjibhumi (Vaiśālī) as they must be sent to different countries and as they should live in isolation.

Story of three Kāśyapa brothers

The Blessed One wishing to go to Jaṭila Uruvilvā Kāśyapa created by his magical power a thousand Jaṭilas and himself in the guise of a Jaṭila took them to Uruvilvā Kāśyapa’s hermitage. Kāśyapa who had five hundred Jaṭila disciples felt diffident at the sight of a thousand Jaṭilas. He was afraid lest the people should pay more respects to the chief of the thousand Jaṭilas than to him. Buddha understood the state of his mind and caused his own clothes and the thousand disciples to disappear. Kāśyapa was astonished to mark the disappearance of the thousand Jaṭilas and to see the Buddha in his own countenance. He thought that his own miraculous power was greater than Gautama’s. Kāśyapa thought that the people would bow down to, and worship Śramaṇa Gautama.

The Buddha understood Kāśyapa’s thought and passing through the air came to the Nyagrodha tree of Ajapāla on the banks of the river Nairañjanā, at Senāpatigrāma in Uruvilvā. When the Buddha left the hermitage, people went away. Kāśyapa wished that Śramaṇa Gautama would again come to his hermitage and take his meal there. The Buddha understood Kāśyapa’s desire and returned to his hermitage. Uruvilvā [166] Kāśyapa thought that Śramaṇa Gautama could read the thoughts of others and that he himself possessed greater miraculous powers. With his own hand, he offered food to the Buddha. Kāśyapa and the members of his family stayed in the air and tried to perform a burnt-offering but the fire did not burn. They thought, “under whose influence the fire did not burn. It must be due to the influence of Śramaṇa Gautama.” Then fire burnt. They then acknowledged Śramaṇa Gautama to be the possessor of great miraculous power but they thought themselves to be superior to him. They gave offering to the fire but the offering did not fall into the fire. They thought that this was perhaps due to Gautama’s influence. Then, offerings fell into the fire. At the end of the burnt-offering, Kāśyapa and the members of his family could not come down from the sky. No sooner did they think that it was due to the Buddha’s influence than they were able to come down. They thought that Śramaṇa Gautama was possessed of great miraculous power, but they themselves were superior to him. When they were about to bring water they could not see the water­pot. They thought of the Buddha and found the water-pot. They went to the Nairañjanā river but they could not fill the water-pot. They remembered the Buddha’s influence and the water-pot was full of water. They desired to take their meal but they could not do so. As [167] soon as they thought of the influence of the Buddha they were able to take their food. After taking their meal, they wanted to fell wood but they could not hurl the raised axe. No sooner did they think that it was due to the influence of the Buddha than they were able to hurl the axe and fell wood. Though they acknowledged Gautama to be the possessor of great miraculous power, yet they could not but persevere in their presumption that their miraculous powers were greater than Gautama’s. Then the Buddha showed five hundred miracles to the three Kāśyapa brothers. The last miracle was that the Buddha desired to lie down in the room where fire burnt. In that room there lived a wicked snake, so Kāśyapa did not approve. But as soon as the Lord left his seat and entered the fire-room, the wicked snake came to his vessel. They were struck with wonder to see the fire burn and the wicked snake in the vessel. They desired to save Gautama by extinguishing fire by water. But Gautama controlled the snake and making it free from poison held it in his vessel. Uruvilvā Kāśyapa with the disciples was astonished at this spectacle. Then Uruvilvā Kāśyapa with his five hundred disciple, Nadi Kāśyapa with his three hundred disciples, and Gayā Kāśyapa with his two hundred disciples were charmed to see the miraculous power of the Buddha and became his disciples. Their miraculous powers disappeared; they put [168] on the robes of bhikkhus and took holy orders. Upasena, a nephew of the Kāśyapas, lived in a hermitage with three hundred disciples on the banks of the river Nairañjanā. He acquired four stages of mystic meditation, five supernatural faculties, and great miraculous power. One day, on seeing all the garments of his maternal uncles and their hermit’s accessories drifting along the stream, he with his pupils ran to the hermitage of his maternal uncles. He learnt everything about the Buddha from his maternal uncles; and with his pupils he became a disciple of the Buddha and took ordination.

In order to explain the story of the three Kāśyapas, the Blessed One related to the monks how they were formerly three brothers reigning together at Sinhapura in Kaliṅga. Their kingdom produced many precious gems. Taking these gems they came to King Mahendra’s kingdom, Hastināpura, where Buddha Puṣpa with his disciples used to dwell begging for alms. They offered these gems to King Mahendra who gladly accepted the offer and asked them what he could do for them. They expressed their desire that Buddha Puṣpa would very kindly spend the rainy season in their city. Their desire was fulfilled. Buddha Puṣpa with his disciples came to their kingdom, but during the rainy season he attained Nirvāṇa there. The three Kāśyapa brothers, however, honoured his remains, and raised a stūpa thereon. On leaving the hermitage of Uruvilvā Kāśyapa, [169] the Blessed One followed by his disciples, arrived at the hermitage of Dharmāraṇya, where dwelt many old and accomplished Jaṭilas. He preached to them the “Sahasravarga” of the Dharmapada and gave them the privilege of strength. They attained Nirvāṇa. The Blessed One honoured their remains and built stupas for them. He then came to the Nyagrodha of the goat-herd.

While the Buddha was staying at the foot of the Nyagrodha tree of Ajapāla, on the banks of the Nairañjanā river, the chief brahmin priest of king Bimbisāra used to repeat to him in detail the thirty-two signs of a great man every morning. The king listening to his repetitions felt like seeing a Buddha and learning his instructions.

One morning, in the company of his harem and officers, King Bimbisāra came to a neighbouring part of the town from where he could see Rājagha and its neighbours. The king felt a disgust for the objects of desire and thought thus, “where are the ancestors who built those beautiful palaces and pleasant ponds, etc.? Everything is here except the ancestors who built them. Death is certain for mankind and life to the living is full of misery.” One of the officers, seeing the king’s melancholy, tried to cheer him up, by praising the beauty of Rājagha, but this helped to make him worse. The royal priest, being more inspired, spoke to the king about the Buddha. The king was highly pleased with him, praised, and rewarded him. [170]

The Buddha with many bhikkhus came to Rājagha in Magadha and stayed in the garden at Yaṣṭivana on the Antagiri. King Bimbisāra heard of the Buddha’s advent from his priest. The king ordered his men to decorate Rājagha and to make his chariots ready. The king, the prince, the ministers, the councillors, the priests, and other persons arrived at Yaṣṭivana with great splendour. They saluted the Buddha and took their seats. The people of Rājagha were astonished to see Uruvilvā Kāśyapa as Buddha’s disciple. The Buddha understood their thoughts and had a talk with Kāśyapa. During his conversation with the Buddha, Kāśyapa recognised the inanity of his ancient customs and proclaimed that the Buddha was his master. Kāśyapa bowed down to him and paid him due respects. The people of Magadha took Kāśyapa to be a disciple of the Buddha.

The Buddha instructed the people of Rājagha on the source and the destruction of the skandhas (elements). He explained to them the impermanence of rūpa, vedanā, saṁjñā, saṁskāras, and vijñāna. He asked them to leave the last path and to follow the middle path. “Samskāra or saṅkhāra arises from ignorance; from saṅkhāra springs up knowledge; Editor’s note: this is translating vijñāna, consciousness, not knowledge. thus name and form, six internal senses, perception, suffering, desire, attachment, existence, re-birth, old age, death, etc., are produced. Everything born of ignorance is perishable.” He recited to them the pratityasamutpāda [171] (dependent origination) of the ten nidānas. At the end of the sermon a general conversation took place.

King Bimbisāra acquired knowledge on hearing Buddha’s discourse. The king and his company were greatly pleased with the Buddha and praised him.

Story of King Arindama

In ancient times, there reigned in the city of Mithilā in Videha, a king named Arindama who was very prosperous and charitable. Śroṇaka, the son of the royal priest, was the king’s playmate. He was learned and well versed in the three Vedas. He realised the sorrow in kāma (desire), and became a religious mendicant. He went to the Himalayas and practising penance acquired four meditations and five abhijñā (knowledge). He wished to have the king ordained. He came to the mango-grove of Mahādeva through the air and took his seat underneath a mango-tree. There the royal priest observed his presence and after greeting him came to Mithilā. Just at this time the king, feeling a disgust for the objects of his desire, promised a reward to the one who after enquiry would acquaint him with the whereabouts of Śroṇaka. Informed by the royal priest, the king came there riding on an elephant and seeing Śroṇaka said to him, “Why do you sit underneath the tree like a poor man?” Śroṇaka said, “I am not poor in virtue. One who does not practise virtue is really poor.” The king said to him “Why do you lie in forest? Why do [172] you stay alone in the forest? Don’t you feel physical discomfort? Please come with me to the city where I will protect you.” Śroṇaka said, “I wander alone, what shall I do with a kingdom? This is my first happiness. I wander everywhere, nobody can oppose me. This is my second happiness. I stroll about with a pot and a mendicant’s dress. This is my third happiness. If the whole of Mithilā is burnt, nothing of mine will be burnt. This is my fourth happiness.” Though the wandering ascetics belonged to different families and countries, yet they loved one another. The king was greatly delighted at Śroṇaka’s words and said to him, “Let the happiness of those of whom you have spoken, be eternal. We are tempted by passion. What shall we do?” Śroṇaka then narrated a story which runs thus – “In ancient times, an old elephant died on a mountain. The Ganges carried the corpse away. A raven was delighted to see the corpse. It settled on the floating corpse and began to eat its flesh and to drink the water of the Ganges alternately. It had not to labour any more to earn its bread. It therefore allowed itself, being careless of the consequence, to be carried away along with the corpse, by the current of the Ganges to the middle of the ocean where aquatic animals devoured the corpse together with the raven on it.” Śroṇaka further said that those who would not observe the law would be tortured in one or other of the eight hells, viz., Saṁjīva, Kālasūtra, Saṁghāta, Raurava, [173] Mahāraurava, Avīci, Tapaṇa, and Pratāpaṇa. The king at once said that he would not imitate the foolishness of the raven, and that he would take holy orders on that very day as there was no knowing when death would snatch him away. He then sent for his son Dīrghāyu, and transferred all royal powers to him. Dīrghāyu desired to follow the example of his father but he was brought away by the royal officers. A woman of the harem wishing to retain the king tried her level best to seduce him. But the king resisted the seductions, took holy orders and became a disciple of Śroṇaka.