Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spreading the Message of the Dhamma- Gothama Buddha urges his first 60 disciples to go forth spreading the Dhamma

Sending the first 60 disciples out to teach
 (Source of this post – Manual of Buddhism – by Venerable Narada Thera)

After delivering the discourse on the Dhammacakka, to the five Waggiya bhikkhus, the Buddha remained in Benares, at Isipatana, Deer park.  (today's “Varanasi” in Sarnath – ancient suttas refer to this place as “Baranasi”). 

During this time there lived in Banares a young man called Yasa.  He was a millionaire who lived in luxury. Hearing about the Buddha, and realizing the futility of worldly life, he stole away from home at night to see the Buddha. The Buddha invited him to sit down spoke to him.

While listening,  Yasa became a “Stream winner” – “Sothapanna”[1].  Later he ordained and became fully enlightened as an Arahant. His father who came looking for Yasa also met the Buddha and hearing the Dhamma from Him became so inspired and took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.  He was the first “Upasaka”[2], the first lay disciple of the Buddha.

He then invited the Buddha and Venerable Yasa to his house for a meal (alms).  When the Buddha, visited his house and explained the Dhamma, Venerable Yasa’s mother, and former wife also became inspired and sought refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and became the first two Upāsikās.

Venerable Yasa had 54 friends, they all heard about Yasa’s ordination, and thereafter, met the Buddha, and were so moved that they became ordained themselves and later attained Arahantship. Then there were sixty Arahants excluding the Buddha in this world. (The five Vaggiya Bhikkus, Yasa and his fifty four friends : 5+1+54 =60)

The Buddha spent the rainy season at the Deer Park at Isipatana in Benares, in retreat as it was not favorable to travel during the rains. After the rains, He called all His 60 followers,  all of them were now Arahants (Fully enlightened beings)  to come before Him.  He then, dispatched them in various directions to spread the Sublime Dhamma for the benefit of mankind thus:’

 "Caratha bhikkave carikan, bahujana hitaya, bahujana sukhaya.................  .........  ......."

 “Go  forth, O Bhikkus, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men.....  Let not two go by one way.  Preach, O Bhikkhus, the Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end, both in spirit and in the letter.  Proclaim the Holy Life, altogether perfect and pure”

“There are beings but with a little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Dhamma, will fall away.  There will be those who understand the Dhamma.”

“I, too,  O Bhikkhus, will go to Uruvela in Senānigāma, in order to preach the Dhamma.”

 With this exhortation the Buddha despatched His First sixty disciple Arhants in various directions.

[1] Sothapanna is a person who realizes mainly “self-less-ness”, by ridding off “Sakkaya – ditthi”. Sakkaya ditthi means ignorant self view that one holds onto as the body is “me” and “ mine”
[2] A layman who takes refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, (the Triple Gem)is called an Upāsaka . A laywoman who takes refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is called an Upāsikā.