[I: The First Teachings]

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[6: Deciding Who to Teach] These titles written between square brackets are added by the present editor to help outline the story.01

Then this occurred to the Gracious One: Cf. MN 26 and 85, and the version of this story in Mahāvastu, for which see Uruvilvā to Ṛṣipatana elsewhere on this website.02 “To whom should I teach the first Dhamma-teaching? Who will be able to understand the Dhamma quickly?”

Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “This Āḷāra Kālāma Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta (see below), were among the Bodhisatta's early teachers (see MN 26). Another teacher is mentioned at the beginning of ThiA., as Bhaggava, whose doctrine (samaya) he learned before going to Āḷāra Kālāma.03 is wise, learned, intelligent, for a long time he has been one with little dust on his eyes. Now what if I teach the first Dhamma-teaching to Āḷāra Kālāma? He will be able to understand the Dhamma quickly.” In Mahāvastu and Lalitavistara the order in which he thought of these teachers is reversed, which is perhaps more logical as Rāmaputta was considered to be at a higher level that Kālāma.04

Then an invisible god Comm to Aṅg. 6.62: Antarahitā means one who has become invisible.05 informed the Gracious One: “Āḷāra Kālāma died An idiom, literally: made time.06 seven days ago, venerable Sir,” and this knowledge arose in the Gracious One: “Āḷāra Kālāma died seven days ago.” Comm: This is the cosmic equivalent of the level of meditation that he had taught to the Bodhisatta.07 Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “Āḷāra Kālāma had great understanding, if he had heard this Dhamma he would have understood it quickly.”

Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “To whom should I teach the first Dhamma-teaching? Who will be able to understand the Dhamma quickly?” Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “This Uddaka Rāmaputta is wise, learned, intelligent, for a long time he has been one with little dust on his eyes. Now, what if I teach the first Dhamma-teaching to Uddaka Rāmaputta? He will be able to understand the Dhamma quickly.”

Then an invisible god informed the Gracious One: “Uddaka Rāmaputta died yesterday evening, According to Mahāvastu and Lalitavistara he had died three days earlier. The Pāḷi commentary says he had been reborn in the Sphere of Neither-Pereception-nor-Non-Perception, again the level of meditation he had reached, the ‘8th level’ of absorption. Part of the Formless Worlds, it is the highest level in the Universe, 17 levels higher than the Mahābrahmā Worlds, from which Brahmā Sahampati had descended.08 venerable Sir,” and this knowledge arose in the Gracious One: “Uddaka Rāmaputta died yesterday evening.” Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “Uddaka Rāmaputta had great understanding, if he had heard this Dhamma he would have understood it quickly.”

Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “To whom should I teach the first Dhamma-teaching? Who will be able to understand the Dhamma quickly?” Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “The group-of-five monks It is interesting that even here the group-of-five are referred to as monks (bhikkhū), before they were Awakened or had even been ordained by the Buddha, this is not the case in Mahāvastu.09 were very helpful to me, they attended on me when I was striving resolutely.

Now, what if I teach the first Dhamma-teaching to the group-of-five monks?” Then this occurred to the Gracious One: “Where are the group-of-five monks dwelling now?” The Gracious One saw with the divine eye which is purified and surpasses than of (normal) men that the group-of-five monks were dwelling near Bārāṇasī, in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Uruvelā, where the Buddha Awakened, was in Magadha, whereas Bārāṇasī was the capital of the neighbouring state of Kāsi.10