Conversion of the Three Kassapa Brothers wandering from
place to place, in due course, the Buddha arrived at
Uruvela. Here lived three (Jatila) ascetics with matted
hair known as Uruvela Kassapa, Nadi Kassapa, and Gaya
Kassapa. They were all brothers living separately with
500, 300 and 200 disciples respectively. The eldest was
infatuated by his own spiritual attainments and was
labouring under a misconception that he was an Arahant.
The Buddha approached him first and sought his
permission to spend the night in his fire-chamber where
dwelt a fierce serpent-king. By His psychic powers the
Buddha subdued the serpent. This pleased Uruvela Kassapa
and he invited the Buddha to stay there as his guest.
The Buddha was compelled to exhibit His psychic powers
on several other occasions to impress the ascetic, but
still he adhered to the belief, that the Buddha was not
an Arahant as he was. Finally the Buddha was able to
convince him that he was an Arahant. Thereupon he and
his followers entered the Order and obtained the Higher
His brothers and their followers also followed his
example. Accompanied by the three Kassapa brothers and
their thousand followers, the Buddha repaired to Gaya
Sisa, not far from Uruvela. Here He preached the
Aditta-Pariyaya Sutta, hearing which all attained
Aditta-Pariyaya Sutta — Discourse on “All in Flames”
“All in flames, O Bhikkhus! What, O Bhikkhus, is all in
flames? Eye is in flames. Forms are in flames.
Eye-consciousness is in flames. Eye-contact is in
flames. Feeling which is pleasurable or painful, or
neither pleasurable nor painful, arising from
eye-contact is in flames. By what is it kindled? By the
flames of lust, hatred, ignorance, birth, decay, death,
sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair is it
kindled, I declare.
Reflecting thus, O Bhikkhus, the learned Ariya disciple
gets disgusted with the eye, the forms, the
eye-consciousness, the eye-contact, whatever feeling —
pleasurable, painful, or neither pleasurable nor painful
— that arises from contact with the eye. He gets
disgusted with the ear, sounds, nose, odours, tongue,
tastes, body, contact, mind, mental objects,
mind-consciousness, mind contacts, whatever feeling —
pleasurable, painful or neither pleasurable nor painful
— that arises from contact with the mind. With disgust
he gets detached; with detachment he is delivered. He
understands that birth is ended, lived the Holy Life,
done what should be done, and that there is no more of
this state again.” When the Buddha concluded this
discourse all the Bhikkhus attained Arahantship,
eradicating all Defilements.
Conversion of Sariputta and Moggallana, the two Chief
Disciples not far from Rajagaha in the village Upatissa,
also known as Nalaka, there lived a very intelligent
youth named Sariputta ( son of Sari).
Since he belonged to the leading family of the village,
he was also called Upatissa.
Though nurtured in Brahmanism, his broad outlook on life
and matured wisdom compelled him to renounce his
ancestral religion for the more tolerant and scientific
teachings of the Buddha Gotama. His brothers and sisters
followed his noble example. His father, Vanganta,
apparently adhered to the Brahmin faith. His mother, who
was displeased with the son for having become a
Buddhist, was converted to Buddhism by himself at the
moment of his death.
Upatissa was brought up in the lap of luxury. He found a
very intimate friend in Kolita, also known as Moggallana,
with whom he was closely associated from a remote past.
One day as both of them were enjoying a hill-top
festival they realized how vain, how transient, were all
sensual pleasures. Instantly they decided to leave the
world and seek the Path of Release. They wandered from
place to place in quest of Peace.
The two young seekers went at first to Sanjaya, who had
a large following, and sought ordination under him.
Before long they acquired the meager knowledge which
their master imparted to them, but dissatisfied with his
teachings — as they could not find a remedy for that
universal ailment with which humanity is assailed — they
left him and wandered hither and thither in search of
Peace. They approached many a famous brahmin and
ascetic, but disappointment met them everywhere.
Ultimately they returned to their own village and agreed
among themselves that whoever would first discover the
Path should inform the other. It was at that time that
the Buddha dispatched His first sixty disciples to
proclaim the sublime Dhamma to the world. The Buddha
Himself proceeded towards Uruvela, and the Venerable
Assaji, one of the first five disciples, went in the
direction of Rajagaha.
The good Kamma of the seekers now intervened, as if
watching with sympathetic eyes their spiritual progress.
For Upatissa, while wandering in the city of Rajagaha,
casually met an ascetic whose venerable appearance and
saintly deportment at once arrested his attention. This
ascetic’s eyes were lowly fixed a yoke’s distance from
him, and his calm face betokened deep peace within him.
With body well composed, robes neatly arranged, this
venerable figure passed with measured steps from door to
door, accepting the morsels of food which the charitable
placed in his bowl. Never before have I seen, he thought
to himself, an ascetic like this. Surely he must be one
of those who have attained Arahantship or one who is
practising the path leading to Arahantship. How if I
were to approach him and question, “For whose sake,
Sire, have you retired from the world? Who is your
teacher? Whose doctrine do you profess?” Upatissa,
however, refrained from questioning him as he thought he
would thereby interfere with his silent begging tour.
The Arahant Assaji, having obtained what little he
needed, was seeking a suitable place to eat his meal.
Upatissa seeing this, gladly availed himself of the
opportunity to offer him his own stool and water from
his own pot. Fulfilling thus the preliminary duties of a
pupil, he exchanged pleasant greetings with him and
reverently inquired:— “Venerable Sir, calm and serene
are your organs of sense, clean and clear is the hue of
your skin. For whose sake have you retired from the
world? Who is your teacher? Whose doctrine do you
profess?” The unassuming Arahant Assaji modestly
replied, as is the characteristic of all great men — “I
am still young in the Order, brother, and I am not able
to expound the Dhamma to you at length.” “I am Upatissa,
Venerable Sir. Say much or little according to your
ability, and it is left to me to understand it in a
hundred or thousand ways”.
“Say little or much,” Upatissa continued, “tell me just
the substance. The substance only do I require. A mere
jumble of words is of no avail.” The Venerable Assaji
uttered a four line stanza, thus skilfully summing up
the profound philosophy of the Master, on the truth of
the law of cause and effect.
Ye dhamma, hetuppabhava
tesam hetum tathagato Aha
tesam ca yo nirodho
evam vadi maha samano.
Of things that proceed from a cause, Their cause the
Tathagata has told, And also their cessation: Thus
teaches the Great Ascetic. Upatissa was sufficiently
enlightened to comprehend such a lofty teaching though
succinctly expressed. He was only in need of a slight
indication to discover the truth. So well did the
Venerable Assaji guide him on his upward path that
immediately on hearing the first two lines, he attained
the first stage of Sainthood, Sotapatti.
The new convert Upatissa must have been, no doubt,
destitute of words to thank to his heart’s content his
venerable teacher for introducing him to the sublime
teachings of the Buddha. He expressed his deep
indebted-ness for his brilliant exposition of the truth,
and obtaining from him the necessary particulars with
regard to the Master, took his leave.
Later, the devotion he showed towards his teacher was
such that since he heard the Dhamma from the Venerable
Assaji, in whatever quarter he heard that his teacher
was residing, in that direction he would extend his
clasped hands in an attitude of reverent obeisance and
in that direction he would turn his head when he lay
down to sleep.
Now, in accordance with the agreement, he returned to
his companion Kolita to convey the joyful tidings.
Kolita, who was as enlightened as his friend, also
attained the first stage of Sainthood on hearing the
Overwhelmed with joy at their successful search after
Peace, as in duty bound, they went to meet their teacher
Sanjaya with the object of converting him to the new
Frustrated in their attempt Upatissa and Kolita,
accompanied by many followers of Sanjaya, who readily
joined them, repaired to the Veluvana monastery to visit
their illustrious Teacher, the Buddha.
In compliance with their request, the Buddha admitted
both of them into the Order by the mere utterance of the
words — Etha Bhikkhave! (Come, O Bhikkhus!).
A fortnight later, the Venerable Sariputta, attained
Arahantship on hearing the Buddha expound the Vedana
Pariggaha Sutta to the wandering ascetic Dighanakha.
On the very same day in the evening the Buddha gathered
round Him His disciples and the exalted positions of the
first and second disciples in the Sangha were
respectively conferred upon the Theras Upatissa (Sariputta)
and Kolita (Moggallana), who also had attained
Arahantship a week earlier.