Sutra: The First Five Converts

Green-BuddhaAnd the Blessed One, wandering from place to place, came to Benares, to the deer park Isipatana, to the place where the five monks were.

And the five monks saw the Blessed One coming from afar; when they saw him, they took counsel with each other, saying: Friends, there comes the ascetic Gautama, a man of full habit, who has wavered in his exertions, and who has turned away to luxury. Let us not salute him, nor rise from our seats when he approaches, nor take his bowl and his robe from his hands. But let us put there a seat; if he likes, let him sit down.

But when the Blessed One gradually approached near unto those five monks, the five monks kept not their agreement. They went forth to meet the Blessed One; one took his bowl and his robe, another prepared a seat, a third one brought water for the washing of the feet, a footstool, and a towel.

Then the Blessed One sat down on the seat they had prepared; and when he was seated, the Blessed One washed his feet. Now they addressed the Blessed One by his name and with the appellation “Friend.”

When they spoke to him thus, the Blessed One said to the five monks: “Do not address, monks, the Tathágata by his name and with the appellation ‘Friend.’ The Tathágata, monks, is the holy, perfectly ever Enlightened One. Give ear, O monks. The immortal has been won by me: I will teach you; to you I preach the Dharma. Do you walk in the way I show you, and you will live ere long, even in this life, having fully known yourselves, having seen face to face that incomparable goal of the holy lifefor the sake of which clansmen rightly give up the world and go forth into the houseless state.”

When he had spoken thus, the five monks said to the Blessed One: “By those observances, friend Gautama, by those practices, by those austerities, you have not won to power surpassing that of men, nor to higher knowledge and vision. How will you now, living with full habit, having given up your exertions, having turned to luxury, be able to obtain power surpassing that of men, and the higher knowledge and vision?”

When they had spoken thus, the Blessed One said to the five monks: “The Tathágata, O monks, does not live with full habit, he has not given up exertion, he has not turned to luxury. The Tathágata monks, is the holy, most fully Enlightened One. Give ear, O monks, the Immortal has been won; I will teach you; to you I will preach the Dharma. Do you walk in the way I show you; You will live ere long, even in this life, having fully known yourselves, having seen face to face that incomparable goal of the holy life, for the sake of which clansmen rightly give up the world and go forth into the houseless state.”

(A second and third time, the five monks make the same remonstrance, and the Buddha makes the same reply.)

When they had spoken thus, the Blessed One said to the five monks: “Do you admit, monks, that I have never spoken to you in this way before this day?”

The monks replied, “You have never spoken so, lord.”

“The Tathágata, monks, is the holy, fully Enlightened One. Give ear, O monks, the Immortal has been won; I will teach you; to you I will preach the Dharma. Do you walk in the way I show you; You will live ere long, even in this life, having fully known yourselves, having seen face to face that incomparable goal of the holy life, for the sake of which clansmen rightly give up the world and go forth into the houseless state.”

And the Blessed One was able to convince the five monks; and the five monks again listened willingly to the Blessed One; they gave ear and fixed their mind on the knowledge imparted to them.