The Buddha stays at the ket tree; the Four Great Kings offer him a bowl; a devata tells two merchants to go and see the Buddha
After the Buddha had stayed under the jik or mucalinda tree for seven days, he journeyed on to a tree known in Pali as the rajayatana. It was situated down to the left of the Great Bodhi tree. Rajayatana is usually translated as "Mai Ket" It is a tree of the pikul family. The writer has seen one in the area surrounding the Pathoma Cetiya in Nakhon Pathom, planted by the government during the reign of Rama V. The trees are now big. They look like pradoo trees.
While the Buddha was staying here he was visited by two traveling merchants, who also made offerings to him. One of these merchants was named Tapussa, the other Bhallika. They were traveling in a caravan of many hundreds of carts (500 according to the Pathamasambodhi) and had come from the Ukkala country. Seeing the Buddha sitting under the ket tree, the two merchants were inspired and offered to him some of the dried rice cakes they had brought along as provisions for their journey.
The Buddha received the food from the two caravan merchants in a stone bowl which had been offered to him by the Four Great Kings. When he had finished his meal, the two caravan merchants declared themselves to be followers of the Buddha, taking the Buddha and the Dhamma, his teaching, as refuge.
In brief, the two merchants declared themselves to be Buddhists. Thus the two merchants were the first Buddhists, or followers of the Buddha, in the world. That the merchants declared themselves to have taken refuge in these two refuges [the Buddha and his Teaching, rather than the now traditional three refuges of Buddha, Teaching, and Order of Buddhist followers] is because at that time the third refuge, the Sangha, or monastic order, had not yet come into existence, as the Buddha had not yet begun to teach.
The Pathamasambodhi relates how after the two caravan merchants had declared themselves to be Buddhists, they asked the Buddha for a memento of some form before taking leave. The Buddha lifted his right hand and stroked his hair. The text continues, "Then eight strands of hair of the color of the wings of a carpenter bee ... fell down onto the palm of his hand."
The Buddha then offered those eight strands of hair to the caravan merchants to use as objects of worship. Delighted, the two merchants bowed and took their leave.
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