Uruvela Kassapa announces himself a disciple of the Buddha before King Bimbisara at the palmyra grove

When the Buddha had "tamed" the ascetics of the schools of the three brothers, i.e., had cured them of their mistaken notions about themselves being Arahats, such that they readily became his disciples, he proceeded with the next stage of his plan in spreading the teaching, which was to enter the city of Rajagaha.

At that time Rajagaha was the capital city of both the state of Magadha and the state of Anga. It was a heavily populated city ruled by King Bimbisara. This king had already met the Buddha before his enlightenment, as already related.

The Buddha together with his 1,000 disciples, the former fire-worshipping ascetics, who had previously worn animal skins but were now wearing the yellow robe of the Buddhist monk [bhikkhu], came to a park known as Latthivana, the palmyra grove, just outside the city and stopped to stay there.

The townsfolk were excited to hear that a great gathering of ascetics with the ascetic Gotama, the Buddha, had arrived at the outskirts of the city, and so they poured out to see them. Even King Bimbisara himself went to see.

The townsfolk approached the Buddha and greeted him in different ways, some holding their hands together in greeting, some sitting down, some announcing themselves and their clans. Many of them were not sure who, between the Buddha and Uruvela Kassapa, the famous leader of the fire-worshipping ascetics, was the teacher and who the student.

In order to relieve them of their doubts, the Buddha asked Uruvela Kassapa why he had renounced his previous doctrine. He answered loudly, in front of the crowd, that his previous teaching was worthless, not the path to liberation from suffering. Having said that, he rose and bowed at the Buddha's feet, clearly showing the citizens of Rajagaha who was the teacher and who the student. Seeing this, the townsfolk were filled with wonder.

After the townsfolk had settled down, the Buddha gave a Dhamma teaching, at the end of which a great number of the people declared themselves followers of the Buddha, while another large number, including King Bimbisara himself, became Stream Enterers.
 

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