The Buddha's dwelling miraculously escapes a heavy flood; the ascetics are amazed and ask to go forth
The reason the Buddha made a journey to teach the three ascetic brothers, as already explained, was because these three brothers were famous teachers widely respected in those times. Bringing famous ascetics into the fold of his own ministry was an important strategy in spreading his own teaching, which was new. If he could convince these powerful ascetics, his spreading the teaching would be much easier and more effective.
Thus the Buddha had gone to the ashram of the three ascetic brothers, who believed themselves to be Arahats, and he tamed them by showing or proving to them that they were not in fact Arahats as they believed. The Buddha gradually showed them that the qualities they believed to be so special were not in fact so.
They believed that the naga king was of mighty power, but the Buddha had made him coil up in his bowl. When a great flood arose, the ascetics thought that the Buddha must have surely drowned, and took boats to go and find him, only to find that he was walking meditation under the surface of the water.
The Pathamasambodhi states: "The Buddha spent two full months converting the ascetics, after which the ascetic who led the largest group, Uruvela Kassapa, becoming disillusioned, realized that he was not an Arahat as he had at first mistakenly believed. His realization was a result of the power of the Buddha's silent teaching.
Thus the leader of the ascetic group floated his fire-worshipping gear on the Neranjara River, bowed at the Buddha's feet and asked for acceptance as a disciple. The two younger brothers who lived downstream, seeing their older brother's gear floating down the river, thought that some accident must have befallen him and went to see what had happened.
When the two brothers found out what had happened they also became followers of the Buddha. The Buddha gave a teaching to the assembled ascetics and all of them became Arahats. And so the Buddha received a further 1,000 monks to his Order.
Copyright © 2002 Mahidol
University All rights reserved.