Saṁyutta 5, Mahā Vagga 12, Sacca Saṁyutta 2, Dhammacakkappavattana Vagga 1
Dhamma,cakka Pavattana Sutta
Traditional: Dhamma,cakka-p,pavattana Sutta The Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Truth S 56.11 = Mv 1.6.16-31
Short name: Dhamma,cakka Sutta, The Dharma-wheel Discourse
Theme: The Buddha’s first discourse
Translated by Piya Tan ©2002, rev 2010
1 The 5 monks and the first discourse
After the 49 day-retreat in the vicinity of the Bodhi tree,1 the Buddha leaves to look for the group of 5 monks. On the way, he meets Upaka, who has the honour of hearing the Buddha’s first declaration of awakening, but fails to fathom its significance. The Buddha continues his journey to the deer park at Benares (Bārāasī) in stages and finally reaches Isi,patana (modern Sarnath), about 7 km north of Benares.2 As is the custom, he rests in the outskirts of Vārāas and waits until morning to enter the city. Having collected his almsfood, taken his wash and eaten his meal, he heads straight for the hermitage where the 5 monks are.
It is said that the Buddha gives his first discourse on the night of the full moon day of sāha (June3 July), a festival still celebrated today amongst south-east Asian Buddhists as sāha Pjā. The first sangha that arises from this momentous discourse comprises Koaa, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahānāma and
On these 7 weeks, see Dhamma & Abhidhamma, SD 26.1 (5).
The distance the Buddha travels here should be noted: it is some 200 km from Gayā to Benares, and by road the distance is about 250-300 km, which will take some 10 days by foot (Nakamura, 2000:241). It would not be surprising if the Buddha has taught many others along the way, but what records we have of this must have been lost. 3
V 1:10 ff; S 5:420 ff.; Mvst 3:330 f; Lalv 540(416) f. The Pali names of the ancient Indian calendar follow Vism 621 and its kā (based on āamoli’s A Pali-English Glossary of Buddhist Technical Terms, 1994), with the Skt names (within brackets) and number of days added:
Māga,sira (Skt Mārga,ra)
sāha or Uttar’āsāḷha (āha)
[*Puya also called Paua; Phālguna also called Phaggu; Proha,pada also called Bhādra,pada.] Note: The Indian month begins on the first day of the waning moon and ends on the full moon.
S 56.11/5:420-424 = Mv 1.6.16-31 @ V 1:10-12 • Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Assaji. Since Āsāha Pjā commemorates the teaching of the first discourse, it is often known as “Dharma day.”4
The Jātaka Commentary and Milinda,pañha mention “the five teachers” of the Bodhisattva, actually totalling 12, since the first “teacher” is really the group of 8 brahmins (Rāma, Dhaja, Lakkhaa, Mantī, Yañña or Koṇḍañña, Suyāma, Bhoja or Subhoja, Sudatta) who examines the Bodhisattva’s bodily marks during the nativity. The other three are Sabba,mitta (the deva who is said to inspire the Bodhisattva to go forth), āra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta (J 1:56; Miln 237). Koṇḍañña is said to be the youngest of the eight brahmins who visit the Bodhisattva at his nativity. While seven others hold up two fingers, prophesying that the child would become either a world ruler or, if he goes forth, a world teacher, the Buddha. Koṇḍañña alone holds up only one finger, certain that the child would leave home to become the Buddha. When the Bodhisattva renounces the world, Koṇḍañña approaches the sons of...
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