Back to BuddhaSutra.com

Gotama's First Masters

Kalama And Ramaputta

Translation by Lord Chalmers

Yes, I myself too, in the days before my full enlightenment, when I was but a bodhisattva, and not yet fully enlightened, - I too, being subject in myself to rebirth, decay and the rest of it, pursued what was no less subject thereto. But the thought came to me: Why do I pursue what, like myself, is subject to rebirth and rest? Why, being myself subject thereto, should I not, with my eyes open to the perils which these things entail, pursue instead the consummate peace of Nirvana, which knows neither rebirth nor decay, neither disease nor death, neither sorrow nor impurity?

There came a time when I, being young, with a wealth of coal-black hair untouched by gray and in all the beauty of my early prime despite the wishes of my parents, who wept and lamented-cut off my hair and beard, donned the yellow robes and went forth from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage. A pilgrim now, in search of the right, and in quest of the excellent road to peace beyond compare, I came to A1ara Kalama and said --It is my wish, reverend Kalama, to lead the higher life in this your Doctrine and Rule. Stay with us, venerable sir, was his answer; my Doctrine is such that ere long an intelligent man can for himself discern, realize, enter on, and abide in, the full scope of his master's teaching. Before long, indeed very soon, I had his Doctrine by heart. So far as regards mere lip-recital and oral repetition, I could say off the (founder's) original message and the elders' exposition of it, and could profess, with others, that I knew and saw it to the full. Then it struck me that it was no Doctrine merely accepted by him on trust that Alara Ka1ama, preached, but one which he professed to have entered on and to abide in after having discerned and realized it for himself; and assuredly he had real knowledge and vision thereof. So I went to him and asked him up to what point he had for himself discerned and realized the Doctrine he had entered on and now abode in.

Up to the plane of Naught, answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Alara Kalama was not alone in possessing faith, perseverance, mindfulness, rapt concentration, and intellectual insight; for, all these were mine too. Why, I asked myself, should not I strive to realize the Doctrine, which he claims to have entered on and to abide in after discerning and realizing it for himself? Before long, indeed very soon, I had discerned and realized his Doctrine for myself and had entered on it and abode therein. Then I went to him and asked him whether this was the point up to which he had discerned and realized for himself the Doctrine, which he professed. He said yes; and I said that I had reached the same point for myself. It is a great thing, said he, a very great thing for us, that in you, reverend sir, we find such a fellow in the higher life. That same Doctrine which I for myself have discerned, realized, entered on, and profess, that have you for yourself discerned, realized, entered on and abide in; and that same Doctrine which you have for yourself discerned, realized, entered on and profess, that have I for myself discerned, realized, entered on, and profess. The Doctrine, which I know, you too know; and the Doctrine, which you know, I too know. As I am, so are you; and as you are, so am I. Pray, sir, let us be joint wardens of this company! In such wise did Alara Kalama, being my master, set me, his pupil, on precisely the same footing as himself and show me great worship. But, as I bethought me that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of Naught and not to Renunciation, passion-less-ness, cessation, peace, discernment, enlightenment and Nirvana, I was not taken with his Doctrine but turned away from it to go my way.

Still in search of the right, and in quest of the excellent road to peace beyond compare, I came to Uddaka Ramaputta and said; It is my wish, reverend sir, to lead the higher life in this your Doctrine and Rule. Stay with us . . . vision thereof. So I went to Uddaka Ramaputta and asked him up to what point he had for himself discerned and realized the Doctrine he had entered on and now abode in.

Up to the plane of neither perception nor non-perception, answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Uddaka Ramaputta was not alone in possessing faith . . . show me great worship. But, as I bethought me that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of neither perception nor non-perception, and not to Renunciation, passion-less-ness, cessation, peace, discernment, enlightenment and Nirvana, I was not taken with his Doctrine but turned away from it to go my way.

Still in search of the right, and in quest of the excellent road to peace beyond compare, I came, in the course of an alms-pilgrimage through Magadha, to the Camp Township at Uruveld and there took up my abode. Said I to myself on surveying the place: Truly a delightful spot, with its goodly groves and clear flowing river with ghats and amenities, hard by a village for sustenance. What more for his striving can a young man need whose heart is set on striving? So there I sat me down, needing nothing further for my striving.

Subject in myself to rebirth-decay-disease-death-sorrow-and impurity, and seeing peril in what is subject thereto, I sought after the consummate peace of Nirvana, which knows neither sorrow nor decay, neither disease nor death, neither sorrow nor impurity; this I pursued, and this I won; and there arose within me the conviction, the insight, that now my Deliverance was assured, that this was my last birth, nor should I ever be reborn again.

Back to BuddhaSutra.com