Things to Know about Buddha’s Disciples

Traditional Buddhist discipleship is divided into two categories: (1) specialists, who give up most of their social privileges and responsibilities to become full-time practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings, who follow a set of regulatory rules (Vinaya), and who are usually referred to as monks and nuns (bhikku and bhiku); and (2) laypeople, who express faith in the Buddha, provide material support, and receive simplified teachings that emphasize generosity, and who are referred to as laypeople (b Only humans were eligible for these two types of discipleship (In monastic ordination, there is a unique inquiry designed to exclude out disguised serpent deities).

Many monastic traditions view themselves as the continued manifestation of a lineage that stems from one of the Buddha’s personal pupils throughout history and into the current day. The rise of the original body of students is recounted in the first section of an important Vinaya literature of the Theravada tradition called the Mahvagga, and our knowledge of the Buddha’s disciples is largely obtained from scriptural sources. This book has a fascinating story of the Buddha’s first personal students. The Buddha is seen sitting beneath different trees in the region of Bodh Gaya in the early weeks of his post-enlightened life, gradually connecting with other creatures, encounters through which his following is begun and increases. Buddha quotes on karma presented by may also followed by his disciples.

Surprisingly, these contacts aren’t always good or beneficial, and the text implies that the formation of a disciple community was not a predetermined conclusion. There is no record of the encounter’s conclusion, which may represent the tumultuous connection that existed between the Buddhist community and Brahmanical society’s highest-ranking stratum. The early Buddhist group profited greatly from recruitment among the merchant class, as evidenced by both textual and archaeological sources, and was geographically scattered over the major commercial routes of ancient India and beyond.

He heads out towards Benares, where they still live, and encounters Upaka, a jvaka practitioner who acknowledges the Buddha’s spiritual qualities but, when given the option to follow him, just exclaims “Maybe!” and walks away. jtakauinya (Pli, Atakoaa), Vpa (Vappa), Bhadrika (Bhaddiya), Mahnman (Mahnma), and Avajit (Assaji) are finally won over by the Buddha’s presence and vocal teachings and become his first five ordained followers, in the sequence just mentioned. This is followed by rapid growth, which begins with the conversion of a local playboy named Yaa (Yasa) into a monk.

Soon after, Yaa’s parents join the order as lay followers, implying a pattern of family discipleship that was undoubtedly repeated in other families with children who joined the group. At this point, the Buddha demands that his full-time pupils, now numbering sixty, roam the countryside at will and impart his teachings. As a result, the monastic community grows, stretching the Buddha’s ability to serve as a personal teacher to each new member. Soon after, the Buddha enables current followers to ordain fresh recruits, and the Buddha’s circle of personal discipleship was thought to be geographically restricted. Despite the fact that the community grew outside of the Buddha’s direct authority, he continued to gain personal disciples throughout his life, and the records detail the Buddha’s contacts with a variety of people.

Nanda was the Buddha’s cousin who served as his personal friend or attendant for almost thirty years. Because of Ananda’s knowledge of the Buddha’s life, he was invited to recite all of the Buddha’s lectures at the first Buddhist council following the Buddha’s death. He is also shown as a supporter of female ordination into the monastic order, which the Buddha appears to believe will shorten the community’s lifespan, and it is with Nanda’s help that the Buddha ultimately ordains his aunt and foster-mother Mahprajpat Gautam (Mahappjapat). After the early death of his mother, Mahprajpat reared Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be, but she was dissatisfied with her job as a lay disciple. As a result, she became the first bhikun, and the Buddha honored her as the longest-serving female disciple.

Dhammadinna, whom the Buddha regarded as the greatest in preaching, was one of the other female followers who rose to prominence. After encountering Assaji and being converted by him, Riputra went on to find Mahmaudgalyyana, and the Buddha ordained them both as his major followers. He named Anthapiada (Anthapiika) as the most generous of his male lay followers, and Citra (Citta) as the head of dharma instructors (Woodward, pp. The Buddha singles out many additional followers for different types of personal greatness (Woodward, pp. Upagupta, who was highly adored among Southeast Asian Buddhists and became the focus of worship and ritual there, and Anthapiada (Anthapiika), whose name means “feeding of the impoverished,” are two other prominent pupils.

Anthapiada, a banker and possibly the Buddha’s most renowned lay follower, purchased the famed Jetavana (Jeta’s Grove) at rvast for the Buddha and had a monastery established there. Anthapiada’s dying sadness, according to the texts, sprang from the realization that the Buddha had saved his greater teaching solely for his monastic disciples (Horner, pp. Devadatta, the Buddha’s first cousin, and a traitorous monk and student is also noted for plotting to assassinate the Buddha and split the sagha.

Surprisingly, the Chinese traveler Faxian claimed in the early fifth century c.e. that Devadatta still had a substantial following in the Buddhist homeland, who worshipped not kyamuni but the three buddhas before him. A number of these disciples coninue to emerge as protagonists in later levels of Buddhist canonical literature.