his long ministry of forty-five years the Buddha walked widely
throughout the northern districts of India. But during the rains
retreat (vassa), he generally stayed in one place. Here
follows a brief sketch of his retreats gathered from the texts:
year: Vârânasi. After the first proclamation of
the Dhamma on the full moon day of July, the Buddha spent the
first vassa at Isipatana, Vârânasi.
2nd, 3rd, and 4th years: Râjagaha (in the Bamboo Grove,
Veluvana). It was during the third year that Sudatta, a householder
of Sâvatthi known for his bounty as Anâthapindika,
"the feeder of the forlorn," having heard that a Buddha
had come into being, went in search of him, listened to him,
and having gained confidence (saddhâ) in the Teacher,
the Teaching, and the Taught (the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha),
attained the first stage of sainthood (sotâpatti).
He was renowned as the chief supporter (dâyaka)
of the Master. Anâthapindika had built the famous Jetavana
monastery at Sâvatthi, known today as Sahet-mahet, and
offered it to the Buddha and his disciples. The ruins of this
monastery are still to be seen.
year: Vesâli. The Buddha kept retreat in the Pinnacled
Hall (kûtâgârasâlâ). It
was at this time that King Suddhodana fell ill. The Master visited
him and preached the Dhamma, hearing which the king attained
perfect sanctity (arahatta), and after enjoying the bliss
of emancipation for seven days, passed away. The Order of Nuns
was also founded during this time.
year: Mankula Hill. Here the Buddha performed the "Twin
Wonder" (yamaka pâtihâriya). He did
the same for the first time at Kapilavatthu to overcome the
pride of the Sakyas, his relatives.
year: Tâvatimsa (the Heaven of the Thirty-three). Here
the Buddha preached the Abhidhamma or the Higher Doctrine to
the deities (devâs) headed by his mother Mahâmâyâ,
who had passed away seven days after the birth of Prince Siddhartha,
and was reborn as a deva in the Tâvatimsa.
year: Bhesakalâ Forest (near Sumsumâragiri). It
was here that Nakulapitâ and his wife, a genial couple,
came to see the Buddha, told him about their very happy married
life, and expressed the wish that they might continue to live
together both here and hereafter. These two were placed by the
Buddha as chiefs of those that win confidence.
year: Kosambi,at the Ghosita Monastery.
year: Pârileyyakka Forest. It was in the tenth year that,
at Kosambi, a dispute arose between two parties of monks owing
to a trivial offence committed by a monk. As they could not
be reconciled, and as they did not pay heed to his exhortation,
the Buddha retired to the forest. At the end of the vassa,
their dispute settled, the monks came to Sâvatthi and
begged pardon of the Buddha.
year: Village of Ekanâla (in the Magadha country). It
was here that the Buddha met the brahmin farmer Kasibhâradvâja
who spoke to the Buddha somewhat discourteously. The Buddha,
however, answered his questions with his characteristic sobriety.
Bhâradvâja became an ardent follower of the Buddha.
It was on this occasion that the very interesting discourse,
Kasibhâradvâja Sutta (Sutta-nipâta), was delivered.
(Read The Book of Protection by this
year: Verañja. The introduction of the Vinaya is attributed
to the twelfth year. It was also during this retreat that the
brahmin Verañja came to see the Buddha, asked a series
of questions on Buddhist practices, and being satisfied with
the answers, became a follower of the Blessed One. He invited
the Master and the Sangha to spend the rainy season (vassa)
at his village Verañja. At that time there was a famine.
The Buddha and his disciples had to be satisfied with very coarse
food supplied by horse merchants. As it was the custom of the
Buddha to take leave of the inviter before setting out on his
journeying, he saw the brahmin at the end of the vassa.
The latter admitted that though he had invited the Buddha and
his disciples to spend the retreat at Verañja, he had
failed in his duties towards them during the entire season owing
to his being taxed with household duties. However, the next
day he offered food and gifts of robes to the Buddha and the
year: Câliya Rock (near the city of Câlika). During
this time the elder Meghiya was his personal attendant. The
elder being attracted by a beautiful mango grove near a river
asked the Buddha for permission to go there for meditation.
Though the Buddha asked him to wait till another monk came,
he repeated the request. The Buddha granted him permission.
The elder went, but to his great surprise he was oppressed by
thoughts of sense pleasures, ill will, and harm, and returned
disappointed. Thereupon the Buddha said: "Meghiya, for
the deliverance of the mind of the immature, five things are
conducive to their maturing: (1) a good friend; (2) virtuous
behaviour guided by the essential precepts for training; (3)
good counsel tending to dispassion, calm, cessation, enlightenment
and Nibbâna; (4) the effort to abandon evil thoughts,
and (5) acquiring of wisdom that discerns the rise and fall
year: Jetavana monastery, Sâvatthi. During this time the
Venerable Râhula, who was still a novice (sâmanera),
received higher ordination (upasampadâ). According
to the Vinaya, higher ordination is not conferred before the
age of twenty; Ven. Râhula had then reached that age.
year: Kapilavatthu (the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha). It
was in this year that the death occurred of King Suppabuddha,
the father of Yasodharâ.
year: City of Âlavi: During this year Âlavaka, the
demon who devoured human flesh, was tamed by the Buddha. He
became a follower of the Buddha. For Âlavaka’s questions
and the Master’s answers read the Âlavaka Sutta, in the
Sutta-nipâta. (See The Book of
Protection, by this author.)
year: Râjagaha, at Veluvana Monastery. During this time
a well-known courtesan, Sirimâ, sister of Jivaka the physician,
died. The Buddha attended the funeral, and asked the king to
inform the people to buy the dead body,the body that attracted
so many when she was alive. No one cared to have it even without
paying a price. On that occasion, addressing the crowd, the
Buddha said in verse:
this painted image, a body full of wounds,
heaped up (with bones), diseased,
the object of thought of many, in which
there is neither permanence nor stability."
year: Câliya Rock. During this time a young weaver’s daughter
met the Buddha and listened to his discourse on mindfulness
of death (maranânussati). On another occasion
she answered correctly all the four questions put to her by
the Master, because she often pondered over the words of the
Buddha. Her answers were philosophical, and the congregations
who had not given a thought to the Buddha word, could not grasp
the meaning of her answers. The Buddha, however, praised her
and addressed them in verse thus:
is this world;
few here clearly see.
Like a bird that escapes from the net,
only a few go to a good state of existence."
heard the Dhamma and attained the first stage of sanctity (sotâpatti).
But unfortunately she died an untimely death. (For a detailed
account of this interesting story, and the questions and answers,
see the Commentary on the Dhammapada, Vol. III, p.170,
or Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, Part 3, p.14.)
year: Câliya Rock.
year: Râjagaha, at Veluvana Monastery.
the 21st year till the 43rd year: Sâvatthi.
these twenty-four vassas, eighteen were spent at Jetavana
Monastery, the rest at Pubbârâma. Anâthapindika
and Visâkhâ were the chief supporters.
year: Beluva (a small village, probably situated near Vesâli),
where the Buddha suppressed, by force of will, a grave illness.
the 45th year of his Enlightenment, the Buddha passed away at
Kusinârâ in the month of May (vesâkha)
before the commencement of the rains.
the first twenty years of the Buddha’s life, the bhikkhus Nâgasamâla,
Nâgita, Upavâna, Sunakkhatta, Sâgata, Râdha,
and Meghiya, and the novice (sâmanera) Cunda
attended upon him, though not regularly. However, after the
twentieth year, the Buddha wished to have a regular attendant.
Thereon all the great eighty arahats, like Sâriputta and
Moggallâna, expressed their willingness to attend upon
their Master. But this did not meet with his approval. Perhaps
the Buddha thought that these arahats could be of greater service
the elders requested Ânanda Thera, who had kept silent
all this while, to beg of the Master to be his attendant. Ânanda
Thera’s answer is interesting. He said, "If the Master
is willing to have me as his attendant, he will speak."
Then the Buddha said: "Ânanda, let not others persuade
you. You on your own may attend upon me."