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Kassapa






At that time there lived in Uruvela the Jatilas, Brahman hermits
with matted hair, worshipping the fire and keeping a fire-dragon;
and Kassapa was their chief.

Kassapa was renowned throughout all India, and his name was
honored as one of the wisest men on earth and an authority on
religion.

And the Blessed One went to Kassapa of Uruvela, the Jatila, and
said: "Let me stay a night in the room where you keep your sacred
fire."

Kassapa, seeing the Blessed One in his majesty and beauty,
thought to himself: "This is a great muni and a noble teacher.
Should he stay over night in the room where the sacred fire is
kept, the serpent will bite him and he will die." And he said: "I
do not object to your staying over-night in the room where the
sacred fire is kept, but the serpent lives there; he will kill
you and I should be sorry to see you perish."

But the Buddha insisted and Kassapa admitted him to the room
where the sacred fire was kept.

And the Blessed One sat down with his body erect, surrounding
himself with watchfulness.

In the night the dragon came to the Buddha, belching forth in
rage his fiery poison, and filling the air with burning vapor,
but could do him no harm, and the fire consumed itself while the
World-honored One remained composed. And the venomous fiend
became very wroth so that he died in his anger.

When Kassapa saw the light shining forth from the room he said:
"Alas, what misery! Truly, the countenance of Gotama the great
Sakyamuni is beautiful, but the serpent will destroy him."

In the morning the Blessed One showed the dead body of the fiend
to Kassapa, saying: "His fire has been conquered by my fire."

And Kassapa thought to himself. "Sakyamuni is a great samana and
possesses high powers, but he is not holy like me."

There was in those days a festival, and Kassapa thought: "The
people will come hither from all parts of the country and will
see the great Sakyamuni. When he speaks to them, they will
believe in him and abandon me." And he grew envious.

When the day of the festival arrived, the Blessed One retired and
did not come to Kassapa. And Kassapa went to the Buddha on the
next morning and said: "Why did the great Sakyamuni not come?"

The Tathagata replied: "Didst thou not think, O Kassapa, that it
would be better if I stayed away from the festival?"

And Kassapa was astonished and thought: "Great is Sakyamuni; he
can read my most secret thoughts, but he is not holy like me."

And the Blessed One addressed Kassapa and said: "Thou seest the
truth, but acceptest it not because of the envy that dwells in
thy heart. Is envy holiness? Envy is the last remnant of self
that has remained in thy mind. Thou art not holy, Kassapa; thou
hast not yet entered the path."

And Kassapa gave up his resistance. His envy disappeared, and,
bowing down before the Blessed One, he said: "Lord, our Master,
let me receive the ordination from tin. Blessed One."

And the Blessed One said: "Thou, Kassapa, art chief of the
Jatilas. Go, then, first and inform them of thine intention, and
let them do as thou thinkest fit."

Then Kassapa went to the Jatilas and said: "I am anxious to lead
a religious life under the direction of the great Sakyamuni, who
is the Enlightened One, the Buddha. Do as ye think best."

And the Jatilas replied: "We have conceived a profound affection
for the great Sakyamuni, and if thou wilt join his brotherhood,
we will do likewise."

The Jatilas of Uruvela now flung their paraphernalia of
fire-worship into the river and went to the Blessed One.

Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa, brothers of the great Uruvela
Kassapa, powerful men and chieftains among the people, were
dwelling below on the stream, and when they saw the instruments
used in fire-worship floating in the river, they said: "Something
has happened to our brother." And they came with their folk to
Uruvela. Hearing what had happened, they, too, went to the
Buddha.

The Blessed One, seeing that the Jatilas of Nadi and Gaya, who
had practised severe austerities and worshipped fire, were now
come to him, preached a sermon on fire, and said:

"Everything, O Jatilas, is burning. The eye is burning, all the
senses are burning, thoughts are burning. They are burning with
the fire of lust. There is anger, there is ignorance, there is
hatred, and as long as the fire finds inflammable things upon
which it can feed, so long will it burn, and there will be birth
and death, decay, grief, lamentation, suffering, despair, and
sorrow. Considering this, a disciple of the Dharma will see the
four noble truths and walk in the eightfold path of holiness. He
will become wary of his eye, wary of all his senses, wary of his
thoughts. He will divest himself of passion and become free. He
will be delivered from selfishness and attain the blessed state
of Nirvana."

And the Jatilas rejoiced and took refuge in the Buddha, the
Dharma, and the Sangha.





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