Uruvela The Place Of Mortification

The Bodhisatta went in search of a better system and came to a

settlement of five bhikkhus in the jungle of Uruvela; and when

the Blessed One saw the life of those five men, virtuously

keeping in check their senses, subduing their passions, and

practising austere self-discipline, he admired their earnestness

and joined their company.

With holy zeal and a strong heart, the Sakyamuni gave himself up

to meditative thought and rigorous mortification of the body.

Whereas the five bhikkhus were severe, the Sakyamuni was severer

still, and they revered him, their junior, as their master.

So the Bodhisatta continued for six years patiently torturing

himself and suppressing the wants of nature. He trained his body

and exercised his mind in the modes of the most rigorous ascetic

life. At last, he ate each day one hemp-grain only, seeking to

cross the ocean of birth and death and to arrive at the shore of


And when the Bodhisatta was ahungered, lo! Mara, the Evil One,

approached him and said: "Thou art emaciated from fasts, and

death is near. What good is thy exertion? Deign to live, and thou

wilt be able to do good works." But the Sakyamuni made reply: "O

thou friend of the indolent, thou wicked one; for what purpose

hast thou come? Let the flesh waste away, if but the mind becomes

more tranquil and attention more steadfast. What is life in this

world? Death in battle is better to me than that I should live


And Mara withdrew, saying: "For seven years I have followed the

Blessed One step by step, but I have found no fault in the


The Bodhisatta was shrunken and attenuated, and his body was like

a withered branch; but the fame of his holiness spread in the

surrounding countries, and people came from great distances to

see him and receive his blessing.

However, the Holy One was not satisfied. Seeking true wisdom he

did not find it, and he came to the conclusion that mortification

would not extinguish desire nor afford enlightenment in ecstatic


Seated beneath a jambu-tree, he considered the state of his mind

and the fruits of his mortification. His body had become weaker,

nor had his fasts advanced him in his search for salvation, and

therefore when he saw that it was not the right path, he proposed

to abandon it.

He went to bathe in the Neranjara river, but when he strove to

leave the water he could not rise on account of his weakness.

Then espying the branch of a tree and taking hold of it, he

raised himself and left the stream. But while returning to his

abode, he staggered and fell to the ground, and the five bhikkhus

thought he was dead.

There was a chief herdsman living near the grove whose eldest

daughter was called Nanda; and Nanda happened to pass by the spot

where the Blessed One had swooned, and bowing down before him she

offered him rice-milk and he accepted the gift. When he had

partaken of the rice-milk all his limbs were refreshed, his mind

became clear again, and he was strong to receive the highest


After this occurrence, the Bodhisatta again took some food. His

disciples, having witnessed the scene of Nanda and observing the

change in his mode of living, were filled with suspicion. They

were convinced that Siddhattha's religious zeal was flagging and

that he whom they had hitherto revered as their Master had become

oblivious of his high purpose.

When the Bodhisatta saw the bhikkhus turning away from him, he

felt sorry for their lack of confidence, and was aware of the

loneliness in which he lived. 12 Suppressing his grief he

wandered on alone, and his disciples said, "Siddhattha leaves us

to seek a more pleasant abode."

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