When Buddha’s sublime message reached the world | Daily News
Esala Poya:

When Buddha’s sublime message reached the world

Buddha’s First Sermon
Buddha’s First Sermon

“Aparuta tesan amatassa dvara - Ye sotavanto pamugnchantu saddhan
Vihimsasagngnii pagunam nabhasin, - Dhamman panitan manujesu brahme thi.”

(Open are the doors to the Deathless to those with ears. Let them show their conviction. Perceiving trouble, O Brahma, I did not tell people the refined, sublime Dhamma.) (Aryapariyesana Sutta – Majjhima Nikaya- 26)  

These words were spoken to Brahma Sahampathi by the Buddha just after Enlightenment.

During the fifth week after the Enlightenment, the Buddha stayed at the foot of the Ajapala Banyan Tree. The Buddha was at first reluctant to teach the Dhamma that he had realized. He considered, “Enough now with teaching what only with difficulty I reached. This Dhamma is not easily realized by those overcome with aversion and passion. What is abstruse, subtle, deep, hard to see, going against the flow – those delighting in passion, cloaked in the mass of darkness, won’t see.”

Having known with his own awareness, the line of thinking in the Buddha’s awareness Sahampati Maha Brahma immediately appeared before the Buddha and invited him to preach Dhamma.

Accepting the invitation of Sahampathi Maha Brahma, the Buddha first looked at the nature of other beings with the eye of an Awakened One. Then the Buddha realized that the beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace and danger in the other just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses – born and growing in the water – might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being splashed by the water.

The Buddha with great compassion towards other beings decided to preach Dhamma in order to escape the beings from lust and grand illusion. He uttered that the Buddha has opened the path to Nibbana and those who are delighted to listening to the Buddha’s teachings, may they develop Shraddha (devotion). Since the Dhamma is hard to realize, he was wondering to whom he should teach the Dhamma first and who will quickly understand the Dhamma?

He first thought to preach Dhamma to Ascetic Alara Kalama, who had taught him meditation to attain the realm of infinite consciousness, but the Devas told him that he had passed away the week before. Next, he thought about Uddaka Ramaputta, but the Devas told him that Uddaka Ramaputta had also passed away the previous night.

Then the Buddha decided to preach the Dhamma first to the five ascetics who attended on him when he was resolute in exertion. With the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human, the Buddha saw that they were staying near Varanasi in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then the Buddha left Bodhgaya for Varanasi by foot.

On his way to Varanasi, Upaka the Ajivaka saw the Buddha and asked the Buddha, “Clear, my friend, are your faculties. Pure is your complexion, and bright. On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?”

The Buddha replied him, “All-vanquishing, all-knowing am I, with regard to all things, unadhering. All-abandoning, released in the ending of craving, having fully known on my own, to whom should I point as my teacher? I have no teacher, and one like me can’t be found. In the world with its Devas, I have no counterpart. For I am an Arahant in the world; I, the unexcelled teacher. I, alone, am rightly self-awakened. Cooled am I, unbound. To set rolling the wheel of Dhamma I go to the city of Kasi. In a world become blind, I beat the drum of the Deathless.”

“’From your claims, my friend, you must be an infinite defeater.’ ‘Defeaters are those like me who have reached fermentations’ end. I’ve conquered evil qualities, and so, Upaka, I’m a conqueror.’ “When this was said, Upaka said, ‘May it be so, my friend,’ and — shaking his head, taking a side-road he left.

“Then, the Buddha arrived at Varanasi, at the deer park in Isipatana, to where the group of five monks was staying. Seeing him coming, the five ascetics agreed not to greet him, or to offer him water or a seat, because in their view he had reverted to a life of comfort, and had abandoned the struggle for Enlightenment. Their view was that Enlightenment could only be attained by self-mortification – by punishing the body to remove attachment. However, when the Buddha approached, the five ascetics could not adhere to their agreement and one greeted the Buddha and received the robe and bowl. Another spread out a seat. Another set out water for washing the Buddha’s feet. However, they addressed me by name and as Ayushmathun (friend). The Buddha said not to call him Ayushmathun since he had attained Enlightenment and urged them to listen to him.

It was on Esala Full Moon Poya Day, the Buddha preached the First Sermon, Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta to the five ascetics Kondangna, Wappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji.  

When the Buddha was coming to the deer park at Isipathana, the millions and billions of gods and Brahmas were waiting to listen to the First Dhamma Sermon by the Buddha. The gods and Brahmas were waiting for many years to learn Dhamma from the Buddha. The Five Ascetics were so blessed to listen to the first sermon preached by the Buddha. When the first Dhamma Sermon was preached, the darkness of the entire world system was dispelled.  

Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta – Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dhamma

The sermon consisted of the central teachings of the Buddha – the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. In the end, Kondangna Thera attained the first stage of sainthood.

Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta marked the birth of the Triple Gem – Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.

The Middle Path

The First Noble Truth – The Noble Truth of suffering
The Second Noble Truth – The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering
The Third Noble Truth – The Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering
The Fourth Noble Truth – The Noble Truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering

This Noble Eightfold Path itself, namely, Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

When the Wheel of the Dhamma had been set in motion by the Buddha, thus at that moment, the voice spread as far as the Brahma-world, and this thousand-fold world system (Dasa Dahasak Sakwala) trembled and an immeasurable glorious radiance appeared in the world surpassing the divine majesty of the Devas.

Then the Buddha uttered this inspired word (the Udana): “Kondanna has indeed understood! Kondanna has indeed understood!” In this way, the Venerable Kondanna acquired the name Agngna Kondanna – ‘Who Has Understood’.

This marks the beginning of the transmission of the Buddha’s understanding to others. The commentary adds that millions of Brahmas and countless Devas also realized Nibbana while listening to the Dhammachakka Sutta. Hearing this, Devas and Brahmas of all the other planes also raised the same joyous cry.


1. A Dhamma sermon by late Most Ven Nauyane Ariyadhamma Maha Thera

2. A Dhamma Sermon by Ven Galigamuwe Gnanadeepa Thera  

3. Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

4. Introduction to the First Discourse: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta by Narada Maha Thera

5. Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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