52. And the thought arose in him: "I have heard it said by old and venerable wandering ascetics, teachers of teachers, that the arising of Wayfarers (tathagathas), Liberated Ones (arhants), Fully Enlightened Teachers (buddhas) is rare in the world. Yet this very day, in the last watch of the night, the final passing of the ascetic Gautama will take place. Now there is in me a doubt. But to this extent I have faith in the ascetic Gautama -- that he could so teach me the Dharma so as to remove that doubt."
53. Then the wandering ascetic Subhadda went to the Sal tree grove, the pleasure park of the Mallas, and drew near to the [sad and preoccupied] Ven. Ananda, and told him his thought, saying: "Friend Ananda, it would be good if I could be allowed into the presence of the ascetic Gautama."
54. But Ven. Ananda answered him, saying: "Enough, friend Subhadda! Do not trouble the Wayfarer. The Blessed One is weary."
55-56. Yet a second and a third time the wandering ascetic Subhadda made his request, and a second and a third time Ven. Ananda refused him.
57. The Buddha heard the talk between them, and he called Ven. Ananda and said: "Stop, Ananda! Do not refuse Subhadda. Ananda, Subhadda may be allowed into the presence of the Wayfarer. For whatever he will ask me, he will ask for the sake of knowledge, not as an offense. And the answer I give him he will readily understand."
58. Then Ven. Ananda said to the wandering ascetic Subhadda: "Go then, friend Subhadda, the Blessed One gives you leave."
59. The wandering ascetic Subhadda approached the Buddha, saluted him courteously, and having exchanged with him pleasant and civil greetings, he seated himself respectfully at one side, saying: "There are, Ven. Gautama, wandering ascetics and brahmin priests who are heads of great companies of disciples, who have large retinues, who are leaders of schools, well known and renowned, held in high esteem by the multitude, such the teachers
- Purana Kassapa
- Makkhali Gosala
- Ajita Kesakambali
- Pakudha Kaccayana
- Sañjaya Belatthaputta
- Nigantha Nataputta [Mahavira, the founder of Jainism].
Have all of these attained realization, as each of them would have it believed, or has none of them, or is it that some have attained realization and others not?"
60. "Enough, Subhadda! Let it be as it may, whether all of them have attained realization, as each of them would have it believed, or whether none of them has, or whether some have attained realization and others not. I will teach you the Dharma, Subhadda; listen and heed it well, and I will speak."
"So be it, venerable sir."
The Buddha's Lion's Roar
61. And the Buddha spoke, saying: "In whatsoever teaching (dharma) and discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true wandering ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of enlightenment (saintliness).
But in whatsoever dharma and discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness.
Now in this Dharma and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path. And in it alone are also found true ascetics of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of enlightenment.
Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers. But if, Subhadda, the recluses live rightly, the world will not be destitute of saints.
62. "In age but 29 was I, Subhadda,
When I renounced the world to seek the Good;
Fifty-one years have passed since then, Subhadda,
And in all that time a wanderer have I been
In the domain of virtue and of truth,
And except therein, there is no saint
(of the first degree).
"And there is none of the second degree, nor of the third degree, nor of the fourth degree of saintliness. Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers. But if, Subhadda, the recluses live rightly, the world will not be destitute of saints."
63. When this was said, the wandering ascetic Subhadda spoke to the Buddha, saying: "Excellent, O venerable sir, most excellent, O venerable sir! It is as if, venerable sir, one were to set upright what had been overthrown, or to reveal what had been hidden, or to show the path to one who had gone astray, or to light a lamp in the darkness so that those with eyes might see -- even so has the Blessed One set forth the Dharma in many ways [suggesting he must have said more than is recorded here]. And so, O venerable sir, I go for guidance (sarana) to the Blessed One, the Dharma, and the Community of wandering ascetics. May I receive from the Blessed One admission to the Community and also the higher ordination."
64. "Whoever, Subhadda, having been formerly a follower of another creed (dharma or teaching), wishes to receive admission and higher ordination in this Dharma and Discipline, remains on probation for a period of four months. At the end of those four months, if the recluses are satisfied with him, they grant him admission and higher ordination as a recluse. Yet in this matter I recognize differences among people."
65. "I... will remain on probation for a period of four years. And at the end of those four years, if the recluses are satisfied with me, let them grant me admission and higher ordination as a recluse."
66. But the Buddha called Ven. Ananda and said to him: "Ananda, let Subhadda be given admission into the Community." Ven. Ananda replied: "So be it, venerable sir."
67. Then the wandering ascetic Subhadda said to Ven. Ananda: "It is a gain to you, friend Ananda, a blessing, that in the presence of the Buddha himself you have received the sprinkling of ordination as a disciple."
68. So it came about that the wandering ascetic Subhadda, in the presence of the Buddha, received admission and higher ordination. And from the time of his ordination Ven. Subhadda remained alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute [determined to reach the ultimate goal].
And before long he attained to the goal for which a worthy person goes forth rightly from the household life into homelessness, the supreme goal of the monastic life. And having by himself realized it with higher knowledge, he dwelt in it. He knew, "Destroyed is birth; the higher life is fulfilled; nothing more is to be done, and beyond this nothing more remains." Ven. Subhadda became yet another among the saints, the last disciple liberated by the Buddha himself. More