The Buddha, His Life and Teachings

The Last Convert

At that time, a wandering ascetic named Subhadda, who was at Kusinârâ, heard the news of the Blessed One’s approaching death; and in order to clear up certain doubts that troubled his mind, he hurried to the Sâla Grove to speak to the Buddha. The Venerable Ânanda, however, did not wish the Buddha to be disturbed in his last moments, and though Subhadda made several appeals, access to the Master was refused. The Blessed One overheard the conversation. He knew at once that Subhadda was making his investigations with a genuine desire for knowledge; and knowing that Subhadda was capable of quickly grasping the answers, he desired that Subhadda be allowed to see him.

Subhadda’s uncertainty was whether the leaders of the other schools of thought such as Pûrana Kassapa, Nigantha Nâtaputta, and others had attained a true understanding. The Blessed One then spoke:

“In whatsoever Doctrine and Discipline (dhamma-vinaya), Subhadda, the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, neither in it is there found a man of true saintliness of the first, or of the second, or of the third, or of the fourth degree. And in whatsoever Doctrine and Discipline, Subhadda, the Noble Eightfold Path is found, in it is found the man of true saintliness of the first, and the second, and the third, and the fourth degree.n58 Now, in this Doctrine and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path, and in it too are found the men of true saintliness of all the four degrees. Void are the systems of other teachers, void of true saints. And in this one, Subhadda, may the brethren live the life that is right, so that the world be not bereft of arahats.”

Hearing the words of the Blessed One, Subhadda gained confidence, and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. Furthermore, he desired to be admitted into the Order, and the Buddha requested the Venerable Ânanda to receive him. Subhadda thus became the last convert and the last disciple of the Blessed One, and before long by his strenuous effort he attained the final stage of arahatship.