Life of the Buddha

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(Part Two) 20. The Quarrel at Kosambi

In the ninth year of his ministry, the Buddha was residing at Kosambi. While he was there, a quarrel arose between two parties of monks. One party consisted of experts in the disciplinary code or the Vinaya rules; the others were experts in the Dharma, or the teachings.

The Buddha tried in various ways to settle the quarrel peacefully, but finally, when his efforts failed, he left them without a word, taking only his bowl and robes, and retired to the Paileyyaka Forest.

During his time in the forest, an elephant ministered to the needs of the Buddha. The elephant cleared a portion of the forest in the midst of which stood a stone cave. Each day the elephant brought fruits as offerings to the Buddha. One day a monkey, who had watched the elephant making his offerings, brought a honeycomb as an offering too.

Meanwhile, the people of Kosambi found out that the Buddha had gone alone to the Paileyyaka Forest because of the quarreling amongst the monks. When they heard these stories, they stopped offering alms to the monks. News of this reached Ananda at Savatthi. At the end of the rainy season Ananda decided to visit the Buddha and told him that people everywhere were eager to hear the Dharma from him, especially the people at Savatthi. In this way the Buddha was persuaded to return to Savatthi and some time after this, the quarreling monks came to seek the Buddha’s forgiveness. It was because of the quarrel at Kosambi that the Buddha gave a discourse in which he said:

“One should associate with the wise, not the foolish.
It would be better to live alone if we cannot find good friends.
There is no companionship with the foolish.”