Life of the Buddha

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(Part Two) 8. The Buddha and the Farmer

Once the Buddha was in the village of Ekanala, in Magadha. The rain had fallen and it was planting time. In the early morning, when the leaves were still wet with dew, the Buddha went to the field where Kasibharadvaja, a Brahmin and farmer, had five hundred ploughs at work. When the Blessed One arrived, it was the time for the Brahmin to distribute food to the workers. The Buddha waited there for his alms food, but when the Brahmin saw him he sneered and said, “I plough and sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat. O ascetic, you also should plough and sow, and having ploughed and sown, you should eat.”

“O Brahmin, I too plough and sow,” replied the Buddha. “And having ploughed and sown, I eat.”

The puzzled Brahmin said, “You claim that you plough and sow, but I do not see you ploughing.”

The Buddha replied, “I sow faith as the seeds. My discipline is the rain. My wisdom is my yoke and plough. My modesty is the plough-head. The mind is the rope. Mindfulness is the ploughshare and the goad. I am restrained in deeds, words and food. I do my weeding with truthfulness. The bliss I get is my freedom from suffering. With perseverance I bear my yoke until I come to nirvana. Thus, I have done my ploughing. It brings the fruit of immortality. By ploughing like this, one escapes all suffering.”

After this explanation, the Brahmin realised his error and said, “May the Venerable Gotama eat the milk-rice! The Venerable Gotama is a farmer, since his crops bear the fruit of Deathlessness!” So saying, the Brahmin filled a large bowl with milk-rice and offered it to the Buddha.

The Buddha refused the food, saying that he could not accept food in return for his teachings.

The Brahmin fell at the feet of the Buddha and asked to be ordained into the order of monks. And not long after, Kasibharadvaja became an arahant.