Book Two, Part VI—Conversion of the Low and the Lowly

1. *Conversion of Upali, the Barber* -- 2. *Conversion of Sunita, the Sweeper* -- 3. *Conversion of Sopaka and Suppya, the Untouchables* -- 4. *Conversion of Sumangala and other Low Castes* -- 5. *Conversion of Suprabuddha, the Leper*

§ 1. Conversion of Upali, the Barber

    1. While going back, Upali the barber thought, "The Sakyans are a fierce people. If I go back with these ornaments, they will kill me, thinking that I have killed my companions and run away with their ornaments. Why should I not go the way these young men of the Sakya clan have gone?"
    2. "Why indeed should I not?" asked Upali to himself. And he let down the bundle of ornaments from his back, and hung it on a tree, saying, "Let him who finds it take it as a gift," and returned to follow the Sakya youths.
    3. And the Sakyans saw him coming from afar, and on seeing, they said to him, "What have you come back for, good Upali? "
    4. Then he told them what he felt, and they replied, "Thou has done well, good Upali, in that thou did[st] not return; for the Sakyans are fierce, and they might have killed thee."
    5. And they took Upali the barber with them to the place where the Blessed One was. And on arriving there, they bowed down before the Blessed One and took their seats on one side. And so seated, they said to the Blessed One:
    6. "We Sakyans, Lord, are haughty. And this Upali, the barber, has long been an attendant, Lord, upon us. May the Blessed One admit him to the Order before us, so that we may render him respect and reverence, and bow down with outstretched hands before him as our senior and thus shall the Sakyan pride be humbled in us!"
    7. Then the Blessed One received first Upali the barber, and afterwards those young men of the Sakya clan, into the ranks of the Order.

§ 2. Conversion of Sunita, the Sweeper

    1. There lived in Rajagraha a scavenger, by name Sunita. He earned his living as a road sweeper, sweeping away the rubbish thrown by the householders on the roadside. His was a low and hereditary occupation.
    2. One day in the early hours of the dawn, the Blessed One rose, dressed himself, and walked into Rajagraha for alms, followed by a large number of Bhikkus.
    3. Now Sunita was cleaning the street, collecting scraps, rubbish, and so on into heaps, and filling therewith the basket which he carried on a yoke.
    4. And when he saw the Master and his train approaching, his heart was filled with joy and awe.
    5. Finding no place to hide in on the road, he placed his yoke in a bend in the wall, and stood as if stuck to the wall, saluting the Lord with clasped hands.
    6. Then the Lord, when he had come near, spoke to him in voice divinely sweet, saying, "Sunita! What to you is this wretched mode of living? Can you endure to leave home and come into the Order?"
    7. And Sunita, experiencing the rapture of one who has been sprinkled with Ambrosia, said, "If even such as the Exalted One may in this life take Orders, why should I not? May the Exalted One suffer me to come forth."
    8. Then the Master said, "Come, Bhikku!" And Sunita by that word received sanction and ordination and was invested with bowl and robes.
    9. The Master, leading him to the Vihar, taught him the Dhamma and the Discipline, and said, "By the discipline of holy life, restraint and mastery of self, a man becomes holy."
    10. When asked how Sunita became so great, the Buddha said, "As on a rubbish-heap on [a] highway cast, a lily may grow, fragrant and sweet, so among rubbish-creatures, worldlings blind, by insight shines the very Buddha's child."

§ 3. Conversion of Sopaka and Suppiya, the Untouchables

    1. Sopaka was a pariah of Shravasti. In her travail at his birth, his mother fell into a long deep swoon, so that her husband and kinsfolk said "She is dead!" And they bore her to the cemetery and prepared to cremate her body.
    2. But on account of the storm of wind and rain, the fire would not burn. So they went away, leaving Sopaka’s mother on the funeral pyre.
    3. Sopaka's mother was not then dead. She died afterwards. Before her death she gave birth to a child.
    4. The child was adopted by the watchman of the cemetery, and was brought up by him along with his own child Suppiya. The child was known by the name of the community, Sopaka, to which its mother belonged.
    5.  The Blessed Lord one day happened to pass by the cemetery. Sopaka, seeing the Lord, approached him. After saluting the Lord, he asked his permission to join him as his disciple.
    6.  Sopaka was then only seven years old. So the Lord asked him to obtain his father's consent.
    7. Sopaka went and fetched his father. The father saluted the Lord, and requested him to admit his son to the Order.
    8. Notwithstanding that he belonged to the pariah community, the Lord admitted him to the Order, and instructed him in the doctrine and discipline.
    9. Sopaka later became a Thera.
    10. Suppiya and Sopaka had grown together from childhood; and Sopaka having been adopted and brought up by Suppiya's father, Suppiya learned the Lord's doctrine and discipline from his companion, Sopaka, and requested Sopaka to admit him to the Order, although Sopaka belonged to a community which was lower in rank than the community to which Suppiya belonged.
    11. Sopaka agreed; and Suppiya, a member who belonged to the despised community whose occupation was to perform the duties of watchmen in the cemetery, became a Bhikku.

§ 4. Conversion of Sumangala and other Low Castes

    1. Sumangala was a peasant of Shravasti. He earned his living by work in the fields, working with a little sickle, plough and spade.
    2. Channa was a native of Kapilavatsu, and was a slave in the house of Suddhodana.
    3. Dhanniya was a resident of Rajagraha. He was a potter.
    4. Kappata-Kura was a native of Shravasti. The only way he knew of to support himself, was to go about, clad in rags, pan in hand, seeking for rice-grains. Hence he became known as Kappata-Kura--"Rags and-rice." When grown up, he maintained himself by selling grass.
    5. All of them sought from the Buddha permission to become Bhikkus and enter the Order. The Buddha, without hesitation and without caring for their low birth or their previous condition, admitted them into the Order.

§5. Conversion of Supprabuddha, the Leper

    1. Once the Exalted One was staying near Rajagraha, in the bamboo grove, at the squirrels' feeding-ground.
    2. Now there lived in Rajagraha at that time a certain man who was a leper, named Supprabuddha, a poor, wretched, miserable creature.
    3. And it happened at that time that the Exalted One was sitting there in the midst of a great multitude, teaching the Dhamma.
    4. And Supprabuddha, the leper, saw from afar the multitude gathered together, and at the sight he thought, "Without a doubt an alms-giving of food, both hard and soft, is toward yonder. Suppose I draw near to yonder crowd, I might get there something to eat, food soft or hard."
    5. So Supprabuddha, the leper, drew near that crowd, and he beheld the Exalted One sitting there amid a great crowd, preaching the Norm. So, seeing the Exalted One he thought, "No. There is no alms-giving here of food. It is Gotama the Samana preaching the Dhamma in the assembly. Suppose I were to listen to his teaching."
    6. So he sat down at one side, thinking, "I too will listen to the teaching."
    7. Now the Exalted One, reading with His thought the thoughts of that whole gathering, said to Himself, "Who, I wonder, of these present, is able to grasp the Truth?" Then He saw Supprabuddha, the leper, sitting in the crowd; and at the sight of him He knew, "This one can grasp the Truth."
    8. So for the sake of Supprabuddha, the leper, the Master preached a sermon, dealing in due order with these topics: on alms-giving, on the holy life, and on the heaven-world; and He pointed out the meanness and vileness of sensual desires, and the profit of freedom from the asavas.
    9. Now when the Exalted One saw that the heart of Supprabuddha, the leper, was softened, pliant, set free, elated, and full of faith, then He set forth to him the Dhamma most excellent of the Buddha: to wit, suffering, the cause of suffering, the ceasing of suffering, and the path.
    10. Then, just as a white cloth, free from stains, is ready to receive the dye, even so in Supprabuddha, the leper, as he sat there in that very place, arose the pure stainless insight of the Truth, the knowledge that whatsoever hath a beginning, that also must have an end. And Supprabuddha, the leper, saw the Truth, reached the Truth, perceived the truth, plunged into the Truth, crossed beyond doubting, was freed from all questionings, won confidence, and needing nothing further, being established in the Master's teaching, sprang up from his seat and drew near to Him, and there he sat down at one side.
    11. So seated he said to the Exalted One, "Excellent, O Lord, Excellent, O Lord, just as if, Lord, one should lift up the fallen, discover the hidden, point out the way to one bewildered, show a light in the gloom, saying, 'Now they who have eyes to see can see shapes,' even so in diverse ways has the Exalted One expounded the truth. I, even I, Lord, do go for     refuge to the Exalted One, to the Norm and to the Order of Brethren. May the Exalted One accept me as His follower, as one who from this time forth even to life's end has gone to refuge in Him."
    12. Thereupon Supprabuddha, the leper, being taught, established, roused, and made happy by the Exalted One's pious talk, praised and welcomed His words, gave thanks and rose up from his seat, saluted the Exalted One by the right, and went away.
    13. Unfortunately it came to pass that a young calf flung the leper Supprabuddha down and gored him to death.


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