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Jun 12th
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Home History General The Buddha's Life - Meeting with Upaka

The Buddha's Life - Meeting with Upaka

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Article Index
The Buddha's Life
Noble and Ignoble Quests
Renunciation of Worldly Life
Meeting Alara, the Great Ascetic
Meeting the Sage Udaka
Practising Extreme Austerities
Mara's Persuasion
Right Reasoning
The Enlightenment
Giving First Sermon
Meeting with Upaka
Group of Five Monks
All Pages

Meeting with Upaka

The Blessed One set out for Benares. Some previous Enlightened Ones had made the same journey by means of miracles. Our Lord Gotama Buddha, however, proceeded on foot for the purpose of meeting the naked ascetic Upaka on the way, to whom he had something to impart.

The Buddhavamsa Commentary and the Jataka commentary state that the Blessed One started on the journey on the full-moon of Waso. As the deer Sanctuary in Benares was eighteen yojanas (142 miles) away from the Bo Tree and the Blessed One made the journey on foot, the distance could not have been covered in one day unless done miraculously. It would be appropriate, therefore, if we fixed the starting date on the sixth waxing of Waso.


The Blessed One had not gone far from the Bodhi Tree on the way to Gaya (six miles) when he came upon the naked ascetic Upaka, a disciple of the great leader Nataputta of the Naked Sect. On seeing the Blessed One, Upaka addressed him,

"Your countenance, friend, is clear and serene; your complexion is pure and bright. In whose name have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? Of whose teaching do you profess?" The Blessed One replied:

Sabbabhibha sabbaviduhamasami
Sabbesu Dhammesu anupalitto
Sabbinjaho tanhakkhaye vimutto
Sayam Abinnaya kamuddiseyyam.

I am one who has overcome all . . . (while common worldlings are affected by what is seen or heard, ending up in suffering, the Blessed One transcends all and remains serene, countenance clear).

Who knows all,
I am one who has overcome all,
I am detached from all things;
Having abandoned everything, obtained emancipation,
By the destruction of desire.
Having by myself gained knowledge,
Whom should I call my master?

The Blessed One made known his status more emphatically as follows:

na me acariyo atthi I have no teacher,
sadiso me na vijjati One like me is not,
sadevakasmim lokasmin In the world of men and gods,
natthi me patipuggalo None is my counterpart.

Upon this Upaka wondered whether the Blessed One had gained the Arahatship . The Buddha replied:

Aham hi araha loke I, indeed, am the Arahat in the world
Aham sattha anuttaro The teacher with no peer,
Ekomhi Sammasambuddho The sole Buddha, supreme, enlightened
Sitibhutosami Nibbuto All passions extinguished, I have gained Peace, nibbāna .

Upaka then asked the Blessed One where he was bound for and on what purpose.

"To start in motion the Wheel of Law, I go to the Kasis town. In the world of blind beings, I shall beat the drum of the Deathless," replied the Blessed One.

Upon this Upaka queried: "By the manner in which you profess yourself, are you worthy to be an infinite Conqueror?"

And the Buddha said:

Madisa ve jina honti, Ye patta Asavakkhayam
jita me papaka Dhamma, Tasamahamupaka jino.

"Those are the Conquerors who, like me, have reached the extinction of cankers. I have vanquished all thoughts, ideas, notions of evil (sinfulness). For that reason, Upaka, I am a Jina, a Conqueror, a victorious One."

Upaka belonged to the sect of naked ascetics under the leadership of Nataputta who was addressed by his disciples as Jina, the Conqueror. The Blessed One in his reply explained that only those who have really extinguished the cankers, eradicated the defilements, like him, are entitled to be called a Jina.


After this declaration by the Blessed One that he was truly an infinite Conqueror, the naked ascetic Upaka muttered: "It may be so, friend," shook his head and giving way to the Blessed One, went on his journey.

It is important to note carefully this event of Upaka's meeting with the Buddha. Here was Upaka coming face to face with a truly Enlightened One, but he did not realize it. Even when the Blessed One openly confessed that he was indeed a Buddha, Upaka remained skeptical because he was holding fast to the wrong beliefs of the naked ascetic sect. In these days too, there are people who follow wrong paths, refuse to believe when they hear about the right method of practice. They show disrespect to and talk disparagingly of those practising and teaching the right method. Such misjudgments arising out of false impression or opinion should be carefully avoided.

Even though he did not evince complete acceptance of what the Buddha said, Upaka appeared to have gone away with a certain amount of faith in the Buddha, as he came back to the Buddha after some time. After leaving the Buddha, he later got married to Capa (Chawa), a hunter's daughter, and when a son was born of the marriage, he became weary of the household life and became a recluse under the Blessed One. Practising the Buddha's teaching, he gained the stage of Once-returner, the Anagami. On passing away, he reached the Realm of Suddavasa Aviha , ( Brahma World), where he soon attained Arahatship . Foreseeing this beneficial result which would accrue out of his meeting with Upaka, the Blessed One set out on foot on his long journey to Benares and answered all the questions asked by Upaka.


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