Sariputta | Dhammapada | The Story of the Giver of the First-Fruits of His Labour Sariputta

The Story of the Giver of the First-Fruits of His Labour

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (367) of this book, with reference to a brahmin who was in the habit of making five offerings of first-fruits in charity. The first-fruits here refer to the first-fruits of the field. The first-fruits of the field are given in charity at the time of harvesting, at the time of threshing, at the time of storing, at the time of cooking and at the time of filling the plate.

One day, the Buddha saw the brahmin and his wife in his vision and knew that time was ripe for the couple to attain Anagami Fruition. Accordingly, the Buddha set out for their house and stood at the door for alms food. The brahmin who was then having his meal, facing the interior part of the house, did not see the Buddha. His wife who was near him saw the Buddha, but she was afraid that if her husband saw the Buddha standing at the door for alms-food, he would offer all his rice in the plate and, in that case, she would have to cook again. With this thought in her mind, she stood behind her husband so that he would not see the Buddha; when she quietly stepped backwards and slowly came to where the Buddha was standing, and whispered to him, "Venerable Sir! We do not have any alms-food for you today." But the Buddha had decided not to leave the house; he just shook his head. Seeing this gesture, the brahmin's wife could not control herself and she burst out laughing.

At that instant, the brahmin turned round and saw the Buddha. At once he knew what his wife had done, and he cried out, "O you, my wretched wife! You have ruined me." Then, taking up his plate of rice, he approached the Buddha and apologetically requested, "Venerable Sir! Please accept this rice which I have partly consumed." To him the Buddha replied, "O brahmin! Any rice is suitable for me, whether it is not yet consumed, or is partly consumed, or even if it is the last remaining spoonful." The brahmin was very much surprised by the Buddha's reply; at the same time, it made him happy because his offer of rice was accepted by the Buddha. The brahmin next asked the Buddha by what standard a bhikkhu was judged and how a bhikkhu was defined. The Buddha knew that both the brahmin and his wife had already learned something about mind and body (nama-rupa); so he answered, "O brahmin! One who is not attached to mind and body is called a bhikkhu."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 367: He who does not take the mind-and-body aggregate (nama-rupa) as "I and mine", and who does not grieve over the dissolution (of mind and body) is, indeed, called a bhikkhu.

At the end of the discourse both the brahmin and his wife attained Anagami Fruition.
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