54. The first Buddhist council
About seven days after the Buddha had passed away, the Venerable Mahakassapa heard of His death, while he was resting on his way from Pava to Kusinara together with 500 Theras. All the junior Theras were plunged in deep grief and were weeping and lamenting. But a monk named Subhadda, who had entered the Order in his old age, was the only one that rejoiced over His death. “Grieve not, brothers,” said he, “weep not, we are now delivered of that Great Ascetic. He constantly worried us, saying ‘This is proper, this is not proper’. Now we are free to do what we like.”
These unexpected words that fell from the lips of a disciple alarmed the Venerable Mahakassapa who became very concerned about the future of the Buddha’s religious system, but kept quiet. When the Buddha’s relics had been distributed, the Venerable Mahakassapa consulted the other Theras and suggested to them to hold a Council of leading Arahants to collect, classify and rehearse the teachings of the Buddha in order to protect and fortify the Sasana against such attacks as might be expected from monks of the type of Subhadda. They all welcomed the suggestion. King Ajatasattu was informed of the intention of the Samgha, and with his help, the First Buddhist council was held at Rajagaha with 500 Arahants.
THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
by ASHIN JANAKA BHIVAMSA (Aggamahapandita)
Artist: U Ba Kyi | Link to this post