Samyukta Āgama (2) 13

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

Uruvela Kassapa performs miracles

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was wandering in Magadha accompanied by a thousand monks who had formerly been virtuous elders among the brāhmaṇas, but who had attained Arahatship, stopped all defilements, ended all bonds of becoming that lead to rebirth, done what was to be done, cast off the heavy burden, reaped their reward. The Tathāgata went to the Suppatiṭṭha deva-shrine in the Laṭṭhivana forest.

When king Bimbisāra heard that the Buddha was staying in the Laṭṭhivana he immediately set out with 18,000 cavalry, 12,000 palanquins and chariots, surrounded on all sides by a huge number of brāhmaṇas and lay-men. When he arrived, he left the elephants, horses and chariots behind and took off his jewelry. On approaching the Buddha, he knelt and holding his hands with palms together in salutation addressed the Buddha: “World-honored One! I am Bimbisāra, king of Magadha!” Three times he said this. The Buddha replied: “Very well, Bimbisāra, king of Magadha.” Bimbisāra paid homage to the Buddha’s feet and sat to one side and the brāhmaṇas and elders of Magadha too paid homage to the Buddha’s feet and one by one came before him and sat down. Sitting down, some raised their hands in greeting, some sat down in silence.

At that time Uruvela Kassapa was present and the people of Magadha began wondering: “Is the Buddha the teacher here, or Uruvela Kassapa?” The Buddha knew what the people of Magadha were thinking deep inside and he asked Kassapa with a verse:

“At Uruvela you /
for a long time practiced the fire sacrifice;
for what reason now /
have you ceased, given up this practice?”

And Uruvela Kassapa answered with a verse:

“I once practiced fire sacrifice /
desiring a taste of beauty
and the objects of the five sensual pleasures. /
However these are all impure,
therefore I have given up /
fire sacrifices, the way of offerings to fire.”

Then the Buddha spoke another verse:

“We know you do not find happiness /
in the five sensual pleasures, their form and taste;
what you do treasure now /
make it known to men and gods.”

And the venerable Uruvela Kassapa spoke another verse:

“Once I was ignorant /
did not know the most true Dhamma,
made fire offerings, practiced asceticism /
and held this to be the cause of liberation.
I was like someone born blind /
not seeing the path to liberation.

Now I have met the great dragon among men /
who has taught me the correct view of the Dhamma.
Now I have started to perceive /
the traces of the truly Unconditioned.

For the benefit of all /
to train us and lead us to liberation
the Buddha has appeared in the world /
teaching the absolute truth,
he leads sentient beings of every kind /
so they may all perceive the light of wisdom.”

Then the Buddha spoke another verse:

“Now you have well arrived /
have obtained what you longed for,
you have the power of good thought /
and can discern the supreme Dhamma.

Now you should consider /
the minds of these people here
and display some miracles /
to engender deep respect in them.”

At this the venerable Uruvela Kassapa at once entered concentration and using his magical powers, rose up into the air, in various postures sitting, then lying, then walking about. Appearing in the east, walking, standing, sitting, lying, in all four postures, he let water rush out of his upper body and fire from his lower body; then he let water rush out from his lower body and fire from his upper body, then he entered the fire-blaze samādhi and emitted rays in various colors. Having displayed his magical powers in the east, he did the same in the south, the west and the north. When he was finished, he went before the Buddha, paid homage at his feet and said holding his hands with palms together in salutation: “The great sage, the World-honored One is my teacher, from now on I am a student of the Buddha.” The Buddha said: “Very well, you shall learn from me, be my student.” And he ordered him: “Return to your seat now.”

At that time King Bimbisāra of Magadha, having heard what the Buddha had said, was happy and remembered it well.