Samyukta Āgama (2) 52
Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha in the Gijjhakūṭa mountains. At that time there were ninety-six non-Buddhist groups, each praying and making offerings to someone. There were, for instance, donors who had faith in some non-Buddhist wanderer and those said: “One should first make offerings to our teacher the wanderer!” If they had faith in some non-Buddhist wandering ascetic they said: “First one should make offerings to our teacher the wandering ascetic!” If they had faith in the non-Buddhist teacher Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta they all said: “First give our teacher Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta a big offering, after that give to the others!” If they had faith in some non-Buddhist called a fire-worshiper they said: “One should make offerings to our teacher the fire-worshiper!” If they had faith in some non-Buddhist elder follower of the Vedas they said: “One should first make offerings to our teacher the elder follower of the Vedas!” If they had faith in some renowned non-Buddhist follower of the Vedas they said: “Make offerings to our teacher the renowned follower of the Vedas!” If they had faith in the Buddha, they said: “One should first make offerings to our teacher the Tathāgata and the community of monks!”
Sakka Devānaṃ Inda thought: “Extremely heretical views have arisen among the people of Rājagaha. Holding heretical views, while the Buddha and the Saṅgha exist in the world, is unwholesome.” With that, Sakka quickly transformed himself into an elder brāhmaṇa, of upright appearance, riding on a white chariot pulled by white horses. Surrounded to left and right by young men, he went to the temple district and passed right through it without stopping. All the people in Rājagaha thought: “Where will this elder brāhmaṇa go first? Let’s follow him!”
Then Sakka, knowing what they were thinking, turned his chariot to the south and went to Gijjhakūṭa. Arriving at the place where the chariots had to stop, he stopped among them, got down, entered the precinct, and approached the Buddha. Having paid homage at the Buddha’s feet and sat to one side, Sakka spoke in verse:
Burning things in a fire sacrifice and praying to the gods /
is a waste and without benefit.
This is not called ‘well sacrificed.’ /
But on a true field of merit one makes only a little effort /
and reaps great gains.
When Sakka heard these verses, he leaped up in joy, vanished from his seat and returned to his heavenly palace. Not long after Sakka had returned to his palace, the householders and brāhmaṇas of Rājagaha too rose from their seats, bared their right shoulders, knelt, and with palms together addressed the Buddha: “May the World-honored One and the community of monks accept a large alms-giving from us tomorrow morning. We happily invite you!”
The Tathāgata consented silently. When the householders and brāhmaṇas of Rājagaha understood that the Buddha had consented silently, they asked to leave, paid homage at the Buddha’s feet and returned to their homes. Having returned to their homes, each prepared fragrant and precious drinks and foods, cleanly arranged. Having done so, in the morning they prepared seats, readied clean water and sent a messenger to Gijjhakūṭa to tell the Buddha: “The alms-giving is ready.”
At that time the Tathāgata took his robe and begging bowl and accompanied by a multitude of monks, walking in front of them went to the town where the alms-giving was to take place. Having arrived, he took his prepared seat in front of the monks. The people of the city spread seats for the monks to sit on. When the householders saw that everybody was seated they brought clean water for hand-washing. The householders and brāhmaṇas served the fragrant, delicious food and drink with their own hands. All the people urged their guests to eat and try everything. When the World-honored One saw that the monks had finished their meal, he put his bowl away and gave it to Ānanda to clean. Thereupon the people got up and arranged their seats in front of the Buddha. They earnestly paid their respects and asked to hear the Dhamma. The Buddha lauded what they had offered and spoke this verse:
After the Buddha had in various ways taught the Dhamma to the people of Rājagaha, enlightened and instructed them, benefited and pleased them, the people leaped up happily from their seats and went back.