The Buddha’s Mission

First two lay disciples
On the full moon of the night of May, while sitting in deep meditation under a Bodhi tree, at Gaya city, Eastern India, Siddhattha Gotama attained Enlightenment, real happiness, and became Buddha, the Awakened One. Two merchants called Tapussa and Bhallika passed by and seeing the Buddha sitting under the Budhi tree, they offered him a meal of honey cakes.
After eating the food, the Buddha talked to them about his new experience, and the two merchants became his first lay disciples, the first Buddhists. The Buddha, at the time of his enlightenment, was thirty-five years of age.
The students may have a question in mind, “What is Enlightenment ?” The answer is that enlightenment is the state of pure mind, The mind is free from ignorance, from hatred, and from craving. The mind is in the state of being enlightened and comprehending truth.
First sermon and first monk disciple
Now the Buddha was ready to begin his mission of teaching his doctrine to the people. He asked himself to whom should he first teach the Doctrine. His mind turned to his former teachers, namely, Alara Kalama and Uddhaka Rama. However, the two teachers had already died. He then recalled the five companions with whom he had lived before setting out to seek Elightenment alone. They were still at Deer Park of Isipatana(near Benares City),about one hundred miles away. The Buddha went there. At deer Park, he gave his First Sermon, during the Asalha month (full moon day of july). It was known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma or Truth.
After the sermon, the five ascetics Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, Assaji realized the Eye of Dhamma, or Truth. Kondanna realized liberation first and asked for monkhood. The five ascetics became the first Noble Disciples of the Buddha.
Missionary activity
Early one morning, while the Buddha was sitting in Deer Park of Isipatana, a young man named Yasa, who was born into a wealthy family came near by the Buddha and saw him. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teaching, he realized that life was full of dissatisfaction, problems and troubles, and asked to become a monk to find real happiness.
Soon after that, the Buddha converted Yasa’s parents and wife to Buddhism. The Venerable Yasa had fifty-four lay friends. Having learned of Yasa’s ordination, they agreed to follow him and were ordained into the order. Within a few days, Yasa and his friends became Arahants (Enlightened monks). The total number of Arahants was then sixty-one.
Preaching Movement
Seeing that there were now enough disciples to begin sharing the Truth, the Buddha told his disciples to separate and wander from place to palce to teach the truth to the people. He himself set out on a long journey for the same purpose.
Throught out the forty-five years of his mission and his limitless kindness to all human beings, the Buddha selflessly devoted his life to teaching the Dhamma, the Path leading to real happiness. He travelled widely in northem and eastern India, stopping only during the rainy season, when he and his disciples, both monks and nuns, would go into the Rains Retreat. Through the efforts of the Buddha his followers, Buddhism was firmly established in india about 588 years before the Christian Era. The Buddha (Siddhattha) was born about 623 years before Christ.
Last instruction of the Buddha
At the age of eighty, while on his way to Kusinara City, the capital of Malla State, the Buddha became ill because he ate a meal of tainted food offered by Cunda, a poor toolsmith. The Buddha told Venerable Ananda, his faithful attendant, to console Cunda, and to tell him that his food-offering, which was the Buddha’s last meal, was of great fruit and merit and that he should not blame himself for the Buddha’s illness.
The Buddha travelled to the Sala Grove of Mala State, where the Buddha told the Venerable Ananda to prepare a couch between two Sala trees. Then he laid down on his right side, still mindfull and self-possessed. The monks assembled about him.
Although he was about to pass away, when men came to him to be received into the Order, he accepted and gladdened them with a sermon on the Dhamma. Of those men, Subhadda, mendicant wanderer, a poor man, was the last one who was ordained by the Buddha. He realized Arahantship before the Buddha’s death.
On his death bed under the two Sala trees, on the full moon night of Visakha month (may), the Buddha said to his disciples;
“O Bhikkhus, you will not be left without a Teacher, because the Docteine and the Discipline. I have taught and down for you shall be your Teacher when Iam gone.”
He said again, “ decay is inherent in all component things! O bhikkhus, work out your own salvation with diligence.”
These were the last words of the Enlightened One. His face shone as luminous gold. His mind ascended to the realms of ecstasy. He realized Nibbana, theEnlightenment and passed away form the eyes of human beings forever. His teachings have remained to guide us for all time. After the passing away of the Lord Buddha, his maleand female disciples continuedteaching the Dhamma to the people and maintain Buddhism to the present time.