Brief notes on Buddhist thought and practice
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The Five Companions

So Siddhartha, born a prince, was now a mendicant, a beggar.

He went to a mango grove called Anupiya, near the Anoma River. There he rested for seven days, getting used to his new life.

Meanwhile, back at the palace, there was an uproar. The king saw that his thirty years' effort was wasted. Chinese tradition says he sent five faithful servants to persuade the prince to return. Instead, he persuaded them! When he explained his reasons for leaving, they decided to become monks too and accompany him into the forest.

In the Southern tradition, though, the Bodhisattva's first five companions are not servants from the palace. They were connected to the sages who gave him his name as a baby. One was Kondanna, the youngest of those sages; the other four are sons of the four other sages. And in the Southern tradition, they didn't meet him until after he had studied with some masters.

There is an interesting connection between the two traditions, however. Although the names vary in both traditions, the most common set of Southern names and the most common set of Chinese names are nearly a perfect match (except for Kondanna). In other words, the Chinese tradition gives names that are clearly the Chinese version of those in the Southern tradition. They are even given in the same order.

Here's a chart:

KondannaAjnata-KaundinyaJiao Chenru
MahanamaMahanama-KulikaMohe-nan (or Monan-juli)

  1. What challenges would Siddhartha face, having been raised in a palace, and now living as a beggar?
  2. Discuss King Shuddhodana's feelings at this point.
  3. Why do you think the Chinese tradition was developed in a way so different from the Southern tradition?
Next time: The Mendicant Life

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