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Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta

Jāṇussoni, travelling in a carriage, meets Pilotika, from whom he hears praise of the Buddha. He learns how Pilotika, having heard the Buddha’s teachings to nobles, Brahmins, householders and recluses, was convinced that the Buddha was all-enlightened, just as an expert elephant-tracker seeing a broad elephant-footprint would conclude that it indicated the track of a really large elephant. Jāṇussoni goes to visit the Buddha and reports his conversation with Pilotika. The Buddha tells him it would be a mistake to conclude at once from seeing a broad footprint that it belonged to a very large elephant; there are many other possibilities which should first be eliminated. He then proceeds to describe the life of a real recluse, the disciple of the Noble One, and the attainments he reaches; these he calls the Truth-finder’s footprints. Following this, the disciple makes further discoveries, until his mind is completely free from the corruptions (āsava), and then he realises the Truth-finder’s real quest. Jāṇussoni becomes a follower of the Buddha (M.i.175 ff).

This was the first sutta taught in Sri Lanka by Mahinda to Devānampiyatissa. At the end of the discourse the king accepts the Three Refuges. Mhv.xiv.22.

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