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Pañcavaggiyā

The name given to the group of five ascetics: Aññāta-Koṇḍañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assaji to whom the Buddha taught his first discourse at Isipatana.

Of these, Koṇḍañña was the youngest of the eight brahmins who read the signs on Gotama’s body on the day of the name giving festival. The four others were children of four of the other brahmins. They had been advised by their fathers to watch Gotama’s career and to join him should he renounce the world. This they did, and all five joined in the austerities of Gotama at Uruvelā. When he abandoned his austerities and started to follow the Middle Way, they left him in disappointment. However, after the Enlightenment, the Buddha visited them and taught them. At first they refused to pay heed to him, but gradually his powers of persuasion won their hearts and they became his first disciples.¹ It is noteworthy that, although warned by their fathers of the great destiny awaiting Gotama, they were yet reluctant to accept the Buddha’s claim to Enlightenment.

¹ J.i.57, 67, 81, 82; DhA.i.87, etc. For details of the members of the group, see under their several names; see also article by Mrs. Rhys Davids in J.R.A.S. for 1927 on them as the “Unknown co-founders of Buddhism,” where she suggests that the members of this group were responsible for certain tendencies in the Buddha’s teaching.

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