But, my father, when a man has found a treasure, it is his duty to offer the most precious of the jewels to his father first. Do not delay, let me share with you the treasure I have found." Suddhōdana, abashed, took his son's bowl and led him to his house.
Eighteen months had now elapsed since the turning-point of Gotama's career - his great struggle under the Bo tree. Thus far all the accounts follow chronological order. From this time they simply narrate disconnected stories about the Buddha, or the persons with whom he was brought into contact, - the same story being usually found in more than one account, but not often in the same order. It is not as yet possible, except very partially, to arrange chronologically the snatches of biography to be gleaned from these stories. They are mostly told to show the occasion on which some memorable act of the Buddha took place, or some memorable saying was uttered, and are as exact as to place as they are indistinct as to time. It would be impossible within the limits of this article to give any large number of them, but space may be found for one or two.
A merchant from Sūnaparanta having joined the Society was desirous of preaching to his relations, and is said to have asked Gotama's permission to do so. "The people of Sūnaparanta," said the teacher, "are exceedingly violent. If they revile you what will you do?" "I will make no reply," said the mendicant. "And if they strike you?" "I will not strike in return," was the reply. "And if they try to kill you?" "Death is no evil in itself; many even desire it, to escape from the vanities of life, but I shall take no steps either to hasten or to delay the time of my departure." These answers were held satisfactory, and the monk started on his mission.
At another time a rich farmer held a harvest home, and the Buddha, wishing to preach to him, is said to have taken his alms-bowl and stood by the side of the field and begged. The farmer, a wealthy brāhmin, said to him, "Why do you come and beg? I plough and sow and earn my food; you should do the same." "I too, O brahmin," said the beggar, "plough and sow; and having ploughed and sown I eat." "You profess only to be a farmer; no one sees your ploughing, what do you mean?" said the brahmin. "For my cultivation," said the beggar, "faith is the seed, self-combat is the fertilizing rain, the weeds I destroy are the cleaving to existence, wisdom is my plough, and its guiding-shaft is modesty; perseverance draws my plough, and I guide it with the rein of my mind; the field I work is in the law, and the harvest that I reap is the never-dying nectar of Nirvāna, Those who reap this harvest destroy all the weeds of sorrow."
On another occasion he is said to have brought back to her right mind a young mother whom sorrow had for a time deprived of reason. Her name was Kisāgotamī. She had been married early, as is the custom in the East, and had a child when she was still a girl. When the beautiful boy could run alone he died. The young girl in her love for it carried the dead child clasped to her bosom, and went from house to house of her pitying friends asking them to give her medicine for it. But a Buddhist convert thinking "she does not understand," said to her, "My good girl, I myself have no such medicine as you ask for, but I think I know of one who has." "Oh, tell me who that is?" said Kisāgotamī. "The Buddha can give you medicine; go to him," was the answer. She went to Gotama; and doing homage to him said, "Lord and master, do you know any medicine that will be good for my child?" "Yes, I know of some," said the teacher. Now it was the custom for patients or their friends to provide the herbs which the doctors required; so she asked what herbs he would want. "I want some mustard-seed," he said; and when the poor girl eagerly promised to bring some of so common a drug, he added, "you must get it from some house where no son, or husband, or parent or slave has died." "Very good," she said; and went to ask for it, still carrying her dead child with her.
The people said, "Here is mustard-seed, take it"; but when she asked, "In my friend's house has any son died, or a husband, or a parent or slave?" They answered, "Lady! what is this that you say? the living are few, but the dead are many." Then she went to other houses, but one said "I have lost a son," another "We have lost our parents," another "I have lost my slave." At last, not being able to find a single house where no one had died, her mind began to clear, and summoning up resolution she left the dead body of her child in a forest, and returning to the Buddha paid him homage. He said to her, "Have you the mustard-seed?" "My lord," she replied, "I have not; the people tell me that the living are few, but the dead are many." Then he talked to her on that essential part of his system, the impermanency of all things, till her doubts were cleared away, she accepted her lot, became a disciple, and entered the "first path."
For forty-five years after entering on his mission Gotama itinerated in the valley of the Ganges, not going farther than about 250 m. from Benares, and always spending the rainy months at one spot - usually at one of the viharas, or homes, which had been given to the society. In the twentieth year his cousin Ānanda became a mendicant, and from that time seems to have attended on the Buddha, being constantly near him, and delighting to render him all the personal service which love and reverence could suggest. Another cousin, Devadatta, the son of the rāja of Koli, also joined the society, but became envious of the teacher, and stirred up Ajatasattu (who, having killed his father Bimbisara, had become king of Rajagaha) to persecute Gotama. The account of the manner in which the Buddha is said to have overcome the wicked devices of this apostate cousin and his parricide protector is quite legendary; but the general fact of Ajatasattu's opposition to the new sect and of his subsequent conversion may be accepted.