First two lay disciples
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?”
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.
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 ordinaton, 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.
Through 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 traveled widely in northen 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.
The Buddha traveled 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 mindful 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.