322. One day as the Lord was seated in the Gandha Kuti at the Jeta Grove, he surveyed the world at dawn, and he saw a certain poor man at Alavi. Perceiving that he possessed the faculties for the fruit of Stream-Winning, he took a company of five hundred monks and went to Alavi, where the inhabitants invited the Lord to stay.
The poor man heard that the Lord had arrived, and he resolved to hear him teach the Dhamma. But that very day his ox strayed off, and he thought: “Shall I go and find my ox or shall I go to hear the Dhamma?’ – and he decided to find his ox first, setting out early to do so. The people of Alavi gave seats to the Sangha of monks, with the Buddha at their head, served them food, and when finished took the Lord’s bowl while he gave thanks.
Then the Lord said: “He for whose sake I came thirty miles has gone to the forest to seek his ox. When he returns, then I will teach the Dhamma.” So, he was silent.
Before the day was out, the man found his ox and straight away led it back to the herd. Then he thought: “If nothing else, I can go and pay my respects to the Lord,” and thought oppressed by hunger he did not go home, but rather he went quickly to the Lord, and having paid homage, sat respectfully at one side. When the man came close, the Lord said to the steward in charge of food: “Is there any food left over?”
“Reverend Sir, some food remains untouched.”
“Then serve this man.”
After the steward had provided the man with a seat in a place indicated by the Lord, he served him rice gruel and other food both hard and soft, and after the man had eaten, he rinsed his mouth. As soon as the man’s suffering had been relieved, his mind became calm, and then the Lord taught the Dhamma in gradual order, expounding one after the other the Four Noble Truths. When he had finished, that man attained the fruit of Stream-Winning.
Dhammapada Atthakata 262
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