Five first excellent disciples

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Representation of the first teaching of the Buddha to the retinue of the five first excellent disciples in Namo Buddha in Nepal

The retinue of the five first excellent disciples (Skt. bhadravargīya; Tib. ཁོར་ལྔ་སྡེ་བཟང་པོ་, khor nga dé zangpo, Wyl. 'khor lnga sde bzang po) received the first teaching of the Buddha after he reached enlightenment.

They are:

  • Kaundinya (Skt. Kauṇḍinya; Pali Kondanna; Tib. ཀུན་ཤེས་ཀཽཎ་ཌི་ཉ་, kün shé kaundinya; Wyl. kun shes kauN Di nya),
  • Bhadrika (Skt. Bhadrika; Pali Bhaddiya; Tib. བཟང་ལྡན་, zang den; Wyl. bzang ldan ),
  • Vashpa (Skt. Vāṣpa or Dasabala Kasyapa; Pali Vappa; Tib. རླངས་པ་, langpa ; Wyl. rlang pa),
  • Mahanaman (Skt. Mahānāman ; Pali Mahanama; Tib. མིང་ཆེན་, ming chen; Wyl. ming chen) , and
  • Ashvajit (Skt. Aśvajit; Pali Assaji; Tib. རྟ་ཐུལ་, ta tul; Wyl. rta thul ).

They were Shakyamuni’s companions of ascetic for six years, until the one who was to become the Buddha abandoned this lifestyle seeing it was not the way. As a result of his backsliding his five companions turned away from him. Seven weeks after his reaching enlightenment the Buddha met them again in Sarnath. Though they pledged not to speak to him ever again because of what they considered his failure, awed by his presence they went up to him again and received his first teaching on the four noble truths at Deer Park. All eventually became arhats.