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,
  • Bhadrika
  • 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

The five first excellent disciples were Shakyamuni’s ascetic companions for six years, until the Buddha to become, seeing asceticism was not the way, abandoned this extreme lifestyle. The Buddha's ascetic companions were of the opinion the Buddha lapsed in his discipline and turned away from him. However, seven weeks after the Buddha reached enlightenment they met him again in Sarnath, and though they had pledged not to speak to him ever again because of what they considered his failure, awed by his presence, they went up to him and received what was to become the Buddha's first teaching on the four noble truths at Deer Park. All eventually became arhats.