Kondanna – the 1st enlightened disciple

Kondanna (Pali), Kauṇḍinya (Sanskrit), 阿若憍陈如 (Chinese) was a court scholar or religious advisor in the royal court of King Suddhodana (Buddha’s father). He was also exceptionally intelligent and gained this position at a very young age. Whilst most astrologer were hesitant to predict the future of Prince Siddhartha (Buddha to be), Kondanna was firm to predict that Prince Siddhartha will become a Buddha. He then made an aspiration that he would become the disciple of Prince Siddhartha if he were to become enlightened.

This firm belief caused him to renounce his position when Prince Siddhartha renounced the palace life to become an ascetic. Kodanna was one of the 5 ascetic who practiced alongside Ascetic Siddhartha for 6 years.

At one stage, Ascetic Siddhartha experimented with extreme asceticism in his quest for enlightenment and likewise, Kondanna and the other 4 spiritual companion follow suite.

In a famous account of Buddha’s life, we learnt that He nearly drowned in a river while taking a bath due to extreme asceticism of fasting. This made Him realised that self torture and extreme asceticism does not lead to enlightenment. Whereupon He decided to break his fast.

Kondanna felt betrayed and disappointed when he saw Ascetic Siddhartha break His fast and left Him, together with the other 4 spiritual companion.

Therefore, Ascetic Siddhartha was left alone to practice His own way, ‘The Middle Path’.

After Ascetic Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, He discovered that Kondanna and the 4 spiritual companion were ready for enlightenment. Through His enlightened mind, He knew exactly where they had settled, Buddha set forth to locate them and teach the dharma.

When Kondanna and his group of spiritual companion saw Buddha coming from afar,they had initially decided to snub Him. Thinking to themselves, “Here comes the non steadfast practitioner. Let’s not show him any welcome.” Kondanna was unaware of Buddha’s enlightenment.

As Buddha neared them, they sensed something different about Him. Involuntarily, they got up from their seat and attended to Buddha with respect.

That was when Buddha taught the Dharma for the 1st time and Kondanna was the first to become enlightened and the 1st monk in the Sangha.

So there you have it. The 1st monk and 1st to be enlightened by Buddha Dharma. May all be well and happy.

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