Home Buddhism Who was Mahakashyapa, a disciple of Gautama Buddha?

Who was Mahakashyapa, a disciple of Gautama Buddha?


Sarnath (near Varanasi) is the place where Lord Buddhadeva gave Dhammachakkapavanattanasut (first sermon) in front of 5 monks. This is followed by Anand, Anirudh, Mahakashyap, Rani Khema (woman), Mahaprajapati (woman), Bhadrika, Bhrigu, Kimbal, Devadatta, Upali, Angulimal, Milind (Greek emperor), Emperor Ashoka, Hiuen Tsang, Fa Xian, E Jing, He Cho etc. propagated Buddhism in India and outside India . Among them, Mahakashyap has great respect.

Mahakashyap was born in a village called Mahatirtha or Mahapitha of Magadha as the son of a Brahmin named Kapil and his wife Sumanadevi. He was the son of wealthy and distinguished parents.  After the death of his parents, for some time he took care of his parents’ wealth with his wife, but after some time both of them decided to become monks. He accepted to be a beggar by placing his entire wealth at the feet of Lord Buddha.

Six months after the death of Lord Buddha, Mahakashyapa was elected as the Chairman of the first association of Buddhist Sangha held in Saptaparni Guha. He is also considered the first head of the Zen branch of Buddhism. Mahakashyapa was the only student of Buddha with whom Lord Buddha exchanged garments. Lord Buddha gave equal status to Mahakashyapa. Hakashyapa is one of the three disciples of Lord Buddha at Sariputra, Monglian.

Mahakashyapa contributed significantly to the propagation of Buddhism. He is an important link in the Buddha heritage. His important idol was found during excavations in 1934 at Silav village, about 18 km from Biharsharif district headquarters. It is believed that this is the place where the meeting between Mahakashyapa and Buddha met.

Osho Rajneesh had narrated a story in connection with Mahakashyam.  When Gautama Buddha first went to Mahakashyapa, he was devoted and knowledgeable in all the scriptures. In such a situation, he told Lord Buddha that I have brought some curiosities. Buddha said, whether curiosities arise from your knowledge or from ignorance? You ask because you know something, or because you ask that you don’t know anything?

Mahakashyap said, what is the purpose of this?
Buddha said, I have a purpose in this, because with what sense you ask, if the sentiment is not in my meditation, then my answer will not have any meaning. If you have come to know and ask, do not waste your time. You know, the thing is over. If you have come without knowing, let me tell you something.

Mahakashyap said that my situation is a little intermittent. I know a little, I don’t know a little. So the Buddha said to take part in it.  Whatever you do not know, we should start a discussion in that regard. Leave what you know.

Mahakashyapa started asking what he did not know and gradually, as he was asked, he came to know that what he knows, he does not even know. For a year, he kept a lot of curiosities by being near the Buddha, all his curiosities calmed down. Then the Buddha told him that now I want to know a little about you, what you know. Mahakashyap said I knew nothing. As soon as I came to know, my knowledge got scattered. I do not know anything.


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