Shakya was about to give his first sermon in a place where Brahminism flourished. He did not appear, however, even at the appointed time. The elder of the Brahmins, Behransha, thought Shakya must be so scared of him that he could not come onto the stage. He headed to Shakya’s waiting room of his own accord. Behransha showed displeasure at Shakya’s attitude of impoliteness, and questioned Shakya closely.
‘You, Shakya, why do you not bow and salute me?’
The accompanying attendant (Attendant A) saw Shakya was still ignoring Behransha, and he said to himself ‘How dare he not greet the saint of Brahminism, who is right in front of him…’ Since he had become the elder, Behransha had never received such a humiliating insult. No one in this town had ever ignored Behransha.
‘What is making this young man so calm?’ Attendant A was feeling astonishment rather than anger. Eventually, Shakya solemnly spoke to the elder.
‘I am a buddha.’, he said. ‘I have never heard of anyone who made a buddha bow and salute. You should bow and salute me.’
A moment of silence passed. Attendant A cast a glance at Behransha.
With an expression of disbelief on his face, the saint stood still. It was obvious
that his mind was churning. With a trembling voice, Behransha finally forced his words out:
‘Shakya, I do not know if you are a buddha or not, but does a buddha have respect for the aged? I am one hundred and twenty years old, and I hear you are just thirty-five. You should first bow and salute me.’
Attendant A thought the logic poor, but assumed the elder had to make an additional argument. Attendant A felt sympathy for Behransha’s position. Simultaneously, he felt strongly that this situation needed to be settled peacefully. Attendant A prayed that Shakya would somehow show respect to the elder, but Shakya’s next words were far more pointed and piercing. ‘The value of a human is not decided by the age. It depends upon the virtue the person has. I am a buddha. I have a buddha’s virtue. Therefore, it’s you that needs to salute me.’
How dignified Shakya’s attitude was. Profound, but soft and penetrating, his voice weighed heavily in the pit of Attendant A’s stomach.
‘What on earth will happen?!’ Attendant A timidly opened his eyes, which were closed unintentionally for an instant, and saw an unbelievable scene. Behransha, who Attendant A had respected as his master for a long time, was prostrating himself where he was standing, and making the most respectful bow to Shakyamuni Buddha! In his panicked mind, he thought. ‘I cannot believe my lord Behransha is doing such a thing…’
However, the young Buddha certainly had something special, and Behransha could not help but demonstrate respect. It looked as if every single part of Shakya’s body, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, embodied the truth. This was crystal clear to Attendant A.
Finally, Shakyamuni Buddha appeared on the stage in front of everyone. Behransha, as though overwhelmed by the dignity and virtue of a buddha, followed behind him, hanging his head. When Attendant A came in a bit later, many of the attendees were stirring. They must have thought Shakya would come in after the elder. However, they all saw the attitude of Behransha, who they respected. Some of them looked up at the sky in despair, others worshipped intently with their palms together, while some muttered in confusion. The reactions varied from one another, but everyone’s attitude toward Shakyamuni Buddha changed significantly. The gloomy atmosphere in the hall quickly faded away.
Attendant A wondered if, by chance, Shakya intentionally did not appear at the given time in order to address our arrogant minds. Simultaneously, the audience’s hearts were filled with great awe. Attendant A thought he must open his mind and listen intently to Shakyamuni Buddha’s sermon. As he gave his sermon, the Buddha’s enlightenment became obvious. HIs message was profound and difficult for the attendees to understand. Still, no one left their seat in the middle of the sermon.