Shakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment was His Ordination. (Can someone point me to the Sutta?)

There was a Sutta that I read a while back, (that involved a King I think,) that mentioned that Buddha’s Enlightenment was His Ordination. I think this is an important subject. I remember the Sutta was in the corner of the database somewhere, so I am having difficulty finding it. Can anyone help? Thank you very much.


I don’t think there is such sutta. Perhaps this reflection can be classified as “ordination”:

Now while the Blessed One was alone in retreat this thought arose in him: “He lives unhappily who has nothing to venerate and obey.

But what monk or brahman is there under whom I could live, hon-ouring and respecting him?”
Then he thought: “I could live under another monk or brahman and respecting him in order to perfect an unperfected code of virtue or code of concentration or code of understanding or code of deliver-ance or code of knowledge and vision of deliverance. But I do not see in this world with its deities, its Maras and its divinities, in this generation with its monks and brahmans, with its princes and men, any monk or brahman in whom these things are more perfected than in myself under whom I could live, honouring and respecting him. But there is this Dhamma discovered by me—suppose I lived under that, honouring and respecting that?”
Then Brahma Sahampati became aware in his mind of the thought in the Blessed One’s mind. He appeared before the Blessed One:
“Lord, it is good. The Blessed Ones in past ages, accomplished and fully enlightened, lived under the Dhamma honouring and respect-ing that. And those in future ages will do so too.”
S. 6:2; A. 4:21

Wonderful post. Thank you.

With regards to what I’m looking for, I’m not well adept in cataloging which Suttas go where, but when I looked at this Sutta it seemed like one of the more “distant” ones from the core of 'em, where a follower of the Buddha was talking to someone, and not the Buddha Himself talking, but I clearly remember reading this bit of information. Perhaps it was from another School of Buddhism, but I have a strong imprint that I saw it on SuttaCentral.

Perhaps you are referring to Vimalakirti Sutra
A Mahayana Sutra.
The taking up of Thought of Enlightenment (bodhicitta) is the ordination

It’s the Bhagavato-upasampadāpañha in the Milindapañha and/or its possible Chinese parallel in the Nāgasena Bhiksu Sūtra. I say “possible parallel” because I’m not sure whether the phrase used in the Chinese actually means the same as upasampadā.

Rājā āha—“bhante nāgasena, upasampadā sundarā”ti?
“Āma, mahārāja, upasampadā sundarā”ti.
“Atthi pana, bhante, buddhassa upasampadā, udāhu natthī”ti?
“Upasampanno kho, mahārāja, bhagavā bodhirukkhamūle saha sabbaññutañāṇena, natthi bhagavato upasampadā aññehi dinnā, yathā sāvakānaṁ, mahārāja, bhagavā sikkhāpadaṁ paññapeti yāvajīvaṁ anatikkamanīyan”ti.

“Kallosi, bhante nāgasenā”ti.

The king said: ‘Is ordination a good thing?’

‘Yes, a good thing and a beautiful.’

‘But did the Buddha obtain it, or not?’

‘Great king, when the Blessed One attained omniscience at the foot of the tree of Knowledge, that was to him an ordination. There was no conferring of ordination upon him at the hands of others—in the way that the Blessed One laid down regulations for his disciples, never to be transgressed by them their lives long!’

‘Very true, Nāgasena!’

王復問那先。佛寧悉學知奉行 經戒不。那先言佛悉學知奉行經戒。王言佛 從誰師受經戒。那先言佛無師。佛得道時便 悉自知諸經道。佛不如諸弟子學知佛所教。 諸弟子皆當奉行至老。王言善哉。

The king asked Nāgasena again, “Did the Buddha learn, know and practise the dharma and precepts?”

Nāgasena replied, “The Buddha did learn, know and practise the dharma and precepts.”

“Then from what teacher did the Buddha receive the dharma and precepts?”

“The Buddha had no teacher. When the Buddha attained enlightenment, he knew by himself the dharma, the path, unlike the disciples who had to learn and know the teaching from the Buddha. They needed to practise it till old age.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”

The BDK translation adds an endnote which states that another version of the dialogue can be found at T.1912.46:143c2, but I don’t know what text this is.


Thank you so much for also naming it. This is what I was looking for! Namo Buddhaya.

I found it right here, on SuttaCentral:


止觀輔行傳弘決 - A Tien Tai Text

Here’s the referenced page:

那先經云 => “The Nāgasena Sutra says…” (I will let the Chinese scholars translate the rest… :sweat_smile:)