The first sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. It was preached in
the Subhagavana in Ukkatthā, and is claimed as striking the keynote of the
entire doctrine of the Buddha (sabbadhamma-mūlapariyāya).
In the sutta the Buddha explains various contemporary systems of philosophy and
points out the differences between these and his own system. It also deals with
the theory of the soul and of Nibbāna (M.i.1-6).
The Commentary* states that the five hundred monks to
whom the sutta was addressed found no pleasure in listening to it. The Buddha,
realizing this, preached to them the Mūlapariyāya Jātaka** (q.v.). Their pride
was thereby vanquished, and they begged the Buddha for a subject of
meditation. Later, when the Buddha was away journeying, staying at the
Gotamaka cetiya in Vesāli, he preached to them the Gotamaka Sutta and they
* MA.ii.46ff.; see also AA.i.457 and J. ii.269, where it
is stated that at the end of the Gotamaka Sutta the earth trembled.
** But in the introduction to the Jātaka itself, it is
stated that the Jātaka was related, not to them, but in reference to them,
after they had become Arahants.