During the time of Padumuttara Buddha, future Tapussa and Bhallika aspired to be the foremost disciples of the Buddha. Then again at Sikhi-Buddha's period they wished to get the chance of offering the first alms-food to the future Buddha. They made meritorious deeds together throughout their various past lives. Finally, they became the earliest disciples of the Gotama Buddha.
Tapussa and Bhallika were the two sons of travelling merchant who resided in Pakkharavati town of Okkalapa. They travelled from place to place to trade, carrying their goods in five hundred bullock carts.
Gotama Buddha who had gained the perfect enlightenment was at the root of a linlun tree. He had just arisen from the seventh-seven days abiding in the attainment in cessation of all defilements.
At that moment, Tapussa and Bhallika were not very far from that linlun tree. Their bullock carts were immobilized by their deva mother of previous life. The deva told them about the Buddha's extreme need of food for his survival after fasting for forty nine days.
Without hesitation, Tapussa and Bhallika took the best preserved food they had and offered them to the Buddha. After having their alms-food the Buddha gave them a discourse. At the end of the discourse, both the two brothers were established in the ''Two Refuges'' (dve vacika saranagamana).
Then they asked the Buddha to give them something to revere everyday. The Buddha bestowed on them eight hairs from his head as relics. They put up a shrine on the Singuttara Hill and enshrined the hair relics with the guidance of King Okkalapa. Myanmar kings, their successors, together with the people sustained the shrine. At present, it is famous as the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.
Later in Rajagaha, they visited the Buddha. Again, the Buddha gave a discourse to them. On hearing the Dhamma, Tapussa attained Sotapatti Fruition. Bhallika became monk and then gained Arahatship.
Buddha declared that Tapussa and Bhallika were the foremost disciples who had taken refuge earliest in the Buddha and the Dhamma.
Certainly, continuous merits of Tapussa and Bhallika in all their past existences had fulfilled their aspirations of becoming the earliest disciples, offering the first alms-food to the Buddha. More than that, they also attained Fruition and Arahatship.
Posted by Aye Sat