This is as I heard. On one occasion, the Blessed One was living in the province of Magadha, at the Southern Mountains in the brahmin high caste city of Ekanālā. There was a farmer called Kasī Bhāradvāja from a brahmin clan. Now at that time, about five hundred plows were brought for the planting season in the Kasī Bhāradvāja’s paddy field.
Then in the morning the Blessed One dressed, took his bowl and double-layered robe, and went to where Kasī Bhāradvāja was working. It was the time of food distribution by Kasī Bhāradvāja. The Blessed One arrived at the place of the food distribution, and was standing there.
Kasī Bhāradvāja saw the Blessed One standing there for alms. Having seen this, he said to the Blessed One, “Oh monk, I farm and grow. Having farmed and grown, I produce and eat my food. Monk, you too should farm and grow. Having farmed and grown, you should produce and eat your food.”
“I too, Kasī Bhāradvāja, farm and grow. Having farmed and grown, I produce and eat.”
“But, we don’t see the Master Gotama’s yoke or plow, plowshare, whip, or bulls, and yet the Master Gotama says this: ‘I, too, Kasī Bhāradvāja, farm and grow. Having farmed and grown, I produce and eat.’”
Then Kasī Bhāradvāja asked the Blessed One in verse:
1. “You claim to be a farmer, but we don’t see your farming.
Being asked, tell us about your farming so that we may know.”
2. “Confidence is my seed, virtue is my rain.
Wisdom is my yoke and plow.
Shame of wrongdoing is my pole.
Mind is my yoke-tie.
And mindfulness is my plowshare and whip.
“I guard my bodily and verbal actions.
I have control over my eating.
I use truth as my harvesting knife.
I am liberated through Nibbāna.
“Shouldering responsibilities is my effort
and this effort carries me without stopping
all the way to Nibbāna where one does not have sorrow.
“That is how my farming is done.
It has the deathless Nibbāna as its fruit.
Having done this farming,
I am liberated from all suffering.”
Then Kasī Bhāradvāja, having filled a large bronze bowl with milk-rice, offered it to the Blessed One, and said, “May the Master Gotama eat this milk-rice. The Master Gotama is truly a farmer, for the Master Gotama plows the field that has the deathless as its fruit.”
“Food given to me after hearing my stanzas isn’t fit for me to eat.
That’s not the way of those who see the truth, Kasī Bhāradvāja.
The Buddhas reject gifts earned after uttering stanzas.
Kasī Bhāradvāja, that is the pure conduct of the Buddhas, that’s how they live.
There are other enlightened monks with no defilements and doubts.
Serve them with your food and drink.
They are the fertile field for the seekers of merit.”
“Then, Master Gotama, to whom should I give the food of this offering?”
“Kasī Bhāradvāja, in this world with its gods, Māras, brahmas, and humans, there is no one by whom this milk-rice, if eaten, could be properly digested except by the Buddha or the disciple of the Buddha. Therefore, Kasī Bhāradvāja, throw the milk-rice away in a place without grass, or into water where there are no living beings.”
So Kasī Bhāradvāja threw the milk-rice into some water with no living beings. The milk-rice, when dropped into the water, hissed and sizzled, smoked and steamed. Just as an iron ball heated all day, when tossed in water, hisses and sizzles, smokes and steams, in the same way the milk-rice, when dropped in the water, hissed and sizzled, smoked and steamed.
Then Kasī Bhāradvāja, alarmed, with his hair standing on end, went to the Blessed One, and stood near the Blessed One, and fell with his head at the Blessed One’s sacred feet, and said to the Blessed One:
“Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! Just as if someone turned upright, what was upside down, revealed what was hidden, pointed out the path to whoever was lost, or lit a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes could see what’s there, Master Gotama taught me the Dhamma, which is clear in many ways. I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge to the Triple Gem for as long as I live.”