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He went first to Mrigadava in Varanasi where the five mendicants who had lived with him during the six years of his ascetic life were staying. At first they shunned him, but soon after the Buddha preached his sermon at the Deer Park at Sarnath, they believed in him and became his first followers. He then went to the Rajagriha Castle and won over King Bimbisara who had always been his friend. From there he went about the country living on alms and teaching men to accept his way of life. Men responded to him as the thirsty seek water and the hungry food. Two great disciples, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana came to him. Soon afterward, two thousand and more followers had joined the Buddha.
King Shuddhodana was still inwardly suffering because of his son's decision to leave the palace, remained aloof; but then he too became his faithful disciple. Mahaprajapati, the Buddha's step- mother, and Princess Yashodhara,his wife, and all the members of the Shakya clan began to follow him. Multitudes of others also became his devoted and faithful followers. For forty-five years the Buddha went about the country preaching and persuading men to follow his way of life. But when he was eighty, at Vaisali and on his way from Rajagriha to Shravasti, he became ill and predicted that after three months he would enter Nirvana. Still he journeyed on until he reached Pava where he fell seriously ill from some food offered by Chunda, a blacksmith. Eventually, in spite of great pain and weakness, he reached the forest that bordered Kusina- gara. Lying between two large sala trees, he continued teaching his disciples until his last moment. Thus he entered into perfect tranquility after he had completed his work as the world's greatest teacher.
Under the guidance of Ananda, the Buddha's favorite disciple, the body was cremated by his friends in Kusinagara. Seven neighboring rulers as well as King Ajatasatru demanded that the relics be divided among them. The People of Kusinagara at first refused and the dispute even threatened to end in war; but under the advice of a wise man named Drona, the crisis passed and the relics were divided among the eight great countries. The ashes of the funeral pyre and the earthen jar that contained the relics were also given to two other rulers to be likewise honored. Thus ten great towers commemorating the Buddha were built to enshrine his relics and ashes.