Devadatta’s Instigation of a Schism in the Sangha

One of the most critical events in the life of the early Sangha was Devadatta’s instigation of a schism. Devadatta convinced 500 newly ordained monks to follow him instead of Shakyamuni Buddha. Out of compassion for those 500 monks, the Buddha sent Shariputra and Maudgalyayana to visit them. Devadatta was eager to have these two revered disciples join his group, so he invited them to join him and even to preach to the monks while he rested. Devadatta’s overconfidence was his undoing, however, for Shariputra and Maudgalyayana taught the true Dharma which the monks had not heard before. They were thereby convinced to return to the Sangha of Shakyamuni Buddha. Devadatta awakened to discover that all his followers had left him.

Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon