Baka Brahma was a great brahma who lived in the abode of first jhana. His power and influence spread throughout the ten thousand universes. He was the brahma of great fame with a large retinue. He had been in the brahma realm so long that he did not remember his previous lives. As a result he came to believe that he and the brahma realm were indestructible, indissoluble, firm and eternal. In other words he held the wrong view of Eternalism (Sassatamicchaditthi).
At that time, the Buddha was staying at the foot of a sal tree, in Suboga forest near Ukkatha town. Knowing the Baka Brahma’s thoughts, the Buddha went to the Brahma realm to admonish him. On seeing the Buddha, Baka Brahma greeted him and told him about his belief. At that time many brahmas came to listen to them. The Buddha commented on the brahma’s wrong view thus: “Oh, Brahmas, Baka Brahma is very stupid. He says what is impermanent, permanent; what is unstable, stable; what is dissoluble, indissoluble; what is imperfect, perfect; and what is not eternal, eternal. He also says that no new beings are born, grow old, die or are reborn in the brahma world in spite of the fact that new brahmas are being born and old brahmas are passing away. Furthermore, although the higher brahma realms and the phenomena of liberation such as Path-consciousness, its Fruition and Nibbana do exist, he said that they did not exist”.
Baka Brahma refused to accept the Buddha’s words, and reasserted his point of view. He added, “Bhikkhu, there are samanas and brahmanas of long ago who knew whether there were other places of liberation other than this body and this brahma world. But you will not find other places of liberation”.
The Buddha then explained: “Baka Brahma, there are many other planes of existence besides this first-jhana realm. You were reborn here in this first-jhana realm after your demise from the Abhassara brahma realm. You have forgotten that realm as you have been here so long, but I can see that”.
Moreover, the Buddha retold the practices that Baka had undertaken in his past existences, the meritorious activities he had done and his past existences in the Vehapphala realm, the Subhakinnha realm, the Abhassara realm and the human world. On hearing these accounts, Baka Brahma could recall his past existences.
In addition, the Buddha also explained to him the Four Basic Primary Elements as well as all micro-physical phenomena and their impermanence, unsatisfactory and insubstantial nature. He also explained the concept of Nibbana. Baka Brahma could no longer assert his doctrine of eternalism, nor could he argue with the Buddha. But, as he wanted to cover up his defeat, he proposed to the Buddha to compete in terms of psychic power.
“Bhikkhu, I shall make myself invisible to you. You try to find me”, said Baka Brahma. But he could not make himself invisible as the Buddha blocked his psychic power. Baka Brahma created great darkness to make him invisible. However, the Buddha dispelled that darkness by his psychic power. At last Baka Brahma went into his mansion and hid under a wishing tree (Padesa tree). But all those present in the gathering could still see him. Not knowing what to do, he sat down meekly. He felt embarrassed as other brahmas laughed at him.
The Buddha said: “Baka Brahma, if you can’t make yourself invisible, I shall make myself invisible”. So saying, the Buddha disappeared from the gathering of brahmas. No one could see the Buddha. Nevertheless his voice be heard as he preached as follows: “Oh, brahmas, understand that all beings who are born in the sense-sphere, fine material sphere and non-material sphere are subject to aging, illness, decay and death. I also see beings who are seeking liberation but are on the wrong way and being reborn incessantly in the thirty-one planes of existence. So I never held the view that all beings and things are permanent. I have severed the craving for all existences with the knowledge of the four Path-consciousness”.
The brahmas heard the pleasant voice of the Buddha preaching to them, but they could not see him. On hearing the discourse, many brahmas realized the Four Noble Truths and were liberated from the round of rebirths . Baka Brahma himself admired the Buddha and discarded his wrong view.