Preached at Jetavana. The true saint is he who does not hanker after the past and does not long for the future. He is not swept away by present states of consciousness, but scanning his heart with insight, he struggles unceasingly to win eternal Changelessness (M.iii.187 ff).
This sutta was learned by Ananda and used by him in an exposition to his colleagues. This exposition was approved by the Buddha and came to be called the Ananda-Bhaddekaratta Sutta (M.iii.189 ff). One day, as Samiddhi was drying himself after bathing at Tapodā in Rājagaha, a deity questioned him on this sutta, and he had to confess his ignorance. Samiddhi then went to the Buddha and asked him about the sutta, and the Buddha preached to him only the verses, with no explanation. The monks, who were present, thereupon asked Mahā Kaccāna for a detailed exposition. He gave it, and the monks referred it to the Buddha who advised them to remember it. This exposition came to be called the Mahā Kaccāna Bhaddekaratta Sutta (M.iii.192 ff).
Similarly, Lomasakangiya was asked about the sutta by the god Candana, when he was staying in the Nigrodhārāma at Kapilavatthu. He, in his turn, had to confess his ignorance, and Candana taught him the verses, which, he said, were uttered by the Buddha during his visit to Tāvatimsa. When he went to preach the Abhidhamma. The Commentary (MA.ii.962) explains that the Buddha preached this sutta for the benefit of devas who could not understand the Abhidhamma. Lomasakangiya learnt the verses, and, going to the Buddha, questioned him concerning them. The Buddha made them clear to him. This account is called the Lomasakangiya-Bhaddekaratta Sutta (M.iii.199ff).
Extracts from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta are uttered by speakers in the Hatthipāla Jātaka (J.iv.481) and the Mahākapi Jātaka (J.v.66).