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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas

Index

Upaka

Upaka was the first human being encountered and spoken to by the Buddha after his enlightenment.

It is not discussed in any of the stories concerning this event, but it is my impression that it's importance is in the fact that Upaka was not immediately convinced. In other words, that even if the Buddha needed no further instructing, a lesson for the rest of us in hearing this story is that not even for one who has achieved supreme enlightenment does everything suddenly go according to the ways one would wish.

Upaka, a Naked Ascetic (Ajivaka) encounters the Buddha between the Bodhi Tree and Gaya, shortly after he has set out to visit the group of five monks staying in Isipatana in the Deer Park after determining that they would be receptive to the teaching.[1] He notices the Buddha's radiant appearance and comments:

 

Vippasannani kho te avuso indriyani
parisuddho chavivanno pariyodato
kam si tvam avuso uddissa pabbajito
ko va to sattha
kassa va tvam dhammam rocesiti.
[2]

 

§

 

Resplendent, friend, is your Force-field![3]
Utterly pure the six-hues, utterly brilliant!
To whom do you go for instruction?
Whose is the teaching you proclaim?

 

§

 

Warren: "Placid, brother, are all your organs of sense; clear and bright is the color of your skin. To follow whom, brother, did you retire from the world? Who is your teacher? and whose doctrine do you approve?"

Horner: "Your reverence, your faculties are quite pure, your complexion is very bright, very clear. On account of whom have you, your reverence, gone forth, or who is your teacher, or whose dhamma do you profess?"

Nanamoli/Bodhi: "Friend, your faculties are clear, the colour of your skin is pure and bright. Under whom have ou gone forth, friend? Who is your teacher? Whose Dhamma do you profess?"

The Buddha responds:

Sabbabhibhu sabbavidu'ham-asmi
sabbesu dhammesu anupalitto
sabbamjaho tanhakkhaye vimutto
sayam abhinnaya kam-uddiseyyam
 
Na me acariyo atthi
sadiso me na vijjati
sadevakasmim lokasmim
na-tthi me patipuggalo
 
Aham hi araha loke
aham sattha anuttaro
eko'mhi sammasambuddho
sitibhuto'smi nibbuto
 
Dhammacakkam pavattetum gacchami Kasinam puram
andhabhutasmim lokasmim ahancham amatadundubhin ti
 
Yatha kho tvam avuso patijanasi arahasi anantajino ti
 
Madisa ve jina honti ye patta asavakkhayam
jita me papaka dhamma
tasma'ham Upaka jino ti

 

§

 

Above it all, having seen it all, am I
Beyond it all, free from thirst I am
Beyond the mire[4]
This higher knowing by me known,
who then, could I as teacher indicate?
 
No master have I
For even another such as I
cannot be found
Among the gods or in the world;
I have no equal in any man.

Upaka walks away shaking his head

 

But Upaka just shook his head and saying:
'May it be so, friend,"
walked away taking another road.

The world's aristocrat am I
I the teacher unsurpassed
I alone the Samma-sam-Buddhassa man.
Tranquill, extinguished.
 
To set a-roll'n the Dhamma Wheel
I get me off to Kasi town
beating the drum of deathlessness
in a world gone blind.
 
[Upaka] Such be as it may, friend,
this is a claim to know
the Unending Victory.
 
[Buddha] Victorious indeed are those
who've laid waste the asavas
Evicted by me are evil things
Therefore, am I, Upaka, Victor.

 

§

 

Warren:

"'All-conquering have I now become, all-knowing;
Untainted by the elements of being.
I've left all things, am freed through thirst's destruction,
All wisdom's mine: what teacher should I follow?
 
"'I have no teacher anywhere;
My equal nowhere can be found;
In all the world with all its gods,
No one to rival me exists.
 
"'The saintship, verily, I've gained,
I am The Teacher, unsurpassed;
I am The Buddha, sole, supreme;
Lust's fire is quenched, Nirvana gained.
 
"'To found the Doctrine's reign I seek
Benares, chief of Kasi's towns;
And for this blinded world I'll cause
The drum of deathlessness to beat.'
 
"'Which is as much as to say, brother, that you profess to be a saint, an immeasurable Conqueror.'
 
"'Yea, were The Conquerors like to me,
Well rid of all depravity.
I've conquered every evil trait;
Thus, Upaka, a Conqueror I.'

 

§

 

We hear that after this meeting Upaka went to the Vankahara country and there, having been attended to by a certain Capa, a hunter's daughter, fell in love with her and married her. Thereafter he made his living selling the meat the hunter killed.

This Capa, who had aparently admired Upaka as long as he had been an ascetic, began to dispise him for having been entrapped by her and endlessly ridiculed him to the end that he left her and making his way to Savatthi, he found the Buddha and entered the order. It was said he became an Anagamin and being reborn in the Aviha Realm reached Arahantship there almost immediately. Capa too, apparently joined the order and became an Arahant.

 


More
First Sutta Resources

 


[1]See: Dhammatalk: Buddha's First Sutta

[2]MN.I: #26: Ariyapariyesana Sutta, pp 170.

[3]If it wern't for "Star Wars", we might here say: "Aura"; in any case what is being spoken of here cannot be either the "faculties" of Nanamoli/Bodhi and Horner, or the Organs of Sense of Warren ... how would Upaka, or anyone else for that matter know of such things? What could be known is the feeling of power eminating from such a being, or the perception of his radiance, whether it be the ordinary look of well being we occasionally see about people, or a more supernatural perception of their force field.

[4]Nanamoli/Bodhi, Horner and Warren all have "of all things," but if this is a true repetition of the conversation, the Buddha is responding to the question asking about whose "Dhamma" (teaching) he is following. I suspect these translators want to avoid the difficulty of what probably is the case, which is that at this point there is no such thing as a "Dhamma" of Buddhism. The paticca-samuppada is just "what is," and is beyond the speculative theories of the time, otherwise called "Dhammas." I have avoided the issue because of considerations of style.

 


 

References:

Majjhima Nikaya #26: Ariyapariyesana Sutta
Vinaya Texts, i.90
Capa's Verses in the Therigatha