Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikaya
I. Mulapannasa
3. Tatiya Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1926
Public Domain

Sutta 24

Ratha-Vinita Suttam

On Relays

 


 

[1][pts][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Rajagaha
in the Bamboo grove where the squirrels were fed,
there came to the Lord
many Almsmen of the locality
who had been passing the rainy season there;
and these, after due obeisance,
seated themselves to one side,
and were thus addressed by the Lord:

Who among the Almsmen from hereabouts
is by his fellows in the higher life
who come also from here,
esteemed - as wanting little himself
and as urging Almsmen too to want but little;
as being contented in himself
and also preaching contentment to Almsmen;
as living aloof in the inner life himself
and also preaching it to Almsmen;
as eschewing mundane society
and also urging Almsmen to eschew it;
as being strenuous himself
and also inciting Almsmen to be strenuous;
as leading a virtuous life himself
and also inciting Almsmen to virtue;
as having won rapt concentration for himself
and also exhorting Almsmen thereto;
as having won wisdom for himself
and also exhorting Almsmen thereto;
as having found Deliverance for himself
and also encouraging Almsmen thereto;
as having himself attained to the full Vision of Deliverance
and also urging Almsmen thereto;
as one who exhorts,
informs,
instructs,
enlightens,
cheers onward,
and helps forward
his fellows on the higher life?

Punna, sir, was the answer;
the venerable Punna Mantani-putta; -
he is esteemed as being all this
by his fellows in the higher life
who come, like him, from round here.

Now, at that time,
near the Lord there was sitting the reverend Sariputta,
to whom the thought came how [104] great a thing,
how very great a thing,
it was for the reverend Punna Mantani-putta
that, in the presence of the Master,
his well-informed fellows in the higher life
should thus extol him,
point after point,
and that the Master should so appreciate him;
it would be good to meet Punna somewhere
some day
and have a talk with him.

When the Lord had stayed at Rajagaha as long as he wished to,
he set out on an alms-pilgrimage for Savatthi and,
arriving there in due course,
stayed in Jeta's grove in Anathapindika's pleasaunce.

Hearing of the Lord's movements,
Punna packed away his bedding,
took his bowl and robes,
and set out on an alms-pilgrimage for Savatthi,
and in the pleasaunce found the Lord,
by whom he seated himself after due obeisance.

As he sat there,
the Lord discoursed to him on the Doctrine,
informing,
enlightening,
cheering him forward
and helping him onwards,
after which Punna,
rejoicing greatly in what he had heard from the Lord,
rose up and with deep obeisance
withdrew to Andha grove,
there to stay during the noontide heat.

Hereupon, an Almsman went and told Sariputta
that Punna Mantani-putta,
of whom he was always speaking so highly,
had just left the Lord
after a heartening discourse on the Doctrine
and was off to Andha grove
there to stay during the noontide heat.

Snatching up his mat hurriedly,
Sariputta followed Punna up closely from behind,
never letting him get out of sight.

Entering the grove,
Punna sat down under a tree for the noontide;
and Sariputta found a tree for himself.

When at even Sariputta rose up from his meditations,
he moved towards Punna
and after exchange of greetings
took his seat to one side, saying -

Do you, reverend sir,
lead the higher life with our Lord?

Yes, reverend sir.

Is this in order to purify your life?

No, sir.

Is it to purify your heart?

No, sir.

Is it to purify your views?

No, sir.

Is it to ensure purity by dispelling doubts?

No, sir.

Is it to ensure purity
by fullest insight into paths right and wrong?

No, sir.

Is it to ensure by fullest insight
[105] into the way by which to walk?

No, sir.

What is it for then,
as you answer no to all these questions?

To attain absolute Nirvana, sir.

Is that purity of life?

No, sir.

Is it purity of heart?

No, sir.

Is it purity of view?

No, sir.

Is it the purity which comes from dispelling doubts?

No, sir.

Is it the purity which comes from fullest insight into paths right and wrong?

No, sir.

Is it the purity which comes from fullest insight into the way by which to walk?

No, sir.

Is it the purity which insight gives?

No, sir.

Does absolute Nirvana lack these states of mind?

No, sir.

As you answer no to all these questions,
pray how is the meaning of your words to be understood?

If, sir, the Lord were to explain absolute Nirvana as purity of life
or as any other of the purities you name,
then he would make it contingent
and not absolute;
and if absolute Nirvana simply meant the lack of those states of mind,
then the ordinary man would have Nirvana, -
for, he has none of those states of mind.

Consequently, sir, I will give you an illustration; -
by an illustration some men of understanding
apprehend the meaning of a statement.

It is just as if,
while King Pasenadi of Kosala was in residence here in Savatthi,
some emergency were to arise in Saketa
and his people were to arrange seven carriages for him
in relays along the road
between Savatthi and Saketa.

Suppose now the King were to get into the first carriage at the palace door
and to drive along in it till he came to the second carriage,
and were then to dismiss the first
and get into the second carriage,
and so on until the seventh carriage
brought him to the door of his palace in Saketa;
and suppose within the palace
he were asked by his entourage and kinsfolk
whether it was in that last relay
he had come from Savatthi to the door of his palace in Saketa, -
what would be the correct answer for his majesty to give?

His correct answer would be that,
on an emergency requiring him to leave for Saketa,
his people arranged seven carriages
in relays for him along the road;
that [106] at the door of his palace in Savatthi
he got into the first carriage,
in which he drove along till he came to the second carriage into which he changed,
and so on till at last the seventh carriage brought him to the door of his palace in Saketa.

In just the same way, sir,
purity of life takes a man as far as purity of heart
and no further;
purity of heart takes him only up to purity of views;
and so on till fullest insight
carries him on to absolute Nirvana, -
for which it is that I lead the higher life with the Lord.

Hereupon, the reverend Sariputta said to the reverend Punna Mantani-putta:

What is your reverence's name,
and how are you known
to your fellows in the higher life?

Punna, reverend sir;
is my name;
and as Mantani-putta (son of the brahmin lady, Mantani)
am I known to my fellows in the higher life.

Wonderful, sir!

Marvellous, sir!

How like a well-instructed disciple
who understands the Master's teaching to the full,
has the reverend Punna Mantani-putta answered,
point by point,
questions deep and profound!

It is a great thing,
a very great thing,
that his fellows in the higher life
have the reverend Punna
to see and to consort with.

Yes, it would be a great thing for them,
a very great thing,
to see and to consort with him,
even if they had to carry him about
upon a cushion on their heads.

A great thing too,
a very great thing,
is it for me
that it has been mine
to see and to consort with the reverend Punna Mantani-putta.

Thereupon, the reverend Punna Mantani-putta said to the reverend Sariputta:

W'hat is your reverence's name,
and how are you known
to your fellows in the higher life?

Upatissa, reverend sir, is my name;
and as Sariputta (son of the brahmin lady Sari)
am I known
to my fellows in the higher life.

And here have I been talking,
without knowing it was Sariputta,
to the disciple whom men liken to the [107] Master himself!

Had I but known it was Sariputta,
I should certainly not have presumed
to answer him at such length.

Wonderful, sir!

Marvellous, sir!

How like a well-instructed disciple
who understands the Master's teaching to the full,
has the reverend Sariputta,
point by point,
put questions deep and profound!

It is a great thing,
a very great thing,
that his fellows in the higher life
have the reverend Sariputta
to see and consort with.

Yes, it would be a great thing for them,
a very great thing,
to see and to consort with him,
even if they had to carry him about
on a cushion on their heads.

A great thing too,
a very great thing,
is it for me
that it has been mine
to see and to consort with the reverend Sariputta.

In such wise did each of that noble pair of Arahats
(maha-naga) applaud what the other had said so well.


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