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Samyutta Nikaya
IV. Salayatana Vagga
35: Salayatana Samyutta
Pannasa Catuttham
4. Asivisa Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
IV. Kindred Sayings on the 'Six-Fold Sphere' of Sense and Other Subjects
35: Kindred Sayings the Sixfold Sphere of Sense The 'Fourth Fifty' Suttas
4. The Chapter on the Snake

Sutta 197

Asiviso Suttam

The Snake[1]

Translated by F. L. Woodward
Edited by Mrs. Rhys Davids

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[172] [107]

[1][than][bodh] Thus have I heard:

The Exalted One was once staying near Savatthi, at Jeta Grove, in Anathapindika's, Park.

Then the Exalted One addressed the brethren, saying:

"Brethren."

"Lord," responded those brethren to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One thus spake:

"Suppose, Brethren, four snakes,
of fierce heat
and fearful [108] venom.

Then a man comes by,
fond of his life,
not loving death,
fond of happiness
and loathing pain.[2]

Suppose men say to him:

'Here, good fellow, are four snakes,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom.[3]

From time to time
they must be roused up,
bathed and fed,
from time to time
they must be put to bed.[4]

Now, good fellow,
whenever one of these four snakes,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,
gets angry,
then you will come by your death
or mortal pain.[5]

So do as you think fit, my man.'

Then suppose, Brethren, that man
in mortal terror of those four snakes,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,
wanders here and there,
and they tell him:

'See here, good fellow.

Five murderous foes
are following close upon your tracks, saying,

"Whenever we see him,
we will slay him."

So do as you think fit, my man.'

But, Brethren, that man,
in terror of the four snakes,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,
in terror of the five murderous foes,
might wander here and there,
and men might say to him:

'Here, good fellow, is a sixth,
a murderous housebreaker,[6]
who with uplifted sword
follows close upon your tracks, saying,

"As soon as I see him,
I'll cut his head off."

So do as you think fit, my man.'

Then, Brethren, that man,
in terror of the four snakes,,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,
in terror of the five murderous foes,
in terror of the sixth,
the murderous housebreaker
with drawn sword,
might wander here and there.

Then he sees an empty village.

Whatever house he may enter
he finds it empty,
deserted
and void.

Therein, whatever crock he may handle,
he finds it empty
and void.

Then they might say to him:

'Now, good fellow,
robbers who plunder village's
are going to plunder this deserted one.

So do as you think fit, my man.'

[109] Then, Brethren, that man,
in terror of the four snakes,,
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,
in terror of the five murderous foes,
in terror of the sixth,
the murderous housebreaker
with drawn sword,
in terror of the village-plunderers,
might roam here and there.

Then suppose he sees a great broad water,
the hither side beset with fears and dangers,
but the further side secure and free from fears,
but no boat wherein to cross,
nor any bridge for going forth and back.

Then, Brethren, it might occur to that man:

'Here is a great, broad water,
the hither side beset with fears and dangers,
but the further side secure and free from fears,
but no boat wherein to cross,
nor any bridge for going forth and back

How now if I gather grass,
sticks,
branches
and leaves,
bind together a raft,[7]
and mounting thereon
and striving with hands and feet
cross safely to the further shore?

And suppose he does so.

Crossed over,
gone beyond,
the brahmin[8] stands on dry land.

Now, Brethren, this simile have I made
to illustrate my meaning.

And the interpretation of it is this: -

'The four snakes
of fierce heat
and fearful venom,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the four great essentials,[9]
the elements of earth,
water,
fire
and air.

'The five murderous foes,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the fivefold factors of grasping,
to wit:
the grasping factor of body,
the grasping factor of feeling,
the grasping factor of perception,
the grasping factor of the activities,
the grasping factor of consciousness.

'The sixth,
the murderous housebreaker
with uplifted sword,' -
that is a name for passionate desire.

'The empty village,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the personal sixfold sense-sphere.

For if a man,
however wise,
clever,
intelligent he be,
searches it through
by way of the eye,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.

If he searches it through
by way of the ear,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.

If he searches it through
by way of the nose,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.

If he searches it through
by way of the tongue,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.

If he searches it through
by way of the body,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.

If he searches it through
by way of the mind,
he finds it empty,
finds it void,
unoccupied.[10]

'The village-plunderers,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the external sixfold sense-sphere.

For the eye, Brethren, destroys with entrancing shapes,
the ear destroys with entrancing sounds,
the nose destroys with entrancing scents,
the tongue destroys with entrancing savours, [110]
the body destroys with entrancing tangibles,
the mind destroys with entrancing mind-states.

'The great, broad water,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the fourfold flood[11]
of desire,
becoming,
view
and ignorance.

'The hither shore,' Brethren,
beset with fears and dangers,-
that is a name for the person-pack.[12]

'The further shore,' Brethren,
secure and safe from fears, -
that is a name for Nibbana.

'The raft,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the Ariyan Eightfold Path,
to wit:|| ||

Right view,
right speech,
right action,
right living,
right effort,
right mindfulness,
right concentration.[ed1]

'Striving with hands and feet,' Brethren, -
that is a name for energy and effort.[13]

'Crossed over,
gone beyond,
the brahmin stands on dry land,' Brethren, -
that is a name for the Arahant.

 


[1] Asivisa. This sermon was preached, acc. to Mahavansa, xii (Geiger, p. 84), by the thera Majjhantika to the dwellers of Kasmira and Gandhara. Cf. A. ii, 110. Comy. [?] treats us to a long discourse on snakes and their ways. These four he calls kattha-, puti, aggi-, sattha-mukha. These are reared by rajahs and are used, among other purposes, 'to bite robbers.' Cf. Expositor, ii, 393; SnA. 458; Pugg. 48.

[2] Cf. K.S. 11, 69.

[3] Ghora-visa = dunnimmadana-visa Suggested derivs. of asitta-visa, asita-visa, asi-sudisa-v.Comy.

[4] I read with Comy., sanvesetabba (S. l-3), who so explains, giving rein to his imagination to the extent of several pages.

[5] Marana-mattan dkkhan (pain 'as bad as (death' or 'just death')

[6] Antacaro, lit. 'one who goes inside' as opposed to cora, a highwayman or footpad.

[7] Cf. M. 1, 134; Ud. viii, 6.

[8] Brahmana, the Arahant Cf. K.S. i, 67 n.

[9] Mahabhutd. Cf. DhsA. 300 (Expos. 395); SnA. 458.

[10] 'By anything of the nature of "I" or "mine."' Comy. Cf. B. Psy. Eth., II 597, etc.

[11] Ogha.

[12] Sakkaya. Cf. K.S. iii, 86 n.

[13] Viriyarambhassa. Comy. and MSS. read viriyassa.


[ed1] From SN 5.45.1 - Woodward


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