Khuddaka Nikaya


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Udāna
V.6: Sona Suttaṃ

About Sona

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

 


 

[V-6.1] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time Ven. MahaKaccana was living among the people of Avanti on Pavatta Mountain near the Osprey Habitat. And at that time the lay follower Sona Kotikanna was Ven. MahaKaccana's supporter. Then as Sona Kotikanna was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to his awareness: "According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?"

So he went to Ven. MahaKaccana and on arrival, having bowed down to Ven. MahaKaccana, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. MahaKaccana, "Just now, venerable sir, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness: 'According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?' Give me the going-forth, Master MahaKaccana!"

When this was said, Ven. MahaKaccana said to Sona Kotikanna, "It's hard, Sona, the life-long, one-meal-a-day, sleeping-alone celibate life. Please, right there as you are a householder, devote yourself to the message of the Awakened Ones and to the proper-time [i.e., uposatha day] one-meal-a-day, sleeping-alone celibate life." And so Sona Kotikanna's idea of going-forth subsided.

Then a second time as Sona Kotikanna was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to his awareness: "According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?"

So he went to Ven. MahaKaccana and on arrival, having bowed down to Ven. MahaKaccana, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. MahaKaccana, "Just now, venerable sir, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness: 'According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?' Give me the going-forth, Master MahaKaccana!"

When this was said, Ven. MahaKaccana said to Sona Kotikanna, "It's hard, Sona, the life-long, one-meal-a-day, sleeping-alone celibate life. Please, right there as you are a householder, devote yourself to the message of the Awakened Ones and to the proper-time [i.e., uposatha day] one-meal-a-day, sleeping-alone celibate life." And so Sona Kotikanna's idea of going-forth subsided a second time.

Then a third time as Sona Kotikanna was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to his awareness: "According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?"

So he went to Ven. MahaKaccana and on arrival, having bowed down to Ven. MahaKaccana, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. MahaKaccana, "Just now, venerable sir, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness: 'According to the Dhamma Master MahaKaccana teaches, it's not easy living at home to practice the celibate life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?' Give me the going-forth, Master MahaKaccana!"

So Ven. MahaKaccana gave Sona Kotikanna the going-forth.

Now at that time the southern country of Avanti was short of monks. So only after three years -- having gathered from here and there with hardship and difficulty a quorum-of-ten community of monks[1] -- did Ven. MahaKaccana give full admission to Ven. Sona. Then, after having completed the Rains retreat, as he was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to Ven. Sona's awareness: "I haven't seen the Blessed One face-to-face. I have simply heard that he is like this and like that. If my preceptor would give me permission, I would go to see the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Rightly Self-awakened One."

So, leaving seclusion in the late afternoon, he went to Ven. MahaKaccana and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. MahaKaccana, "Just now, venerable sir, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness: 'I haven't seen the Blessed One face-to-face. I have simply heard that he is like this and like that. If my preceptor would give me permission, I would go to see the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Rightly Self-awakened One.'"

"Good, good, Sona. Go, Sona, to see the Blessed One the Worthy One, the Rightly Self-awakened One. You will see the Blessed One who is serene and inspires serene confidence, whose senses are calmed, who has attained the utmost tranquillity and poise, a Great One (naga) who is controlled, tamed, restrained in his senses. On seeing him, showing reverence with your head to his feet in my name, ask whether he is free from illness and affliction, is carefree, strong, and living in comfort, [saying: 'My preceptor, lord, shows reverence with his head to your feet and asks whether you are free from illness and affliction, are carefree, strong, and living in comfort.'"][2]

"As you say, venerable sir," replied Ven. Sona. Delighting in and approving of Ven. MahaKaccana's words, he got up from his seat, bowed down to Ven. MahaKaccana, circumambulated him, set his lodging in order, and taking his bowl and robes set off wandering toward Savatthi. Wandering by stages, he arrived at Savatthi, Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. He went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Lord, my preceptor, Ven. MahaKaccana, shows reverence with his head to the Blessed One's feet and asks whether the Blessed One is free from illness and affliction, is carefree, strong, and living in comfort."

"Are you well, monk? Are you in good health? Have you come along the road with only a little fatigue? And are you not tired of alms-food?"

"I am well, Blessed One. I am in good health, Blessed One. I have come along the road, lord, with only a little fatigue and I am not tired of alms-food."

Then the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ananda, [saying,] "Ananda, prepare bedding for this visiting monk."

Then the thought occurred to Ven. Ananda, "When the Blessed One orders me, 'Ananda, prepare bedding for this visiting monk,' he wants to stay in the same dwelling with that monk. The Blessed One wants to stay in the same dwelling with Ven. Sona." So he prepared bedding for Ven. Sona in the dwelling in which the Blessed One was staying. Then the Blessed One, having spent much of the night sitting in the open air, washed his feet and entered the dwelling. Likewise, Ven. Sona, having spent much of the night sitting in the open air, washed his feet and entered the dwelling. Then, getting up toward the end of the night, the Blessed One invited Ven. MahaSona,[3] [saying,] "Monk, I would like you to recite the Dhamma."

Responding, "As you say, lord," Ven. Sona chanted all sixteen parts of the Atthakavagga. The Blessed One, at the conclusion of Ven. Sona's chanting, was highly pleased [and said], "Good, good, monk. You have learned the Attakavagga [verses] well, have considered them well, have borne them well in mind. You have a fine delivery, clear and faultless, that makes the meaning intelligible. How many Rains [in the monkhood] do you have?"

"I have one Rains, lord."

"But why did you take so long [to ordain]?"

"For a long time, lord, I have seen the drawbacks in sensual passions, but the household life is crowded with many duties, many things to be done."

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Seeing the drawbacks of the world,
knowing the state without acquisitions,
a noble one doesn't delight in evil,
in evil
    a pure one doesn't delight.

 


[1] Originally, a quorum of at least ten monks was required to ordain a new monk. In the version of this story given in the Vinaya (Mv.V.13.1-13), Ven. MahaKaccana sends requests to the Buddha via Ven. Sona that some of the Vinaya rules be relaxed outside of the middle Ganges valley, one of them being that the quorum required for ordination be reduced. As a result, the Buddha amended the relevant rule, stating that the quorum of ten was needed only within the middle Ganges valley, and that outside of the middle Ganges valley a quorum of five would be sufficient to ordain a new monk, provided that at least one of the five be knowledgeable in the Vinaya.

[2] The passage in brackets is in the PTS edition, but not in the Thai edition.

[3] This is the only point in the sutta where Ven. Sona has the prefix "Great" (Maha) added to his name.


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