Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya:
Catukkanipata

The Numbers Bag
The Book of Fours

Sutta 70

Adhammikā

In the Days of Unrighteous Kings

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts] I HEAR TELL:[1]

On a certain occasion the Lucky Man addressed the beggars, saying:

'Beggars!'

'Bhadante!' replied those beggars to the Lucky Man.

Bhagava said:

In the days of unrighteous kings, beggars,
the ministers of kings also are unrighteous.

The ministers of kings being unrighteous,
spiritual leaders and powerful individuals[2] also are unrighteous.

Spiritual leaders and powerful individuals being unrighteous.

The people of the country also are unrighteous.

The people of the country being unrighteous.

The moon and sun deviate[3] from their courses,[4].

The moon and sun deviating from their courses,
the night sky and sparkling stars deviate from their courses.

The night sky and sparkling stars deviating from their courses,
night and day deviate from their courses.

Night and day deviating from their courses,
the moon's phases deviate from their courses.

The moon's phases deviating from their courses
the seasonal cycles deviate from their courses.

The seasonal cycles deviating from their courses,
the winds deviate from their usual order in their weaving to and fro.

The winds deviating from their usual order in their weaving to and fro,
the gods become agitated.

The gods becoming agitated
the rain-god is insufficiently generous.

The rain-god being insufficiently generous
the corn ripens abnormally.

When the corn ripens abnormally, beggars,
men sustained by such
are short lived,
ugly,
powerless
and suffer much illness.

 

§

 

[2] But, beggars, in the days of righteous kings,
the ministers of kings also are righteous.

The ministers of kings being righteous,
spiritual leaders and powerful individuals also are righteous.

Spiritual leaders and powerful individuals being righteous,
the people of the country also are righteous.

The people of the country being righteous,
the moon and sun are steady in their courses.

The moon and sun being steady in their courses,
the night sky and sparkling stars are steady in their courses.

The night sky and sparkling stars being steady in their courses,
night and day are steady in their courses.

Night and day being steady in their courses,
the moon's phases are steady in their courses.

The moon's phases being steady in their courses
the seasonal cycles are steady in their courses.

The seasonal cycles being steady in their courses,
the winds are steady, weaving to and fro in their usual order.

The winds being steady, weaving to and fro in their usual order,
the gods do not become agitated.

The gods not becoming agitated
the rain-god is sufficiently generous.

The rain-god being sufficiently generous
the corn ripens normally.

When the corn ripens normally, beggars,
men sustained by such
are long lived,
handsome,
powerful
and suffer little illness.

 

§

 

As cattle when the lead bull swerves,
All of a mind to follow, swerve as well,
So with men, if he who is the leader be corrupt,
so much the more will those who follow be.
 
Th'unrighteous king to all the realm brings pain.

 

As cattle when the lead bull's course is straight
All of a mind to follow, go straight as well,
So with men, if he who is the leader be upright,
so much the more will those who follow be.
 
The righteous king to all the realm brings peace.

 


[1] No Nidana for this sutta; the closest Nidana previous to this is for #68 where the Buddha is said to be residing in Rajagaha at the Vulture's Peak shortly after Devadatta had left the order.

[2] brāhmaṇagahapati; brahmans and householders, but to make this apply to the current make up of society, the roles these groups held at the time are used here in stead.

[3] visama; un-even; which doesn't work, so my deviate: de + via, to swerve off course or off track.

[4] There will be objection here that such a thing is impossible according to our modern science. Putting asside for the time being the fact that our modern science has an almost unbroken record of being wrong; there are a couple of interpretations of this that do not conflict with our science. What is being described may not be a situation such as we see here today (USA Friday, March 28, 2003 10:46 AM) where corruption has taken over like mold on an orange, not to be stopped until it has completely ruined the orange for eating, what is being described is an observation made by seer's of huge courses of time, to be measured in millions of years, not a few decades or hundreds of years; or another way of hearing this is as an alagory, the projection of how corruption works to throw every day life off course, souring one for the taste for life and bringing about general all-round depression and the feeling that everything is out of whack.

 


 

References:

See also: On Worldly Activism
Jataka 334
Jataka 396

 


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