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Saŋyutta Nikāya,
V: MahāVagga
51. Iddhipāda Saŋyutta

Sutta 10

Shrine

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time Bhagava, Vesali-land revisiting,
Great Woods, Peaked-roof Hall.

2. There then The Lucky Man rising aforetime,
taking up bowl and robes,
entered Vesali to get food.

After returning from his beggar's rounds and eating his food he said this to the Elder Ananda:

Get for me, Ananda, my sitting mat — I would spend the day near Capala Cetiya.[1]

"Even so, Bhante," the elder Ananda said in response to Bhagava
and getting The Lucky Man's sitting mat,
he followed close behind.

3. Then Bhagava drew near to Capala Cetiya.

Having drawn near he sat in a wisely selected seat.[2]

The Elder Ananda then, having given salutation, took a seat to one side.

4. Then Bhagava said this to the Elder Ananda so seated:

How enjoyable, Ananda, is Vesali!
How enjoyable is Udena Shrine!
How enjoyable is Gotama Shrine!
How enjoyable is Seven Mangoes Shrine!
How enjoyable is Many Sons Shrine!
How enjoyable is Sarandada Shrine!
How enjoyable is Capala Shrine!

Whoever, Ananda has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths
could stay on a kappa,[3]
or the remainder of a kappa,
should they so wish.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
could stay on a kappa,
or the remainder of a kappa,
should he so wish.

 

§

 

6.[4] Then a second time The Lucky Man said this to the Elder Ananda.

How enjoyable, Ananda, is Vesali!
How enjoyable is Udena Shrine!
How enjoyable is Gotama Shrine!
How enjoyable is Seven Mangoes Shrine!
How enjoyable is Many Sons Shrine!
How enjoyable is Sarandada Shrine!
How enjoyable is Capala Shrine!

Whoever, Ananda has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths
could stay on a kappa,
or the remainder of a kappa,
should they so wish.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
could stay on a kappa,
or the remainder of a kappa,
should he so wish.

 

§

 

8. Then a third time The Lucky Man said this to the Elder Ananda.

How enjoyable, Ananda, is Vesali!
How enjoyable is Udena Shrine!
How enjoyable is Gotama Shrine!
How enjoyable is Seven Mangoes Shrine!
How enjoyable is Many Sons Shrine!
How enjoyable is Sarandada Shrine!
How enjoyable is Capala Shrine!

Whoever, Ananda has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths
could stay on a kappa,
or the remainder of a kappa,
should they so wish.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
has well set going,
taken a stand on,
thoroughly constructed,
developed,
and made a big thing of
the four power-paths.

The Tathagata, Ananda,
could stay on a kappa,
or the remainder of a kappa,
should he so wish.

There then The Lucky Man spoke thus to the Elder Ananda:

You may go now Ananda
and do that for which you think it serves the time.

"Even so, Bhante," said the Elder Ananda to The Lucky Man,
whereupon, saluting and keeping The Lucky Man to his right side,
he took a seat at the root of a certain tree not far off.

11. There then, around the time The Elder Ananda departed,
Mara, the Evil One[5] drew near The Lucky Man.

Having drawn near he said this to Bhagava:

Take the ultimate release, venerable!
Sweet, Lucky Man, is the taking of ultimate release!
Now, venerable, is the time for the Lucky Man to take ultimate release!

For, venerable,
the following statement was made by The Lucky Man:

"There will be no taking of ultimate release by me, Evil One,
until my beggars
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue."

And now, venerable, The Lucky Man's beggars
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue.

12. Take the ultimate release, venerable!
Sweet, Lucky Man, is the taking of ultimate release!
Now, venerable, is the time for the Lucky Man to take ultimate release!

For, venerable,
the following statement was made by The Lucky Man:

"There will be no taking of ultimate release by me, Evil One,
until my female beggars
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue."

And now, venerable, The Lucky Man's female beggars
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue.

13. Take the ultimate release, venerable!
Sweet, Lucky Man, is the taking of ultimate release!
Now, venerable, is the time for the Lucky Man to take ultimate release!

For, venerable,
the following statement was made by The Lucky Man:

"There will be no taking of ultimate release by me, Evil One,
until my lay followers
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue."

And now, venerable, The Lucky Man's lay followers,
are well-trained, accomplished hearers,
confident, having secured peace from the yoke;
having heard much, are upholders of the Dhamma
wisely reflecting the things that follow from Dhamma,
correctly reflecting a carriage which follows from Dhamma;
having become great teachers themselves,
are well able to reveal, point out, impart wisdom;
set forth, open up, analyse, and lay out Dhamma,
expounding it in striking ways,
thoroughly able to debate those of other dhammas,
issue by issue.

14. Take the ultimate release, venerable!
Sweet, Lucky Man, is the taking of ultimate release!
Now, venerable, is the time for the Lucky Man to take ultimate release!

For, venerable,
the following statement was made by The Lucky Man:

"There will be no taking of ultimate release by me, Evil One,
until this best of lives
has become powerful,
prosperous and wide-spread,
popular, grown great,
well-known among gods and men.

And now, venerable, The Lucky Man's best of lives
has become powerful,
prosperous and wide-spread,
popular, grown great,
well-known among gods and men.

Take the ultimate release, venerable!
Sweet, Lucky Man, is the taking of ultimate release!
Now, venerable, is the time for the Lucky Man to take ultimate release!

15. This said, The Lucky Man said this to Mara, The Evil One:

"Take it easy,[6] Evil One.

It will not be long
before the Tathagata takes the ultimate release.

At the end of three months
the Tathagata will have ultimate release.

16. Thus it was then
that at Capala Shrine,
recollected,
self-aware,
The Lucky Man released all ways of own-making.

And when The Lucky Man
released all ways of own-making
there came a great earthquake
— terrifying, hair-raising —
thunder, lightning and shaking.

17. There then The Lucky Man
seeing through to the significance,
at that time gave utterance to this inspiration.[7]

Measured against the immeasurable, individuaity,
the making of individuality the sage rejects,
putting down personal joy
he breaks own-self being's chains of mail.

 


[1] Cetiya. A memorial shrine. PED: a tumulus, sepulchral monument, cairn,
[tumulus = consisting of mounds] Notes on the Pre-Buddhist Shrines mentioned here taken from PTS, SN 5.51.10, The Shrine, Woodward, trans., who quotes UdA.
Udena: A memorial to the Yakkha Udena. D II.102, 118; III.9; DhA III.246;
Gotama (ka): location of the delivery of the Gotamaka Sutta [AN 3 123];
Cāpāla: Former dwelling-place of the Yakkha Cāpāla. D II.102, 118; S V.250;
Sattambaka: 'Seven princesses, daughters of Kiki (cf. JA. vi, Vessantara J., 481), rāja of Kāsi (Benares), being strongly stirred, left Rājagaha, and the place where they struggled (for attainment) was called after them "Seven Mangoes Shrine."' According to JA. they were reborn in this era as sisters Khemā, Uppalavaṇṇā, Paṭācārā, Gotamā, Dhamadiṇṇā, Mahāmāya, and Visākhā. D II.102, 118;
Bahuputta: A many-branching nigrodha tree. Many men pray for sons to the deva therein dwelling hence the name.' Comy. D II.102, 118; III.10; S II.220; A IV.16;
Sārandada: A memorial to a Yakkha of this name. D II.118, 175; A III.167;

[2] Paññatte āsane nisīdi. Usually translated along the lines of 'sat down in the seat made ready,' and at the time and I believe even today, in Buddhist households there is a seat that is arranged and kept empty against the possiblity of a visit from the Buddha. There are also many cases where when Gotama comes to visit an ascetic of another sect, the teacher rises up and offers Gotama a seat and takes a seat lower and to the side which suggests to me that the seat given is the seat formerly occupied by that teacher. I suspect the word 'paññatte,' meaning according the PED: 'pointed out, made known, ordered, designed, appointed, ordaned,' but from the word 'wisdom', really indicates the process of finding the most auspicious 'spot' in which to sit. Something like the way cats always manage to find a place to lie down that is asthetically pleasing. Something like Don Juan's process of finding a power spot. Likely a place which would take into consideration the possiblity of others arriving and taking seats to the side, and that would consider the sun, quiet, and other such factors. The Buddha, in taking a seat would sit in one smooth motion and having sat would not arrange the body further.

[3] Kappa. The word can mean anything from a moment, to a life-span, to the period of time from the start of the evolution of the world to the end of it's destruction to cycles of evolution and devolution of evolution and devolution of the world systems. Woodward [SN 5.51.10 n.] understands this to have been a rejection of the remainder of his natural lifespan which, considering that Gotama was already 80 could have been an additional 20 to 40 years for at the time it was not uncommon for people to live to 120 'rains'. This very reasonable explanation seems likely, but it must be remembered that there was supposed to have been a magic power that allowed a person to live out the remainder of a world-cycle. It is commonly believed even today in China that Kassapa the Great has used this power and he is alive even now, hidden away somewhere in the Himalayas.

[4] I have omitted sections 5,7 and 9 which are editorial remarks by the story teller which effectively ruin the impact of what the Buddha is saying. This is how Woodward translates the omitted sections (they are all identical):
"Now although so broad a hint was thus dropped by the Exalted One, though so broad and clear was his meaning, yet could not the venerable Ānanda penetrate it. Thus he begged not the Exalted One: 'Let my lord the Exalted One remain for the full span of life. Let the Happy One remain for the rest of his span of life, for the profit of many folk, for the happiness of many folk, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, profit and happiness of devas and mankind,' — so far was his mind misguided by Māra."
The episode told in this sutta is repeated in DN 16 and the criticism as here is brought up at the First Council where Ananda is made to confess an error that even then he states he does not think is an error. Things are sometimes deeper than they seem. It might have been necessary for Gotama to give this hint three times to prevent others from making the claim that he did not give opportunity for the request. Perhaps he made the declaration to Ananda precisely because he knew Ananda would not hear it as a hint. Perhaps the Arahants at the First Council also had to censure Ananda to emphasize the issue.
Relating this to the previous note, think about the possiblities of this statement. Take as a given that what Gotama says he can do he can do and that this refered to the magic power of being able to live out the remainder of a world cycle. Suppose the Hindu theory of 'ages' is true and this is a 'kaliyuga' a dark age, an age where things are getting worse and life is getting shorter and shorter, more and more corrupt. What he is talking about is a situation where a time comes when he is 1000 years old, 10,000 years old, 100,000 years old, hundreds of thousands of years old. In a world where the lifespan of individuals is becoming less and less from a starting point of about 100 years! Gotama here is already 80 and speaks of the body as being held together by bandaids! For him to live out the remainder of the kappa it might need to involve a complete change in the story. We all might need to live hundreds of thousands of years. Quite an adjustment. For him to do this would involve altering absolutely everything in the natural order of things. Or if not, if he were the only one not to age, think of the effect on the minds of ordinary people if he were to rejuvinate the body. Think of the sight he would need to endure of hundreds of thousands of years of people becoming ever more corrupt. Think of the boredom of having to listen to people like you complaining complaining complaining and doing nothing to save yourselves. Ask yourself if it isn't likely that he could see these things and pick a moment of dullness in Ananda (or to have picked Ananda in the first place because intuition of such a sort was not his best suit) to reveal this possibility. I think we need to avoid judgment and it is for that reason as well as for the fact that it ruins a good story that I have deleted these passages. Contemporary commentary is a legitamate aspect of sutta recitation, but it needs to be clearly differentiated from the sutta itself.

[5] Pāpima. The word relates to our 'passion' as in 'the Passion of Christ' i.e., suffering. As a Name for Mara that is hard to put in a way that is properly heard. 'The Sufferer' needs to be heard not as 'one who suffers' but as 'one who causes suffering'. So 'The Evil One', 'Bad-ass', 'The Bad', ... 'The Insufferable'?. 'Evil One' at least works when used by itself as an address and is a time-honored way of refering to the Devil in the West.

[6] Appossukko. A little ease. Ease off. Not to worry. Relax. Bhk. Bodhi: 'Be at ease.' Woodward: 'Trouble not thyself".

[7]

"Tulamatulañca sambhavaṃ||
bhavasaŋkhāramavassajī muni||
ajjhattarato samāhito||
abhidā kavacamivattasambhavan ti.|| ||

I submit this passage in support of my translation of 'sankhara' as own-making.

 


 

References:
see also: [DN 16]
[SN 1.4.1-25] The Mara Suttas, Olds, trans.


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