WARREN: BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS

87

 

 


 

 

Ī 10. The Conversion of Sāriputta And Moggallāna[1]

Translated from the Mahā-Vagga (1.23.1)

 

Now at that time, Sañjaya, the wandering ascetic, was dwelling at Rājagaha in company with a large following of wandering ascetics, two hundred and fifty in number; and at that time Sāriputta and Moggallāna were leading the religious life under Sañjaya, the wandering ascetic. And they had made this compact: "That one of us who shall first attain to the deathless is to tell it to the other."

Then the venerable Assaji, having put on his tunic in the morning and taken his bowl and his robes, entered Rājagaha for alms, winning the minds of men with his advancing and his retiring, with his looking and his gazing, with his drawing in his arms and his stretching out his arms, and having his eyes cast down, and perfect in his deportment. And Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, saw the venerable Assaji going the rounds of Rājagaha for alms, winning the minds of men with his advancing and his retiring, with his looking and [88] his gazing, with his drawing in his arms and his stretching out his arms, and having his eyes cast down, and perfect in his deportment. And when he had seen him, it occurred to him as follows: --

"This must be a priest who is either a saint already, or has entered the path which conducts to saintship. What if now I draw near to this priest, and ask him, 'To follow whom, brother, did you retire from the world? Who is your teacher? and whose doctrine do you approve?'"

Then it occurred to Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, as follows:--

"It is not a fit time to ask this priest questions while he is inside the city, and going the rounds for alms. What if now I follow in the wake of this priest in the manner approved of for those who have requests to prefer?"

Then the venerable Assaji, after he had gone the rounds of Rājagaha and obtained alms, issued from the city; and Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, drew near to where the venerable Assaji was; and having drawn near, he exchanged greetings with the venerable Assaji; and having passed with him the greetings of friendship and civility, he stood respectfully at one side. And standing respectfully at one side, Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, spoke to the venerable Assaji as follows:--

"Placid, brother, are all your organs of sense; clear and bright is the color of your skin. To follow whom, brother, did you retire from the world? Who is your teacher? and whose doctrine do you approve?"

"Brother, there is a great Sakyaputta monk, one who has retired from the world out of the Sakya clan. To follow this Blessed One have I retired from the world, and this Blessed One is my teacher, and the Doctrine of this Blessed One do I approve."

"But what, venerable sir, is your teacher's doctrine? and what does he proclaim?"

"Brother, I am a novice and a new-comer, and the time is but short since I retired from the world under this Doctrine and Discipline. I am not able to expound to you the Doctrine [89] at any great length, but I can tell you the substance of it in brief."

Then Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, spoke to the venerable Assaji as follows: --

"So be it, brother. Whether little or much, tell it me. Tell me only the substance; it is the substance I want. Why should you make a long matter of it?"

Then the venerable Assaji recited to Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, the following exposition of the Doctrine:--

"The Buddha hath the causes told
Of all things springing from a cause;
And also how things cease to be --
T'is this the Mighty Monk proclaims."

On hearing this exposition of the Doctrine, there arose in the mind of Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, a clear and distinct perception of the Doctrine that whatever is subject to origination is subject also to cessation." If this is the Doctrine," said he, "then, indeed, have you reached the sorrowless state lost sight of and neglected for many myriads of world-cycles."

Then Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, drew near to where Moggallāna, the wandering ascetic, was. And Moggallāna, the wandering ascetic, saw Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, approaching from afar; and when he had seen him, he spoke to Sāriputta, the wandering ascetic, as follows: --

"Placid, brother, are all your organs of sense; clear and bright is the color of your skin. Brother, have you attained to the deathless?"

"Yea, brother, I have attained to the deathless."

"But how, brother, did you attain to the deathless?"

"Brother, just now I saw Assaji the priest going the rounds of Rājagaha for alms, winning the minds of men with his advancing and his retiring, with his looking and his gazing, with his drawing in his arms and his stretching out his arms, and having his eyes cast down, and perfect in his deportment; and when I had seen him, it occurred to me as follows: --

[90] "This must be a priest who is either a saint already, or has entered the path which conducts to saintship. What if now I were to draw near to this priest, and ask him, 'To follow whom, brother, did you retire from the world? Who is your Teacher? and whose doctrine do you approve?' Then, brother, it occurred to me as follows: 'It is not a fit time to ask this priest questions while he is inside the city and going the round for alms. What if now I follow in the wake of this priest in the manner approved of for those who have requests to prefer?' Then, brother, Assaji the priest, after he had gone the rounds of Rājagaha and obtained alms, issued from the city; and I, brother, drew near to where Assaji the priest was; and having drawn near, I exchanged greetings with the venerable Assaji; and having passed with him the greetings of friendship and civility, I stood respectfully at one side. And standing respectfully at one side, I spoke, brother, to the venerable Assaji as follows: 'Placid, brother, are all your organs of sense; clear and bright is the color of your skin. To follow whom, brother, did you retire from the world? Who is your teacher? and whose doctrine do you approve?' 'Brother, there is a great Sakyaputta monk, one who has retired from the world out of the Sakya clan. To follow this Blessed One have I retired from the world, and this Blessed One is my teacher, and the Doctrine of this Blessed One do I approve.' 'But what, venerable sir, is your teacher's doctrine? and what does he proclaim?' 'Brother, I am a novice and a new-comer, and the time is but short since I retired from the world under the Doctrine and Discipline. I am not able to expound to you the Doctrine at any great length, but I can tell you the substance of it in brief.' 'So be it, brother. Whether little or much, tell it me. Tell me only the substance; it is the substance I want. Why should you make a long matter of it?' Then, brother, Assaji the priest recited to me the following exposition of the Doctrine:--

"'The Buddha hath the causes told
Of all things springing from a cause;
And also how things cease to be--
T'is this the Mighty Monk proclaims.'"

[91] On hearing this exposition of the Doctrine, there arose in the mind of Moggallāna, the wandering ascetic, a clear and distinct perception of the Doctrine that whatever is subject to origination is subject also to cessation. "If this is the Doctrine," said he, "then, indeed, have you reached the sorrowless state lost sight of and neglected for many myriads of world-cycles."


[1]Sāriputta and Moggallāna after their conversion became the two chief disciples of The Buddha. See page 16, Story of Sumedha, verse 77.

 


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