Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
4. Mahā Yamaka Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers
G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1926
Public Domain

Sutta 35

Cūḷa-Saccaka Suttaɱ

Saccaka's Onslaught

 


 

[1][wrrn][pts][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Vesālī
in the Gabled Hall in Great Wood,
there was living in that city Saccaka,
son of the Jain (woman),
a great controversialist,
who gave himself out as learned
and was held in high popular repute.

He used to go about Vesālī, saying to people there:

I see no recluse or brahmin -
founder of a Confraternity or following,
with followers to teach,
even though he be hailed as 'Arahat all-enlightened' -
who, when taken in hand by me
point by point,
would not fall a-trembling
and be all of a tremble,
and quake,
with the sweat streaming from his arm pits.

Why, if I were to take in hand,
point by point,
an insensate post,
even that would fall a-trembling
and be all of a tremble
and quake, -
let alone a human being.

Now early one morning the reverend Assaji,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
went into Vesālī for alms.

Seeing him coming some way off,
Saccaka, who was wandering up and down the city,
went up to him and,
after exchange of civil greetings,
stood to one side, saying:

How does the recluse Gotama train his disciples?

In what divisions
does his teaching mostly run?

After this wise
and in the following divisions,
Aggivessana[1]:

Visible shape, Almsmen, is impermanent;
feeling is impermanent;
perception is impermanent;
the plastic forces are impermanent;
and consciousness is impermanent.

There is no Self in visible shapes,
feelings,
perceptions,
plastic forces,
or [163] consciousness.

All plastic forces are impermanent,
and there is no Self in any mental states.

After this wise
and in those divisions
does the Lord's teaching mostly run.[2]

I am sorry to hear that the recluse Gotama holds this.

Perhaps, some time or other,
I may meet your worthy Gotama
and have a talk with him;
I might wean him from those wrong views of his.

Just then five hundred of the Licchavis
were met together in their moot-house
on some business or other,
and to them came Saccaka, saying:

Come along, good Licchavis;
come along with me!

To-day I am going to have a talk with the recluse Gotama.

If he takes up his stand against me
on the lines taken up
by his well-known follower, the Almsman Assaji, -
why, point by point,
I will shake him to and fro
and haul him about
even as a lusty fellow
would tug and haul about
a fleecy ram he had got by its fleece;
or, as a lusty brewer,
with his crate plunged into a deep pool of water,
would take it by its handles
and shake it to and fro
as he hauled it about;
or, as a brewer's lusty varlet,
holding his rinser by its handle,
would shake it up and down
and toss it about; -
even so, point by point,
will I shake up and down
and toss about the recluse Gotama;
or, as in a deep tank
a full-grown elephant in his prime
disports himself as with what is called
'the merry washing day'
so will I disport myself with the recluse Gotama.

So come along, good Licchavis,
come along with me!

To-day I am going to have a talk with the recluse Gotama.

Some Licchavis said Saccaka was bound to win;
but others said the Lord would triumph over the inflated Saccaka.

So, with a following of five hundred Licchavis,
Saccaka came to the Gabled Hall in Great Wood,
and, finding a number of the Almsmen pacing up and down in the open air,
went up to them, asking -

Where is the reverend Gotama at the present time?

We should like to see him.

[164] The Lord, was the answer,
is in Great Wood,
sitting under a tree
during the heat of the day, Aggivessana.

Thereupon Saccaka,
with his great train of Licchavis,
went into Great Wood to the Lord,
and, after exchange of civil greetings,
took a seat to one side, -
as also did the Licchavis,
some after obeisance,
some after greetings,
some with joined palms outstretched in salutation,
some with mention of their names and clans,
and others again in silence.

From his seat Saccaka said to the Lord:

There is a small point
on which I should like to question the reverend Gotama,
if he will allow me.

Ask, Aggivessana, whatever you will.

How, then, does the reverend Gotama train his disciples?

In what divisions does his teaching mostly run?

After this wise
and in the following divisions, Aggivessana:

Visible shape, Almsmen, is impermanent;
feeling is impermanent;
perception is impermanent;
the plastic forces are impermanent;
and consciousness is impermanent.

There is no Self in visible shapes,
feelings,
perceptions,
plastic forces,
or consciousness.

All plastic forces are impermanent,
and there is no Self in any mental states.

After this wise
and in those divisions my teaching mostly runs.

A comparison occurs to me, Gotama.

Pray let us hear it, Aggivessana.

Just as the growth, increase, and development
of every seed
and of all vegetation
depends always on the earth
and is based on the earth;
just as the accomplishment of all tasks involving strength
depends always on the earth
and is based on the earth; -
just the same is it
with an individual's material Self (rūpatta)
which, because it is based on matter,
produces merit or demerit;
and the same applies to the individual Self
of feeling,
of perception,
of the plastic forces,
and of consciousness.

Do you not affirm, Aggivessana,
that your material shape is your Self,
that your feelings are your Self,
that [165] your perceptions are your Self,
that your plastic forces are your Self,
and that your consciousness is your Self?

Yes, that is precisely what I do affirm; -
and so does this great gathering.

What will 'this great gathering' avail?

Pray, Aggivessana, confine yourself to your own argument.

I affirm that my material shape is my Self,
that my feelings are my Self,
that my perceptions are my Self,
that my plastic forces are my Self,
and that my consciousness is my Self.

Then, Aggivessana, I will here ask you a return question,
to which you will make such answer as seems good to you.

What say you?

Would a Noble,
being an anointed King,
like King Pasenadi of Kosala
or like King Ajatasattu of Magadha,
the son of the Videha lady,
have power-within his own realm -
to put to death
or to mulct
or to exile
those of his own subjects
who deserve those respective punishments?

Yes, he would.

Why, even confederations
and federations such as the Vajjians
or Mallians
possess this power -
within their own realms -;
and of course a monarch like King Pasenadi
or King Ajatasattu,
possesses it;
he would have this power
and ought to have it.

What say you, Aggivessana?

When you say your material shape is your Self,
have you the power to make it become,
or not become,
what you order?[3]

On this Saccaka became silent.

A second time the Lord asked the question,
but still Saccaka was silent.

Answer, said the Lord;
this is no time to be silent.

If thrice a person is asked a doctrinal question by the Truth-finder
and answers not,
his skull is then and there cloven into seven pieces.

At that moment (Sakka) the fairy of the thunderbolt, [166] grasping his iron thunderbolt
all afire,
all a-glow,
all a-blaze,
took his stand in the air over Saccaka,
to cleave his head into seven pieces
if he failed the third time
to return an answer to the Lord's question.

And this fairy of the thunderbolt
was visible to the Lord
and to Saccaka.

In dread and dismay,
with every hair on his body standing erect,
Saccaka - now seeking protection
and shelter
and refuge
with the Lord! - said:

Let the reverend Gotama put his question to me,
and I will answer it.

What say you, Aggivessana?

When you say your material shape is your Self,
have you the power to make it become,
or not become,
what you order?

No.

Think before you answer, Aggivessana;
for your former utterance
does not accord with your last,
nor your last
with the former.

[Similar paragraphs about feelings, perceptions, the plastic forces, and consciousness.]

What say you, Aggivessana?

Is material shape permanent or impermanent?

Impermanent.

Is that which is impermanent
an Ill or the reverse?

An Ill.

Is it proper to regard what is impermanent
and an Ill
and the creature of change,
as being mine,
or I,
or my Self?

No.

[Similar paragraphs about feelings and the rest.]

What say you, Aggivessana?

Can a man who so clings to Ill,
who has so gone over to Ill,
and who so cleaves to Ill,
that he regards Ill as mine,
I,
my Self, -
can he either of himself fathom Ill
or cast it out of his life?

How could that be?

It is not the fact.

It is just like, Aggivessana,
a man in need,
search
and quest of the best of timber,
who should go with a keen axe
into the forest
and there, seeing a great banana-tree,
straight and young and towering aloft,
should cut its roots through,
chop off its head,
and then [167] proceed to unroll the ensheathing leaves,
yet should never come on even second-rate timber,
much less on the best of timber; -
just in the same way,
when examined
and pressed
and interrogated
on your own statements,
you are found empty
and vain
and faulty.

What you said to people in Vesālī was this:

I see no recluse or brahmin -
founder of a Confraternity or following,
with followers to teach,
even though he be hailed as
'Arahat all-enlightened' -
who, when taken in hand by me
point by point,
would not fall a-trembling
and be all of a tremble
and quake,
with the sweat streaming from his arm-pits.

Why, (you went on to observe)
if I were to take in hand,
point by point,
an insensate post,
even that would fall a-trembling
and be all of a tremble
and quake, -
let alone a human being.

It is from your brow
that the sweat has streamed down your robe on to the ground;
while I have no sweat at all on my body.

And so saying
the Lord bared his golden body
to the gaze of the assemblage.

At these words Saccaka sat silent and upset,
with his shoulders hunched up
and with his eyes downcast,
much exercised in his mind
but finding no words to utter.

Seeing Saccaka's sorry plight,
the Licchavi Dummukha said to the Lord
that a comparison occurred to him,
and, being bidden to state it, said:

It is just like a crab
in a pond near a village or township,
which is fished out on to dry land
by the neighbouring boys or girls
who with sticks and stones
break and smash and pound
each successive claw
that the crab thrusts forth in turn,
until, when all his claws have been broken, smashed and pounded,
the crab is unable to get to his pond as he used.

Just in the same way the Lord has broken, smashed and pounded
Saccaka's every successive trick, wriggle, and squirm
until Saccaka can never again come to the Lord as a controversialist.

Go away, Dummukha! go away!

I am conferring with Gotama,
not with you, said Saccaka, -
who went on to say to the Lord:

Let us pass from what I,
with many other recluses and brahmins,
have said on these [168] lines, -
all so much idle chatter, methinks.

In what respects, now,
does a disciple of yours
carry out your doctrines
and practise your teaching,
living by the Doctrine of his master
and of no one else,
beyond doubts and perplexities,
in confident assurance?

Take the case, Aggivessana, of a disciple of mine
who sees in the plenitude of knowledge and reality
that no material shape whatsoever, -
past, present, or future,
internal or external,
gross or delicate,
lowly or choice,
far or near -
is mine,
or I,
or my Self;
and who sees the like
concerning feelings -
perceptions -
the plastic forces -
and consciousness.

These are the respects in which a disciple of mine
carries out my doctrines
and practises my teaching,
living by the Doctrine of his master
and of no one else,
beyond doubts and perplexities,
in confident assurance.

In what respects does an Almsman become an Arahat, -
in whom the Cankers are no more,
who has greatly lived,
who has shed his burthen and won his weal,
who is no longer fettered to existence,
and who by utter knowledge
has won Deliverance?

Take the case of a Brother
who, from seeing,
in the plenitude of knowledge and reality,
that no material shape -
or feeling and so forth -
is mine or I, or my Self,
becomes Delivered in absolute emancipation.

These are the respects in which an Almsman becomes an Arahat ...
has won Deliverance.

The Almsman whose heart is thus Delivered
possesses three excellences, -
excellence in vision,
excellence in practice,
excellence in Deliverance.

So Delivered,
he pays to the Truth-finder alone
honour and reverence,
devotion and worship,
saying: -

Enlightened himself,
the Lord preaches the doctrine for enlightenment.

Self-controlled himself,
the Lord preaches the doctrine for selfcontrol.

At peace himself,
the Lord preaches the doctrine for finding peace.

Having crossed the flood himself,
he preaches the doctrine for crossing.

Winner of Nirvana for himself,
he preaches to others the doctrine for winning Nirvana.

This said, Saccaka said to the Lord:-

I was [169] arrogant and presumptuous
to imagine that, point by point,
I could cope with the reverend Gotama.

A man might perhaps face with impunity
a rutting elephant, -
but not the reverend Gotama.

With impunity perhaps
a man might face a blazing conflagration, -
but not the reverend Gotama.

With impunity perhaps
a man might face a deadly venomous snake, -
but not the reverend Gotama.

Yes; I was arrogant and presumptuous
to imagine that, point by point,
I could cope with the reverend Gotama, -
who, I beg,
will, with the Confraternity,
take his meal with me to-morrow.

By his silence the Lord intimated his assent,
whereupon Saccaka informed the Licchavis
and asked them to make due provision.

Accordingly, when night had passed away,
they furnished him with five hundred cauldrons of boiled rice as a gift;
and Saccaka made ready in his pleasaunce
an excellent meal of food
both hard and soft,
and sent word to the Lord that the repast was now ready.

Thither in the morning came the Lord,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
and sat down on the seat set for him,
he and the Confraternity.

Then with his own hands
Saccaka served the Confraternity,
headed by the Buddha,
with that excellent meal
without stint
till all had eaten their fill,
after which he sat himself down
on a lower seat to one side of the Lord, saying: -

May the merit of this gift,
and of this field for reaping merit,
bring welfare to the donors!

Unto them, Aggivessana,
shall accrue whatsoever merit attaches
to a recipient of gifts like yourself -
not free from passion, hate, and delusion.

Unto thee shall accrue
whatsoever merit attaches
to a recipient like myself
who am free from passion, hate, and delusion.

 


[1] The Agnivesyāyanas were a brahmin gotra; and Kshatriyas who were so styled doubtless took the name from their brahmin purohitas. Cf. Suttas Nos. 74 and 125 and Anguttara II, 180 (Aggivessa). This Saccaka, who boasts of success in controversy with the great Jain, Nāta-putta himself, was of Jain parentage on both sides according to Bu. The v.l. Niganthi-putta (the lectio difficilior) indicates that his mother was a Jain.

[2] Cf. S.B.E. XIII, 100 for this doctrine as preached to Gotama's first five converts, - of whom Assaji was one.

[3] Cf. Second Sermon to the Five Brethren at Vinaya Texts, [? SN 5.56.12 is called the second] and see Old Creeds and New Needs (1923), by Mrs. Rhys Davids.


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