Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
5. Cūḷa 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 49

Brahmā Nimantaṇika Suttaɱ

Brahmā's Appeal

 


[234]

[1][pts][olds][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce, the Lord addressed the Almsmen, saying:

Almsmen!

Lord, said they in answer.

Then the Lord spoke these words:[1]

While I was staying once at Ukkattha
in the Subhaga grove
under the great sāl-tree,
Baka the Brahmā conceived the pernicious view
that his world was everlasting,
permanent,
eternal,
complete in itself,
with no rebirth thence;
that in his world there was no birth,
decay,
death,
rebirth thence,
or further existences,
nor was there any other salvation beyond it.

Reading his thoughts,
I vanished from beneath that sāl-tree
to reappear in his particular Brahmā-world, -
as readily as a strong man might stretch forth his bent arm
or draw back his outstretched [235] arm.

Seeing me coming some distance off,
Baka said-Come, your Excellency;
your Excellency is welcome indeed;
it is a long time since your Excellency managed to come here.

This world is everlasting,
permanent ...
salvation beyond it.

In answer I said:

The worthy Baka the Brahmā is in error,
quite in error,
should he affirm
that the transitory is everlasting,
that the impermanent
has permanence,
that the temporal
is eternal,
that the incomplete
is complete;
that here is no birth,
decay,
death,
rebirth hence,
or further existences, -
when the exact opposite is the case;
or should he affirm
that there is no other salvation beyond this, -
when there is another salvation beyond it.

Hereon Māra the Evil One entered into one of the Brahmā conclave
and said to me:

Almsman! Almsman! forbear; forbear;
for this Brahmā is the Great Brahmā,
vanquisher and unvanquished,
all-seeing and all-subduing lord,
paramount disposer of life,
abiding for ever,
father of all creatures that are
or are to be!

Before your time, Almsman,
the world has seen recluses and brahmins
who have scorned and contemned
earth,
water,
fire,
air,
creatures,
gods,
Pajāpati,
and Brahmā; -
and these, at the body's dissolution,
when their lives were cut off,
have passed thereafter to mean existences.

Before your time, Almsman,
the world has seen recluses and brahmins
who have lauded and revelled in earth ...
Brahmā; -
and these, at the body's dissolution,
when their lives were cut off,
have passed thereafter to excellent existences.

Therefore, I advise you
to conform to what Brahmā has told you
and not to be recalcitrant.

Should you be recalcitrant,
it will fare with you
as with a man who with a stick
tries to beat back the radiance which is enveloping him,
or who strains at the earth
for a foothold or handhold
as he is in act to fall into hell's maw.

Conform to everything Brahmā has said,
and do not be recalcitrant.

See you not, Almsman,
his hosts seated around?

I rejoined:

I know you, Evil One;
do not imagine [236] that I know you not.

You are Māra, the Evil One;
you have got into your grasp
and into your power
Brahmā and Brahmā's host
and Brahmā's conclave;
and you think to get me too
into your grasp
and into your power; -
but I am not in your grasp, Evil One;
I am not in your power.

Hereupon, Baka the Brahmā said to me:

I, your Excellency, affirm
that the everlasting is everlasting,
that the permanent is permanent,
that the eternal is eternal,
that the complete is complete,
that freedom from rebirth hence
is freedom from rebirth hence;
I affirm that a realm exists
where there is no birth,
decay,
death,
rebirth thence,
or further existences, -
for, here is no birth,
decay,
rebirth hence,
or further existences;
and I affirm that,
there being not any other salvation beyond this,
no other salvation exists.

Before your time, Almsman,
the world has seen recluses and brahmins
who - for a term as long as the whole of your life -
have devoted themselves to austerities;
and they would know
whether or not there was another salvation beyond this.

Therefore, Almsman, I tell you that,
toil and moil as long as ever you will,
you will never find any other salvation beyond this.

If you will recognize earth,
water,
fire,
air,
creatures,
gods,
Pajāpati,
and Brahmā,
then will you become mine own,
reposing on me,
to do as I will,
and to be my elect.

I too know, Brahmā,
said I,
that by recognizing earth,
water,
and the rest,
I should be yours as you say.

Yes, and also I know full well
how you have progressed to your pomp and state
as the mighty,
powerful,
and sovereign Baka the Brahmā.

What knowledge has your Excellency of this?

The realms of sun and moon,
where'er their rays illumine, -
yea, a thousand worlds thy sway acknowledge.

But, -
is it thine to know the lot of beings good and bad,
their whence and where?

I have this knowledge, Brahmā,
of your progress to your pomp and state
as the mighty,
powerful,
and sovereign Baka the Brahmā.

[237] Now, there are three other planes of existence, Brahmā,
which you do not know or discern, -
though I do.

First, there is the Ābhassara plane,
from which you came hither,
though your long residence here
has made you forget it
so that you do not know or discern it, -
as I do.

Consequently, in higher knowledge,
I am not on a mere equality with you,
much less at a disadvantage; -
I have the advantage of you.

Then there is the Subhakiṇṇa plane
and the Vehapphala plane,
neither of which you know or discern, -
though I do.

Here again, in higher knowledge,
I am not on a mere equality with you,
much less at a disadvantage; -
I have the advantage of you.

Because, Brahmā,
I have realized the earth to be the earth it really is
and have realized that something else
which is in no wise reached by earth's earthiness; -
no ideas occur of earth,
in the earth,
from the earth,
my earth;
nor do I pay homage to earth.

Here again ...
advantage of you.

And the like ... applies to water,
fire,
air,
creatures,
gods,
Pajāpati,
Brahmā,
the Ābhassaras,
the Subhakiṇṇas,
the Vehapphalas,
the Vanquisher,
the All; -
no such ideas about them occur,
nor do I pay homage to any of them.

Here again ...
advantage of you.

If that something else of your Excellency's
is in no wise reached by the all-ness of the All,
take heed it prove not merely empty and vain.

Consciousness, for instance,
which is invisible and boundless and all illumined,
is not reached by earths earthiness,
or by water's wateriness,
or by anything else in your list!

And now I vanish from your Excellency's view.

Vanish if you can, Brahmā.

But, for all his protestations,
Baka could not vanish!

Hereupon, I told him that I would vanish from his sight.

Vanish, if you can, - said he.

Then, Almsmen, by the exercise of such magical powers
as would let Brahmā and his host and conclave hear me
without seeing me,
I disappeared,
repeating these lines:

Marking what dangers life beset, how life
still dogs the nihilist, no further court
paid I to life nor craved for life on life.

Astounded at the marvel and wonder,
Brahmā with his host and conclave exclaimed:

Marvellous and wonderful
is the magic power and might
of the recluse Gotama!

Never before was seen or reported
any other recluse or brahmin
of such power and might as GOtama,
the Sakyan who left his Sakyan home
to be a Pilgrim.

A generation that delights in living
and is given over to delighting and revelling in living,
has seen him grub and stub up existence by the roots!

Entering now into one of Brahmā's conclave,
Māra, the Evil One, said to me:

If your Excellency has come to this knowledge
and to this enlightenment,
do not communicate it to followers or Pilgrims;
do not expound your Doctrine to them;
yearn not for followers or Pilgrims.

Before you, there have been recluses and brahmins in the world
who, professing to be Arahats all-enlightened,
communicated and expounded their Doctrine
to the followers and Pilgrims for whom they yearned;
and the result of this has been that,
at the body's dissolution
when their life was cut off,
they passed thereafter to mean existences.

Before you, there have been recluses and brahmins in the world
who, professing to be Arahats all-enlightened,
refused to communicate and expound their Doctrine
to followers and Pilgrims,
for whom they had no yearning;
and the result of this has been that,
at the body's dissolution
when their life was cut off,
they passed thereafter to excellent existences.

Therefore, Almsman, I advise you not to trouble
but to live comfortably here and now.

Silence is best;
do not preach to others.

I rejoined:

I know you, Evil One;
do not imagine that I know you not.

You are Māra, the Evil One.

It is out of no goodwill,
but out of ill-will,
that you give me this advice, -
because you think that those to whom I preach my gospel
will pass out of your range.

[239] Though they professed to be all-enlightened,
those recluses and brahmins of yours
were not so; -
I profess to be all-enlightened, -
and am.

Evil One, the truth-finder is one and the same,
whether preaching his Doctrine to followers or not,
whether communicating it or not.

And why?

Because in the truth-finder
all those Cankers which are of impurity,
which lead to re-birth,
entail suffering,
ripen unto sorrow,
leaving behind a heritage of birth,
decay,
and death, -
all these have been grubbed up by the roots,
like a bare cleared site
where once a palm-tree grew,
things which once have been
and now can be no more.

Such, Almsmen, was Māra's failure to cajole me
and Brahmā's appeal.

So this homily's title is Brahmā's appeal.

 


[1] Cf. Saɱyutta I, 142 for the beginning of this Sutta (translated in Vol. I, 179-182 of Kindred Sayings). See also Dialogues I, 30 and III, 26.


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