Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
4. Rāja Vagga

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

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

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

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1927
Public Domain

Sutta 83

Makhādeva Suttaɱ

Of Maintaining Great Traditions

 


[74] [39]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Mithilā in the Makhādeva mango-grove,
at a certain spot there he smiled.

Thought the reverend Ānanda: -

What is the cause,
what are the reasons
for the Lord's smiling;
for, Truth-finders never smile
without cause and reason.

So, with one shoulder respectfully bared
and with folded palms reverently extended towards the Lord,
Ānanda asked what made him smile,
seeing that Truth-finaers never smile
without cause and reason.

In bygone times,
Ānanda,
in this same Mithilā
there was a king named Makhādeva,
a righteous monarch,
an emperor stablished in righteousness,
who dealt righteously
with brahmins and householders
in town and country,
and observed the four holy-days of each month.

[75] After many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
this king told his barber to report
when he found a grey hair in his head.

Accordingly, when grey hairs had appeared,
after many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
the barber said to the king: -

The messengers of the gods
have come to your Majesty; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Then, at the king's bidding,
the barber plucked out those grey hairs with tweezers
and laid them on the outstretched palm of the king,
who, having first rewarded the barber with a choice village,
summoned his eldest son and said to him: -

The messengers of the gods have come to me; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Of human pleasures
I have had my fill;
and it is time now for me
to seek pleasures celestial.

Be it yours to rule this realm,
while I,
cutting off hair and beard,
and donning the yellow robes,
will go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

Whenever, in your turn, my son,
you find grey hairs appearing,
reward your barber with a village,
hand over your sovereignty to your eldest son,
cut off your hair and beard,
don the yellow robes,
and go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

See to it you maintain this high tradition,
and do not prove the last of the line.

When, among any two [40] persons,
there is a break in a tradition so high,
he who breaks it
is the last of the line.

Therefore, I enjoin you, my son,
to maintain this high [76] tradition
and not to prove the last of the line.

Thereupon, King Makhādeva,
after having bestowed the village on his barber
and after establishing his eldest son as king,
here in this very Makhādeva mango-grove
cut off his hair and beard,
donned the yellow robes,
and went forth on Pilgrimage.

His radiant thoughts of love
pervaded all four quarters of the world,
pervaded the whole length and breadth of the world,
above,
below,
around,
everywhere, -
with thoughts of love all-embracing
and vast beyond measure,
untinged by hate or ill-will.

And as with thoughts of love,
so too did he pervade the whole length and breadth of the world
with thoughts of compassion
and of sympathy
and of poise.

For eighty-four thousand years
that king had enjoyed the pleasures of youth;
for a like term he was viceroy;
for a like term he reigned as king;
and for a further eighty-four thousand years
he lived the higher life
as a Pilgrim in this grove,
where he cultivated the four excellent states (Brahmā-vihara),
so that at the body's dissolution after death
he passed to the heavens of Brahmā.

After many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
King Makhādeva's son in turn
told his barber to report when he found a grey hair in his head.

Accordingly, when grey hairs had appeared,
after many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
the barber said to the king: -

The messengers of the gods
have come to your Majesty; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Then, at the king's bidding,
the barber plucked out those grey hairs with tweezers
and laid them on the outstretched palm of the king,
who, having first rewarded the barber with a choice village,
summoned his eldest son and said to him: -

The messengers of the gods have come to me; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Of human pleasures
I have had my fill;
and it is time now for me
to seek pleasures celestial.

Be it yours to rule this realm,
while I,
cutting off hair and beard,
and donning the yellow robes,
will go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

Whenever, in your turn, my son,
you find grey hairs appearing,
reward your barber with a village,
hand over your sovereignty to your eldest son,
cut off your hair and beard,
don the yellow robes,
and go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

See to it you maintain this high tradition,
and do not prove the last of the line.

When, among any two persons,
there is a break in a tradition so high,
he who breaks it
is the last of the line.

Therefore, I enjoin you, my son,
to maintain this high tradition
and not to prove the last of the line.

Thereupon, King Makhādeva,
after having bestowed the village on his barber
and after establishing his eldest son as king,
here in this very Makhādeva mango-grove
cut off his hair and beard,
donned the yellow robes,
and went forth on Pilgrimage.

His radiant thoughts of love
pervaded all four quarters of the world,
pervaded the whole length and breadth of the world,
above,
below,
around,
everywhere, -
with thoughts of love all-embracing
and vast beyond measure,
untinged by hate or ill-will.

And as with thoughts of love,
so too did he pervade the whole length and breadth of the world
with thoughts of compassion
and of sympathy
and of poise.

For eighty-four thousand years
that king had enjoyed the pleasures of youth;
for a like term he was viceroy;
for a like term he reigned as king;
and for a further eighty-four thousand years
he lived the higher life
as a Pilgrim in this grove,
where he cultivated the four excellent states (Brahmā-vihara),
so that at the body's dissolution after death
he passed to the heavens of Brahmā.

And so in unbroken succession
did not only the son
but also the grandson
and the later descendants of King Makhādeva,
to the number of eighty-four thousand in all.

The last of three kings so to do was Nimi,
a righteous monarch,
an emperor stablished in righteousness
who dealt righteously
with brahmins and householders
in town and country,
and observed the four noly-days of each month. A time came when,
as the Thirty-three gods were [79] met together in assembly in their Hall of Truth,
[41] the talk turned on what a great thing it was,
what a very great thing,
for the people of Videha
to have in Nimi a monarch of such signal righteousness;
and Sakka, king of gods,
asked the Thirty-three gods
whether they would like to see King Nimi;
and they said they would.

It was then the mid-month holy-day,
and the king,
having bathed,
was seated,
fasting,
in the upper story of his gorgeous palace.

As easily as a strong man
could stretch out his arm
or draw it back,
Sakka vanished from the Thirty-three
and appeared before King Nimi,
saying: -

It is a great thing for you, sire,
a very great thing,
that, as the thirty-three gods sat together
in their Hall of Truth,
they were saying how fortunate,
how very fortunate,
the people of Videha are
to have in you a monarch of such signal righteousness;
and they would like to see you.

I will send a chariot
drawn by a thousand steeds
to fetch you;
get into it without any qualms.

By his silence Nimi gave consent.

Then Sakka bade his charioteer Mātali
yoke a thousand steeds to the chariot
and go to the King Nimi with the message
that it had been sent for him by Sakka,
king of gods,
and that the king was to get into that celestial [80] chariot without qualms.

So be it, answered Mātali obediently,
and bore the message to Nimi,
adding:

By which route am I to conduct your majesty?

Shall it be by the route travelled by evildoers
to reap the fruits of their evil-doing,
or by the route of the righteous
to reap the fruits of their righteousness?

Take me by both routes, Mātali,
was the king's answer.

To the Hall of Truth in due course Mātali brought the king,
to whom, as he saw him coming some way off,
Sakka said: -

Draw near, sire;
welcome, sire!

The Thirty-three gods
were talking of your signal righteousness,
and wished to see you.

Rejoice, sire,
among the gods in heaven's glories.

Enough, your Excellency!
Let Mātali take me home again,
where I will deal righteously
with my [42] brahmins and householders
in town and country,
and observe the four holy-days in each month.

Sakka gave orders to Mātali accordingly,
and back in the chariot King Nimi was borne to Mithilāl,
where he dealt righteously
with his folk
and [81] duly observed the holy-days of each month.

After many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
King Nimi in his turn told his barber to report when he found a grey hair in his head.

Accordingly, when grey hairs had appeared,
after many years,
after many hundreds and thousands of years,
the barber said to the king: -

The messengers of the gods
have come to your Majesty; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Then, at the king's bidding,
the barber plucked out those grey hairs with tweezers
and laid them on the outstretched palm of the king,
who, having first rewarded the barber with a choice village,
summoned his eldest son and said to him: -

The messengers of the gods have come to me; -
grey hairs have appeared.

Of human pleasures
I have had my fill;
and it is time now for me
to seek pleasures celestial.

Be it yours to rule this realm,
while I,
cutting off hair and beard,
and donning the yellow robes,
will go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

Whenever, in your turn, my son,
you find grey hairs appearing,
reward your barber with a village,
hand over your sovereignty to your eldest son,
cut off your hair and beard,
don the yellow robes,
and go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

See to it you maintain this high tradition,
and do not prove the last of the line.

When, among any two persons,
there is a break in a tradition so high,
he who breaks it
is the last of the line.

Therefore, I enjoin you, my son,
to maintain this high tradition
and not to prove the last of the line.

Thereupon, King Makhādeva,
after having bestowed the village on his barber
and after establishing his eldest son as king,
here in this very Makhādeva mango-grove
cut off his hair and beard,
donned the yellow robes,
and went forth on Pilgrimage.

His radiant thoughts of love
pervaded all four quarters of the world,
pervaded the whole length and breadth of the world,
above,
below,
around,
everywhere, -
with thoughts of love all-embracing
and vast beyond measure,
untinged by hate or ill-will.

And as with thoughts of love,
so too did he pervade the whole length and breadth of the world
with thoughts of compassion
and of sympathy
and of poise.

For eighty-four thousand years
that king had enjoyed the pleasures of youth;
for a like term he was viceroy;
for a like term he reigned as king;
and for a further eighty-four thousand years
he lived the higher life
as a Pilgrim in this grove,
where he cultivated the four excellent states (Brahmā-vihara),
so that at the body's dissolution after death
[82] he passed to the heavens of Brahmā.

Now King Nimi had a son named Kaḷāra Janaka
who did not go forth
from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim,
but broke that high tradition,
and proved the last of the line.

You may think, Ānanda,
that someone else was the King Makhādeva of those days
who founded that high tradition;
but that would be an error.

It was I myself
who was then King Makhādeva;
and it was I who then founded that high tradition
which later generations continued.

That high tradition, however,
conduces not to aversion,
to passionlessness,
to stilling,
to peace,
to illumination,
to enlightenment,
and to Nirvana, -
but only to a future in the heavens of Brahmā.

Whereas the high tradition
which I have now founded
does so conduce;
for, it is the Noble Eightfold Path of
right outlook,
right aims,
right speech,
right action,
right livelihood,
[88] right effort,
right mindfulness, and
right concentration. -

This is the high tradition
which I have founded to-day.

I enjoin you, Ānanda,
to continue this high tradition
and not to prove the last of the line.

When, among any two persons,
there is a break in a tradition so high,
he who breaks it is the last of the line.

Therefore, I enjoin you, Ānanda,
to maintain this high tradition,
and not to prove the last of the line.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart
the rverend Ānanda rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


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