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 84

Madhurā Suttaɱ

Brahmin Claims

 


[83] [43]

[1][chlm-2][pts][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the reverend Mahā-Kaccāna was staying at Madhura in the Gundā grove,
it reached the ears of Avanti-putta, King of Madhura,
that there was staying in that grove the recluse Kaccāna,
whose reputation stood high in general report
as being a learned and wise sage
of much lore,
a brilliant speaker and debater,
an aged man
and a saint (arahā) such as it was good to go and see.

So King Avantiputta,
having commanded his chariots
so fair, so fair,
to be made ready,
got into one of them
and drove forth from Madhura in royal state
with his princely train
to see the reverend Mahā-Kaccāna.

Driving as far as a chariot could go,
and then proceeding on foot,
the king came at last to Mahā-Kaccāna,
[84] with whom he exchanged courteous greetings
before seating himself to one side
and saying: -

Brahmins maintain, Kaccāna,
that they alone form the superior class,
all other classes being inferior;
that brahmins alone form the white class,
all other classes being black;
that purity resides in brahmins alone
and not in non-brahmins;
and that brahmins are Brahmā's only legitimate sons,
born from his mouth,
offspring of his,
creations of his,
and his heirs.

What do you say to that?

It is an empty assertion, sire,
as may be shown as follows:

If a noble grows rich and wealthy,
can he have as his servant
another noble -
or a brahmin,
or a middle-class man,
or a peasant -
to get up early,
to go late to bed,
to minister assiduously
and to study his master in word and deed?

Yes.

And if, sire,
it were a brahmin who had thriven,
could he likewise have as his servant
a brahmin,
a middle-class man,
a peasant,
or [85] a noble?

[44] And if it were either a middle-class man
or a peasant who had thriven,
could he likewise have as his servant
someone from any of the three other classes?

Yes.

If this be so, sire,
do you think all four classes
are on precisely the same footing herein,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

Undoubtedly,
if this be so,
all four classes are on precisely the same footing,
and I see no difference at all between them.

The emptiness of the brahmin claim to superiority
can also be shown in the following way: -

If a noble kills,
robs,
fornicates,
lies,
slanders,
is bitter of tongue,
tattles,
covets,
harbours ill-will,
and has a wrong outlook, -
will he, after death at the body's dissolution
pass to a state of misery and woe
or to purgatory?

Or will he not?

Or how does it strike you?

Such a noble will pass
to a doom of misery and woe or to purgatory.

This is my view,
and this is what I have heard from saintly men (arahataɱ).

Quite right;
your view is right
and you have been told aright by saintly men.

Pray, would the like doom
await a brahmin,
or middle-class man,
or peasant of like disposition?

Yes, it would.

Quite right.

But, if this be so, sire,
do you think all four classes
are on precisely the same footing herein,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

[87] Undoubtedly, if this be so,
all four classes are on precisely the same footing,
and I see no difference between them.

Another way to demonstrate
the emptiness of the brahmin claim
is as follows: -

If a noble abstains from killing and robbing and so forth,
will he at death
pass to bliss in heaven,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

At death he will pass to bliss in heaven.

This is my view,
and this is what I have heard from saintly men.

Quite right.

And would the same apply
to a brahmin
or to a middle-class man
or to a peasant?

[45] Yes, it would.

Quite right.

But, if these be so, sire,
do you think all four classes
are on precisely the same footing herein,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

[88] Undoubtedly, if this be so,
all four classes are on precisely the same footing herein,
and I see no difference between them.

The emptiness of the brahmin claim
can further be demonstrated as follows: -

If a noble is a burglar,
thief,
housebreaker,
footpad or adulterer,
and if your people catch him
and haul the malefactor before you for sentence,
what would you do to him?

I should put him to death
or confiscate his goods
or banish him
or otherwise deal with him
as circumstances required.

For the noble is now merged in the malefactor.

Would the same apply to a malefactor
from any of the three other classes?

Yes, it would.

If this be so, sire,
are all four classes on precisely the same footing herein,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

Undoubtedly, if this be so,
all four classes are on precisely the same footing herein,
and I see no difference between them.

The emptiness of the brahmin claim
is also apparent from the following: -

If a noble cuts off hair and beard,
dons the yellow robe,
and goes forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim,
abstaining from killing and stealing and lying,
eating but one meal a day,
and living the higher life
in virtue and goodness, -
what would you do to him?

I would salute him,
or rise to meet him,
or invite him to be seated,
or would ask him to accept robes,
alms,
bedding and medicines,
or would extend to him the defence,
protection
and safeguards
which are his due.

For, the noble is now merged in the recluse.

Would the same reception be extended
to Pilgrims from the three other classes?

Yes, it would.

[46] If this be so, sire,
are all four classes on precisely the same footing herein,
or not?

Or how does it strike you?

Undoubtedly, if this be so,
all four classes are on precisely the same footing herein,
and I see no difference between them.

[90] Hereupon, Avanti-putta, King of Madhura,
said to the reverend Mahā-Kaccāna: -

Wonderful, wonderful!

It is just as if a man should set upright again
what had been cast down,
or reveal what was hidden away,
or tell a man who had gone astray
which was his way,
or bring a lamp into darkness
so that those with eyes to see
might see the things about them, -
even so,
in many a figure,
has Kaccāna expounded the Doctrine.

To him I come as my refuge,
and to his Doctrine,
and to his Confraternity,
asking him to accept as his follower
me who have found an abiding refuge
from this time forth while life shall last.

Come not to me, sire,
as your refuge!

Find your refuge,
as I have found mine,
in none but the Lord.

Where is the present abode of that Lord,
the arahat all-enlightened?

He has passed away.

If I could but hear him
within a distance of ten leagues from here,
ten leagues would I travel to visit him;
yes, I would travel,
twenty,
thirty,
forty,
fifty,
or a hundred leagues to visit that Lord,
the arahat all enlightened.

But, since he has passed away,
to him,
even though he have passed away,
do I come as my refuge,
and to his Doctrine,
and to his Confraternity.

I ask Kaccāna to accept as (the Lord's) follower
me who have found an abiding refuge
from this time forth while life shall last.


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