Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
5. Brāhmaṇa 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 91

Brahmāyu Suttaɱ

The Superman

 


[133] [70]

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

Once when the Lord
with a great company of some some five hundred Almsmen
was on an alms-pilgrimage in the Videha country,
there was living at Mithilā
the brahmin Brahmāyu,
an old and aged man,
far advanced in years
and nearing the end of his span,
being one hundred and twenty years old.

He was versed in all three Vedas;
he was accomplished in the ritual
with the glosses thereon,
in phonology and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch;
he knew exegesis
and was learned in casuistry
and in the signs that mark the Superman.

It came to his ears that the recluse Gotama,
a Sakyan who had gone forth as a Pilgrim from a Sakyan family,
had come to Mithilā
in the course of an alms-pilgrimage in the Videha country,
with a great train of Almsmen.

Such, they heard,
was the high repute noised abroad concerning the reverend Gotama
that he was said to be -
The Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
walking by knowledge,
blessed,
understanding all worlds,
the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of gods and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment.

This universe -
with its gods,
Māras,
Brahmās,
recluses and brahmins,
embracing all gods and mankind -,
all this he has discerned
and realized for himself
and makes known to others.

He preaches a Doctrine,
which is so fair in its outset,
its middle,
and its close,
with both text and import;
he propounds a higher life
that is wholly complete and pure.

It is good to go and visit Arahats like him.

[184] This brahmin Brahmāyu had as pupil at the time
a young brahmin named Uttara,
who was likewise [71] versed in the three Vedas;
he was accomplished in the ritual
with the glosses thereon,
in phonology and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch;
he knew exegesis
and was learned in casuistry
and in the signs that mark the Superman.

To this pupil the brahmin related what had come to his ears
about this recluse Gotama,
bidding the young man go and find out
whether the facts tallied with popular repute or not,
so that he himself might feel assured.

How shall I know whether the facts tally with popular repute?

In our runes, Uttara,
there are recorded the two and thirty marks of a Superman, -
for whom, if he bears these marks,
there awaits one of two careers and no third.

Should he live a home life,
he becomes Emperor over the four quarters of the earth,
righteous in himself and ruling righteously,
triumphant abroad,
enforcing law and order at home,
and possessing the Seven Jewels, -
wheel,
elephant,
charger,
gem,
queen-consort,
treasurer and counsellor.

More than a thousand sons has he,
heroes of might,
who sweep the enemy's hosts before them.

Over all the earth,
to the shores of ocean,
he extends his sway,
by sheer righteousness alone,
and not by cudgel or sword.

If, instead,
he goes forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim,
he becomes the arahat all-enlightened
who lifts the veil from the world.

It is mine, my dear Uttara,
to impart the runes;
it is yours to receive them.

Dutifully, the young brahmin rose
and with deep reverence
departed on an alms-pilgrimage through the Videha country
[185] till in due course he found the Lord,
whom he greeted before taking a seat to one side.

Being seated,
he scanned the Lord's body
for the two and thirty marks of a Superman
and in time observed them all save two,
namely the privities hidden in a sheath
and the big tongue, -
concerning which two
Uttara was in doubt ana perplexity,
not feeling certain or sure.

Realizing exactly the young man's uncertainty of mind,
the Lord made such a manifestation of psychic power
that Uttara could see the Lord's privities within their sheath;
and then, putting forth his tongue,
he passed it up and down the [72] orifices of both ears
and of both nostrils,
and covered with it
the whole expanse of his forehead.

Quite sure now about the presence of all the two and thirty marks,
Uttara resolved to dog the footsteps of the recluse Gotama
and to observe his carriage
in his every posture.

So for seven months on end
he dogged the Lord like his shadow,
and then returned to the brahmin Brahmāyu at Mithilā.

In answer to the brahmin's enquiries,
[186] Uttara spoke as follows: -

Yes; the facts tally with popular repute
and the reverend Gotama is all that is reported of him.

He has got all the two and thirty marks of a Superman,
to wit -

(1) His tread is firmly planted;
(2) on his soles are the wheels,
complete with a thousand spokes and with felloes and hubs;
(3) his heels project;
(4) his digits are long;
(5) he has soft hands and feet;
(6) his fingers and toes spring clean,
without webbing between them;
(7) his ankles are over the exact middle of his tread;
(8) his legs are like an antelope's;
(9) while standing bolt upright,
he can,
without bending,
touch and rub his knees with both hands at once;
(10) his privities are within a sheath;
(11) golden of hue is he;
(12) so fine is his skin's texture that no dust or dirt can lodge on it;
(13) each several hair on his body grows separate and distinct,
each from its own individual pore;
(14) each hair starts straight,
is blue-black like collyrium,
and curls to the right at the tip;
(15) he is as straight as a die;
(16) his body shows the same convexities;
(17) his chest is like a lion's;
(18) his back is flat between the shoulders;
(19) his proportions are those of the banyan-tree, -
his stretch being the same as his height;
(20) the curve of his shoulders is symmetrical;
(21) his sense of taste is consummate;
(22) he has the jaw of a lion;
(23) he has [187] forty teeth;
(24) his teeth are all the same length;
(25) there are no interstices between his teeth;
(26) his teeth are sparkling white;
(27) his tongue is big;
(28) his voice is melodious as the [73] cuckoo's note;
(29) the pupils of his eyes are intensely dark;
(30) his eyelashes are like a cow's;
(31) between his eyebrows grow soft white hairs like cotton-down;
and (32) his head is shaped like a turban.

As he walks, -
he always leads off with the right foot first,
with steps neither too long nor too short,
and at a pace neither too hurried nor too slow;
he does not knock his knees or ankles together;
his thighs are not elevated or slouched,
not turned in or turned out;
only his lower limbs are in movement;
he does not put his whole body into it.

When he stands at gaze,
he turns full round to do so;
he does not gaze up or down
or stare about him.

Three yards does his forward glance extend; -
beyond that distance
his boundless ken and vision comes into play.

When entering a house,
he does not bend his body up or down,
or to [138] or fro.

He turns to sit down
neither too far off
nor too near his seat;
not clutching hold of it
nor flinging himself down on it.

When seated indoors,
he does not behave wrongly with hands or feet;
he does not sit with legs and ankles crossed,
nor does he prop his head on his hand;
he is not terror-struck,
nor does he shake,
tremble or quake;
he sits there without fear,
without dread,
without consternation, -
aloof within himself.

When receiving water to wash his bowl,
he does not move his bowl up and down,
or to and fro;
he takes just water enough,
neither too much nor too little;
he does not swish the water about,
as he washes his bowl,
nor does he twirl it round and round;
he does not set his bowl down on the ground
before he begins to wash his hands;
by the time his hands are washed,
his bowl is washed too,
and his hands are washed by the time his bowl is;
he empties the water from his bowl
neither too far away
nor yet too near,
without tossing it out.

When receiving boiled rice in his bowl,
he does not move his bowl up and down
or to and fro;
he takes just rice enough,
neither too much nor too little;
with his mouthful of rice
he eats the proper proportion of [74] curries (viz. one-fourth),
without neglecting the rice;
twice and thrice he turns over in his mouth each mouthful,
nor is there a single grain of rice
which either goes down whole
or is left unswallowed
before he proceeds to the next mouthful;
he appreciates the taste of his food
without being passionately fond of it;
his eating has an eightfold character -
he eats not for pleasure
or for delight
or for ostentation
or for display,
but only to support and to maintain his body,
to save it from harm
and to help on the higher life,
so as to [189] rid himself of the old feelings
and not to breed any new feelings,
but to ensure progress
and the blameless lot
and well-being.

After his meal,
when receiving water to wash his bowl,
he does not move his bowl up and down,
or to and fro;
he takes just water enough,
neither too much nor too little;
he does not swish the water about,
as he washes his bowl,
nor does he twirl it round and round;
he does not set his bowl down on the ground
before he begins to wash his hands;
by the time his hands are washed,
his bowl is washed too,
and his hands are washed by the time his bowl is;
he empties the water from his bowl
neither too far away
nor yet too near,
without tossing it out;
after his meal he sets his bowl down on the ground
not too far off nor too near,
not negligently
nor yet holding on to it too long;
after his meal,
he sits in silence for a little while,
but does not forget when to return thanks;
and in returning thanks after his meal,
he does not complain of his fare
nor express a preference for something else,
but confines himself to instructing,
rousing,
enlightening,
and cheering onwards
the company there present
with a doctrinal discourse, -
after which he rises up and departs,
not too fast and not too slow,
without manifesting the desire to get away.

Gotama's robe is neither too long nor too short;
it is not skin-tight nor is it baggy;
nor does the wind blow it up.

No dust or dirt adheres to his body.

When back in the pleasaunce,
Gotama sits on the seat set for him
and washes first one foot and then the other, -
though he makes no study of the appearance of his feet.

His feet washed,
he sits cross-legged,
with his body erect,
in alert mindfulness.

No thought of harm -
whether to himself
or to others
or to both -
ever crosses his mind;
his only thoughts as he sits there
are for the weal of himself,
and of others,
and of both himself and others,
and of the whole wide world.

[140] In the pleasaunce he preaches the Doctrine to those there,
neither flattering nor denouncing them,
[75] but simply instructing,
rousing,
enlightening
and heartening them.

Eightfold are the qualities of Gotama's voice;
it is frank,
clear,
melodious,
pleasant,
full,
carrying,
deep and resonant;
in giving instruction,
his voice does not travel beyond his audience;
when his instruction is over,
his hearers rise up and depart reluctantly,
with their gaze still on him.

I have seen Gotama walking;
I have seen him standing still;
I have seen him sitting silent in a house;
I have seen him eating in a house;
I have seen him sitting silent after a meal;
I have seen him returning thanks after a meal;
I have seen him on his way back to his pleasaunce;
I have seen him sitting silent in the pleasaunce;
I have seen him preaching the doctrine in the pleasaunce to the assemblage. -

That is what he is like,
only more so.

At the close of this relation,
the brahmin Brahmāyu rose from his seat,
respectfully bared his right shoulder,
and stretched forth his folded palms reverently
towards where the Lord was,
exclaiming thrice with deep emotion: -

Honour be to the Lord,
arahat all-enlightened!

May it be mine,
added the brahmin,
to meet Gotama at some time somewhere
and to hold converse with him.

When, in the course of his alms-pilgrimage in the Videha country
the Lord had come to Mithilā and taken up his abode there
in Makhādeva's mango-grove,
it came to the ears of the brahmin heads of houses there
that the recluse [141] Gotama,
a Sakyan who had gone forth as a Pilgrim from a Sakyan family,
had come to their village
in the course of an alms-pilgrimage in the Videha country,
with a great train of Almsmen.

Such, they heard,
was the high repute noised abroad concerning the reverend Gotama
that he was said to be -
The Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
walking by knowledge,
blessed,
understanding all worlds,
the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of gods and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment.

This universe -
with its gods,
Māras,
Brahmās,
recluses and brahmins,
embracing all gods and mankind -,
all this he has discerned
and realized for himself
and makes known to others.

He preaches a Doctrine,
which is so fair in its outset,
its middle,
and its close,
with both text and import;
he propounds a higher life
that is wholly complete and pure.

It is good to go and visit Arahats like him.

So the brahmins of Sālā
went to the Lord and,
after exchanging civil greetings,
took their seats to one side, -
some after salutations,
some after greetings,
some with joined palms respectfully outstretched,
some after mention of their names and family,
and others again in silence.

Hearing of the Lord's coming to Mithilā,
Brahmāyu proceeded to the mango-grove
with a number of young brahmins,
but thought to himself,
as he drew near,
that he ought not to appear in the presence of the recluse Gotama
as a quite unknown stranger.

So he despatched a young brahmin to precede him,
with civil enquiries in his name
and to announce that he was the brahmin Brahmāyu,
an old and aged man,
far [76] advanced in years
and nearing the end of his span,
being one hundred and twenty years old,
versed in all three Vedas;
he was accomplished in the ritual
with the glosses thereon,
in phonology and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch;
he knew exegesis
and was learned in casuistry
and in the signs that mark the Superman;
that he was foremost in Mithilā alike in substance,
in knowledge of runes,
[142] in age,
and in repute;
and that he wished to see Gotama.

This message was duly carried by the young brahmin to the Lord,
who sent back word that he awaited the brahmin's convenience.

On this intimation,
Brahmāyu advanced,
and the assemblage,
when they saw him coming a little way off,
made way to receive one so well-known and distinguished.

But Brahmāyu begged them to resume their seats,
for he would sit near Gotama, -
as he did after exchange of greetings.

As he sat there,
the brahmin [148] scanned the Lord's body
for the two and thirty marks of a Superman,
and in time observed all of them save two,
namely the privities hidden in a sheath
and the big tongue, -
concerning which two Brahmāyu was in doubt and perplexity,
not feeling certain or sure.

Thereupon, Brahmāyu addressed the Lord in these lines:

Of two and thirty marks that stamp,
'tis said the Superman,
I miss in thee but two.

Hast thou thy parts ensheath'd, thou prince of men?
Or are they female? Is thy tongue not short
But large and long? Pray, let me know the truth.
Put forth thy tongue, 0 sage; dispel my doubts;
to compass welfare kere and bliss beyond,
vouchsafe to answer what I seek to learn.

Realizing exactly Brahmāyu's uncertainty of mind,
the Lord made such a manifestation of psychic power
that the brahmin could see the Lord's privities within their sheath;
and then, putting forth his tongue,
he passed it up and down the orifices of both ears
and of both nostrils
and covered with it the whole expanse of his forehead,
ending by replying to the brahmin in the following lines: -

The two and thirty marks that stamp, 'tis said,
the Superman, are mine; dispel your doubts!

[77] I know what mind skould know; I am what man
should be; I'm quit of all man should renounce;
-thus, brahmin, all enlightenment is mine.
[144] To compass welfare here and bliss beyond,
I grant permission what thou wilt to ask.

Thought the brahmin to himself: -

On this permission,
shall I ask about things here and now
or about the hereafter?

As I am versed in the former,
and am referred to as an accepted authority thereon,
I will ask Gotama about weal hereafter.

So he made rejoinder to the Lord in the following lines: -

What makes a Brahmin? What gives holy Lore?
What makes a Threefold Seer? Who is th'Elect?
What makes an arahat? What makes a Saint?
What makes a Sage? What gives Enlightenment?

To the Brahmin the Lord made answer in the following lines: -

Whoso his former lives can call to mind,
descrying heaven and hell with eye divine, -
whose round of births is done, with Insight won,
who knows his heart is pure, from passion free, -
whoso, o'er birth and death victorious,
the higher life in sanctity fulfils
and thought transcends, his is Enlightenment.

Hereupon,
the brahmin Brahmāyu arose and,
with his right shoulder respectfully bared,
bowed his head at the Lord's feet,
which he kissed and stroked again and again,
as he gave his name: -

The brahmin Brahmāyu am I, Gotama.

And all that were there
wondered and marvelled
at the power and might of 'the recluse,'
in that this renowned and famous brahmin
should so humble himself.

Said the Lord: -

[145] Forbear, brahmin.

Rise up and resume your seat
now that your heart believes in me.

And when the brahmin Brahmāyu was seated once more
the Lord addressed to him a progressive discourse, -
namely on giving,
on virtue,
on heaven,
on the perils, [78] variety and foulness
of pleasures of sense,
and the gains to be won
by renouncing worldly things.

As soon as the Lord recognized Brahmāyu's heart
to have become sound and malleable
and free from the Hindrances,
uplifted and believing,
then he unfolded the exposition of the Doctrine
which only the Enlightened have elaborated, -
regarding Ill
and its origin
and its cessation
and the Path.

Just as spotless cloth
without speck or stain
will readily take the dye,
even so, while he was sitting there,
did the householder Brahmāyu
come by the pure and spotless Eye Of Truth
so that he realized how
whatsoever has a beginning
must have an end.

When that he had thus seen,
won, grasped, and penetrated the Doctrine,
when he had passed beyond all doubt
and had left all questionings behind him,
when certitude was his
and a direct conviction in the master's teachings,-
Brahmāyu said to the Lord:

Wonderful, Gotama;
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 the reverend Gotama made his Doctrine clear.

I come to Gotama as my refuge
and to his Doctrine
and to his Confraternity;
I ask him to accept me as a follower
who has found an abiding refuge
from this day onward while life shall last!

I pray the reverend Gotama,
with his Confraternity,
to take his meal with me to-morrow.

The Lord having signified his silent assent,
the brahmin with deep reverence withdrew
to order an excellent meal
which on the morrow [146] he served round to the Lord and the Almsmen
with his own hands
till all had had their fill.

For a whole week did Brahmāyu entertain them,
after which the Lord resumed his alms-pilgrimage through the Videha country.

Not long after the Lord's departure,
the Brahmin died;
and a number of Almsmen reported his death to the Lord,
asking what the brahmin had passed to
and what hereafter would be his.

Said the Lord: -

... the ninth stage. This is possibly an error on Chalmers' part, based on his manuscript. See Horner and her note on this. Horner is unclear as to what this ninth stage might be should this reading be correct. I would suggest, that if it is a correct recollection of what was said, that, taking a hint from the fact that Gotama mentions the five Saɱyoganas, rather than referring to some accomplishment in jhāna, it refers to the ninth Saɱyogana: Uddhacca: shuddering accompanying excitement connected with fear, anxiety and worry. Brahmāyu has spent 120 years attached to a set of doctrines that he must let go based on this one interview. No matter how strong his belief in the Buddha, this would be no easy task. He would need to confront every trusted old belief and work out how it faired in the light of Dhamma. This inner dialogue, at this level (in the presence of a sudden strong change of heart), results in the 'flickering' which is characteristic of Uddhacca. The 'shakes' of a stalion having picked up the scent of a mare in heat. Ms. Horner's rendering is found several times in the suttas, and usually ends with the inividual attaining arahantship or if becoming a non-returner, just a statement about the five yokes having been overcome and the individual moving on higher and higher to end in the Akanittha Realm, never to return. There is not another case where the reason for failure to go further and attain arahantship is explained.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Learned was the brahmin Brahmāyu, Almsmen;
he got at the gist of the Doctrine
but had difficulty with the ninth stage.

By bursting asunder all the Bonds
which bind men to this lower world,
Brahmāyu has been translated to realms above,
never to return to earth.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart those Almsmen rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page