Majjhima Nikaya


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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 95

Cankī Suttaɱ

Brahmin Pretensions

 


[164] [93]

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

Once, in the course of an alms-pilgrimage through the Kosala country
with a great train of Almsmen,
the Lord came to a brahmin village of the Kosalans called Opasāda,
where he took up his abode
to the north of the village
in the sal-tree wood
where oblations are offered to deities.

In Opasāda in those days lived the brahmin Cankī,
on a royal fief
granted to him outright
in full seignory
by King Pasenadi of Kosala, -
a demesne teeming with life
and abounding in grasslands,
woodlands,
water and cornlands.

It came to the ears
of the brahmin heads of houses in Opasāda that,
that the recluse 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 Kosala,
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 off to the wood
by the north approach
went the brahmins in companies and bands.

They were observed by Cankī,
who had gone upstairs to lie down
during the heat of the day
in his verandah, -
and asked his confidant what it all meant.

Being told they were all on their way to see Gotama,
he sent his confidant to ask them to wait for him
and he would come too to see Gotama.

When the confidant [165] had duly delivered this message,
some five hundred brahmins
from divers parts
who were in Opasāda on some business or other,
at once went to Cankī
to ask if it was true
he was going to pay a visit to the recluse Gotama.

[94] Yes, he told them,
it was, quite true
that he was going to Gotama with the others.

Do not do so, said they to Cankī.

You ought not to pay a visit to the recluse Gotama;
he ought to come and see you.

On both your father's and your mother's side,
you are of pure descent
right back through seven successive generations
without break or blemish in your lineage.

That is one point
why you should not go to him
but he should come to you.

Another point is that you are rich and wealthy,
with great substance.

And another point is that you are versed in all three Vedas;
are accomplished in ritual
with all glosses thereon,
in phonology,
and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch;
know exegesis,
and are learned in casuistry
and in the signs that mark a Superman.

You are handsome,
goodly,
well-liking,
of finest complexion,
perfect alike in complexion and stature,
and of noble presence.

You are virtuous,
abundant in virtue,
in which you abound.

You have a fine voice
and are a good speaker;
[166] your speech is urbane,
distinct,
unfaltering,
apt to express your meaning.

You have taught many a teacher of teachers
and have three hundred young brahmins
learning the runes from you.

You are honoured and reverenced by the king of Kosala,
who shows you devotion and worship.

You live on a royal fief,

granted to him outright
in full seignory
by King Pasenadi of Kosala, -
a demesne teeming with life
and abounding in grasslands,
woodlands,
water and cornlands,
and this adds another point
why you should not go to Gotama
but he should come to you.

Now listen to me, said Cankī,
and I will tell you why I ought to go to Gotama
instead of his coming to me.

On both his mother's and his father's side,
Gotama is of pure descent
right back through seven successive generations
without break or blemish in his lineage.

That is one point
why I should go to him
and not he to me.

To go on Pilgrimage,
Gotama gave up great stores of gold,
wrought and unwrought,
buried away below ground
or housed in treasury chambers.

When he went forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim,
he was in the flush ofyouth and early manhood,
with a wealthof coal-black hair un- [95] touched by grey,
and in all the beauty of his prime.

He went forth on Pilgrimage,
despite his parents' wishes,
leaving them in tears and lamentation
when he cut off his hair and beard
and donned the yellow robes
to go forth from home to homelessness.

Gotama is handsome,
goodly,
well-liking,
of finest complexion,
[167] perfect alike in complexion and stature,
and noble of presence.

He is virtuous,
abundant in virtue,
in which he abounds.

He has a fine voice
and is a good speaker;
his speech is urbane,
distinct,
unfaltering,
apt to express his meaning.

He has taught many a teacher of teachers.

In him all passion is dead;
frailty abides not in him.

He preaches the consequences of acts
and the principles of action,
lauding the avoidance of evil
for righteous folk.

He went forth as a Pilgrim
from an exalted and immemorial sept of Nobles,
rich and wealthy,
abounding in substance.

From far realms and countries
men come to consult Gotama.

Many thousands of gods
have found life's refuge in him.

Of him is the high repute noised abroad
that he is 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.

He is stamped with the two and thirty marks of a Superman.

In him have Seniya Bimbisāra, king of Magadha,
and Pasenadi, king of Kosala,
and the brahmin Pokkharasāti,
found life's refuge, -
they
and their wives
and their children.

To Opasāda has the recluse Gotama come
and is now dwelling in our northern wood.

Now, all recluses and brahmins
who come within the precincts of our village
are our guests, -
to be treated with honour and reverence,
with devotion and worship.

As our guest,
Gotama is to be so treated;
[168] and this is another count why I should go to him,
instead of his coming to me.

This much know about Gotama's excellences;
but they do not end here,
for indeed they are beyond all measure.

On each several count
it is not Gotama who ought to come to me,
but I who ought to go to him.

Conse- [96] quently,
we will all go together to visit the recluse Gotama.

Thereupon, with a large company of brahmins,
Cankī came to the Lord and,
after exchanging,
greetings with him,
took his seat to one side.

At the time the Lord was sitting down
after exchanging greetings with some old and aged brahmins;
and in the circle
sat a young brahmin named Kāpaṭhika,
a youth of sixteen
with shaven head,
who was versed in all three Vedas
was accomplished in ritual
with all glosses thereon,
in phonology,
and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch;
knew exegesis,
and was learned in casuistry
and in the signs that mark a Superman.

This young brahmin broke in on the conversation
which these old and aged brahmins
were having with the Lord, -
who rebuked him
by saying that he should not interrupt his elders
but wait his turn when they had finished.

Hereupon, the brahmin Cankī said to the Lord: -

Do not rebuke Kāpaṭhika, Gotama.

He comes of a good stock,
is well-informed,
a good speaker,
and a scholar quite able to hold his own in the discussion.

Thought the Lord to himself: -

[169] This young brahmin will be sure to be a master of Vedic lore,
as the brahmins have such a high opinion of him.

Thought Kāpaṭhika to himself: -

As soon as I catch the eye of the recluse Gotama,
I will put a question to him.

Reading with his own heart
the thoughts in the young brahmin's heart,
the Lord fixed his gaze in Kāpaṭhika's direction,
so that the latter,
feeling that he had secured the Lord's attention,
bethought him of putting his question
and accordingly said to the Lord:

As touching the runes
which have come down from brahmins of old
along the line
by unbroken oral tradition
and mastery of the Canon,
runes in which brahmins find an absolute certitude that
'here alone resides truth,
and everything else is vain,' -
what does Gotama say of them?

Tell me, Bhāradvāja; - is there among all brahmins
a single brahmin who claims that he personally
sees and knows that
'here alone resides truth,
and everything else is vain'?

[97] No.

Is that claim preferred by a single teacher
or teacher of teachers of brahmins
back to the seventh generation?

No.

Was that claim preferred
by those brahmin sages of yore
who composed and promulgated the runes
and whose compositions
are chanted
and repeated
and rehearsed
by the brahmins of to-day, -
such as Aṭṭhaka,
Vāmaka,
Vāmadeva,
Vessāmitta,
Yamataggi,
Angirasa,
Bhāradvāja,
Vaseṭṭha,
Kassapa
or Bhagu?

[170] No.

So, Bhāradvāja,
no claim personally to have seen and known
the absolute and exclusive truth of the runes
has been preferred
either by a single living brahmin
or by a single teacher of brahmins
for seven successive generations back,
or by those brahmin sages
who actually composed the runes
which are repeated by brahmins to-day.

It is like a string of blind men
each holding on to his neighbour,
the first of whom cannot see,
nor can the one in the middle,
nor can the hindermost.

Such a string of blind men, methinks,
exemplifies the brahmin tradition, -
wherein the first never saw,
nor did the one in the middle see,
nor does the last.

Tell me, Bhāradvāja;
is not the brahmins' belief groundless,
on this showing?

It is not faith alone
which inspires brahmins
but also the tradition they have inherited.

At the outset you based yourself on faith, Bhāradvāja;
now you are shifting to authority. -

There are five separate states of consciousness,
each with its own alternative outcome;
and the five are as follows: -
faith,
inclination,
authority,
appreciation and intellectual enthusiasm.

A thing may either evoke faith in abundance
but yet in itself prove empty,
vain and false;
or,
it may fail to inspire faith
but yet in itself prove real,
veritable and sure.|| ||

And the same may [171] apply to inclination,
authority,
appreciation
and intellectual enthusiasm.

Maintenance of a truth
does not entitle an intelligent man to aver
that here alone resides all truth
and that everything else is vain.

[98] What is the scope of this maintenance of truth
and of his maintenance thereof?

I invite the reverend Gotama
to enlarge on the maintenance of truth.

If a man has faith,
then in his profession of faith
he maintains the truth he has
but does not claim absolutely
that this is all truth
and that everything else is vain;
or if he has inclination and the rest,
and, while professing what he has got,
does not claim that this is all truth
and that everything else is vain; -
then, within this scope,
there is maintenance of truth
and he maintains truth,
as I affirm;
but this does not give him enlightenment in truth.

I quite follow. -

And now as to enlightenment in truth?

Take the case of an Almsman,
supported by a village or township,
to whom there comes the head of a house
or his son
to scan him with regard to [172] greed,
malevolence
and delusion.

The visitor wonders
whether the reverend man's heart
harbours such greed
as to make him profess either to know
when he does not know,
or to see
when he does not see,
or to egg another on
to do what would conduce
to the lasting harm and hurt of other people.

Convinced by his scrutiny
that no such greed is harboured in that Almsman's heart,
he concludes that his behaviour in action and in speech
proclaims him void of greed.

Moreover, the Doctrine the Almsman preaches
is profound,
recondite,
hard to comprehend,
serene,
excellent,
beyond dialectic,
subtle,
only to be understood by the instructed,
and incapable of being preached by a greedy man.

Convinced on this first point,
he proceeds to consider
whether the reverend man's heart harbours malevolence
or [178] delusion;
and is similarly convinced by his scrutiny
that the Almsman is neither wicked nor wrong-headed,
or he could not preach as he does.

With this settled conviction,
be reposes faith in him;
this faith leads him to frequent the Almsman's company
where he listens
and hears the Doctrine preached
and stores it in his memory,
studying the meaning of all he hears
till he grows interested
[99] and so grows zealous;
Zeal makes him energetic
and weigh things and strive amain;
discarding self,
he realizes the truth physically
and penetrates it with his understanding
till he sees it clearly. -

So far, he becomes enlightened in truth
and recognizes truth,
as I affirm;
but this does not give him
the attainment of truth.

I quite follow. -

And now as to the attainment of truth?

[174] That comes by the practice,
development
and growth
of just the aforesaid states of mind. -

So far, there is attainment of truth
and he attains it,
as I affirm.|| ||

I quite follow. -

And now what attitude
fosters this attainment?

Striving hard.

If the man does not strive hard,
he will not attain;
it is because he strives that he attains;
and therefore striving fosters attainment.

What attitude fosters striving?

Cogitation.

If he does not cogitate,
he will not strive;
it is because he cogitates that he strives;
and therefore cogitation fosters striving.

What fosters cogitation?

Energy.

If he nave not energy... .

What fosters energy?

Zeal.

If he have not zeal... .

What fosters zeal?

[175] Interest in the Doctrine... .

What fosters interest?

Studying the meaning of all he hears... .

What fosters this stuay?

Stored knowledge of the Doctrine... .

What fosters this stored knowledge of the Doctrine?

Hearing it preached... .

What fosters such hearing?

Listening... .

[176] What fosters listening?

Attendance... .

What fosters attendance?

[100] Faith.

If faith do not abound,
he will not attend the Almsman;
it is because he has faith in him that he attends;
and therefore faith fosters attendance.

Gotama, I have now asked you
about maintenance of truth,
about enlightenment in truth,
about attainment of truth,
and about the factors which promote attainment;
[177] and you have explained it all to me
to my satisfaction,
pleasure and delight.

Up till now, Gotama,
my attitude used to be -

'Who are these shavelings of recluses,
these menial black fellows,
sprung from the feet of our kinsman,
Brahmā?

Who are these Doctrine-mongers?'

But you, Gotama,
have aroused in me a liking for recluses,
a belief in recluses,
and arespect for them.

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 ask you to accept me as a disciple who has found an abiding refuge,
from this day forth,
while life lasts.


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