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 96

Esukārī or Phasukārī Suttaɱ

Birth's Invidious Bar

 


[177] [100]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
the brahmin Esukārī came to the Lord,
by whom he took his seat
after exchange of the greetings of friendliness and civility,
saying: -

Service, Gotama,
is divided into four by brahmins, -
service of a brahmin,
service of a noble,
service of a middle-class man,
and service of a peasant.

Any member of all four classes
may serve a brahmin;
[178] a noble may be served by another noble
or by a middle-class man
or by a peasant;
a middle-class man may be served
by another middle-dass man
or by a peasant;
while a peasant may be served
only by a peasant, -
for who else could?

What does the reverend Gotama say hereon?

Is the whole world
in accord with brahmins
in their fourfold division of service?

No.

[101] It is just like a poor, needy and destitute wretch
for whom folk should reserve
a joint he does not want,
telling him he has got to have it -
and to pay for it.

Just in the same way
it is without the assent of recluses and brahmins
that brahmins lay down the law about service.

For myself,
I neither assert
that all service is to be rendered
nor that all service is to be refused.

If the service makes a man bad
and not good,
it should not be rendered;
but if it makes him better
and not bad,
then it should be rendered.

This is the guiding consideration
which should decide the conduct alike of nobles,
[179] of brahmins,
of middle-class men
and of peasants;
each individual should refuse service
which makes him bad
and should accept only the service
which makes him a better man.

I assert that lineage
does not enter into
a man's being either good or bad;
- nor do good looks or wealth.

For, you will find a man of noble birth
who is a murderer,
a thief,
a fornicator,
a liar,
a slanderer,
a man of bitter tongue,
a tattler,
a covetous person,
a man of rancour or of wrong views;
and therefore I assert
that noble birth
does not make a good man.

Or again you will find a man of noble birth
who is innocent of all these vices;
- and therefore I assert
that it is not lineage
which makes a man bad.

Similarly, it is not good looks or wealth
which make a man either good or bad; -
and therefore I assert
that neither good looks nor wealth
make him either good or bad.

[180] I neither assert
that all service is to be rendered
nor that all service is to be refused.

If the service rendered
breeds faith and virtue in a man,
increases his store of information,
leads to Renunciation,
enriches his understanding, -
that, I assert,
is service which may be rendered.

At this point the brahmin Esukārī said to the Lord: -

Brahmins give a fourfold classification of income, -
from alms, for brahmins;
from his bow and arrows, for the noble;
from ploughing and tending cattle,
for the middle-class man;
and for the peasant,
by the carriage of crops
on the pole slung over his shoulder.

If any one of these
deserts his vocation for something else
he [102] does what he should not do, -
not less than a guardian
who appropriates what is not his. -

What does the reverend Gotama say on this?

Is the whole world in accord
with this brahmin classification?

[181] No.

It is just like a poor,
needy and destitute wretch
for whom folk should reserve
a joint he does not want,
telling him he has got to have it -
and to pay for it.

Just in the same way
it is without the assent of recluses and brahmins
that brahmins lay down the law about wealth.

It is the noble transcendent Doctrine
which I, brahmin, affirm to be true wealth.

As against pride of ancestry,
the station into which a man happens to be born
determines only his designation -
be it noble or brahmin or middle-class or peasant.

Even as a fire is called
after the material out of which it is kindled,
and may thus be called either a wood-fire,
or a chip-fire,
or a bracken-fire,
or a cowdung fire, -
just in the same way
the noble, transcendent Doctrine, I aver,
is the source of true wealth for every man,
birth merely determining his designation
in one of the four classes.

Take a man -
be he noble or brahmin or what not -
who goes forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim
and, thanks to the Doctrine and Rule
proclaimed by the Truth-finder,
abstains from murder,
theft,
loose living,
lying,
slander,
reviling,
tattling,
covetousness and malevolence,
gains right views,
and attains to the causal method
and to Doctrine and to the right.

[182] Now, if a man of each class accomplishes this,
is it only the brahmin -
and not any one of the three other classes -
who in this region
can develop a heart of love
innocent of all hate and malevolence?

No, Gotama; all four classes alike can do so.

Exactly so can men of all four classes alike
go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim
and, thanks to the Doctrine and Rule
proclaimed by the Truth-finder,
abstains from murder,
theft,
loose living,
lying,
slander,
reviling,
tattling,
covetousness and malevolence,
gains right views,
and attain to the causal method
and to Doctrine and to the right.

What think you, brahmin?

Can only a brahmin
take shampooing balls down to the river with him
and scour off the dust and dirt;
and can this not be done
by a noble or a middle-class man or a peasant?

No; all the other three classes [188] can do so too.

Exactly so can all four classes alike
go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim
and, thanks to the Doctrine and Rule
proclaimed by the Truth-finder,
abstains from murder,
theft,
loose living,
lying,
slander,
reviling,
tattling,
covetousness and malevolence,
gains right views,
and attain to the causal method
and to Doctrine and to the right.

What think you?

Suppose a noble, [103] anointed king,
assembled a hundred men of varied birth
and were to say to them: -

All of you who are nobles or brahmins or of royal birth,
take kindling wood of sal or pine or sandal or lotus
and make a blazing fire with it.

And you that come of low stocks -
trappers, rush-plaiters, cartwrights and vermin-killers -
you light your fires with cattle-troughs or hog-troughs or wash-tubs or bits of woodbine.

What would happen, do you think?

Would it be only the fire kindled by the high-born
which would blaze up with a bright flame
and serve the purposes of a fire?

And would the fire of the low people fail herein?

No, Gotama; it would be just the same with high and low;
[184] every fire alike would blaze up
with the same bright flame
and equally serve the purposes of a fire.

Exactly so can all four classes alike
go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim
and, thanks to the Doctrine and Rule
proclaimed by the Truth-finder,
abstains from murder,
theft,
loose living,
lying,
slander,
reviling,
tattling,
covetousness and malevolence,
gains right views,
and attain to the causal method
and to Doctrine and to the right.

At the close of these words,
the brahmin Esukārī 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 disciple
who has found an abiding refuge,
from this day forth,
while life shall last.


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