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 100

Sangārava Suttaɱ

Yes, There Are Gods

 


[209] [120]

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

Once when the Lord was making an alms-pilgrimage through Kosala
with a great train of Almsmen,
there was living at Caṇḍala- [121] kappa the brahmin lady Dhānañjānī,
who was a staunch believer in the Buddha
and his Doctrine
and his Confraternity.

Chancing to trip up,
she exclaimed three times:

Glory be to the Lord,
the arahat all-enlightened!

[210] Her exclamation was heard by the young brahmin Sangārava,
then living in Caṇḍala-kappa,
who was versed in all three Yedas,
accomplished in the ritual with the glosses,
in phonology and in etymology,
with chronicles as a fifth branch,
as well as in exegesis,
in casuistry and in the signs that mark the Superman.

Hearing her exclamation,
he said she was low and degraded
to extol a shaveling of a recluse
when there were brahmins available.

Ah, but you do not know
how good and wise the Lord is;
if you did,
you would not think it right
to abuse and denounce him.

Well, madam;
please let me know when the recluse Gotama visits Caṇḍala-kappa.

I will, said she.

In the course of his alms-pilgrimage through Kosala
the Lord came to Caṇḍala-kappa,
and took up his abode
in the mango-grove of the Todeyya brahmins.

News of his arrival there reached the brahmin lady,
who duly told the young brahmin,
bidding him select his own time.

Accordingly, Sangārava went to the Lord
and, after exchange of greetings,
[211] sat down to one side,
saying: -

There are some recluses and brahmins, Gotama,
who by insight here and now
claim to have won the goal
and achieved perfection,
recognizing the foundations
on which the higher life is based.

How does the reverend Gotama stand to these?

There are differences, in my view,
among such.

Some of them depend on tradition
and claim by tradition
to win the goal
and the foundations of the higher life, -
such as the brahmins who know the Three Vedas.

Others go on a modicum of belief, -
such as sophists and researchers.

Beyond these are those recluses and brahmins
who in domains till then unknown
have, unaided, discerned a Doctrine
and so have by insight here and now
won the goal
and [122] achieved perfection,
recognizing the foundations
on which the higher life is based.

Of these latter am I;
or, you may put it,
I am of them
in so far as they are truly such.

In the days before my Enlightenment,
when as yet I was but a Bodhisatta
without full Enlightenment,
I bethought me that a hole-and-corner life
is all a home can give,
whereas a Pilgrim is free as air;
it is hard for the home-keeping man
to follow the higher life
in all its completeness and purity and perfection;
come let me cut off hair and beard,
don the yellow robe
and go forth home to homelessness.

[212] So the time came that,
while I was quite young -
with a wealth of coal-black hair
untouched by grey
and in all the beauty of my early prime -
despite the wishes of my parents,
who wept and lamented -
cut off my hair and beard,
donned the yellow robes
and went forth from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage.

A pilgrim now,
in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road to peace beyond compare,
I came to Āḷāra Kālāma and said:

It is my wish, reverend Kālāma,
to lead the higher life in this your Doctrine and Rule.

Stay with us, venerable sir,
was his answer;
my Doctrine is such
that ere long an intelligent man
can for himself discern,
realize,
enter on,
and abide in,
the full scope of his master's teaching.

Before long,
indeed very soon,
I had his Doctrine by heart.

So far as regards mere lip-recital
and oral repetition,
I could say off the (founder's) original message
and the elders' exposition of it,
and could profess,
with others,
that I knew and saw it to the full.

Then it struck me
that it was no Doctrine merely accepted by him on trust
that Āḷāra Kālāma, preached,
but one which he professed to have entered on
and to abide in
after having discerned and realized it for himself;
and assuredly he had real knowledge and vision thereof.

So I went to him
and asked him
up to what point
he had for himself discerned and realized the Doctrine
he had entered on
and now abode in.

Up to the plane of Naught,
answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Āḷāra Kālāma was not alone in possessing faith,
perseverance,
mindfulness,
rapt concentration,
and intellectual insight;
for, all these were mine too.

Why, I asked myself,
should not I strive to realize the Doctrine
which he claims to have entered on
and to abide in
after discerning and realizing it for himself?

Before long,
indeed very soon,
I had discerned
and realized his Doctrine for myself
and had entered on it
and abode therein.

Then I went to him
and asked him whether this was the point
up to which he had discerned and realized for himself
the Doctrine which he professed.

He said yes;
and I said that I had reached the same point for myself.

It is a great thing, said he,
a very great thing for us,
that in you, reverend sir,
we find such a fellow in the higher life.

That same Doctrine which I for myself have discerned,
realized,
entered on,
and profess, -
that have you for yourself discerned,
realized,
entered on
and abide in;
and that same Doctrine
which you have for yourself discerned,
realized,
entered on
and profess, -
that have I for myself discerned,
realized,
entered on,
and profess.

The Doctrine which I know,
you too know;
and the Doctrine which you know,
I too know.

As I am,
so are you;
and as you are,
so am I.

Pray, sir,
let us be joint wardens of this company!

In such wise did Āḷāra Kālāma,
being my master,
set me, his pupil,
on precisely the same footing as himself
and show me great worship.

But, as I bethought me
that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of Naught
and not to Renunciation,
passionlessness,
cessation,
peace,
discernment,
enlightenment
and Nirvana, -
I was not taken with his Doctrine
but turned away from it
to go my way.

Still in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road
to peace beyond compare,
I came to Uddaka Rāmaputta and said:

It is my wish, reverend sir,
to lead the higher life
in this your Doctrine and Rule.

Stay with us, ... vision thereof.

So I went to Uddaka Rāmaputta
and asked him up to what point
he had for himself discerned and realized
the Doctrine he had entered on and now abode in.

Up to the plane of neither perception nor nonperception, answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Uddaka Rāmaputta was not alone
in possessing faith ... show me great worship.

But, as I bethought me
that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of neither perception nor non-perception,
and not to Renunciation,
passionlessness,
cessation,
peace,
discernment,
enlightenment
and Nirvana, -
I was not taken with his Doctrine
but turned away from it to go my way.

Still in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road
to peace beyond compare,
I came, in the course of an alms-pilgrimage through Magadha,
to the Camp township at Uruvela
and there took up my abode.

Said I to myself on surveying the place: -

Truly a delightful spot,
with its goodly groves
and clear flowing river
with ghats and amenities,
hard by a village for sustenance.

What more for his striving
can a young man need
whose heart is set on striving?

So there I sat me down,
needing nothing further for my striving.

Howbeit, there flashed in on me spontaneously
three allegories,
unknown till then:

It is just as if there were a green sappy stick in the water,
and a man came along with his drill-stick,
set on lighting a fire and making a blaze.

Do you think he could succeed
by rubbing with his drill-stick
that green sappy stick from the water?

Toil and moil as he may, he couldn't; -
because the stick is green and sappy in itself,
and moreover had been in the water.

It is just the same with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is not lived aloof from pleasures of sense
in the matter of their bodies,
and who have not inwardly discarded
and rightly quelled the appetite,
taste,
infatuation,
thirst,
and feverish longing for pleasures of sense; -
they are alike incapable of understanding,
vision,
and the plenitude of Enlightenment,
whether or not paroxysms of unpleasant,
acute,
and painful feelings assail them.

This was the first allegory,
unknown till then,
which flashed in on me.

The second allegory
was of a green sappy stick
lying on dry land.

Do you think the man could light his fire with that?

Toil and moil as he may, he couldn't; -
because, though the stick had been thrown
not into the water but on dry land,
yet it is green and sappy in itself.

It is just the same
with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is not lived aloof ...
painful feelings assail them.

This was the second allegory,
till then unknown,
which flashed in on me.

The third allegory
was of a dry stick,
with the sap out of it,
lying on dry ground,
with a man coming along with his drill-stick,
bent on lighting a fire
and making a blaze.

Do you think he could light his fire
with that dry stick?

Yes, he could; -
because the stick is dry and sapless in itself
and moreover had not been in the water
but was lying on dry ground.

It is just the same with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is lived aloof from pleasures of sense
in the matter of their bodies,
and who have inwardly discarded
and rightly quelled the appetite,
taste,
infatuation,
thirst,
and feverish longing for pleasures of sense; -
they are alike capable of understanding,
vision,
and the plenitude of Enlightenment,
whether or not paroxysms of unpleasant,
acute
and painful feelings assail them.

This was the third and last of the three allegories,
till then unknown,
which flashed in on me.

Thought I then to myself:

Come, let me,
with teeth clenched
and with tongue pressed against my palate,
by sheer force of mind
restrain,
coerce,
and dominate my heart.

And this I did,
till the sweat streamed from my armpits.

Just as a strong man,
taking a weaker man by the head or shoulders,
restrains and coerces and dominates him,
even so did I,
with teeth clenched
and with tongue pressed against my palate,
by sheer force of mind
restrain,
coerce,
and dominate my heart,
till the sweat streamed from my armpits.

Resolute grew my perseverance
which never quailed;
there was established in me
a mindfulness which knew no distraction, -
though my body was sore distressed and afflicted,
because I was harassed by these struggles
as I painfully struggled on.

Yet even such unpleasant feelings as then arose
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought 1 to myself:

Come, let me pursue the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I stopped breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose;
and then great was the noise of the air
as it passed through my ear-holes,
like the blast from a smith's bellows.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me pursue further
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I stopped breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent winds wracked my head,
as though a strong man were boring into my skull with the point of a sword.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me pursue still further
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping all breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent pains attacked my head,
as though a strong man had twisted a leather thong round my head.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me go on pursuing the Ecstasy
that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent winds pierced my inwards through and through, -
as though an expert butcher
or his man
were hacking my inwards with sharp cleavers.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me still go on pursuing
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping all breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then there was a violent burning within me, -
as though two strong men,
taking a weaker man by both arms,
were to roast and burn him up in a fiery furnace.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

At the sight of me,
some gods said I was dead;
others said I was not dead but dying;
while others again said that I was an Arahat
and that Arahats lived like that!

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me proceed to cut off food altogether.

Hereupon, gods came to me
begging me not so to do,
or else they would feed me through the pores
with heavenly essences
which would keep me alive.

If, thought I to myself,
while I profess to be dispensing with all food whatsoever,
these gods should feed me all the time through the pores
with heavenly essences which keep me alive,
that would be imposture on my part.

So I rejected their offers, peremptorily.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me restrict myself to little tiny morsels of food at a time,
namely the liquor in which beans or vetches,
peas or pulse,
have been boiled.

I rationed myself accordingly,
and my body grew emaciated in the extreme.

My members, great and small,
grew like the knotted joints of withered creepers;
like a buffalo's hoof
were my shrunken buttocks;
like the twists in a rope
were my spinal vertebrae;
like the crazy rafters
of a tumbledown roof,
that start askew and aslant,
were my gaunt ribs;
like the starry gleams on water
deep down and afar
in the depths of a well,
shone my gleaming eyes
deep down and afar
in the depths of their sockets;
and as the rind of a cut gourd
shrinks and shrivels in the heat,
so shrank and shrivelled
the scalp of my head, -
and all because I ate so little.

If I sought to feel my belly,
it was my backbone
which I found in my grasp;
if I sought to feel my backbone,
I found myself grasping my belly,
so closely did my belly cleave to my backbone; -
and all because I ate so little.

When I wanted to retire
for the calls of nature,
down I fell on my face; -
and all because I ate so little.

If for ease of body
I chafed my limbs,
the hairs of my body
fell away under my hand,
rotted at their roots; -
and all because I ate so little.

At the sight of me,
some men said I was black;
others said I was brown;
while others again said I was neither black nor brown,
but dusky like a fish.

To such a sorry pass
had my pure clear complexion been reduced, -
all because I ate so little.

Thought I to myself:

Of all the spasms of acute and severe pain
that have been undergone through the ages past -
or will be undergone through the ages to come -
or are now being undergone -
by recluses or brahmins,
mine are pre-eminent;
nor is there aught worse beyond.

Yet, with all these severe austerities,
I fail to transcend ordinary human limits
and to rise to the heights
of noblest understanding and vision.

Could there be another path to Enlightenment?

A memory came to me
of how once,
seated in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree
on the lands of my father the Sakyan,
I, divested of pleasures of sense
and of wrong states of mind,
entered upon,
and abode in,
the First Ecstasy,
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of inward aloofness
but not divorced from observation and reflection.

Could this be the path to Enlightenment?

In prompt response to this memory,
my consciousness told me
that here lay the true path to Enlightenment.

Thought I to myself:

Am I afraid of a bliss
which eschews pleasures of sense and wrong states of mind?

And my heart told me I was not afraid.

Thought I to myself:

It is no easy matter to attain that bliss
with a body so emaciated.

Come, let me take some solid food,
rice and junket;
and this I ate accordingly.

With me at the time
there were the Five Almsmen,
looking for me to announce to them
what truth I attained;
but when I took the rice and junket,
they left me in disgust,
saying that luxuriousness had claimed me
and that, abandoning the struggle,
I had reverted to luxuriousness.

Regaining strength after eating solid food,
divested of pleasures of sense,
divested of wrong states of consciousness,
I entered on,
and abode in,
the First Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of inward aloofness but not divorced from observation and reflection.

As I rose above reasoning and reflection,
I entered on,
and abode in,
the Second Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of rapt concentration,
above all observation and reflection,
a state whereby the heart is focussed
and tranquillity reigns within.

By shedding the emotion of zest,
I entered on,
and abode in,
the Third Ecstasy,
with its poised equanimity,
mindful and self-possessed,
feeling in my frame
the satisfaction of which the Noble say
that poise and mindfulness bring abiding satisfaction.

With thoughts thus stedfast,
thus clarified and purified,
clean and cleansed of impure things,
tempered and apt to serve,
stablished and immutable, -
it was thus that I applied my heart to the knowledge which recalled my earlier existences.

I called to mind my divers existences in the past, -
a single birth,
then two ... [and so on to] ... a hundred thousand births,
many an aeon of disintegration of the world,
many an aeon of its redintegration,
and again many an aeon both of its disintegration
and of its redintegration.

In this or that former existence,
I remembered,
such and such was my name,
my sept,
my class,
my diet,
my joys and sorrows,
and my term of life.

When I passed thence,
I came by such and such subsequent existence,
wherein such and such was my name and so forth.

Thence I passed to my life here.

Thus did I call to mind my divers existences of the past
in all their details and features.

This, brahmin, was the first knowledge attained by me,
in the first watch of that night,-
ignorance dispelled and knowledge won,
darkness dispelled and illumination won,
as befitted my strenuous and ardent life,
purged of self.

That same stedfast heart
I now applied to knowledge of the passage hence,
and re-appearance elsewhere,
of other beings.

With the Eye Celestial,
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
I saw beings in the act of passing hence
and of re-appearing elsewhere, -
beings high and low,
fair or foul to view,
in bliss or woe;
I saw them all faring according to their past.

Here were beings given over to evil
in act, word and thought,
who decried the Noble
and had a wrong outlook
and became what results from such wrong outlook -
these, at the body's dissolution after death,
made their appearance in states of suffering,
misery
and tribulation
and in purgatory.

Here again were beings given to good
in act, word and thought,
who did not decry the Noble,
who had the right outlook
and became what results from right outlook; -
these, at the body's dissolution after death,
made their appearance in states of bliss in heaven.

All this did I see with the Eye Celestial;
and this, brahmin, was the second knowledge attained by me,
in the second watch of that night, -
ignorance dispelled and knowledge won,
darkness dispelled and illumination won,
as befitted my strenuous and ardent life,
purged of self.

That same stedfast heart
I next applied to knowledge of the eradication of Cankers.

I comprehended,
aright and to the full,
I11,
the origin of Ill,
the cessation of Ill,
and the course that leads to the cessation of Ill.

I comprehended,
aright and to the full,
what the Cankers were,
with their origin,
cessation,
and the course that leads to their cessation.

When I knew this
and when I saw this,
then my heart was delivered
from the Canker of sensuous pleasure,
from the Canker of continuing existence,
and from the Canker of ignorance;
and to me thus delivered
came the knowledge of my Deliverance
in the conviction -
Rebirth is no more;
I have lived the highest life;
my task is done;
and now for me
there is no more of what I have been.

This, Brahmin, was the third knowledge attained by me,
in the third watch of that night, -
ignorance dispelled
and knowledge won,
darkness dispelled and illumination won,
as befitted my strenuous and ardent life,
purged of self.

Hereupon the young brahmin Sangārava said: -

Fruitful indeed and noble was your striving,
worthy of an arahat all-enlightened.

- Now, are there gods?

I knew offhand there were gods.

Why do you give that answer to my question, Gotama?

Is it not false and untrue?

Anyone who, when asked if gods there be,
answers that there are gods [213]
and that he knew offhand there were, -
why, anyone of intelligence
must come irresistibly to the conclusion
that there are gods.

[123] Why did you not make this clear at the outset, Gotama?

The world is loud in agreement that there are gods.

Hereupon, the brahmin Sangārava 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.


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