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
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata 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 130

Devadūta Suttaɱ

Heaven's Warning Messengers

 


[178] [255]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
the Lord addressed the Almsmen: -

Just as if there were two houses with doors,
and a man with eyes to see
were to stand between them
and see men going in and out
and passing to and fro,
- just in the same way
do I see, with the Eye Celestial
which far surpasses the human eye,
creatures in act of passing hence
and of re-appearing elsewhere, -
creatures lowly or debonair,
fair or foul to view,
happy or unhappy;
and I am aware that they fare
according to their past.

Here are creatures given to good
in act word and thought,
who did not decry the Noble Ones,
who had a right outlook
and became what results from such a right outlook; -
these at the body's dissolution after death
appear either in states of bliss in heaven
[179] or as human beings.

Here again are creatures given to evil
in act word and thought,
who decry the Noble Ones,
have a wrong outlook
and become what results from such a wrong outlook; -
[256] these at the body's dissolution after death
appear either as ghosts
or as animals
or in the misery and woe of purgatory.

Him do the wardens of purgatory
haul by the arms before King Yama, saying -

This man, sire,
lacked filial and religious piety
and flouted his clan elders;
appoint him his punishment.

Him does King Yama examine
and question
and press
regarding the first messenger of the gods,
asking the man whether in his human life
he did not see that messenger appearing.

On the man's saying he had not seen him,
Yama says: -

My man, did you never in your human life
see a tiny new-born babe
that can only lie on its back in its own filth?

Yes, sir; I did.

Did you never,
being a man of intelligence and years,
bethink you
that you too were,
and still continued to be,
subject to birth,
and that you should conduct yourself aright
in act word and thought?

I could not have done it;
I could not muster up the resolution to do so.

Through lack of resolution, my man,
you have failed to conduct yourself aright
in act word and thought.

Yes, my man;
they will deal with you
according to your lack of resolution.

Your misdeeds were not committed
by your parents,
[180] or by your brothers and sisters,
or by your friends or kinsfolk,
or by recluses and brahmins,
or by the gods;
they were committed by none but yourself;
and it is you yourself
who will reap the fruits thereof.

Passing now to the second messenger of the gods,
Yama questions the man
as to his having seen this second messenger.

On the man's replying
that he had not seen him,
Yama says: -

My man, did you never in your life on earth
see an old woman or man
of eighty
or ninety
or a hundred, -
bent double
and propping their bowed frames with a staff
as they totter along,
decrepid,
with youth gone,
with teeth gone,
with hair grey
or scanty
or none left,
all wrinkled and blotchy?

[257] Yes, sir; I did.

Did you never,
being a man of intelligence and years,
bethink you that you too were,
and still continued to be,
subject to old-age,
and that you should conduct yourself aright
in act word and thought?

I could not have done it ... reap the fruits thereof.

Passing now to the third messenger of the gods,
Yama questions [181] the man
as to his having seen this third messenger.

On the man's replying
that he had not seen him,
Yama says: -

My man, did you never in your human life
see a woman or a man
ill and in pain,
very ill indeed,
lying in their own excreta,
needing others to lift them up
and lay them down?

Yes, sir; I did.

Did you never,
being a man of intelligence and years,
bethink you that you too were,
and still continued to be,
subject to disease,
and that you should conduct yourself aright
in act word and thought?

I could not have done it ... reap the fruits thereof.

Passing now to the fourth messenger of the gods,
Yama questions the man
as to his having seen the fourth messenger.

On the man's replying that he had not seen him,
Yama says: -

My man, did you never in your human life
see how, when a guilty robber is arrested,
he is punished by the authorities in divers ways, -
by flogging ... (etc. as in Sutta No. 13) ...
are impaled alive
or are beheaded?

Yes, sir; I did.

Did you never,
being a man of intelligence and years,
bethink you that,
according to report,
all evildoers are thus punished in divers ways,
here and now,
and why not [182] hereafter? -
and accordingly conduct yourself aright
in act word and thought?

I could not nave done it ... reap the fruits thereof.

Passing next to the fifth messenger of the gods,
Yama questions the man as to his having seen the fifth messenger.

On the man's replying that he had not [258] seen him,
Yama says: -

My man, did you never in your human life
see the corpse of a woman or of a man
bloated and blackened and festering?

Yes, sir; I did.

Did you never,
being a man of intelligence and years,
bethink you that you too were,
and still continued to be,
subject to death,
and that you should conduct yourself aright
in act word and deed?

I could not have done it ... reap the fruits thereof.

Having examined,
questioned
and pressed the man
regarding the fifth messenger of the gods,
King Yama says no more.

Him do the wardens of purgatory
subject to the fivefold trussing, -
[188] they drive a red-hot peg through each hand and each foot,
and a fifth through his chest.

Severe and acute pain is his,
but death comes not to him
before he has worked off all his evil-doing.

When he is pegged down those wardens trim him with axes.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Next, sparing only his head and feet,
they trim him with razors.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then they harness him to a chariot
and drive him to and fro
over a fiery expanse,
all aflame and ablaze.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then those wardens make him climb up and down
a huge mountain of red-hot embers,
all afire and aflame and ablaze.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Next they plunge him head over heels
into the glowing Cauldron of Brass,
all afire and aflame and ablaze,
where he is boiled in the seething foam, -
whirled now up now down,
now to this side now to that.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then the wardens cast him into Great Purgatory,
which is -

four-square, four-doored, a realm quadrangular,
walled all around with steel and roofed with steel,
with incandescent floor of molten steel;
a hundred leagues this way and that its range extends.

[259] In Great Purgatory, Almsmen,
the flames that leap up by the eastern wall
surge right across to dash against the western wall;
the flames that leap up by the western wall
surge across to dash against the eastern wall;
[184] the flames that dart up by the northern wall
surge across to dash against the southern wall;
the flames that dart up by the southern wall
surge across to dash against the northern wall;
the flames that dart up below
surge right up against the top;
and the flames that dart from the top
surge right down against the bottom.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

A time comes - long, long after,
at the close of a vast period -
when Great Purgatory's eastern door opens;
and towards it nimbly and swiftly he runs, -
burning in skin and hide,
burning in his flesh,
burning in his tendons,
with his bones charring within him;
such is his plight.

When he is well on his way to escape,
the door shuts.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

And the like happens
when in the fulness of time
the western
and the northern
and the southern doors open in turn
and close again.

A time comes - long, long after,
at the close of a vast period -
when once again Great Purgatory's eastern door opens;
and towards it ... such is his plight.

Forth by that door he goes.

Right alongside of Great Purgatory
is [185] the great Filth-Purgatory,
and into that he plumps.

In Filth-Purgatory
needle-mouthed creatures
successively rip away his skin
and hide,
his flesh,
his tendons,
and his bones,
till they can devour his marrow.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Right alongside of Filth-Purgatory
is the great Ember-Purgatory,
and into that ne plumps.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Right alongside of Ember-Purgatory
is the great Forest of Silk-cotton Trees
towering a league high
with prickles half a yard long
(on its carpet of fallen leaves),
all afire and aflame and ablaze;
and in this forest
they make him climb up and down.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

[260] Right alongside of that forest
is the great Sword-leaved forest,
the leaves of which
under stress of the wind
cut off his hands
and feet
and ears
and nose
and nostrils.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Right alongside of this forest
is the great Caustic River,
and into that he plumps.

Now up, now down the stream he is borne,
and now up and down.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Landing him with a fish-hook,
the wardens of purgatory [186] ask him what he wants;
and he says he is hungry.

Prising his mouth open
with a red-hot crowbar
all afire and aflame and ablaze,
the wardens of purgatory
thrust into his mouth
a red-hot ball of copper
all afire and aflame and ablaze,
which burns his lips,
mouth,
throat
and chest,
and passes out below,
carrying with it
his bowels and intestines.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Again the wardens ask him
what he wants;
and he says he is thirsty.

Prising his mouth open as before,
they pour into bis mouth
molten copper and bronze
all afire and aflame and ablaze,
which burns his lips,
mouth,
throat
and chest,
and passes out below,
carrying with it
his bowels and intestines.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then the wardens of purgatory
cast him once more into Great Purgatory.

Time was Almsmen,
when this thought came to King Yama: -

They that are reported to do evil in the world
are punished in these divers ways.

Would that I might become a human being
and that there might then arise in the world a Truth-finder,
arahat all-enlightened,
to whom I might attach myself
to hear the Lord preach his Doctrine
and myself to understand the Lord's Doctrine!

What I am telling you, Almsmen,
I have heard from no other lips
whether of recluse or of brahmin;
I tell you only what I have
for and by myself
known and seen and discerned.

[187] Thus spoke the Lord;
and the Blessed One went on to add the following: -

[261] If vainly warn'd by heaven's messengers,
young brahmins careless live, long time their sloth
they'll rue, in lowly shapes condemtied to live.
But they, the good, who warning take betimes
and, sloth eschewing, grasp the Doctrine true,
- these from Attachment's perils find Release,
in final triumph over birth and death.
At peace, and blissful, here and now they find
Nirvāna, purged of hatred, purged of fear,
o'er Ill triumphant.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page