Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
4. Catukka Nipāta
IV. Cakka Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Fours
IV: The Wheel

Sutta 36

Doṇa(loka) Suttaɱ

As to the World[1]

Translated from the Pali by F. L. Woodward, M.A.

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[37] [43]

[1][than][bodh] Thus have I heard:

On a certain occasion the Exalted One was journeying along the highroad between Ukkaṭṭhā and Setabbya.[2]

Now the brahmin Doṇa,[3] was also journeying along the highroad between Ukkaṭṭhā and Setabbya.

Then the brahmin Doṇa, beheld on the footprints of the Exalted One the wheel-marks[4] with their thousand spokes, with their rims and hubs and all their attributes complete.

On seeing these he thought thus:

It is wonderful indeed! It is marvellous indeed! These will not be the footprints of one in human form.

Just then the Exalted One stepped aside from the highroad and sat down at the root of a certain tree, sitting cross-legged, holding his body upright and setting up mindfulness in front of him.

Then the brahmin Doṇa, following up the Exalted One's footprints, beheld the Exalted One seated at the foot of a certain tree.

Seeing him comely, faith-inspiring,[5] with senses calmed, tranquil of mind, in the attainment of composure by masterly control, (like) a tamed, alert, perfectly trained[6] elephant,[7] he approached the Exalted One and drawing near to him said this:

[44] 'Your worship will become[8] a deva?"

"No indeed, brahmin. I'll not become a deva."

"Then your worship will become a gandharva?"

"No indeed, brahmin, I'll not become a gandharva."

"A yakkha, then?"

"No indeed, brahmin, not a yakkha."

"Then your worship will become a human being?"

"No indeed, brahmin, I'll not become a human being."

"When questioned thus:

'Your worship will become a deva?

You reply:

'No indeed, brahmin. I'll not become a deva.'

When questioned thus:

'Then your worship will become a gandharva?

You reply:

'No indeed, brahmin, I'll not become a gandharva.'

When questioned thus:

'Then your worship will become a yakkha?

You reply:

'No indeed, brahmin, not a yakkha.'

"When questioned thus:

'Then your worship will become a human being?

You reply:

'No indeed, brahmin, I'll not become a human being.'

Who then, pray, will your worship become?

"Brahmin, those āsavas whereby,
if they were not abandoned,
I should become a deva, -
those āsavas in me are abandoned,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump,
made non-existent,
of a nature not to arise again in future time.

Those āsavas whereby,
if they were not abandoned,
I should become a gandharva, -
those āsavas in me are abandoned,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump,
made non-existent,
of a nature not to arise again in future time.

Those āsavas whereby,
if they were not abandoned,
I should become a yakkha, -
those āsavas in me are abandoned,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump,
made non-existent,
of a nature not to arise again in future time.

Those āsavas whereby,
if they were not abandoned,
I should become a human being, -
those āsavas in me are abandoned,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump,
made non-existent,
of a nature not to arise again in future time.

Just as, brahmin,[9] a lotus,
blue,
red
or white,
though born in the water,
grown up in the water,
when it reaches the surface
stands there unsoiled by the water, -
just so, brahmin,
though born in the world,
grown up in the world,
having overcome the world,[10]
I abide unsoiled by the world.

Take it that I am a Buddha, brahmin.

[45] The āsavas whereby would be
A deva-birth or airy sprite,[11] Gandharva, or whereby myself
Would reach the state of yakkhahood,
Or go to birth in human womb,[12] -
Those āsavas now by myself
Are slain, destroyed and rooted out.[13]

As a lotus, fair and lovely,
By the water is not soiled,
By the world am I not soiled;
Therefore, brahmin, am I Buddha.'[14]

 


[1] Loke, given in the uddāna. See Introduction, p. vi.

[2] In Kosala. Cf. Brethr. 67; M. i, 326. Comy. expl. the name of the former thus: 'built by torchlight (ukkā).' At the latter Kassapa Buddha was said to have been born.

[3] This may be the brāhmin to whom the Buddha's bowl was given after his death, D. ii, 166. Comy. pictures him as a master of the three Vedas, journeying along with 500 youths and teaching them.

[4] For the marks of the 'Superman' see Introd. to Dial. iii, 132 ff. (Lakkhana-sutta). They seem to have been a brahmin, not Buddhist, legend, or part of it, and point to a later period when the Buddha's quasi-divinity had become established. Of these footprints Comy. remarks: 'The Buddha's footprint, being sukhumāni, are invisible, but on this occasion he purposely allowed the impressions to be seen by the brahmin.' Cf. The Life of Buddha, by Dr. Thomas, p. 215 ff.

[5] Pasādanīya. At Ud. 7, dassanīya.

[6] Text repeats santindriyaɱ, which should read yatindriyaɱ (UdA. 87). Comy. has saŋyatindriyaɱ.

[7] Nāga. Comy. fancifully derives the word from (puna) anāgacchati and na āguɱ karoti.

Bhk. Thanissaro's solution here is that this is a manner of speech. I would only express it slightly differently as a contracted form of: "Will you be being about being a ..." From the perspective of the awakened mind there is actually no true 'present' to base a present tense upon in the case of asking a person what he is in the present. Things are under constant change, so a being is always about becoming something. There should really be a special tense for this case: The present-future or the future-present.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[8] Bhavissati. This passage has hitherto been mistranslated. The brahmin does not ask 'Are you?' but uses the future tense common to the verbs be and become. The Buddha replies, not 'I am not (these things),' but 'shall not become,' also using the future. The gāthas clearly imply that he will not again 'become' any one of these creatures, having destroyed the basis of rebirth; nor do they hint at any supernatural or superhuman marks or appearance. Probably the sentence about the 'wheels,' as well as the last prose paragraph, is a later insertion, being an editorial attempt to lend the plausibility of later values to a fragmentary, half-forgotten 'saying.' We meet with apparently the eame Doṇa, in the next Nipata.

[9] Text wrongly bhikkhave for brāhmaṇe.

John 16.33: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. — KJV

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[10] Cf. St. John's Gospel, xvi, 33.

[11] Text should read devūpapatty. Vihangamo is described by Comy. as ākāsa-caro gandhabba-kāyika-devo.

[12] Text here and at MA. i, 61, abbaje (optative of a supposed abbajati, 'would go'). Pali Dict. suggests andaje (but what case would this be and how would one translate?). I adopted this reading at UdA. 176, and in Mr. Jayasundara's trans. of A. ii, with Sinh. text. But now I propose to read abbude (the foetus). I took the gāthas wrongly. Comy. says nothing.

[13] Vinaḷīkatā = vigaia-naḷā, vigata-bandhanā katā. Comy. and at Sn. 642, vigata-naḷā, ucchinnā.

[14] The brahmin's question is not unique. In another story also of this legendary type, the Sonananda Jātaka (J. v, 317), we read: 'Art devatā, gandharva or Sakka, giver to men? Art human of magic potency? As what may we know thee?'


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