Anguttara Nikaya


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Anguttara Nikāya
Sattaka Nipāta

The Book of the
Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Sevens

Sutta 68

Aggikkhandhopama suttaɱ

The Fire[1]

Translated from the Pali by E.M. Hare.

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[1][bd][yaho]Thus have I heard:

Once the Exalted One was on an almsround among the Kosalese,[2] with a great following of monks. [85] And on reaching the high road, the Exalted One saw in a certain spot a great fiery mass, burning, blazing, flaming. At the sight, he stepped down off the road and sat down at the foot of a tree, on a seat which was ready.

So seated, he addressed the monks thus:

'See[3] ye, monks, that great burning, blazing, flaming, fiery mass?'

'Yes, lord.'

'What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That one should sit or lie beside that great burning, blazing, flaming, fiery mass caressing it;
or, that one should sit or lie beside some maid, whose hands and feet are soft and fair,[4] of noble birth or brāhman birth or yeoman birth,[5] caressing her?'

'Surely lord, it were better to sit or lie and caress some maid of noble, brāhman or yeoman birth, whose hands and feet are soft and fair.
Ill indeed, lord, were it to sit or lie and caress that great burning, blazing, flaming, fiery mass.'

'Monks, I declare unto you, I protest unto you, it were better for a wicked man[6] of evil nature, unclean and of suspicious[7] conduct, full of secret actions, no recluse though vowed thereto, unchaste though vowed to chastity, rotten to the core, lustful and vile — to sit or lie and caress that great burning, blazing, flaming, fiery mass.
And why?

On account of this, monks, he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason, on the breaking up of the body after death, would he arise in the untoward way, the ill way, the abyss, hell.
But when a wicked man of evil nature, unclean and of suspicious conduct ... lustful and vile, sits or lies caressing some maid of noble, brahman or yeoman birth, whose feet and hands are soft and fair, he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for, on the breaking up of the body after death, he is reborn ... in hell.

[86] What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That a strong man, with stout horse-hair rope, should bind and crush both one's legs, so that the rope cut the skin, then the underskin, then the flesh, then the tendons, then the bones and stay touching the marrow;[8] or, that one should enjoy the salutations of wealthy nobles, wealthy brahmans, wealthy yeomen?'

'Surely, lord, it were better to enjoy the salutations of the wealthy. ... Ill indeed were it, lord, that a strong man should bind and crush one's legs ... to the marrow.'

'Monks, I declare unto you, I protest unto you, it were better for a wicked man ... that a strong man should bind and crush both his legs with rope, so that it cut the skin, the underskin, the flesh, the tendons, the bones and stay touching the marrow.
And why?

On account of this, monks, he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason, on the breaking up of the body would he be reborn ... in hell.

But when a wicked man enjoys the salutations of wealthy nobles, wealthy brahmans, wealthy yeomen, he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for, on the breaking up of the body after death, he is reborn ... in hell.

What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That a strong man, with sharpened sword, cleaned in oil, should smite one on the rump;[9] or, that one should enjoy the obeisance of the wealthy. ...?

'Surely, lord, it were better to enjoy the obeisance of the wealthy. ... Ill indeed were it to be smitten on the rump. ...'

'Monks, I declare unto you ... it were better for a wicked man ... that a strong man should, with sharpened sword, cleaned in oil, smite him on the rump.
And why?

On account of this he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason would he be reborn ... in hell.

But when a wicked man enjoys the obeisance of the wealthy ... [87] he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for ... after death, he is reborn ... in hell.

What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That a strong man should wrap one's body around with redhot iron plates, luminous, glowing and fiery; or, that one should enjoy[10] the robe, a gift of faith,[11] of the wealthy ...?'

'Surely, lord, it were better to enjoy the robe, a gift of faith, of the wealthy. ... Ill indeed were it to be wrapt in red-hot iron plates. ...'

'Monks, I declare unto you ... it were better for a wicked man ... that a strong man should wrap his body around with red-hot iron plates, luminous, glowing and fiery.
And why?

On account of this he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason would he be reborn ... in hell.

But when a wicked man ... enjoys the robe, a gift of faith, of the wealthy ... he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for ... after death, he is reborn ... in hell.

What think ye, monks, which of the twain were b~tter:
That a strong man with a red-hot iron spike,[12] luminous, glowing and fiery, should open one's mouth and should thrust therein a red-hot copper ball, luminous, glowing and fiery, so that it burn the lips, burn the tongue, burn the throat, burn the belly and take along with it the intestines and the bowels and pass out through the anus; or, that one should enjoy the alms, a gift of faith, of the wealthy ... ?'

'Surely, lord, it were better to enjoy the alms, a gift of faith, of the wealthy. ... Ill indeed were it to have a red-hot copper ball thrust into one's mouth. ...'

'Monks, I declare unto you ... it were better for a wicked man ... that a strong man should open his mouth with a red-hot spike ... and should thrust therein a red-hot copper ball ... which would burn his lips ... and pass out through the anus.
And why?

On this account he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason would he be reborn ... in hell.

But when a wicked man ... enjoys [88] the alms, a gift of faith, of the wealthy he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for after death he is reborn ... in hell.

What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That a strong man should seize one by the head or by the shoulders and should force one to sit or lie on a red-hot iron couch or red-hot iron bed, luminous, glowing and fiery; or, that one should enjoy the couch or bed, a gift of faith, of the wealthy? ... '

'Surely lord, it were better to enjoy the couch or bed, a gift of faith, of the wealthy ... Ill indeed were it to be forced to sit or lie on a red-hot iron couch or bed. ...'

'Monks, I declare unto you ... it were better for a wicked man ... that a strong man should seize him by the head or by the shoulders and should force him to sit or lie on a red-hot iron couch or bed.
And why?

On account of this he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason would he be reborn ... in hell.

But when a wicked man ... enjoys a couch or bed, a gift of faith, of the wealthy ... he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for ... after death he is reborn ... in hell.

What think ye, monks, which of the twain were better:
That a strong man should seize one feet upmost and head down and should hurl one into a red-hot copper cauldron, luminous, glowing and fiery, and there, being boiled, to be whirled now up, now down, now cross-ways, like bubbling scum;[13] or, that one should enjoy the lodging, a gift of faith, of wealthy nobles, wealthy brāhmans or wealthy yeomen?'

'Surely, lord, it were better to enjoy the lodging, a gift of faith, of wealthy nobles, wealthy brāhmans or wealthy yeomen.
Ill indeed were it, lord, that a strong man should seize one feet upmost and head down and should hurl one into a red-hot copper cauldron, luminous, glowing and fiery, where, being boiled, one would be whirled now up, now down, now crossways, like bubbling scum.'

[89] 'Monks, I declare unto you, I protest unto you, it were better for a wicked man of evil nature, unclean and of suspicious conduct, full of secret actions, no recluse though vowed thereto, unchaste though vowed to chastity, rotten to the core, lustful and vile — to be seized feet upmost and head down by a strong man and hurled into a red-hot copper cauldron, luminous, glowing and fiery, where, being boiled, he would be whirled now up, now down, now cross-ways, like bubbling scum.
And why?

On account of this he may suffer death or ill amounting to death; but not for that reason, on the breaking up of the body after death, would he arise in the untoward way, the ill way, the abyss, hell.

But when a wicked man of evil nature, unclean and of suspicious conduct ... lustful and vile, enjoys the lodging, a gift of faith, of wealthy nobles, wealthy brāhmans or wealthy yeomen, he does so to his harm and ill for many a day; for, on the breaking up of the body after death, he is reborn ... in hell.

Wherefore, monks, train yourselves thuswise:

Of whomsoever we enjoy the requisites, that is to say: the robe, alms, lodging and medicaments — unto them such services will become very fruitful, very profitable; and unto us also this going forth will not become a barren thing, but fruitful, with issue.[14]Train yourselves in this way, monks I

Monks, for one who can see his own weal, to strive earnestly[15] is well worth while; for one who can see another's weal, to strive earnestly is well worth while; for one who can see the weal both of self and others, to strive earnestly is well worth while.'

Thus. spake the Exalted One.

Now while this exposition was being delivered, from the mouths of as many as sixty monks hot blood gushed forth.[16] [90] Sixty more gave up the training and returned to the lower life, saying: 'Hard is the task of the Exalted One! Very hard is the task of the Exalted One!' But the hearts of sixty others became without[17] attachment and freed from the cankers.

 


[1] The Comy. observes that the meaning of this sutta is expanded in the comment on the cū'a-ccharā-Sanghāta-sutta; see A. i, 10; A.A. 1, 63.

[2] Above, p. 1 n.; Buddh. Ind. 327.

[3] Cf. Vism. 54; read there A. iv, 128 for 124.

[4] Taluna: taruṇa.

[5] This is a stock set; cf. A. ii. 205; M. i, 88.

[6] This stock phrase recurs at A. i, 108, 126; Vin. ii, 236; A. ii, 239: Ud. 52; cf. Ud.A. 297; below, p. 138.

[7] On sankassara, suspicious. see S.B.E. xx, 300 n.; K.S. i, 91 n.

[8] This phrase recurs at S. ii, 238 (K.S. ii, 161); Vin. i, 83.

[9] Paccorasmiŋ. Comy. uramajjhe, the middle of the breast. Vism. trs1. 62, pierce the breast. The context requires perhaps a stronger term than 'smite'; possibly Bu. visualized stabbing. Cf. Dhp.A. i. 189.

[10] Paribhuñjeyya.

[11] Saiddhā-deyyaŋ; see D. i. 5 f.; D.A. i, 81.

[12] Sanku, Vism. trsl. 62, tweezers.

[13] Phenuddehakaŋ; see M. iii, 167; cf. Mil. 357; A. i, 141. Comy. 'A bubble, having boiled up, appears.' Uddihitvā, this verbal dcrivative of \/Ḥdih is not noticed by P.E.D.

[14] This passage recurs at M. i, 271, 281; cf. i, 33; S. ii, 29 (K.S. ii, 24). The text reads parikhārānaŋ for -khāraŋ.

[15] Appamādena sumpādetuŋ, the last recorded words of the Buddha were appamādena sumpādetha; see D. ii. 156.

[16] In this way Nāṭaputta, the Jain leader, is reported as dying; see M. i, 387 (F. Dial. i, 278); see Mil. 164. where this sutta is referred to, and A. v, p. ix; cf. K.S. i, 157.

[17] Comy. observes that when the Master had preached this discourse, he preached the sutta called the Lesser Snap of the Fingers. AN 1.10.


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