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Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume III

Dīgha Nikāya

Dialogues of the Buddha
Part II

Sutta 21

Sakka-Pañha Suttanta[1] Suttantaɱ

The Questions of Sakka

Translated from the Pali by T.W. Rhys Davids

Public Domain

Originally published under the patronage of
His Majesty King Chulālankarana,
King of Siam
by The Pali Text Society, Oxford

 


 

Chapter I

[1][than] Thus have I heard.

The Exalted One was once staying in Magadha,
to the east of
at a brahmin village named Ambasaṇḍā.

There he resided on the Vediya mountain to the north of the village,
in the cave called the cave of Indra's Sāl Tree.[2]

Now at that time a longing came over Sakka, the king of the gods,
to visit the Exalted One.

And this idea occurred to him: —

'Where may he now be staying, the Exalted One,
the Arahant,
the Buddha supreme?'

And Sakka saw that he was staying in Magadha
at Ambasaṇḍā,,
east of Rājagaha,
in the cave called Indra's Sāl Tree Cave
on the Vediya mountain
to the north of the village.

And seeing that,
he said to the Three-and-Thirty gods:

'Gentlemen, that Exalted One is staying in Magadha,
to the east of Rājagaha
at a brahmin village named Ambasaṇḍā,
in the cave called Indra's Sāl Tree Cave,
on the Vediya mountain
to the north of the village.

How would it be, gentlemen,
if we were to go and visit the Exalted One?'

'So be it and good luck to you!'
replied the Three-and-Thirty gods consenting.

[300] 2. Then Sakka said to Five-crest the Gandhabba:

'Sir, that Exalted One is staying in Magadha,
to the east of Rājagaha
at a brahmin village named Ambasaṇḍā,
in the cave called Indra's Sāl Tree Cave,
on the Vediya mountain
to the north of the village.

How would it be, sir,
if we were to go and visit the Exalted One?'

'So be it and good luck to you!'
replied Five-crest the Gandhabba consenting.

And Five-crest taking his lyre of yellow Beluva wood,
followed in attendance on Sakka, the king of the gods.

So Sakka, the king of the gods,
surrounded by the Thirty-and-Three,
and attended by Five-crest the Gandhabba,
vanished from his heaven
as easily as a strong man might shoot out his arm,
or draw in his arm outshot,
and reappeared in Magadha,
standing on the Vediya mountain.

3. Now at that time the Vediya mountain was bathed in radiance,
and so was Ambasaṇḍā, the brahmin village, —
such is the potency of the celestials —
so much so that in the villages round about
folk were saying:

'For sure the Vediya mountain is on fire to-day,
for sure the Vediya mountain is burning to-day,
for sure the Vediya mountain is in flame to-day!

Why, O why, is the Vediya mountain bathed in radiance to-day,
and Ambasaṇḍā too the brahmins' village?

'And they were anxious and sore afraid.

4. Then said Sakka, the king of the gods,
to Five-crest the Gandhabba:

'Difficult of approach, dear Five-crest,
are Tathāgatas,
to one like me,
when they are rapt in the bliss of meditation,
and for that purpose
abiding in solitude.

But if you were first to gain over the Exalted One
[by your music]
then might I afterwards come up and visit him,
the Arahant,
the Buddha supreme.'

'So be it and good luck to you!'
consented Five-crest,
and taking his lyre
he went to the Indra-Sāltree-cave.

On coming there he thought:

'Thus far will the Exalted One
be neither too far from me
nor too near to me,
and he will hear my voice.'

And he stood on one side,
and let his lyre be heard
and recited these verses
concerning the Awakened One
and the Truth,
the Arahants
and Love:[3]

[301] 5. 'Lady, thy father Timbaru I greet
With honour due, O Glory-of-the-Sun![4]
In that he wrought a thing so nobly fair
As thou, O fount divine of all my joy!

Sweet as the breeze to one foredone with sweat,
Sweet as a cooling drink to one athirst,
So dear art thou, O presence radiant!
To me, dear as to Arahants the Truth.

As medicine bringing ease to one that's sick,
As food to starving man, so, lady, quench,
As with cool waters, me who am all a-flame.

E'en as an elephant with heat oppressed,
Hies him to some still pool, upon whose face
Petals and pollen of the lotus float,
So would I sink within thy bosom sweet.

E'en as an elephant fretted by hook,
Dashes unheeding curb and goad aside,
So I, crazed by the beauty of thy form,
Know not the why and wherefore of my acts.

By thee my heart is held in bonds, and all
Bent out of course; nor can I turn me back,
No more than fish, once he hath ta'en the bait.

Within thine arm embrace me, lady, me
With thy soft languid eyne embrace and hold,
O nobly fair! This I entreat of thee.

Scanty in sooth, O maid of waving locks
Was my desire, but now it swelleth aye,
Indefinitely great, e'en as the gifts
Made by the faithful to the Arahants.

[302] Whate'er of merit to such holy ones
I've wrought, be thou, O altogether fair,
The ripened fruit to fall therefrom to me.

Whate'er of other merit I have wrought
In the wide world, O altogether fair,
Be thou the fruit thereof to fall to me.

As the great Sakyan Seer, through ecstasy
Rapt and intent and self-possessed, doth brood
Seeking ambrosia, even so do I
Pursue the quest of thee, O Glory-of-the-Sun!

As would that Seer rejoice, were he to win
Ineffable Enlightenment, so I
With thee made one, O fairest, were in bliss.

And if perchance a boon were granted me
By Sakka, lord of Three-and-Thirty gods,
'Tis thee I'd ask of him, lady, so strong
My love. And for thy father, wisest maid —
Him as a sāl-tree freshly burgeoning
I worship for such peerless offspring giv'n.'

6. When Five-crest had finished
the Exalted One said to him:

'The sound of your strings, Five-crest,
so harmonizes with that of your song,
and the sound of your voice
with that of the strings,
that your lyre does not too much colour your song,
nor your song too much colour your play.

Where, Five-crest, did you learn these verses
"concerning the Awakened One
and the Truth,
the Arahants,
and Love?

'The Exalted One, lord,
was once staying at Uruvelā,
on the bank of the Nerañjarā river,
at the foot of the Goatherd's Banyan tree
before he attained to Enlightenment.

'Now at that time, lord,
the lady called Bhaddā,
in appearance as Sunshine,
daughter of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas,
was beloved by me.

But that lady, lord,
was in love with another —
Sikhaddi, son of Mātali the charioteer.

And since I could not get the lady
by any method whatever,
I took my lyre of yellow Beluva wood,
and going to the abode of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas,
I [303] played my lyre
and recited these verses
concerning the Awakened One,
the Truth,
the Arahants
and Love:

7. 'Lady, thy father Timbaru I greet
With honour due, O Glory-of-the-Sun!
In that he wrought a thing so nobly fair
As thou, O fount divine of all my joy!

Sweet as the breeze to one foredone with sweat,
Sweet as a cooling drink to one athirst,
So dear art thou, O presence radiant!
To me, dear as to Arahants the Truth.

As medicine bringing ease to one that's sick,
As food to starving man, so, lady, quench,
As with cool waters, me who am all a-flame.

E'en as an elephant with heat oppressed,
Hies him to some still pool, upon whose face
Petals and pollen of the lotus float,
So would I sink within thy bosom sweet.

E'en as an elephant fretted by hook,
Dashes unheeding curb and goad aside,
So I, crazed by the beauty of thy form,
Know not the why and wherefore of my acts.

By thee my heart is held in bonds, and all
Bent out of course; nor can I turn me back,
No more than fish, once he hath ta'en the bait.

Within thine arm embrace me, lady, me
With thy soft languid eyne embrace and hold,
O nobly fair! This I entreat of thee.

Scanty in sooth, O maid of waving locks
Was my desire, but now it swelleth aye,
Indefinitely great, e'en as the gifts
Made by the faithful to the Arahants.

Whate'er of merit to such holy ones
I've wrought, be thou, O altogether fair,
The ripened fruit to fall therefrom to me.

[304] Whate'er of other merit I have wrought
In the wide world, O altogether fair,
Be thou the fruit thereof to fall to me.

As the great Sakyan Seer, through ecstasy
Rapt and intent and self-possessed, doth brood
Seeking ambrosia, even so do I
Pursue the quest of thee, O Glory-of-the-Sun!

As would that Seer rejoice, were he to win
Ineffable Enlightenment, so I
With thee made one, O fairest, were in bliss.

And if perchance a boon were granted me
By Sakka, lord of Three-and-Thirty gods,
'Tis thee I'd ask of him, lady, so strong
My love. And for thy father, wisest maid —
Him as a sāl-tree freshly burgeoning
I worship for such peerless offspring giv'n.'

'And when I had finished, lord,
the Lady Suriya-vaccasā said to me:

"That Blessed One, sir,
I have not seen face to face,
and yet I heard of him
when I went to dance at the Sudhamma Hall
of the Three-and-Thirty gods.[5]

Since you so extol the Blessed One,
let there be a meeting between thee and me to-day.

So, lord, I met that lady,
not on that day but afterwards."'

8. Now Sakka, the king of the gods, thought:

'Five-crest and the Exalted One are in friendly converse.'

And he called to Five-crest and said:

'Salute the Exalted One for me, dear Five-crest,
and tell him:

"Sakka, lord,
the ruler of the gods,
with his ministers and suite,
does homage at the foot of the Exalted One."

And Five-crest said to the Exalted One

"Sakka, lord,
the ruler of the gods,
with his ministers and suite,
does homage at the foot of the Exalted One."

'May good fortune, Five-crest,
attend Sakka, ruler of gods,
and his ministers and suite.

For they desire happiness —
those gods and men,
Asuras,
Nāgas,
Gandhabbas,
and whatever other numerous hosts there be!'

[305] On this wise do the Tathāgatas salute these dignitaries.

And so saluted by the Exalted One,
Sakka, the king of the gods,
entered the cave of Indras Sāl-tree,
and saluting the Exalted One
stood on one side.

Thus did also the Three-and-Thirty gods
and Five-crest the Gandhabba.

9. Now at that time in the cave
the rough passages were made smooth,
the narrow spaces were made wide,
and in the dark cavern
it became bright,
such was the potency of the celestials.

Then said the Exalted One to Sakka:

'Wonderful is this!
marvellous is this,
that the venerable Kosiya,
with so much to do,
so much to perform,
should come hither!'

'For a long time, lord,
have I been desirous of coming to see the Exalted One,
but I was hindered by one task and another
that I had to perform
for the Three-and-Thirty gods,
and was not able to come.

On one occasion the Exalted One was staying at Sāvatthī,
in the Saḷala cottage.

So I went to Sāvatthī, to see the Exalted One.

10. 'Now at that time, lord,
the Exalted One was seated,
rapt in some stage of meditation,
and Bhuñjati, wife of Vessavaṇa[6]
was waiting on him,
worshipping with clasped hands.

Then I said to Bhuñjati:

"Madam, do you salute the Exalted One for me,
and say:

'Sakka, lord, ruler of gods,
with ministers and suite,
does homage at the feet of the Exalted One.'

"And Bhuñjati replied:

"'Tis not the right time, sir,
for seeing the Exalted One;
he is in retreat."

"Well then, madam,
when the Exalted One rouses himself from his meditation,
salute him for me
and say:

'Sakka, lord, ruler of gods,
with ministers and suite,
does homage at the feet of the Exalted One.'

Did the lady so salute the Exalted One, lord,
for me?

And does the Exalted One remember what she said?'

'She did salute me, ruler of gods.

I remember her words.

And this too —
that it was the noise of your [306] excellency's chariot wheels
that aroused me from that meditation.'

11. 'Lord, I have heard and understood
when in the presence of those gods
who were reborn into the heaven of the Three-and-Thirty before us,
that when a Tathāgata,
an Arahant Buddha supreme,
arises in the world,
the celestial hosts wax in numbers,
and the Asura hosts wane.

And I myself, lord,
have seen
and can witness that this is so.

Take, lord, this case.

There was, at Kapilavatthu,
a daughter of the Sākyans named Gopikā,
who trusted in the Buddha,
the Dhamma
and the Order,
and who fulfilled the precepts.

She, having abandoned a woman's thoughts
and cultivated the thoughts of a man,
was, at the dissolution of the body after her death,
reborn to a pleasant life,
into the communion of the Three-and-Thirty gods,
into sonship with us.

And there they knew her as
"Gopaka of the sons of the gods,
Gopaka of the sons of the gods."

Moreover, lord, there were three bhikkhus
who, having followed the religious life
prescribed by the Exalted One,
were reborn into a lower state
among the Gandhabbas.

Surrounded by and enjoying the pleasures of the five senses,
they used to wait upon and minister to us.

Things being so,
Gopaka upbraided them saying:

"Where were your ears, sirs,
that ye hearkened not to the Dhamma of the Exalted One?

Here am I who being but a maiden,
trusting in the Buddha,
the Dhamma
and the Order,
and fulfilling the precepts,
abandoned all my woman's thoughts
and, cultivating a man's thoughts,
was reborn after my death
into a pleasant life,
into communion with the Three-and-Thirty gods,
into the sonship of Sakka, the lord of the gods,
and am known as Gopaka,
son of the gods.

But ye, sirs, following the religious life of the Exalted One,
have only been reborn into the lower state of Gandhabbas.

A sad thing, indeed, is this to see,
when we behold our co-religionists
reborn into the inferior condition of Gandhabbas."

Of those fairies, lord,
thus rebuked by Gopaka,
two acquired in that same lifetime
[307] mindfulness,
and therewith the heaven of the ministers of Brahmā.

But the third fairy clave to sensuous enjoyment.

12. Gopaka's Verses.

" Disciple once of Him-Who-Sees, —
By name they called me: — Gopika, —
In Buddha, Dhamma, firm my trust,
I served the Order glad of heart.
Through this good service paid to Him
Behold me son of Sakka, born
All glorious in the Deva-world,
Of mighty power, and known henceforth
As Gopaka. Now saw I men
Who, bhikkhus in a former birth,
Had won to mere Gandhabba rank.
What! persons erst of human kind,
And followers of Gotama, —
Supplied by us with food and drink
And tended in our own abode, —
Where were their ears that they, so blest,
Yet failed to grasp the Buddha's Law?
The Gospel well proclaimed to all
And understood by Him-Who-Sees,
Each for himself must comprehend.
I, serving only you, have heard
The good words of the Noble Ones —
And now behold me reborn here,
All glorious and powerful,
As Sakka's son in Deva-world,
But you who served the Best of men,
And by the Highest shaped your lives,
Have re-appeared in lowly rank,
Degraded from your due advance.
An evil sight is this, to see
One's co-religionists sunk low,
Where, as Gandhabba spirits, sirs,
Ye come to wait upon the gods.
For me see! what a change is here!
[308] From house-life as a woman, I,
A male to-day, a god reborn,
In joys celestial take my share."

Upbraided thus by Gopaka,
Disciple erst of Gotama,
They in sore anguish made response: —
"Yea verily! let us go hence
And strive our utmost, lest we live
The slaves of others!" Of the three
Two bent their will unto the work,
Mindful of Gotama's behests.
The perils in the life of sense
They saw, e'en here cleansing their hearts;
And like an elephant that bursts
Each strap and rope, so they o'ercame
The fetters and the bonds of sense,
Ties of the Evil One, so hard
To get beyond—yea, e'en the gods,
The Three-and-Thirty, seated round
With Indra, with Pājapati,
Enthroned in Sudhamma's Hall,
The heroes twain left far behind,
Purging all passion, ousting lust.

At sight of them distress arose
In Vāsava, ruler of gods,
In midst of all his retinue: —
"Lo now! these, born to lower rank,
Outstrip the Three-and-Thirty gods!"
His sovereign's apprehension heard,
Gopaka spake to Vāsava: —
'O Indra! in the world of men
A Buddha, called the Sākya Sage,
Is conqueror o'er the world of sense.
And these his children, who had lost
All conscience when they left the world,
Through me their conscience have regained.
One of the three yet dwelleth here,
Reborn among Gandhabba folk;
And two, on highest Wisdom bent,
In deepest rapture scorn the gods.
[309] Let no disciple ever doubt
That by the kind who here abide
The Truth may yet be realized.
All hail to Buddha who hath crossed
The flood and put an end to doubt,
Great Conqueror and Lord of all!"

They recognized thy Truth e'en here; and they
Have onward passed and won to eminence.
'Mong Brahmā's ministers they twain have won
A higher place than this. And we are come,
O master, here that we too may attain
That Truth.[7] If the Exalted One should grant
Us leave, Master, we fain would question him.'

13. Then the Exalted One thought:

'For a long time now this Sakka has lived a pure life.

Whatever question he may ask of me
will be to good purpose,
and not frivolous.

And what I shall answer,
that will he quickly understand.'

Then did the Exalted One address these verses to Sakka, lord of gods:

'Question me, Vāsava, whate'er thy mind desires,
And on each problem put I'll end thy doubts!'

End of the First Portion for Recitation.

[310]

Chapter II

1. Thus invited, Sakka, the ruler of the gods,
asked this first question of the Exalted One:

'By what fetters, sir, are they bound —
gods,
men,
Asuras,
Nāgas,
Gandhabbas,
and whatever other great classes of beings there be —
in that they, wishing thus: —

"Would that, without hatred,
injury,
enmity,
or malignity,
we might live in amity!" —

do nevertheless live in enmity,
hating,
injuring,
hostile,
malign?'

Such was the fashion of Sakka's first question to the Exalted One.

To him the Exalted One so asked made answer:

'By the fetters of envy and selfishness,
ruler of gods,
are they bound —
gods,
men,
Asuras,
Nāgas,
Gandhabbas,
and whatever other great classes of beings there be —
in that they, wishing thus: —

"Would that, without hatred,
injury,
enmity,
or malignity,
we might live in amity!" —

do nevertheless live in enmity,
hating,
injuring,
hostile,
malign.'

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question.

And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterance,
expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying:

'That is so, Exalted One,
that is so, Welcome One!

I have got rid of doubt
and am no longer puzzled,
through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

2. So Sakka, expressing pleasure and appreciation,
asked a further question of the Exalted One:

'But envy and selfishness, sir, —
what is the source thereof,
the cause thereof?
what gives birth to them?
how do they come to be?

What being present,
are envy and selfishness also present?

What being absent,
are they also absent?'

'Things as dear and not dear to us,
ruler of gods, —
this is the source and cause
of envy and selfishness,
this [311] is what gives birth to them,
this is how they come to be.

In the presence of what is dear or not dear,
envy and selfishness come about,
and in the absence of such feelings,
they do not come about.'

'But what, sir, is the source,
what the cause of things being dear and not dear,
what gives birth to these feelings,
how do they come to be?

What being present, do we so feel,
and what being absent,
do we not so feel?'

'Desire[8] ruler of gods,
is the source and cause
of things being dear or not dear,
this is what gives birth to such feelings,
this is how they come to be.

If desire be present,
things become dear and not dear to us;
if it be absent,
things are no more felt as such.'

'But desire, sir, —
what is the source and cause of that?

What gives birth to it,
how does it come to be?

What being present,
is desire present,
and what being absent,
is desire also absent?'

'Mental pre-occupation,[9] ruler of gods, —
this is the source,
this is the cause of desire,
this is what gives birth to desire,
this is how desire comes to be.

Wherewith our mind is pre-occupied,
for that desire arises;
if our mind is not so pre-occupied,
desire is absent.'

'But what, sir, is the source
and what is the cause
of our mind being pre-occupied?

What gives birth to such a state,
how does it come to be?

What being present,
does our mind become pre-occupied,
and what being absent,
does it not?'

[312] 'The source, ruler of gods,
the cause of our becoming pre-occupied
is what we may call obsession[10]

This is what gives birth to pre-occupation of mind,
this is how that comes about.

If that obsession is present,
our mind is pre-occupied
[by the idea by which we are obsessed];
if it is absent,
it is not.'

3. 'But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about
who has reached the path suitable for
and leading to
the cessation of obsession?'

'Happiness, ruler of gods,
I declare to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided.

Sorrow too I declare to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed
or avoided.

Equanimity too I declare to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed
or avoided.

'And the distinction I have affirmed in happiness,
was drawn on these orrounds: —
When in following after happiness
I have perceived that bad qualities developed
and good qualities were diminished,
then that kind of happiness was to be avoided.

And when, following after happiness,
I have perceived that bad qualities were diminished
and good qualities developed,
then such happiness was to be followed.

Now of such happiness
as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind,
and of such as is not so accompanied,
the latter is the more excellent.

4 Thus, ruler of gods,
when I declare happiness to be [313] twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided,
I say so for that reason.

'Again, ruler of gods,
when I declare sorrow to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided,
for what reason do I say so?

When, in following after sorrow[11]
I have perceived that bad qualities developed
and good qualities were diminished,
then that kind of sorrow was to be avoided.

And when, following after sorrow,
I have perceived that bad qualities were diminished
and good qualities were developed,
then such sorrow was to be followed after.

Now of such sorrow
as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind,
and of such as is not so accompanied,
the latter[12] is the more excellent.

Thus, ruler of gods,
when I declare sorrow to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided,
I say so for that reason.

'Again, ruler of gods,
when I declare equanimity to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided,
for what reason do I say so?

When, in following after equanimity,
I have perceived that bad qualities developed
and good qualities were diminished,
then that kind of equanimity was to be avoided.

And when, following after equanimity,
I perceived that bad qualities were diminished
and good qualities were developed,
then that kind of equanimity was to be followed after.[13]

Now of such equanimity [314]
as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind
and of such as is not so accompanied,
the latter is the more excellent.

Thus, ruler of gods,
when I declare equanimity to be twofold,
according as it is to be followed after,
or avoided,
I say so for that reason.

'And it is on this wise that a bhikkhu, ruler of gods,
must have gone about,
who has reached the path suitable for,
and leading to,
the cessation of perceiving
and taking account of distractions.'

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question.

And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterances,
expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying:

'That is so, Exalted One,
that is so, O Welcome One!

I have got rid of doubt
and am no longer puzzled,
through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

4. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation,
asked a further question of the Exalted One:

'But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about
who has acquired the self-restraint
enjoined by the Patimokkha?'

'I say, ruler of gods,
that behaviour in act and in speech,
as well as those things we seek after
are twofold,
according as they are to be followed after
or avoided.

And for what reason do I say so?

When, in following some mode of behaviour
in act
or speech
or in pursuing some quest,
I have perceived that bad qualities developed
and good qualities diminished,
then such behaviour
or such pursuits
were to be avoided.

And when, again,
I perceived as the consequence of some other mode of behaviour
in act
or speech,
or of some other pursuit
that bad qualities were diminished
and good qualities were developed,
then that behaviour,
or that pursuit,
was to be followed after.

Thus when I, ruler of gods,
declare that behaviour in act,
behaviour in speech,
and the things we seek after
are twofold,
I say so for those reasons.

[315] 'And it is on this wise, ruler of gods,
that a bhikkhu must have gone about
to have acquired the self-restraint enjoined by the Patimokkha.'

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question.

And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterances,
expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying:

'That is so, Exalted One,
that is so, O Welcome One!

I have got rid of doubt
and am no longer puzzled,
through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

5. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation,
asked a further question of the Exalted One:

'But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about
who has acquired control of his faculties?'

'I say, ruler of gods,
that the objects of the senses —
visible,
audible,
odorous,
sapid,
tangible
and mental objects[14]
are twofold,
according as they are to be followed after
or avoided.'

Then said Sakka to the Exalted One:

'I, sir, understand the details
of that which you have told me in outline.

Those sense-objects which are not to be followed
are such as cause bad qualities to develop
and good qualities to diminish;
and those sense-objects which have the opposite effect
are to be followed after.

And because I can thus understand in detail
the meaning of that which the Exalted One has told me in outline, I have got rid of doubt
and am no longer puzzled,
now that I have heard the Exalted One's answer to my question.'

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question.

6. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation,
asked a further question of the Exalted One:

'Are all recluses and brahmins, sir,
wholly of one creed,
one practice,
one persuasion,[15] one aim?'

[316] 'No, ruler of gods, they are not.'

'But why, sir, are they not?'

'Of many and divers elements, ruler of gods,
is this world composed.

And that being so,
people naturally incline to adhere
to one or another of those elements;
and to whichsoever it be
they, being so inclined,
become strongly
and tenaciously addicted,
holding that
"just this is true,
the rest is foolish."

And therefore it is
that recluses and brahmins
are not all wholly of one creed,
one practice,
one persuasion,
one aim.'

'Are all recluses and brahmins, sir,
perfectly proficient,
perfectly saved,
living perfectly the best life[16]
have they attained the right ideal?'[17]

'No, ruler of gods, they are not all so.'

'Why, sir, are they not all so?'

'Those recluses and brahmins, ruler of gods,
who are set free
through the entire destruction of craving,
only they are perfectly proficient,
only they are perfectly saved,
only they are living perfectly
the best life
and have attained the ideal.

Therefore is it
that not all recluses and brahmins are perfectly proficient,
perfectly saved,
living perfectly
the best life,
and have attained the ideal,'[18]

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question.

And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterances,
expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying:

'That is so, Exalted One,
that is so, O Welcome One!

I have got rid of doubt
and am no longer puzzled,
through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

7. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appre- [317] ciation of the Exalted One's utterance,
spoke thus:

'Passion,[19] lord,
is disease,
passion is a cancer,
passion is a dart,
passion drags a man about
by one rebirth and then another,
so that he finds himself now up above
now down below.

Whereas other recluses and brahmins
not of your followers, lord,
gave me no opportunity to ask these questions,
the Exalted One has answered for me,
instructing me at length,
so that the dart of doubt and perplexity
has by the Exalted One been extracted.'

'Do you admit to us, ruler of gods,
that you have put the same questions to other recluses or brahmins?'

'I do, lord.'

'Then tell me,
if it be not inconvenient to you,
how they answered you.'

'It is not inconvenient to me
when the Exalted One is seated to hear,
or others like him.'

'Then tell, ruler of gods.'

'I went to those, lord,
whom I deemed to be recluses and brahmins,
because they were dwelling in secluded forest abodes,
and I asked them those questions.

Being asked,
they did not withdraw themselves,
but put a counter-question to me:

"Who is the venerable one?"

I replied,

"I, sir, am Sakka, ruler of gods."

They asked me further:

"What business has brought the venerable ruler of gods to this place?"

Whereupon I taught them the Dharma
as I had heard and learnt it.

And they
with only so much
were well pleased saying:

"We have seen Sakka, ruler of gods,
and he has answered
that which we asked of him!"

And actually,
instead of me becoming their disciple,
they became mine.

But I, lord,
am a disciple of the Exalted One,
a Stream-winner,
who cannot be reborn in any state of woe,
and who has the assurance of attaining to enlightenment.'[20]

[318] 'Do you admit to us, ruler of gods,
that you have ever before experienced
such satisfaction
and such happiness
as you now feel?'

'Yes, lord, I do admit it.'

'And what do you admit, ruler of gods,
with regard to that previous occasion?'

'In former times, lord,
war had broken out between gods and asuras.

Now in that fight the gods won
and the asuras were defeated.

Then when the battle was over,
to me the conqueror
the thought occurred:

"The gods will henceforth enjoy not only celestial nectar
but also asura-nectar."

But, lord, the experiencing satisfaction
and happiness such as this,
which was wrought by blows and by wounds,
does not conduce to detachment,
nor to disinterestedness,
nor to cessation,
nor to peace,
nor to the higher spiritual knowledge,[21]
nor to enlightenment,
nor to Nirvana.

But this satisfaction, lord,
this happiness that I have experienced
in hearing the Dhamma of the Exalted One,
this which is not wrought by blows and by wounds
does conduce to detachment,
to disinterestedness,
to cessation,
to peace,
to spiritual knowledge,
to enlightenment,
to Nirvana.'

8. 'What are the things present to your mind, ruler of gods,
when you confess to experiencing such satisfaction
and such happiness?'

'Six are the things present to my mind, lord,
that I feel such satisfaction and happiness:

'I who here merely as a god exist
Have [by my acts][22] incurred the destiny
To live again once more. Hear, sir, and know!

'This, lord, is the first meaning implied
in what I said.

'Deceasing from the gods I shall forsake
The life that's not of men, and straight shall go
Unerring to that womb I fain would choose.

[319] 'This, lord, is the second meaning implied
in what I said.

'I who have had my problems rendered clear
And live delighting in His Word, shall then
Live righteously, mindful and self-possessed.

'This, lord, is the third meaning implied
in what I said.

'And if into my life thus rightly led
Enlightenment should come, then shall I dwell
As one who Knows, and this shall be the end.

'This, lord, is the fourth meaning implied
in what I said.

'Deceasing from the human sphere, I then
Forsake the life of men, and lo! once more
A god I'll be, best in the Deva-world.

'This, lord, is the fifth meaning implied
in what I said.

'Finer than Devas are the Peerless Gods[23]
All glorious, while my last span of life
Shall come and go 'tis there my home will be.

'This, lord, is the sixth meaning
implied in my confession
of experiencing such satisfaction
and such happiness.

'These, lord, are the six things present to my mind
that I feel such satisfaction
and such happiness.'

9. 'With aspirations unfulfilled, perplexed
And doubting, long I wandered seeking him
Who-had-on-That-wise-Thither-Come. Me-thought,
Hermits who dwell secluded and austere
Must sure enlightened be! To them I'll fare.
"What must I do to win, what doing fail?"
Thus asked they rede me naught in Path or Ways.
[320] But me, forsooth, whereas they know that I
Who come, am Sakka of the gods, 'tis me
They ask, "What would'st thou that thou comest here?"
Thereat to them I teach, as I have heard,
As all may hear, the Dhamma; whereat they
Rejoicing cry, forsooth, " Vasava have we seen!"
But since I've seen the Buddha, seen my doubts
Dispelled, now would I, all my fears allayed,
On him, the Enlightened One, adoring wait.
Him do I worship who hath drawn the dart
Of craving, him the Buddha, peerless Lord.
Hail, mighty hero! hail, kin to the sun!
E'en as by gods is Brahmā reverenced,
Lo! even thus to-day we worship thee.
Thou art the Enlightened One, Teacher Supreme
Art thou, nor in the world, with all its heav'ns
Of gods, is any found like unto thee!'

10. Then spake Sakka, ruler of gods,
to Five-crest of the Gandhabbas:

'Great has been your help to me, dear Five-crest,
in that you first placated the Exalted One.

For it was after you had first placated him,
that we were admitted to his presence
to see the Exalted One,
the Arahant,
Buddha Supreme.

I will take the place of father to you,
and you shall be king of the Gandhabbas,
and I will give to you Bhaddā,
the Sun-maiden,
whom you have longed for.'

Then Sakka, touching the earth with his hand
to call it to witness,
called aloud thrice:

'Honour to the Exalted One,
to the Arahant,
to the Buddha Supreme!'

'Honour to the Exalted One,
to the Arahant,
to the Buddha Supreme!'

'Honour to the Exalted One,
to the Arahant,
to the Buddha Supreme!'

Now while he was speaking in this dialogue,
the stainless spotless Eye for the Truth arose in Sakka,
the ruler of the gods,
to wit:

'Whatsoever thing can come to be,
that must also cease to be.'[24]

And this happened also
to eighty thousand of devas besides.

[321] Such were the questions which Sakka was invited to ask,
and which were explained by the Exalted One.[25]

Therefore has this dialogue the name of
'The Questions of Sakka.'

 


[1] This Suttanta is quoted by name at Saṃyutta III, 13; Mahavastu I, 350; Milinda 350; Sumaŋgala Vilāsinī I, 24 (where it is called vedalla). The last passage is repeated at Gandha Vaṃsa 57.

[2] Inda-sāla-guhā. Buddhaghosa says there was a cave here between two overhanging rocks with a large Sāl tree at the entrance. The village community had added walls with doors and windows; and ornamented it with polished plaster scroll-work and garlands, and presented it to the Buddha. In Fa Hian's time (Legge, p. 81) it was still inhabited. In Yuan Chwāng's time (Watters, II, 173) it was deserted. Both pilgrims were told that certain marks on the rock had been made by Sakka writing his questions(!). The Sanskritisation of the name into Indra-śaila-guhā (Schiefner, Böhtlingk-Roth, Julien, Legge, and Beal) is a mere blunder. The name Indra enters into the names of several plants, probably merely in the sense of excellent. There is nothing to justify the idea that Indra was supposed to haunt this tree.

[3] This idea is found again in the Mahā-bhārata (I, 2. 383). That poem there claims to be a artha-śāstra, dharma-śāstra, and kama-śāstra. So Windisch ('Buddha's Geburt,' 82) speaks of a group of ideas, recurrent in Indian literature, which very happily sums up and exhausts the matter — the Useful, the True, and the Agreeable — to which Emancipation is sometimes added as a fourth. Our passage here is the earliest in which such a group appears.

[4] Suriya-vaccase, the young lady's name; sunshine in prose. See Ī 10 of the Mahā-samaya.

[5] When Sakka pronounced his eulogy in the Mahā-govinda, says Buddhaghosa.

[6] That is, Kuvera, king of the North Quarter, ruler over Yakkhas. See previous Suttanta, Ī 9.

[7] We follow the printed text. It is more probable that pattiyā is the gloss. In that case the version would be: 'For that Truth's sake, O master, have we come.' The full stop after visesagū is a misprint.

[8] Chanda. The Cy. distinguishes exegetically five kinds of chanda: — desire to seek, to gain, to enjoy, to hoard, to spend, and includes all in the present connexion with the words: 'here it is used in a sense tantamount to craving (taṇhā).'

Matt. 6.25: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[9] Vitakka. The Cy. does not give the Abhidhamma definition of this term (see Dh. S., Ī 7; 'Bud. Psy.' p. 10: 'the disposing, fixating, focusing, applying the mind.' Cf. also 'Compendium of Buddhist Philosophy' Appendix: vitakka, P.T.S., 1910), but gives as a parallel term vinicchaya (see above, p. 55 'lābhaṁ paṭicca vinicchayo'— 'deciding respecting gain'). The word is used, according to Suttanta method, not with any fine shade of psychological meaning, but in its popular sense of merimna&w, 'taking thought for' (Matt. vi. 25), 'being pre-occupied about.'

[10] Papañca-saññā (idée fixe). An exactly similar sequence of ethical states is put elsewhere (M. I, in, 112) into the mouth of Mahā Kaccāna. Buddhaghosa glosses papaña here by mattappa-mattākāra-pāpana, where pāpana is etymological word-play, and mattappamatta may be rendered 'infatuation.' The infatuation is either craving (taṇhā) in one or other of its 108 forms, or self-conceit (māna) in one or other of its nine forms, or speculation (diṭṭhi) in one or other of its sixty-two forms.
This is one of the most recurrent conceptions of the higher Buddhism, the system of the Aryan Path (see above, Vol. I, p. 188), and is one of the many ways in which the early Buddhists struggled to give more precise and ethical an implication to the Indian conception of Avijjā. It is also one of the technical terms most frequently misunderstood. Neumann all through the Majjhima renders it Vielheit, plurality, and Dahlke follows him.

2 Cor. 7.10-11: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[11] The two sorts of sorrow or grief are geha-sita and nekkhamma-sita, and are well paralleled by St. Paul's ton" ko&smon ln&ph and kata_ feo_n ln&ph (2 Cor. vii. 10). And the working of the lalter: 'for that ye sorrowed after a godly sort ... wrought in you ... what vehement desire, yea, what zeal' — has its counterpart in Buddhaghosa's exposition, namely, that through insight into the impermanence of all sensuous satisfaction 'arouses yearning for deliverances even without beyond (anuttaresu), and that yearning leads to sorrow, when one thinks, O that I might reach that state wherein the elect (Ariyas) do dwell even now.'

[12] According to the Cy., 'the latter' in this and the foregoing paragraph refers especially to the state of mind reached in the second and higher stages of Jhāna, as compared with the first, which is savītakkaṃ savicāraṃ.

[13] For equanimity thus ethically distinguished, see M. I, 364. The Commentator (who repeats his comment in Asl. 194) describes the former ethical indifference (upekhā) as that of the foolish average person, confused in mind, who has not overcome limitations or results (of Karma), but is bound by his world of objects of sense.

[14] According to Buddhist psychology, these are not ideas as distinct from impressions, but are any presentations or objects of consciousness, whether on occasion of sense or of reflexion, at that stage when mind 'turns toward' the object and 'receives' it (āvajjana, sampaṭicchana).

Ekantacchandā, 'One-end-wish. Meaning 'Do all beings have at heart just the one wish or desire to be free from pain?'

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[15] Ekantacchandā, lit. of one desire, will or purpose; but equated by the Cy. with ekaladdhikā, of one heresy.

[16] Accanta-brahmacārī = 'seṭṭhzaṭṭhena brahmaṁ ariya-maggaṁ caratīti.' Cy. 'Walking 'in the highest, Aryan Path.'

[17] Accanta-pariyosānā = 'pariyosānan ti nibbānaṁ.' Cy. 'The ideal' is a free rendering, the term meaning the end, goal or climax.

[18] This paragraph is quoted as from the Sakka-pañha at Saṃyutta III, 13. Two unnecessary words are there added at the end of it. Buddhaghosa does not say anything on the discrepancy. The two words are either there added by mistake from Majjhima I, 251, where the phrase recurs, or stood originally in our text here.

[19] Ejā = calanaṭṭhena taṇhā. Cy., i.e. 'Craving, with respect to the thrill' (e-motion, com-motion) caused by it. 'Passion' lacks etymological coincidence with the implication of 'movement' in ejā, but no other term is forceful enough.

[20] Cf. Vol. I, pp. 190-2.

[21] Abhiññā, i.e. knowledge of that advanced (abhi-) nature, which is neither conveyed by the channels of sense, nor is occupied with sense-experience as such.

[22] Cy. aññena kammavipākena, by another result of action.

[23] Those called Akaniṭṭhā.

[24] See Vol. I, p. 184.

[25] 'Was invited' is doubtful. Sakka had not been invited to put any particular questions. Leave had been granted him generally to put any question he liked. Yet the editions printed in Siam and Ceylon read 'the invited questions put.' Buddhaghosa reads ajjhittā. It is doubtful whether the other reading (ajjiṭṭhā) could be properly applied to a question. In Vin. I, 113 it is applied to a person who is invited to speak. It looks here like a conjectural emendation of a lectio difficilior.


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