Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
4. Mahā Yamaka Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
I. The First Fifty Discourses
4. The Greater Division of the Pairs

Sutta 34

Cūḷa Gopālaka Suttaɱ

Lesser Discourse on the Cowherd

Translated from the Pali by I.B. Horner, M.A.
Associate of Newham College, Cambridge
First Published in 1954

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[1][chlm][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying among the Vajjis
at Ukkācelā on the banks of the river Ganges.

While he was there the Lord addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Revered one,"
these monks answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus:

"Formerly, monks,
an incompetent cowherd of Magadha
in the last month of the rains
at harvest time,
without considering the hither bank of the river Ganges,
without considering the further bank,
drove his cattle across to the further bank
in Suvidehā
at a place where there was no ford.

Then, monks, the cattle huddled together
in the middle of the stream of the river Ganges,
got into difficulties and misfortune there.

What was the cause?

It was, monks,
that that incompetent cowherd of Magadha
in the last month of the rains
at harvest time,
without considering the hither bank of the river Ganges,
without considering the further bank,
drove the cattle across to the further bank
in Suvidehā
at a place where there was no ford.

Even so, monks,
any recluses or brahmans who are unskilled about this world,
unskilled about the world beyond,
unskilled about Māra's realm,[1]
unskilled about what is not Māra's realm,[2]
unskilled about Death's realm,[1] unskilled about what is not Death's realm[2] -
whoever think they should listen to these (recluses and brahmans)
and put their faith in them,
that will be for a long time
for their woe and anguish.

Once upon a time, monks,
a competent cowherd of Magadha
in the last month of the rains
at harvest time,
having considered the hither bank of the river Ganges,
having considered the further [277] bank,
drove his cattle across to the further bank
in Suvidehā
at a place where there was a ford.

First of all
he drove across those bulls
who were the sires and leaders of the herd -
these, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond.

Then he drove across
the sturdy bullocks
and young steers -
these, also, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond.

Then he drove across
the half-grown bull-calves and heifers -
these too, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond.

Then he drove across
the weaker calves -
these too, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond.

At that time
there was a young new-born calf
which, by following the lowing of its mother,
also cut across the stream of the Ganges
and went safely beyond.

What was the cause of this?

It was, monks,
that that cowherd of Magadha
in the last month of the rains
at harvest time,
having considered the hither bank of the river Ganges,
having considered the further bank,
drove his cattle across to the further bank
in Suvidehā
at a place where there was a ford.

Even so, monks,
any recluses or brahmans
who are skilled about this world,
skilled about the world beyond,
skilled about Māra's realm,
skilled about what is not Māra's realm,
skilled about Death's realm,
skilled about what is not Death's realm -
whoever think they should listen to these (recluses and brahmans)
and put their faith in them,
that will be for a long time
for their welfare and happiness.

Monks, like unto those bulls
who were the sires and leaders of the herd,
and who, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond,
are those monks who are perfected ones,
the cankers destroyed,
who have lived the life,
done what was to be done,
laid down the burden,
attained their own goal,
the fetters of becoming being utterly destroyed,
and who are freed by perfect profound knowledge.

For these,
having cut across Māra's stream,[3]
have gone safely beyond.[4]

Monks, like unto those sturdy bullocks
and young steers
who, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond,
are those monks who,
by destroying the five fetters
binding to this lower world,
are of spontaneous uprising,
and being ones who attain nibbāna there,
are not liable to return from that world.

For these also,
having cut across Māra's stream,
will go safely beyond.

[279] Monks, like unto those half-grown bull-calves and heifers
who, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond,
are those monks who,
by destroying the three fetters,
by reducing attachment, aversion and confusion,
are once-retumers
who, having come back again to this world once only,
will make an end of anguish.

For these also,
having cut across Māra's stream,
wiil go safely beyond.

Monks, hke unto those weaker calves
who, having cut across the stream of the Ganges,
went safely beyond,
are those monks who, by destroying the three fetters,
are stream-attainers,
not liable for the abyss,
assured,
bound for awakening.

For these also,
having cut across Māra's stream,
will go safely beyond.

Monks, like unto that young new-born calf
which, by following the lowing of its mother,
also cut across the stream of the Ganges
and went safely beyond,
are those monks who are striving for dhamma,
striving for faith.

For these also,
having cut across Māra's stream,
will go safely beyond.

Now I, monks, am skilled about this world,
skilled about the world beyond,
skilled about Māra's realm,
skilled about what is not Māra's realm,
skilled about Death's realm,
skilled about what is not Death's realm.

To those who think they should listen to me
and place faith in me,
there will be welfare and happiness
for a long time."

Thus spoke the Lord;
the Well-farer having said this,
the Teacher then spoke thus:

"This world, the world beyond, are well explained by the one who knows,
And what is accessible by Māra and what is not accessible by Death.

By the Self-awakened One, comprehending, thoroughly knowing every world,
Opened is the door of the Undying[5] for reaching security - nibbāna.

Cut across is the stream of the Evil One, shattered, destroyed;
Let there be abundant rapture, monks, let security be reached."

Lesser Discourse on the Cowherd:
the Fourth

 


[1] The triple stage of existence: kāma, rūpa, arūpa, MA. ii. 266.

[2] The nine transcendental things, MA. ii. 266.

[3] The stream of taṇhā, craving, MA. ii. 267.

[4] Beyond saŋsāra to nibbāna, MA. ii. 267.

[5] The ariyan Way, MA. ii. 267.


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