Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
5. Cūḷa Yamaka Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
I. The First Fifty Discourses
5. The Lesser Division of the Pairs

Sutta 49

Brahmā-Nimantaṇika Suttaɱ

Discourse on a Challenge to a Brahmā

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

Copyright The Pali Text Society
Commercial Rights Reserved
Creative Commons Licence
For details see Terms of Use.

 


 

[1][chlm][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī
in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

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

"Monks."

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

The Lord spoke thus:

"At one time I, monks, was staying at Ukkaṭṭhā
in the Subhaga Grove
near the great sāl-tree.[1]

At that time, monks,
an evil wrong view[2]
came to have accrued to Baka the Brahmā[3]
like this:

'This[4] is permanent,
this is stable,
this is eternal,
this is entire,
this is not liable to passing away,
this is not born,
does not age,
does not die,
does not pass away,
does not uprise,
and there is not another further escape from this.'[5]

Then did I, monks,
knowing with my mind
the reasoning in the mind of Baka the Brahmā,
as a [389] strong man might bend back his outstretched arm
or might stretch out his bent arm,
so, vanishing from near the great sāl-tree
in the Subhaga Grove at Ukkaṭṭhā,
did I appear in that Brahma-world.

Monks, Baka the Brahmā saw me coming in the distance;
seeing me, he spoke thus:

'Come, good sir,
you are welcome, good sir.

At last, good sir,
you make this occasion for coming here.[6]

But this, good sir, is permanent,
this is stable,
this is eternal,
this is entire,
this is not liable to passing away,
this is not born,
nor does it age
or die
or pass away
or uprise,
and there is not another further escape from this.'

When this had been said,
I, monks, spoke thus to Baka the Brahma:

'Indeed, Baka the Brahma is steeped in ignorance,
indeed, Baka the Brahma is steeped in ignorance,
inasmuch as he says

"permanent"
although it is indeed impermanent,
"stable"
although it is indeed instable,
"eternal"
although it is indeed not eternal,
"entire"
although it is indeed not entire,
"not liable to passing away"
although it is indeed liable to passing away,
and because in regard to what is born,
and ages
and dies
and passes away
and uprises,
he says:
"This is not born,
nor does it age
or die
or pass away
or uprise,"
and although there is another further escape,
he says:
"There is not another further escape."'

Then, monks, Māra the Evil One,
having entered a certain company of Brahmas,[7]
spoke thus to me:

'Monk, monk,
do not meddle with this,
do not meddle with this.

For, monk,
this Brahmā
is a Great Brahmā,[8]
Victor,
Unvanquished,
All-seeing,
Controller,
Lord,
Maker,
Creator,
Chief,
Disposer,
Master,
Father of all that have become
and will be.

Monk, there were recluses and brahmans in the world before you
who scorned extension,
loathed extension,
who scorned cohesion,
loathed cohesion,
who scorned heat,
loathed heat,
who scorned motion,
loathed motion,
who scorned creatures,
loathed creatures,
who scorned devas,
loathed devas,
who scorned Pajāpati,
loathed Pajāpati,,
who scorned Brahmā,
loathed Brahmā[9] -
these at the breaking up of the body,
at the Cutting off of life,
were established in a low group.[10]

But, monk, there were recluses and brahmans in the world before you, [390] who lauded extension,
delighted in extension,
who lauded cohesion,
delighted in cohesion,
who lauded heat,
delighted in heat,
who lauded motion,
delighted in motion,
who lauded creatures,
delighted in creatures,
who lauded devas,
delighted in devas,
who lauded Pajāpati,
delighted in Pajāpati,,
who lauded Brahmā,
delighted in Brahmā -
these at the breaking up of the body,
at the cutting off of life,
were established in an excellent group.[11]

On account of this do I, monk, speak thus:

"Please do you, good sir,
do exactly what Brahmā says to you,
do not go beyond Brahmā's word.

If you, monk, should go beyond Brahmā's word,
it will be with you, monk,
as with a man who might beat back approaching glory[12] with a stick,
or, monk, as with a man who might miss[13] the earth
with his hands and feet
as he was falling down hell's precipices.

Please do you, good sir,
do exactly what Brahmā says to you,
do not go beyond Brahmā's word.

Do not you, monk,
see the seated company of Brahmā?"'

And so, monks, Māra the Evil One
conducted me to the company of Brahmā.

When he had spoken thus,
I, monks, spoke thus to Māra the Evil One:

'I, Evil One, know you;
do not think that I do not know you.

Māra, you are the Evil One.

And whoever, Evil One,
is a Brahmā,
and whatever are Brahmā-companies,
and whatever are Brahmā-conclaves,
all are in your grasp,
all are in your power.

It occurs to you thus, Evil One:

'Let this one too be in my grasp,
let this one too be in my power.

But I, Evil One, am not in your grasp,
I am not in your power.'

When I had said this, monks,
Baka the Brahmā spoke thus to me:

'But I, good sir, say "permanent"
because it is permanent,
I say "stable"
because it is stable,
I say "eternal"
because it is eternal,
I say "entire"
because it is entire,
I say "not liable to passing away"
because it is not liable to passing away,
and of what is not born,
does not age,
die,
pass away
and uprise,
this is just what I say:
"This is not born,
it does not age,
it does not die,
it does not pass away,
it does not uprise;"
and because there is not another further escape,
I say, "There is not another further escape."

There were, monk, recluses and brahmans in the world before you
who practised austerities
for a term as long as your whole life.

These would know thus:
either, if there is another further escape:
There is another further escape;
or, if there is not another further escape:
There is not another further escape.

So I, monk, say this to you:

You will never see another further escape
however [391] much yon may go in for toil and trouble.

But if you, monk, would ascertain[14] extension,
you will become near to me,[15]
reposing on my substance,[16]
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.[17]

If you would ascertain cohesion,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain heat,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain motion,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain creatures,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain devas,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain Pajāpati,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

If you would ascertain Brahmā,
you will become near to me,
reposing on my substance,
to be done to as I will,
dwarfed.

'But I too, Brahma, know this:

If I were to ascertain extension,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain cohesion,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain heat,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain motion,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain creatures,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain devas,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain Pajāpati,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

If I were to ascertain Brahmā,,
I will become near to you,
reposing on your substance,
to be done to as you will,
dwarfed.

Moreover I both comprehend your bourn, Brahmā,
and I comprehend your splendour:[18]

Baka the Brahma is of great psychic power thus,
Baka the Brahma is of great majesty thus,
Baka the Brahma is of great fame thus.

As far as moon and sun revolve in their course
And light up all the quarters with their radiance,
So far extends the thousand-world system:
Here your sway is exercised.
But do you know the distinctions?[19]
The passionate and dispassionate likewise?
The becoming thus, the becoming otherwise,
The coming and the going of beings?[20]

It is thus that I, Brahmā,
both comprehend your bourn
and comprehend your splendour:
Baka the Brahma is of great psychic power thus,
Baka the Brahma is of great majesty thus,
Baka the Brahma is of great fame thus.

But there are, Brahmā,
three other classes
which you do not know,
do not see,
but which I know and see.

There is, Brahmā,
the class called Radiant ones
from which you have passed away,
uprising here;
but because of your very long abiding[21] (here),
the recollection of it is confused,
and [392] because of that
you neither know nor see it;
I know and see it.

Thus I, Brahmā, am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater than you?

There is, Brahmā, the class called Lustrous ones
which you neither know nor see,
but which I know and see.

There is, Brahmā, the class called Vehapphala
which you neither know nor see,
but which I know and see.

Thus again I, Brahmā, am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater than you?

I, Brahma, knowing extension to be extension,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached[22]
by means of the extensity of extension,
do not think:
'It is extension,[23]
(of self) in (regard to) extension,
(of self) as extension,
extension is mine' -
I do not salute extension.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing cohesion to be cohesion,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the cohesiveness of cohesion,
do not think:
'It is cohesion
(of self) in (regard to) cohesion,
(of self) as cohesion,
cohesion is mine' -
I do not salute cohesion.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing heat to be heat,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the hotness of heat,
do not think:
'It is heat
(of self) in (regard to) heat,
(of self) as heat,
heat is mine' -
I do not salute heat.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing motion to be motion,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of motion's movement,
do not think:
'It is motion
(of self) in (regard to) motion,
(of self) as motion,
motion is mine' -
I do not salute motion.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing creatures to be creatures,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the creatures's creaturehood,
do not think:
'It is a creature
(of self) in (regard to) creatures,
(of self) as a creature,
creatures are mine' -
I do not salute creatures.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing devas to be devas,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the deva's devahood,
do not think:
'It is a deva
(of self) in (regard to) devas,
(of self) as a deva,
devas are mine' -
I do not salute devas.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing Pajāpati to be Pajāpati,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of Pajāpati's Pajāpatihood,
do not think:
'It is Pajāpati
(of self) in (regard to) Pajāpati,
(of self) as Pajāpati,
Pajāpati is mine' -
I do not salute Pajāpati.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing Brahmā to be Brahmā,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of Brahmā's of Brahmahood,
do not think:
'It is Brahmā
(of self) in (regard to) Brahmā,
(of self) as Brahmā,
Brahmā is mine' -
I do not salute Brahmā.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing the Radiant ones to be the Radiant ones,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the Radiant-ones' radiance,
do not think:
'It is the Radiant ones
(of self) in (regard to) the Radiant ones,
(of self) as a Radiant one,
the Radiant ones are mine' -
I do not salute the Radiant ones.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing the Lustrous ones to be the Radiant ones,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the the Lustrous ones' Luster,
do not think:
'It is the Lustrous ones
(of self) in (regard to) the Lustrous ones,
(of self) as a Lustrous one,
the Lustrous ones are mine' -
I do not salute the Lustrous ones.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing the Vehapphalas to be the Vehapphalas,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the the Vehapphalas' Vehapphalahood,
do not think:
'It is the Vehapphalas
(of self) in (regard to) the Vehapphalas,
(of self) as a Vehapphalan,
the Vehapphalas are mine' -
I do not salute the Vehapphalas.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahmā, knowing the Overlord[24] to be the Overlord,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by means of the the the Overlord's Overlordship,
do not think:
'It is the Overlord
(of self) in (regard to) the Overlord,
(of self) as the Overlord,
the Overlord is mine' -
I do not salute the Overlord.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?

I, Brahma, knowing the all to be the all,
to that extent
knowing that which is not reached
by the allness of the all,
do not think:
'It is all,
(of self) in (regard to) all,
(of self) as all,
all is mine " -
I do not salute the all.

Thus again I, Brahmā,
am not merely on an exact equality with you
as regards super-knowledge;
how could I be lower,
since I am indeed greater that you?"

If, through the allness of the all[25]
that is not reached by you, good sir,
take care lest it be vain for you,
lest it be empty.

Discriminative consciousness
which cannot be characterised,[26]
which is unending,
lucid in every respect,[27]
cannot be reached through the extensity of extension,
the cohesiveness of cohesion,
heat's hotness,
motion's movement,
creatures' creaturehood,
devas' deva-hood,
Pajāpati's Pajāpatihood,
the Brahmās' Brahmahood,
the Radiant ones' radiance,
the Lustrous ones' lustre,
the Vehapphalas' Vehapphalahood,
it cannot be reached
through the Overlord's over-lordship,
it cannot be reached by the allness of the all.

And now I am vanishing from you, good sir.'

[393] 'Now, Brahmā, you vanish from me if you are able,'

Then, monks, Baka the Brahmā
saying:

'I will vanish from the recluse Gotama,
I will vanish from the recluse Gotama,'

was nevertheless unable to vanish from me.

When this had been said,
I, monks, spoke thus to Baka the Brahmā:

'Now I am vanishing from you, Brahmā.'

'Come, good sir,
you vanish from me if you are able.'

Then I,[28] monks,
having resolved a psychic resolve like this:[29]

'May Brahmā
and Brahmā's company
and Brahmā's conclave
hear the sound of me
without seeing me,'
disappeared and spoke this verse:

Having seen danger in becoming itself,
And becoming seeking dis-becoming.[30]
I saluted not becoming
Nor grasped after any delight.

Then, monks, Brahmā
and Brahmā's company
and Brahmā's conclave
were filled with wonder and amazement,
and said:

'Wonderful, good sirs,
marvellous, good sirs,
is the great psychic power,
the great majesty
of the recluse Gotama;
indeed before now
there has not been seen or heard
another recluse or brahman
of such great psychic power,
of such great majesty
as this recluse Gotama,
a son of the Sakyans,
gone forth from a Sakyan family.

For a people delighting in becoming,
delighted with becoming,
revelling in becoming,
he has indeed pulled up becoming
with its root.'

Then, monks, Māra the Evil One,
having entered a certain Brahma-conclave,
spoke thus to me:

'If you, good sir, know thus,
if you have understood[31] thus,
do not communicate it to disciples[32]
or to those who have gone forth;
do not teach dhamma to disciples
or to those who have gone forth;
do not crave for disciples
or for those who have gone forth.

Monk, there were recluses and brahmans in the world before you,
claiming to be perfected ones,
fully self-awakened ones;
these communicated to disciples
and to those who had gone forth;
they taught dhamma to disciples
and to those who had gone forth;
they craved for disciples
and for those [394] who had gone forth.

These, having communicated to disciples
and to those who had gone forth,
having taught dhamma to disciples
and to those who had gone forth,
having craved for disciples
and for those who had gone forth,
at the breaking up of the body,
at the cutting off of life,
were estabhshed in a low group.[33]

Monk, there were recluses and brahmans in the world before you,
claiming to be perfected ones,
fully self-awakened ones;
these did not communicate to disciples
or to those who had gone forth;
they did not teach dhamma to disciples
or to those who had gone forth;
they did not crave for disciples
or for those who had gone forth.

These, not having communicated to disciples
or to those who had gone forth,
not having taught dhamma to disciples
or to those who had gone forth,
not having craved for disciples
or for those who had gone forth,
at the breaking up of the body,
at the cutting off of life,
were established in an excellent group.[34]

So I speak thus to you, monk:

Please do you, good sir,
dwell untroubled
and intent on abiding in ease here and now.[35]

What is skill
is not pointing out,[36] good sir,
so do not instruct others.'

When this had been said, I, monks,
spoke thus to Māra the Evil One:

'I know you, Evil One,
do not think:

'He does not know me.'

Evil One, you are Māra.

You do not speak to me thus, Evil One,
because you are friendly
and compassionate;
you speak to me thus, Evil One,
because you are not friendly,
not compassionate.

And you think thus, Evil One:

Those to whom the recluse Gotama teaches dhamma,
will get beyond my reach.

Although those recluses and brahmans, Evil One,
who claimed:

"We are fully self-awakened ones,"

were not fully self-awakened ones,
nevertheless I, Evil One,
who claim:

"I am a fully self-awakened one,"

am indeed a fully self-awakened one.

For, Evil One,
whether a Tathāgata is teaching dhamma to disciples,
he is such a one;
whether, Evil One,
a Tathāgata is not teaching dhamma to disciples,
he is such a one;
whether, Evil One,
a Tathāgata is communicating it to disciples,
he is such a one;
whether, Evil One,
a Tathāgata is not communicating it to disciples,
he is such a one.

What is the reason for this?

Evil One, in a Tathāgata
those cankers which are connected with the defilements,
with again-becoming,
fearful,
whose results are anguish,
which make for birth,
ageing and dying [395] in the future,
these are got rid of,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump
so that they can come to no further existence in the future.[37]

Evil One,
as a palm-tree whose crown has been cut off
cannot put forth growth again,
even so, Evil One,
in a Tathāgata those cankers which are connected with the defilements,
with again-becoming,
fearful,
whose results are anguish,
which make for birth,
ageing and dying in the future,
these are got rid of,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree stump
that can come to no further existence in the future.'

Because of Māra's failure to persuade (me)
and because of the invitation to a Brahmā,
a synonym for this homily is therefore
A challenge to a Brahmā."

Discourse on a Challenge to a Brahma:
the Ninth

 


[1] As at M. i. 1; quoted Kvu. 559.

[2] An eternalist view, MA. ii. 405.

[3] At S. i. 142, Jā. iii. 358 this Baka episode appears to occur in Sāvatthī.

[4] According to MA. ii. 405, "this" is a Brahmaṭṭhāna.

[5] "Further" there are, however, three stages in meditation, four ways, four fruits, and nibbāna, MA. ii. 405.

[6] As at M. i. 252, 481.

[7] MA. ii. 405 says he was not able to enter among Great Brahmās or among priests of the Brahmās.

[8] Following sequence of terms at D. i. 18; first six also at It. p. 15.

[9] For the sequence: extension to Brahmā, see M. i. 1 ff.

[10] kāya. MA. ii. 406 says they were reborn in the four woeful ways.

[11] MA. ii. 406, in the Brahma-world.

[12] siri, luck, glory, prosperity. MA. ii. 406 says nothing.

[13] virāgeyya. MA. ii. 406-7 reads virādheyya.

[14] I.e. in meditation, ajjhosati.

[15] opasāyika. MA. ii. 407 gives samīpasaya.

[16] vatthusāyika.

[17] bāhiteyyo. This is obscure. To be sent out, degraded; or, as paṭibāheti, to be kept off, shut off, warded off. MA. ii. 407 jajjharikāgumbato pi nīcataro lakuṇṭakataro kātabbo bhavissasi, weakened, degraded, dwarfed.

[18] juti. This spelling seems to be faulty for cuti (given as v.l. at M. i. 557 and also as v.l. for muṭi at MA. ii. 36 in quoting the above passage); see P.E.D. But MA. ii. 408 gives ānubhāva.

[19] paroparaɱ. MA. ii. 408 says the high and low, the poor and excellent.

[20] Cf. Jā. i. 132, ii. 313; A. i. 227; DA. ii. 659.

[21] nivāsa, abode, residence; cf. pubbenivāsa, former abodes or habitations, or former births.

[22] ananubhūtam; MA. ii. 412 calls it nibbāna.

[23] Cf. M. i. 1.

[24] abhibhu.

[25] MA. ii. 412 says the Brahmā meant the Imperisliable, akkhara, whereas the Teacher meant his own body.

[26] MA. ii. 413, invisible."

[27] This sequence also at D. i. 223, where last phrase reads sabbato pahaɱ, while M. reads sabbatopabhaɱ. See Dial. i. 283. n. 2.

[28] To end of the verse, quoted at Vism. 394.

[29] As at Vin. i. 16; D. i. 106; S. iii. 92, etc.

[30] Or "annihilation," vibhava.

[31] anubuddha, or awakened. MA. ii. 415 says, "if you have understood (anubuddho) the four truths thus by yourself."

[32] MA. ii. 416 calls these householders.

[33] MA. ii. 415, in the four woeful ways.

[34] MA. ii. 415 instancing a Brahma-world.

[35] Cf. Vin. ii. 188.

[36] MA. ii. 415, reading akkhānaɱ instead of text's akkhātaɱ, says it is skill not to point out, exhort or teach dhamma to others; this is best.

[37] As at M. i. 250, 280.

 


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