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— UNABBREVIATED

Saŋyutta Nikāya
I. Sagātha Vagga
6. Brahmā Saŋyutta

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
I. Kindred Sayings with Verses
6. The Brahmā Suttas

Translated by Mrs. Rhys Davids
Assisted by Sūriyagoḍa Sumangala Thera
Public Domain

 


I


 

Sutta 1

The Entreaty

 


 

[1.1][ati] THUS HAVE I HEARD:

The Exalted One was once staying near Uruvelā[1],
on the banks of the river Nerañjarā,
beneath the Goatherd's Banyan,
and he had just attained full enlightenment.

Now as he was privately meditating,[2]
the thought arose in him:

'I have penetrated[3] this Norm,[4]
deep, hard to perceive, hard to understand,[5]
peaceful[6] and sublime,
no mere dialectic,
subtle, intelligible only to the wise.

But this is a race devoting itself to the things to which it clings,[7]
devoted thereto,
delighting therein.

And for a race devoting itself to the things to which it clings,
devoted thereto,
delighting therein,
this were a matter hard to perceive, to wit,
that this is conditioned by that —
that all that happens is by way of cause.

This, too, were a matter hard to discern, to wit,
the tranquillization of all the activities of [worldly] life,
the renunciation of all substrates of rebirth,
the destruction of natural cravings,
passionlessness,
cessation,
Nibbana.

And now I only might teach the Norm,
and others might not acknowledge me:
this would be wearisome to me,
this would be hurtful to me.[8]

And then verily to the Exalted One were revealed these verses on the spur of the moment,
unheard of before: —

This that thro' many toils I've won,
Enough! Why should I make it known?
By folk with lust and hate consumed
Not this a Norm that can be grasped.
Against the stream [of common thought],[9]
Deep, subtle, fine, and hard to see,
Unseen 't will be by passion's slaves,
Cloaked in the murk [of ignorance].[10]

In such wise,
pondering over the matter,
did the heart of the Exalted One incline to be averse from exertion
and not towards preaching the Norm.

Thereupon to Brahmā-Sahampati,[11]
becoming aware in thought of the thoughts of the Exalted One,
was this revealed: —

'Woe, woe! now will the world perish!

Woe! now will the world utterly perish,
in that the heart of the Tathāgata,
Arahant,
Buddha Supreme
inclines to be averse from exertion
and not towards preaching the Norm!

Then did Brahmā-Sahampati,
even like a strong man stretching his bent arm out,
or drawing together his arm outstretched,
vanish from the Brahmā world
and appear before the Exalted One.

And Brahmā Sahampati,
draping his outer robe over one shoulder,
and stooping his right knee to the ground,
raised his joined hands towards the Exalted One and said:

'Lord! let the Exalted One preach the Norm!

Let the Blessed One preach the Norm!

There are souls whose eyes are hardly dimmed by dust[12];
they are perishing from not hearing the Norm.

They will come to be knowers of the Norm.'

Thus spake Brahmā Sahampati.

And thereafter he said this also:

There hath appeared in Magadha before thee
A Norm impure by minds unclean contrived.[13]
Unlock this door[14] t' Ambrosia! Let them hearken
To Norm by Pure and Holy One revived.

As on a crag on crest of mountain standing
A man might watch the people far below,
E'en so do thou, 0 Wisdom fair, ascending,
0 Seer of all, the terraced heights of truth,
Look down, from grief released, upon the nations
Sunken in grief, oppressed with birth and age.[15]
Arise, thou Hero! Conqueror in the battle!
Thou freed from debt! Lord of the Caravan!
Walk the world o'er, [sublime and blessed Teacher!]
Teach us the Norm! There are, who'll understand.

Then the Exalted One,
understanding the entreaty of Brahmā,
because of his pitifulness toward all souls,[16]
looked down with a Buddha's Eye over the world.

The Exalted One saw,
with a Buddha's Eye, so looking,
souls whose eyes were scarcely dimmed by dust,
and souls whose eyes were sorely dimmed by dust,
souls sharp of sense
and souls blunted of sense,
souls of good
and souls of evil disposition,
souls docile
and souls indocile,
some among them living with a perception of the danger of other worlds and of wrongdoing.

As in a pool of blue or red or white lotus,
some lotus plants born in the water,
emerge not, but grow up and thrive sunken beneath the surface;
and other lotus plants,
born in the water and growing up in the water,
rise to the surface;
and other lotus plants,
born in the water and growing up in the water,
stand thrusting themselves above the water and unwetted by it,
even so did the Exalted One,
look down over the world with a Buddha's Eye,
and see souls whose eyes were scarcely dimmed by dust,
souls whose eyes were sorely dimmed by dust,
souls sharp of sense
and blunted of sense,
souls of good
and souls of evil disposition,
souls docile
and souls indocile,
some among them living with a perception of the danger of other worlds and of wrongdoing.

Seeing Brahmā Sahampati he made response in verse: —

Open for them the doors stand to Ambrosia!
Let those that hear renounce the faith they hold.[17]
Foreseeing hurt I have not preached, Brahmā,
The Norm sublime and excellent for men.

Then Brahmā Sahampati thought:

'Now am I one by whom an opening has been given
for the preaching of the Norm by the Exalted One!'

And he bowed down before the Exalted One,
and passing round him by the right,
vanished there and then.

 


[1] See above, IV, 1, Ī 1. This Sutta occurs verbatim as the story of Brahmā's entreaty in Vin. Texts, i, 84 f. It is also given nearly verbatim, in Dialogues, ii, 29 f., as an episode in the life of each of the seven Buddhas there recognized as tho series of great world-saviours, but with two variants: — (1) the god proffers his request three times; (2) the four lines beginning 'In days of old' ... are omitted.

[2] When? asks B. In the eighth week after his Enlightenment (buddha-bhūtassa aṭṭhame sattāhe), and he mentions the intervening incidents recorded also in the Jātaka Comy. (Bud. Birth Stories, P. 109 ff.).

[3] Aḍhigato ti paṭividdho. Comy.

[4] 'The Dhamma of the Four True Things.' Comy. On this and the next paragraphs, the reader may consult notes in Dialogues, ii, 36 f. This translation differs only in a few details.

[5] Dur-anubodho. Cf. above, p. 154, n. 2.

[6] Santo.'

[7] To the fivefold pleasures of sense.' Comy.

[8] I.e. physically, if we may take kāya, when opposed to citta, in a Commentary, as rūpa, 'body.' (See Compendium, 96, n. 3). 'In mind (citte) a Buddha can feel neither weariness nor hurt.' Comy.

[9] E.g. in its doctrines of impermanence, ill, non-soul-entity, non- beauty (in what superficially seems so), it goes against the stream of beliefs. Comy.

[10] Avijjā rāsinā ajjhotthatā. Comy.

[11] B. gives a tradition that this deva had been one Sahaka, a Thera in Buddha Kassapa's dispensation, and by sustained First Jhana was reborn as a Brahmā god. The history of the name is unknown. B. represents him as attended here by deva-hosts.

[12] 'The eye of insight, little affected by lust, hate, delusion.' Comy.

[13] According to B., these are the six teachers named above, III, 1, Ī 1, whose doctrines were already published.

[14] Comy.: The Ariyan Path to Nibbana.

[15] Thus far these six lines occur in the Iti-vuttaka, Ī 38.

[16] Sattā or beings, creatures. Not metaphysically taken.

[17] Comy.: 'Let them all give up (vissajjantu) their own faith (saddhaṃ).


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