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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 4

Baka the Brahmā God

 


 

[4.1] THUS HAVE I HEARD:

The Exalted One was once staying near Sāvatthī, at Jeta Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍika's Park.

Now at that time there arose in the mind of Baka the Brahmā god,[1] evil, erroneous notions, to wit:

'This [Brahmā-life] is permanent and stable;
this is eternal,
this is absolute,
this is influctuate in its nature;
in this [life] there is no birth,
nor decay,
nor death;
no falling from,
nor rising up to;
and beyond this there is no further salvation.'[2]

Then the Exalted One, discerning by thought the thoughts of Baka the Brahmā,
like as a strong man might stretch forth his bent arm,
or bend his arm stretched forth,
vanished from Jeta's Grove,
and appeared in the Brahmā world.

Then Baka the Brahmā saw the Exalted One coming afar off,
and he called to him:

'Come, my lord! welcome, my lord!

Long is it, my lord, since thou madest occasion to come this way.

[See], my lord, this [Brahmā-life] is permanent and stable;
this is eternal,
this is absolute,
this is influctuate in its nature;
in this [life] there is no birth,
nor decay,
nor death;
no falling from,
nor rising up to;
and beyond this there is no further salvation.'

To him, so saying, the Exalted One spake thus:

'Alas, the good Brahmā Baka is very ignorant!

Alas, the good Brahmā Baka is very ignorant!

Inasmuch as he will be saying that something which is impermanent is permanent;
that something which is unstable is stable;
that something which is temporal is eternal;
that something which is relative is absolute;
that something from which one is bound to fall,
admits not of decease.

Where there is birth,
decay,
death,
decease and rebirth,
of such a life will he be speaking as he does: —
that no such things happen.

And whereas there is another salvation beyond this,
he will be saying that there is no other such!

[Baka:—]

We seventy-two,[3] Gotama, from our good works
Rule o'er the world, birth and old age transcending.
This is our last Veda-won life as Brahmās;
Many the folk off'ring us prayers and praises.[4]

[The Exalted One:—]

Brief is this life; verily length pertaineth
Not to this life, deemed by thee, Baka, so lengthy,
'Gainst the life waiting for thee,[5] 0 Brahmā,
As I discern, lasting through countless ages.

[Baka:—]

If thou be th' Exalted One, birth and old age
Transcending, then thine is the infinite vision.
What help brought me rites and good works aforetime[6]
Do thou declare this so that I may learn it.

[The Exalted One:—]

When many men, thirsty and heat-tormented,
Thou in the past gavest to drink [and saved them]:
Lo! this was thy 'rites and good works aforetime/
As one from sleep newly awaked I remember.[7]

At Antelope Bank,[8] when the village was raided,
Thou didst release folk bound and led off captive;
Lo! this was thy 'rites and good works aforetime/
As one from sleep newly awaked I remember.

When mystic force wielding thou didst deliver
In Ganga's stream, vessel and crew assailed,
By cruel snake fain to devour men victims:
Lo! this was thy 'rites and good works aforetime'
As one from sleep newly awaked I remember.

And I, by name Kappa, was once thy pupil,
Intelligent, wise did his teacher deem him:[9]
Lo ! this was thy ' rites and good works aforetime.'
As one from sleep newly awaked I remember.

[Baka:—]

0 this my life surely thou understandest!
Yea, thou dost know others, since thou art wakened.[10]
Yea, hence prevails round us thy mighty glory,
Radiance it sheds over the world of Brahmās.

 


[1] On this god see M. i, 328. The episode and verses form the 'Baka-Brahmā Jātaka,' Jāt. iii, 359 (trs. 219)[No. 405].

[2] Cf. S. iii, 85.

[3] Does this represent the number of the chief (Maha) Brahmās?

[4] Abhijappanti: 'lifting joined hands toward us, glorifying us, aspiring to be as we are.' Comy.

[5] Tava avasiṭṭhay ettakaṃ āyun ti ahaṃ jānāmi. Comy. On the countless ages' see computations in Jāt. Comy. loc. cit

[6] I think this is more accurately rendered than the Jātaka translation, and agrees better with the emphatic refrain in the Buddha's reply: — This was ... 'If' and 'thine is' are inserted from the Comy. Metrical exigencies, perhaps, have rendered the Pali stanza a little obscure. 'You, being as you say, so far-seeing as to my life, tell me which of my past good deeds brought me here.' According to B., vatasīlavattaṃ is just sīlaṃ. Vata can scarcely mean the expletive vata! just here, as Feer seems to have thought. I prefer to let it stand as 'rites' that were really fruitful, to wit, brave deeds. The S. and Jāt. Commentaries elaborate the legends alluded to. In the first three cases, Baka in a former birth as the hermit Kesava exerts magic power, bringing a stream past the parched, strayed caravan, making dacoits see a vision of royal police approaching, and scaring away the snake as a Garuda-bird. The fourth instance is explained in the Kesava Jātaka (iii, 141 f.; trs. 93 f.) [No. 346].

[7] As if it were a dream.' Jāt. Comy.

[8] Eṇi-kūlasmiṃ (Jāt. sic): — our Comy.: — Gangā-tire'va. Jāt. Comy. — Eṇiyā nāma nadiyā kūle.

[9] Again I suggest a better rendering than that of the Jātaka translation. The point of the allusion is, not that Kappa thought Kesava — a weak creature — wise, but that Kesava set such store on Kappa's intelligence and character, and so reported to the King. The Jāt. text reads amaññaṃ, 'I deemed.' The Br. has amañña, which is both 1st and 2nd person. If the verse is quoting Kesava's report, the 1st person is right.

[10] Buddho.


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