VII. Mahaa Vagga
The Book of the
The Book of the Threes
The Great Chapter
Topics of Discourse
Translated from the Pali by
F.L. Woodward, M.A.
One may talk of past time, saying:
'Thus it was in past time.'
Or one may talk of future time, saying:
'Thus it will be in future time.'
Or one may talk of the present time, saying:
'Thus it is now at present.'
Now, monks, if this person, on being asked a question, does not give a categorical reply to a question requiring it:
does not give a discriminating reply to a question requiring it:
does not reply by a counter-question to, a question requiring it,
 and does not waive a question which should be waived,
- then, monks, such a person is incompetent to discuss.
But if this person on being asked these four sorts of questions
gives the proper reply,
then he is competent to discuss.
If this person on being asked a question
does not abide by conclusions,
whether right or wrong,
does not abide by an assumption,
does not abide by recognized arguments,
does not abide by usual procedure,
- in such case, monks,
this person is incompetent to discuss.
But if he does all these,
he is competent to discuss.
If this person, on being asked a question,
evades the question by another,
or turns it off the point,
or displays vexation, malice and sulkiness,
in such case, monks,
he is incompetent to discuss.
But if on the other hand he does none of these things,
he is competent.
If, on being asked a question,
he loads with abuse
and beats down the questioner,
laughs him to scorn
and catches him up when he falters,
- such an one is incompetent to discuss.
But if he does none of these things,
he is competent.
He who lends not an ear, is unassured.
He who lends an ear is assured.
So doing he reaches the perfect release.
This, monks, is the profit of talk,
this is the profit of deliberation,
of giving ear to advice,
namely, the release of mind without grasping.
[than][olds] When talk is barred by anger, bias, pride
Men follow a way not Ariyan and seek
For one another's faults, rejoice to hear
A word ill spoken, a slip o' the tongue, - delight
Each in the other's oonfusion and defeat.
That way of talk the Ariyan follows not.
If fain to speak, the wise man, since he knows
The time, the way of speech the Ariyans use,
The practice proper for expounding Dhamma,
That sage will use such talk: not barred by wrath,
Unbiassed, with unruffled mind; not spiteful,
Not arbitrary-minded, not detracting;
But with full knowledge speaking he speaks well,
Pleased with right speech, not gleeful at a slip.
Not studying censure, catching not at faults:
Reviles not, crushes not, nor speaks at random.
O! I good men's words alike instruct and please:
Thus Ariyans talk. Such is the Ariyan speech.
And knowing this the wise will humbly speak.'
 Kaccha = kathetuu'n-yutta: not as in Paali Dict. 'fit to be spoken of.'
 Cf. Dialog. iii, 221; Mil. P. 144; Pts. of Contr., Introd,. xl, re 'the emergence of the Vibhajjavaadin School'; Gotama the Man, 73, 106. Pts. of Cont. gives as an example Mark xi. 29: 'I will ask you one question, and answer me...'
 Text thaan'a.t.thaane. Comy. thaanaa.thaane. Cf. Mil. 1.
 A~n~navaade = ~naa.tavaade jaanitavaade. Comy. 'Ignoratio elenchi.'
 Sa-upaniso = sa-upanissayo sa-ppaccayo. Comy.
 These four things are, according to Comy., Dhamma, the Ariyan truth of Ill, evil and arahantship.
 Samussitaa = maanusayena su.t.thu ussitaa. Vinivi.t.tha (not in Dict.) = abhinivi.t.tha. Comy., Sampamoha (not in Dict.). I should note here that the Paali Dict. seems based on the indexes so far published. That to Anguttara is very incomplete, and the gaathaas seem to have been passed over entirely; hence many words in this volume are not to be found in the Dict. at all, while the errors in paging of the indexes are reproduced.