Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikaaya
II. Majjhima-Pa.n.naasa
1. Gahapati Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
1. The Division on Householders

Sutta 58

Abhaya-Raaja-Kumaara Sutta.m

Discourse to Abhaya

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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[392] [60]

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

At one time the Lord was staying near Raajagaha
in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels' feeding place.

Then Prince Abhaya[1] approached Naataputta the Jain;
having approached,
having greeted Naataputta the Jain,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

Naataputta the Jain spoke thus[2] to Prince Abhaya
as he was sitting down at a respectful distance:

"Come you, Prince,
refute the recluse Gotama
so that a lovely reputation goes forth about you
to the effect that the recluse Gotama
of such great psychic power,
of such great majesty,
was refuted by Prince Abhaya."

"But how can I, revered sir,
refute the recluse Gotama
who is of such great psychic power,
of such great majesty?"

"Come you, Prince,
approach the recluse Gotama;
having approached,
speak thus to the recluse Gotama:

'Now, revered sir, could a Tathaagata utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them?'

If the recluse Gotama
on being questioned by you thus
should answer:

'Prince, a Tathaagata could utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them,'

then you should speak to him thus:

'But then, where is the difference, revered sir,
between you and an average person?

For an average person
could also utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them.'

But if the recluse Gotama,
on being questioned thus by you,
should answer:

'Prince, a Tathaagata could not utter a speech
[393]that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them,'

then you should speak to him thus:

'Then how is it, revered sir,
that when Devadatta was told by you:

"Devadatta is doomed to a sorrowful way[3]
(after death),
[61] Devadatta is doomed to Niraya Hell,
Devadatta is fixed for a kalpa,[4]
Devadatta is incurable,"[5]

Devadatta was angry
and displeased with you for these words?'

Prince, the recluse Gotama,
on being asked this double-edged question[6] by you
will neither be able to spew out
nor swallow down[7] (the puzzle).

Just like an iron hook
stuck in a man's throat
that he can neither spew out
nor swallow down,
even so, Prince, the recluse Gotama,
on being asked this double-edged question by you,
will neither be able to spew out
nor swallow down (the puzzle)."

"Very well, revered sir,"
and Prince Abhaya
having answered Naataputta the Jain in assent,
rising from his seat,
having greeted Naataputta the Jain
keeping his right side towards him,
approached the Lord;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

Alter looking at the sun,
it occurred to Prince Abhaya
as he was sitting down at a respectful distance:

"It is not the right time today
to refute the Lord,
but tomorrow I,
in my own house,
will refute the Lord,"
and he spoke thus to the Lord:

"Revered sir, may the Lord consent
to take a meal with me on the morrow
with three others?"[8]

The Lord consented by becoming silent.

Then Prince Abhaya,
having understood the lord's consent,
rising from his seat,
having greeted the Lord,
departed keeping his right side towards him.

Then the Lord,
at the end of that night,
having dressed in the early morning,
taking his bowl and robe,
approached Prince Abhaya's dwelling;
having approached,
he sat down on the appointed seat.

Then Prince Abhaya
with his own hand
served and satisfied the Lord
with sumptuous solid and soft [62] foods.

Then when the Lord had eaten
and had withdrawn his hand from the bowl,
Prince Abhaya, taking a low seat,
sat down at a respectful distance.

Prince Abhaya, sitting down at a respectful distance,
spoke thus to the Lord:

"Now, revered sir,
could a Tathaagata utter a speech disliked by others,
disagreeable to them?"

"Is not this one-sided,[9] Prince?"

"At this point, revered sir,
the Jains have lost."[10]

"Why do you speak thus, Prince:

[394] 'At this point, revered sir, the Jains have lost'?"

"Now, I, revered sir, approached Naataputta the Jain;
having approached,
having greeted Naataputta the Jain,
I sat down at a respectful distance.

Naataputta the Jain spoke thus to me, revered sir,
as I was sitting down at a respectful distance:

"Come you, Prince,
refute the recluse Gotama
so that a lovely reputation goes forth about you
to the effect that the recluse Gotama
of such great psychic power,
of such great majesty,
was refuted by Prince Abhaya."

"But how can I, revered sir,
refute the recluse Gotama
who is of such great psychic power,
of such great majesty?"

"Come you, Prince,
approach the recluse Gotama;
having approached,
speak thus to the recluse Gotama:

'Now, revered sir, could a Tathaagata utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them?'

If the recluse Gotama
on being questioned by you thus
should answer:

'Prince, a Tathaagata could utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them,'

then you should speak to him thus:

'But then, where is the difference, revered sir,
between you and an average person?

For an average person
could also utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them.'

But if the recluse Gotama,
on being questioned thus by you,
should answer:

'Prince, a Tathaagata could not utter a speech
that is disliked by others,
disagreeable to them,'

then you should speak to him thus:

'Then how is it, revered sir,
that when Devadatta was told by you:

"Devadatta is doomed to a sorrowful way
(after death),
Devadatta is doomed to Niraya Hell,
Devadatta is fixed for a kalpa,
Devadatta is incurable,"

Devadatta was angry
and displeased with you for these words?'

Prince, the recluse Gotama,
on being asked this double-edged question by you
will neither be able to spew out
nor swallow down (the puzzle).

Just like an iron hook
stuck in a man's throat
that he can neither spew out
nor swallow down,
even so, Prince, the recluse Gotama,
on being asked this double-edged question by you,
will neither be able to spew out
nor swallow down (the puzzle)."

At that time an innocent little baby boy
was lying on its back[11]
on Prince Abhaya's knees.

Then the Lord spoke thus to Prince Abhaya:

"What [395] do you think about this, Prince?

If this boy
owing to your carelessness
or that of his nurse
were to put a stick or stone into his mouth,
what would you do for him?"

"I would get it out, revered sir.

And if I, revered sir,
were not able to get it out at once,
then taking hold of his head with my left hand,
crooking a finger,
I would get it out with my right hand,
even though it were with blood.

What is the reason for this?

Revered sir, I have compassion for the boy."

"Even so, Prince,
whatever speech the Tathaagata knows to be not fact,
not true,
not connected with the goal,
and that is not liked by others,
disagreeable to them,
that speech the Tathaagata does not utter.

And whatever speech a Tathaagata knows to be fact,
true,
but not connected with the goal,
and not liked by others,
disagree- [63] able to them,
neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.

And whatever speeeh the Tathaagata knows to be fact,
true,
connected with the goal,
but not liked by others,
disagreeable to them,
the Tathagata is aware of the right time
for explaining that speech.

Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be not fact,
not true,
not connected with the goal,
but that is liked by others,
agreeable to them,
that speech the Tathagata does not utter.

And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact,
true,
but not connected with the goal,
yet liked by others,
agreeable to them,
neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.

And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact,
true,
connected with the goal,
and liked by others,
agreeable to them,
the Tathagata is aware of the right time
for explaining that speech.

What is the reason for this?

It is, Prince, that the Tathagata has compassion for creatures."

"Revered sir, if those who are learned nobles
and learned brahmans
and learned householders
and learned recluses
approach the Tathagata
and ask him a question they have constructed -
has the Lord already reflected in his mind on this,
thinking:

'Whoever, having approached me,
questions me like this,
then, asked thus,
I will answer them thus,
or does (the answer) occur to a Tathagata immediately?"[12]

"Well then, Prince,
I will ask you a question in return.

As it may please you,
so may you answer it.

What do you think about this, Prince?

Are you skilled in the various parts of a chariot?"

"Yes, revered sir,
I am skilled in the various parts of a chariot."

"What do you think about this, Prince?

If those who have approached you
should ask thus:

'What is the name
of this particular part of the chariot?'

would you have already [396] reflected on this in your mind,
thinking:

'If those who have approached me
should ask thus,
then I will answer them thus,'

or would (the answer) occur to you immediately?"

"Because, revered sir,
I am a renowned charioteer,
skilled in the various parts of a chariot,
all the particular parts of a chariot
are fully known to me,
so (the answer) would occur to me immediately."

"Even so, Prince,
if those who are learned nobles
and learned brahmans
and learned householders
and learned recluses
approach the Tathaagata
and ask him a question they have constructed,
(the answer) occurs to the Tathaagata immediately.

What is the reason [64] for this?

It is, Prince, that the constitution of dhamma[13]
is fully penetrated by the Tathaagata,
and because of his full penetration
of the constitution of dhamma
(the answer) occurs to the Tathaagata immediately."

When this had been said,
Prince Abhaya spoke thus to the Lord:

It is excellent, revered sir,
it is excellent, revered sir.

It is as if, one might set upright what had been upset,
or might disclose what was covered,
or point out the way
to one who had gone astray,
or might bring an oil-lamp into the darkness
so that those with vision might see material shapes -
even so is dhamma made clear
in many a figure by the the Lord.

I am going to the Lord for refuge,
and to dhamma
and to the Order of monks.

May the Lord accept me
as a lay-follower,
one gone for refuge from today forth
for as long as life lasts."

Discourse to Prince Abhaya:
The Eighth

 


[1] Son of King Bimbisara.

[2] cf. S. iv. 323.

[3] aapaayika, a man in "Misery." These and the following three expressions are also found at Vin. ii. 202, It. p. 85, A. iii. 402, iv. 160, etc. Cf. Vin. Texts iii. 262, n. 3.

[4] kappa.t.tha, endures for an eon in these states (Misery and Hell), incapable of winning out of them to happier births during this eon, kappa.

[5] atekiccha. Mrs. Rhys Davids, G.S. iii. p. xiv refers to atekiccha as having "the fearful implication, possibly monkish, of a Buddhist hell that is unending," or, as MA. iii. 108 says, buddhasahassena, while a thousand Buddhas come and go. Certainly the Hell, for Devadatta, endures as long as the kalpa, but the kalpa, as in Hindu philosophy, is regarded as subject to "involution," absorption, rest, before it evolves or manifests again - and endlessly again. Only the major, almost symbolical events are repeated in each kalpa; the details vary, so after this kalpa Devadatta is no longer doomed to states of misery and Hell.

[6] Cf. Miln.. 108, 162; K.S. iv. 229, n., "the horns of a dilemma."

[7] Cf. Miln.. 5.

[8] attacatuttho, himself as the fourth, as at M. iii. 145, A. iii. 30. MA. iii. 109 says Abhaya did not ask more in case they quarrelled, nor did he ask them individually lest he was reproached for miserliness, but he compromised by asking three with Gotama as the fourth.

[9] eka.msena. No doubt referring to the two-edged question the Jains planned to ask Gotama so as to trip him up. Cf. eka.msavaado at M. ii. 197.

[10] anassu.m, are frustrated. MA. iii. 109 says na.t.thaa, lost, destroyed, perished. The meaning is that in view of this counter-question of Gotama's, the Jains are already defeated as the further questions they had devised would now be meaningless.

[11] Cf. A. iii. 6. For the opening phrase, cf. M. i. 324, ii. 24.

[12] .thanaso, both on the spot (.thaanuppattika) and at that moment (tath kha.na.m). It means "without an interval or a cause (of change), at once, immediately, spontaneously, impromptu." P.E.D.

[13] The word dhammadhaatu, as the ultimate principle or own-nature, own-being, self-nature, of dhamma occurs also at D. ii. 8. It is explained at MA. iii. 113 as dhammasabhaava. At S. ii. 143, Netti. 64, Vism. 486 it would seem to be used in the sense of mental state considered as an irreducible element, cf. Dhs. 67, 69, Vbh. 87, 89. For a more detailed discussion of the Buddha's "power of immediate response," see A.K. Coomaraswamy, Some Pali Words, H.J.A.S., vol. IV, No. 2, July 1939, p. 188.

 


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