Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ) ]

 

Majjhima Nikaaya
II. Majjhima Pa.n.naasa
4. Raaja Vagga

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha

A'ngulimaala sutta.m

Sutta 86

On Angulimaala

Translated from the Pali by Ñanamoli Thera.
edited and revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

© 1995 Bhikkhu Bodhi
Published by
Wisdom Publications
Boston, MA 02115

Reprinted with permission.

 


 

[1][edmn][chlm][pts][ati][upal] THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Saavatthii in Jeta's Grove, Anaathapi.n.dika's Park.

2. Now on that occasion there was a bandit in the realm of King Pasenadi of Kosala named Angulimaala, who was murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Villages, towns, and districts were laid waste by him. He was constantly murdering people and he wore their fingers as a garland.[820]

3. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Saavatthii for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Saavatthii and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he set his resting place in order, and taking his bowl and outer robe, set out on the road leading towards Angulimaala. Cowherds, shepherds, ploughmen, and travellers saw the Blessed One walking along the road leading towards Angulimaala and told him: "Do not take this road, recluse. On this road is the bandit Angulimaala, who is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Villages, towns, and districts have been laid waste by him. He is constantly murdering people and he wears their fingers as a garland. Men have come along this road in groups of ten, twenty, thirty, and even forty, but still they have fallen into Angulimaala's hands." When this was said the Blessed One went on in silence.
For the second time ... For the third time the cowherds, shep­herds, ploughmen, and travellers told this to the Blessed One, but still the Blessed One went on in silence.

4. The bandit Angulimaala saw the Blessed One coming in the distance. When he saw him, he thought: "It is wonderful, it is marvellous! Men have come along this road in groups of ten, twenty, thirty, and even forty, but still they have fallen into my hands. But now this recluse comes alone, unaccompanied, as if driven by fate. Why shouldn't I take this recluse's life?" Angulimaala then took up his sword and shield, buckled on his bow and quiver, and followed close behind the Blessed One.

5. Then the Blessed One performed such a feat of supernormal power that the bandit Angulimaala, though walking as fast as he could, could not catch up with the Blessed One, who was walking at his normal pace. Then the bandit Angulimaala thought: "It is wonderful, it is marvellous! Formerly I could catch up even with a swift elephant and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift horse and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift chariot and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift deer and seize it; but now, though I am walking as fast as I can, I cannot catch up with this recluse who is walking at his normal pace!" He stopped and called out to the Blessed One: "Stop, recluse! Stop, recluse!"
"I have stopped, Angulimaala, you stop too."
Then the bandit Angulimaala thought: "These recluses, sons of the Sakyans, speak truth, assert truth; but though this recluse is still walking, he says: 'I have stopped, Angulimaala, you stop too.' Suppose I question this recluse."

6. Then the bandit Angulimaala addressed the Blessed One in stanzas thus:

"While you are walking, recluse, you tell me you have stopped;
But now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped.
I ask you now, O recluse, about the meaning:
How is it that you have stopped and I have not?"

"Angulimaala, I have stopped forever,
I abstain from violence towards living beings;
But you have no restraint towards things that live:
That is why I have stopped and you have not."

"Oh, at long last this recluse, a venerated sage,
Has come to this great forest for my sake.[821]
Having heard your stanza teaching me the Dhamma,
I will indeed renounce evil forever."

So saying, the bandit took his sword and weapons
And flung them in a gaping chasm's pit;
The bandit worshipped the Sublime One's feet,
And then and there asked for the going forth.

The Enlightened One, the Sage of Great Compassion,
The Teacher of the world with [all] its gods,
Addressed him with these words, "Come, bhikkhu."
And that was how he came to be a bhikkhu.

7. Then the Blessed One set out to wander back to Saavatthii with Angulimaala as his attendant. Wandering by stages, he eventually arrived at Saavatthii, and there he lived at Saavatthii in Jeta's Grove, Anaathapi.n.dika's Park.

8. Now on that occasion great crowds of people were gathering at the gates of King Pasenadi's inner palace, very loud and noisy, crying: "Sire, the bandit Angulimaala is in your realm; he is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings! Villages, towns, and districts have been laid waste by him! He is constantly murdering people and he wears their fingers as a garland! The king must put him down!"

9. Then in the middle of the day King Pasenadi of Kosala drove out of Saavatthii with a cavalry of five hundred men and set out for the park. He drove thus as far as the road was passable for carriages, and then he dismounted from his carriage and went forward on foot to the Blessed One. After paying homage to the Blessed One, he sat down at one side, and the Blessed One said to him: "What is it, great king? Is King Seniya Bimbisaara of Magadha attacking you, or the Licchavis of Vesaali, or other hostile kings?"

10. "Venerable sir, King Seniya Bimbisaara of Magadha is not attacking me, nor are the Licchavis of Vesaali, nor are other hostile kings. But there is a bandit in my realm named Angulimaala, who is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Villages, towns, and districts have been laid waste by him. He is constantly murdering people and he wears their fingers as a garland. I shall never be able to put him down, venerable sir."

11. "Great king, suppose you were to see that Angulimaala had shaved off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and gone forth from the home life into homelessness; that he was abstaining from killing living beings, from taking what is not given and from false speech; that he was eating only one meal a day, and was celibate, virtuous, of good character. If you were to see him thus, how would you treat him?"
"Venerable sir, we would pay homage to him, or rise up for him, or invite him to be seated; or we would invite him to accept robes, almsfood, a resting place, or medicinal requisites; or we would arrange for him lawful guarding, defence, and protection. But, venerable sir, how could such an immoral man, one of evil character, ever have such virtue and restraint?"

12. Now on that occasion the venerable Angulimaala was sitting not far from the Blessed One. Then the Blessed One extended his right arm and said to King Pasenadi of Kosala: "Great king, this is Angulimaala."
Then King Pasenadi was frightened, alarmed, and terrified. Knowing this, the Blessed One told him: "Do not be afraid, great king, do not be afraid. There is nothing for you to fear from him."
Then the king's fear, alarm, and terror subsided. He went over to the venerable Angulimaala and said: "Venerable sir, is the noble lord really Angulimaala?"
"Yes, great king."
"Venerable sir, of what family is the noble lord's father? Of what family is his mother?"
"My father is a Gagga, great king; my mother is a Mantaani."
"Let the noble lord Gagga Mantaa.niputta rest content. I shall provide robes, almsfood, resting place, and medicinal requisites for the noble lord Gagga Mantaa.niputta."

13. Now at that time the venerable Angulimaala was a forest dweller, an almsfood eater, a refuse-rag wearer, and restricted himself to three robes. He replied: "Enough, great king, my triple robe is complete."
King Pasenadi then returned to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and said: "It is wonderful, venerable sir, it is marvellous how the Blessed One tames the untamed, brings peace to the unpeaceful, and leads to Nibbaana those who have not attained Nibbaana. Venerable sir, we ourselves could not tame him with force and weapons, yet the Blessed One has tamed him without force or weapons. And now, venerable sir, we depart. We are busy and have much to do."
"You may go, great king, at your own convenience."
Then King Pasenadi of Kosala rose from his seat, and after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on his right, he departed.

14. Then, when it was morning, the venerable Angulimaala dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Saavatthii for alms. As he was wandering for alms from house to house in Saavatthii, he saw a certain woman in difficult labour, in painful labour. When he saw this, he thought: "How beings are afflicted! Indeed, how beings are afflicted!"[822]
When he had wandered for alms in Saavatthii and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and said: "Venerable sir, in the morning I dressed, and taking my bowl and outer robe, went into Saavatthii for alms. As I was wandering for alms from house to house in Saavatthii, I saw a certain woman in difficult labour, in painful labour. When I saw that, I thought: 'How beings are afflicted! Indeed, how beings are afflicted!"'

15. "In that case, Angulimaala, go into Saavatthii and say to that woman: 'Sister, since I was born, I do not recall that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life. By this truth, may you be well and may your infant be well!"'
"Venerable sir, wouldn't I be telling a deliberate lie, for I have intentionally deprived many living beings of life?"
"Then, Angulimaala, go into Saavatthii and say to that woman: 'Sister, since I was born with the noble birth, I do not recall that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life. By this truth, may you be well and may your infant be well!'"[823]
"Yes, venerable sir," the venerable Angulimaala replied, and having gone into Saavatthii, he told that woman: "Sister, since I was born with the noble birth, I do not recall that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life. By this truth, may you be well and may your infant be well!" Then the woman and the infant became well.

16. Before long, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the venerable Angulimaala, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now entered upon and abided in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness. He directly knew: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being." And the venerable Angulimaala became one of the arahants.

17. Then, when it was morning, the venerable Angulimaala dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Saavatthii for alms. Now on that occasion someone threw a clod and hit the venerable Angulimaala's body, someone else threw a stick and hit his body, and someone else threw a potsherd and hit his body. Then, with blood running from his cut head, with his bowl broken, and with his outer robe torn, the venerable Angulimaala went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming in the distance and told him: "Bear it, brahmin! Bear it, brahmin! You are experiencing here and now the result of deeds because of which you might have been tortured in hell for many years, for many hundreds of years, for many thousands of years."[824]

18. Then, while the venerable Angulimaala was alone in retreat experiencing the bliss of deliverance, he uttered this exclamation:[825]

"Who once did live in negligence
And then is negligent no more,
He illuminates this world
Like the moon freed from a cloud.

Who checks the evil deeds he did
By doing wholesome deeds instead,
He illuminates this world
Like the moon freed from a cloud.

The youthful bhikkhu who devotes
His efforts to the Buddha's teaching,
He illuminates this world
Like the moon freed from a cloud.

Let my enemies hear discourse on the Dhamma,
Let them be devoted to the Buddha's teaching,
Let my enemies wait on those good people
Who lead others to accept the Dhamma.

[105] Let my enemies give ear from time to time
And hear the Dhamma of those who preach forbearance,
Of those who speak as well in praise of kindness,
And let them follow up with kind deeds.

For surely then they would not wish to harm me,
Nor would they think of harming other beings,
So those who would protect all, frail or strong,
Let them attain the all-surpassing peace.

Conduit-makers guide the water,
Fletchers straighten out the arrow-shaft,
Carpenters straighten out the timber,
But wise men seek to tame themselves.

There are some that tame with beatings,
Some with goads and some with whips;

But I was tamed by such alone
Who has no rod nor any weapon.

Harmless' is the name I bear,
Though I was dangerous in the past.[826]
The name I bear today is true:
I hurt no living being at all.

And though I once lived as a bandit
Known to all as 'Finger-garland,'
One whom the great flood swept along,
I went for refuge to the Buddha.

And though I once was bloody-handed
With the name of 'Finger-garland,'
See the refuge I have found:
The bond of being has been cut.

While I did many deeds that lead
To rebirth in the evil realms,
Yet their result has reached me now,
And so I eat free from debt.[827]

They are fools and have no sense
Who give themselves to negligence,
But those of wisdom guard diligence
And treat it as their greatest good.

Do not give way to negligence
Nor seek delight in sensual pleasures,
But meditate with diligence
So as to reach the perfect bliss.

So welcome to that choice of mine
And let it stand, it was not ill made;
Of all the teachings resorted to,
I have come to the very best.

So welcome to that choice of mine
And let it stand, it was not ill made;
I have attained the triple knowledge
And done all that the Buddha teaches."

 


 

[820] The name "Angulimaala" is an epithet meaning "garland (maalaa) of fingers (anguli)." He was the son of the brahmin Bhaggava, a chaplain to King Pasenadi of Kosala. His given name was Ahi.msaka, meaning "harmless one." He studied at Takkasilaa, where he became his teacher's favourite. His fellow students, jealous of him, told the teacher that Ahi.msaka had committed adultery with his wife. The teacher, intent on bringing Ahi.msaka to ruin, commanded him to bring him a thousand human right­hand fingers as an honorarium. Ahi.msaka lived in the Jaalinii forest, attacking travellers, cutting off a finger of each, and wearing them as a garland around his neck. At the time the sutta opens he was one short of a thousand and had made a determination to kill the next person to come along. The Buddha saw that Angulimaala's mother was on her way to visit him, and aware that Angulimaala had the supporting conditions for arahantship, he intercepted him shortly before his mother was due to arrive.

[821] MA explains that Angulimaala had just realised that the monk before him was the Buddha himself and that he had come to the forest for the express purpose of transforming him.

[822] MT explains the expression muu'hagabbha to mean that the fetus had turned over only partly in the womb and was being expelled horizontally, so that its exit was blocked. MA says that although Angulimaala had killed almost a thousand people, he had never given rise to a thought of compassion. But now, through the power of his ordination, compassion arose in him as soon as he saw the woman in painful labour.

[823] Even today this utterance is often recited by Buddhist monks as a protective charm (paritta) for pregnant women close to their time of delivery.

[824] MA explains that any volitional action (kamma) is capable of yielding three kinds of result: a result to be experienced here and now, i.e., in the same life in which the deed is committed; a result to be experienced in the next existence; and a result to be experienced in any life subsequent to the next, as long as one's sojourn in sa.msaara continues. Because he had attained arahantship, Angulimaala had escaped the latter two types of result but not the first, since even arahants are susceptible to experiencing the present-life results of actions they performed before attaining arahantship.

[825] Several of the verses to follow also appear in the Dhammapada. Angulimaala's verses are found in full at Thag 866-91.

[826] Although MA says that Ahi.msaka, "Harmless," was Angulimaala's given name, the commentary to the Theragaathaa says his original name was Hi.msaka, meaning "dangerous."

[827] Whereas virtuous bhikkhus short of arahants are said to eat the country's almsfood as an inheritance from the Buddha, the arahant eats "free from debt" because he has made himself fully worthy of receiving alms. See Vsm 1, 125-27.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement