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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[232] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Beggars who is skilled in the use of the Element of Fire (tejo-dhatukusalanam) is Sāgato.


(DPPN: He was the personal attendant of the Buddha at the time when Sona Kolvisa visited Bimbisara, with overseers of the eighty thousand townships of Bimbisara's kingdom. Sāgata was endowed with supernatural power, and the overseers, who went to visit the Buddha at Gijjhakuta, were very impressed by his iddhi, so much so that even while the Buddha was preaching they could not take their eyes off him. The king thereupon asked Sāgata to show them a greater marvel, and Sāgata, having shown in the open sky wonders of various kinds, fell at the Buddha's feet and declared the Buddha his teacher.

Later, when the Buddha went to stay in Bhaddavatika, having heard men warn the Buddha of the proximity of a Naga of great power in the Jatila hermitage at Ambatittha, Sāgata went there and lived in the Naga's abode. The Naga showed great resentment, but Sāgata overpowered him with his iddhi and then returned to Bhaddavatika. From there he went with the Buddha to Kosambī, where the lay disciples, hearing of his wondrous feat, paid him great honor. When they asked what they could do for his comfort, he remained silent, but the Chabbaggiya (the Notorious Group of Six Beggars) suggested that they should provide him with white spirits.

The next day, when Sāgata went for alms, he was invited to various houses, where the inmates plied him with intoxicating drinks. So deep were his potations that on his way out of the town he fell prostrate at the gateway. The monks carried him, and at the monastery they laid him down with his head at the Buddha's feet, but he turned round so that his feet lay towards the Buddha. The Buddha pointed out his condition to the monks, using it as an example of the evil effects of liquor; and he made this the occasion for the passing of a rule against the use of alcohol. It is said that on the next day, when Sāgata came to himself and realized the enormity of his offence, he sought the Buddha and, having begged his forgiveness, developed insight, attaining arahantship. The Buddha later declared him foremost among those skilled in the contemplation of the heat-element (tejodhatukusalanam).)

Habitual drunkenness brings one to Hell, Beggars!
Of trifling consequence is the fact that it
Leads to madness in the here and now.