Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
1. Mūla-Paṇṇāsa
4. Mahā Yamaka Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 31

Cūḷa Gosiṅga Suttaɱ

In Gosinga Wood



[1][pts][ntbb][upal][than] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying in the Giñjak-āvasatha (brick-hall) at Nādika,
the reverend Anuruddha, Nandiya, and Kimbila[1]
were staying in Gosinga wood
where the sāl-trees stand.

At eventide the Lord,
rising up from his meditations,
went to Gosinga,
but the keeper, seeing [149] him approaching at a distance,
said to the Lord:

Don't go into this wood, recluse.

Three young men are living there for their souls' good.

Do not disturb them.

Hearing the keeper cautioning the Lord, Anuruddha said:

Good keeper, do not warn off the Lord.

It is the Lord, our master, who has come!

Then Anuruddha went and told the two others to come along,
for their master, the Lord, had come.

So all three advanced to meet him, -
one relieving him of his bowl and robe,
while another set a seat for him,
and the third brought water for his feet.

Sitting down on the seat set for him,
the Lord bathed his feet;
and when, after due obeisance,
the three had taken their seats to one side,
the Lord spoke thus to the reverend Anuruddha:

Pray, is all well with you three?

Are you getting on all right?

Is there no shortage of alms?

Yes, Lord; all is well with us;
we are getting on all right;
there is no shortage of alms.

Pray, do you all live together in concord and amity,
without quarrels,
in harmony and unison,
viewing one another with eyes of affection?

Yes, sir, we do.


I feel, sir, that it is a great thing for me,
a very great thing,
to have such fellows in the higher life.

I minister to my two reverend associates -
both openly and in secret -
with acts of love,
with words of love,
and with thoughts of love.

My yearning -
and indeed my practice, too -
is to surrender my own will
and to live according to the will of my reverend associates.

We have more than one body
but only one will, methinks.

And the venerable Nandiya
and the venerable Kimbila
answered the Lord's question in precisely the same words.

Good, very good, said the Lord to the three, -
going on to ask whether their lives
were strenuous and ardent
and purged of self.

Yes, sir, was their answer.


[150] [2]Among us, the first back from collecting alms in the village
sets the seats ready,
and gets water to drink
and to wash up with,
together with the bowl for the pieces.

Should he find any rice over,
the last back eats it if he wants to,
or, if he does not want to,
throws it away where no grass grows
or in water where there are no living creatures.

He puts away the seats
and the water
and the bowl for the pieces,
and sweeps the refectory.

Whoso sees empty the vessels for water to drink,
or to wash up with,
or for ablution after an occasion,
sees to filling them;
but if the weight is too heavy for him alone,
we sign with our hands for another to help,
without uttering a word for this purpose.

This is how our lives
are strenuous,
and purged of self.

Good, very good, said the Lord to the three.

But, tell me, he added,
in living lives thus strenuous, ardent, and purged of self,
have you risen beyond the ordinary
to any wholly noble excellence of well-being?

How, sir, could it be otherwise with us?

For as long as we will,
it is ours,
divested of pleasures of sense
and divested of wrong states of consciousness,
to, enter on,
and abide in,
the First -
the Second -
the Third -
and the Fourth Ecstasy.

Each of these is,
beyond the ordinary,
a wholly noble excellence of wellbeing,
each in turn superior to its forerunner.

Pressed further by question after question,
the three told how,
by passing altogether beyond perceptions of material objects,
and by ceasing from perceptions of sense-reactions,
and by withdrawing attention from multiplicity,
it was theirs,
for as long as they would,
to enter on,
and abide in,
the plane of infinity of space,
or, successively,
the planes of infinity of mind -
or of Naught -
or of neither perception nor nonperception; -
or, lastly,
by passing altogether beyond the plane of neither perception nor non-perception,
to enter on,
and abide in,
the cessation of all perception of [151] things felt,
plenitude of knowledge giving them vision
and the Cankers within them being extirpated.

Each of these, said they, is, beyond the ordinary,
a wholly noble excellence of well-being,
each in turn superior to its forerunner.

But beyond the last
we discern no other stage of well-being
higher or more excellent.

Good, very good, said the Lord; -
higher stage there is none.

Then he proceeded by homily to instruct,
help onward,
and cheer forward those three, -
after which he arose and went his way.

After they had escorted the Lord on his way
and had come back again,
Nandiya and Kimbila said to Anuruddha:

Have we ever told the reverend Anuruddha of our reaching this or that attainment,
that he represented all this to the Lord
up to the extirpation of the Cankers?

No; you never told me of your attainments,
but my heart read the secrets of your hearts
and saw that it was so.

Moreover, deities reported it to me.

So I announced the fact to the Lord,
when questioned by him.

There came to the Lord
the outlandish fairy named Dīgha,[3]
who, after due obeisance,
stood to one side, saying:

It is a great thing for the Vajjians,
a very great thing for the Vajjian race,
to have dwelling (in their country)
the Truth-finder,
and these three young men,
the venerable Anuruddha, Nandiya, and Kimbila!

These words of his
were taken up in turn
and shouted aloud
by the gods of earth,
by the gods of the Four Great Regents,
by the gods of the Thirty-three,
by the gods of Yama,
by the Tusita gods,
by the Nimmana-rati gods,
by the Para-nimmita-Vasavatti gods,
and lastly by the train of gods in the world of Brahma.[4]

Thus, in that single moment,
in that very instant, [152] these three reverend men became known
right up to the world of Brahmā.

Quite so, Dīgha; quite so.

If the family from which they went forth from home to homelessness,
will remember these three with believing hearts,
then long will that family too
enjoy weal and welfare, -
as also will their group of families,
their village,
their township,
their city,
and their country;
yea, also the whole of the Nobles,
and of the brahmins,
and of the middle-classes (vessa),
and of the peasantry (sudda);
yea, the whole universe
with its gods, Māras,
recluses and brahmins,
embracing all gods and mankind.

See, Dīgha, how,
walking for the weal and welfare of folk
and in compassion for the world,
these three young men
enure to the good
and weal
and welfare
of gods and men.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
the outlandish fairy named Dīgha
rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


[1] These three were living together (elsewhere) at III, 155. See also I, 462 and the Vinaya account (S.B.E. XX, 228) of Gotama's six early converts (including his cousins Ãnanda and Devadatta) from his own clan.

S.B.E. XIII, pg. 325: "At that time the blessed Buddha dwelt at Sâvatthi, in the Getavana, the garden of Anâthapindika. At that time a number of Bhikkhus, companions and friends of each other, entered upon Vassa in a certain district of the Kosala country. Now those Bhikkhus thought: 'What shall we do in order that we may keep Vassa well, in unity, and in concord, and without quarrel, and that we may not suffer from want of food?'

2. Then those Bhikkhus thought: 'If we do not speak to or converse with each other, if he who comes back first from the village, from his alms-pilgrimage, prepares seats, gets water for washing the feet, a foot-stool, and a towel1, cleans the slop-basin and gets it ready, and puts there (water to) drink and food,--

3. 'And if he who comes back last from the village, from his alms-pilgrimage, eats, if there is any food left (from the dinner of the other Bhikkhus) and if he desires to do so; and if he does not desire (to eat), throws it away at a place free from grass, or pours it away into water in which no living things are; puts away the water for washing the feet, the foot-stool, and the towel1; cleans the slop-basin and puts it away, puts the water and the food away, and sweeps the dining-room,--

4. 'And if he, who sees a water-pot, or a bowl for food, or a vessel for evacuations, empty and void, puts it (into its proper place), and if he is not able to do so single-handed, calls some one else and puts it away with their united effort without uttering a word on that account,--thus shall we keep Vassa well, in unity, and in concord, and without quarrel, and not suffer from want of food.'

5-7. And those Bhikkhus did not speak to or converse with each other. He who came back from the village from his alms-pilgrimage first, prepared seats (etc., as above, § 4, down to) without uttering a word on that account."

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] For this paragraph, see S.B.E. XIII, 325, where the slightly fuller account in the Vinaya of procedure during the rainy season is given.

Carlos Casteneda's Don Juan describes certain very long-lived (thousands of years old) beings that could be described as on-earth devas, whose shape to the seer was extraordinarily long and thin. They span vast stretches of Time in this way by spreading themselves very thinly.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3] Or perhaps Dīgha (i.e. long) means a snake. Bu. thinks para-jana (outlandish) was the yakkha's name. The rendering fairy for yakkha is borrowed from Dialogues III, 188, note 6.

[4] See Dialogues I, 280 for this list.

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