Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
3. Paribbājaka 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 71

Tevijja-Vacchagotta Suttaɱ

The True Three-Fold Lore


[481] [339]

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

Once the Lord was staying at Vesālī
in the Great Wood in the Gabled Hall,
and at the same time
the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta was resident in the Wanderers' Pleasaunce
where the White Mango stands alone.

Early in the morning,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
the Lord came into Vesālī for alms,
but, reflecting that it was too early yet,
[340] settled to go to the Wanderers' Pleasaunce
and visit Vaccha-gotta, - as he did.

From some way off
the Wanderer saw the Lord coming and said:

Sir, let the Lord be pleased to draw near;
the Lord is right welcome;
it is a very long time
since the Lord managed to come here.

Let the Lord be seated;
here is a seat set for him.

The Lord having seated himself accordingly,
Vaccha-gotta the Wanderer [482] took a low seat for himself to one side
and thus began:

I have heard it said that the recluse Gotama[1] is allknowing and all-seeing,
with nothing outside his ken and vision,
and that he claims that,
whether he is walking or standing still,
whether he is asleep or awake,
his ken and vision stand ready,
aye ready.

Pray, sir, is this witness true,
not misrepresenting the Lord
and not mis-stating the gist of his Doctrine?

The witness, Vaccha, is not true;
it imputes to me what is false and untrue.

Well, sir, what account ought we to give of the Lord,
so as not to misrepresent him
or misinterpret the gist of his Doctrine
or entail the censure of an orthodox expositor thereof?

He would bear true witness,
neither misrepresenting me
nor misinterpreting the gist of my Doctrine
nor entailing the censure of an orthodox expositor thereof, -
who should say:

The recluse Gotama has the threefold lore (te-vijja).

For, Vaccha,
(i) as long as I please,
I can call to mind all my own past existences,
from a single one onwards,
in all their details and features,
(ii) As long as I please,
I can see - with the Eye Celestial,
which is pure and far surpasses the eye of man -
creatures in act to pass hence and re-appear elsewhere
(etc., as in Sutta No. 4),
(iii) By destroying the Cankers,
I have won that Deliverance of heart and mind
in which no Cankers are;
here and now have I entered on
and abide in this Deliverance,
which of and by myself
I have discerned and realized.

So it would [341] be a true witness, Vaccha,
to say that I have the threefold lore.

[483] At this point Vaccha-gotta the Wanderer put this question:

Is there any layman, Gotama,
who, without shedding the trammels of house and home,
has, at the body's dissolution,
made an end of Ill?

Not one, Vaccha.

Is there any layman
who, without shedding the shackles of house and home,
has, at the body's dissolution,
got to heaven?

Not one hundred,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred,
have achieved this;
there are many more laymen than that
who, without discarding the trammels of house and home,
have, at the body's dissolution,
got to heaven.

Has any Mendicant (ājīvaka) at death
ever made an end of Ill?

Not one.

Has any Mendicant at death
got to heaven?

Going back in memory for ninety - one aeons,
I can only recall one single Mendicant who did; -
and he preached a gospel of Karma
and the after-consequences of actions.

On this showing, Gotama,
that school's efficacy
is wholly impotent to get a man even to heaven.

Yes, Vaccha; it is so.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart, the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


[1] This is the claim of the Jain Nāthaputta in (e.g. ) the 14th Sutta. Cf. Sutta No. 76

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