Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
4. Rāja Vagga

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

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

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

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 90

Kaṇṇakatthala Suttaɱ

Omniscience and Omnipotence


[125] [66]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Ujjuññā in the deer-park of Kaṇṇakatthala,
Pasenadi, king of Kosala,
who was at Ujjuññā on some business or other,
sent a messenger to bow his head at the Lord's feet
as he asked in the king's name
after the Lord's health,
and to say that soon after his meal
the king would come to see him.

This message was duly delivered.

On hearing of his projected visit,
the two sisters,
Queen Somā and Queen Sakulā [126] came to the king in the refectory
with the request that he would make -
in their names -
the like enquiry about the Lord's health.

[67] On paying his visit after his meal,
the king, after saluting the Lord,
seated himself to one side
and delivered the message sent by the two sisters.

How comes it, sire,
that they found no other messenger?

As they heard I was coming here to-day,
they asked me to convey their enquiries in person.

May good fortune attend them, sire!

Then said the king: -

I have heard it said
that the recluse Gotama declares
no recluse or brahmin can ever,
in the plenitude of ken and vision,
claim absolute knowledge and insight.

[127] Now, is this witness true, -
not misrepresenting the Lord
and not misstating the gist of his doctrine?

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

Said the king to Viḍūḍabha the general: -

Who put this story about in the palace?

The brahmin Sañjaya Ākāsagotta, sire.

Sending a messenger to summon the brahmin to his presence,
the king said: -

Can it be that,
though originally uttered about something else,
the Lord's words have been transferred by people
to a quite different subject?

In what sense does the Lord acknowledge
having made his statement?

What I acknowledge having said was that,
at one and the same time,
no recluse or brahmin can know and see everything.

and with reference to causation,
the Lord has said this.

[128] Now, sir, is there any distinction or difference
between the four classes of Nobles,
middle-class people
and peasants?

Two out of the four classes take precedence, sire,
in the way these are addressed,
approached and treated.

I was not asking the Lord
about things here and now;
my question relates to their destinies hereafter.

There are five qualities
for striving after the truth. -

(i) An Almsman has confidence,
is confident,
is sure of the Truth-finder's enlightenment,
namely that his Lord,
arahat all-enlightened,
walks by knowledge,
is blessed,
understands all worlds,
and is the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of gods and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment;
(ii) he has health and strength,
having a good digestion
maintained by humours
neither too hot nor too cold
but medium and apt for the struggle;
(iii) he is not dishonest nor underhand,
but reveals his true nature to his master
or to sage brethren in the higher life; (iv) he is resolute,
ever discarding wrong states of mind
and fostering right states,
ever staunch and stout of purpose,
persistent in right mindedness; and
(v) he has a wit
that pierces through the rise and fall of things,
that is noble and penetrating,
that leads to the utter destruction of Ill.

If [68] now the four classes possess these five qualities,
it will be to their abiding weal and welfare.

If all four classes [129] had all five qualities,
would there be any distinction or difference between them?

I premise, sire,
differing degrees of capacity.

It is just as though there were one pair of young elephants
or colts
or steers
who had been schooled and trained,
while another pair had not.

Would the first pair,
being trained,
attain to trained capacity
and rank as trained?


Would the second pair,
being untrained,
do the same?


It is just the same, sire,
with what an Almsman can achieve
with confidence,
strenuous effort
and understanding.

He cannot possibly achieve it
without such an equipment.

and with reference to causation,
the Lord has said this.

If, now, all four classes
had all five qualities
and had them to the full,
would there then be any distinction
or difference between them?

In such case,
I recognize no difference, -
that is to say,
in Deliverance as against Deliverance.

It is just like one man
lighting a fire with a dry stick of brushwood,
and a second man [180] lighting his with a stick of sal-wood,
while a third man employs a mango stick
and the fourth a stick of figwood.

Would you expect any difference
in flame, hue or brilliance
between the four fires,
though kindled from different woods?


It is just the same, sire,
with the illumination
which is kindled by effort
and fired by striving.

Therein, I recognize no difference, -
that is to say,
in Deliverance as against Deliverance.

and with reference to causation,
the Lord has said this. -

Are there gods, sir?

Why ask such a question?

Do gods come back to life on earth or not?

[69] The malign do;
the benign do not.

At this point Viḍūḍabha asked the Lord
whether the malign gods
who must return to an earthly life
can expel or banish from their abodes
those benign gods
who will never return to earth.

Thought the reverend Ānanda: -

This Viḍūḍabha is the son of Pasenadi, king of Kosala;
and I am the Lord's son.

Now is the time for son to talk with son.

So he said to Viḍūḍabha: -

I will ask you a question in return,
for such
answer as you may see fit to give.

In the kingdom of Kosala
and within the range of his sovereignty and sway,
[181] has the king power to expel or banish
any recluse or brahmin,
anyone either virtuous or not virtuous,
anyone leading or not leading the higher life?

Yes, my good sir;
he has that power.

Has he that power outside his own dominions?


Have you ever heard of the Thirty-three gods?

Oh, yes;
and so has his majesty.

Tell me;
can the king of Kosala
expel or banish them from their abodes?

Why, he cannot even see them,
much less expel or banish them.

Just in the same way, general,
the malign gods
cannot even see the benign gods,
much less expel
or banish them from their abodes.

What is the name, sir,
of this Almsman? asked the king.

Ānanda, sire.

Joyous (Ānanda) is his name,
and joyous is his nature.

He spoke causally [182] and with reference to causation. -

Does Brahmā exist?

Why ask such a question?

Does he,
or does he not,
return to life on earth?

A malign Brahmā does;
a benign Brahmā does not.

At this point,
the brahmin Sañjaya Ākāsagotta was announced
and was asked by the king
who put that story about in the palace.

It was Viḍūḍabha, the general,
said the brahmin.

[70] It was the brahmin Safijaya Akasagotta,
said the general.

The king's carriage being now announced,
the king said to the Lord: -

I asked the Lord about omniscience
and he explained omniscience to me
in a manner which pleases,
satisfies and gladdens me.

I asked him about the purity of the four classes
and he explained it to me
in a manner which pleases,
satisfies and gladdens me.

I asked him about the supreme Brahmā
and he explained him to me
in a manner which pleases,
satisfies and gladdens me.

The Lord has explained to me
everything about which I asked,
in a manner which pleases,
satisfies and gladdens me.

But now [188] I must be going, sir;
I have much to do and attend to.

At your pleasure, sire.

Having expressed his satisfactions and thanks
for what the Lord had told him,
Pasenadi, king of Kosala, saluted the Lord
and with deep reverence departed.

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