Aṅguttara Nikāya

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Aṅguttara Nikāya
4. Catukka Nipāta
IV. Cakka Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Fours
IV: The Wheel

Sutta 39

Ujjāya Suttaɱ


Translated from the Pali by F. L. Woodward, M.A.

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[42] [49]

[1][bodh] Thus have I heard:

On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying near Sāvatthī.

Now the brahmin Ujjaya came to visit the Exalted One,
and on coming to him
greeted him courteously,
and after the exchange of greetings and courtesies
sat down at one side.

So seated
the brahmin Ujjaya said this
to the Exalted One:

"Pray, does the worthy Gotama praise sacrifice?"[2]

'No, brahmin,
I do not praise every sacrifice.

Yet I would not withhold praise
from every sacrifice.

In whatever sacrifice, brahmin,
cows are slaughtered,
goats and sheep are slaughtered,
poultry and pigs are slaughtered
and divers living creatures
come to destruction, -
such sacrifice, brahmin,
which involves butchery
I do not praise.

Why so?

To such a sacrifice, brahmin,
involving butchery
neither the worthy ones
nor those who have entered on the worthy way[3]
draw near.

But in whatever sacrifice, brahmin,
cows are not slaughtered
goats and sheep are not slaughtered,
poultry and pigs are not slaughtered
and divers living creatures
come not to destruction,
such sacrifice
not involving butchery
I do praise;
such as, for instance,
a long-established charity,
an oblation for the welfare of the family.[4]

Why so?

Because, brahmin, the worthy ones,
those who have entered on the worthy way,
do draw near to such a sacrifice
which involves not butchery.

[50] The sacrifice of horse and human life,[5]
The throwing of the peg,[6] the drinking-rite;[7]
The house unbarred, with all their cruelty
Have little fruit. Where goats and sheep and kine
Of divers sorts are sacrificed, go not
Those sages great who've travelled the right way.[8]
But sacrifices free from cruelty
Which men keep up for profit of the clan.
Where goats and sheep and kine of divers sorts
Are never sacrificed, - to such as these
Go sages great who've travelled the right way.
Such should the thoughtful celebrate: and great
The fruit of such; profit they bring, not loss.
Lavish the offering, devas therewith are pleased.'


[1] This brahmin questions the B. at A. iv, 285.

[2] Yañña.

[3] Araha-magga, not arahatta-magga (as in Pāli Dict.).

[4] This would be the pitri-yajna, acc. to Comy.

[5] Part of these gathas occurs at A. iv, 151; Itiv. 21, in a set on 'cultivating amity'; Sn. v. 303; the whole at S. i, 76 = K.S. i, 102, where see notes. Our Comy., which = SnA. 321, differs somewhat from SA. i, 145 ff., where the primitive form of these sacrifices is explained as harmless before the time of the rajah Okkāka. The assa-medha was then sassa-m. (sacrifice for a good harvest); the purisa-m. was a general feed of six months' duration, medha being called medhāvitā, shrewdness (in social functions). The sammā-pāsa was then called 'a bond to bind men's hearts.' The word vāja-peyya was originally vāca-peyya, affability in address, calling a person 'dear' or 'uncle': it was in short piya-vācā. Such security prevailed that all kept open doors, unbolted (niraggala). These older phrases are called by SA. 'the four bases of sympathy'; cf. supra, § 2 and AA. on A. iv, 151. But, as said above, they had now degenerated into bloody sacrifices and orgies. The whole story of Okkāka and the brahmins will be found at Sn., p. 50 (Brahmatia-dhammika-sutta).

[6] Comy. 'Every day they threw a sammā, pin of a yoke or a peg, and where it fell they built an altar for sacrifice.'

[7] Text should read vāja- for vāca-.

[8] Sammaggatā = samyak gatā; cf. supra, araha-magga.

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