Aṅguttara Nikāya

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Aṅguttara Nikāya

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
II. The Book of the Fours


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We have once more to congratulate both ourselves and the translator on his completion of yet another volume of scholarly work in the fourth of the Nikāyas of the Pali Canon. It is not the first English rendering, for this was published eight years ago, as Numerical Sayings, by A.D. Jayasundere of Ceylon, in Ceylon. Mr. Woodward edited this volume and versified the gāthās; hence is he doubly fit to be, in our issue, the sole translator. In availing myself of his invitation, given with self-effacing courtesy, to contribute some prefatory comments, I have at heart a twofold apologia for saying anything at all, beyond the expression of my own gratitude for the help he has rendered to all students of Buddhism. This is the will to put forward suggestive points for the future historian of the Pali Canon, and the will to direct the student how he should read this or any portion of the Buddhist 'Bible.' These, coupled with my long experience, are my only justification.

And first I would have both reader and prospective historian note, in this grade of the Fours as elsewhere, the evidences of editorial handling. There is, constantly recurring, the feature of parallel versions. Note, e.g., Suttas 87-90, 161-68, 201-5 and 247-50, etc. If we bear in mind that the teaching was for centuries purely oral, and handed on by repeaters located at centres increasingly distant one from the other (as the cult grew), the inevitableness of differing versions of the same theme becomes obvious. Let us now see, in the teaching, a system of a mantra or 'text' in fixed wording, with exposition of it left to the more or less freely spoken comment of the teacher; the case is strengthened. Let us finally see creeping in as equally inevitable a partial forgetting of [vi] the episode which may have led to the mantra being uttered, with the making good, at some later date of revising under much-changed conditions, and our meeting with inconsistencies and improbabilities is accounted for, if not explained. We no longer wonder at the verse not fitting the prose, as e.g. on pages 65, 66. Nor at the slight, but perhaps much-saying difference in the prose and verse of the unique Sutta 36:

Prose:- Buddho ti mam dharehi ...

Verse:- tasma buddho 'smi ...

where the verse says 'hence am I a wise man,' but the less well remembered prose has 'esteem me as" the Wise Man!"' One might say that in this little change the whole history of Buddha-cult lies in miniature. For is it conceivable that the Sakyamuni should have been called 'Buddha' in his day and bidden men call him so, when at the First and Second Councils he is not once referred to as such, but only as Bhagava and Teacher (Satthar)? The style in the ending of the prose is as manifest a gloss as anyone could wish to see.[1]

There is another more obvious gloss added, in the prose only, to a Sutta of the utmost importance, albeit Buddhists, so far as I have seen, ignore it entirely: No. 21.[2] We see Gotama at the inception of his mission electing to worship the Highest, not under the aspect of Source and Enfolder of all (Brahman), not under the aspect of the great or ideal (or potential) self in the man, but under the aspect of the inner sense of right-Dharma, which we have come to call conscience, but which our own poet called 'that Deity within my bosom.'[3]

[vii] At the end egregious editors have dragged in the Saṅgha as also voted worshipful by the founder. And the Commentator, as if this were not enough, tells with an incredible pettiness when it was, and what for, that the founder deemed it honoured.

It is surely plain that we are, in this Nipāta, as indeed in all the Nikāyas, in a scene of changed and of yet changing values. The Sakyan missioners' teaching still peeps out here and there, but the prevailing, the emphasized doctrines and outlook are those of the monk. 'The Buddhist system,' to use Dr. Geiger's term, is well on its way, though the early mediaeval culmination of it is not yet on the stage. If I harp upon this, it is because that 'system' and the original message are still, not only by Buddhists but also by scholars, so confounded one with the other, that the founder is shown as giving out mainly to monks a rule and ideal for monks. He set man, Everyman, on a quest to make-become the More that was in and before man. The 'system' makes him out as bidding man aim at a Less in and before him.

Thus in the Sutta on 'The Unthinkables,'[4] how is there not a barring the man from growth in new knowledge, understanding, will! He was not to seek to follow the leader's 'range,' for had he not deified him into a superman? Next musing (jhāna) was not to be fearlessly pursued - why? Because it had ceased to be a help to happy and helpful converse with the worthy of other worlds; it was becoming a losing oneself in this or that abstract idea.[5] Then the result of a man's deeds was to be put aside; in other words, the older teaching of the man judged by former fellow-men after death was shelved; the monk was to aim only at a waning out from the worlds in this very life. Lastly, man was not to study the universe - note how the Commentary shrivels up such study - and so the whole field of research in the material and the immaterial is barred. Elsewhere, too, ideals are sought in negation, in riddance, in avoidance - the reader cannot fail to see this. We hear so much more, for instance, of getting [viii] rid of 'āsavas * than of rich, full growth in real worth. It is the bad old method of a sick man dwelling on his 'symptoms' rather than on his becoming well.

It may be said, this is Indian way of speech and ideal. May be; yet I do not see it preponderant in the Upanishads as I do in the Suttas. Nor is the difference surprising. The ideal in the former is not 'anicca, dukkha, anattā' as it is in the monk-outlook. Moreover, in the growing monasticism, not the immanent ideal Self only, but the man, the minor self, was becoming a not-real entity, albeit the Saṅgha as yet had not sunk to the nihilism of Buddhadatta and Buddhaghosa. Now, where your man is a vigorous growing sprig of the Divinely Real, you do well to weed the bed around him. But where there is no such slowly expanding long-lived plant, it follows that weeding becomes the chief, nay, the only task.

But the Book of the Fours is by no means at that low ebb. On the contrary, the anattā taught in it is mainly that of the Second Utterance of the Founder. As in the Ones, Twos and Threes, we hear more of the significance of the self, and but little of a not-self. True there is no repetition of the Upanishadic contrast of the Great and the minor self occurring in the Threes (I, p. 227), nor repetition of the Self as Witness within (I, p. 132). But here too we have 'the self reproaching the self' (p. 125), and other striking phrases (pp. 76, 88, 102 f., 122, 125). And the original anattā teaching is only a denying of what a man might wrongly hold to be the self - surely a very different thing from denying his reality. Seeking the master among the staff, as I have said elsewhere,[6] you may say to each servant: 'You are not he!' without meaning: 'You have no master.' I would add here, that it is good to see the translator rendering the Sānkhyan citation na me attā (pp. 171, 178) by 'Not for me (or, to me) is this the self.' Here is the true Indian way. 'This is not my soul' is to talk British.

There is one more word of the original message, in the rendering of which I am glad to hail agreement: the word [ix] Brahman in 'wheel,' 'life' and 'become,' translated either not at all, or as 'God,' taking this word as the absolutely Highest, Most, Best, however otherwise conceived (cf. pp. 9; 6, 28, etc.; 225). It is customary among translators to level down this term. The result is, that your reader of Buddhism-in-translations will glibly tell you Buddhism has nothing to say 'about God'! Verily is ours a heavy responsibility. From the Upanishadic injunction, twice quoted in this work (II, 79; I, 114), to see parents and teachers as, in a way, God, to the perpetual insistence for all men on life-in-worthy-becoming as 'God-life' (Brahmacariya) - the monk-shrivelling of the word as 'celibacy' peeps in only here and there[7] - and back to the early muser in the woods pondering over the new concept of 'becoming God' (Brahmabhūta, p. 225), there is verily plenty in Buddhism 'about God.'

We have thus come round from the later values, that had spread and were yet to spread, to those more precious things in the book: the 'left-ins.' How these may have survived I have suggested in the first volume. There are certainly fewer of them in this volume. We have not, we may never have, the original clue to the editors' plan of numerical graduation for securing some approach to order in a thesaurus, to which the plan of historical sequence was never applied early or late. The Ones will be a quite early collection of sayings about the 'man,' when the following progression had not been devised: - this is a fairly safe guess. But to what extent the Fours and higher numbers (wherein smaller sets are often grouped in one) represent later teachings, one cannot yet dare to say.

Of other left-ins beside the attā-terms when used with appreciation, we see repeated the interesting word 'suitable for becoming' (p. 200; cf. I, 172, and Introduction).[8] Elsewhere, becoming (bhava) is only used in its derived sense of [x] gati (place of living, world) or life itself, e.g. Sutta 185: 'all bhava's are impermanent, painful, of a nature to change' (given, be it noted, as the established, or brahman teaching); again, Sutta 75: 'the perfection of (lit. highest) bhava' (stage of life);[9] and Sutta 38, etc.: 'the quest of bhavas.' There was, as I have elsewhere said, no plural word for 'lives'; 'world' in the plural is very rare in Canonical Pali;[10] hence the use of bhava's to mean these. And so, lives and worlds being in the monk-ideal undesirable, we get the great central word of original Sakya, symbolized by the Way, discredited and abused. Only the causative form (bhāv-) survived in worth, to carry on the founder's teaching, a teaching felt after strongly in the Upanishads, but therein also undergoing discredit.

One subject, however, should be reckoned here as a 'left-in,' and good evidence of older teaching it is. I refer to the predilection betrayed for converse with men of other worlds (as was then meant by the word deva's) by the founder and others equally fortunate in psychic gifts. As the founder is said to word it, it was 'seers of two houses' that we have in him and his circle. In this volume we have not only the striking passage (Sutta 190) describing a man who has access to devas as one who practises jhāna - a passage echoed in early Abhidhamma - but we also meet with a pleasant discourse in the Great Section: 'Heard with the ear' (No. 191), in which life as both a physical and a spiritual becoming is discussed, in terms of converse here and in the beyond, void of any monkish blight on all such.[11] The procedure is as natural and familiar as if the talk had been of schoolboys at school and at home. It is an atmosphere which faded away, or became consigned, as with us, to the plane of myth, legend, Jātaka talk, or Buddha power.

In conclusion three words: the reader should note the recur- [xi] ring mantra: 'There are, exist (or, are found), in the world four (sorts of) men.' It appears with 'three men,' in Vol. I, thirteen times, but here, with 'four men,' thirty-six times. Its occurrence in other sections ('five men,' etc.) is very rare. The same opening occurs twice in the Majjhima (I, 341, 411), but not in the Digha 'fours' (III, 233).

In the first place, we have here the man becoming lessened in worth as man, as homo, by the word puggala, male, being used for purisa, the older form. There was no need to have dragged in this oddly ugly word; there were plenty of man-terms beside purisa; satta, jantu, nara, to give only a few. But, in superseding purisa and attā, with their lofty implication, monasticism was discrediting the earlier religion of Divine Immanence. Man as such was rather a 'rotter,' as boys say, than potentially divine. The scholastic exegesis of Puggla, be it noted, was 'hell-gobbler.' Our historical sense is here blunted in translation. We translate by 'man' or 'person.' But to get the impression originally produced by the substituted Puggla, we should need to translate by 'males,' or 'creatures.'[12]

In the second place, I believe that this mantra was in some way, which is now lost, bound up with, not the lessening of the man or self, but with the very more in his reality and his nature. And this older significance did not depend on the present contents of Suttas with this opening. In the great debate on the reality of the man, said to have been prepared for the Third Council, the Conservative, or defender of the man's reality, as being not a mere matter of a physical and mental flux, insists that the Bhagava always taught - as in this mantra-that 'the man is, exists.' When Buddhists and Indological scholars get a grip on the historical evolution of the religion, from Sakya into a 'Buddhist system,' -yāna or ~vāda, justice will at length be done to the pathetic last stand made by those defenders, in the craftily edited Pugglakathā of the Kathāvatthu. And they may even come to sense behind this Sutta 198 some now utterly lost way, in which [xii] Gotama used to teach the Man under 3 or 4 aspects, a way which has survived, as a changing tradition, only in these few initial words about 'three,' 'four' as a text. For instance, Man, the very man, the self, the man-in-man (whom he bade men seek); (a) as 'in' a body; (b) as 'in' the ways of mind, in both of which he warned men not to see the very Man; (c) as surviving death (viññāṇa); (d) as 'in,' or one of, other men. I shall of course be sharply taken to task for this suggestion. Nevertheless, poor as is the evidence for it, I do believe that he, as a son of India, and as the man of an enlightening mandate in the More in man, will have taught that More under such aspects. We have to account for the defender's insistence.

And then there is in these pages a replica of the Rohitassa Sutta of the Kindred Sayings, which I hold we cannot rightly read as his teaching unless we so see the Man as I have suggested (Suttas 45, 46; K.S. i, 85). Note firstly how, in a gloss, in the last lines of the gāthā, the monk has put his own meaning on to the utterance. Then look for the older teaching. Here we have Man in the body as in his world, his macrocosm, willing naturally to widen his knowledge of it. Here we have Man in the mind, as having his world, his microcosm, in himself, willing naturally to deepen his understanding of it. Here is nothing blameable. The inference is: put him in another body in a new world, and he will there also seek to widen knowledge, to deepen understanding, and by all that to grow, to become. So works man in body, man in mind. But all the while the experiencer, the valuer, the estimator, the judge is not 'mind,' i.e. mindings, but the Man-in-man growing, becoming, in that universe of worlds so largely consisting of his fellow-men. It is the very man who fills space with the world which his senses permit, which his will, his activities help to shape, his 'mind' to infer, to imagine. It is the very man who thus creates, limits, disposes his worlds and their ends. It is the very man who by his life decides his life in his next world, the man whose are body and mind-ways.

Thirdly, the future historian of the first men need not find the cupboard here utterly bare. 1. It is quite in the [xiii] range of possibility that the Vappa in Sutta 195 is one of those five friends in whom the Sakyamuni sought fellow-helpers. We know how slight a part they play in the records after their coming in with him, but the possible reasons for this have never been discussed. Secession on the part of some is possible. Vappa is here called both Sakka, or Sakyan, as the Gotama-men were called, and Nigaṇṭha-disciple or Jain. 2. The Upaka, son of the lady Mandikā (p. 189), is hardly the Upaka to whom the first Utterance was probably rehearsed. As to that the episode has the air of being a half-forgotten patchwork. 3. There is a quite real touch in the Sutta alluding to Anuruddha's detachment from any active share in the communal life (Sutta 241). The actual episode has a crisp touch in its recording. We can almost hear the aged Leader, watchful of, if withdrawn from, that communal life, asking that question: - 'Well, Ānanda, is the squabble over?' The episode, like a Vinaya Sutta, is made the text for a general discourse. But the historian will note it, and how Anuruddha's predilection for living in a 'chummery' is again shown, this time not with the two friends, Nandiya and Kimbila of the Majjhima-Nikāya. 4. It is well, further, to note the growing prestige of Ānanda. It cannot but strike readers of the Canon how much the Saṅgha's esteem for this devoted cousin and attendant of the Leader was, at the First Council, in the balance, and how the patchwork compilation of the Dīgha Suttanta of the Passing of the latter bears this out. That Conference had to make Ānanda their chief informant. On the other hand, he is publicly taken to task and rated for this and that - nay, there was a question of excluding his attendance. It is conceivable, especially if the last tour be carefuÂUy considered, that jealousy or suspicious fear or both were at work. In this volume, as in the first half of the Ānanda-Vagga, Vol. I, we see him respectfully consulted as presumably quite an old man; we see him an attractive but impeccable character; we see him praised in glowing terms. Of greater importance is it to see him, as having the secret of the original teaching, championing the Way - not be it noted an eightfold Way, but the Way of the long growth and becoming. We are reminded [xiv] of how, in the first years of orphanage, he bore eloquent testimony to his lost Leader as the Man of the Way - here, too, just Way (Majjhima-Nikaya, III, Sutta 108).

By way of postscript, I am glad to realize, from the note on Sutta 170, [sic. Sutta 176, page 170] 'Aspiration,' that my rendering in a corresponding Sutta, K.S. ii, 159, was forced. Āyacamāna is the usual word for asking, begging. The Commentary left me quite in the lurch; but the woman, in the context, is apparently telling herself to what she should aspire, lit. ask for. We are here within the domain of what, in all other religions, might be called prayer. I have discussed this in translating the Āṭnāṭiya Sutta (Dialogues, iii, 185 f.; cf. above, Sutta 67). But, as the heirs of an immanent theism, the Sakyans call upon no separate Listener to prayer, but pray by way of the vow, aspiration, or, in the later term, abhinīhāra, resolve: - the May I be! or Let me become! - a placing of the will within the Greater Will.

As I read the proofs of the last sections, I note in the Karma group a Sutta that is both unique and worth while pointing out in yet one more postscript: No. 233: 'Soṇakāyana.' It seems to be one more case, where a refrain common to a group has been patched on to a half-forgotten episode, to which it, the refrain, is a misfit. The refrain deals with the results, moral and hedonistic, of actions. The episode bears on actions under a physical, coupled with a psychological aspect. Thus a brahmin has been told that the samaṇa Gotama proclaims the non-actuality, the non-effect of all actions. He appeals to Gotama whether this is not tantamount to wiping out the reality of a world. Surely it is actions that make the world (for each man) real. A man's world persists through continuous effort on his part. Gotama is made simply to deny having ever met his accuser. Then comes the patched-on gloss.

The question lands us in the heart of our problem of Relativity. That problem, it is true, is as old as man himself. But the critic may say this: It were an anomaly to imagine the Sakyamuni discussing it here; moreover, he had a way of being dumb over problems. Nevertheless we may do well to re- [xv] member this: - We have needed modern physics and modern psychology to make us realize how much, from infancy onwards, each man is constructing his external world, in approximate identity with other men's similar constructive experience. But in Gotama we have (a) a man who lived very close to other worlds, worlds neither above nor below, but interpenetrating. And this: (b) for Gotama, the fact that a man makes his world[13] by his activities from infancy, makes his world by limb, by sense, by mind, will, feeling was, because of his way of living, no mere speculation, but a thing he knew, and knew that any man could know. In so constructing, the man, as I said, both is in his world and also 'makes' that world. Why should the Teacher here have been silent? His true answer has been forgotten.

August, 1932.

Note I. - The problem touched upon above, p. xi, is gone into more fully in 'A Vanished Sakyan Window,' Wintemitz Festschrift, 1933.

Note 2. - I wish to apologize here for having, in Buddhist Anthologies I. (S.B.B.), overlooked the fact that my present colleague published a translation of the Khuddakapāṭha in his Some Sayings of the Buddha (London, 1925). Had I recollected this, I would have gladly compared it with the two previous translations there considered.

Note 3. - I have just found an occurrence of 'worlds' in the plural (see above, p. x) in M. i, p. 213: sahassaɱ lokānaɱ voloketi-. 'surveys a thousand of worlds.' Much more usual is the form sahassadhā loko: 'thousandfold world,' or sahassi-loka-dhātu: 'thousand world-system,' as in G.S. I, p. 206 f. ('worlds' is not in the Pali), or in M. i, 328, or Jāt. i, 132.




As Mrs. Rhys Davids has kindly written her usual Introduction, I have not much to add here, except to thank her for several notes and references, and for looking over the final proof-sheets of this volume, which I was prevented from doing by time and distance. I may, however, draw attention to one or two points of interest to Pali scholars - viz., akukkuccaka-jāta (p. 212), and ummagga (pp. 184, 198). For these see an article in J.R.A.S., July, 1931, where, among others, they are discussed by Mr. E. H. Johnston, with whose conclusions I agree. Also to words like apaṇṇaka (still a riddle), assa (aṅsa)-puṭa (p. 246), kamm'oja (p. 92), and several others which will be found listed in Index No. III. There is also a curious construction (p. 167), so maɱ pañhena, ahaɱ veyyākaraṇena, for which there is a solitary parallel at Mrs. Rhys Davids' Sakya, pp. 336-7.

I may add that a large number of the suttas in this volume appear in Itivuttaka and Puggla-Paññatti, with several differences in readings and form.

West Tamar, Tasmania


[1] I would point out here that Mr. Woodward's translation alone rightly renders the questions as 'will become deva,' etc. The whole Sutta turns on the fate awaiting suoh a man of high worth in survival at death, not on what he now seems to be. Jayasundere and the German translator Nyanatiloka fail to see this. Note too how unjustified, as well as inaccurate, is the title of Not a Man, in Numerical Sayings, for Loke.

[2] The gloss is not in the otherwise identical Kindred Sayings version. Dr. Geiger, in his Dhamma, has recognised the high importance of this reoord (Munich, 1921, Abhandlungen B.A.W., p. 76).

[3] Tempest.

[4] No. 77.

[5] Cf. the formula on p. 193.

[6] Manual of Buddhism (S.P.C.K.), 1932.

[7] In K.S. i, 53, 61, and Sutta-Nipāta, 393.

[8] In Numerical Sayings (p. 247), rendered 'by consideration of appearsnces,' where the word bhavya- is both not understood and passed over.

[9] The text misleads with bhavanga for bhavagga.

[10] See my Manual of Buddhism (1932), p. 121. The reader of translations can see how 'worlds' is not to hand, and is made good by the use of 'with' (sa-):-'with-devas, -Brahmas,' etc. Cf., e.g., p. 25.

[11] The reader should get this atmosphere by considering the first two sections of Kindred Sayings, i. Cf. my op. cit., ch. ix.

[12] We can disregard the apparently very late Sanskrit meaning in pndgala of 'handsome.'

[13] In Indian religious values, the idea that man in and through the sacrificial rite 'makes' the world and body of his rebirth is, e.g. in the Brahmaṇa books, very emphatic.

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