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The Questions of King Milinda




Chapter 2


The Abolition of Regulations


1. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it has been said by the Blessed One: "It is by insight, O Bhikkhus, that I preach the law, not without insight."[1] On the other hand he said of the regulations of the Vinaya: "When I am gone, Ānanda, let the Order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor precepts."[2] Were then these lesser and minor precepts wrongly laid down, or established in ignorance and without due cause, that the Blessed One allowed them to be revoked after his death? If the first statement had been true, the second would have been wrong. If the second statement were really made, then the first was false. This too is a double-headed problem, fine, subtle, abstruse, deep, profound, and hard to expound. It is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

2. 'In both cases, O king, the Blessed One said as you have declared. But in the second case it was to test the Bhikkhus that he said it, to try whether, if leave were granted them, they would, after his death, revoke the lesser and minor regulations, or still adhere to them. It runs as if a [203] king of kings were to say to his sons: "This great country, my children, reaches to the sea on every side. It is a hard thing to maintain it with the forces we have at our disposal. So when I am gone you had better, my children, abandon the outlying districts along the border." Now would the princes, O king, on the death of their father, give up those outlying districts, provinces already in their power?'

'No indeed, Sir. Kings are grasping. The princes might, in the lust of power, subjugate an extent of country twice or thrice the size of what they had, but they would never give up what they already possessed.'

'Just so was it, O king, that the Tathāgata to test the Bhikkhus said: "When I am gone, Ānanda, let the Order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor precepts." But the sons of the Buddha, O king, in their lust after the law, and for emancipation from sorrow, might keep two hundred and fifty regulations,[3] but would never give up any one that had been laid down in ordinary course.'

3. 'Venerable Nāgasena, when the Blessed One referred to "lesser and minor precepts," this people might therein [144] be bewildered, and fall into doubt, and find matter for discussion, and be lost in hesitation, as to which were the lesser, and which the minor precepts.'

'The lesser errors in conduct,[4] O king, are the lesser precepts, and the lesser errors in speech[5] are the minor precepts: and these two together make up therefore "the lesser and minor precepts." The [204] leading Elders too of old, O king, were in doubt about this matter, and they were not unanimous on the point at the Council held for the fixing of the text of the Scriptures.[6] And the Blessed One foresaw that this problem would arise.'

'Then this dark saying of the Conquerors, Nāgasena, which has lain hid so long, has been now to-day uncovered in the face of the world, and made clear to all.'

Here ends the problem as to the revocation of rules


Esoteric Teaching


4. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Blessed One: "In respect of the truths, Ānanda, the Tathāgata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher who keeps something back."[7] But on the other hand he made no reply to the question put by the son of the Māluṅkya woman.[8] This problem, Nāgasena, will be one of two ends, on one of which it must rest, for he must have refrained from answering either out of ignorance, or out of wish to conceal something. If the first statement be true it must have been out of ignorance. But [205] if he knew, and still did not reply, then the first statement must be false. This too is a double-pointed dilemma. It is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

5. 'The Blessed One, O king, made that first statement to Ānanda, and he did not reply to Māluṅkya-putta's question. But that was neither out of ignorance, nor for the sake of concealing anything. There are four kinds of ways in which a problem may be explained. And which are the four? There is the problem to which an explanation can be given that shall be direct and final. There is the problem which can be answered by going into details. There is the problem which can be answered by asking another. And there is the problem which can be put on one side.

'And which, O king, is the problem to which a direct and final solution can be given? It is such as this--"Is form impermanent?" "Is sensation impermanent?" "Is idea impermanent?" "Are the Confections impermanent?" "Is consciousness impermanent?"

'And which is the problem which can be answered by going into details? It is such as this--"Is form thus impermanent?" and so on.

'And which is the problem which can be answered by asking another? It is such as this--"What then? Can the eye perceive all things?"

'And which is the problem which can be put on one side? It is such as this--"Is the universe everlasting?" "Is it not everlasting?" "Has it an end?" "Has it no end?" "Is it both endless and unending?" "Is it neither the one nor the other?" "Are the soul and the body the same [206] thing?" "Is the soul distinct from the body?" "Does a Tathāgata exist after death?" "Does he not exist after death?" "Does he both exist and not exist after death?" "Does he neither exist nor not exist after death?"

'Now it was to such a question, one that ought to be put on one side, that the Blessed One gave no reply to Māluṅkya-putta. And why ought such a question to be put on one side? Because there is no reason or object for answering it. That is why it should be put aside. For the Blessed Buddhas lift not up their voice without a reason and without an object.'

'Very good, Nāgasena! Thus it is, and I accept it as you say?'

Here ends the dilemma as to keeping some things back[9]




6. 'Venerable Nāgasena, this too was said by the Blessed One: "All men tremble at punishment, all are afraid of death."[10] But again he said: "The Arahat has passed beyond all fear."[11] How then, Nāgasena? does the Arahat tremble with the fear of punishment? Or are the beings in purgatory, when they are being burnt and boiled and scorched and tormented, afraid of that death which would release them from the burning fiery pit of that awful place of woe?[12] If the Blessed One, [207] really said that all men tremble at punishment, and all are afraid of death, then the statement that the Arahat has passed beyond fear must be false. But if that last statement is really by him, then the other must be false. This double-headed problem is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

7. 'It was not with regard to Arahats, O king, that the Blessed One spake when he said: "All men tremble at punishment, all are afraid of death." The Arahat is an exception to that statement, for all cause for fear has been removed from the Arahat.[13] He spoke of those beings in whom evil still existed, who are still infatuated with the delusion of self, who are still lifted up and cast down by pleasures and pains. To the Arahat, O king, rebirth in every state has been cut off, all the four kinds of future existence have been destroyed, every re-incarnation has been put an end to, the rafters[14] of the house of life have broken, and the whole house completely pulled down, the Confections have altogether lost their roots, good and evil have ceased, ignorance has been demolished, consciousness has no longer any seed (from which it could be renewed), all sin has been burnt away,[15] and all worldly conditions have been overcome.[16] Therefore is it that the Arahat is not made to tremble by any fear.'

[208] 8. 'Suppose, O king, a king had four chief ministers, faithful, famous, trustworthy, placed in high positions of authority. And the king, on some emergency arising, were to issue to them an order touching all the people in his realm, saying: "Let all now pay up a tax, and do you, as my four officers, carry out what is necessary in this emergency." Now tell me, O king, would the tremor which comes from fear of taxation arise in the hearts of those ministers?'

'No, Sir, it would not.'

'But why not?'

'They have been appointed by the king to high office. Taxation does not affect them, they are beyond taxation. It was the rest that the king referred to when he gave the order: "Let all pay tax."'

'Just so, O king, is it with the statement that all men tremble at punishment, all are afraid of death. In that way is it that the Arahat is removed from every fear.'

9. 'But, Nāgasena, the word "all" is inclusive, none are left out when it is used. Give me a further reason to establish the point.'

'Suppose, O king, that in some village the lord of the village were to order the crier, saying: "Go, crier, bring all the villagers quickly together before me." And he in obedience to that order were to stand in the midst of the village and were thrice to call out: "Let all the villagers assemble at once in the presence of the lord!" And they should assemble in haste, and have an announcement made to the lord, saying: "All the villagers, Sire, have assembled. Do now whatsoever you require." Now when the lord, O king, is thus summoning all the heads of [209] houses, he issues his order to all the villagers, but it is not they who assemble in obedience to the order; it is the heads of houses. And the lord is satisfied therewith, knowing that such is the number of his villagers. There are many others who do not come--women and men, slave girls and slaves, hired workmen, servants, peasantry, sick people, oxen, buffaloes, sheep, and goats, and dogs--but all those do not count. It was with reference to the heads of houses that the order was issued in the words: "Let all assemble." just so, O king, it is not of Arahats that it was said that all are afraid of death. The Arahat is not included in that statement, for the Arahat is one in whom there is no longer any cause that could give rise to fear.'

10. 'There is the non-inclusive expression, O king, whose meaning is non-inclusive, and the non-inclusive expression whose meaning is inclusive; there is the inclusive expression whose meaning is non-inclusive, and the inclusive expression whose meaning is inclusive. And the meaning, in each case, should be accepted accordingly. And there are five ways in which the meaning should be ascertained-by the connection, and by taste, and by the tradition of the teachers, and by the meaning, and by abundance of reasons. And herein "connection" means the meaning as seen in the Sutta itself, "taste" means that it is in accordance with other Suttas, "the tradition of the teachers" means what they hold, "the meaning" means what they think, and "abundance of reasons" means all these four combined.'[17]

[210] 11. 'Very well, Nāgasena! I accept it as you say. The Arahat is an exception in this phrase, and it is the rest of beings who are full of fear. But those beings in purgatory, of whom I spoke, who are suffering painful, sharp, and severe agonies, who are tormented with burnings all over their bodies and limbs, whose mouths are full of lamentation, and cries for pity, and cries of weeping and wailing and woe, who are overcome with pains too sharp to be borne, who find no refuge nor protection nor help, who are afflicted beyond measure, who in the worst and lowest of conditions are still destined to a certainty to further pain, who are being burnt with hot, sharp, fierce, and cruel flames, who are giving utterance to mighty shouts and groans born of horror and fear, who are embraced by the garlands of flame which intertwine around them from all the six directions, and flash in fiery speed through a hundred leagues on every side--can those poor burning wretches be afraid of death?'

'Yes, they can.'

'But, venerable Nāgasena, is not purgatory a place of certain pain? And, if so, why should the beings in it be afraid of death, which would release them from that certain pain? What! Are they fond of purgatory?'

'No, indeed. They like it not. They long to be released from it. It is the power of death of which they are afraid.'

'Now this, Nāgasena, I cannot believe, that they, who want to be released, should be afraid of rebirth. [211] They must surely, Nāgasena, rejoice at the prospect of the very condition that they long for. Convince me by some further reason.'[18]

12. 'Death, great king, is a condition which those who have not seen the truth[19] are afraid of. About it this people is anxious and full of dread. Whosoever is afraid of a black snake, or an elephant or lion or tiger or leopard or bear or hyena or wild buffalo or gayal, or of fire or water, or of thorns or spikes or arrows, it is in each case of death that he is really in dread, and therefore afraid of them. This, O king, is the majesty of the essential nature of death. And all being not free from sin are in dread and quake before its majesty. In this sense it is that even the beings in purgatory, who long to be released from it, are afraid of death.'

13. 'Suppose, O king, a boil were to arise, full of matter, on a man's body, and he, in pain from that disease, and wanting to escape from the danger of it, were to call in a physician and surgeon. And the surgeon, accepting the call, were to make ready some means or other for the removal of his disease--were to have a lancet sharpened, or to have sticks put into the fire to be used as cauterisers, or to have something ground on a grindstone to be mixed in a salt lotion. Now would the patient begin to be in dread of the cutting of the sharp lancet, or of the burning of the pair of caustic sticks, or of the application of the stinging lotion?'

'Yes, he would.'

[212] 'But if the sick man, who wants to be free from his ailment, can fall into dread by the fear of pain, just so can the beings in purgatory, though they long to be released from it, fall into dread by the fear of death.'

14. 'And suppose, O king, a man who had committed an offence against the crown, when bound with a chain, and cast into a dungeon, were to long for release. And the ruler, wishing to release him, were to send for him. Now would not that man, who had thus offended, and knew it, be in dread of the interview with the king?'

'Yes, Sir.'

'But if so, then can also the beings in purgatory, though they long to be released from it, yet be afraid of death.'

'Give me another illustration by which I may be able to harmonise[20] (this apparent discrepancy).'

'Suppose, O king, a man bitten by a poisonous snake should be afraid, and by the action of the poison should fall and struggle, and roll this way and that. And then that another man, by the repetition of a powerful charm, should compel that poisonous snake to approach to suck the poison back again.[21] Now when the bitten man saw the poisonous snake coming to him, though for the object of curing him, would he not still be in dread of it?'

'Yes, Sir.'

'Well, it is just so with the beings in purgatory.

[213] Death is a thing disliked by all beings. And therefore are they in dread of it though they want to be released from purgatory.'

'Very good, Nāgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.'

Here ends the dilemma as to the fear of death.




15. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Blessed One:

Not in the sky, not in the ocean's midst,
Not in the most secluded mountain cleft,
Not in the whole wide world is found the spot
Where standing one could 'scape the snare of death."[22]

But on the other hand the Pirit service was promulgated by the Blessed One[23] -- that is to say, the Ratana Sutta and the Khanda-parittā and the Mora-parittā and the Dhagagga-parittā and the Āṭānāṭiya-parittā and the Aṅguli-mala-parittā. If, Nāgasena, a man can escape death's snare neither by going to heaven, nor by going into the midst of the sea, nor by going to the summits of lofty palaces, [214] nor to the caves or grottoes or declivities or clefts or holes in the mountains, then is the Pirit ceremony useless. But if by it there is a way of escape from death, then the statement in the verse I quoted is false. This too is a double-headed problem, more knotty than a knot. It is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

16. 'The Blessed One, O king, said the verse you have quoted, and he sanctioned Pirit.[24] But that is only meant for those who have some portion of their life yet to run, who are of full age, and restrain themselves from the evils of Karma. And there is no ceremony or artificial means[25] for prolonging the life of one whose allotted span of existence has come to an end. just, O king, as with a dry and dead log of wood, dull,[26] and sapless, out of which all life has departed, which has reached the end of its allotted period of life, -- you might have thousands of pots of water poured over it, but it would never become fresh again or put forth sprouts or leaves. Just so there is no ceremony or artificial means, no medicine and no Pirit, which can prolong the life of one whose allotted period has come to an end. All the medicines in the world are useless, O king, to such a one, but Pirit is a protection and assistance to those who have a period yet to live, who are full of life, and restrain themselves from the evil of Karma. And it is for that use that Pirit was appointed by the [215] Blessed One. just, O king, as a husbandman guards the grain when it is ripe and dead and ready for harvesting from the influx of water, but makes it grow by giving it water when it is young, and dark in colour like a cloud, and full of life -- just so, O king, should the Pirit ceremony be put aside and neglected in the case of one who has reached his allotted term of life, but for those who have a period yet to run and are full of vigour, for them the medicine of Pirit may be repeated, and they will profit by its use.'

17. 'But, Nāgasena, if he who has a term of life yet to run will live, and he who has none will die, then medicine and Pirit are alike useless.'

'Have you ever seen, O king, a case of a disease being turned back by medicine?'

'Yes, several hundred times.'

'Then, O king, your statement as to the inefficiency of Pirit and medicine must be wrong.'

'I have seen, Nāgasena, doctors administer medicines by way of draughts or outward applications, and by that means the disease has been assuaged.'

'And when, O king, the voice of those who are repeating Pirit is heard, the tongue may be dried up, and the heart beat but faintly, and the throat be hoarse, but by that repetition all diseases are allayed, all calamities depart. Again, have you ever seen, O king, a man who has been bitten by a snake having the poison resorbed under a spell (by the snake who gave the bite)[27] or destroyed (by an antidote) or having a lotion applied above or below the spot?'[28]

[216] 'Yes, that is common custom to this day in the world.'

'Then what you said that Pirit and medicine are alike useless is wrong.. And when Pirit has been said over a man, a snake, ready to bite, will not bite him, but close his jaws--the club which robbers hold aloft to strike him with will never strike; they will let it drop, and treat him kindly--the enraged elephant rushing at him will suddenly stop--the burning fiery conflagration surging towards him will die out--the malignant poison he has eaten will become harmless, and turn to food--assassins who have come to slay him will become as the slaves who wait upon him -- and the trap into which he has trodden will hold him not.

18. 'Again, have you never heard, O king, of that hunter who during seven hundred years failed to throw his net over the peacock who had taken Pirit, but snared him the very day he omitted to do so?'[29]

'Yes, I have heard of it. The fame of it has gone through all the world.'

'Then what you said about Pirit and medicine being alike useless must be wrong. And have you never heard of the Dānava[30] who, to guard his wife, [217] put her into a box, and swallowing it, carried her about in his stomach. And how a Vidyādhara[31] entered his mouth, and played games with his wife. And how the Dānava when he became aware of it, vomited up the box, and opened it, and the moment he did so the Vidyādhara escaped whither he would?[32]

'Yes, I have heard that. The fame of it too has gone throughout the world.'

'Well, did not the Vidyādhara escape capture by the power of Pirit?'

'Yes, that was so.'

'Then there must be power in Pirit. And have you heard of that other Vidyādhara who got into the harem of the king of Benares, and committed adultery with the chief queen, and was caught, and then became invisible, and got away?'[33]

'Yes, I heard that story.'

'Well, did not he too escape capture by the power of Pirit.'

'Yes, Sir.'

'Then, O king, there must be power in Pirit.'

19. 'Venerable Nāgasena, is Pirit a protection to everybody?'

[218] 'To some, not to others.'

'Then it is not always of use?'

'Does food keep all people alive?'

'Only some, not others.'

'But why not?'

'Inasmuch as some, eating too much of that same food, die of cholera.'

'So it does not keep all men alive?'

'There are two reasons which make it destroy life--over-indulgence in it, and weakness of digestion. And even life-giving food may be made poisonous by an evil spell.'

'Just so, O king, is Pirit a protection to some and not to others. And there are three reasons for its failure--the obstruction of Karma, and of sin, and of unbelief. That Pirit which is a protection to beings loses its protecting power by acts done by those beings themselves. just, O king, as a mother lovingly nourishes the son who has entered her womb, and brings him forth with care.[34] And after his birth she keeps him clean from dirt and stains and mucus, and anoints him with the best and most costly perfumes, and when others abuse or strike him she seizes them and, full of excitement, drags them before the lord of the place. But when her son is naughty, or comes in late, she strikes him with rods or clubs on her knee or with her hands. Now, that being so, would she get seized and dragged along, and have to appear before the lord?'

'No, Sir.'

'But why not?'

[219] 'Because the boy was in fault.'

'Just in the same way, O king, will Pirit which is a protection to beings, yet, by their own fault, turn against them.'

'Very good, Nāgasena! The problem has been solved, the jungle made clear, the darkness made light, the net of heresy unravelled--and by you, O best of the leaders of schools!'

Here ends the dilemma as to Pirit


Māra, The Evil One


20. 'Venerable Nāgasena, your people say thus: "The Tathāgata was in the constant receipt of the things necessary for a recluse - robes, food, lodging, and the requisites for the sick." And again they say: "When the Tathāgata entered the Brahman village called the Five Sāla trees he received nothing, and had to return with his bowl as clean as before." If the first passage is true the second is false, and if the second passage is true the first is false. This too is a double-headed problem, a mighty crux hard to unravel. It is now put to you. It is for you to solve it.'

21. 'Both statements are true, but when he received nothing that day, that was the work of Māra, the evil one.'

'Then, Nāgasena, how was it that the merit laid up by the Blessed One through countless æons of time came to end that day? How was it that Māra, who had only just been produced, could overcome the strength and influence of that merit? In that case, Nāgasena, the blame must fall in one of two [220] ways -- either demerit must be more powerful than merit, or the power of Māra be greater than that of the Buddha. The root of the tree must be heavier than the top of it, or the sinner stronger than he who has heaped up virtue.'

22. 'Great king, that is not enough to prove either the one or the other of your alternatives. Still a reason is certainly desirable in this matter.

Suppose, O king, a man were to bring a complimentary present to a king of kings -- honey or honeycomb or something of that kind. And the king's doorkeeper were to say to him: "This is the wrong time for visiting the king. So, my good fellow, take your present as quickly as ever you can, and go back before the king inflicts a fine upon you." And then that man, in dread and awe, should pick up his present, and return in great haste. Now would the king of kings, merely from the fact that the man brought his gift at the wrong time, be less powerful than the doorkeeper, or never receive a complimentary present any more?'

'No, Sir. The doorkeeper turned back the giver of that present out of the surliness of his nature, and one a hundred thousand times as valuable might be brought in by some other device.'

'Just so, O king, it was out of the jealousy of his nature that Māra, the evil one, possessed the Brahmans and householders at the Five Sāla trees. And hundreds of thousands of other deities came up to offer the Buddha the strength-giving ambrosia from heaven, and stood reverencing him with clasped hands and thinking to themselves that they would thus imbue him with vigour.'

23. 'That may be so, Nāgasena. The Blessed [221] One found it easy to get the four requisites of a recluse -- he, the best in the world--and at the request of gods and men he enjoyed all the requisites. But still Māra's intention to stop the supply of food to the Blessed One was so far carried out. Herein, Sir, my doubt is not removed. I am still in perplexity and hesitation about this. My mind is not clear how the Tathāgata, the Arahat, the supreme Buddha, the best of all the best in the world of gods and men, he who had so glorious a treasure of the merit of virtue, the unequalled one, unrivalled and peerless,--how so vile, mean, insignificant, sinful, and ignoble a being as Māra could put any obstacle in the way of gifts to Him.'

24. 'There are four kinds, O king, of obstacles -- the obstacle to a gift not intended for any particular person, to a gift set apart for some one, to the gift got ready, and to the enjoyment of a gift. And the first is when any one puts an obstacle in the way of the actual gift of a thing put ready to be given away, but not with a view to or having seen any particular donee,--an obstacle raised, for instance, by saying: "What is the good of giving it away to any one else?" The second is when any one puts an obstacle in the way of the actual gift of food intended to be prepared to be given to a person specified. The third is when any one puts an obstacle in the way when such a gift has been got ready, but not yet accepted. And the fourth is when any one puts an obstacle in the way of the enjoyment of a gift already given (and so the property of the donee).'

25. 'Now when Māra, the evil one, possessed the [222] Brahmans and householders at the Five Sāla trees, the food in that case was neither the property of, nor got ready for, nor intended to be prepared specially for the Blessed One. The obstacle was put in the way of some one who was yet to come, who had not arrived, and for whom no gift was intended. That was not against the Blessed One alone. But all who had gone out that day, and were coming to the village, failed to receive an alms. I know no one, O king, in the world of men and gods, no one among Māras or Brahmas, no one of the class of Brahmans or recluses, who could put any obstacle in the way of an alms intended for, or got ready for, or already given to the Blessed One. And if any one, out of jealousy, were to raise up any obstacle in that case, then would his head split into a hundred or into a thousand pieces.'

26. 'There are four things, O king, connected with the Tathāgatas, to which no one can do any harm. And what are the four? To the alms intended for, and got ready for the Blessed One--to the halo of a fathom's length when it has once spread out from him-to the treasure of the knowledge of his omniscience--and to his life. All these things, O king, are one in essence--they are free from defect, immovable, unassailable by other beings, unchangeable by other circumstances.[35] And Māra, the evil one, lay in ambush, out of sight, when he possessed the Brahmans and householders at the Five Sāla trees. It was as when robbers, O king, [223] hiding out of sight in the inaccessible country over the border, beset the highways. But if the king caught sight of them, do you think those robbers would be safe?'

'No, Sir, he might have them cut into a hundred or a thousand pieces with an axe.'

'Well, just so it was, hiding out of sight, that Māra possessed them. It was as when a married woman, in ambush, and out of sight, frequents the company of her paramour. But if, O king, she were to carry on her intrigues in her husband's presence, do you think she would be safe?'

'No, Sir, he might slay her, or wound her, or put her in bonds, or reduce her to slavery.'

'Well. It was like that, hiding out of sight, that Māra possessed them. But if, O king, he had raised any obstacle in the case of an alms intended for, got ready for, or in possession of the Blessed One, then his head would have split into a hundred or a thousand pieces.'

'That is so, Nāgasena. Māra, the evil one, acted after the manner of robbers, he lay in ambush, possessing the Brahmans and householders of the Five Sāla trees. But if the same Māra, the evil one, had interfered with any alms intended for, or made ready for the Blessed One, or with his partaking thereof, then would his head have been split into a hundred or a thousand pieces, or his bodily frame have been dissipated like a handful of chaff.'

'Very good, Nāgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.'

Here ends the dilemma as to Māra's interference with alms


Unconscious Crime


[224]27. 'Venerable Nāgasena, your people say: "Whosoever deprives a living being of life, without knowing that he does so, he accumulates very serious demerit."[36] But on the other hand it was laid down by the Blessed One in the Vinaya: "There is no offence to him who acts in ignorance."[37] If the first passage is correct, the other must be false; and if the second is right, the first must be wrong. This too is a double-pointed problem, hard to master, hard to overcome. It is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

28. 'Both the passages you quote, O king, were spoken by the Blessed One. But there is a difference between the sense of the two. And what is that difference? There is a kind of offence which is committed without the co-operation of the mind,[38] and there is another kind which has that co-operation. It was with respect to the first of the [225] two that the Blessed One said: "'There is no offence to him who acts in ignorance."'[39]

'Very good, Nāgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.'

Here ends the dilemma as to sins in ignorance


The Buddha and His Followers


29. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Blessed One: "Now the Tathāgata thinks not, Ānanda, that is he who should lead the brotherhood, or that the Order is dependent upon him."[40] But on the other hand when describing the virtues and the nature of Metteyya, the Blessed One, he said thus: "He will be the leader of a brotherhood several thousands in number, as I am now the leader of a brotherhood several hundreds in number."[41] If the first statement be right, then the second is wrong. If the second passage is right, the first must be false. This too is a double-pointed problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

30. 'You quote both passages correctly, O king. But in the dilemma that you put the sense in the one passage is inclusive, in the other it is not. It is not the Tathāgata, O king, who seeks after a following, but the followers who seek after him.

[226] It is a mere commonly received opinion, O king, that "This is I," or "This is mine," it is not a transcendental truth.[42] Attachment is a frame of mind put away by the Tathāgata, he has put away clinging, he is free from the delusion that "This is mine," he lives only to be a help to others.[43] Just as the earth, O king, is a support to the beings in the world, and an asylum to them, and they depend upon it, but the broad earth has no longing after them in the idea that "These belong to me"--just so is the Tathāgata a support and an asylum to all beings, but has no longing after them in the idea that "These belong to me." And just as a mighty rain cloud, O king, pours out its rain, and gives nourishment to grass and trees, to cattle and to men, and maintains the lineage thereof, and all these creatures depend for their livelihood upon its rain, but the cloud has no feelings of longing in the idea that "These are mine"--just so does the Tathāgata give all beings to know what are good qualities and maintains them in goodness, and all beings have their life in him, but the Tathāgata has no feelings of longing in the idea that "These are mine." And why is it so? Because of his having abandoned all self-regard.'[44]

'Very good, Nāgasena! The problem has been well solved by variety of examples. The jungle has been made open, the darkness has been turned [227] to light, the arguments of the adversaries have been broken down, insight has been awakened in the sons of the Conqueror!

Here ends the dilemma as to the Buddha and his following




31. 'Venerable Nāgasena, your people say: "The Tathāgata is a person whose following can never be broken up." And again they say: "At one stroke Devadatta seduced five hundred of the brethren."[45] If the first be true the second is false, but if the second be correct then the first is wrong. This too is a double-pointed problem, profound, hard to unravel, more knotty than a knot. By it these people are veiled, obstructed, hindered, shut in, and enveloped. Herein show your skill as against the arguments of the adversaries.'

32. 'Both statements, O king, are correct. But the latter is owing to the power of the breach maker. Where there is one to make the breach, a mother will be separated from her son, and the son will break with the mother, or the father with the son and the son with the father, or the brother from the sister and the sister from the brother, or friend from friend. A ship pieced together with timber of all sorts is broken up by the force of the violence of the waves, and a tree in full bearing and full of sap is broken down by the force of the violence of the wind, and gold of the finest sort is divided by [228] bronze. But it is not the intention of the wise, it is not the will of the Buddhas, it is not the desire of those who are learned that the following of the Tathāgata should be broken up. And there is a special sense in which it is said that that cannot be. It is an unheard-of thing, so far as I know, that his following could be broken up by anything done or taken, any unkindly word, any wrong action, any injustice, in all the conduct, wheresoever or whatsoever, of the Tathāgata himself. In that sense his following is invulnerable. And you yourself, do you know of any instance in all the ninefold word of the Buddha of anything done by a Bodisat which broke up the following of the Tathāgata?'

'No, Sir. Such a thing has never been seen or heard in the world. It is very good, Nāgasena, what you say: and I accept it so.'

Here ends the dilemma as to schism

Here ends the Second Chapter


[1] Not traced as yet.

[2] Mahāparinibbāna Sutta VI, 3 (translated in my 'Buddhist Suttas,' p. 112). The incident is referred to in the Kullavagga XI, x, 9, 10, and in his commentary on that passage Buddhaghosa mentions the discussion between Milinda and Nāgasena, and quotes it as an authority in support of his interpretation.

[3] The regulations in the Pātimokkha, which include all the most important ones, are only 220 in number.

[4] Dukkaṭaɱ.

[5] Dubbhāsitaɱ.

[6] In the Kullavagga XI, 1, 10, it is one of the faults laid to Ānanda's charge, at the Council of Rāgagaha, that he had not asked for a definition of these terms.

[7] Mahāparinibbāna Sutta II, 32 (another passage from the same speech is quoted below, IV, 2, 29).

[8] See the two Māluṅkya Suttantas in the Magghima Nikāya (vol. i, pp. 426-437 of Mr. Trenckner's edition for the Pāli Text Society). With regard to the spelling of the name, which is doubtful, it may be noticed that Hīnaṭi-kumburê has Māluṅka throughout.

[9] See my note below on IV, 4, 8.

[10]Dhammapada 129.

[11] Not traced in these words, but identical in meaning with Dhammapada 39.

[12] Maha-nirayā kavamānā, I when they are on the point of passing away from it.' For in Buddhism the time comes to each being in Niraya (often translated 'hell') when he will pass away from it.

[13] That is from him who attained Nirvāna in this life. Compare 1 John iv. 18.

[14] Phāsū for Phāsukā. Compare Dhammapada 154, Manu VI, 79-81, and Sumaṅgala, p. 16.

[15] Hīnaṭi-kumburê adds 'by the fire of tapas.'

[16] Eight are meant--gain, loss, fame, dishonour, praise, blame, pleasures, pains.

[17] This is much more obscure in Pāli than in English. In the Pāli the names of each of the five methods are ambiguous. 'Connection,' for instance, is in Pāli āhakka-pada, which is only found elsewhere (see Kullavagga VI, 4, 3, and my note there) as the name of a kind of chair. And there is similar ambiguity in the other words.

[18] Kāraṇena, perhaps he means 'by an example.'

[19] Adittha-sakkānaɱ. It may also mean 'who have not perceived the (Four Noble) Truths.'

[20] Okappeyyaɱ. See the Old Commentary at Pākittiya I, 2, 6.

[21] On this belief the 69th Gātaka is founded. See Fausböll, vol. i, pp. 310, 311 (where, as Mr. Trenckner points out, we must read in the verse the same word pakkākam as we have here).

[22] Either Dhammapada 127, which is the same except the last word (there 'an evil deed'), or Dhammapada 128, except the last line (which is there 'where standing death would not overtake one').

[23] This is a service used for the sick. Its use so far as the Piṭakas are known has been nowhere laid down by the Buddha, or by words placed in his mouth. This is the oldest text in which the use of the service is referred to. But the word Parittā (Pirit) is used in Kullavagga V, 6, of an asseveration of love for snakes, to be used as what is practically a charm against snake bite, and that is attributed to the Buddha. The particular Suttas and passages here referred to are all in the Piṭakas.

[24] See last note. Hīnaṭi-kumburê renders 'preached Pirit,' which is quite in accordance with the Piṭakas, as the Suttas of which it is composed are placed in his mouth.

[25] Upakkamo. Compare the use of the word at Kullavagga VII, 3, 10; Sumangala 69, 71. Utpatti-kramayek says the Siɱhalese.

[26] Koḷāpa. See Gātaka III, 495, and the commentary there.

[27]See above, IV 2, 14

[28] All this sentence is doubtful. Dr. Morris has a learned note on the difficult words used (which only occur here) in the 'Journal of the Pāli Text Society' for 1884, p. 87. Hīnaṭi-kumburê, p. 191, translates as follows: Mahā ragāneni, wisha wināsa karannāwū mantra padayakin wishaya baswana laddāwū, wisha sanhinduwana laddāwū, ūrddhādho bhāgayehi awushadha galayen temana laddāwū, nayaku wisin dashṭa karana laddāwū kisiwek topa wisin daknā ladde dœyi wikāla seka.

[29] This is the Mora-Gātaka, Nos. 159, 491, or (which is the same thing) the Mora-Parittā.

[30] An Asura, enemy of the gods, a Titan. Rakshasa says the Siɱhalese.

[31] They are a kind of genii, with magical powers, who are attendants on the god Siva (and therefore, of course, enemies of the Dānavas). They are not mentioned in the Piṭakas.

[32] I don't know where this story comes from. It is not in the Piṭakas anywhere. But Hīnaṭi-kumburê gives the fairy tale at full length, and in the course of it calls the Vidyādharas by name Wāyassa-putra, 'Son of the Wind.' He quotes also a gāthā which he places, not in the mouth of the Bodisat, but of Buddha himself. I cannot find the tale either in the Gātaka book, as far as published by Professor Fausböll, or in the Kathā Sarit Sāgara, though I have looked all through both.

[33] See last note.

[34] Upakārena, which the Siɱhalese repeats and construes with poseti.

[35] Aphusāni kiriyāni, which I do not pretend to understand, and Mr. Trenckner says is unintelligible to him. Hīnaṭi-kumburê has: Anya kriyāwak no wœdagannā bœwin apusana (sic) kriyāyo ya.

[36] Not traced as yet, in so many words. And though there are several injunctions in the Vinaya against acts which might haply, though unknown to the doer, destroy life (such, for instance, as drinking water without the use of a strainer), when these are all subjects of special rule, and in each case there is an exception in favour of the Bhikkhu who acts in ignorance of there being living things which could be killed. (See, for instance, Pākittiya 62, on the drinking of water.)

[37] Agānantassa nāpatti. Pākittiya LXI, 2, 3 (in the Old Commentary, not ascribed to the Buddha).

[38] Saññā-vimokkhā. I am not sure of the exact meaning of this difficult compound, which has only been found in this passage. Hīnaṭi-kumburê (p. 199) has: Mahā ragāneni, kittāngayen abhāwayen midena bœwin saññā-wimoksha-namwū āpattit atteya, &c. (mid = muk).

[39] The Siɱhalese has here a further page, giving examples of the two kinds of offences referred to, and drawing the conclusion for each.

[40] Book of the Great Decease, II, 32 (translated in my 'Buddhist Suttas,' p. 37), just after the passage quoted above, IV, 2, 4.

[41] Not in any of the published texts. Metteyya is, of course, the Buddha to come, the expected messiah.

[42] Sammuti .... na paramattho.

[43] Upādāya avassayo hoti.

[44] Attānuditthiyā pahīnattā. See the passages quoted by Dr. Morris in the 'Journal of the Pāli Text Society,' 1886, pp. 113, 114.

[45] Neither of these phrases is to be found in the published texts in these words. But the latter sums up the episode related in the Kullavagga VII. 4, 1.


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