khuddaka masthead

[Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]


The Questions of King Milinda




Chapter 3


Precedence of the Dharma


1. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Blessed One: "For it is the Dhamma, O Vāsettha, which is 'the best in the world,'[1] as regards both what we now see, and what is yet to come."[2] But again (according to your people) the devout layman who has entered the Excellent Way, for whom the possibility of rebirth in any place of woe has passed away, who has attained to insight, and to whom the doctrine is known, even such a one ought to salute and to rise from his seat in token of respect for, and to revere, any member of the Order, though a novice, and though he be unconverted.[3] Now if the Dhamma be the best that rule of conduct is wrong, but if that be right then the first statement must be wrong.

[230] This too is a double-pointed problem. It is now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

2. 'The Blessed One said what you have quoted, and you have rightly described the rule of conduct. But there is a reason for that rule, and that is this. There are these twenty personal qualities, making up the Samanaship of a Samana, and these two outward signs,[4] by reason of which the Samana is worthy of salutation, and of respect, and of reverence. And what are they? The best form of self-restraint, the highest kind of self-control,[5] right conduct, calm manners[6], mastery over (his deeds and words,[7] subjugation (of his senses),[8] long-suffering,[9] sympathy,[10] [231] the practice of solitude,[11] love of solitude,[12] meditation,[13] modesty and fear of doing wrong,[14] zeal,[15] earnestness,[16] the taking upon himself of the precepts,[17] recitation (of the Scriptures,[18] asking questions (of those wise in the Dhamma and Vinaya), rejoicing in the Sīlas and other (rules of morality), freedom from attachment (to the things of the world), fulfilment of the precepts--and the wearing of the yellow robe, and the being shaven. In the practice of all these things does the member of the Order live. By being deficient in none of them, by being perfect in all, accomplished in all, endowed with all of them does he reach forward to the condition of Arahatship, to the condition of those who have nothing left to learn; he is marching towards the highest of all lands.[19] Thus it is because he sees him to be in the company of the Worthy Ones (the Arahats) that the layman who has already entered on the Excellent Way thinks it worthy in him[20] to [232] reverence and to show respect to the Bhikkhu, though he may be, as yet, unconverted. It is because he sees him to be in the company of those in whom all evil has been destroyed, because he feels that he is not in such society,[21] that the converted layman thinks it worthy of him to do reverence and to show respect to the unconverted Bhikkhu. It is because he knows that he has joined the noblest brotherhood, and that he himself has reached no such state, that the converted layman holds it right to do reverence and to show respect to the unconverted Bhikkhu -- because he knows that he listens to the recitation of the Pātimokkha, while he himself can not -- because he knows that he receives men into the Order, and thus extends the teaching of the Conqueror, which he himself is incapable of doing -- because he knows that he carries out innumerable precepts, which he himself cannot observe--because he knows that he wears the outward signs of Samaṇaship, and carries out the intention of the Buddha, while he himself is gone away far from that -- because he knows that he, though he has given up his hair and beard, and is unanointed and wears no ornaments, yet is anointed with the perfume of righteousness, while he is himself addicted to jewelry and fine apparel -- that the converted layman thinks it right to do reverence, and to show respect to the unconverted Bhikkhu.'

3. 'And moreover, O king, it is because he knows that not only are all these twenty personal qualities which go to make a Samaṇa, and the two outward signs, found in the Bhikkhu, but that he carries them [233] on, and trains others in them, that the converted layman, realising that he has no part in that tradition,[22] in that maintenance of the faith, thinks it right to reverence and to show respect to the converted Bhikkhu. Just, O king, as a royal prince who learns his knowledge, and is taught the duties of a Khattiya, at the feet of the Brahman who acts as family chaplain,[23] when after a time he is anointed king, pays, reverence and respect to his master in the thought of his being the teacher, and the carrier on of the traditions of the family, so is it right for the converted Bhikkhu to do reverence and to pay respect to the unconverted Bhikkhu.'

4. 'And moreover, O king, you may know by this fact the greatness and the peerless glory of the condition of the Bhikkhus--that if a layman, a disciple of the faith, who has entered upon the Excellent Way, should attain to the realisation of Arahatship, one of two results must happen to him, and there is no other--he must either die away on that very day, or take upon himself the condition of a Bhikkhu. For immovable, O king, is that state of renunciation, glorious, and most exalted--I mean the condition of being a member of the Order!'

'Venerable Nāgasena, this subtle problem has been thoroughly unravelled by your powerful and great wisdom. No one else could solve it so unless he were wise as you.'

Here ends the problem as to the precedence of the Dharma


The Harm of Preaching


[234] 5. 'Venerable Nāgasena, you Bhikkhus say that the Tathāgata averts harm from all beings, and does them good.[24] And again you say that when he was preaching the discourse based on the simile of the burning fire[25] hot blood was ejected from the mouths of about sixty Bhikkhus. By his delivery of that discourse he did those Bhikkhus harm and not good. So if the first statement is correct, the second is false; and if the second is correct, the first is false. This too is a double-pointed problem put to you, which you have to solve.'

6. 'Both are true. What happened to them was not the Tathāgata's doing, but their own.'

'But, Nāgasena, if the Tathāgata had not delivered that discourse, then would they have vomited up hot blood?'

'No. When they took wrongly what he said, then was there a burning kindled within them, and hot blood was ejected from their mouths.'

'Then that must have happened, Nāgasena, through the act of the Tathāgata, it must have been the Tathāgata who was the chief cause[26] to destroy them. Suppose a serpent, Nāgasena, had crept into an anthill, and a man in want of earth were to break into the anthill, and take the earth of it away. And by his doing so the entrance-hole to the anthill [235] were closed up, and the snake were to die in consequence from want of air. Would not the serpent have been killed by that man's action?'

'Yes, O king.'

'Just so, Nāgasena, was the Tathāgata the prime cause of their destruction.'

7. 'When the Tathāgata delivered a discourse, O king, he never did so either in flattery or in malice. In freedom both from the one and from the other did he speak. And they who received it aright were made wise,[27] but they who received it wrongly, fell. Just, O king, as when a man shakes a mango tree or a jambu tree or a mee tree,[28] such of the fruits on it as are full of sap and strongly fastened to it remain undisturbed, but such as have rotten stalks, and are loosely attached, fall to the ground -- so was it with his preaching. It was, O king, as when a husbandman, wanting to grow a crop of wheat, ploughs the field, but by that ploughing many hundreds and thousands of blades of grass are killed -- or it was as when men, for the sake of sweetness, crush sugarcane in a mill, and by their doing so such small creatures as pass into the mouth of the mill are crushed also -- so was it that the Tathāgata making wise those whose minds were prepared, preached the Dhamma without flattery and without malice. And they who received it aright were made wise, but they who received it wrongly, fell.'

8. Then did not those Bhikkhus fall, Nāgasena, just because of that discourse?'

[236] 'How, then, could a carpenter by doing nothing to a piece of timber, and simply laying it by,[29] make it straight and fit for use?'

'No, Sir. He would have to get rid of the bends out of it, if he wanted it straight and ready for use.'

'Just so, O king, the Tathāgata could not, by merely watching over his disciples, have opened the eyes of those who were ready to see. But by getting rid of those who took the word wrongly he saved those prepared to be saved. And it was by their own act and deed, O king, that the evil-minded fell; just as a plantain tree, or a bambū, or a she-mule are destroyed by that to which they themselves give birth.[30] And just, O king, as it is by their own acts that robbers come to have their eyes plucked out, or to impalement, or to the scaffold, just so were the evil-minded destroyed by their own act, and fell from the teaching of the Conqueror.'

9. 'And so with those sixty Bhikkhus, they fell neither by the act of the Tathāgata nor of any one else, but solely by their own deed.[31] Suppose, O king, a man were to give ambrosia[32] to all the people, and they, eating of it, were to become healthy and long-lived and free from every bodily ill. But one man, on eating it, were by his own bad digestion, to [237] die. Would then, O king, the man who gave away the ambrosia be guilty therein of any offence?'

'No, Sir.'

'Just so, O king, does the Tathāgata present the gift of his ambrosia to the men and gods in the ten thousand world systems; and those beings who are capable of doing so are made wise by the nectar of his law, while they who are not are destroyed and fall. Food, O king, preserves the lives of all beings. But some who eat of it die of cholera.[33] Is the man who feeds the hungry guilty therein of any offence?'

'No, Sir.'

'Just so, O king, does the Tathāgata present the gift of his ambrosia to the men and gods in the ten thousand world systems; and those beings who are capable of doing so are made wise by the nectar of his law, while they who are not are destroyed and fall.'

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

Here ends the dilemma on the harm resulting from preaching


The Secrets of a Tathāgata


11. [This dilemma treats of one of the thirty bodily signs of a 'great man' (Mahāpurusha) supposed to be possessed by every Tathāgata, but as it deals with matters not usually spoken of in this century, it is best read in the original.]

This section too [self-censored by Rhys Davids c 1890 England] has been translated by Ms. Horner [c 1963 England]. It also contains nothing especially kinky by today's [Thursday, November 15, 2018 11:32 AM USA] standards. It discusses the mark of a great man called 'that which is sheath-clad and cloth hid'. Nāgasena too seems to have been infected with some sort of prudery in that he explains that, "No, the Tathāgata did not show his dong, shlong, pecker, johnson, mini-me, dick, prick, cock, carrot, ... (we're not allowed to say 'penis' even today [Friday, November 16, 2018 4:36 AM]), he only showed an illusion of same" (Ms. Horner says 'shadow'.)

p.p. explains it all — p.p.






The Foolish Fellow


'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Elder Sāriputta, the commander of the faith: "The [238] Tathāgata, brethren, is perfect in courtesy of speech. There is no fault of speech in the Tathāgata concerning which he should have to take care that no one else should know it."[34] And on the other hand the Tathāgata, when promulgating the first Pārāgika on the occasion of the offence of Sudinna the Kalanda,[35] addressed him with harsh words, calling him a useless fellow.[36] And that Elder, on being so called, terrified with the fear of his teacher,[37] and overcome with remorse, was unable to comprehend the Excellent Way.[38] Now if the first statement be correct, the allegation that the Tathāgata called Sudinna the Kalanda a useless fellow must be false. But if that be true, then the first statement must be false. This too is a double-pointed problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

16. 'What Sāriputta the Elder said is true, O king. And the Blessed One called Sudinna a useless fellow on that occasion. But that was not out of rudeness of disposition,[39] it was merely pointing out the real nature (of his conduct) in a way that would do him no harm.[40] And what herein is meant by [239] "pointing out the real nature." If any man, O king, in this birth does not attain to the perception of the Four Truths, then is his manhood (his being born as a man) in vain,[41] but if he acts differently he will become different. Therefore is it that he is called a useless fellow.[42] And so the Blessed One addressed Sudinna the Kalanda with words of truth, and not with words apart from the facts.'

17. 'But, Nāgasena, though a man in abusing another speaks the truth, still we should inflict a small[43] fine upon him. For he is guilty of an offence, inasmuch as he, although for something real, abused him by the use of words that might lead to a breach (of the peace).'[44]

'Have you ever heard, O king, of a people bowing down before, or rising up from their seats in respect for, or showing honour to, or bringing the complimentary presents (usually given to officials) to a criminal?'

'No, if a man have committed a crime of whatever sort or kind, if he be really worthy of reproof and punishment, they would rather behead him, or torture [240] him,[45] or bind him with bonds, or put him to death, or deprive him of his goods.'[46]

'Did then the Blessed One, O king, act with justice or not?'

'With justice, Sir, and in a most fit and proper way. And when, Nāgasena, they hear of it the world of men and gods will be made tender of conscience, and afraid of falling into sin, struck with awe at the sight of it, and still more so when they themselves associate with wrong-doers, or do wrong.'

18. 'Now would a physician, O king, administer pleasant things as a medicine in a case where all the humours of the body were affected, and the whole frame was disorganised and full of disease?'

'No. Wishing to put an end to the disease he would give sharp and scarifying drugs.'

'In the same way, O king, the Tathāgata bestows admonition for the sake of suppressing all the diseases of sin. And the words of the Tathāgata, even when stern, soften men and make them tender. Just as hot water, O king, softens and makes tender anything capable of being softened, so are the words of the Tathāgata, even when stern, yet as full of benefit, and as full of pity as the words of a father would be to his children. Just, O king, as the drinking of evil-smelling decoctions, the swallowing of nasty drugs, destroys the weaknesses of men's bodies, so are the words of the Tathāgata even when stern, bringers of advantage and laden with pity. And [241] just, O king, as a ball of cotton falling on a man raises no bruise, so do the words of the Tathāgata, even when stern, do no harm.'

'Well have you made this problem clear by many a simile, Very good, Nāgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.'

End of the dilemma as to the Buddha's harsh words to Sudinna


The Tree Talking


19. 'Venerable Nāgasena, the Tathāgata said:

"Brahman! why do you ask an unconscious thing,
Which cannot hear you, how it does to-day?
Active, intelligent, and full of life,
How can you speak to this so senseless thing-
This wild Palāsa tree?"[47]

And on the other hand he said:

"And thus the Aspen tree then made reply:
'I, Bhāradvāga, can speak too. Listen to me.'"[48]

'Now if, Nāgasena, a tree is an unconscious thing, it must be false that the Aspen tree spoke to Bhāradvāga. But if that is true, it must be false to say that a tree is unconscious. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

20. The Master said, Nāgasena, that a tree is unconscious. And the Aspen tree conversed with Bhāradvāga. But that last is said, O king, by a common form of speech. For though a tree being unconscious cannot talk, yet the word "tree" is used [242] as a designation of the dryad who dwells therein, and in that sense that "the tree talks" is a well-known expression. just, O king, as a waggon laden with corn is called a corn-waggon. But it is not made of corn, it is made of wood, yet because of the corn being heaped up in it the people use the expression "corn-waggon." Or just, O king, as when a man is churning sour milk the common expression is that he is churning butter. But it is not butter that he is churning, but milk. Or just, O king, as when a man is making something that does not exist the common expression is that he is making that thing which all the while as yet is not, but people talk of the work as accomplished before it is done. And the Tathāgata, when expounding the Dhamma, does so by means of the phraseology which is in common use among the people.'

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


Here ends the dilemma as to the talking tree.


The Buddha's Last Illness


21. 'Venerable Nāgasena, it was said by the Elders who held the Recitation:[49]

"When he had eaten Kunda's alms,
The coppersmith's,--thus have I heard,--
The Buddha felt that sickness dire,
That sharp pain even unto death."[50]

[243] And afterwards the Blessed One said: "These two offerings of food, Ānanda, equal, of equal fruit, and of equal result, are of much greater fruit and much greater result than any others."[51] Now if sharp sickness fell upon the Blessed One, Nāgasena, after he had partaken of Kunda's alms, and sharp pains arose within him even unto death, then that other statement must be wrong. But if that is right then the first must be wrong. How could that alms, Nāgasena, be of great fruit when it turned to poison, gave rise to disease, put an end to the period of his then existence, took away his life? Explain this to me to the refutation of the adversaries. The people are in bewilderment about this, thinking that the dysentery must have been caused by his eating too much, out of greediness.'

22. 1 The Blessed One said, O king, that there were two almsgivings equal, of equal fruit, and equal result, and of much greater fruit, and much greater result than any others,--that which, when a Tathāgata has partaken of it, he attains to supreme and perfect Buddhahood (Enlightenment), and that when he has partaken of which, he passes away by that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.[52] For that alms is full of virtue, full of advantage. The gods, O king, shouted in joy and gladness at the thought: "This is the last meal the Tathāgata will take," and communicated a divine power of nourishment to that tender [244] pork.[53] And that was itself in good condition, light, pleasant, full of flavour, and good for digestion.[54] It was not because of it that any sickness fell upon the Blessed One, but it was because of the extreme weakness of his body, and because of the period of life he had to live having been exhausted, that the disease arose, and grew worse and worse--just as when, O king, an ordinary fire is burning, if fresh fuel be supplied, it will burn up still more -- or as when a stream is flowing along as usual, if a [245] heavy rain falls, it will become a mighty river with a great rush of water--or as when the body is of its ordinary girth, if more food be eaten, it becomes broader than before. So this was not, O king, the fault of the food that was presented, and you can not impute any harm to it.'

23. 'But, venerable Nāgasena, why is it that those two gifts of food are so specially meritorious?'

'Because of the attainment of the exalted conditions which resulted from them.'[55]

'Of what conditions, Nāgasena, are you speaking?'

'Of the attainment of the nine successive states which were passed through at first in one order, and then in the reverse order.'[56]

'It was on two days, was it not, Nāgasena, that the Tathāgata attained to those conditions in the highest degree?'

'Yes, O king.'[57]

'It is a most wonderful thing, Nāgasena, and a most strange, that of all the great and glorious gifts which were bestowed upon our Blessed One[58] not one can be compared with these two almsgivings. Most marvellous is it, that even as those [246] nine successive conditions are glorious, even so are those gifts made, by their glory, of greater fruit, and of greater advantage than any others. Very good, Nāgasena! That is so, and I accept it as you say.

Here ends the dilemma as to the Buddha's last illness


Adoration Of Relics


24. 'Venerable Nāgasena, the Tathāgata said: "Hinder not yourselves, Ānanda, by honouring the remains of the Tathāgata."[59] And on the other hand he said:

"Honour that relic of him who is worthy of honour,
Acting in that way you go from this world to heaven."[60]

'Now if the first injunction was right the second must be wrong, and if the second is right the first must be wrong. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

25. 'Both the passages you quote were spoken by the Blessed One. But it was not to all men, it was to the sons of the Conqueror[61] that it was said: "Hinder not yourselves, Ānanda, by honouring the remains of the Tathāgata".[62] Paying reverence is not the work of the sons of the Conqueror, but rather the grasping of the true nature of all [247] compounded things, the practice of thought, contemplation in accordance with the rules of Satipatthāna, the seizing of the real essence of all objects of thought, the struggle against evil, and devotion to their own (spiritual) good. These are things which the sons of the Conqueror ought to do, leaving to others, whether gods or men, the paying of reverence.'[63]

26. 'And that is so, O king, just as it is the business of the princes of the earth to learn all about elephants, and horses, and chariots, and bows, and rapiers, and documents, and the law of property,[64] to carry on the traditions of the Khattiya clans, and to fight themselves and to lead others in war, while husbandry, merchandise, and the care of cattle are the business of other folk, ordinary Vessas and Suddas.--Or just as the business of Brahmins and their sons is concerned with the Rig-veda, the Yagur-veda, the Sama-veda, the Atharva-veda, with the knowledge of lucky marks (on the body), of legends,[65] Purānas, lexicography,[66] prosody, phonology, verses. grammar, etymology, astrology, interpretation of omens, and of dreams, and of signs, study of the six Vedāṅgas, of eclipses of the sun and moon, of the prognostications to be drawn from the flight of comets, the thunderings of the gods, the junctions of planets, the fall of meteors, earthquakes, conflagrations, and signs in the heavens and on the earth, the study of arithmetic, of casuistry, [248] of the interpretation of the omens to be drawn from dogs, and deer, and rats, and mixtures of liquids, and the sounds and cries of birds-while husbandry, merchandise, and the care of cattle are the business of other folk, ordinary Vessas and Suddas. So it was, O king, in the sense of "Devote not yourselves to such things as are not your business, but to such things as are so" that the Tathāgata was speaking when he said: "Hinder not yourselves, Ānanda, by honouring the remains of the Tathāgata." And if, O king, he had not said so, then would the Bhikkhus have taken his bowl and his robe, and occupied themselves with paying reverence to the Buddha through them!'[67]

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

Here ends the dilemma as to reverence to relics


The Splinter of Rock


27. 'Venerable Nāgasena, you Bhikkhus say that: "When the Blessed One walked along, the earth, unconscious though it is, filled up its deep places, and made its steep places plain."[68] And on the other hand you say that a splinter of [249] rock grazed his foot.[69] When that splinter was falling on his foot why did it not, then, turn aside? If it be true that the unconscious earth makes its deep places full and its steep places plain for him, then it must be untrue that the splinter of rock hurt his foot. But if the latter statement be true, then the first must be false. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

28. 'Both statements, O king, are true. But that splinter of rock did not fall of itself,[70] it was cast down through the act of Devadatta. Through hundreds of thousands of existences, O king, had Devadatta borne a grudge against the Blessed One.[71] It was through that hatred that he seized hold of a mighty mass of rock, and pushed it over with the hope that it would fall upon the Buddha's head. But two other rocks came together, and intercepted it before it reached the Tathāgata, and by the force of their impact a splinter was torn off, and fell in such a direction that it struck the Blessed One's foot.'

29. 'But, Nāgasena, just as two rocks intercepted that mighty mass, so could the splinter have been intercepted.'

'But a thing intercepted, O king, can escape, slip through, or be lost -- as water does, through the fingers, when it is taken into the hand -- or milk, or buttermilk, or honey, or ghee, or oil, or fish curry, [250] or gravy -- or as fine, subtle, minute, dusty grains of sand do, through the fingers, if you close your fist on them -- or as rice will escape sometimes when you have taken it into your fingers, and are putting it into your mouth.'

30. 'Well, let that be so, Nāgasena. I admit that the rock was intercepted. But the splinter ought at least to have paid as much respect to the Buddha as the earth did.'

'There are these twelve kinds of persons, O king, who pay no respect--the lustful man in his lust, and the angry man in his malice, and the dull man in his stupidity, and the puffed-up man in his pride, and the bad man in his want of discrimination, and the obstinate man in his want of docility, and the mean man in his littleness, and the talkative man in his vanity, and the wicked man in his cruelty, and the wretched man in his misery, and the gambler because he is overpowered by greed, and the busy man in his search after gain. But that splinter, just as it was broken off by the impact of the rocks, fell by chance[72] in such a direction that it struck against the foot of the Blessed One -- just as fine, subtle, and minute grains of sand, when carried away by the force of the wind, are sprinkled down by chance in any direction they may happen to take. If the splinter, O king, had not been separated from the rock of which it formed a part, it too would have been intercepted by their meeting together. But, as it was, it was neither fixed on the earth, nor did it remain stationary in the air, but fell whithersoever [251] chance directed it, and happened to strike against the Blessed One's foot--just as dried leaves might fall if caught up in a whirlwind. And the real cause of its so striking against his foot was the sorrow-working deed[73] of that ungrateful, wicked, Devadatta.'

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

Here ends the dilemma as to the splinter grazing the Buddha's foot


The Samaṇa


31. 'Venerable Nāgasena, the Blessed One said: "A man becomes a Samaṇa by the destruction of the Āsavas."[74] But on the other hand he said:

"The man who has these dispositions four
Is he whom the world knows as Samaṇa."[75]

And in that passage these are the four dispositions referred to -- long-suffering, temperance in food, renunciation,[76] and the being without the attachments[77] (arising from lust, ill-will, and dullness). Now these four dispositions are equally found in those who are still defective, in whom [252] Āsavas have not yet been completely destroyed. So that if the first statement be correct, the second is wrong, and if the second be right the first must be wrong. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

32. 'Both statements, O king, were made by the Blessed One. But the second was said of the characteristics of such and such men; the first is an inclusive statement--that all in whom the Āsavas are destroyed are Samaṇas. And moreover, of all those who are made perfect by the suppression of evil, if you take them in regular order one after the other, then the Samaṇa in whom the Āsavas are destroyed is acknowledged to be the chief--just, O king, as of all flowers produced in the water or on the land, the double jasmine[78] is acknowledged to be the chief, all other kinds of flowers of whatever sort are merely flowers, and taking them in order it is the double jasmine that people most desire and like. Or just, O king, as of all kinds of grain, rice is acknowledged to be the chief, all other kinds of grain, of whatever sort, are useful for food and for the support of the body, but if you take them in order, rice is acknowledged as the best.'

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

Here ends the dilemma as to what constitutes a Samaṇa


The Buddha's Exultation


[253] 33. 'Venerable Nāgasena, the Blessed One said: "If, O Bhikkhus, any one should speak in praise of me, or of our religion (Dhamma), or of the Order, you should not thereupon indulge in joy, or delight, or exultation of mind".[79] And on the other hand the Tathāgata was so delighted, and pleased, and exultant at the deserved praise bestowed on him by Sela the Brahman, that he still further magnified his own goodness in that he said:

"A king am I, Sela, the king supreme
Of righteousness. The royal chariot wheel
In righteousness do I set rolling on--
That wheel that no one can turn back again!"[80]

Now if the passage first quoted be right then must the second be wrong, but if that be right then must the first be wrong. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

34. 'Both your quotations, O king, are correct. But the first passage was spoken by the Blessed One with the intention of setting forth truthfully, exactly, in accordance with reality, and fact, and [254] sense, the real nature, and essence, and characteristic marks of the Dhamma. And the second passage was not spoken for the sake of gain or fame, nor out of party spirit, nor in the lust of winning over men to become his followers. But it was in mercy and love, and with the welfare of others in view, conscious that thereby three hundred young Brahmans would attain to the knowledge of the truth, that he said: "A king am I, Sela, the king supreme of righteousness."'

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

Here ends the problem as to exultation of mind



Kindness and Punishment



35. 'Venerable Nāgasena, the Blessed One said:

"Doing no injury to any one
Dwell full of love and kindness in the world."[81]

And on the other hand he said: "Punish him who deserves punishment,[82] favour him who is worthy of favour." Now punishment, Nāgasena, means the cutting off of hands or feet, flogging,[83] casting into bonds, torture,[84] execution, degradation in rank.[85]

[255] Such a saying is therefore not worthy of the Blessed One, and he ought not to have made use of it. For if the first injunction be right then this must be wrong, and if this be right then the injunction to do no injury to any one, but to dwell full of love and kindness in the world, must be wrong. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

36. 'The Blessed One, great king, gave both the commands you quote. As to the first, to do no injury to any one, but to live full of love and kindness in the world--that is a doctrine approved by all the Buddhas. And that verse is an injunction, an unfolding of the Dhamma, for the Dhamma has as its characteristic that it works no ill. And the saying is thus in thorough accord with it. But as to the second command you quote that is a special use of terms [which you have misunderstood. The real meaning of them is: "Subdue that which ought to be subdued, strive after, cultivate, favour what is worthy of effort, cultivation, and approval"]. The proud heart, great king, is to be subdued, and the lowly heart cultivated--the wicked heart to be subdued, and the good heart to be cultivated -- carelessness of thought is to. be subdued, and exactness of thought to be cultivated -- he who is given over to wrong views is to be subdued, and he who has attained to right views is to be cultivated -- he who is not noble[86] is to be subdued, and the noble one is [256] to be cultivated -- the robber[87] is to be subdued, and the honest brother is to be cultivated.'

37. 'Let that be so, Nāgasena. But now, in that last word of yours, you have put yourself into my power, you have come round to the sense in which I put my question. For how, venerable Nāgasena, is the robber to be subdued by him who sets to work to subdue him?'

'Thus, great king -- if deserving of rebuke let him be rebuked, if of a fine let him be fined, if of banishment let him be banished, if of death let him be put to death.'

'Is then, Nāgasena, the execution of robbers part of the doctrine laid down by the Tathāgatas?'

'Certainly not, O king.'

'Then why have the Tathāgatas laid down that the robber is to be taught better?'

'Whosoever, great king, may be put to death, he does not suffer execution by reason of the opinion put forth by the Tathāgatas. He suffers by reason of what he himself has done. But notwithstanding that the doctrine of the Dhamma has been taught (by the Buddhas),[88] would it be possible, great king, for a man who had done nothing wrong, and was walking innocently along the streets, to be seized and put to death by any wise person?'

'Certainly not.'

[257] 'But why?'

'Because of his innocence.'

'Just so, great king, since the thief is not put to death through the word of the Tathāgata, but only through his own act, how can any fault be rightly found on that account with the Teacher?'

'It could not be, Sir.'

'So you see the teaching of the Tathāgatas is a righteous teaching.'

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

Here ends the problem as to kindness and punishment


The Dismissal of the Elders


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

"Anger I harbour not, nor sulkiness."[89]

But on the other hand the Tathāgata dismissed the Elders Sāriputta and Moggallāna, together with the brethren who formed their company of disciples.[90]

[258] How now, Nāgasena, was it in anger that the Tathāgata sent away[91] the disciples, or was it in pleasure? Be so good as to explain to me how this was.[92] For if, Nāgasena, he dismissed them in anger, then had the Tathāgata not subdued all liability to anger in himself. But if it was in pleasure, then he did so ignorantly, and without due cause. This too is a double-edged problem now put to you, and you have to solve it.'

39. 'The Blessed One did say, O king:

"Anger I harbour not, nor sulkiness."

And he did dismiss the Elders with their disciples. But that was not in anger. Suppose, O king, that a man were to stumble against some root, or stake, or stone, or potsherd, or on uneven ground, and fall upon the broad earth. Would it be that the broad earth, angry with him, had made him fall?'

'No, indeed, Sir. The broad earth feels neither anger against any man nor delight. It is altogether [259] free from ill-will, neither needs it to fawn on any one. It would be by reason of his own carelessness that that man stumbled and fell.'

'Just so, great king, do the Tathāgatas experience neither anger against, nor pride in any man. Altogether free are the Tathāgatas, the Arahat-Buddhas, alike from ill-will, and from the need to fawn on any one. And those disciples were sent away by reason of what they themselves had done. So also the great ocean endures not association with any corpse. Any dead body there may be in it that does it promptly cast up, and leave high and dry on the shore.[93] But is it in anger that it casts it up?'

'Certainly not, Sir. The broad ocean feels neither anger against any, nor does it take delight in any. It seeks not in the least to please any, and is altogether free from the desire to harm.'

'Just so, great king, do the Tathāgatas feel neither anger against any man, nor do they place their faith in any man. The Tathāgatas, the Arahat-Buddhas, are quite set free from the desire either to gain the goodwill of any man, or to do him harm, And it was by reason of what they themselves had done that those disciples were sent away. Just as a man, great king, who stumbles against the ground is made to fall, so is he who stumbles in the excellent teaching of the Conqueror made to go away. just as a corpse in the great ocean is cast up, so is he who stumbles in the excellent teaching of the Conqueror sent away. And when the Tathāgata sent those disciples away it was for their good, and their [260] gain, their happiness, and their purification, and in order that in that way they should be delivered from birth, old age, disease, and death.'

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

Here ends the problem as to the dismissal of the Elders

Here ends the Third Chapter


[1] This is a quotation from a celebrated verse, which is, as it were, the national anthem of those who, in the struggle for religious and ceremonial supremacy between the Brahmans and the nobles, took the side of the nobles (the Khattiyas). As might be expected it is not seldom found in the Buddhist Suttas, and is often put in the mouth of the Buddha, the most distinguished of these Khattiyas who were transcendental rather than military. It runs: 'The Khattiya is the best in the world of those who observe the rules of exogamous marriage, but of the whole race of men and gods he who has wisdom and righteousness is the best.' See, for instance, the Ambaṭṭha Sutta, in the Dīgha Nikāya, and the Sumaṅgala Vilāsinī on that passage. By 'best in the world' is meant 'entitled to take precedence before all others,' not best in the moral sense.

[2] From the Aggañña Sutta in the Dīgha Nikāya.

[3] I cannot give any authority for this, but it is no doubt correct Buddhism according to the spirit of the Piṭakas.

[4] Liṅgāni. See above, IV, 1, 61.

[5] Aggo niyamo. Hīnaṭi-kumburê takes agga in the sense of Arahatship: 'Niwan dena pratipattiyen yukta bawa.' Niyama is a self-imposed vow.

[6] Vihāra, which the Siɱhalese glosses by: 'Sansun iriyāpatha wiharaṇayen yukta bawa,' ('because he continues in the practice of tranquil deportment.')

[7] Saɱyama. 'Kāya wāk saɱyamayen yukta bawa.'

[8] Saɱvaro. 'Indriya saɱvarayen yukta bawa.'

[9] Khanti, which the Siɱhalese repeats.

[10] Sorakkaɱ. 'Because he is docile and pleasant of speech,' says the Siɱhalese: 'Suwaka kīkaru bhāwayen yukta bawa.' It is an abstract noun formed from surata, and does not occur in Sanskrit, though Böhtlingk-Roth give one authority for it (under sauratya) from a Buddhist work, the Vyutpatti. It is one of the many instances in which the Buddhist ethics has put new and higher meaning into current phrases, for in Sanskrit literature surata (literally 'high pleasure') is used frequently enough, but almost without exception in an obscene sense. The commentary on Gātaka III, 442 only repeats the word. It is there, as here, and in the Vyutpatti, and at Aṅguttara II, 15, 3, always allied with khanti. My translation follows Childers--(who probably follows Böhtlingk-Roth); but the Siɱhalese gloss here makes me very doubtful as to the exact connotation which the early Buddhists associated with 'high pleasure.'

[11] Ekatta-kariyā = Ekalāwa hœsirīmen yukta bawa.'

[12] Ekattābhirati.

[13] Paṭisallaṇaɱ, not samādhi. Kittekāgratā says the Siɱhalese.

[14] Hiri-otappaɱ.

[15] Viriyaɱ, 'the zeal of the fourfold effort (pradhāna) towards the making of Arahatship,' is the Siɱhalese gloss.

[16] Appamādo, 'in the search for Arahatship,' says Hīnaṭi-kumburê.

[17] Sikkha-samādanaɱ. 'Learning them, investigating their meaning, love of the virtuous law laid down in them,' expands Hīnaṭi-kumburê.

[18] Uddero. There is a lacuna here in the Siɱhalese. It has nothing more till we come to the shaven head.

[19] Amrita mahā avakāsa bhūmiyaṭa says the Siɱhalese (p. 205).

[20] Arahati. I have endeavoured to imitate the play upon the words.

[21] N'atthi me so samayo ti: E sāmāgrī lābhaya maṭa nœtœyi sitā.

[22] Āgamo, which the Siɱhalese repeats.

[23] Purohita, which the Siɱhalese repeats.

[24] I cannot give chapter and verse for the words, but the sentiment is common enough.

[25] This is not the Āditta-pariyāya given in the Mahāvagga I, 21, and the Aggikkhandūpama Sutta in the 7th Book of the Aṅguttara.

[26] Adhikāra. Pradhāna is the Siɱhalese translation.

[27] Bugghanti: unto Arahatship adds Hīnaṭi-kumburê.

[28] Madhuka. See Gātaka IV, 434. The Siɱhalese (p. 208) has mīgahak (Bassia Latifolia).

[29] Rakkhanto, which Hīnaṭi-kumburê expands in the sense adopted above.

[30] Plantains and bambūs die when they flower. And it was popular belief in India that she-mules always died if they foaled. See Kullavagga VI, 4, 3; VII, 2, 5; Vimāna Vatthu 43, 8; Saɱyutta Nikāya VI, 2, 2.

[31] Hīnaṭi-kumburê here inserts a translation of the whole of the Sutta referred to.

[32] Amatam, with reference, no doubt, to Arahatship, of which this is also an epithet.

[33] Visūkikāya, which Hīnaṭi-kumburê renders: Agīrṇa wa wiwekābādhayen. So above, IV, 2, 18.

[34] I don't know where such a phrase is put into Sāriputta's mouth: but a similar one, as Mr. Trenckner points out, is ascribed to the Buddha at Aṅguttara VII, 6, 5.

[35] Kalanda-putto, where Kalanda (or Kalandaka as some MSS. of the Vinaya spell it) is the name of the clan (see Pārāgika I, 5, 1), not of the father.

[36] See the whole speech at Pārāgika I, 5, 11.

[37] Garuttāsena. Tāso is not in Childers, but occurs Gātaka 177, 202.

[38] There is nothing in the Vinaya account of this result.

[39] Duttha-kittena, which Hīnaṭi-kumburê repeats.

[40] Asārambhena yāthāva-lakkhaṇena. For yāthāva, which is not in Childers, see Buddhaghosa in the Sumaṅgala Vilāsinī, p. 65, and Dhammapāla on Theri Gāthā, 387. Hīnaṭi-kumburê translates: Upadra karana sitakin ut no wanneya, swabhāwa lakshaṇayen maya ehi wadāla kisiwek œt nam, ê swabhāwa lakshaṇaya maya.

[41] Mogham. So at Gātaka III, 24.

[42] Mogha-puriso, the same word as I have translated elsewhere 'foolish fellow,' following Childers. But I never think that the word means always and only 'in vain, useless.' See Gātaka I, 14; III, 24, 25; Sutta Nipāta III, 7, 20; Mahāvagga VIII, 1, 5; Kullavagga V, 1, 3; Aṅguttara II, 5, 10; Sumaṅgala Vilāsinī, p. 55.

[43] Literally, 'a fine of a kahāpaṇa,' a copper coin worth in our money about a penny. See my 'Ancient Coins and Measures,' p. 3.

[44] Visuɱ vohāraɱ ākaranto. The Siɱhalese (p. 224) has Wen wū wakana wū wyawahārayekin hœsiremin.

[45] Hananti. But hiɱsāt kereti says the Siɱhalese.

[46] Gāpenti. Dr. Edward Müller thinks this a misprint for ghāpenti (Pāli Grammar, p. 37). Dhanaya hānayen nirddhanīka kereti is the Siɱhalese version.

[47] Gātaka III, 24. it is not the Tathāgata, but the Bodisat, who speaks.

[48] Gātaka IV, 210, where the verses are ascribed to the Buddha.

[49] The Council of Rāgagaha is meant, at which the Piṭakas were recited. All the so-called Councils are exclusively 'Recitations' (Saɱgītiyo) in Buddhist phraseology. But 'Council' is the best rendering of the word, as Recitation implies so much that would be unintelligible to the ordinary reader.

[50] Book of the Great Decease, IV, 23.

[51] Book of the Great Decease, IV, 57, but with a slightly different reading.

[52] Book of the Great Decease, loc. cit. The Siɱhalese gives the whole context in full.

[53] Sūkara-maddava. There is great doubt as to the exact meaning of this name of the last dish the Buddha partook of. Maddati is 'to rub,' or 'to press,' or 'to trample,' and just as 'pressed beef' is ambiguous, so is 'boar-pressed' or 'pork-tender' capable of various interpretations. The exegetical gloss as handed down in the Mahā Vihāra in Anurādhapure, Ceylon, in the now lost body of tradition called the Mahā Atthakathā, has been preserved by Dhammapāla in his comment on Udāna VIII, 5 (p. 81 of Dr, Steinthal's edition for the Pāli Text Society). It means, I think, 'Meat pervaded by the tenderness and niceness of boar's (flesh).' But that is itself ambiguous, and Dhammapāla adds that others say the word means not pork or meat at all, but 'the tender top sprout of the bambū plant after it has been trampled upon by swine'--others again that it means a kind of mushroom that grows in ground trodden under foot by swine--others again that it means only a particular kind of flavouring, or sauce. As Maddana is rendered by Childers 'withered,' I have translated it in my 'Buddhist Suttas' (pp. 71-73) 'dried boar's flesh.' But the fact is that the exact sense is not known. (Maddavāni pupphāni at Dhammapada 377 is 'withered flowers,' according to Fausböll. But it may be just as well 'tender flowers,' especially as Mārdava in Sanskrit always means 'tender, pitiful,' &c. This is the only passage where the word is known to occur in Pāli apart from those in which sūkara-maddava is mentioned.) The Siɱhalese here (p. 230) repeats the word and adds the gloss: E taruṇu wū ūru maɱsayehi.

[54] Gatharaggi-tegassa hitam. On this curious old belief in an internal fire see my 'Buddhist Suttas,' p. 260.

[55] Dhammānumaggana-samāpatti-varena: which the Siɱhalese merely repeats. For Anumagganā see the text above, p. 62, and Sumangala Vilāsinī, p. 65.

[56] See the full description in the Book of the Great Decease, VI, 11-13. ('Buddhist Suttas,' pp. 115, 116.) The Siɱhalese is here greatly expanded (pp. 230-233).

[57] So our author must have thought that the nine Anupubbavihāras occurred also after the alms given to Gotama before he sat under the Bo Tree, but I know of no passage in the Piṭakas which would support this belief. Compare the note 2 in vol. i, p. 74 of the 'Vinaya Texts,' and the passages there quoted.

[58] Buddha-khette dānam, 'gifts which had the Buddha as the field in which they were bestowed, or sown.'

[59] Book of the Great Decease, V, 24.

[60] Not found in any of the Piṭaka texts as yet published.

[61] Gina-puttānaɱ. That is, the members of the Order.

[62] Here again Hīnaṭi-kumburê goes into a long account of the attendant circumstances (pp. 2 33, 234).

[63] This is really only an expansion and a modernisation of the context of the passage quoted.

[64] Lekha-muddā. See the note above on I, 1, 10.

[65] Itihāsa, 'the Bhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa,' says the Siɱhalese.

[66] 'Of names of trees and so on,' says Hīnaṭi-kumburê.

[67] This certainly looks as if our author did not know anything of the worship paid to the supposed bowl of the Buddha, or of the feast, the Patta-maha, held in its honour. The passage may therefore be used as an argument for the date of the book. Fā-Hsien saw this bowl-worship in full force at Peshawar about 400 A. D. See Chapter xii of his travels (Dr. Legge's translation, pp. 35-37).

[68] Not found as yet in the Piṭakas.

[69] Kullavagga VII, 3, 9. Compare the Samyutta Nikāya I, 4, 8; 1V, 2, 3 (pp. 27 and 110 of M. Léon Feer's edition for the Pāli Text Society).

[70] Attaro dhammatāya.

[71] So above, IV, 2, 64, and below, IV, 4, 41.

[72] Animitta-kata-disā, which the Siɱhalese (p. 238) merely repeats.

[73] Dukkhānubhāvanā--the sorrow being Devadatta's subsequent existence in purgatory.

[74] That is 'of sensuality, individuality, delusion, and ignorance.' I don't know which is the passage referred to.

[75] Also not traced as yet in the texts.

[76] Vippahānā, not in Childers, but see Sutta Nipāta V, 14. 4, 5. Hīnaṭi-kumburê (p. 239) renders it ālaya hœrīma.

[77] Ākinkañña, not having the three kiñkanas mentioned. Hīnaṭi-kumburê (p. 239) takes it to mean the practice of the ṭkiñkāyatana meditation. But if so that would surely have been the word used.

[78] Varsikā (Dœsaman mal, jasminum zambac).

[79] From the Brahma-gāla Sutta in the Dīgha Nikāya (I, 1, 5).

[80] From the Sela, Sutta in the Sutta Nipāta (III, 7, 7). Professor Fausböll in his translation of this stanza (at vol. x, p. 102 of the 'Sacred Books of the East') draws attention to the parallel at John xviii. 37. 'Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born. And for this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth'--where 'truth,' if one translated the verse into Pāli, would be correctly rendered by Dhamma, 'righteousness, religion, truth, essential quality.' Professor Fausböll's version of the stanza runs: 'I am a king, O Sela, an incomparable religious (Dhamma-rāga) king, with justice (Dhamma). I turn the wheel, a wheel that is irresistible.'

[81] From the 521st Gātaka.

[82] The crux lies in the ambiguity of this phrase as will be seen below.

[83] Vadha, which is ambiguous, and means also 'killing.' The Siɱhalese repeats the word.

[84] Kāraṇā, which Hīnaṭi-kumburê renders tœlīmaya, 'flogging.'

[85] Santati-vikopanaɱ, literally 'breach of continuity.' Hīnaṭi-kumburê explains it to mean 'injury to the duration of life,' and this may be the author's meaning, as he is fond of heaping together a string of words, some of which mean the same thing. But as santati means also 'lineage, descent,' the phrase may equally well refer to the sort of punishment I have ventured to put into the text.

[86] Ariyo and anariyo used technically in the sense of one who has not, and one who has, entered upon the Noble Eightfold Path.

[87] Coro probably here used figuratively of a member of the Order who is unworthy of it, and injures believing laymen. So the word is used, for instance, in the introductory story (in the Sutta Vibhanga) to the fourth Pārāgika--where four sorts of such religious 'robbers' are distinguished (compare our 'wolf in sheep's clothing'). But the king takes it literally.

[88] The three words in brackets are Hīnaṭi-kumburê's gloss.

[89] From the Dhaniya Sutta in the Sutta Nipāta (1, 2, 2).

[90] The episode here referred to will be found in the Magghima Nikāya, No. 67. Hīnaṭi-kumburê gives it in full. The Buddha was staying at the ṭmalakī garden near the Sākya town called Kātumā. There the two elders with their attendant 500 disciples came to call upon him. 'The resident Bhikkhus received them with applause, and a great hubbub arose. The Buddha enquired what that noise was, like the chattering of fishermen when a net full of fishes was drawn to shore. Ānanda told him. Thereupon the Buddha called the brethren together, made a discourse to them on the advantages of quiet, and 'sent away' the visitors. They went to the public rest-house in the town. The town's folk enquired why, and when they heard the reason, went to the Buddha, and obtained his forgiveness for the offending brethren. The incident is the basis of another question below, IV, 4, 41.

[91] Paṇāmesi means, in the technical legal phraseology of the Buddhist canon law, 'formally dismissed, sent away, did not allow them any more to be his disciples,' On this technical meaning of the term, compare Mahāvagga I, 2, 27, and Kullavagga XII, 2, 3. (Childers does not give this use of the word.) But it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which the Buddha could so have dismissed his two principal disciples. So I think we must take the word in a less formal sense-such, for instance, as we find in Thera Gāthā 511, 557.

[92] Etaɱ tāva gānāhi imaɱ nāmāti. I follow Hīnaṭi-kumburê's rendering (p. 244) of this difficult phrase, according to which there ought to be a full stop in the text after paṇāmesi, and these words are supposed to be addressed to Nāgasena by Milinda. But I am not at all satisfied that he is right, and the text may be corrupt.

[93] This supposed fact is already the ground of a comparison in the Kullavagga IX, 1, 3, 4 ('Vinaya Texts,' III, 303)


Next: Chapter 4

Copyright Statement