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Saɱyutta Nikāya
I. Sagātha Vagga
7. Brāhmana Saɱyutta

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
I. Kindred Sayings with Verses
7. The Brāhmana Suttas

Translated by Mrs. Rhys Davids
Assisted by Sūriyagoḍa Sumangala Thera
Public Domain



II: The Lay Adherents


Sutta 11

Kasī Suttaɱ

The Ploughing[1]



[11.1][than][piya] THUS HAVE I HEARD:

The Exalted One was once staying on South Hill,
at Ekanāla, a brahmin village.[2]

Now on that occasion it was the time for sowing,[3]
and Farmer Bhāradvāja, the brahmin,
had harnessed five hundred ploughs.[4]

Then the Exalted One dressed himself in the early morning and,
taking bowl and robe,
drew near to the ploughing operations.

Now at that time Farmer Bhāradvāja's
distribution of food [217] was going on.[5]

And the Exalted One drew near to the scene
and stood at one side.

Now Farmer Bhāradvāja, saw the Exalted One standing there for alms,
and thereat he said:

"Now I, recluse, plough and sow,
and when I have ploughed and sown
I eat.

Do thou also, recluse, plough and sow,
and when thou hast ploughed and sown,

"But I too, brahmin, plough and sow,
and when I have ploughed and sown,
I eat."

"But we see neither Master Gotama's team,
nor his plough,
nor his ploughshare,
nor his goad,
nor his oxen.

And yet Master Gotama says,
'I too, brahmin, plough and sow,
and when I have ploughed and sown, I eat!'"

Then Farmer Bhāradvāja, addressed the Exalted One in a verse: —

"A ploughman by thine own confession thou?
No ploughing can I see!
The 'ploughman' queried, tell me how to know
The ploughing done by thee."

[The Exalted One:—]

"Faith[6] is the seed, and rain the discipline.
Insight for me is plough fitted with yoke,
My pole is conscience[7] and sense-mind the tie,
And mindfulness my ploughshare and my goad.
Guarded in action, guarded too in speech,
And temperate as to my stomach's food,
I weed with truth,[8] and my release from work[9]
Is that fair thing of innermost desire.[10]
[218] Energy is my burden-bearing team,
Drawing my plough toward the haven sure.
Onward it goes nor ever turneth back;
And where it goeth we shall weep no more.[11]
Such is the ploughing that is ploughed by me.
The fruit it bears is food ambrosial.
Whoso this ploughing hath accomplished, he
From suffering and from sorrow is set free."

[The brahmin:—]

"May it please Master Gotama to eat!

A ploughman is Master Gotama, yea,
it is for fruit ambrosial
that Gotama ploughs his ploughing!"

[The Exalted One:—]

"Not mine to enjoy [presents] for chanting verses.[12]
Not normal this, brahmin, for minds discerning,
Buddhas reject [wages] for chanting verses.
True to the Norm, such is their practice ever.
On other grounds minister thou, 0 brahmin,
With food and drink to a great Seer made perfect,
To one from whom purged are all mental poisons,
In whom is calm, peace from all fret and worry.
Yea, here's the field, if for reward thou lookest."

[219] When he had thus spoken, Farmer Bharadvaja said:

"Most excellent, Master Gotama, most excellent!

As if one raised up
that which had been overthrown,
or revealed
that which had been hidden,
or declared the way
to one who was bewildered,
or carried an oil-lamp into the dark,
so that they that had eyes could see,
even so is the Norm in many ways
made manifest by Master Gotama.

Lo! I go for refuge to Gotama the Exalted One,
to the Norm,
and to the Order.

May Master Gotama suffer me as a lay-adherent,
who from this day forth
as long as life endures
has taken in him refuge!"


[1] The Commentary on this charming Sutta sets out and proceeds with such elaborate and graphic amplitude of detail that we may infer the episode possessed great popularity in Buddhaghosa's day and earlier. Nevertheless the corresponding exegesis on the Sutta-nipata version, though often verbatim the same, is not exuberant in the same degree. To judge by both, the ploughing in question was a festival; house and fields, the farmer and his wife, his men and cattle were decorated for the occasion. It was the preliminary to the second or 'mud' sowing (paṅsu-vappa), i.e. presumably the transplanting of the rice-seedlings to the furrows that were to be irrigated.

[2] A village near the hill (with its Vihāra) guarding the South of Rājagaha. Dakkhiṇa-giri is often mentioned in the Canon as a residence for the Order. 'Brahmin villages' occur not seldom in the Jātaka. B. leaves it uncertain whether they were so called from the preponderance of brahmins, or of brahmin-property.

[3] Kasī, literally ploughing, but symbolic of agriculture generally. B. says, he lived by kasī, but there is nothing to show that he undertook the communal ploughing.

[4] B. assigns 8 oxen to the leading team, 4 to each of the others, and a cart full of bīja (seeds or seedlings) to follow each plough; also many relief-oxen in readiness.

[5] Superintended by the brahminee, the pāyāsa, or rice-pudding, was brought out in golden bowls on large carts, and administered to the 600 ploughmen seated around.

[6] I.e. trust, confidence, 'its salient feature being complacency, satisfaction-in (sampasāda), and its essential property, elan, forward impulse (pakkhandana). Comy.

[7] Hiri, conscientiousness, lit. shame (at doing wrong).

[8] I.e. 'insight into things-as-they-have-become.' Comy.

[9] Niddānaɱ.

[10] This clause amplifies the concise and pregnant Pali:

soraccam me pamocanaɱ.

The latter suggests 'the taking off the yoke for a night, for a year.' (Cf. Rigveda, v, 53, 7: vimocanaɱ, resting-place for horses.) 'I,' runs the exegesis, 'took up my yoke ages ago, even in the day of Dīpankara Buddha, nor did I lay it aside till, under the Bodhi-tree, I won the "fruition" of Arahantship. This fruition as something intensely loveable (su-ratattā) is the former term so-raccaɱ, not meaning here absence of licentiousness in act or speech, gentleness; since this has already been taken into account.' It should be noted that the Buddha is not standing up for his work as a missionary versus the farmer's work. He is out to 'save the soul' of the brahmin and says: 'My work has been to accomplish in myself the "one thing needful"; it is done; now I rest (i.e. eat). Have you, yet started?

[11] Cf. Pss. of the Brethren, ver. 138.

[12] Here again the brahmin's approval gives no assurance that the Dhamma preached has sunk into his heart. The subsequent confession of faith shows that it has. See above, VII, 1, §§ 8, 9.

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