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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 20

Bhikkhaka Suttaɱ

The Mendicant




On one occasion at Sāvatthi
a mendicant[1] brahmin came to visit the Exalted One and,
exchanging with him the greetings and compliments of courtesy,
sat down at one side,
and said to the Exalted One:

"Both I, Master Gotama,
am a mendicant
and his reverence is a mendicant.

What difference is there here between us?"

[The Exalted One: —]

"No[2] man is rightly 'mendicant' so far
As he merely from others seeketh alms.
[231] And is he pledged unto a tainted norm,[3]
Neither to that extent 'almsman' is he.

Whoso, with us, hath in the higher life
Cast out both wickedness and [all the work
Of piling] merit,[4] and by judgment sound[5]
Fares through the world, 'almsman' indeed is he."

When this was spoken
the mendicant brahmin said to the Exalted One:

"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] Bhikkhako. See preceding Sutta.

[2] Occurs Dhp. vers. 266, 267.

[3] Taking vissaɱ dhammaɱ to mean 'the whole law,' Max Müller failed to grasp the point or the Pali. An 'almsman' is essentially one who holds 'right views' and shapes his life according to the sound judgments of the same. On vissaɱ, cf Dhs. § 625; Asl. 319: 'putrid,' 'rancid.' Both Commentaries on the verse refer to such smells; ours also to 'bad norm'; that on Dhp. to merely bodily acts (as the only rule of life).

[4] Max Müller's 'good and bad,' pace Nietzsche, is misleading for a European. (Fausböll's too. See Sn. ver. 520.) Making merit and reaping its reward was mere layman's creed (cf. the preceding Sutta), not that of a genuine bhikkhu, who by entering on the Path had renounced heavenly goals.

[5] Sankhā, paraphrased in both Commentaries by ñāṇa, and explained in Dhp. Comy. as the exercise of discernment and philosophical judgment in regard to all things (Dhp. Comy. iii, 393).

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