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Saɱyutta Nikāya
I. Sagātha Vagga
10. Yakkha-Saɱyutta

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
I. Kindred Sayings with Verses
10. The Yakkha Suttas

Sutta 1

Indaka Suttaɱ

The Yakkha of Indra's Peak

Translated by Mrs. Rhys Davids
Assisted by Sūriyagoḍa Sumangala Thera
Copyright The Pali Text Society. Public Domain.




The Exalted One was once staying near Rājagaha,
on the hill Indra's Peak,
at the haunt of an Indra's Peak yakkha.[1]

Now that yakkha drew near to the Exalted One
and addressed him in the verse: —

"'Material form is not the living soul'[2]: —
So say th' Enlightened Ones. Then how[3] doth soul
Possess this body? Whence to soul doth come
Our bunch of bones and bowels?[4] How doth soul
Within the mother-cave suspended bide?"

[2263] [The Exalted One:[5] —]

"At first the kalala takes birth, and thence
The abbuda. Therefrom the pesī grows,
Developing as ghana in its turn.
Now in the ghana doth appear the hair,
The down, the nails. And whatsoever food
And drink the mother of him takes, thereby
The man in mother's womb doth live and grow."


[1] 'Peak and yakkha each derived its name from the other,' is B.'s only and quaint comment. An 'Indako yakkho' finds mention in Petavatthu, II, 9, 65 f. The myth of the yakkha, and its evolution still, I believe, await investigation. The English equivalent does not exist. 'Geni' (djinn) is perhaps nearest (cf. Pss. of the Sisters, p. 30). In the early records, yakkha as an appellative is, like nāga, anything but depreciative. Not only is Sakka so called (M. i, 252), but the Buddha himself is so referred to, in poetic diction (M. i, 386). We have seen Kakudha, son of the gods, so addressed (II, 2, § 8); and in D. ii, 170 (Dialogues, ii, 200), the city of the gods, Ālakamandā, is described as 'crowded with Yakkhas' ('gods'). They have a deva's supernormal powers, and are capable of putting very pertinent problems in metaphysic and ethics. But they were decadent divinities, degraded in the later era, when the stories to the Jātaka verses were set down, to the status of red-eyed cannibal ogres. Cf. the older and newer view together in Pss. of the Brethren, p. 245.

[2] Jivaɱ, the vital principle constituting the entity or person proper, B.: satta, puggala.

[3] Nvayaɱ — nu ayaɱ.

[4] Yaka(-na), liver, used symbolically for all the soft parts. B. specifies 900 fleshy units.

[5] The point in the reply is that the embryo evolves into the shape we know by laws of physical growth, and not by the instantaneous materialization wrought by a soul's fiat. Cf. the argument as applied in the Kathāvatthu (xiv, 2; Points of Controversy, p. 284), and the interesting pendant supplied by Lucretius in his maintaining cosmic law: —

Nam fierent juvenes subito ex infantibu'parvis, etc. De Rerum, I, 159#.

The yakkha, says B., is clearly an Animist (Puggalavādin). The Comy. gives interesting details in contemporaneous embryology quoting gāthās from an untraced source on the subject.

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