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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 12

Āḷavī Suttaɱ

At Āḷavī

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



[12.1][than][piya] THUS HAVE I HEARD: —

The Exalted One was once staying at Āḷavi [and had entered] the haunt of a yakkha of Āḷavi.

Then that yakkha said to the Exalted One:

'Get out, friar!'[1]

'Very good, friend,'
said the Exalted One, and came out.

'Come in, friar!'

'Very good, friend,'
said the Exalted One, and came in.

Thus did the yakkha order the Exalted One a second,
and yet a third time,
and the Exalted One complied each time.

And yet a fourth time the Āḷavan yakkha said to the Exalted One:

'Come out!'

'Nay, friend, I will not come out.

Do what thou hast to do.'

'I will ask thee, friar, a question.

If thou wilt not answer,
I will either derange thy mind,
or split thy heart,
or take thee by the feet
and throw thee over the Ganges.'

'1 see no one, friend, in the whole world,
be he Māra or Brahmā,
be he god or man,
be he brahmin or recluse,
who is able to do any one of these things to me.

Nevertheless ask thou according to thy desire.'

[The Yakkha[2]: —]

What here is the best wealth a man can have?
What well performed brings happiness along?
What in good sooth is of all tastes most sweet?
How do they say our life can best be lived?

[The Exalted One: —]

Faith here is the best wealth a man can have.
Right deeds well done bring happiness along.
Truth in good sooth is of all tastes most sweet.
Life lived by wisdom, they do say, is best.

[The Yakkha: —]

0 say, how may we pass over the flood?
How may we pass over the watery waste?
How may we get past ill and suffering?
How may we win to utter purity?

[The Exalted One: —]

By faith, surely, ye pass over the flood;
By zeal ye pass over the watery waste;
By energy ye get past ill and woe;
By wisdom utter purity ye win.

[The Yakkha: —]

Say, how may wisdom be acquired?
Say, how may wealth be found?
How may we win fame and renown?
And how may friends[3] be bound?
In this world and where life shall be,
How may we lose all misery?

[The Exalted One: —]

Whoso believeth in the Norm
Of Arahants, where lies the way
To win Nibbāna, fain to learn
He should get wisdom, must display
An earnest zeal, discerning wit.[4]

Who doth what seemly is and fit,
And on his back the burden bears
With vigour, he may riches find;
Speaking the truth he wins renown;
And friends by giving he will bind.
In this world and where life shall be
Thus will he lose all misery.

Whoso the layman's life doth seek
In pious faith and hath these four: —
Veracity and self-control,
Steadfastness, generosity —
When passed away, he'll weep,no more.
Yea, verily, I'd have thee ask
Recluses, brahmins one and all,
If any other like these four: —
Veracity and self-control,
A generous will and fortitude —[5]
Are so effective found, that he,
In this world and where life shall be,
When passed away will weep no more.

[The Yakkha: —]

Now wherefore should I question these,
Recluses, brahmins, one and all
Who fully understand to-day,
The causes of the after-life.[6]
0 surely for my growth and good
The Buddha came to Āḷavī.
To-day I fully understand
Where what is given rich fruit may bear.
Lo! I will now a-travelling go,
Village to village, town to town,
To magnify th' Enlightened One,
The seemly Order of the Norm.[7]


[1] The story of this little episode is given with great amplitude and in many identical words by both our Comy. and that on the Sutta Nipāta, where the Sutta also occurs (I, 10). Three salient features at least link it to the large group of stories grouped so ably by Dr. Watanabe under the name of Kalmāsapāda stories (JPTS., 1909-10, p. 240 f.): — (1) The man-eating yakkha, (2) the captured King saving himself by a promise, and the sanctity of that promise. (3) The conversion of the man-eater. When the Sutta begins, the yakkha is represented as returning home and finding the Teacher seated in his dwelling and exhorting a respectful group of his women folk 'as if he were master of the house.' The Buddha has sought permission to enter, with the intention of converting the yakkha. With a heart full of amity, he judges the best way is to soften the yakkha by compliance. The yakkha, expecting a night's wrestling with the supernormal powers of a Rishi, is dazed, and tries that compliance, thinking eventually to tire him.

[2] That the questions and answers had been handed down by the yakkha's parents (who had them from Kassapa Buddha), written on and gold leaf (pappe) in red ink, are a quaint feature in the legend.

[3] Mittāni, the neuter plural. Perhaps 'kind acts' are meant. See I, 6, § 3.

[4] Vicakkhaṇo.

[5] Khanti replaces dhiti. The preceding term, cāga, is in Pali unchanged.

[6] Attho aamparāyiko. 'Growth and good' just below is also attho. B. gives six meanings of *attha, and explains 'causes,' and 'growth and good' thus: — 'causes': karaṇass' etaɱ adhivacanaɱ: 'growth and good': hitāya vuddhiyā ca.

[7] Dhammassa sudhammatā, lit. the fine normality of the Norm: 'So well proclaimed by the Buddha' is all that the Commentaries see in this striking phrase, often occurring in the Pss. of the Brethren.

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