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Saɱyutta Nikāya
3. Khandha Vagga
22. Khandha Saɱyutta
3. Bhāra Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
3. The Book Called the Khandhā-Vagga
Containing Kindred Sayings on the Elements of Sensory Existence and other Subjects
22. Kindred Sayings on Elements
3. On the Burden

Sutta 22

Bhāra Suttaɱ

The Burden[1]

Translated by F. L. Woodward
Edited by Mrs. Rhys Davids

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[25] [24]

[1][bit][wlsh][than][bodh] Thus have I heard:—

The Exalted One was staying at Sāvatthī.

The Exalted One said:

"I will teach you the burden, brethren,
the taking hold of the burden,
the lifting of it up
and the laying of it down.

Do ye listen carefully.

Give heed and I will speak."

"Even so, Master!"
replied those brethren to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One said:

[25] "What, brethren, is the burden?

It is the mass of the five factors of grasping,
should be the reply.

What five?

The mass of the body factors of grasping,
the mass of the feeling factors of grasping,
the mass of the perception factors of grasping,
the mass of the activities factors of grasping,
the mass of the consciousness factors of grasping.

This, brethren is called
'the burden.'

And what, brethren, is the
'laying hold of the burden'?

'It is the person' should be the reply.

That venerable one
of such and such a name,
of such and such a family.

This, brethren, is called
'the laying hold of the burden.'

And what, brethren, is
'the taking up of the burden'?

It is that craving
that leads downwards to rebirth,[2]
along with the lure and the lust
that lingers longingly
now here,
now there:
the craving for sensation,
the craving for rebirth,
the craving to have done with rebirth.[3]

That, brethren, is called
'the taking up of the burden.'

And what, brethren, is
'the laying down of the burden'?

It is the utter passionless ceasing of craving,
the giving up of craving,
the renouncing of,
the release from,
the absence of longing for
this craving.

That, brethren, is called
'the laying down of the burden.'"

So spake the Exalted One.



The Well-Farer having thus spoken,
the Master said this yet further:

The burden is indeed the fivefold mass:
The seizer of the burden, man:
Taking it up is sorrow in this world:
The laying of it down is bliss.

If a man lay this heavy burden down,
And take not any other burden up:
If he draw out that craving, root and all,
No more an-hungered,[4] he is free.[5]


[1] Cf. Warren 159, who, however, wrongly translates bhārahāro as 'bearer of the burden.'

At V.M. 512, Buddhaghosa says the burden is the fact of sorrow; the taking of it up is the rise of sorrow; the throwing of it down is the ceasing of sorrow; the manner of doing so is the Path.

Professor Keith, Buddhist Philosophy (pub 1923), p 82, says: "the author of the sutra did not entertain the view that the person is nothing save the five aggregates, as these authorities (Buddhaghosa, Vasu-bandhu, Candrakirti, Yasomitra) insist, and all those who maintain that the sutra accepts a person are justified. ... To say that the aggregates are the bearer is to contradict the text.' To this, however, we may add that, in Buddhist fashion, no bearer of the burden is mentioned at all, but a bearing. Hāro is 'a taking.' The puggala is the taking hold of the fivefold mass. Nevertheless, in the second stanza, we cannot avoid the use of the word 'bearer.'

[We need not be misled by the little parable of the 'burden-bearer.' Saɱyutta (iii), xxii, 22, 1. [?] There the 'bearer,' lit. the 'bringer,' is any person; the 'burden' is the mental and bodily complex of his living organism. The 'taking up,' the 'laying down,' of it are the one the exercise, the other the extinction, of craving. The simile is not so told as to convey what one would expect, namely, the laying down at death, the taking up at rebirth. But critics have written as if it did convey this: mind as well as body laid down at death, and a 'person' or ego left burdenless, or with a new burden. This is to garble the text. Mrs. Rhys Davids, Bud. Pay., 1923, p. 259 — Ed. [Ed., that is: the originl Editor]]

[2] Ponobhavika.

[3] Vibhava-taṇhā. Comy., uccheda-diṭṭhi (the annihilationist heresy). Owing to a later use of vibhava to mean expanded (vi-) becoming, or prosperity, this term used to be wrongly rendered in English.

[4] Nicchāto, 'with hunger stilled,' being niṭṭhaṇho.

[5] Parinibbuto: he has completed the round of existence.

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