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Saɱyutta Nikāya
4. Saḷāyatana Vagga
36. Vedanā Saɱyutta
1. Sagāthā Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
4. The Book Called the Saḷāyatana-Vagga
Containing Kindred Sayings on the 'Six-Fold Sphere' of Sense and Other Subjects
36. Kindred Sayings about Feeling
1. With Verses

Sutta 4

Pātāla Suttaɱ

The Bottomless Pit[1]

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

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[206] [138]

[1][nypo][than][bodh] Thus have I heard:

The Exalted One once addressed the brethren, saying:


"Lord," responded those brethren to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One thus spake:

"The untaught manyfolk, Brethren, utters this saying:

'There is a bottomless pit in the mighty Ocean.'

But herein, Brethren, the untaught manyfolk utters this saying of what is not,
of what exists not, to wit:

'There is a bottomless pit in the mighty Ocean.'

Now this word 'bottomless pit,' Brethren,
is a term for painful bodily feeling.

The untaught manyfolk,
when touched by painful bodily feeling,
weeps and wails,
cries aloud,
knocks the breast
and comes by utter bewilderment.

So, Brethren, it is said:

'The untaught manyfolk
has not emerged from the bottomless pit,[2]
does not reach solid ground.'

But the well-taught Ariyan disciple, Brethren,
when touched by painful bodily feeling,
weeps not,
wails not,
cries not aloud,
knocks not the breast,
comes not by utter bewilderment.

Thus, Brethren, it is said:

'The well-taught Ariyan disciple
has emerged from the bottomless pit,
he reaches solid ground.'"[3]

He who cannot bear with patience
pains that come upon him,
that rack the body,
drain the life,
cause trembling at their touch:

Who weeps and wails,
bursts into tears,
and void of strength,

From the abyss hath not come forth,
nor reached the solid ground.

But he that beareth patiently
the pains that come upon him,
That rack the body,
drain the life,
and feareth not their touch,

He hath come forth from the abyss
and reached the solid ground.


Append., to Brethren, p. 418: Page 373 (1104): 'Hell-flung' is perhaps more rhetorical than closely accurate; pātālakhittaṅ balavāmukhañ ca ... vibhaṅsanaṅ is literallly: [when shall I, etc.] "and o'er the awful mighty abyss-discharged mouth. ..." Pātāla, meaning (vaguely) abyss, is conceived in the Epics and Purāṇas as a bottomless pit on land; in Buddhist literature it is conceived as a whirlpool in the ocean concealing submarine regions. Thus in Saṅyutta Nikāya, iv., 206; "... who says, there is a pātāla in the ocean ..." where, as in i., 32: "Pātālam atarī isi" pātāla is taken metaphorically as any circumstance in which one is carried off one's feet, loses balance (Commentary). Cf. Milinda, ii., 138 for a different application.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[1] Pātālā. Comy. derives it thus: pātassa alaṅ pariyatto n'atthi ('no end of falling'). See Append., to Brethren, p. 418, where Mrs. Rhys Davids says: 'any circumstance in which one is carried off one's feet, loses balance.'

[2] Text has pātālena for pātāle na.

[3] Gādhañ ca n'ajjhagā. Cf. S. i, 47.

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