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26 - Brahmaṇavaggo

The Saint¹

A Saint Knows the Uncreated

“Strive and cut off the stream. O Saint, discard sense-desires.
Having known the destruction of the conditioned, be a knower of the uncreated.”
383

The Brahmin with Strong Faith

A Brahmin with strong faith offered alms in his house regularly to sixteen monks. Whenever he spoke to them he addressed them as Arahants. The modest monks resented this form of address and discontinued their visits to his house. The Brahmin was disappointed and he went to the Buddha to ask why the monks had ceased to come to his house for alms. The monks explained their reasons to the Buddha. The Buddha said that the Brahmin used that form of address only out of respect and that they should try to become Arahants by cutting off the stream of craving.

  1. A Brahmā is a deity who is endowed with boundless loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic-joy, and equanimity. The Brahmāvihāra Dhamma are the meditations on those four sublime states. The brahmācariya is the holy life of chastity. A Brāhmaṇa is therefore a holy person or sage who lives an exemplary life — a Saint. In spite of the connotations of this word, it is the most suitable gender neutral term.

Cultivate Concentration and Insight

“When in two states a Saint goes to the Farther Shore,
then all the fetters of that ‘one who knows’ pass away.”
384

The Visiting Monks

Knowing that some monks visiting from far away were ready to realise nibbāna, the Elder Sāriputta approached the Buddha, and questioned him about these two states, which the Buddha always used to commend. In reply the Buddha uttered this verse.

A Saint is Fearless and Liberated

“For whom there exists neither this shore nor the farther shore,
nor both this shore and the farther shore,
he who is fearless and liberated — him I call a Saint.”
385

Māra’s Question About the Farther Shore

Disguised as a man, Māra approached the Buddha and questioned him about the farther shore. The Buddha, recognising him, dismissed him saying that he had nothing to do with the farther shore and uttered the above verse.

Therein, “This shore,” means one’s own six senses; “The farther shore,” means the six external sense objects. One who does not grasp at either with ideas of “I” or “mine” is fearless and liberated from all defilements and is therefore called a Saint.

On the conclusion of the discourse many attained Stream-winning.

A Saint is Meditative and Stainless

“He who is meditative, stainless and secluded,
he who has done his duty and is free from corruptions,
he who has attained the Highest Goal — him I call a Saint.”
386

A Certain Brahmin

A Brahmin noted that the Buddha used to address his monks as “Brāhmaṇa,” and he thought that he too was entitled to the same form of address as he was a Brahmin by birth. He questioned the Buddha about the matter. The Buddha replied that one did not become a Saint by birth but by attaining the highest goal. On the conclusion of the above verse the Brahmin became a Stream-winner.

The Buddha Shines by Day and by Night

“The sun shines by day; the moon is radiant by night.
Armoured shines the warrior king.
Meditating the Saint shines.
But all day and night the Buddha shines in glory.”
387

The Elder Ānanda’s Praise of the Buddha

At the end of the Rains, just before the Invitation Ceremony, King Pasenadi arrived at the Vihāra dressed in his finest garments and jewellery bearing gifts. At that moment the sun was setting and the moon rising. The Elder Kāḷudāyī was sitting in jhāna. Looking at the king in all his glory, the radiant golden body of the Elder Kāḷudāyī, the setting sun, the rising moon, then at the Buddha, the Elder Ānanda remarked that the Buddha was the most radiant of all. The Buddha uttered the above verse, to acknowledge the Elder Ānanda’s observation. On the conclusion of the discourse, many in the audience attained Stream-winning.

A Saint Has Discarded All Evil

“Because he has discarded evil, he is called a Saint; because he lives in peace,
he is called a recluse; because he has given up stains, he is called one-gone-forth.”
388

A Certain Wanderer’s Story

A certain wanderer approached the Buddha and requested him to address him as one gone-forth (pabbajita). The Buddha uttered the above verse, saying that he called someone “gone-forth” who had left behind passion and other stains.

Do Not Harm A Saint

“One should not strike a Saint, nor should a Saint vent (his wrath)
on one who has struck him. Shame on him who strikes a Saint!
More shame on him who gives vent (to his wrath)!”
389

“To a Saint that (non-retaliation) is of no small advantage.
When the mind is weaned from things dear,
whenever the intent to harm ceases,
then and then only doth sorrow subside.”
390

A Brahmin Strikes the Elder Sāriputta

Some lay disciples of the Elder Sāriputta praised his great patience, saying that he never got angry. A certain Brahmin who was a non-believer, hearing their conversation, said that he would make the Elder angry. While the Elder was walking for alms, the Brahmin struck the Elder Sāriputta a hard blow on the back with his fist. The Elder did not get angry at all, but just said, “What was that?” and continued on his way, without so much as looking round. At once, the Brahmin felt remorseful at what he had done and, prostrating himself at the elder’s feet, begged for forgiveness. The Elder pardoned him and accepted his offer to receive almsfood in his house. Some bystanders, outraged at what the Brahmin had done, took sticks and clods of earth, and went to the door of his house, determined to kill him. The elder gave his almsbowl to the Brahmin and left his house with him following behind, confronting the hostile crowd that had gathered there. They asked the elder to take his bowl and tell the Brahmin to turn back, as they would know what to do with him. The elder asked them if he had hit them or himself. He said that he had pardoned the Brahmin, and told them to go away. When the monks heard what had happened, they talked about it, and worried that anyone who wished could now hit any monk with impunity. The Buddha asked about their conversation, and praised the Elder Sāriputta for his outstanding patience. Uttering the above verse, the Buddha extolled the attitude of a true Saint.

A Saint is Well-Restrained

“Who does no evil through body, speech or mind,
Who is restrained in these three respects — I call a Saint.”
391

Mahā Pajāpati Gotamī’s Story

Some nuns would not observe the Uposatha or Invitation Ceremony with the Elder Mahā Pajāpati Gotamī because they doubted whether she had been ordained as a nun. The Buddha explained that when she accepted the eight serious rules, that was her ordination, and he was her teacher and preceptor. Therefore, no doubts should be entertained with regard to one like her who had destroyed all defilements. On conclusion of the discourse many attained Stream-winning.

Honour the Worthy

“If one should understand the doctrine preached by the Fully Enlightened Buddha from another, one should revere that person devoutly, as a Brahmin reveres the sacrificial fire.392

The Elder Sāriputta’s Teacher

The Elder Sāriputta, first heard the Dhamma from the Elder Assaji, and from that day, having attained Stream-winning, he used to worship with clasped hands, before laying down to sleep with his head in whichever direction the Elder Assaji was currently dwelling. Some monks misinterpreted his behaviour and reported to the Buddha that the Elder Sāriputta had not given up his former wrong views, and was paying reverence to the cardinal points. The Buddha defended his actions, and explained the right attitude of a pupil towards his teacher. On the conclusion of the discourse, many attained to Stream-winning.

A Saint is Truthful and Righteous

“Not by matted hair, nor by family, nor by birth does one become a Saint.
In whom are both truth and righteousness, is a pure-hearted Saint.”
393

A Matted Hair Ascetic

A Brahmin who was a matted-hair ascetic approached the Buddha and asked him to address him as “Brāhmaṇa” just as the monks were addressed. Thereupon the Buddha uttered the above verse. On the conclusion of the discourse, many attained Stream-winning.

Be Pure Within

“What is the use of your matted hair, O witless man?
What is the use of your antelope skin garment?
Within, you are full of passions; without, you embellish yourself.”
394

The Fraudulent Ascetic

An ascetic hung himself upside down from the branch of a tree near the city gate of Vesāli, threatening that he would drop on his head and kill himself, which would reduce the city of Vesāli to ashes, unless the people donated what he asked for. When the monks left the city after their almsround he was still hanging there. Some people gave him what he wanted, fearing that he might do some harm to their city. Later in the day the monks saw the same ascetic again in the vicinity of the monastery and asked him if he got what he wanted. When they told the Blessed One about this, he said that not only in this life, but in a previous life too, the ascetic had been fraudulent. Then the Buddha related the Godhā Jātaka (Jā 138).

At one time the Bodhisatta took rebirth as a lizard who lived in an ant-hill. Every day he paid respects to a virtuous ascetic who lived nearby. When the ascetic moved on and another came to stay in his place, the Bodhisatta continued his daily visits as before, thinking that he might also be virtuous. One day, the ascetic received lizard meat for alms, and pleased at the sweet taste, asked what kind of meat it was. On being told that it was lizard, he planned to kill the lizard that visited him daily by hiding a stick under his robe, However, the lizard became suspicious of his odd behaviour, and escaped.

A Saint Meditates Alone in the Forest

“Who wears dust-heap robes, who is lean, whose veins stand out,
who meditates alone in the forest — I call a Saint.”
395

The Elder Nun Kisāgotamī

At one time Sakka, the king of the gods, visited the Buddha at the end of the first watch of the night, accompanied by a large following of deities, to listen to the Dhamma. The Elder nun Kisāgotamī, who was meditating alone in the forest, wearing dust-heap robes, came through the air to visit the Buddha. Seeing Sakka, she returned after paying homage to the Buddha. Sakka asked who she was. The Buddha replied that she was his daughter Kisāgotamī, the foremost of those nuns who wore rag robes. Then he uttered the above verse, on the conclusion of which many deities attained Stream-winning.

A Saint is Unattached

“I do not call him a Saint merely because he is born of a (brahmin) womb or sprung from a (brahmin) mother. He is merely a ‘Dear-addresser,’ if he be with impediments. He who is free from impediments, free from clinging — him I call a Saint.”396

A Certain Brahmin

A Brahmin by birth wished the Buddha to address him as “Brāhmaṇa.” The Buddha uttered the above verse in reply.

A Saint Has Destroyed All Fetters

“Who has cut off all fetters, who trembles not,
who has gone beyond ties, who is unbound — I call a Saint.”
397

The Fearlessness of Uggasena

The story of Uggasena is told in the commentary to verse 348. The Buddha uttered this verse when the monks reported that the Elder Uggasena claimed that he had no fear.

A Saint Has Broken the Straps

“Who has broken the strap,¹ the thong,² the rope and the fetters,³
Who has thrown off the cross-bar,⁴ who is enlightened — I call a Saint.
398

The Ox Competition

Two farmers argued about whose ox was stronger. They tested them by loading their carts with sand and urging the oxen to pull them. The carts would not budge, but the thongs and straps broke. The monks saw this while they were bathing in the river, and mentioned it to the Buddha. The Buddha advised the monks to break the thongs and straps in their own minds.

¹Anger ² Craving ³ Latent tendency to the sixty-two wrong views ⁴ Ignorance.

A Saint is Patient

“He who, without anger, endures reproach, flogging and punishments,
Whose power and potent army is patience — him I call a Saint.”
399

The Abusers

Dhanañjānī was a Stream-winner who used to utter words of praise to the Buddha whenever she sneezed, coughed, or stumbled. One day she stumbled while serving some Brahmins and as usual exclaimed “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.” Her husband was angry, and scolded her. Then he went to the Buddha, and without so much as a polite greeting, stood at one side, asking in verse:

“What having cut off does one dwell at ease?
Cutting off what does one sorrow no more?
What one thing do you recommend destroying, Gotama?"

The Buddha replied:

"Having cut off anger one dwells at ease.
Cutting of anger one sorrows no more.
The root of anger is poisonous, its tip is sweet.
The noble praise the destruction of anger,
When that is destroyed one sorrows no more."

Hearing his reply, which was marked by great patience, the irate husband became a convert, entered the Saṅgha, and became an Arahant. His three younger brothers came in turn and abused the Buddha for converting him. The Buddha patiently endured their reproach and taught them the Dhamma. They were also converted, when forth, and became Arahants. When the monks were talking about the Buddha’s great patience in converting the four brothers, the Buddha came there, asked them what they were talking about, and uttered the above verse: “He who, without anger, endures reproach…”

A Saint is Not Wrathful

“He who is not wrathful, but is dutiful, virtuous, free from craving,
Self-controlled and bears his final body — him I call a Saint.”
400

The Elder Sāriputta’s Mother

The Elder Sāriputta went for alms in the village of Nālaka and came to the door of his mother’s house. She provided him with a seat and offered almsfood, but scolded him for renouncing great wealth to become a monk, living on the left-overs of strangers. She served the other monks too, and scolded them for making her son their own personal attendant. The Elder Sāriputta and the other monks patiently tolerated all this abuse, and taking the food, returned to the monastery. The Buddha asked Rāhula where he went for alms, and Rāhula said that he went to the house of his preceptor’s mother. Then the Buddha asked what she had said, and Rāhula replied that she had scolded his preceptor, but he had said nothing at all in reply. When the monks heard about this they began to talk about the elder’s remarkable patience. The Buddha inquired about their conversation, and uttered the above verse in praise of Sāriputta.

A Saint Does Not Enjoy Sensual Pleasures

“Like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on a needle's point,
one who clings not to sensual pleasures, I call a Saint.”
401

The Rape of Uppalavaṇṇā

The story of Uppalavaṇṇā is told in the Commentary to verse 69. When she was raped by a former suitor the monks began wondering whether Arahants enjoy sensual pleasures. The Buddha explained that the minds of Arahants do not adhere to sensual pleasures and are not affected by them, as a lotus leaf is not wetted by water, and water does not adhere to a lotus leaf.

A Saint Has Laid Aside the Burden

“Who realises here in this world the destruction of his sorrow,
Who has laid the burden aside and is emancipated — I call a Saint.”
402

The Emancipated Slave

Before the laying down of the rule proscribing the ordination of slaves, a slave belonging to a Brahmin ran away and joined the Saṅgha. He soon attained Arahantship. Seeing him when he walked for alms, his former owner held him by the hem of his robe. The Buddha turned round and asked what the matter was. The Brahmin said, “He is my slave.” The Buddha said that he had laid the burden aside and was a Saint, uttering the above verse. The Brahmin gained Stream-winning.

A Saint Has Reached the Goal

“Whose knowledge is deep, who is wise, who is skilled in the right and wrong way,
Who has reached the highest goal — I call a Saint.”
403

The Elder Nun Khemā

At one time, during the night, Sakka the king of the gods, came to see the Buddha with a large following to listen to the Dhamma. The Elder Khemā came to pay her respects to the Buddha, but seeing Sakka King of the gods, she just worshipped the Buddha and turned back. Sakka asked the Buddha who she was. The Buddha answered that she was his daughter Khemā who was wise and skilled in knowledge of the path and non path.

A Saint Has No Intimacy With Any

“Who is not intimate with householders nor the homeless,
Who wanders without an abode, without desires — I call a Saint.”
404

The Cave Dwelling Elder

Having obtained a meditation object from the Teacher, a certain monk took up residence in a cave. A goddess dwelt in the cave had to leave to make way for him. When the elder stayed for the Rains, she reflected on his virtue, and not seeing the slightest fault, she contrived some pretext to drive him away. The deity possessed the son of the elder’s lay supporter, and told her to sprinkle her son’s head with the water used to wash the elder’s feet. When the lady did this, her son was cured. Back at the cave, the deity told the elder not to enter as he had defiled his moral purity by practising medicine. The monk was not angry, but instead reflected on his moral purity, concluded that it was spotless, and gained Arahantship. Then he admonished the deity and told her to leave. Later, he reported the whole incident to the other monks. When they asked if he was angry with the deity, he replied that he was not. The monks reported this to the Buddha, thinking that the elder was speaking falsehood. The Buddha uttered the above verse, to confirm the elder’s attainment of Arahantship. On the conclusion of the discourse many attained Stream-winning.

A Saint is Harmless

“Who has laid aside the cudgel in his dealings with beings,
Whether feeble or strong, who neither injures nor kills, I call a Saint.”
405

The Elder and the Woman

Having obtained a meditation object from the Buddha, an elder attained Arahantship while dwelling in a forest, and was on his way to see the Teacher to tell him of the great benefit he had gained. A woman who had quarrelled with her husband entered the same forest wishing to return to her parents’ home, and for protection walked not far behind the elder. The husband, finding his wife missing, entered the forest in search of her, and saw the woman following the elder. The husband, suspecting the elder of taking his wife away, beat him soundly in spite of the pleadings of his wife, who vouched for the elder’s innocence. When the elder arrived, the monks noticed that his body was covered with bruises and weals, and he told them what had happened. When they asked him if he had been angry, he replied that no anger had arisen in his mind. The monks reported this to the Buddha who uttered the above verse. On conclusion of the verse, many attained Stream-winning.

A Saint is Friendly Among the Hostile

“Who is friendly among the hostile, who is peaceful among the violent,
Who is unattached among the attached — I call a Saint.”
406

The Four Novices

A female lay supporter prepared food for four monks, and sent her husband to the monastery with instructions to invite and bring with him four senior elders. When he arrived he said, “Please assign me four Saints.” Four novices — Saṃkicca, Paṇḍita, Sopaka, and Revata had attained Arahantship at the age of seven were assigned to him. The Brahmin’s wife arranged four luxurious seats, and stood waiting. When she saw the four novices she was furious, and scolded her husband for bringing four boys young enough to be his grandsons. Preparing some low seats, she told them to sit there, then sent her husband back to the monastery to bring some Saints. He found the Elder Sāriputta, and ask him to come to the house. When the Elder Sāriputta arrived, he asked, “Have these Saints been offered food yet?” On being told that they had not, since he knew that food had been prepared for four, he took his almsbowl and departed. When his wife asked, he told her what the Elder Sāriputta had said. Then she told him to go again to the monastery and bring another Saint. He brought the Elder Moggallāna, who said the same, and departed taking his almsbowl.

By this time, the novices were famished, so when the woman sent her husband to find another elderly Brahmin, the throne of Sakka began to manifest signs of heat due to the merit of the novices. Investigating the reason, he took the appearance of an elderly Brahmin, and sat in the finest seat of the Brahmins. Seeing him, the Brahmin was delighted, and invited him to his house. When she saw him, the Brahmin’s wife was delighted, and spread two seats as one for him to sit down. However, Sakka paid homage to the four novices, and sat nearby paying respects to them. The Brahmin’s wife was furious again, and scolded her husband for bringing a senile Brahmin old enough to be his father. She told him to throw the Brahmin out of their house, but try as he might, he was unable to. Both of them tried together, but when they thought they had they got him out, and come back inside, he was still sitting in the same place. They screamed in horror, and when Sakka revealed his identity, the couple offered the food to their five guests. When they had finished their meal, each of them departed in a different direction, breaking through the roof and the floor. Thus that house became known as the house with five openings.

When the novices returned to the monastery the monks asked them, “What was it like?” Saying, “You shouldn’t ask,” the novices related what had happened. When they had finished, the monks asked them if they were angry. When they said that they did not get angry, the monks reported this to the Buddha who confirmed by uttering the above verse.

A Saint Has Discarded All Passions

“In whom lust, hatred, pride, detraction are fallen off
Like a mustard seed from the point of a needle — him I call a Saint.”
407

The Elder Mahāpaṇṭhaka

The Elder Mahāpaṇṭhaka told his brother Cūḷapaṇṭhaka¹ to leave the monastery because he could not memorise a single verse even after four months. The monks thought that the elder had done so in anger. The Buddha explained that Arahants have no passions and that Mahāpanthaka had been motivated by respect for the Dhamma.

  1. When he received a suitable meditation object from the Buddha, Cūlapanthaka gained Arahantship with the supernormal powers.

A Saint Gives Offence to None

“Who utters gentle, instructive, true words,
Who by his speech gives offence to none — I call a Saint.”
408

The Elder Pilindavaccha

The Elder Pilindavaccha was in the habit of addressing others as “vasali” a word used only in speaking to outcastes. The monks took objection to his form of address and mentioned it to the Buddha. The Buddha explained that the elder had not done so with evil intent, but only through force of habit. On that occasion he uttered the above verse.

A Saint Does Not Steal

“Who in this world takes nothing that is not given,
Be it long or short, small or great, fair or foul — I call a Saint.”
409

A Certain Elder

An elder, mistaking a cloth lying on the ground for one abandoned by the owner, took it. The owner saw this and accused him of theft. The elder explained that he had not taken it with thievish intent and returned it. He told the other monks about the incident. The monks made fun of him. The Buddha explained that Arahants do not steal anything from others.

A Saint Has No Desires

“Who has no longing for this world or for the next,
Who is desireless and emancipated — I call a Saint.”
410

The Elder Sāriputta

The Elder Sāriputta spent the Rains in a certain residence with many other monks. When it was time for him to leave, the lay supporters had not yet brought all of the robes and other requisites that they had promised. He advised the resident monks to bring the robes for the young monks and novices, and to send word if the requisites were not offered. Some monks thought that he still harboured desires. The Buddha explained the attitude of the Elder Sāriputta, who was only thinking, “Let the donors gain merit, and let the young monks and novices obtain the requisites they have been promised.”

A Saint Has No Longing

“Who has no longing, who, through knowledge, is free from doubts,
Who has gained a firm footing in the deathless — I call a Saint.”
411

The Elder Moggallāna

This story is similar to the preceding one. This time a similar accusation was made against the Elder Moggallāna.

A Saint Has Transcended Good and Evil

“He who has transcended both merit and evil, and the ties as well,
Who is sorrowless, stainless, and pure — I call a Saint.”
412

The Merit of the Elder Revata

The story is told in the Commentary to verse 98, where the elder constructed many dwellings using his psychic powers. When the monks were talking about the great merit made by the elder, the Buddha explained that the elder was beyond both merit and evil, having abandoned both.

A Saint is Pure

“Who is spotless as the moon, who is pure, serene, and unperturbed,
Who has destroyed craving for becoming — I call a Saint.”
413

The Brahmin “Moon Disk”

In the time of the Buddha Kassapa a forester offered red sandalwood in the form of a moon disk to the shrine of the Buddha Kassapa that was built when he attained parinibbāna. Due to this meritorious deed, when he was reborn during the time of the Buddha Gotama he possessed a radiance like the moon that shone from his navel. The Brahmins travelled all around the country making money by letting people touch “Moon Disk” for good luck, after paying a fee. When they arrived at Sāvatthī they got into a debate with the Buddha’s disciples who were not impressed by their claims. They took “Moon Disk” with them, and went to see the Buddha. As soon as “Moon Disk” came into the presence of the Buddha his radiance disappeared. He assumed that the Buddha knew a charm to cause its disappearance, and asked to learn the charm. The Buddha promised to teach him if he would enter the Saṅgha. He told his companions that he would learn the charm, and then return. He became a monk, learnt the contemplation on the thirty-two body parts, and attained Arahantship. When the Brahmins asked him if he had learnt the charm yet, he dismissed them saying that he had attained the status of one who would never return to the world. The monks reported this to the Buddha who confirmed it and uttered the above verse.

A Saint Clings to Nothing

“Who has passed beyond this quagmire, this difficult path,
the ocean of saṃsāra and delusion, who has crossed and gone beyond,
who is meditative, free from craving and doubts, who, clinging to nothing,
has attained nibbāna — I call a Saint.”
414

The Elder Sīvalī

This verse was uttered by the Buddha while he was residing at the Kundadhāna forest in connection with the Arahant Sīvalī, who had to suffer for seven years in his mother’s womb.¹ At one time, Suppavāsā, a daughter of the Koliya clan, carried a child in her womb for seven years, and endured the pain of labour for seven days by reflecting on how the Buddha had gone beyond all such suffering, how he had taught the Dhamma to go beyond all such suffering, and how the Saṅgha had gone beyond all such suffering by practising well. Finally, she sent her husband to the Buddha to greet him in her name. The Buddha blessed her saying, “May Suppavāsā the daughter of the Koliya clan be well and happy, and may she give birth to a healthy son.” At that moment Suppavāsā gave birth to Sīvalī. Suppavāsā invited the Buddha and the Saṅgha, and offered alms for seven days. Sīvalī waited on the monks, straining water for them. After a while he went forth and gained Arahantship. One day, the monks were discussing the suffering that Sīvalī had gone through in the womb, and the Buddha came there, uttering the above verse to say that Sīvalī had now gone beyond all such suffering.

  1. The reason for this is given in the Asātarūpa Jātaka (Jā 100). In a former life Sīvalī had been the son of the King of Benares. The King of Kosala killed his father and carried off his mother as his own wife. The prince escaped through a sewer and gathered a large army. On the advice of his mother he laid siege to the city until, after seven years, the people cut off the head of King Kosala and surrendered the city to him. Due to her part in this his mother of that time was reborn as Suppavāsā and had to carry Sīvalī in the womb for seven years, and had to endure painful labour for seven days.

A Saint Has Given Up Sense-Desires

“Who in this world, giving up sense-desires,
would renounce worldly life and become a homeless one,
he who has destroyed sense-desires and becoming — I call a Saint.”
415

The Elder Sundarasamudda

Sundarasamudda was a young man of a wealthy family of Sāvatthī. One day, seeing all the people going to the Jetavana monastery bearing gifts, he decided to accompany them. As he listened to the Buddha teach the Dhamma he wished to go forth, and after the discourse sought permission. The Buddha told him to obtain his parents’ permission, which he did. Having gone forth and taken the higher ordination, he decided to leave Sāvatthī and stay at Rājagaha. One day, when there was a festival, his parents saw the other young men enjoying themselves, and started weeping, thinking of what their son had given up. A prostitute, seeing them weep, asked what they would do for her if she enticed him to leave the Saṅgha. They agreed to make her the mistress of the house, and gave her some expenses. The prostitute went to Rājagaha, and bought a house in the street where the elder walked for alms. She prepared choice food and offered it to him daily. Then she prepared a seat on the veranda and invited him to eat his meal right there. Next she bribed some boys with cakes, telling them to play and kick up the dust while the elder was eating, and not to stop even when she told them to. She arranged a seat inside the house, and invited the elder to eat inside away from the dust. The following day, she told the boys to make a lot of noise, and arranged for the elder to eat upstairs. In this way, she employed all her cunning to seduce the elder, but he was so fond of her food that he didn’t realise what she was up to. Finally, when she started taking her clothes off, he realised his predicament, and was filled with religious emotion.

Meanwhile, back in Sāvatthī, the Buddha saw all this and smiled. Seeing him smile, the Elder Ānanda asked him the reason. The Buddha told him that a battle was going on between the elder and a prostitute in the city of Rājagaha. When asked who would win, the Buddha said that the elder would win. Then the Buddha projected an image of himself in front of the elder, uttering the above verse. On the conclusion of the verse, the elder gained Arahantship together with the psychic powers, and escaped through the roof of the house, descending at Sāvatthī, where he paid homage to the Buddha.

When the monks were discussing these events, the Buddha told them that this was not the first time that he had saved Sundarasamudda when he been enticed by his craving for sweet tastes, in a former life too he had done the same. Then he related the Vātamiga Jātaka (Jā 14).

A Saint Has Given Up Craving

“Who in this world giving up craving,
would renounce worldly life and become a homeless one,
Who has destroyed craving and becoming — I call a Saint.”
416

The Elder Jaṭila

Jaṭila was the illegitimate son of a millionaire’s daughter of Benares. Her maid servant took the baby and floated it down the Ganges in a pot. Two women saw the pot. One laid claim to the pot, while the other claimed the contents. The latter woman was a disciple of the Elder Mahākaccāna. When the baby was bathed his hair became matted, so he was named Jaṭila. As soon as he could walk, she offer him to the elder for ordination. Looking into his future the elder gave him to a disciple in Takkasila, and he grew up to be a fabulously wealthy man. Later, he retired from the world and attained Arahantship. The Buddha uttered this verse to show that the Elder Jatila no longer had any longing for his wealth or his wife.

The Elder Jotika

Jotika was reborn in Rājagaha. Due to his merit the whole city blazed with light on the day of his birth, so he was given the name Jotika, and King Bimbisāra offered a thousand gold pieces a day for the child. When he came of marriageable age Sakka, the king of gods, built him a palace. This was due to his great merit when he built a Perfumed Chamber for the Buddha Vipassī. When King Bimbisāra visited the palace with the young prince Ajātasattu, the latter vowed to take it one day. Bimbisāra appointed Jaṭila as the city treasurer. Jotika became a devout disciple of the Buddha. Later, when Ajātasattu became king, he tried to enter Jotika’s palace while Jotika was visiting the Buddha to listen to Dhamma. The guardian deities drove Ajātasattu away, so he came to Jotika and accused him of hypocrisy. Jotika showed his hands to the king, and challenged him to take the rings from his fingers if he could. Though he tried with all his strength, Ajātasattu was unable to remove them. Jotika then held out his hands and let the rings fall onto a cloth. Jotika asked the king’s permission to go forth,¹ and Ajātasattu readily agreed, hoping therefore to get hold of his wealth. As soon as Jotika went forth, his palace disappeared, and his wife returned to Uttarakuru, the celestial realm from whence she had come. When later asked by the monks whether he missed his palace or his wife, the Elder Jotika replied that he did not, and the Buddha uttered the same verse as above to show Jotika no longer had any longing for his wealth or his wife.

  1. The Vinaya proscribes the ordination of those in the king’s service.

A Saint Has Discarded All Bonds

“Who, discarding human ties and transcending celestial ties,
is completely delivered from all ties — I call a Saint.”
417

The Performer

A monk, who had once been a performer,¹ when questioned by the other monks, said that he had no more longing for performing. Commenting on his change of life and his attainment to Arahantship, the Buddha uttered this verse.

  1. Naṭa is a generic term for various entertainers. It could mean a dancer, an actor, a comedian, a clown, a mimic, etc. The noun derives from the verb ‘naccati,’ to dance.

A Saint Has Given Up Likes and Dislikes

“Who has given up likes and dislikes, who is cooled and without defilements,
Who has conquered the world and is courageous — I call a Saint.”
418

The Performer

The story is similar to the preceding one, but the verse is slightly different.

A Saint is Not Attached

“Who in every way knows the death and rebirth of beings,
Who is non-attached, well-spoken, and enlightened — I call a Saint.”
419

“Whose destiny neither gods, celestial musicians, nor men know,
Who has destroyed all corruptions, and is far removed from passions —
I call a Saint.”
420

The Elder Vaṅgīsa

A man named Vaṅgīsa was able to divine where a dead person had been reborn by tapping on his or her skull. The Brahmins took him all around India and made a good living from his skill. In due course they arrived at Sāvatthī, but the disciples of the Buddha were not impressed by their claims, and they argued. Knowing that the Brahmins and Vangīsa were coming to see him, the Buddha had five skulls arranged in a row and asked Vaṅgīsa to divine where the deceased had been reborn. When Vaṅgīsa succeeded in divining the rebirth of each of the first four — in hell, as an animal, a human, a deva — the Buddha praised him. However, the fifth skull was that of an Arahant, and Vaṅgīsa was completely baffled. He asked the Buddha to teach him the mantra with which he would be able to tell the destiny of such persons. The Buddha replied that it could not be taught to one not ordained. With the aim of learning the mantra Vaṅgīsa became a monk, and learnt the meditation on the thirty-two body parts. When the Brahmins asked him if he had learnt the mantra yet he told them, “I am learning it.” Before long he attained Arahantship. When the Brahmins asked him if he had learnt the mantra he replied, “I am not able to learn it.” Thinking that he was speaking falsehood, the monks reported this to the Buddha, who confirmed that Vaṅgīsa was skilled in the death and rebirth of living beings, and uttered the above verses.

A Saint Yearns For Nothing

“Who has no clinging to aggregates past, present, or future,
Who is without clinging and grasping — I call a Saint.”
421

The Elder Nun Dhammadinnā

This teaching was given while the Teacher was staying at the Bamboo grove near Rājagaha. One day, Visākha, the husband of Dhammadinnā attained Non-returning while listening to the Dhamma. When he returned home, he didn’t smile as usual, and took his meal in silence. Thinking that he must be angry about something, Dhammadinnā bided her time. After the meal, Visākha called her and told her to take charge of all of his property. Not wishing to accept what he had rejected, she asked permission to become a nun. He consented and conveyed her to the nunnery with lavish offerings. She departed to the countryside, lived in solitude, and soon attained Arahantship with the supernatural powers. Wishing to benefit her relatives she then returned to Rājagaha.

Wondering why she had returned, but realising it was rude to ask her if she was discontented with the holy life, Visākha approached her and asked her some questions about each of the four paths, which she answered easily. Then she referred Visākha to the Buddha if he had any further questions. Hearing the answers given by Dhammadinnā related by Visākha, the Buddha praised her answers, and uttered the above verse.

A Saint is Enlightened

“The fearless, noble hero, the great sage, the conqueror, the desireless,
the cleansed, the enlightened — I call a Saint.”
422

The Elder Aṅgulimāla

The story relating to this verse is told in the Commentary to verse 177. The monks asked the Elder Aṅgulimāla if he was afraid when the rogue elephant Dhanapāla held a parasol over his head during the incomparable almsgiving given by Queen Mallikā and King Pasenadi. The elder said that he was unafraid. The monks reported this to the Buddha thinking that Aṅgulimāla had spoken falsehood. The Buddha uttered the above verse with respect to the fearlessness of the Elder Angulimāla

A Saint Has Perfected Himself

“That sage who knows his former abodes, who sees the blissful and the woeful states,
who has reached the end of births, who, with superior wisdom, has perfected himself,
who has completed (the holy life), and reached the end of all passions — I call a Saint.”
423

The Brahmin Devahita

At one time the Buddha was suffering from a disease caused by the wind element.¹ He sent the Elder Upavāṇa² to the Brahmin Devahita to fetch hot water. The Brahmin was delighted that the Buddha chose him to ask, and sent him hot water for a bath, and a jar of molasses. When the Buddha was cured of his ailment, the Brahmin Devahita came to the Buddha and asked him to whom a gift should be given to yield abundant fruit. In reply the Buddha uttered the above verse. On the conclusion of the verse many gained Stream-winning and the Brahmin became a committed disciple of the Buddha.

  1. Vātaroga, a disease caused by wind. It could be what we called ‘wind,’ that is some kind of gastric disorder, but it could equally well be circulatory or rheumatic pain.
  2. He was the Buddha’s attendant before the Elder Ānanda, so this occasion was during the Buddha’s middle age — fifty-five or less. Upavāṇa was an Arahant with the supernormal powers.
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