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Mahāsīhanāda Sutta

1. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta v.l. Kassapasīhanāda Sutta.– The eighth sutta of the Dīghanikāya. It consists of a dialogue between the Buddha and Acela-Kassapa on self-mortification, and contains an account of some of the practices prevalent among the Ājīvakā.

The Buddha claims that the insight and self-control and self-mastery of the Arahant are much harder to attain than the merely physical practices of the ascetics, which are far more evident to the vulgar. The Buddha states that self-mortification is an actual hindrance to spiritual development, for it turns a man’s mind from more essential matters.

It is said that at the conclusion of the Sutta, Kassapa entered the Order and, in due course, became an Arahant. D.i.161‑77.

2. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta.– Taught at the Mahāvana in Vesāli. Sāriputta tells the Buddha that Sunakkhatta, who had recently left the Order, went about saying that there was nothing marvellous about the Buddha’s knowledge and insight and that his teachings did not lead to the end of suffering. The Buddha says that Sunakkhatta is a man of wrath and folly and incapable of appreciating the good either of the Tathāgata or of his teachings. He then issues his challenge to the effect that no one can deny to the Tathāgata the possession of ten powers, (balā) — which are enumerated — and the four confidences (vesārajjā). The Tathāgata can attend any of the eight assemblies without fear; he knows the various classifications of beings, the birth of beings, the way to nibbāna; he can read the minds of men and knows the five destinies that await different beings. He has lived the fourfold higher life being foremost in his practice of asceticism (tapassī), in loathsomeness (lūkho), in scrupulousness (jegucchī), in solitude (pavivitto). No one has surpassed him in the practice of these things.

He has discovered, by experimentation, the futility of the claims of those who maintain that purity comes by way of food, or offering, or ritual. Though eighty years old and his body broken down, yet his powers of mind are at their prime; even if he must be carried on a litter, yet will his mind retain its powers (M.i.68‑83).

Nāgasamāla, who is nearby, asks the Buddha for a title for the discourse, and the Buddha gives it the name of Lomahaṃsa-pariyāya. Cp. Lomahaṃsa Jātaka.

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