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Raṭṭhapāla Sutta

The eighty-second sutta of the Majjhimanikāya. It contains an account of Raṭṭhapāla’s admission into the Order, his visits to his parents after attaining Arahantship, and his conversation with the Kuru king in the latter’s Deer Park. This last conversation forms the chief theme. The king asks Raṭṭhapāla why he has left his home when he suffers neither from old age, failing health, poverty, nor death of kinsfolk. Raṭṭhapāla answers that his reason for leaving home was his conviction of the truth of the four propositions enunciated by the Buddha that:–

  1. The world is in a state of continual flux and change;
  2. There is no protector or preserver;
  3. We own nothing, but must leave all behind us;
  4. It lacks and is insatiate, being enslaved by craving.

These four propositions are referred to as Cattāro dhammuddesā (MA.i.361).

He explains the meaning of these statements to the satisfaction of the king and summarizes his statements in a series of stanzas. M.ii.54‑74. The stanzas included in the sutta are found in Thag.769‑75 (those taught Raṭṭhapāla’s father), and 776‑93.

The Raṭṭhapāla Sutta is mentioned as a discourse in which the meditation object on form (rūpakammaṭṭhāna); is given first, leading on through feeling (vedanā) to the formless meditation object (arūpakammaṭṭhāna). (VibhA.267; MA.i.225; what this means is not quite clear; this sutta makes no mention of meditation objects (kammaṭṭhāna); another sutta of the same name is probably meant.)

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