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Subhāsitajaya Sutta

At Sāvatthi. Monks, at one time, the Asurā and Devā were arrayed for battle. Then Vepacitti said to Sakka, “Let there be victory by well spoken speech.” Then they appointed a panel of judges to decide which of them spoke the best. Vepacitti invited Sakka to speak first, but Sakka said that Vepacitti, being the senior, should speak first. So Vepacitti said:

“Fools would vent their anger even more if not kept in check, so let wise men restrain the fool with drastic punishments.”

Monks, when this was said, the Asurā applauded, but the Devā remained silent. Then Sakka spoke:

“I myself think this alone is the way to check the fool. When one knows that one’s foe is angry, mindfully maintain your peace.”

Monks, when this was said, the Devā applauded, but the Asurā remained silent. Then Vepacitti spoke again:

“I see this defect in practising patience, Vāsava, the fool will think that you are afraid to speak. He will then chase you all the more like a bull chases one who flees.”

Monks, when this was said, the Asurā applauded, but the Devā remained silent. Then Sakka spoke again:

“Let the fool think as he likes, nothing is better for one’s own good than patience. When a strong man endures a weakling with patience he wins a victory hard to gain, for a weakling has no choice but to endure abuse. The so-called strength of fools is weakness, but one restrained by Dhamma is beyond reproach. One who returns anger with anger makes things worse for himself, but by not retaliating one wins a victory hard to gain. He practises for the welfare of both. Only those unskilled in Dhamma consider him to be a fool.”

Monks, when Sakka had spoken thus, the panel judged him to have won by his good counsel, which avoided punishment and conflict. S.i.222.

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