Sakka-Panha Suttanta

INTRODUCTION TO THE SAKKA-PANHA SUTTANTA.

 

 

THIS is the last of the series of mythological dialogues, and in some respects the most interesting of them all. Here we reach the culmination, in the last paragraph, in the conversion of Sakka. Though the various episodes leading up to this culmination are not all equal in literary skill to the charming story and striking verses of Five-crest, they have each of them historical value ; and they lead quite naturally up to the conversion at the end.

 

It seems odd to talk of the conversion of a god. But what do we understand by the term god ? He — it is often more correct to say she, or it — is an idea in men's minds. To the worshipper he seems immense, mysterious, unchanging, a unity. And he is, in a sense, a unity — a temporary unity of a complex of conceptions, each of them complex. To use the technical

Buddhist terms a god is khanika, and samkhara. In the same sense we can speak of a chemical compound as a unity ; but to understand that unity we must know of what it is compounded. Now what are the ideas of which the unity we know under the name of Sakka is made up ? Let us take them in the order of personal character, outward conditions, and titles.

 

Personal.

 

Sakka has not become free from the three deadly evils — lust, illwill, and stupidity (A. I, 144; S. I, 219).

He is not free from anxiety (S. I, 219).

He is still subject to death) and rebirth (A. I, 144). As examples of this it is mentioned that Sunetta had thirty- five times been reborn as Sakka (A. IV, 105), a statement transferred to the Buddha (A. IV, 89) 1

 

He comes down from heaven to confirm Uttara's teaching

 

1 We have had another instance (above, p. 73) of a detail in Sunetta's biography being taken over into the biography of the Buddha.

 

that one should bear in mind and compare one's own and others' failings and attainments (A. IV, 162).

 

One of the shortest of the Samyuttas is devoted to Sakka. It has twenty- five short Suttas. In the first and second, Sakka praises energy (viriya). In the third he denounces timidity. In the fourth he shows forbearance to his enemy 1 In the fifth he advocates the conquest of anger by kindness ; in the sixth kindness to animals ; in the seventh he denounces trickery even towards enemies ; and in the ninth he preaches courtesy and honour to the wise (to Rishis). In eleven it is said he acquired his position as Sakka by having observed in a former birth seven lifelong habits — support of his parents, reverence to clan elders, gentleness of speech, dislike of calumny, generosity, truth, and freedom from anger. Twelve and thirteen repeat this and explain his titles. In fourteen Sakka explains how new gods who outshine the old ones do so because they have observed the Buddha's teaching 2 . In fifteen he says that the most beautiful spot is where Arahants dwell. In sixteen he praises gifts to the Order. In seventeen he praises the Buddha, but is told he has selected the wrong attributes for praise. In eighteen to twenty he says that, whereas brahmins and nobles worship him, he himself worships good men, and Arahants. Nos. 21, 22, 24 and 25 are against anger, and 23 is against deceit.

 

In one passage Sakka is represented as coming down from heaven to make an inquiry about Nirvana (S. I, 201), and in another as listening, in heaven, to Moggallana's exposition of the simplest duties of a good layman (S. IV, 269-280). He, Sakka, is present at the death of the Buddha and utters, in verse, a simple lament very different from the thoughtful verses ascribed to Brahma (above, p. 1 75).

 

He proclaims a eulogy on the Buddha, in which he emphasizes eight points of comparatively simple character (above, p. 260).

 

These Nikaya passages are sufficient to show that Sakka was considered by the early Buddhists to be a god of high character indeed, kindly and just ; but not perfect, and not very intelligent. He has reached as far as a good layman might have reached, to the point where his conversion was immanent.

 

Outward conditions.

 

Sakka dwells in the Tavatimsa heaven, that is, in the heaven of the thirty-three great gods of the Vedic pantheon.

 

1 This Sutta is repeated at Samyutta IV, 201.

 

2 The very words of the Sakka-panha are here used.

 

This is not by any means the highest plane of being, nor is it quite the lowest. It is an essential part of the early Buddhist cosmogony (and not held by any other school in India) that there were twenty-six planes of celestial beings : — 1. The Four Great Kings, guardians of the four quarters of the world. 2. The Thirty-Three. 3. The Yama gods. 4. The Tusita gods. 5. The Nimmana-rati gods. 6. The Paranimitta- vasavatti gods l . Above these are the twenty worlds of Brahma. For practical ethical purposes the stress is laid on two planes only — the six just mentioned, which have a collective name (Kamavacara-devaloka), and the world of Brahma 2 . It is only the lower of these two that is meant when heaven (sagga) is referred to. Sakka dwells therefore in the lowest heaven but one of the lower plane.

 

There he dwells in the palace Victoria (Vejayanta, S. I, 235, 6). It was built by Sakka, is described at Majjhima I, 253, and is illustrated on the Bharahat Tope 3 . Dwelling in that palace he is king over all the Thirty-Three. When the gods fight the Titans (Asuras) it is under his banner, and under his orders, that they fight. But he is no absolute monarch. He is imagined in the likeness of a chieftain of a Kosala clan. The gods meet and deliberate in their Hall of Good Counsel ; and Sakka, on ordinary peaceful occasions, consults with them rather than issues to them his commands. Yet in ten matters he surpasses them all — in length of life, in beauty, in happiness, in renown, and in lordship, and in the degree of his five sensations, sight, hearing, smelling, taste, and touch (A. IV, 242).

 

Titles.

 

Sakka. In its Sanskrit form, S'akra, it occurs nearly fifty times in the Vedas as an adjective qualifying gods (usually Indra). It is explained as meaning ' able, capable 4.' It is not found as a name in pre- Buddhistic literature. Kosiya used, not in speaking of, but in speaking to Sakka, just as the family (gotta) name, not the personal name, is used

 

1 These are often mentioned in sequence. See, for instance, above, Vol. I, pp. 280, 281.

 

2 The later Maha-bharata borrowed this idea, though, as Hopkins points out (' Religions of India,' 358), it is 'a view quite foreign to the teaching current elsewhere in the epic'

 

3 Cunningham, ' Stupa of Bharhut,' p. 137.

 

4 For another derivation, a pretty piece of word-play, see Sawyutta, I, 230.

 

by polite persons in addressing a man 1 . It means ' belonging to the Kusika family,' and occurs D. II, 270; M. I, 252. It is used once in the Rig Veda of Indra, in what exact sense is not known. Have we a survival here from the time when Indra was only the god of a Kusika clan?

 

Vasava, as chief of the Vasu gods'- (D. II, 260, 274; S. I, 223-30; SN. 384).

 

Purindada, ' the generous giver in former births '(S. 1,230; P. V. II, 9, 12, 13 ; Jat. V, 395), no doubt with ironical allusion to the epithet of Indra, Purandara, ' destroyer of cities.'

 

Sujampati, the husband of Suja. (S. I, 225, 234-6; SN. 1024).

 

Maghava, because, as a man, he had once been a brahmin of that name (S. I, 230 ; cp. Jat. IV, 403 = V, 137). This had been also, for another reason, an epithet of Indra and other gods.

 

Thousand-eyed (Sahassa-cakkhu, sahassakkha, S. I, 230, sahassa-netta, S. I, 226; SN. 346). This also had been used of Indra.

 

Yakkha. Scarcely perhaps an epithet : but it is interesting to notice that even so high a god as Sakka was considered to be a Yaksha (M. I, 252 ; see S. I, 206).

 

Inda ( = Indra). This is used occasionally of the Vedic god (e.g. D. I, 244; ii. 274; SN. 310), but is applied also to Sakka himself (D. I, 221, 261, 274 ; SN. 316, 679, 1024). The god Indaka, of S. I, 206 and PV. 11,9, is quite another person.

 

Conclusions.

 

Now what are the conclusions which can fairly be drawn from the above facts? In the first place it is evident that Sakka and Indra are quite different conceptions. Of course Indra is also a complex conception, and not by any means only the savage ideal of a warrior, big and blustering and given to drink. But we shall not be far wrong if we say that no single item of the personal character of Sakka is identical with any point in the character of the Vedic Indra, and not one single item of the character of Indra has been reproduced in the descriptions of Sakka. Some of the epithets are the same, and are certainly borrowed, though they are explained differently in harmony with the new conception. Some of the details of the outward conditions may be, and probably are, the outgrowth of corresponding details as told of the older

 

1 This point has been discussed above, Vol. I, pp. 193-6.

 

2 Their names (ten of them) in PVA., p. 111.

 

god, but varied and softened m harmony with the new conception.

 

And further, all these mythological dialogues are Tendenzschriften, written with the object of persuading the Kosala clansmen that they need not be in the least afraid, for their own gods were on the side of the reformation. The story-tellers who invented them have twisted the details to suit their purpose. But they will not have changed the figure of the god so much that there could be any doubt as to the god they talked of being the then popular god. To do so would have been to defeat their object. We may be sure that at the time when Buddhism arose the popular god in Kosala was already very different from Indra, so different that he was spoken of under a new name. This remains true, though he probably was a degeneration, as the brahmins would say, or a development, as their opponents would say, of the old Vedic hero-god. We cannot be surprised to learn that the conception which appealed so strongly to a more barbarous age, and to clans when engaged in fighting their way into a new country, were found discordant, unattractive, not quite nice, in the settled and prosperous districts of Kosala, after many centuries of progress and culture. It is so with every god known to history. He seems eternal. But by the gradual accumulation of minute variations there comes a time, it may be in a few generations, it may be after the lapse of centuries, when the old name no longer fits the new ideas, the old god falls from his high estate, and a new god, with a new name, occupies the place he filled in the minds of men. Of course the priests went on repeating the old phrases about Indra. But even to the priests they had become barely intelligible. The people paid little heed to them ; they followed rather other gods more up-to-date, and of their own making. And it was of these new gods that the leaders of the new movement told their new stories to point a new moral 1.

 

1 The above is based exclusively on Nikaya evidence. It is confirmed by that of the later books given by Childers {sub voce Sakko).

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SAKKA-PANHA SUTTANTA

 

THE QUESTIONS OF SAKKA.

 

1. [263] Thus have I heard. The Exalted One was once staying in Magadha, to the east of Rajagaha, at a brahmin village named Ambasanda. There he resided on the Vediya mountain to the north of the village, in the cave called the cave of Indra's Sal Tree 2. Now at that time a longing came over Sakka, the king of the gods, to visit the Exalted One.

 

And this idea occurred to him : — 'Where may he now be staying, the Exalted One, the Arahant, the Buddha supreme ? ' And Sakka saw that he was staying in Magadha at Ambasanda, east of Rajagaha, in the cave called Indra's Saltree Cave on the Vediya mountain to the north of the village. And seeing that, he said to the Three-and-Thirty gods : — ' Gentlemen, that Exalted One is staying in Magadha, to the east of Rajagaha at a brahmin village named Ambasawda, in the cave called Indra's Saltree Cave, on the Vediya mountain to the north of the village. How would it be, gentlemen, if we were to go and visit the Exalted One ? '

 

' So be it and good luck to you ! ' replied the Three- and-Thirty gods consenting.

 

1 This Suttantais quoted by name at Samyutta III, 13 ; Mahavastu I, 350; Milinda 350; Sumahgala Vilasini I, 24 (where it is called vedalla). The last passage is repeated at Gandha Vamsa 57.

 

2 Inda-sala-guha. Buddhaghosa says there was a cave here between two overhanging rocks with a large Sal tree at the entrance. The village community had added walls with doors and windows; and ornamented it with polished plaster scroll-work and garlands, and presented it to the Buddha. In Fa Hian's time (Legge, p. 81) it was still inhabited. In Yuan Chwang's time (Watters, II, 173) it was deserted. Both pilgrims were told that certain marks on the rock had been made by Sakka writing his questions (!). The Sanskritisation of the name into Indra-saila-guha (Schiefner, Bohtlingk-Roth, Julien, Legge, and Beal) is a mere blunder. The name Indra enters into the names of several plants, probably merely in the sense of excellent. There is nothing to justify the idea that Indra was supposed to haunt this tree.

 

2. Then Sakka [made the same statement and proposal to Five-crest the Gandhabba, [264] and received the same reply] and Five-crest taking his lyre of yellow Beluva wood, followed in attendance on Sakka, the king of the gods.

 

So Sakka, the king of the gods, surrounded by the Thirty-and-Three, and attended by Five-crest the Gandhabba, vanished from his heaven as easily as a strong man might shoot out his arm, or draw in his arm outshot, and reappeared in Magadha, standing on the Vediya mountain.

 

3. Now at that time the Vediya mountain was bathed in radiance, and so was Ambasanda, the brahmin village, — such is the potency of the celestials — so much so that in the villages round about folk were saying : — ' For sure the Vediya mountain is on fire to-day, for sure the Vediya mountain is burning to-day, for sure the Vediya mountain is in flame to-day ! Why, O why, is the Vediya mountain bathed in radiance to-day, and Ambasanda too the brahmins' village ? ' And they were anxious and sore afraid.

 

4. Then said Sakka, the king of the gods, to Five- crest the Gandhabba : — [265] ' Difficult of approach, dear Five-crest, are Tathagatas, to one like me, when they are rapt in the bliss of meditation, and for that purpose abiding in solitude. But if you were first to gain over the Exalted One [by your music] then might I afterwards come up and visit him, the Arahant, the Buddha supreme.'

 

' So be it and good luck to you ! ' consented Five- crest, and taking his lyre he went to the Indra-Saltree- cave. On coming there he thought : — ' Thus far will the Exalted One be neither too far from me nor too near to me, and he will hear my voice.' And he stood

on one side, and let his lyre be heard and recited these verses concerning the Awakened One and the Truth, the Arahants and Love : — 1

 

1 This idea is found again in the Maha-bharata (I, 2. 383). That poem there claims to be artha-sastra, dharma-sastra, and kama- sastra. So Windisch ('Buddha's Geburt,' 82) speaks of a group of ideas, recurrent in Indian literature, which very happily sums up and exhausts the matter — the Useful, the True, and the Agreeable— to which Emancipation is sometimes added as a fourth. Our passage here is the earliest in which such a group appears.

 

5. ' Lady, thy father Timbaru I greet

With honour due, O Glory-of-the-Sun ! 1

In that he wrought a thing so nobly fair

As thou, O fount divine of all my joy !

 

Sweet as the breeze to one foredone with sweat,

Sweet as a cooling drink to one athirst,

So dear art thou, O presence radiant !

To me, dear as to Arahants the Truth.

 

[266] As medicine bringing ease to one that's

 

sick,

As food to starving man, so, lady, quench,

As with cool waters, me who am all a-flame.

 

E'en as an elephant with heat oppressed,

Hies him to some still pool, upon whose face

Petals and pollen of the lotus float,

So would I sink within thy bosom sweet.

 

E'en as an elephant fretted by hook,

Dashes unheeding curb and goad aside,

So I, crazed by the beauty of thy form,

Know not the why and wherefore of my acts.

 

By thee my heart is held in bonds, and all

Bent out of course ; nor can I turn me back,

No more than fish, once he hath ta'en the bait.

 

Within thine arm embrace me, lady, me

With thy soft languid eyne embrace and hold,

O nobly fair ! This I entreat of thee.

 

Scanty in sooth, O maid of waving locks,

Was my desire, but now it swelleth aye,

Indefinitely great, e'en as the gifts

Made by the faithful to the Arahants.

 

1 Suriya-vaccase, the young lady's name; sunshine in prose. See § 10 of the Maha-samaya.

 

 [267] Whate'er of merit to such holy ones

I've wrought, be thou, O altogether fair,

The ripened fruit to fall therefrom to me.

 

Whate'er of other merit I have wrought

In the wide world, O altogether fair,

Be thou the fruit thereof to fall to me.

 

As the great Sakyan Seer, through ecstasy

Rapt and intent and self-possessed, doth brood

Seeking ambrosia, even so do I

Pursue the quest of thee, O Glory-of-the-Sun !

 

As would that Seer rejoice, were he to win

Ineffable Enlightenment, so I

With thee made one, O fairest, were in bliss.

 

And if perchance a boon were granted me

By Sakka, lord of Three-and-Thirty gods,

'Tis thee I'd ask of him, lady, so strong

My love. And for thy father, wisest maid —

Him as a sal-tree freshly burgeoning

I worship for such peerless offspring giv'n.'

 

6. When Five-crest had finished the Exalted One said to him : — ' The sound of your strings, Five-crest, so harmonizes with that of your song, and the sound of your voice with that of the strings, that your lyre does not too much colour your song, nor your song too much colour your play. Where, Five-crest, did you learn these verses " concerning the Awakened One and the Truth, the Arahants, and Love ? "

 

‘ The Exalted One, lord, was once staying at Uruvela, on the bank of the Neranjara river, at the foot of the Goatherd's Banyan tree [268] before he attained to Enlightenment. Now at that time, lord, the lady called Bhadda, in appearance as Sunshine, daughter of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas, was beloved by me. But that lady, lord, was in love with another — Sikhaddi, son of Matali the charioteer. And since I could not get the lady by any method whatever, I took my lyre of yellow Beluva wood, and going to the abode of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas, I played my lyre and recited these verses concerning the Awakened One, the Truth, the Arahants and Love : —

 

7. ' Lady, thy father Timbaru I greet

With honour due, O Glory-of-the-Sun,

In that he wrought a thing so nobly fair

As thou, O fount divine of all my joy !

 

Sweet as the breeze to one foredone with sweat,

Sweet as a cooling drink to one athirst,

So dear art thou, O presence radiant !

To me, dear as to Arahants the Truth.

 

As medicine bringing ease to one that's sick.

 

As food to

Starving man, so, lady, quench,

As with cool waters, me who am a-flame.

 

E'en as an elephant with heat oppressed,

Hies him to some still pool, upon whose face

Petals and pollen of the lotus float,

So would I sink within thy bosom sweet.

 

E'en as an elephant fretted by hook,

Oashes unheeding curb and goad aside,

So I, crazed by the beauty of thy form,

Know not the why and wherefore of my acts.

 

By thee my heart is held in bonds, and all

Bent out of course ; nor can I turn me back,

No more than fish, once he hath ta'en the bait.

 

Within thine arm embrace me, lady, me

With thy soft languid eyne embrace and hold,

O nobly fair ! This I entreat of thee.

 

Scanty in sooth, O maid of waving locks,

Was my desire, but now it swelleth aye,

Indefinitely great, e'en as the gifts

Made by the faithful to the Arahants.

 

Whate'er of merit to such holy ones

I've wrought, be thou, O altogether fair,

The ripened fruit to fall therefrom to me.

 

Whate'er of other merit I have wrought

In the wide world, O altogether fair,

Be thou the fruit thereof to fall to me.

 

As the great Sakyan Seer, through ecstasy-

Rapt and intent and self-possessed, doth brood

Seeking ambrosia, even so do I

Pursue the quest of thee, O Glory-of-the-Sun !

 

As would that Seer rejoice, were he to win

Ineffable Enlightenment, so I

With thee made one, O fairest, were in bliss.

 

And if perchance a boon were granted me

By Sakka, lord of Three-and-Thirty gods,

'Tis thee I'd ask of him, lady, so strong

My love. And for thy father, wisest maid —

Him as a sal- tree freshly burgeoning

I worship for such peerless offspring giv n.

 

' And when I had finished, lord, the Lady Suriya-

vaccasa said to me : —

 

" That Blessed One, sir, I have not seen face to face, and yet I heard of him when I went to dance at the Sudhamma Hall of the Three-and-Thirty gods 1 Since you so extol the Blessed One, let there be a meeting between thee and me to-day. [269] So, lord, I met that lady, not on that day but afterwards."

 

8. Now Sakka, the king of the gods, thought : — ' Five-crest and the Exalted One are in friendly converse.' And he called to Five-crest and said : — ' Salute the Exalted One for me, dear Five-crest, and tell him : — " Sakka, lord, the ruler of the gods, with his ministers and suite, does homage at the foot of the Exalted One."

[And Five-crest did so.] ,

 

1 May good fortune, Five-crest, attend Sakka, ruler of gods, and his ministers and suite. For they desire happiness — those gods and men, Asuras, Nagas, Gandhabbas, and whatever other numerous hosts there be ! '

 

1 When Sakka pronounced his eulogy in the Maha-govinda, says Buddhaghosa.

 

On this wise do the Tathagatas salute these dignitaries. And so saluted by the Exalted One, Sakka, the king of the gods, entered the cave of Indra's Sal-tree, and saluting the Exalted One stood on one side. Thus did also the Three-and-Thirty gods and Five-crest the Gandhabba.

 

9. Now at that time in the cave the rough passages were made smooth, the narrow spaces were made wide, and in the dark cavern it became bright, such was the potency of the celestials [270], Then said the Exalted One to Sakka : — ' Wonderful is this ! marvellous is this, that the venerable Kosiya, with so much to do, so much to perform, should come hither ! '

 

' For a long time, lord, have I been desirous of coming to see the Exalted One, but I was hindered by one task and another that I had to perform for the Three-and-Thirty gods, and was not able to come. On one occasion the Exalted One was staying at Savatthi, in the Salala cottage. So I went to Savatthi to see the Exalted One.

 

10. ' Now at that time, lord, the Exalted One was seated, rapt in some stage of meditation, and Bhunjati, wife of Vessavana l , was waiting on him, worshipping with clasped hands. Then I said to Bhunjati : — " Madam, do you salute the Exalted One for me, and say : — ' Sakka, lord, ruler of gods, with ministers and suite, does homage at the feet of the Exalted One.' And Bhunjati replied : — " 'Tis not the right time, sir, for seeing the Exalted One ; he is in retreat." [271] " Well then, madam, when the Exalted One rouses

himself from his meditation, salute him for me and say what I have told you." Did the lady so salute the Exalted One, lord, for me ? And does the Exalted One remember what she said ? '

 

' She did salute me, ruler of gods. I remember her words. And this too — that it was the noise of your

 

1 That is, Kuvera, king of the North Quarter, ruler over Yakkhas. See previous Suttanta, § 9.

 

excellency's chariot wheels that aroused me from that meditation.'

 

11. 'Lord, I have heard and understood when in the presence of those gods who were reborn into the heaven of the Three-and-Thirty before Us, that when a Tathagata, an Arahant Buddha supreme, arises in the world, the celestial hosts wax in numbers, and the Asura hosts wane. And I myself, lord, have seen and can witness that this is so. Take, lord, this case. There was, at Kapilavatthu, a daughter of the Sakyans named Gopika, who trusted in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Order, and who fulfilled the precepts. She, having abandoned a woman's thoughts and cultivated the thoughts of a man, was, at the dissolution of the body after her death, re-born to a pleasant life, into the communion of the Three-and-Thirty gods, into sonship with us. And there they knew her as " Gopaka of the sons of the gods, Gopaka of the sons of the gods." Moreover, lord, there were three bhikkhus who, having followed the religious life prescribed by the Exalted One, were reborn into a lower state among the Gandhabbas. Surrounded by and enjoying the pleasures of the five senses, they used to wait upon and minister to us. Things being so, Gopaka upbraided [272]them saying : — " Where were your ears, sirs, that ye hearkened not to the Dhamma of the Exalted One ? Here am I who being but a maiden, trusting in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Order, and fulfilling the precepts, abandoned all my woman's thoughts and, cultivating a man's thoughts, was reborn after my death into a

pleasant life, into communion with the Three-and- Thirty gods, into the sonship of Sakka, the lord of the gods, and am known as Gopaka, son of the gods. But ye, sirs, following the religious life of the Exalted One, have only been reborn into the lower state of Gan-

dhabbas. A sad thing, indeed, is this to see, when we behold our co-religionists reborn into the inferior condition of Gandhabbas." Of those fairies, lord, thus rebuked by Gopaka, two acquired in that same lifetime mindfulness, and therewith the heaven of the ministers of Brahma. But the third fairy clave to sensuous enjoyment.

 

12. Gopaka's Verses.

 

" Disciple once of Him-Who-Sees, —

By name they called me : — Gopika, —

In Buddha, Dhamma, firm my trust,

I served the Order glad of heart.

Through this good service paid to Him

 

Behold me son of Sakka, born

All glorious in the Deva-world,

Of mighty power, and known henceforth

As Gopaka. Now saw I men

 

Who, bhikkhus in a former birth,

Had won to mere Gandhabba rank.

What ! persons erst of human kind,

And followers of Gotama, —

Supplied by us with food and drink

And tended in our own abode, — [273]

 

Where were their ears that they, so blest,

Yet failed to grasp the Buddha's Law ?

The Gospel well proclaimed to all

And understood by Him-Who-Sees,

Each for himself must comprehend.

I, serving only you, have heard

The orood words of the Noble Ones —

 

And now behold me reborn here,

All glorious and powerful,

As Sakka's son in Deva-world,

But you who served the Best of men,

And by the Highest shaped your lives,

Have re-appeared in lowly rank,

Degraded from your due advance.

 

An evil sight is this, to see

One's co-religionists sunk low,

Where, as Gandhabba spirits, sirs,

Ye come to wait upon the gods.

For me see ! what a change is here !

From house-life as a woman, I,

 

A male to-day, a god reborn,

In joys celestial take my share."

Upbraided thus by Gopaka,

Disciple erst of Gotama,

They in sore anguish made response : —

" Yea verily ! let us go hence

 

And strive our utmost, lest we live

The slaves of others ! ,] Of the three [274]

Two bent their will unto the work,

Mindful of Gotama's behests.

The perils in the life of sense

They saw, e'en here cleansing their hearts ;

And like an elephant that bursts

Each strap and rope, so they o'ercame

The fetters and the bonds of sense,

Ties of the Evil One, so hard

To get beyond — yea, e'en the gods,

The Three-and-Thirty, seated round

 

With Indra, with Pajapati,

Enthroned in Sudhamma's Hall,

The heroes twain left far behind,

Purging all passion, ousting lust.

 

At sight of them distress arose

In Vasava, ruler of gods,

In midst of all his retinue : —

" Lo now ! these, born to lower rank,

 

Outstrip the Three-and-Thirty gods ! '

His sovereign's apprehension heard,

Gopaka spake to Vasava : —

" O Indra ! in the world of men

 

A Buddha, called the Sakya Sage,

Is conqueror o'er the world of sense.

And these his children, who had lost

All conscience when they left the world,

 

Through me their conscience have regained.

[275] One of the three yet dwelleth here,

Reborn among Ganclhabba folk ;

And two, on highest Wisdom bent,

In deepest rapture scorn the gods.

 

Let no disciple ever doubt

That by the kind who here abide

The Truth may yet be realized.

All hail to Buddha who hath crossed

The flood and put an end to doubt,

Great Conqueror and Lord of all ! "

 

They recognized thy Truth e'en here ; and they Have onward passed and won to eminence. 'Mong Brahma s ministers they twain have won A higher place than this. And we are come, O master, here that we too may attain That Truth 1 . If the Exalted One should grant Us leave, Master, we fain would question him.'

 

13. Then the Exalted One thought: 'For a long- time now this Sakka has lived a pure life. Whatever question he may ask of me will be to good purpose, and not frivolous. And what I shall answer, that will he quickly understand.' Then did the Exalted One address these verses to Sakka, lord of gods : —

 

' Question me, Vasava, whate'er thy mind desires, And on each problem put I'll end thy doubts ! '

 

End of the First Portion for Recitation.

 

1 We follow the printed text. It is more probable that pattiya is the gloss. In that case the version would be : ' For that Truth's sake, O master, have we come.' The full stop after visesagu is a misprint.

 

CHAPTER II.

 

i. [276] Thus invited, Sakka, the ruler of the gods, asked this first question of the Exalted One : — ' By what fetters, sir, are they bound — gods, men, Asuras, Nagas, Gandhabbas, and whatever other great classes of beings there be — in that they, wishing thus : — " Would that, without hatred, injury, enmity, or malignity, we might live in amity ! " — do nevertheless live in enmity, hating, injuring, hostile, malign ? '

 

Such was the fashion of Sakka's first question to the Exalted One. To him the Exalted One so asked made answer : —

 

' By the fetters of envy and selfishness, ruler of gods, are they bound — gods, men, Asuras, Nagas, Gandhabbas and whatever other great classes of beings there be — in that they wishing thus : — " Would that, without hatred, injury, enmity, or malignity, we might live in amity ! " — do nevertheless live in enmity, hating, injuring, hostile, malign.'

 

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question. And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterance, expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying : — ' That is so, Exalted One, that is so, Welcome One ! I have got rid of doubt and am no longer puzzled, through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

 

2. [277] So Sakka, expressing pleasure and appreciation, asked a further question of the Exalted One : — ' But envy and selfishness, sir, — what is the source thereof, the cause thereof ? what gives birth to them ? how do they come to be ? What being present, are envy and selfishness also present ? What being absent, are they also absent ? '

 

' Things as dear and not dear to us, ruler of gods, — this is the source and cause of envy and selfishness, this is what gives birth to them, this is how they come to be. In the presence of what is dear or not dear, envy and selfishness come about, and in the absence of such feelings, they do not come about'

 

' But what, sir, is the source, what the cause of things being dear and not dear, what gives birth to these feelings, how do they come to be ? What being present, do we so feel, and what being absent, do we not so feel ? '

 

' Desire 1 ruler of gods, is the source and cause of things being dear or not dear, this is what gives birth to such feelings, this is how they come to be. If desire be present, things become dear and not dear to us ; if it be absent, things are no more felt as such.'

 

' But desire, sir, — what is the source and cause of that ? What gives birth to it, how does it come to be ? What being present, is desire present, and what being absent, is desire also absent ? '

 

' Mental pre-occupation 2 , ruler of gods, — this is the source, this is the cause of desire, this is what gives birth to desire, this is how desire comes to be. Where- with our mind is pre-occupied, for that desire arises ; if our mind is not so pre-occupied, desire is absent.'

 

1 But what, sir, is the source and what is the cause of our mind being pre-occupied ? What gives birth to such a state, how does it come to be ? What being present, does our mind become pre-occupied, and what being absent, does it not ? '

 

1 C hand a. The Cy. distinguishes exegetically five kinds of chanda: — desire to seek, to gain, to enjoy, to hoard, to spend, and includes all in the present connexion with the words : ' here it is used in a sense tantamount to craving (tanha).'

 

2 Vitakka. The Cy. does not give the Abhidhamma definition of this term (see Dh. S., § 7 ; ' Bud. Psy.,' p. 10 : 'the disposing, fixating, focusing, applying the mind.' Cf. also ' Compendium of Buddhist Philosophy,' Appendix: vitakka, P.T.S., 1910), but gives as a parallel term vinicchaya (see above, p. 55 ' labham paticca vinic-chayo' — 'deciding respecting gain '). The word is used, according to Suttanta method, not with any fine shade of psychological meaning, but in its popular sense of μεριμνυω, ' taking thought for ' (Matt. vi. 25), ' being pre-occupied about.'

 

' The source, ruler of gods, the cause of our becoming pre-occupied is what we may call obsession l . This is what gives birth to pre-occupation of mind, this is how that comes about. If that obsession is present, our mind is pre-occupied [by the idea by which we are obsessed] ; if it is absent, it is not.'

 

3. ' But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about who has reached the path suitable for and leading to the cessation of obsession ? ' '

[278] Happiness, ruler of gods, I declare to be two- fold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided. Sorrow too I declare to be twofold, according as it is to be followed or avoided. Equanimity too I declare to be twofold, according as it is to be followed or avoided.

'And the distinction I have affirmed in happiness, was drawn on these grounds : — When in following- after happiness I have perceived that bad qualities developed and good qualities were diminished, then that kind of happiness was to be avoided. And when, following after happiness, I have perceived that bad qualities were diminished and good qualities developed, then such happiness was to be followed. Now of such happiness as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind, and of such as is not so accompanied, the latter is the more excellent.

 

‘ Thus, ruler of gods, when I declare happiness to be

 

1 Papafica-sanfia (idde fixe). An exactly similar sequence of ethical states is put elsewhere (M. I, 111, 112) into the mouth of Maha Kaccana. Buddhaghosa glosses pap ana here by mattappa-matta.kara-pa.pana, where papana is etymological word-play, and mattappamatta may be rendered 'infatuation.' The infatuation is either craving (tanha) in one or other of its 108 forms, or self-conceit (man a) in one or other of its nine /orms, or speculation (ditthi) in one or other of its sixty-two forms. This is one of the most recurrent conceptions of the higher Buddhism, the system of the Aryan Path (see above, Vol. I, p. 188), and is one of the many ways in which the early Buddhists struggled to give more precise and ethical an implication to the Indian conception of Avijja. It is also one of the technical terms most frequently misunderstood. Neumann all through the Majjhima renders it Vielheit, plurality, and Dahlke follows him.

 

twofold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided, I say so for that reason.

 

' Again, ruler of gods, when I declare sorrow to be twofold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided, for what reason do I say so ? When, in following after sorrow 1 I have perceived that bad qualities developed and good qualities were diminished, then that kind of sorrow was to be avoided. And when, following after sorrow, I have perceived that bad qualities were diminished and good qualities were developed, then such sorrow was to be followed after. Now of such sorrow as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind, and of such as is not so accompanied, the latter 2 is the more excellent. Thus, ruler of gods, when I declare sorrow to be twofold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided, I say so for that reason.

 

' [279] Again, ruler of gods, when I declare equanimity to be twofold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided, for what reason do I say so ? When, in following after equanimity, I have perceived that bad qualities developed and good qualities were diminished, then that kind of equanimity was to be avoided. And when, following after equanimity, I perceived that bad qualities were diminished and good qualities were developed, then that kind of equanimity was to be followed after 3 . Now of such equanimity

 

1 The two sorts of sorrow or grief are geha-sita and nekkhammasita, and are well paralleled by St. Paul's τού κόσμου λύπη and κατα θεόν λύπη (2 Cor. vii. 10). And the working of the latter: 'for that ye sorrowed after a godly sort . . . wrought in you . . . what vehement desire, yea, what zeal' — has its counterpart in Buddhaghosa's exposition, namely, that through insight into the impermanence of all sensuous satisfaction ' arouses yearning for deliverances even without beyond (anuttaresu), and that yearning leads to sorrow, when one thinks, O that I might reach that state wherein the elect (Ariyas) do dwell even now.'

 

2 According to the Cy., 'the latter' in this and the foregoing paragraph refers especially to the state of mind reached in the second and higher stages of Jhana, as compared with the first, which is savitakkam savicaram.

 

3 For equanimity thus ethically distinguished, see M. I, 364. The Commentator (who repeats his comment in Asl. 194) describes the former ethical indifference (upekha) as that of the foolish average person, confused in mind, who has not overcome limitations or results (of Karma), but is bound by his world of objects of sense.

 

as is accompanied by pre-occupation and travail of mind and of such as is not so accompanied, the latter is the more excellent. Thus, ruler of gods, when I declare equanimity to be twofold, according as it is to be followed after, or avoided, I say so for that reason.

 

' And it is on this wise that a bhikkhu, ruler of gods, must have gone about, who has reached the path suitable for, and leading to, the cessation of perceiving and taking account of distractions.'

 

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question. And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterances, expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying : — ' That is so, Exalted One, that is so, O Welcome One ! I have got rid of doubt and am no longer puzzled, through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

 

4. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation, asked a further question of the Exalted One : — ' But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about who has acquired the self-restraint enjoined by the Patimokkha?'

 

' I say, ruler of gods, that behaviour in act and in speech, as well as those things we seek after are two- fold, according as they are to be followed after or avoided. [280] And for what reason do I say so ? When, in following some mode of behaviour in act or speech or in pursuing some quest, I have perceived that bad qualities developed and good qualities diminished, then such behaviour or such pursuits were to be avoided. And when, again, I perceived as the consequence of some other mode of behaviour in act or speech, or of some other pursuit that bad qualities were diminished and good qualities were developed, then that behaviour, or that pursuit, was to be followed after. Thus when I, ruler of gods, declare that behaviour in act, behaviour in speech, and the things we seek after are twofold, I say so for those reasons.

[28l] ' And it is on this wise, ruler of gods, that a bhikkhu must have gone about to have acquired the self-restraint enjoined by the Patimokkha.'

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question. And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterance, expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying : — ' That is so, Exalted One, that is so, O Welcome One ! I have got rid of doubt and am no longer puzzled, through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

 

5. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation, asked a further question of the Exalted One : — ' But how, sir, has that bhikkhu gone about who has acquired control of his faculties ? '

 

' I say, ruler of gods, that the objects of the senses — visible, audible, odorous, sapid, tangible and mental objects 1 — are twofold, according as they are to be followed after or avoided.'

 

Then said Sakka to the Exalted One: — 'I, sir, understand the details of that which you have told me in outline. [282] Those sense-objects which are not to be followed are such as cause bad qualities to develop and good qualities to diminish ; and those sense-objects which have the opposite effect are to be followed after. And because I can thus understand in detail the meaning of that which the Exalted One has told me in outline, I have got rid of doubt and am no longer puzzled, now that I have heard the Exalted One's

answer to my question.'

 

6. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure and appreciation, asked a further question of the Exalted One : — ' Are all recluses and brahmins, sir, wholly of one creed, one practice, one persuasion 2 , one aim ? '

 

1 According to Buddhist psychology, these are not ideas as distinct from impressions, but are any presentations or objects of consciousness, whether on occasion of sense or of reflexion, at that stage when mind 'turns toward' the object and 'receives' it (avajjana, sampaticchana).

 

2 Ekantacchanda, lit. of one desire, will or purpose ; but equated by the Cy. with ekaladdhika, of one heresy.

 

' No, ruler of gods, they are not.'

' But why, sir, are they not ? '

‘ Of many and divers elements, ruler of gods, is this world composed. And that being so, people naturally incline to adhere to one or another of those elements ; and to whichsoever it be they, being so inclined, become strongly and tenaciously addicted, holding that "just this is true, the rest is foolish." And therefore it is that recluses and brahmins are not all wholly of one creed, one practice, one persuasion, one aim.'

 

[283] ' Are all recluses and brahmins, sir, perfectly proficient, perfectly saved, living perfectly the best life 1 , have they attained the right ideal 2 ? '

 

' No, ruler of gods, they are not all so.'

' Why, sir, are they not all so ? '

 

‘ Those recluses and brahmins, ruler of gods, who are set free through the entire destruction of craving, only they are perfectly proficient, only they are perfectly saved, only they are living perfectly the best life and have attained the ideal. Therefore is it that not all recluses and brahmins are perfectly proficient, perfectly saved, living perfectly the best life, and have attained the ideal 3

 

Such was the fashion of the Exalted One's answer to Sakka's question. And Sakka, delighted with the Exalted One's utterances, expressed his pleasure and appreciation saying : — ' That is so, Exalted One, that is so, O Welcome One ! I have got rid of doubt and am no longer puzzled, through hearing the answer of the Exalted One.'

 

7. So Sakka, expressing his pleasure at, and appre-

 

1 Accanta-brahmacari = ' se<em>tth</em>a<em>tth</em>ena brahma<em>m</em> ariya- magga<em>m</em> caratiti.' Cy. ' Walking 'in the highest, Aryan Path.'

 

2 Accanta-pariyosana = ' pariyosanan ti nibbana<em>m</em>.' Cy. ' The ideal ' is a free rendering, the term meaning the end, goal or climax.

 

3 This paragraph is quoted as from the Sakka-pa/zha at Samyutta III, 13. Two unnecessary words are there added at the end of it. Buddhaghosa does not say anything on the discrepancy. The two words are either there added by mistake from Majjhima I, 251, where the phrase recurs, or stood originally in our text here.

 

ciation of the Exalted One's utterance, spoke thus : — 1 Passion \ lord, is disease, passion is a cancer, passion is a dart, passion drags a man about by one rebirth and then another, so that he finds himself now up above now down below. Whereas other recluses and brahmins not of your followers, lord, gave me no opportunity to ask these questions, the Exalted One has answered for me, instructing me at length, so that the dart of doubt and perplexity has by the Exalted One been extracted.'

[284] ' Do you admit to us, ruler of gods, that you have put the same questions to other recluses or brahmins ? '

‘ I do, lord.'

 

‘ Then tell me, if it be not inconvenient to you, how they answered you.'

 

‘ It is not inconvenient to me when the Exalted One is seated to hear, or others like him.'

 

' Then tell, ruler of gods.'

 

' I went to those, lord, whom I deemed to be recluses and brahmins, because they were dwelling in secluded forest abodes, and I asked them those questions. Being asked, they did not withdraw themselves, but put a counter-question to me : — "Who is the venerable one ? " I replied, " I, sir, am Sakka, ruler of gods." They asked me further : — "What business has brought the venerable ruler of gods to this place ? " Whereupon I taught them the Dharma as I had heard and learnt it. And they with only so much were well pleased saying : —

" We have seen Sakka, ruler of gods, and he has answered that which we asked of him ! " And actually, instead of me becoming their disciple, they became mine. But I, lord, am a disciple of the Exalted One, a Stream-winner, who cannot be reborn in any state of woe, and who has the assurance of attaining to enlightenment 2

 

1 Eja = calanatthena tanha. Cy., i.e. 'Craving, with respect to the thrill' (e-motion, com-motion) caused by it. 'Passion' lacks etymological coincidence with the implication of ' movement ' in e j a, but no other term is forceful enough.

 

2 Cf. Vol. I, pp. 190-2.

 

' Do you admit to us, ruler of gods, that you have ever before experienced such satisfaction and such happiness as you now feel ? '

 

[285] ' Yes, lord, I do admit it.'

 

' And what do you admit, ruler of gods, with regard to that previous occasion ? '

 

' In former times, lord, war had broken out between gods and asuras. Now in that fight the gods won and the asuras were defeated. Then when the battle was over, to me the conqueror the thought occurred : 'The gods will henceforth enjoy not only celestial nectar but also asura-nectar." But, lord, the experiencing satisfaction and happiness such as this, which was wrought by blows and by wounds, does not conduce to detachment, nor to disinterestedness, nor to cessation, nor to peace, nor to the higher spiritual knowledge 1 , nor to enlightenment, nor to Nirvana. But this satisfaction, lord, this happiness that I have experienced in hearing the Dhamma of the Exalted One, this which is not wrought by blows and by wounds does conduce to detachment, to disinterestedness, to cessation, to peace, to spiritual knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nirvana.'

 

8. ' What are the things present to your mind, ruler of gods, when you confess to experiencing such satisfaction and such happiness ? '

 

'Six are the things present to my mind, lord, that I feel such satisfaction and happiness : —

 

' I who here merely as a god exist

Have [by my acts] 2 incurred the destiny

To live again once more. Hear, sir, and know !

 

' This, lord, is the first meaning implied in what

I said. [286]

 

' Deceasing from the gods I shall forsake

The life that 's not of men, and straight shall go

Unerring to that womb I fain would choose.

 

1 Abhinna, i.e. knowledge of that advanced (abhi-) nature, which is neither conveyed by the channels of sense, nor is occupied with sense-experience as such.

 

2 Cy. afinena kammavipakena, by another result of action.

 

1 This, lord, is the second meaning implied in what

I said.

 

' I who have had my problems rendered clear

And live delighting in His Word, shall then

Live righteously, mindful and self-possessed.

 

1 This, lord, is the third meaning implied in what

I said.

 

' And if into my life thus rightly led

Enlightenment should come, then shall I dwell

As one who Knows, and this shall be the end.

 

' This, lord, is the fourth meaning implied in what

I said.

 

' Deceasing from the human sphere, I then

Forsake the life of men, and lo ! once more

A god I'll be, best in the Deva-world.

 

' This, lord, is the fifth meaning implied in what

I said.

 

' Finer than Devas are the Peerless Gods *

All glorious, while my last span of life

Shall come and go 'tis there my home will be.

 

[287] ' This, lord, is the sixth meaning implied in my

confession of experiencing such satisfaction and such

happiness.

 

' These, lord, are the six things present to my mind

that I feel such satisfaction and such happiness.'

 

9. ' With aspirations unfulfilled, perplexed

 

And doubting, long I wandered seeking him

Who-had-on-That -wise-Thither-Come. Me-

 

thought,

Hermits who dwell secluded and austere

Must sure enlightened be ! To them I'll fare.

" What must I do to win, what doing fail ? '

Thus asked they rede me naught in Path or Ways.

 

1 Those called Akanittha.

 

But me, forsooth, whereas they know that I

Who come, am Sakka of the gods, 'tis me

They ask, " What would'st thou that thou comest

 

here ? "

Thereat to them I teach, as I have heard,

As all may hear, the Dhamma ; whereat they

Rejoicing cry, forsooth, " Vasava have we seen ! "

 

But since I've seen the Buddha, seen my doubts

Dispelled, now would I, all my fears allayed,

On him, the Enlightened One, adoring wait.

Him do I worship who hath drawn the dart

Of craving, him the Buddha, peerless Lord.

Hail, mighty hero ! hail, kin to the sun !

[288] E'en as by gods is Brahma reverenced,

Lo ! even thus to-day we worship thee.

Thou art the Enlightened One, Teacher

 

Supreme

Art thou, nor in the world, with all its heav'ns

Of gods, is any found like unto thee ! '

 

10. Then spake Sakka, ruler of gods, to Five-crest of the Gandhabbas : — ' Great has been your help to me, dear Five-crest, in that you first placated the Exalted One. For it was after you had first placated him, that we were admitted to his presence to see the Exalted One, the Arahant, Buddha Supreme. I will take the place of father to you, and you shall be king of the Gandhabbas, and I will give to you Bhadda, the Sun- maiden, whom you have longed for.'

 

Then Sakka, touching the earth with his hand to call it to witness, called aloud thrice : —

 

* Honour to the Exalted One, to the Arahant, to the Buddha Supreme ! '

 

Now while he was speaking in this dialogue, the stainless spotless Eye for the Truth arose in Sakka, the ruler of the gods, to wit : ' Whatsoever things can come to be, that must also cease to be '.' And this happened also to eighty thousand of devas besides.

 

1 See Vol. I, p. 184.

 

[239] Such were the questions which Sakka was invited to ask, and which were explained by the Exalted One 1 Therefore has this dialogue the name of ' The Questions of Sakka.'

 

1 'Was invited' is doubtful. Sakka had not been invited to put any particular questions. Leave had been granted him generally to put any question he liked. Yet the editions printed in Siam and Ceylon read 'the invited questions put.' Buddhaghosa reads ajjhitta. It is doubtful whether the other reading (ajjittha) could be properly applied to a question. In Vin. I, 113 it is applied to a person who is invited to speak. It looks here like a conjectural emendation of a lectio difficihor.