Guide to Tipitaka
Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School
(a) Sagatha Vagga Samyutta Pali
This major division of Sagatha Vagga Samyutta Pah contains eleven sarfiyuttas with discourses grouped according to characters appearing in them, the king of devas, the devas, the Brahma, Mara, King of Kosala, bhikkhus and bhikkhum s The name of the Vagga, Sagatha, is derived from the fact that various personalities appearing in the discourses conducted their dialogues or interviews with the Buddha mostly in verse.
On the request of a Brahma, the Buddha explains in the Oghatarana Sutta of this samyutta that he crosses over the flood of sensuous desire, of existence, of wrong views and of ignorance neither by remaining inactive, nor by making strenuous efforts By remaining inactive he will be sucked into the whirlpool, by making frantic efforts he will be swept away in the current of the flood He follows a middle course
The Buddha also teaches m other suttas of this samyutta that all beings are entangled in the mesh of attachments brought about by six internal sense bases and six external sense objects The way to escape from these entanglements is to become established in sila, to develop Concentration Meditation and Insight Meditation in order to be fully accomplished in the higher knowledge of liberation
Until one becomes fully developed in the knowledge of the Path, tanhd can still give nse to rebirth This fact is borne out by the story of a deva named Samana, given m Acchara Sutta A certain young man having faith in the Teaching of the Buddha gets himself admitted into the order Then taking a meditation subject of his choice, he repairs to a solitary abode in the forest and devotes himself incessantly to the practice of meditation
His efforts at meditation are very strenuous Thus striving day and night and getting enervated by lack of sufficient nourishing food, he is suddenly seized with a paralytic stroke which causes him instant death Although he has put in a great deal of effort in the practice of meditation, he passes away without even attaining the stage of Sotapanna, the Stream-winner
Because of tanhd which he has not yet eradicated, he has to go through the round of existences again, but in consequence of the merit he has acquired in the practice of meditation, a magnificent celestial palace awaits him in the celestial abode of the Tavatimsa
By spontaneous manifestation, he appears as if just awakened from sleep, at the entrance of the palace, a celestial being resplendent in the full celestial attire He does not realize that he has taken a new existence m a new world He thinks he is still a bhikkhu of the human world The celestial maidens, who are awaiting his arrival, bring a body-length mirror and place it in front of the deva On seeing his reflection in the mirror, he finally realizes that he has left the bhikkhus' existence and has arisen in the celestial realm
The Samana Deva is greatly perturbed then He reflects that he has taken up meditation not to be reborn in the celestial land but to attain the goal of Arahatta Fruition So without entering the palatial building, he repairs hastily to the presence of the Buddha He asks of the Buddha how to avoid, and proceed past the Mohana garden, the Tavatimsa celestial abode, full of celestial maidens who to him appear as demons The Buddha advises him that the straight path for a quick escape is the Noble Path of Eight Constituents using the twowheeler Vipassana carriage, fitted with the two wheels of physical exertion and mental exertion While the Buddha is teaching the Dhamma in three verses, Samana Deva, is able to develop quickly successive Vipassand Ndnas step by step until he attains the first Path and Fruition
In Rohitassa Sutta of this samyutta, Rohitassa Deva comes to the Buddha with another problem. He tells the Buddha that he was in a former existence a hermit endowed with supernormal psychic power which enabled him to traverse throughout the universe with immense speed He had travelled with that speed for-over one hundred years to reach the end of the world but he did not succeed. He was to know whether it would be possible to know or see or reach the end of the world where there is no birth nor death by travelling there The Buddha says he does not declare that there is a world's end where there is no birth nor death to be known or seen or reached by travelling there Yet he does not say that there is an ending of suffering without reaching Nibbana It is in the fathom long body of oneself with its perception and its mind that the Buddha describes the world, the ongin of the world, the cessaton of the world and the way leading to the cessation of the world The Buddha's way leading to the cessation of the world is the Noble Path of eight Constituents
In this samyutta are interesting suttas which describe frequent meetings of the Buddha with King Pasenadi of Kosala The king has heard of the fame of the Buddha from his queen Malhka but has not yet met him. But when at last he meets the Buddha as described in the Dahara Sutta, he puts a direct question whether the Venerable Gotama claims to have attained the Supreme Enlightenment. He says that there are^ other religious teachers such as Purana Kassapa, Makkhah Gosala, Nigantha Nataputta, Sancaya, Pakudha and Ajita,' with their own order, with their own followers, who are much older than the Buddha and are generally regarded to be Arahats Even these teachers do not make claim to Supreme Enlightenment
The Buddha replies that if it can be rightly said of anyone to have attained the Supreme Enlightenment, then it is only of himself that it can rightly be said The Buddha adds that there are four things that should not be looked down upon and despised because they are young They are a young prince, a serpent, a fire and a bhikkhu A young ponce of noble parentage should not be despised He might one day become a powerful ruler and wreak royal vengeance A writhing snake moves very fast, it might attack and bite a heedless man A small fire, when heedlessly ignored might grow in intensity and cause untold damage A man treating a virtuous bhikkhu with contempt might bring upon himself unwholesome results such as dwindling prosperity and lack of offspring to inherit from him
Dutiya Aputtaka Sutta describes another occasion when King Pasenadi calls on the Buddha after he has just taken over an immense accumulation of wealth belonging to a multi-millionaire who has died recently The dead man has left behind treasure worth over one hundred lakhs which, in the absence of any heirs to claim, becomes the king's property The king reports that the dead millionaire was a great miser, a niggardly person, begrudging even to himself the luxury of comfortable living He wore only very rough, thread-bare clothes, eating poor, coarse food and travelled about in an old, roofless rickety carnage
The Buddha confirms that what the king says about the millionaire is quite true and tells the king the reason for the millionaire's miserliness In one of his past existences, he met a Paccekabuddha going round for alms-food He gave permission to his family to offer food to the Paccekabuddha and went out to attend to some business On his way back, he met the Paccekabuddha whom he asked whether he had been given any alms-food by his family, and looked into the bowl On seeing the delicious food in the bowl, an unwholesome thought suddenly arose in his mind that it would have been more profitable to feed his servant with such food than to given it away to a Paccekabuddha.
For his good deed of allowing his family to make the offering to a Paccekabuddha he was reborn in the deva world seven times and became a millionaire seven times in the human world But as a result of the ill thought he had entertained in that previous existence he never had the inclination to live a luxurious Me enjoying fine clothes, good food, and riding in comfortable carnages.
The millionaire has now exhausted the good as well as the bad effects of his thoughts and actions with regard to the offering of food to the Paccekabuddha But unfortunately he has to face the consequences of a more serious evil deed, that of causing the death of his own nephew in a past existence
The Buddha tells the king that he is therefore reborn, after his death in the human world, in the state of the most intense suffering, Maharoruva
Many brahmins of Bharadvaja clan become devoted disciples of the Buddha, ultimately attaining Arahatship At first, all of them are quite unfriendly, if not openly hostile Bharadvaja Gotta, mentioned in Dhananjam Sutta, is such a brahmin Although his wife Dhananjam is a disciple of the Buddha, very much devoted to his Teaching, Bharadvaja Gotta and his brahmin teachers show great contempt for the Buddha and his Teaching.
On one occasion when Bharadvaja is giving a feast to his brahmin teachers, his wife while in the course of waiting upon these brahmins slips accidentally and, as she tries to regain her balance, blurts out three times in excitement the formula of adoration to the Buddha 'Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa" Upon hearing the word 'Buddha', the brahmin teachers rise up from their seats and run away helter-skelter in all directions just like a flock of crows in whose midst a stone has been thrown.
Telling his wife in a fury that he would defeat the Buddha m a contest of doctrines, Bharadvaja goes to see the Buddha The interview ends up with Bharadvaja asking the Buddha's permission to enter his Order He finally attains to Arahatship
Akkosa Sutta mentions about Bharadvaja Gotta's younger brother Akkosaka Bharadvaja, who on hearing that his elder brother has joined the Buddha's Order is highly exasperated Raging with fury, he storms into the presence of the Buddha whom he reviles and reproaches in the most vulgar, offensive, obscene, foul language
Very calmly and with great compassion the Buddha asks the young Bharadvaja il he ever has given gifts to friends and relatives When the young Bharadvaja replies that he Indeed has made offers of gifts to his tnends and relatives, the Buddha asks him,
"What happens to the gifts il your friends and relatives do not accept them?"
"Well then they remain with me as my own property,"
Then the Buddha says,
"You have heaped abusive language on us who have not uttered a single word of abuse to you, you have been very olfensive and quanelsome with us who do not offend you nor quarrel with you \ oung Bharadvaja, we do not accept your words of abuse, your offensive and quanelsome language They remain with you as your own property "
Taken by surprise by this unexpected reaction, Bharadvaja is frightened with the thought that this might be a recluse's method of casting a spell on him by \\ay of retaliation He asks the Buddha if he is angry with him for his rude behaviour The Buddha states that he has long lelt anger behind Being free from all mental defilements how could be take offence with him 1 To meet anger with anger is to sink lower than the original reviler He is the conqueror who wins a hard won battle by not retaliating anger with anger
At the end of the discourse, Akkosaka Bharadvaja, the younger brother, also leaves home life to join the Buddha's Order In time, he too becomes accomplished in higher knowledge and attains to Arahatship
In Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta is an account of the Buddha's encounter with the brahmin Kasi Bharadvaja who is a rich landowner
It is sowing time and Kasi Bharadvaja is preparing to start ploughing operations \\ith five hundred ploughs It is made an auspicious occasion with distribution of food and with festivities
The Buddha goes to when 1 iood is being distributed and stands at one side Kasi Bharadvaja, seeing him waiting tor food, says to him,
"I plough, samana, and I sou Having ploughed and sown, I eat You too, samana, should plough and sow , having ploughed and sown, you shall eat "
The Buddha leplies,
"I too plough, brahmin, and I sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat."
"We see no yoke or plough or pole or oxen of yours Yet you claim to be a ploughman How do you explain yourself?"
asks the brahmin
"The faith which I have had since the time of Sumedha, the hermit, is the seed It will grow to bear the fruit of Nibbana The sila with which I keep control of my sense doors is the rain. The two kinds of knowledge, mundane and supramundane, I possess are my plough and yoke. Sense of shame for doing evil and fear of evil deeds are the pole and the handle of the plough My energy is the ox, and my concentration is the rope with which I put the ox to the yoke My mindfulness is the ploughshare and the goad Guarded in my speech and modest in the use of food, these self-restraints serve as a fence round my field of Dhamma With my harnessed ox as my energy, I have ploughed on, never turning back until the seed produces the fruit of Nibbana, the Deathless Having done such ploughing, I eat now what I have sown and I am free from every kind ot suffering "
Kasi Bharadvaja is so delighted and impressed with the Buddha's words that he requests to be regarded as a disciple of the Buddha from that day till the end of his life
In Gahatthavandana Sutta the Buddha explains that the brahmins well versed in the Vedas as well as kings ruling over human dominions, and devas of Catumaharajika and Tavatimsa realm bow in homage to the Sakka, the king of devas The Sakka himself shows respect and makes obeisance not only to samanas who have lived their holy life without any breach of moral conduct for many years but also to the lay disciples of the Buddha who are well established in their faith and who have done meritorious deeds of giving chanty, observing the Five, the Eight or the Ten precepts, and dutifully maintaining their families
Article published on