by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990
This page describes The Vijaya Sutta and its Translation contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the Buddha’s Seventeenth Vassa at Veḷuvana. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Walking or standing; sitting or lying down; bending one’s joints or stretching them; all these postures of walking, standing, sitting, lying down, stepping forward, stepping backward, bending and stretching are movements of the body.
By this verse is meant the following:
In this body there is no person who walks, no person who stands.... no person who stretches. In fact, one should:
(a) know that it is the mind (consciousness) that desires to walk, stand, sit or lie down;
(b) know that it is the mind that conditions the wind element that pervades all over the body;
(c) know that when the wind element pervades the body new matter arises, and it is the matter that walks;
(d) know with intelligence that what walks is no person or self, but it is the matter which does the walking;
(e) know with intelligence that what stands is no person or self, but it is the matter which does the standing;
(f) know with intelligence that what sits is no person or self but it is the matter which does the sitting;
(g) know with intelligence that what has lain down is no person or self, but it is the matter which does the lying down;
(h) know with intelligence that what bends is no person or self, but it is the matter which does the bending;
(i) know with intelligence that what stretches it is no person or self, but it is the matter that does the stretching.
In accordance with the above lines:
(1) When the mind desires to walk, the wind element, conditioned by the mind pervades all over the body. Because of the pervasion of the wind element, there appears the bodily gesture of striding in the desired direction. That is to say, peculiar forms of matter come into being in succession by the gesture of striding towards another desired place over there. Because of the striding gesture of these successive forms of matter, such a gesture is called “going” in worldly parlance.
(2) Similarly, when the mind desires to stand, the wind element, conditioned by the mind, pervades all over the body. Because of the pervasion of the wind element, there appears the vertically erecting gesture of the body. That is to say, peculiar forms of matter come into being in succession by the vertically erecting. Because of the vertically erecting gesture of these successive forms of matter in linking the upper part and the lower part of the body, such a gesture is called “standing” in worldly parlance.
(3) Similarly, when the mind desires to sit, the wind element, conditioned by the mind, pervades all over the body. Because of the pervasion of the wind element, there appears the bending gesture of the lower part and the erecting gesture of the upper part of the body. That is to say, peculiar forms of matter come into being in succession by the bending of the lower part and the erection of the upper part of the body. Because of the partly bending and partly erecting gesture of these successive forms of matter, such a gesture is called “sitting” in worldly parlance.
(4) Similarly, when the mind desires to lie down, the wind element, conditioned by the mind, pervades all over the body. Because of the pervasion of the wind element, there appears the horizontally stretching gesture of the body. That is to say, peculiar forms of matter come into being in succession by the horizontally stretching gesture of the body. Because of the horizontally stretching of these successive forms of matter, such a gesture is called “lying down” in worldly parlance.
In the case of "bending" or "stretching" too, as the mind desires to bend or to stretch, the mind-conditioned wind element pervades the joints. Because of this pervasion of the wind element, the bending or the stretching gesture appears. That is to say peculiar forms of matter come into being in succession by the bending or the stretching gesture. Because of the bending or the stretching gesture of these successive forms of matter, such a gesture is called “bending” or “stretching” in worldly parlance.
Therefore, all these gestures of walking, sitting, sleeping, bending or stretching belong to the body. That is to say, peculiar forms of matter come into being by their respective gestures. In this body there is no individuality, no entity, no soul, that walks, stands, sits, lies down, bends or stretches. This body is devoid of any individuality, entity any soul, that does the walking, the standing, the sitting, the lying down, the bending or the stretching, what is in reality is:
On account of the peculiar state of mind, the peculiar state of the wind element arises. On account of the peculiar state of the wind element, the peculiar state of the body’s movement arises. This is the ultimate sense of the verse.
By this first verse the Buddha teaches the three characteristics: the characteristic of impermanence (anicca-lakkhaṇa), the characteristic of suffering (dukkha-lakkhaṇa) and the characteristic of non-soul (anatta-lakkhaṇa). The way He teaches is as follows:
When one remains long in any of the four postures of walking, standing, sitting and lying down, one becomes painful and uneasy. In order to dispel that pain and uneasiness, one changes one’s posture. (The characteristic of suffering is covered by the posture. In order not to let the characteristic of suffering appear, it is hidden by means of another posture. That is why the wise say: “The posture (iriyāpatha) covers the characteristic of suffering.”)
Thus by the three-feet (pada) beginning with “caraṃ vā yadi vā tiṭṭhaṃ” the characteristic of suffering covered up by change of posture is taught. (Change of one posture to another is due to body-pain. The cause, which is body-pain, the characteristic of suffering, is known from the aforesaid effect which is change of posture.)
In the same way, as there is no posture of standing, etc. while one walks, the characteristic of impermanence covered by continuity (santati) is taught by the Buddha who says: “esā kāyassa iñjanā——all these postures of walking, standing, sitting, lying down, stepping forward, stepping backward, bending and stretching are movements of the body.”
Further explanation: The uninterrupted arising of matter and mind is called santati. Because of this santati which is the uninterrupted arising of matter and mind, the cessation and disappearance of matter and mind, i.e. the characteristic of impermanence, is not seen. That is why the wise say: “ ‘Continuity’ covers the characteristic of impermanence.” By His Teaching “esa kāyassa iñjanā”, the Buddha means to say “all these postures of walking, standing, sitting lying down, stepping forwards, stepping backwards, bending and stretching are movements of the body.”
“In each posture, an aggregate of mind and matter, in harmony with the posture, arises uninterruptedly. With the change of each posture, changes or disappears the aggregate of mind and matter too.” Therefore, it is understood that by the fourth and last foot, the Buddha teaches the characteristic of impermanence covered by santati.
As has been said above, in ultimate reality, it is because of the mind that desires to walk, to stand, to sit or to lie down, the mind-conditioned wind element arises. Because the wind element pervades all over the body, peculiar forms of matter, such as the gesture of walking, of standing, of sitting or of lying down, arise. With reference to these gestures people say: ‘one walks’, ‘one stands’, ‘one sits’, ‘one lies down’, ‘one steps forward’, ‘one steps backwards’, ‘one bends’ or ‘one stretches’. In ultimate reality, however, this is the mere arising of peculiar forms of matter as they are given rise into being by certain combined causes in harmony. That is to say this is the mere arising of peculiar forms of matter by the gestures of walking, standing, etc. as motivated by the combination in harmony of the causes belonging to both the matter and the mind of the body. Those of attavāda (soul theory) who have no profound knowledge of this say: “The soul itself walks, stands, sits or lies down.” On the contrary the Buddha declares that it is not the soul that does the walking, standing, sitting and lying down. “Esa kāyassa iñjanā” all these are but movements of the body appearing through their respective gestures, accomplished by a number of causes which harmoniously come together.
The Four Masses (Ghana)
Herein there are four masses (ghāna), namely, (l) santati-ghāna (mass of continuity) (2) samūha-ghāna (mass of coherence), (3) kicca-ghāna (mass of functions) and (4) ārammaṇa-ghāna (mass of sense objects).
Of these four:
(1) The arising of physical and mental elements by uniting, combining and cohering with one another so that they appear as a whole without any gap is santati-ghāna.
Herein “without any gap” means the cessation of the preceding element coincides with the arising of the following or, as soon as the preceding element ceases the following arises. This is said by Tika writers to be “purima-pacchimānaṃ nirantaratā——the absence of gap between one element and the next.” By arising thus without any gap, it seems that the arising elements are more powerful and overwhelming and the ceasing elements less manifest; so people then have a wrong impression that “what we see now is what we saw previously.” This is proved by the fact that when a burning stick is turned round and round, it is thought to be a ring of fire. (This indeed is the mass of continuity.)
(2) The arising of mental elements, such as phassa (contact), etc., and of physical elements, such as pathavī (earth element), etc., by uniting, combining and cohering with one another so that they all give the impression of their being one in reality is samūha-ghāna.
When mental and physical elements arise, they do so not as one natural quality (sabhāvasatti). On the mental side, there are at least eight elements (such as cakkhu-viññāṇa (eye-consciousness), and seven sabba-citta-sādhāraṇa-cetasika, mental concomitants, dealing with all consciousness); on the physical side too, there are at least eight elements (by which eight material units are referred to). Thus, at least eight natural qualities, whether mental or physical, give the impression that they are but one, by uniting, combining and cohering with one another; such is meant by samūha-ghāna. (This indeed is the mass of coherence.)
(3) Elements belonging to a mental or physical unit arise, performing their respective functions. When they arise, it is difficult (for those who have no knowledge of Abhidhamma) to understand “this is the function of phassa (contact), this is the function of vedanā (sensation), this is the function of saññā (perception)” and so on. Likewise, it is difficult (for them) to understand “this is the function of pathavī (earth element), this is the function of āpo (water element), this is the function of vāyo (wind element), this is the function of tejo (fire element)” and so on. Thus the functions of the elements, being difficult to grasp, make their appearance as a whole by uniting, combining and cohering with one another; such is called kicca-ghāna. (This indeed is the mass of functions.)
(4) Elements belonging to each mental unit collectively pay attention to elements belonging to each physical unit form a single object for one’s attention by uniting, combining and cohering with one another, leading one to the impression that they are just one (natural quality), in reality is ārammaṇa-ghāna. (This indeed is the mass of sense object.)
In short, several physical and mental elements arise as a result (paccay’ uppaññā) of a cause (paccaya); but it is hard to discern their differences in terms of time, nature, function and attention and thus they create the false impression that they are but one unit;they are called respectively santati-ghāna, samuha-ghāna, kicca-ghāna, and ārammaṇa-ghāna. (This account of the four masses are reproduced from the Dhammasaṅganī Mūla Tika and Anu Ṭikī.) In dealing with ultimate reality, the quality of an element is to be discerned. For instance, with regard to a chilli seed, the mind is to be focussed only on its taste. Only when the natural quality of an element is discerned with the eye of wisdom can the ultimate reality be penetrated. Only when the ultimate reality is penetrated, is the mass (ghāna) dissolved. Only when the mass is dissolved, is the knowledge of anatta (non-soul) is gained. If the natural quality is not discerned with the eye of wisdom, the ultimate reality cannot be penetrated. If the ultimate reality is not penetrated, the mass is not dissolved. If the mass is not dissolved, the knowledge of anatta is not gained. That is why the wise say: “The ghāna covers up the characteristic of anatta.”
By the fourth foot of the first verse the Buddha reveals the characteristic of anatta that is covered up by the masses, for he says there, “esā kāyassa iñjanā - all these postures do not belong to a soul or an entity, but they are, in fact, just the movements of the physical and mental elements accomplished in their respective functions.” Deep indeed is the teaching. It cannot be understood through the eye of ordinary wisdom.
End of the first verse
Having thus preached by way of the three characteristics, the meditation subject of suññata (void or absence) of permanence (nicca), happiness (sukha), and soul (attā), and in order to preach the two kinds of loathsomeness, that of the living (saviññāṇaka-asubha) and that of lifeless (aviññāṇaka-asubha), the Buddha uttered more verses:
This living body is composed of (three hundred) bones, (nine hundred) tendons that bind the bones and (seven thousand) capillaries that help experience the tastes. It is plastered by the thick inner skin in white and nine hundred lumps of flesh (extremely stinking and disgusting thereby). This living body is covered by the thinner (outer) skin of different colours as the walls of a house are painted brown, etc; therefore the reality of loathsomeness is entirely indiscernible in true perspective to the fools who are blind for lack of wisdom.
(The nature of the body is said to be as follows: Just as in a house, beams, purlins, principal rafters and common rafters and other substantial parts are fastened and kept immovable by means of rattan stems, even so (in the body) three hundred and sixty substantial bones are fastened and kept immovable by means of rattan-like nine hundred tendons. Just as walls of bamboo matting are plastered with cowdung and fine earth, even so the bones and the tendons are plastered by nine hundred lumps of flesh. As the walls of the house are finished with cement, so the body is wrapped up by the thicker skin. The aforesaid bones, tendons, lumps of flesh and thicker skin have by nature foul and loathsome smell. But, as the walls are painted in different colours, such as brown, yellow, green, red, etc., in order to make the house look beautiful, the bones, tendons, lumps of flesh and the thicker skin are covered by the paint-like outer and thinner skin, which is flimsy like the wing of a fly, in brown, golden, red, or white colour (so flimsy that when it is taken off from the body and rolled into a ball, its size would be as small as a plum seed). Therefore those without the eye of wisdom cannot see its loathsomeness in its true state.)
In order to preach that the variety of unpleasant internal organs must be seen by penetrating them with the eye of wisdom——the organs, very impure, foul smelling, disgusting and loathsome but which are not obvious to all people because they are thus enveloped by the thicker skin that is again covered by the coloured thinner skin——the Buddha went on to utter these verses:
(3) Antapūro udarapūro
vakkassa pihakassa ca.
(4) Siṅghānikāya kheḷassa
sedassa ca medassa ca,
pittassa ca vasāya ca.
(3) This living body is not filled with sandalwood perfume, etc. In fact, this body is illed with intestines, newly eaten food, a liver, urine, a heart, a pair of lungs, a pair of kidney and the spleen.
(4) This living body is filled with the mucus of the nose, saliva, sweat, fat, blood, sunovic fluid, the bile, and fallow or marrow.
Having preached thus, by these two verses that there is none in the body an organic particle that is worth keeping with pleasure like pearls, rubies and so on and that this body is, in fact, full of impurities, the Buddha uttered the following two verses in order to reveal the internal impurities against the external and in order to combine those already enumerated with those not enumerated yet:
(5) Besides, from the nine sore openings of the living body ever uncontrollably flow at all times, day and night, filthy and loathsome elements. (How?) From the eyes flow unclean secretion: from the ears flow the unclean wax.
(6) The impure mucus sometimes flow from the nose; sometimes frothy food, when vomited, comes out through the mouth. Sometimes the bile as organ (baddha) and the bile as fluid (abaddha) and the phlegm come out frothy from the mouth. From the body come out at all times, day and night, sweat, salt, moisture, dirt and other impurities.
(Herein since the flow of excrement from the opening of the rectum and that of urine from the private parts are understood by many and since the Buddha wished to show His regard for the occasion, the individual and the audience concerned, He did not mention them explicitly and as He desired only to say that there were impurities that flow by other means as well, He summarized all in the expression “kāyamhā sedajallikā”.
(By these two verses the Buddha gave a simile: just as when rice is cooked, the impure rice water comes up with the scum and overflows the brim of the pot, even so when the food eaten is cooked by means of the digestive fire element generated by one’s past kamma (kammaja tejodhātu), impurities, such as secretion of the eye, etc., come up and overflow the body.)
Head is recognized as the most sacred part of the body in the world. Because of the sacredness (or sometimes through conceit), the head is not bowed in showing respect even to those worthy of respect. In order to show that the body was impure and loathsome by the fact that even the head (as the top of the body) was devoid of essence and purity, the Buddha uttered this verse:
Besides, the hollow head of the living body is disgustingly filled with brain. The fool, who is blind (to reality) through craving, conceit and false view because he is enveloped wrongly by ignorance, wrongly takes the body thus: “Beautiful is my body indeed. Beautiful am I indeed. My beauty is permanent!”
Here ends loathsomeness of the living body.
Having thus preached the loathsomeness of the living, now, in order, to preach the loathsomeness when life is destroyed, in other words, having preached that even the body of the Universal Monarch is full of putrid and that even life filled with all kinds of luxury, therefore, is also unpleasant. Now, in order, to preach loathsomeness when life is destroyed, the Buddha uttered this verse:
When the body is dead (because of the absence of three factors, namely, life (āyu) or material and mental life (jīvita), body temperature (usmā) or the fire element generated by the past kamma (kammaja-tejo) and consciousness (viññāṇa), it becomes swollen like a leather bag filled with air, it turns black through loss of the original complexion and it lies in the coffin deserted at the cemetery. Then all relatives and friends have no regard for him thinking: “It is certain that the dead will not come to life again.”
(In this verse, by mato, ‘dead’, is shown ‘impermanence’; by seti, ‘lies in the coffin’, is shown ‘lack of vitality’. By both words, it is urged that ‘the two kinds of conceit, the conceit due to living (jīvita māna) and that due to strength (bala-māna), should be rejected.’
(By uddhumāto, ‘swollen’, is shown ‘the destruction of shape’; by vinīlako, ‘turns black’, is shown ‘loss of the original complexion’. By both words it is urged that ‘the conceit due to beauty and that due to good shape should be rejected.’
(By āpaviddho, ‘deserted’, is shown ‘the total absence of what is to be taken back’; by susānasmiṃ, ‘at the cemetery’, is shown ‘the loathsomeness that is so intolerable that the body is not worth keeping at home.’ By both words, it is urged that ‘the grasping with the thought, ‘This is mine’, and the impression that ‘it is pleasant’ should be rejected.’
(By the words anapekkhā honti ñātayo, ‘all the relatives and friends have no regard for it’ is shown that ‘those who formerly adored the deceased no longer do so.’ By showing thus it is urged that ‘the conceit due to having a large number of companions around (parivāra-māna) should be rejected.’
(By this verse, the Buddha thus pointed out the lifeless body that has not been disintegrated yet.)
Now in order to point out the loathsomeness of the lifeless body that has been disintegrated, the Buddha uttered this verse:
That discarded body at the cemetery, domestic dogs and jackals (wild dogs), wolves and worms, eat it; crows and vultures also eat it; other flesh eating creatures, such as leopards, tigers, eagles, kites and the like, also devoured it.
End of the section on the loathsomeness of the lifeless body.
In this way the Buddha taught the nature of this body by virtue of the suññata meditation through the first verse beginning with “caraṃ vā yadi vā tiṭṭhaṃ”; by virtue of the loathsomeness of the living body through the six verses beginning with “aṭṭhi nahāru saṃyutto” and by virtue of the loathsomeness of the lifeless body through the two verses beginning with “yadā ca so mato seti”. Furthermore, the Buddha revealed, thereby, the state of the fool who thought that the body was pleasant, for he was overcome by ignorance regarding the body that was really devoid of permanency (nicca), pleasantness (subha) and soul (attā). By so doing, the Buddha disclosed the fact that the round of suffering (vaṭṭa dukkha) indeed was led by ignorance (avijjā).
Now, in order, to point out the state of the wise man regarding the body of such nature and the fact that the end of suffering (vivaṭṭa) was led by the three phases of thorough understanding (pariññā), the Buddha uttered these verses:
In this dispensation of the Buddha which consists of eight wonders, the bhikkhu, who is a worldling (puthujjana), a learner (sekkha) or a meditator (yogāvacara), endowed with Vipassanā Wisdom, having heard properly this discourse of the Buddha named Vijaya Sutta (or Kāya-vicchandanika Sutta) sees with the eye of Vipassanā, the body in its true nature; he therefore discerns the body clearly through the three phases of understanding (pariññā), namely, knowledge (ñāta), judgment (tīraṇa) and abandonment (pahāna).
The way of discernment of the body by the three phases of pariññā is as follows:
After inspecting carefully a variety of merchandise, a merchant considers: “If I buy it at this price my profit would be this much.” Then only he buys the merchandise and sells it at a profit. In the same way, the worldling learning or meditating bhikkhu inspects his body with his eye of wisdom and comes to understand thoroughly, by ñāta-pariññā: “Things that truly constitute the body are merely bones, sinews, etc. (which are directly mentioned in the text) and hair on the head, hair on the body, etc. (which are not directly mentioned in the text).” He then reflects and judges the body with the eye of Vipassanā Wisdom and comes to understand by tīraṇa-pariññā: “The phenomena that occur in the body are only impermanent (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and non-soul (anatta).” Finally, he arrives at the Noble Path (Ariya Magga) and comes to understand by pahāna-pariññā and abandons his attachment to the body or his desire and passion for the body.
(Herein, because this body, which is visible to all, would not have been thoroughly understood through the three phases of pariññā should there be no chance to listen to the Buddha’s teaching (in spite of the body’s visibility), because such thorough understanding is possible only when His Teaching is heard, and in order to point out that there is also the way of understanding the characteristics of suññata, etc. through the three phases of pariññā and also to point out that those who are outside the Buddha’s dispensation are unable to discern in this manner, the Buddha uttered: “Sutvāna Buddha-vacanaṃ idha.”
(On account of the Bhikkhunī Nandā Therī and on that of the bhikkhu whose mind craved for the beauty of Sirimā, the Vijaya Sutta (or the Kāyavicchandanika Sutta) was delivered. Of the four assemblies, the assembly of monks ranks highest; it was only that very assembly of monks that was ever close to the Buddha. Anybody, be he a monk or a lay man, who meditates on anicca, dukkha and anatta, can be designated ‘bhikkhu’. In order to point out these things, the Buddha uses the term ‘bhikkhu’, not because the three phases of pariññā are confined to monks. This import should also be noted in particular.)
Now, in order to point out the way of seeing things as they really are in accordance with the word “yathā bhūtañ hi passati”, the Buddha uttered this verse:
Even as this living body of loathsomeness walks, stands, sits and lies down, [because it is not without the three factors of physical and mental life, (āyu), the kamma-generated temperature, (usmā) and consciousness (viññāṇa)] so was the lifeless body of loathsomeness at the cemetery (which before its death could walk, stand, sit and lie down) as it was then not without those three factors.
Even as the dead, lifeless body now is (unable to walk, stand, sit or lie down because of the cessation of those three factors), so will this body (of mine) be (unable to walk, stand, sit or lie down) because of the cessation of the very three factors.
Thus, the practising wise one who ponders and discerns the events of the body threatened by the danger of saṃsāra should be able to uproot the attachment to or the desire and passion for the internal body as well as the external by means of the fourfold Path-Knowledge, in the mode of samuccheda-phāna.
(In this verse, by identifying oneself with the lifeless body one abandons the defilement of anger (dosa-kilesa) (that would arise) with regard to the external body as he ponders “yathā idaṃ tathā etaṃ—— even as this living body of mine is, so was that lifeless body of 1oathsomeness in the past.”
(By identifying the lifeless body with oneself, one abandons the defilement of passion (rāga-kilesa) (that would arise) in the internal body as he ponders “yathā etaṃ tathā idaṃ——even as this lifeless body, so will be my living body in future.”
(As one knows, by one’s wisdom, the manner of mutual identification of the two internal and external bodies or of the two living and lifeless bodies, one abandons one’s defilement of ignorance (moha-kilesa), i.e. ignorance of the nature of both bodies.
(In this way, even at the earlier moment of the arising of Vipassanā Insight one knows things as they really are and removes the three roots of unwholesomeness, lobha, dosa, and moha. At the later moment of the arising of Vipassanā Insight, through the four stages of the Path, one can abandon all desire and passion, leaving no trace of them, in the mode of samuccheda-pahāna. This import is to be noted.)
In this teaching consisting of eight wonders, or, with regard to this body, living or lifeless, within or without, the bhikkhu, who has totally abandoned all craving and desire, who possess the Path-wisdom of arahatship, who has reached the Fruition immediately after the Path and become an arahat, attained Nibbāna that is deathless or excellent like ambrosia, the cessation of all saṅkhāras or the characteristic of peace, the release from craving, the state absolutely free from the nature of falling, the goal that can be attained by the Path-wisdom.
(By this verse, the Buddha meant to say that he, who practises in the manner mentioned previously, abandoned craving and desire (or all moral defilements led by craving and desire) and secured the two elements of Nibbāna.)
Having taught thus the loathsomeness meditation (asubha kammaṭṭhāna) by means of the living (saviññaṇka) body and the lifeless (aviññaṇaka) body together with its culmination in the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna, the Buddha uttered again the two final verses in order to censure, by a brief sermon, the unmindful living (pamādavihāra) that was dangerous to such greatly fruitful meditation:
This human body, having two feet, full of impure, disgusting things and foul smelling, has to undergo daily renovation by bathing, perfuming, etc. (Despite such daily renovation) it is filled with numerous kinds of putrid, and from the nine openings and the pores on the body flow incessantly such disgusting things as saliva, secretion of the eye, sweat, mucus of the nose, wax of the ear, in spite of repeated attempts to cover them up by applying perfumes and wearing flowers.
(By the body or because of the body which is thus impure and full of disgusting things, the fool, whether male or female, may think, through craving, that “This is my body!”, through conceit that “This am I indeed!”, through wrong view, that, “My body is lasting?” only to enhance his arrogance. (On the other hand) he may despise others for their (lowly) birth, name, clan and the like. (In so exalting oneself and despising others) what reason can be there other than not discerning the Four Truths in their true perspective. (Only due to one’s ignorance of the Four Truths is one’s praise of self and contempt of others.)
By the end of the Discourse, eighty-four thousand beings realised the Four Truths and were released. The divine Queen Sirimā attained anāgāmī-phala. The bhikkhu enamoured of Sirima attained sotāpatti-phala.
Translation of the Vijaya Sutta ends.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE TRANSLATION OF THE VIJAYA SUTTA
The Three Names of The Sutta
This Discourse is called by three names: (1) Vijaya Sutta, (2) Kāyavicchandanika Sutta, (3) Nanda Sutta. Their respective reasons are:
(1) It leads to the victory (vijaya) over desire and passion (chanda-rāga) or craving and greed (taṇhā-lobha) for the body: hence Vijaya Sutta.
(2) It teaches the eradication of desire and passion (craving and greed) for the body;hence Kāya-vicchandanika Sutta or Kāya-vicchindanika Sutta.
(3) The story of the courtesan Sirimā was the introduction to the second delivery of the Discourse. This very Discourse was previously given to Janapada Kalyāṇī Nandā Therī in Sāvatthi; hence Nanda Sutta.
Explanation: (1) The Vijaya Sutta was first preached in connection with Janapada Kalyāṇī Therī in Sāvatthi: (2) The same Sutta was preached with reference to the courtesan Sirimā in Rājagaha. The account of the second preaching has been told. That of the first preaching was as follows:
Later (five years later), when He granted permission for ordination of female as bhikkhunī, the three (Sakyan) princesses, namely,
(1) Nanda, sister of the Venerable Ānanda,
(2) Abhirūpanandā, daughter of the Sakyan Prince Khemaka, and
(3) Janapada-Kalyāṇī Nandā, fiance of Prince Nandā were also ordained.
At the time of their ordination, the Buddha was still staying in Sāvatthi. Of these three princesses, Abhirūpanandā was so called because of her great beauty. Janapada Kalyāṇī Nandā too saw nobody else comparable to her in beauty. Since both were highly conceited with their beautiful appearance, they never approached the Buddha nor did they want to see Him either; for they thought: “The Buddha dispraises beauty. In various ways, He points out the fault in good looks.”
[“Why then did they become bhikkhunīs?” it may be asked. The answer is: “Because they had none to depend on in society; hence their becoming of bhikkhunīs.”
(Explanation: The husband of the Sakyan princess, Abhirūpanandā, died on the day they were married. Then the parents made her a bhikkhunī against her will.
(Janapada Kalyāṇī became a bhikkhunī because she lost her hope to win back her fiance when the later, as Thera Nandā, attained arahatship: then she thought: “My Lord, Prince Nanda, my mother Mahāpajāpati Gotamī, and other relatives have joined the Order. It is indeed a misery to live without one’s kinsmen in the world of householders,” and found no solace in living in an organised community of families. Both their ordination took place not out of faith (saddhā).]
Knowing the maturity of wisdom of both, the Buddha gave an order to Mahāpajāpati Gotamī Therī that “All bhikkhunīs are required to come in turn for receiving My exhortation.” When their turn came, the Therīs sent someone else on their behalf. This prompted the Buddha to issue another order: “Coming in person to Me, in turn, is compulsory. Sending representative not permitted.”
Thereafter, one day, Therī Abhirūpanandā came to the Buddha to receive His exhortation. Then the Buddha stirred her mind by means of His created figure of a woman and by uttering the following verses of exhortation:
(Dear daughter Abhirūpananda! Just as a typical barn for storing crops is built by fixing timber, by binding it with rattan stems, and by plastering it with earth, even so) the barn-like body has been built by the carpenter-like craving by (fixing) three hundred bones, (by binding it with sinews) and by plastering it with nine hundred lumps of flesh and a pattha of blood. Deposited in it are old age, death, conceit and ingratitude.
This verse belongs to the Dhammapada.
(Dear daughter Abhirūpnandāṅ) Behold carefully with the eye of wisdom, the body which is constantly painful, impure, stale, having the flow (of putrid) going upwards and downwards, (That body) the fools are highly fond of.
The second half of the verse in the Therī Gāthā reads:
Which may be translated:
Animittañ ca bhāvehi
(Dear daughter Abhirūpanandā!) Develop incessantly your meditation on impermanence (anicca-bhāvanā), your meditation on unsatisfactoriness (dukkha-bhāvanā) and your meditation on non-self (anatta-bhāvanā) which are collectively designated as animitta (thing having no sign of permanence, etc). Uproot the impression of ‘I’ that has latently come along in saṃsāra of no beginning. By so doing in the mode of samuccheda-pahāna, you, dear daughter, will live with all the heat of moral defilement quenched.
By giving His exhortation by these verses, as mentioned in the Therī Gāthā, the Buddha established the Therī Abhirūpanandā in the arahatta-phala in due course. (This is the story of Abhirūpanandā Therī.)
Establishment of Janapada Kalyāṇī Nandā Therī in Arahatship
One day, the citizens of Sāvatthi gave alms and observed the precepts in the morning. They also dressed themselves well and went to the Jetavana monastery, carrying unguent and flowers and other offerings to attend to the Buddha’s sermon. When the sermon was over, they did obeisance to the Buddha and entered again into the city. The bhikkhunīs also returned to their living quarters after listening to the sermon.
In the city of Savatthi, the lay people, as well as the bhikkhunīs, spoke in praise of the Master as follows:
There is nobody who fails to have devotion on seeing the Buddha in the assembly of devas and humans, who are particularly attracted by four things: His rūpa (personality), His ghosa (voice), His lūkha (austerity) and His Dhamma (sīla, samādhi, paññā)
(1) Those who are mainly attracted to personality (rūpappamāṇika) become devoted to the Buddha when they see His splendid beauty with His major and minor signs and rays of light in six colours.
(2) Those who are mainly attracted to fame and voice (ghosappamāṇika) become devoted to the Buddha when they hear His good reputation as a Bodhisatta from numerous Jātakas and His voice as a Buddha that is of eight qualities.
(3) Those who are attracted to austere use of the four requisites and scarcity of moral defilement (lūkhappamāṇika) become devoted to the Buddha when they know of His few wants of the four requisites and His practice of dukkaracariyā.
(4) Those who are mainly attracted to such virtues as sīla, samādhi and paññā and other attributes (dhammappamānika) become devoted to the Buddha when they reflect on one of His five attributes, such as sīla-guna (morality as an attribute), samādhi-guna (mental concentration as an attribute), paññā-guṇa (wisdom as an attribute), vimuttiguṇa (emancipation as an attribute) and vimutti-ñāṇa-dassana (Insight leading to emancipation as an attribute), which are all beyond compare.
In this way, words were spoken everywhere in praise of the Buddha, words that incessantly overflow the mouths.
(NB. (1) Two thirds (66%) of beings are rūpappamanika. (2) Four fifths (80%) are ghosappamāṇika. (3) Nine-tenths (90%) are lūkhappamāṇika. (4) One in a hundred thousand is dhammappamāṇika.
(However numerous the beings are, they all make four divisions if divided in this way.
(Of these four divisions of beings, those who fail to be devoted to the Buddha were very few: far more were those devoted. Explanation: (1) To the rūpappamāṇika, there was no beauty more attractive than the Buddha’s. (2) To the ghosappamāṇika, there was no fame and voice more attractive than the Buddha’s. (3) To the lūkhappamāṇika, there was no austerity than that of the Buddha who gave up fine clothes made in the country of Kāsi, gold vessels, the three golden palaces befitting the three seasons and replete with various sensual pleasures, but who put on rag-robes, used lithic bowl, stayed at the foot of a tree for lodging, etc. (4) To the dhammapamānika, there was no attribute more attractive in the whole world than the attributes of the Buddha such as morality, etc. In this way, the Buddha held in His grip the entire world of these beings, so to speak, who formed the four categories (catuppamāṅika). The words in these brackets are reproduced from the Abhidhamma, iii, The rest are from the Sutta Nipāta Commentary, Vol. 1.)
When the Therī Jaṅapada Kalyāṇī Nandā got back to her dwelling, she heard various words in praise of the Buddha’s attributes, and it occurred to her: “These people are talking about the attributes of my brother (the Buddha) as though their mouths have no capacity to contain them all. If the Buddha were to speak ill of my beauty the whole day long how much could He do so? What if l shall go to the Buddha and pay homage to Him and listen to His discourse without showing my person.” Thus thinking she told her fellow bhikkhunīs: “I shall come along with you to listen to the discourse.” The other bhikkhunīs were glad and went to the monastery taking along Therī Nandā as they thought: “It took Therī Nanda so long to approach the Master! Surely, the Master will discourse marvellously in various exquisite ways.”
The Buddha foresaw the visit of the Therī and created by His supernormal power the figure of a very pretty fifteen or sixteen year old young lady and made her fanning Him in order to humble Rūpanandā’s beauty-pride, just as a man removes a thorn with a thorn or a prick with a prick.
Together with other bhikkhunīs, Therī Rūpanandā moved towards the Buddha and paid homage to Him, after which she remained amidst her companions, watching the Buddha’s splendour from the foot-tip up to the hair top. Then seeing the fanning lady-figure by the side of the Buddha as had been created, Rūpanandā thought: “Oh, so fair is this young lady indeed!” And her thought led her to an extreme fondness of the created beauty and a burning desire to have that very beauty as she lost her pride in her own beauty.
Then the Buddha (while discoursing) changed the age of the created lady to twenty. A lady is highly splendored indeed only when she is sixteen. Beyond that age she is not so fair (as when she was sixteen). Therefore when the age of the created lady was changed, Rūpanandā saw with her own eyes the decrease of the lady’s beauty, and her desire and passion (chanda-rāga) became less and less than before.
Thereafter, the Buddha increasingly changed the age of the created lady step by step to that of a lady not being yet in labour, to that of a lady having given birth but once, to that of a middle-aged lady, to that of an aged lady and to that of an old one of a hundred years, unsteady with a walking stick in her hand and with her body freckled all over. While Rūpanandā was watching her, the Buddha caused death to the created old lady, her remains bloated and decomposed and the disgustingly foul smelling, for the Therī to see.
On seeing the decaying process of the created figure, Therī Janapada Kalyāṇī Rūpanandā reflected on it: “This process I am watching now, all of us beings are commonly subject to” and the perception of impermanence (anicca-saññā); following which the perception of unsatisfactoriness (dukkha-saññā) and the perception of non-soul (anatta-saññā) also occurred to her. The three kinds of existences manifested to her, making her helpless like a blazing house.
Then the Buddha, coming to know that Bhikkhunī Nandā was engaged in meditation, uttered the following verses that were most appropriate to her:
Āturaṃ asuciṃ pūtiṃ,
passa Nande samussyaṃ.
(See the meaning of the first verse in “SUPPLEMENT TO THE TRANSLATION OF THE VIJAYA SUTTA”).
Dear daughter Nandā, as this internal (i.e. your own) body is subject to impermanence, etc., so is the external (i.e. another person's) body. As that external body, you have seen, discard all its various stages of old age and come to the state of being swollen, etc., so will this internal body of yours discard all its various stages of old age and come to the state of being swollen etc. (You dear daughter!) With the eye of Vipassanā Wisdom see (both the internal and external bodies) as devoid of such elements as earth or self and things associated with self. Do not desire to come again to the world of the five aggregates of attachment. Eradicate in the mode of samucchedapahāna your craving for the three existences of kāma, rūpa and arūpa, or if you have so eradicated you will abide with all the heat of your moral defilement quenched.
At the end of the verse Therī Janapada Kalyāṇī Nandā was established in sotāpatti-phala. Then did the Buddha give this Vijaya Sutta (as has been mentioned before) in order to preach Vipassanā meditation with the accompaniment of suññata so that the Therī might reach the higher Paths and Fruitions.
(The Buddha gave this Vijaya Sutta (1) first to Janapada Kalyāṇī when He was in His fifth or sixth year after His Enlightenment. (2) It was in His seventeenth year that He delivered it to the monk craving for Sirimā.)
When the first delivery of the Discourse was over, the Therī was greatly stirred with fear, thinking: “Oh, it was so stupid of me! To this brother of mine (the Buddha), who taught me such a wondrous doctrine, paying much attention to me and so compassionately, I had failed to come and attend earlier!” Having feared thus she repeatedly reflected on the Discourse and diligently practised suññata meditation;accordingly in two or three days' time she attained arahatship.
End of supplement to the Vijaya Sutta translation.