by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990
This page describes Taming of Baka Brahma 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 story of Māra. 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).
(The account of the taming of Baka Brahmā by the Buddha occurs in the Baka Jātaka of the Sattaka Nipāta and the Kesava Jātaka of the Catukka Nipāta Text and its Commentary, and also in the Commentary of the Baka Brahmā Sutta of the Saṃyutta Nikāya as the Commentary of the Brahma-nimantanika Sutta of the Mūla-paṇṇāsa covers the Jātaka accounts and the expositions of the Saṃyutta Commentary, the following is based on the Brahmā-nimantanika Sutta Text and its Commentary of the Mūla Paṇṇāsa.)
Then arose, monks, the following thought in Baka Brahmā:
‘The world of Brahmās together with this body is permanent, firm, stable, unique and subject to no change. In this Brahmā-world, there is no one who is conceived, who grows old, who dies, who falls, who is reborn (by way of conception). There is no liberation higher than the Brahmā-world together with this body.’
(Note. Baka Brahmā, who held this view, rejected the existence of the higher transcendent states of the second and third jhāna Brahmā planes, the fourth jhāna Brahmā plane (with the four (arūpa states) and the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna, for he belonged to the first jhāna plane).
“Monks, knowing his thought with (My) mind, I disappeared then from the foot of the sal tree in the Subhaga grove, near Ukkaṭṭha and appeared in the (first jhāna) Brahmā abode, just as a strong man stretches his bent arm and bends his stretched out arm.
When Baka Brahmā saw, from afar, My approaching to him, monks, he said:
‘Sir, please come. Sir, you are welcome. Sir, you visit this Brahmā abode after a long time. Sir, the Brahmā-world, together with this body, is permanent, firm, stable, unique and subject to no change. In this Brahmā-world, there is no one who is conceived, who grows old, who dies, who falls, who is reborn (by way of conception). There is no liberation higher than the Brahmā-world together with this body.’
“Monks, when Baka Brahmā spoke thus, I said:
‘Friends, Baka Brahmā is foolish indeed! Friends, Baka Brahmā is foolish indeed! He speaks of what is not permanent as permanent, what is not firm, not stable, not unique and subject to change as firm, stable, unique and subject to no change. He says that in this Brahmā-world there is no one who is conceived, who grows old, who dies, who falls, who is reborn (by way of conception) though in this Brahmāworld there are those who are conceived, who are born, who die, who fall, who are reborn (by way of conception). He says that there is no liberation higher than the Brahmā-world together with his body though there clearly are higher forms of liberation in terms of other jhānas and Brahmā-worlds such as the second, third, fourth jhāna Brahmā-worlds and the Path, Fruition and Nibbāna.
Possession of An Attendant Brahmā by Māra
‘Monk, do not criticize this Baka Brahmā. Monk, do not criticize this Baka Brahmā. He is great. He is dominant. He is indomitable. Surely, he sees all. He holds sway over all living beings. He rules the world. He creates the world. He is the Lord of the world. He determines a living being’s destiny (declaring: ‘You shall be a king, you shall be a brahmin, you shall be a merchant, you shall be a farmer, you shall be a labourer, you shall be a human, you shall be a monk, (at least) you shall be a camel or you shall be an ox'). He is accomplished in jhāna. He is the father of beings that have arisen and beings that are arising.’ ”
(Note. Of the expressions “beings that have arisen” and “beings that are arising”, the latter means “beings originating in the eggs or in the wombs”. From the time they come out from the eggs or the wombs they are known as “beings that have arisen”.
(In the case of beings originating in moisture (saṃsedaja), they are called “beings that are arising” at the moment of their rebirth-consciousness, and after that moment they are “beings that have arisen”.
(As for the spontaneous (upapatti) beings they are called “beings that are arising” at the moment of their first bodily posture and after that they are “beings that have arisen”.)
“Monk!, in this world, those samaṇa and brāhmanas before you, who (like you) condemned and abhorred the earth-element, the water-element, the fire-element, the wind-element (as anicca, dukkha and anatta) and who (like you) condemned and abhorred the living beings, devas, māras and Brahmās, (as anicca, dukkha and anatta) they all landed in the lower worlds (of woes) after the dissolution of their bodies at death.
“Monk, in this world, those samaṇas and brāhmanas before you, who admired and cherished the earth-element, the water-element, the fire-element, the wind-element (as permanent, firm, stable, imperishable, unbreakable and inexhaustible) and who admired and cherished the living beings, devas, māras and Brahmās (as firm, stable, imperishable, unbreakable and inexhaustible) they all landed in the sublime (Brahmā) world after the dissolution of their bodies at death.
“Therefore I say unto you, Monk, I want to urge you to follow the Brahmā’s teaching. Do not go against his teaching. Monk, if you go against his teaching, you will be like a man who beats and drives away with a six-foot long stick, the glory that has come right to you or like a man who falls over a cliff and does not land on the supporting ground by not coming into contact with it by his hands and legs. This example will do for you. I therefore want to urge you to follow the Brahmā’s teaching. Do not contradict it. Monk, you see the Brahmās who have assembled, do you not?"
“Thus, Monks, Māra the Evil One aimed his speech at Me and tried to make Me a member of Baka Brahmā’s assembly.”
(Herein it may be asked: "How did Māra see the Buddha?" While staying in his mansion, Māra enquired frequently: “In which village or market town is the Buddha staying now?” When he enquired on this particular occasion, he came to know that the Buddha was staying in the Subhaga grove near Ukkaṭṭha When he tried to see where the Buddha had gone, he saw that the Buddha had gone to the Brahmā-world. So he thought: “I will go and make Him give up His desire to preach there before He cause the Brahmās to get out of my dominion.” So he followed the Buddha vigilantly and stood anonymously among the Brahmās. Knowing that the Buddha had rebuked Baka Brahmā, he emerged as a supporter of the Brahmā.
“Monk, when the evil Māra spoke thus (through the Brahmā attendant), I refuted him as follows:
‘You evil Māra! I know you. Do not think that ‘the Monk Gotama does not know me.’ You evil One, you are Māra. You evil Māra, the Mahā Brahmā, the assembly of Brahmās, the Brahmā-attendants they all fall into your hand; they are all under your sway. You evil Māra, you are wrong in believing thus: ‘This monk too may fall into my hand. This monk too may come under my sway.’ In reality, I do not fall into your hand. I do not go under your sway.’
“Monks, when I have thus spoken to Māra, Baka Brahmā said to me:
‘Venerable Sir, I speak of what is permanent as permanent. I speak of what is firm, stable, unique and imperishable as firm, stable; unique and imperishable. I say that in the Brahmā-world there is no one who is conceived, who grows old, who dies, who falls off, who is reborn, because in the Brahmā-world there is no one who is conceived, who is old, who dies, who falls off, who is reborn. I say that there is no liberation better than the Brahmā-world with this body because there is no liberation higher than the Brahmā-world together with this body.’
‘Monk, in this world, the practice of those samaṇas and brāhmanas before you was as old as your age. They might have known what my is liberation higher (than the Brahmā-world with this body) as the liberation higher (than the Brahmā-world with this body). They might have known the liberation no higher (than the Brahmāworld with this body) as the liberation that is no higher (than the Brahmā-world with this body).
‘Monk, therefore I say to you this (I assert as follows): You will not find any other liberation higher (than the Brahmā-world with this body). If you search for it, this will mean only trouble and suffering for you.
‘Monk, if you cling to the earth element, you will live near me, you will live in my place, you will be my subordinate. If you cling to the water element, the fire element, the wind element, the living beings, devas, māras and Brahmās, you will live near me, you will live in my place, you will be my subordinate.’
(The Buddha replied:)
‘Brahmā, I too know this: If I cling to the earth element, I will live near you, I will live in your place, I will be your subordinate. So will I and so will I be if I cling to the water element, the fire element, the wind element, the living beings, devas, māras and Brahmās. I know all this!
‘Brahmā, in fact, I know that you are of such great power, of such might, of such great fame and retinue. I know your ability, too.’
Then Baka Brahmā asked the Buddha:
‘Venerable Sir, how do you know that I am of such great power, of such great might, of such great fame and retinue? How do you know my ability too?’
Then the Buddha answered:
‘Your authority lies in a thousand universes, in each universe, the sun and the moon move about and shine in all directions. (Meaning: a vast circular area in which the sun and the moon wander, illuminating all over the directions, is called a Lokadhātu, “World Element”, or Cakka-vāḷa, “Spherical Universe”.) All over these universes, numbering one thousand, spread your (Brahmā's) authority.)
‘You, Baka Brahmā, know high and low beings, covetous and uncovetous beings, this and the remaining (999) universes, the rebirth and death of beings in these universes.
‘Baka Brahmā, I know that you are of such great power, of such great might, of such great retinue and fame. I know your ability too.’ (The Buddha’s words have not come to an end yet. A note may, however, be inserted here.)
(By saying so, the Buddha tried to subdue the Brahmā. What he meant to say was this: “Baka Brahmā, your authority spreads only within one thousand universes. Yet you think highly of yourself, ‘I am a great Brahmā.’ You are only a Sahassī-brahmā, i.e. a Brahmā who can see just a thousand universes. There are other Brahmās who are superior to you such as Dvisahassī-brahmās, those who can see two thousand universes, who can see three thousand, four thousand, five thousand, ten thousand universes and Satasahassībrahmās, those who can see a hundred thousand universes and they are countless. And yet, like a man who tries to compare his piece of cloth, which is only four cubit long, with another piece of cloth that is far greater in length. (Commentarial simile), like a man who desires to immerse himself in the water which is only ankle-deep. (Subcommentarial simile) or like a small frog which thinks that the water in a bullock’s footprint is a deep pool (simile used by the wise), you have a high opinion of yourself, thinking, ‘I am a great Brahmā’ ”)
‘Baka Brahmā, there is still another world indeed apart from this world of the first jhāna. You neither know nor see it. But I know and see it. Baka Brahmā, there is still another world known as the Ābhassara-world. Falling from that Ābhassaraworld, you have landed in this world of the first jhāna. Because you have lived (in this world of the first jhāna) you have lost your memory. Therefore you neither know nor see that (Ābhassara-world). But I know and see it. Baka Brahmā, because I know (the Ābhassara-world which is unknown to you) you are not equal to Me in intellect. Why should I be inferior to you? In fact, I am superior to you intellectually.’
(1) (the Buddha speech has not come to an end yet. Another note may, however, be inserted here.)
(Baka Brahmā had fallen from the higher worlds and landed in the lower world. Elaboration: In a past kappa, devoid of appearance of a Buddha, Baka Brahmā became an ascetic and practised kasiṇa meditation as a prelude to attainment of jhānas. When he passed away, without any slip of the jhāna, he was reborn in the Vehapphala Brahmāworld of the fourth jhāna, which is of a long life span, five hundred kappas. Having lived the full life-pan there, he desired for rebirth in a lower world and developed the rūpavacara, third jhāna of a high standard. (When he passed away from that Vehapphalaworld, he landed in the Subhakiṇha Brahmā-world of the third jhāna which is of the life span of 64 mahā-kappas.
(N.B. If a man commits a number of anantariya (immediately resultant) deeds, such as matricide, etc., only the severest and heaviest one of them bring about rebirth in the Mahā-Avīci state of long suffering; others do not brings about it but contribute to its occurrence. Similarly of the four rūpa-jhānas developed, only the specially developed one with the four dominant (adhipati) factors brings about rebirth in the rūpa-vacara plane and the remaining rūpa-jhānas do not result in that rebirth as they themselves have no chance to do so; they merely facilitate the sustenance of that rebirth for its full life span. (From the-Tika.)
(Having existed in that Subhakinha Brahmā Abode for the full life span of 64 mahākappas, Baka Brahmā developed in the previous manner the rūpa-vacara second jhāna of the higher standard and (when he fell from Subhakinha) he landed in the Abhassara Brahmā Abode which is the second jhāna plane lasting for eight mahā-kappas. Having existed there for the full life span of eight mahā-kappas, he developed, in the previous manner, the rūpa-vacara first jhāna of the higher standard and (when he fell from Ābhassara) he landed in the Mahā-Brahmā Abode, which is the first jhāna plane, lasting for 64 mahā-kappas in terms of antara kind or just one kappa in terms of asaṅkhyeyya.
(In his present Mahā Brahmā Abode, however Baka-Brahmā remembered in the earlier part of his life, his performance of wholesome jhāna and the former abode where he had existed. When he had been there for too long, he forgot even those two things and wrongly took to himself the false Eternalism. That was why the Buddha said to Baka Brahmā: “You have lost your memory. Therefore you neither know nor see that (Ābhassara) World”, and so on.)
The Past Story of Baka Brahmā
When the Buddha spoke thus, Baka Brahmā thought: “The Monk Gotama knows the life span of my previous lives, the worlds of my previous rebirths and the good deeds of jhāna that I had practised before, I will ask him now about my good deeds in the past.” In response to his question, the Buddha told him about his good deeds.
Elaboration: This Baka Brahmā, in one of his former births, was a son of a good family. Seeing the ills of sense desires he decided: “I will put an end to birth, old age, sickness and death.” Thereafter, he renounced the world and became an ascetic, developing mundane jhānas. Having accomplished the jhānas, the foundation of psychic powers, he built a small leaf-hut near the Gaṅgā and spent his time in enjoying the bliss of jhāna.
While he was staying thus, a caravan of five hundred carts carrying merchants, crossed a desert frequently. When they crossed the desert by night the bullocks that were harnessed at the foremost cart lost their way and turned back, thus coming back to the former track that they had taken. The other carts too similarly came back to the former track and this was known to the merchants only at dawn. For the merchants, it was the day they must have passed through the desert. All their fire wood and water had run out. Therefore, thinking that “we are now to lose our lives” the people unyoked their bullocks from the carts, tied them to the wheels and went to sleep in the shade of the rear part the carts.
The jhāna-accomplished ascetic, the future Baka Brahmā, got out of the leaf-hut early in the morning. While sitting at the hut-door, he had a look at the Gaṅgā and saw a great flood overwhelming the whole Gaṅgā as though a huge green stone was rolling down. When he thought: “Are there in this world any beings that are wearied for lack of such sweet water?” he saw the caravan of those merchants suffering in the sandy desert. Wishing them survival, he resolved through psychic powers, “May a great volume of water from the Gaṅgā flow towards the merchants in the caravan.”
As soon as his consciousness of psychic powers occurred, a great volume of water flowed into the desert as though into a drain. The merchants got up because of the sound of the water. On seeing the water they were overjoyed. They bathed, they drank, and they let the cattle drink and they finally arrived at their destination.
In order to point out this past good deed of Baka Brahmā, the Buddha spoke this verse:
(O Brahmā by the name of Baka! In the past, when you were a jhānaaccomplished ascetic) you caused, by your psychic powers, those thirsty people, who were tortured by the sun in the desert, of a caravan to have water to drink and to bath. Like a man waking up, I recollect again and again, by My power of remembering former lives (pubbenivāsānussati-ñāṇa), your morality practised in the past.
At a later time, the ascetic, built a leaf-hut on the bank of the Gaṅgā and lived there depending upon a small village for food. Then robbers beat the villagers and robbed them of gold and silver and took with them cattle and people as hostages. The cries of the people and the animals created loud noises. On hearing the noises, the ascetic thought what it was all about. Knowing that some danger has befallen the villagers, he made a wish: “May these beings not perish while I am seeing them.” Then he engaged himself in jhāna, the foundation of his psychic powers. Arising from that jhāna, he created a large army of four divisions (elephants, horses, chariots, and foot-soldiers) that marched (arrow-) shooting, (trumpet-) blowing, (drum-) beating and (threat-) shouting.
Seeing the great army, the robbers thought that it was the marching of the king, they discarded all their looted properties and fled. The ascetic resolved: “May the properties go back to their respective owners,” and this happened in accord with the ascetic’s resolve. The people are thus overjoyed.
In order to point out also this past good deed of Baka Brahmā, the Buddha spoke this verse:
(O Brahmā by the name of Baka! In the past when you were a jhāna accomplished ascetic) on the bank of the Gaṅgā which was also named Eṇikula because there were many herds of eṇī deer, you caused the villagers, who were taken as hostages and whose properties robbed by the robbers, to escape from the robbers’ hands by your creation of an army of four divisions. Like a man waking up, I recollect again and again, by My power of remembering former lives, your morality practised in the past.
Again at a later time, a family living in the upper part of the Gaṅgā and another family living in the lower part held a wedding ceremony, one party giving the bride to the other and making friends together. They joined their boats, forming them like a raft which carried many kinds of food, unguent, flowers, etc, and which floated by the currents of the Gaṅgā waters. The people on the boats had a great feast, dancing and singing. They revelled as though they were moving in a celestial flying mansion.
Then the Nāga King, ruler and resident of the Gaṅgā, saw the people and became angry, thinking: "These people have no regard for me as they are not aware that their riotous merry making would annoy me the Nāga King of the Gaṅgā. Now I shall make them float into the ocean.” So thinking he assumed an enormous body and split the water into two halves between which he emerged all of a sudden. With his vast hood raised, he made a great hissing sound and stayed there as though he were to bite the people and put them to death.
On seeing the Nāga King, the people became frightened and cried loudly and feverishly. While sitting in the leaf-hut the ascetic heard the cries, he thought: “Earlier these people were very happy, dancing and singing. Now they are making sounds of fear and grief. What is the matter?” Then he saw the Nāga King and desired for the people’s safety: “May they not perish while I am seeing them.” So he engaged himself in a jhāna, the foundation of his psychic powers, and after assuming the guise of a garuda bird, he was poised to snatch away the Nāga King.
Fearing, the Nāga King withdrew his hood and immersed himself in the water. All the people were thus saved.
In order to point out as this part of good deed of Baka Brahmā, the Buddha spoke this verse:
(O Brahmā by the name of Baka! In the past when you were a ascetic) you saved the people of the two villages, who were to be destroyed by the fierce Nāga King in the water currents of the Gaṅgā, by your psychic powers known as vikubbaniddhi and you thus set them free from the threat of the Nāga King. Like a man waking up, I recollect again and again by my power of remembering former lives, your morality practised in the past.
Still at a later time, Baka Brahmā was a noble ascetic known in Kesava. At that time our Bodhisatta was a youthful ascetic by the name of Kappa. Constantly staying near the ascetic Kesava and serving him as a residential pupil (antevasika); who was always obedient, thinking to do only what was pleasing to his master, who was intelligent and who practised what was beneficial. The ascetic Kesava was unable to move about, to remain still, to eat or drink without the help of his close pupil, the young ascetic Kappa. At one time, he was looked after by the King of Varanasi but he left the King and lived by depending on his own pupil, Kappa the ascetic. (The story in detail may be read in the Kesava Jātaka of the Catukka Nipata.)
In order to point out also this past good deed of Baka Brahmā, the Buddha spoke this verse:
(4) Kappo ca te baddhacaro ahosi
sambuddhimantaṃ vatinaṃ amaññti.
Taṃ te purāṇaṃ vatasīlavattaṃ
(O Brahmā by the name of Baka! In one of the past existences) I, the Buddha, was a virtuous ascetic, Kappa by name, who, as your residential pupil, served you, a virtuous ascetic, Kesava by name. (At that time) you fondly spoke in praise of me, that I was good, intelligent and that I had practised morality adequately. Like a man waking up, I recollect again and again by My power remembering former lives, your morality practised in the past.
In this way the Buddha talked to Baka Brahmā, pointing out the latter’s good deeds done in his various past existences. While the Buddha was thus talking, Baka Brahmā recollected his past lives. All his past deeds gradually manifested to him as though different objects become clear when a thousand oil lamps are lighted.
He was so pleased, having a faithful heart, he spoke the following verse:
(Exalted One, who has done away with all suffering!) Certainly, you know my past lives. You also know all neyya-dhamma, things worth-knowing (apart from my lives). You are therefore an Omniscient Buddha. This bright body-light of yours exist, illuminating the whole Brahmā Abode, outshining the light of hundreds and thousands of suns and moons.
Having related as a parenthesis to the past events of Baka Brahmā at his request, the Buddha came back to his original topic, speaking thus:
“Baka Brahmā, there are still the Subhakinha Abode, Vehappala Abode, and Abhibhū Abode. You neither know nor see them. I know and see them. I know (what you do not) you are not equal to me intellectually. How can I be inferior to you? In fact, I am superior to you intellectually.”
Then in order to prove a step further that Baka Brahmā was not His intellectual equal and that He Himself was superior to Baka Brahmā intellectually, the Buddha continued his speech as follows:
“Baka Brahmā, with extraordinary intellect I know the earth element that it is by nature anicca, dukkha and anatta. I know Nibbāna, that is inaccessible to the earth elements by its nature; and I do not cling to the earth element (with craving (taṇhā), conceit (māna) and wrong view (diṭṭhi)). I do not cling to it, as something in which attā, etc., lie, or something from which attā, etc., emerge, I do not cling to it as I, mine, or my attā. Baka Brahmā, as I know (Nibbāna that is unknown to you), you are not equal to Me intellectually. How can I be inferior to you? In fact, I am superior to you intellectually.
“Baka Brahmā, with extraordinary intellect, I know the water element,... the fire element,... the wind element,... the sentient beings,... the devas.... māras,... Brahmās,... Ābhassara Brahmās.... Subhakiṇhā Brahmās,... Vehapphala Brahmās, ... Abhibhu Brahmās...., with extraordinary intellect. I know all (individuality pertaining to the three planes of existence (tebhūmaka) that is by nature anicca, dukkha, and anatta. I know Nibbāna, that is inaccessible to all individuality by all its nature and I do not cling to all individuality with craving, conceit and wrong view. I do not cling to it, as something in which attā, etc., lie or, as something from which attā etc, emerge. I do not cling to all (individuality pertaining to the three planes of existences) as I, mine, or my attā. Baka Brahmā, as I know Nibbāna that is unknown to you, you are not equal to me intellectually. How can I be inferior to you? In fact, I am superior to you intellectually.”
(Then Baka Brahmā, wishing to charge the Buddha with falsehood, said:)
“Venerable Sir, if what is inaccessible to all by all its nature, Your claim that You know what is inaccessible would come to nothing. Do not let it come to nothing. Your statement would become empty. Do not let it become empty.
(Herein some clarification will be made so that the virtuous readers of the Chronicle may not be confused.
(The English word ‘all’ and the Pāli ‘Sabba’ are of the same meaning. The word ‘sabba’ or ‘all’ is used in the sense of ‘all mundane things’ (‘all that is of individuality’, sakkāya. The complete terminology is ‘sakkaya-sabba’ or ‘all individuality’. It is this ‘sakkāyasabba’, ‘all individuality’, that is referred to in the Ādittapariyāya Sutta where ‘Sabbaṃ bhikkhave ādittaṃ’ occurs.
(The Pāli sentence means ‘All things, monks, are burnt by fire such as rāga, etc. It cannot be said that supramundane things are burnt by fire, for unwholesome things, such as rāga, dosa, moha, etc., are absolutely incapable of taking the supramundane things as their target. They are capable of doing so only in the case of mundane things, individuality (sakkaya) or the factors of clinging to existence (upādānakkhandhā). Hence the burning of mundane things by the fire of raga, etc. Therefore what is supramundane is to be excluded from ‘sabbaṃ’, ‘all’, whereas what is mundane is to be included therein. Therefore by the word ‘sabba’ of the Ādittapariyāya Sutta is meant ‘sakkāya-sabba’ or ‘all individuality’.
(With reference to the term ‘Sabbaññutā-ñāṇa’ or ‘All embracing Knowledge’ (or Omniscience), its component ‘sabba’ means all both mundane and supramundane, for the Buddha knows the whole range of things, mundane as well as supramundane. Therefore, the word ‘sabba’ of Sabbaññutā-ñāṇa means sabba-sabba, ‘all this all that’.
(By this much the virtuous readers of this Chronicle might have understood that in the field of Dhamma literature the use of the sabba, ‘all’ is of two kinds: (1) the use of it in the sense of sakkāya-sabba, ‘all individuality’, or ‘all mundane things’, and (2) the use of it in the sense of sabba-sabba, ‘all this and all that’ with mundane or supramundane designations. Let us examine now the use of sabba by the Buddha and Baka Brahmā.
(When the Buddha asserted that he was intellectually superior to Baka Brahmā, He presented 13 points as follows:
(1) I know the earth element (and you know it too), I know Nibbāna which is inaccessible to the earth element (but you do not). (2) I know the water element (and you know it too), I know Nibbāna which is inaccessible to the water element (but you do not); (In this way the Buddha went on with regard to:) (3) the fire element; (4) the wind element; (5) the sentient beings; (6) devas; (7) māras; (8) Brahmās; (9) Ābhassara-Brahmās;(10) Subhakiṇha-Brahmās; (11) Vehapphala-Brahmās; (12) Abhibhū-Brahmās (Assaññasatta-Brahmās); (13) I know all (sakkāya-sabba) (and you know it too); I know Nibbāna which is inaccessible to all (but you do not).
(With regard to the first 12 points, Baka saw no reason to blame the Buddha. As regards the last point, however, he saw something to accuse the Buddha of.
When the Buddha said: “I know all (sakkāya-sabba) and I know Nibbāna which is inaccessible to all (sakkāya-sabba),” He said so as a puzzle. What He meant to say by this was: “Baka Brahmā, I know all (sakkāya = mundane things) by My extra-ordinary intellect that they are, by nature, anicca, dukkha and anatta. Having known this, I also know Nibbāna by My extra-ordinary Vipassanā Insight, which cannot be attained by all. (sakkāya = mundane things).” (In that speech the statement reading “I know all by all their nature” means “I know by Vipassanā Insight all individuality pertaining to the three planes of existence, and five aggregates of mundane things in their nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta.” Here the Buddha said: “(I know) all by all their nature” with reference to sakkāyasabba. “(I know Nibbāna) which is inaccessible to all by all nature” means “I know Nibbāna with the Path Knowledge, realizing that it is inaccessible to all individuality and the five aggregates of mundane things in their nature of being conditioned (saṅkhata). (Such conditioned material things as the earth element, the wind element, etc. have the nature of hardness, cohesiveness, etc. which are also conditioned, such conditioned mental things as contact, sensation, etc., have the nature of the tangibility, feeling, etc., which are also conditioned——all these conditioned things are absent in Nibbāna which is unconditioned. Only the nature of santi or Peace, as opposed to conditioned things is present in unconditioned Nibbāna. This was in view when it was said that Nibbāna which is inaccessible to the earth element. Nibbāna which is inaccessible to the water element,... Nibbāna which is inaccessible to all individuality.”)
By this much, virtuous readers of the Chronicle must have understood that what the Buddha meant was as follows:
“I know thoroughly all sakkāya or the five aggregates of mundane things (and you know them too). I also know Nibbāna which cannot be reached by all individuality (but you do not), and that the word ‘all’ in that speech implies the five aggregates of mundane things and that Nibbāna is something which cannot be attained by all.
But as a fault-finding ideologue, Baka Brahmā took, but wrongly, that by ‘all’ was meant sabba-sabba, ‘each and every thing mundane or supramundane and designated,’ (for he was totally ignorant of the fact that here sakkāya-sabba was referred to in the Buddha’s speech).
This led him to his criticism of the Buddha:
“Venerable Sir, if the Dhamma is inaccessible to all other thing by all nature, your saying that you know that is inaccessible would come to nothing. Do not let it come to nothing. Your statement would become empty. Do not let it become empty.”
The gist of Baka Brahmā’s criticism was as follows:
(1) In your speech, Venerable Sir, you claim your knowledge of all, and
(2) your knowledge of the Dhamma that is inaccessible to all.
(1) The word ‘all’ of the first statement covers all things. So there can be nothing which is inaccessible to all things. And yet the Buddha insists on His knowledge of what is mentioned in the second statement. His insistence, therefore, will be reduced to nonsense like ‘the flower of the sky’, ‘the horn of a rabbit’, ‘the hair of a turtle’, and ‘the blood of a crab’.
(2) If what is inaccessible is semantically exclusive of the word ‘all’ of the first statement, His assertion there cannot be true, for the things known to Him are not complete. It will be a lie then.
In this way did Baka Brahmā want to accuse the Buddha of false speech. (In short, the Buddha spoke of sakkāya-sabba, all that is mundane. Baka Brahmā mistook it for sabbasabba, all that is either mundane or supramundane. Hence his accusation against the Buddha was unjust.)
Being a supreme ideologue, a hundred times, a thousand times, nay, a hundred thousand times greater than Baka Brahmā, the Buddha would still proclaim His knowledge of all and of Nibbāna that is inaccessible to all for the Brahmā to listen to, and in order to refute the Brahmā’s charge of falsehood, He went on to say thus:
“Baka Brahmā, there is Nibbāna-Dhamma which is particularly higher than all conditioned things, which is to be known through the Path-knowledge, Fruitionknowledge, reflective knowledge which is invisible to the naked eye or which has no resemblance that can be shown as its representative, which is completely devoid of arising-and-passing nature, which is brighter than all other dhammas or which never knows darkness but ever remains brilliant.”(By these words the Buddha boldly affirmed the real existence of Nibbāna that is beyond all individuality on the three planes of existence.).
“That Nibbāna-Dhamma (1) cannot be reached by the earth element through the nature of earth; (2) cannot be reached by the water element through the nature of earth; (3)... by the fire element.... (4)... by the wind element...; (5)... by the sentient beings through their nature;(6)... by devas...; (7)... by māras...; (8)... by Brahmās...;(9)... by Ābhassara-Brahmās, (10) by Subhakiṇha-Brahmās; (11)... by Vehapphala-Brahmās; (12) cannot be reached by Abhibhu-Brahmās through their nature; cannot be reached by all (sakkāya-dhamma) through the nature of them all (sakkāya). (By these words the Buddha made clear that He spoke of ‘all’, too).
“In this way there is the aggregate of all sakkāya-dhammas of the three planes of existence which is within the range of knowledge that belongs to persons like you. By that aggregate of sakkāya-dhammas of the three planes of existence through the nature of them all, Nibbāna-Dhamma (with the aforesaid four attributes) cannot be reached.
Thus the Buddha firmly asserted his doctrine.
Miracle Contest between the Buddha and Baka Brahmā.
Every aspect of his belief in the eternity of the Brahmā-world together with the body having been criticized and repudiated, Baka Brahmā was at a lost for words. In order to cover his defeat, he gave up arguing for his belief and decided to show his superiority by performing miracles.
So he said:
“Venerable Sir, if that is the case, I will now vanish in your presence. I am going to perform the sort of miracle so that I become invisible to you. You just watch me.”
The Buddha said:
“Baka Brahmā, (you are not able to do so). If you indeed have such a power, then vanish now before me.”
Brahmās have two kinds of body: natural body and artificial or created body. The natural body which originates at the time of birth is so subtle that it cannot be seen by other Brahmās. So to make it visible, they take the form of created gross body.
Therefore when Baka Brahmā received the consent, he bent his mind on changing his created gross body into the natural, subtle body. The Buddha knew his intention and resolved that his body should remain unchanged in its gross form. So Baka Brahmā could not change his body into its natural, subtle form and there was no vanishing of his body.
Unable to change his body, the Baka Brahmā again tried to create darkness that might envelope his present body. But by means of His supernormal power, the Buddha dispelled the darkness created by the Brahmā. So Baka was unable to hide himself.
Being unable to hide by changing his body or by creating darkness, Baka Brahmā desperately entered his mansion and hid there. He hid under the wish-fulfilling tree. He squatted furtively. Then hosts of Brahmās burst into laughter and jeered, saying: “This Baka Brahmā is now hiding in the mansion. Now he is hiding under the wish-fulfilling tree squatting furtively. O, Baka Brahmā what a pity that you think you have hidden yourself.” Being thus jeered at by other Brahmās, Baka Brahmā wore a displeased face. Hence it is said in brief in the Text.
“Monks, though Baka Brahmā said: ‘I will hide myself in the presence of the Monk Gotama, I will hide myself in the presence of the Monk Gotama’, he was unable to do so.”
To the Brahmā who was unable to hide himself, the Buddha said:
“Baka Brahmā, if you cannot hide yourself, I will hide myself in your presence now. I am going to perform a miracle so that you cannot see me.”
Then Baka Brahmā replied to the Buddha:
“Venerable Sir, hide yourself in my presence now if you can.”
Then the Buddha (1) first entered upon the fourth jhāna (rūpāvacara-kiriya), the foundation of His resolve;(2) then rising from that jhāna, He resolved that the Mahā Brahmā, the assembly of Brahmās and the young attendant-Brahmās could only hear His voice but not see his body; (3) then He entered upon the fourth jhāna (rūpāvacara-kiriya), the foundation of His Psychic Power; (4) when He rose from that jhāna, a process of Psychic Powers occurred in His mind; as soon as He felt that mental process but once, the Buddha’s body vanished and not a single Brahmā could see Him.
To make them know that He was still with them though He had vanished, the Buddha uttered this verse:
O, Brahmās who have assembled here! Because I have seen clearly with My eye of wisdom, the dangers of birth, old age, and sickness on the three planes of existence such as kāma, rūpa and arūpa, and the endless arising of beings (like Baka Brahmā), who have gone astray in their search of Nibbāna that is non-existence, I no longer cling to any existence as permanent, constant, eternal, etc., under the power of craving and wrong view. I am entirely free from craving for existence as I have rooted it out and cutting it off four times with the axe-like wisdom of the fourfold Path-Knowledge.
Attainment of Noble Stages by Ten Thousand Brahmās
In this verse, by the word ‘existence’ (bhava) is indicated ‘the Truth of Suffering’, by ‘craving for existence’ (bhava-taṇhā) is indicated ‘the Truth of the Cause of Suffering’, by ‘non-existence’ (vibhava) is indicated ‘the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering’, by ‘I have no craving for existence’ (nandiñ ca na upādiyiṃ) is indicated ‘the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering’.
Thus the Buddha taught the Four Truths in detail to the Brahmās according to their dispositions and led them to Vipassanā Insight and concluded His Teaching with the Fruition of Arahatship as its apex. At the end of the Discourse, the Brahmās, reflectively following the discourse, were steeped in the essence of Vipassanā Insight at various stages, some attaining sotāpatti-phala, some sakadāgāmī-phala, some anāgāmī-phala and the rest arahatship.
Then the Brahmās rejoiced, marvelled and extolled the Buddha. Hence it is said in the Text:
“Monks, then the Brahmā, his followers and attendants were filled with great wonder, saying: ‘Friends, wonderful indeed is the great power and the great might of the Monk Gotama! Never have we seen or heard any samaṇa or brāhmana who is so powerful and so mighty as the Monk Gotama, a Sakyan Prince and an ascetic of the Sakyan royal family. Indeed, the Monk Gotama can remove the root of existence (i.e. ignorance and craving) from all beings who take delight in existence, who take pleasure in existence and who arise in existence.’ ”
Molestation by Mara
Then Māra reflected and came to know in anger thus: “While I am moving about, the Monk Gotama has taught ten thousand Brahmās and set them free from my dominion.” So furious was he that he once again possessed a young attendant Brahmā.
(Herein, how did Māra know that the ten thousand Brahmās had become ariyas? He knew this by inference (nayaggāha or anumāna). He knew that when the Buddha preached to worthy beings, He pointed out the ills of saṃsāra and the bliss of Nibbāna so that the listening beings would discern Nibbāna; that all His sermons were beneficial and effective like the vajira weapon hurled by Sakka; and that devas and humans who established in His Teaching became invisible in saṃsāra.)
Having possessed the young Brahmā, Māra spoke to the Buddha, disturbing. This is mentioned in the Text in the following manner:
“Monks, at that time the wicked Māra possessed a young attendant Brahmā and said to me thus:
‘Venerable Sir. if you know (the Four Truths) analytically thus, if You know them by Your Omniscience, do not convey this doctrine to Your disciples. Do not convey them to hermits and wandering ascetics. Do not preach to Your disciples. Do not preach to hermits and wandering ascetics. Have no greed for Your disciples. Have no greed for hermits and wandering ascetics.
‘Monk, there were samaṇas and brāhmanas who lived before You and who claimed to be arahats or who claimed to have destroyed the enemy in the form of moral defilements, or who claimed to be Sammāsambuddhas, those who claimed to know all the doctrines by themselves. They conveyed their doctrines to their disciples and hermits and wandering ascetics. They preached to their disciples and hermits and wandering ascetics. They had greed for them and on the dissolution of their bodies at death, they landed in the low woeful states. (a)
‘Monk, there were in this world samaṇas and brāhmanas who lived before You and who claimed to be arahats or who claimed to have destroyed the enemy in the form of moral defilements, or who claimed to be Sammāsambuddhas, those who claimed to know all the doctrines by themselves. They did not convey their doctrines to their disciples. They did not preach to their disciples and hermits and wandering ascetics. They had no greed for them and on the dissolution on their bodies at death, they landed in the high Brahmā-worlds. (b)
‘Therefore, Monk, I would like to tell you thus: ‘Venerable Sir, I urge you. Live in comfort, live without any bother. Sir, non-preaching is good. Do not exhort others.’ I would like to tell you thus.’
“Monks, when Māra the evil One said thus, I spoke to him as follows:
‘Evil Māra, I know you. Do not think that I do not know you. You are Māra. Hey, evil Māra, you have spoken thus not because you desire for My welfare but because you desire for My loss. You fear that those who follow My preaching will overcome the three kinds of existence that lie within your domain.
‘Hey, evil Māra, samaṇas and brāhmanas whom you speak of claimed to be Sammāsambuddhas without actually being Samāsambuddhas. But I truly claim to be Sammāsambuddha, who know all the doctrine by Myself.
‘Hey, you evil Māra, whether the Buddha preaches to His disciples or not, He has neither love nor hate; He is endowed with the attributes of tādi (indifference). Why?
‘Hey, evil Māra, the Buddha has abandoned the moral intoxicants (āsava) that lead to anxiety, rebirth, anguish and suffering, later on causing rebirth, old age and death. He has cut off their latent (anusaya) roots. He has made them like the uprooted palm-tree. He has made it impossible for them to arise again. (So, for the Buddha, there is absolutely no revival of those āsavas).
‘Hey, evil Māra, as a palm tree cut off at its neck, cannot thrive, so the Buddha has abandoned the āsavas that lead to anxiety, rebirth, anguish and suffering, later on causing rebirth, old age, and death. He has rooted them. He has made them like the uprooted palm-tree. He has made it impossible for them to arise again. So, for the Buddha, there is absolutely no possibility of the resurges of those āsvavas.’ ”
Thus the Buddha preached this sermon to silence Māra and impart special knowledge to the Brahmā. Hence this sutta is named Brahmanimantika Sutta.
Here ends the taming of Baka Brahmā.