Vinaya Pitaka (3): Khandhaka

by I. B. Horner | 2014 | 386,194 words | ISBN-13: 9781921842160

The English translation of the Khandhaka: the second book of the Pali Vinaya Pitaka, one of the three major ‘baskets’ of Therevada canonical literature. It is a collection of various narratives. The English translation of the Vinaya-pitaka (third part, khandhaka) contains many Pali original words, but transliterated using a system similar to the I...

The story of Soṇa Koḷivisa

Kd.5.1.1 BD.4.236 At one time the awakened one, the Lord, was staying at Rājagaha on Mount Vulture Peak. Now at that time King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha ruled with supreme authority over eighty thousand villages. Now at that time, at Campā, a merchant’s son called Soṇa Koḷivisa[1] was delicately nurtured and down came to have grown on the soles of his feet. Then King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, having had those eighty thousand village overseers[2] convened, sent a messenger to Soṇa Koḷivisa on some business, saying: “Let Soṇa come, I want Soṇa to come.”

Kd.5.1.2 Then Soṇa Koḷivisa’s parents spoke thus to Soṇa Koḷivisa: “The king, dear Soṇa, wants to see your feet. Do not you, dear Soṇa, stretch out your feet towards the king; sit down cross-legged in front of the king, and as you are sitting down the king will see your feet.” Then they sent Soṇa Koḷivisa away in a palanquin. Then Soṇa Koḷivisa approached King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, having approached, having greeted. King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, he sat down cross-legged in front of the king. So King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha saw the down that was growing on the soles of Soṇa Koḷivisa’s feet.

Kd.5.1.3 Then King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, having instructed those eighty thousand village overseers in matters concerning this world, dismissed them, saying: “You, good sirs, are now instructed by me in matters concerning this world; go along, pay homage to this Lord, and our Lord will instruct you in transcendental matters.” Then those eighty thousand village overseers approached Mount Vulture Peak.


Kd.5.1.4 Now at that time the venerable Sāgata[3] was the Lord’s attendant. Then those eighty thousand village overseers BD.4.237 approached the venerable Sāgata; having approached, Vin.1.180 they spoke thus to the venerable Sāgata: “Honoured sir, these eighty thousand village overseers are approaching here to see the Lord. It were good, honoured sir, if we might have a chance to see the Lord.”

“Well, then, do you, venerable ones, remain[4] here for a moment until I have let the Lord know.”

Kd.5.1.5 Then the venerable Sāgata, having stepped down[5] from the moonstone (step)[6] in front of the eighty thousand watching village overseers, having stepped up[7] in front of the Lord, spoke thus to the Lord: “Lord, these eighty thousand village overseers are approaching here to see the Lord. Lord, does the Lord think it is now the right time for this?”

“Well, then, do you, Sāgata, make a seat ready in the shade of the dwelling-place.”

Kd.5.1.6 “Very well, Lord,” and the venerable Sāgata having answered the Lord in assent, having taken a chair, having stepped down from in front of the Lord, having stepped up on the moonstone (step) in front of the eighty thousand watching village overseers, made ready a seat in the shade of the dwelling-place. Then the Lord, having issued from the dwelling-place, sat down on the seat made ready in the shade of the dwelling-place.

Kd.5.1.7 Then those eighty thousand village overseers approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, they sat down at a respectful distance. Then those eighty thousand village overseers paid respect only to the venerable Sāgata, not likewise to the Lord. Then the Lord, knowing by reasoning of mind the minds of those eighty thousand village overseers, addressed the venerable Sāgata, saying: “Well then, do you, Sāgata, abundantly show a state of further-men,[8] a wonder of psychic power.”

BD.4.238 “Very well, Lord,” and the venerable Sagata, having answered the Lord in assent, having risen above the ground,[9] paced up and down in the air, in the atmosphere, and he stood, and he sat down, and he lay down, and he smoked[10] and he blazed,[11] and then he vanished.

Kd.5.1.8 Then the venerable Sagata, having shown in the air, in the atmosphere, various states of further-men and wonders of psychic power, having inclined his head towards the Lord’s feet, spoke thus to the Lord: “Lord, the Lord is my teacher, I am a disciple; Lord, the Lord is my teacher, I am a disciple”. Then those eighty thousand village overseers, saying: “Indeed it is marvellous, indeed, it is wonderful, that even a disciple can be of such great psychic power, of such great might. What must the teacher be?” paid respect only to the Lord, not likewise to the venerable Sagata.

Kd.5.1.9 Then the Lord, knowing by reasoning of mind the minds of those eighty thousand village overseers, talked a progressive talk,[12] that is to say talk on giving, talk on moral habit, Vin.1.181 talk on heaven, he explained the peril, the vanity, the depravity of pleasures of the senses, the advantage in renouncing (them). When the Lord knew that their minds were ready, malleable, devoid of the hindrances, uplifted, pleased, then he explained to them that teaching on dhamma which the awakened ones have themselves discovered: ill, uprising, stopping, the way. And as a clean cloth without black specks will easily take dye, even so as those eighty thousand village overseers were (sitting) on that very seat, dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless, arose: that, “whatever is of the nature to uprise, all that is of the nature to stop.”

Kd.5.1.10 These, having seen dhamma,[13] attained dhamma, known dhamma, plunged into dhamma, having crossed over doubt, having put away uncertainty, having attained without another’s help to full confidence in the teacher’s instruction, spoke thus to the Lord: “Excellent, Lord, it is excellent, Lord. Just as, BD.4.239 Lord, one should set upright what has been upset or should uncover what is covered or should point out the way to one who is astray or should bring a lamp into the darkness so that those with eyes might see forms, even so is dhamma explained in many a figure by the Lord. We, Lord, are those going to the Lord for refuge, to dhamma and to the Order of monks. May the Lord receive us as lay-followers gone for refuge on this day for as long as life lasts.”

Kd.5.1.11 Then it occurred to Soṇa Koḷivisa: “In so far as I understand dhamma taught by the Lord it is not easy for those who live in a house to lead the Brahma-faring that is wholly complete, wholly pure, and polished like a conch-shell. What now if I, having cut off hair and beard, having donned yellow robes, should go forth from home into homelessness?” Then those eighty thousand village overseers, delighted with the Lord’s speech, having given thanks for it, having risen from the seat, having greeted the Lord, departed keeping their right sides towards him.

Kd.5.1.12 Then Soṇa Koḷivisa, soon after those eighty thousand village overseers had departed, approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, Soṇa Koḷivisa spoke thus to the Lord: “In so far as I, Lord, understand dhamma taught by the Lord it is not easy for those who live in a house to lead the Brahma-faring that is wholly complete, wholly pure and polished like a conch-shell. I want, Lord, having cut off hair and beard, having donned yellow robes, to go forth from home into homelessness. Lord, may the Lord let me go forth.” So Soṇa Koḷivisa received the going forth in the Lord’s presence, he received ordination. And soon after he was ordained Vin.1.182 the venerable Soṇa stayed in the Cool Grove.

Kd.5.1.13 Because of his great output of energy in pacing up and down his feet broke, the place for pacing up and down in became stained with blood as though there had been slaughter of cattle. Then as the venerable Soṇa was meditating in private a reasoning arose in his mind thus: “Those who are the Lord’s disciples dwell putting forth energy; I am one of these, yet my mind is not freed from the cankers with no grasping, and moreover there are my family’s possessions. It might be BD.4.240 possible to enjoy the possessions and to do good. Suppose that I, having returned to the low life, should enjoy the possessions and should do good?”

Kd.5.1.14 Then the Lord, knowing by mind the venerable Soṇa’s reasoning of mind, as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm, or might bend back his outstretched arm, so did he, vanishing from Mount Vulture Peak, appear in the Cool Grove.[14] Then the Lord, touring the lodgings together with several monks, approached the venerable Soṇa’s place for pacing up and down in. The Lord saw that the venerable Soṇa’s place for pacing up and down in was stained with blood, and seeing (this), he addressed the monks, saying:

“Now why, monks, is this place for pacing up and down in stained with blood as though there has been slaughter of cattle?”

“Lord, because of the venerable Soṇa’s great energy in pacing up and down his feet broke, and this place for pacing up and down in is stained with his blood as though there had been slaughter of cattle.”

Kd.5.1.15 Then the Lord approached the venerable Soṇa’s dwelling-place, and having approached he sat down on an appointed seat. And the venerable Soṇa, having greeted the Lord, sat down at a respectful distance. The Lord spoke thus to the venerable Soṇa as he was sitting at a respectful distance:

“Soṇa, as you were meditating in private did not a reasoning arise in your mind like this: ‘Those who are the Lord’s disciples dwell putting forth energy … as in Kd.5.1.13 … Suppose that I, having returned to the low life, should enjoy the possessions and should do good’?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“What do you think about this, Soṇa? Were you clever at the lute’s stringed music when formerly you were a householder?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“What do you think about this, Soṇa? When the strings of your lute were too taut, was your lute at that time tuneful and fit for playing?”

“No, indeed, Lord.”

Kd.5.1.16 BD.4.241 What do you think about this, Soṇa? When the strings of your lute were too slack, was your lute at that time tuneful and fit for playing?”

“No, indeed, Lord.”

“What do you think about this, Soṇa? When the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too slack, but were keyed to an even pitch,[15] was your lute at that time tuneful and fit for playing?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Even so, Soṇa, does too much output of energy conduce to restlessness, Vin.1.183 does too feeble energy conduce to slothfulness.

Kd.5.1.17 “Therefore do you, Soṇa, determine upon evenness[16] in energy and pierce the evenness of the faculties[17] and reflect upon it.[18]

“Yes, Lord,” the venerable Soṇa answered the Lord in assent. Then the Lord, having exhorted the venerable Soṇa with this exhortation,[19] as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or might bend back his outstretched arm, so did he, vanishing from in front of the venerable Soṇa in the Cool Grove, appear on Mount Vulture Peak.

Kd.5.1.18 After that[20] the venerable Soṇa determined upon evenness in energy and he pierced the evenness of the faculties and reflected upon it. Then the venerable Soṇa, dwelling alone, aloof, earnest, ardent, self-resolute, having soon realised here and now by his own super-knowledge that supreme goal of the Brahma-faring for the sake of which young men of family rightly go forth from home into homelessness, abided in it, and he understood: Destroyed is birth, lived is the Brahma-faring, BD.4.242 done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such and such. And so the venerable Soṇa became one of the perfected ones.

Kd.5.1.19 When the venerable Soṇa had attained perfection, it occurred to him: “Suppose I were to declare profound knowledge[21] in the Lord’s presence?” Then the venerable Soṇa approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, the venerable Soṇa spoke thus to the Lord:

Kd.5.1.20 “Lord, that monk who is one perfected, who has destroyed the cankers, lived the life, done what was to be done, shed the burden, won his own goal, destroyed utterly the fetter of becoming, and is wholly freed by profound knowledge, he comes to be intent upon[22] six matters: he comes to be intent upon renunciation, he comes to be intent upon aloofness, he comes to be intent upon non-harming, he comes to be intent upon the destruction of grasping, he comes to be intent upon the destruction of craving, he comes to be intent upon non-confusion.

Kd.5.1.21 “Perhaps, Lord, one of the venerable ones here might think: ‘Could it be that this venerable one is intent upon renunciation depending upon mere faith alone?’ But this, Lord, is not to be regarded thus. Lord, the monk who has destroyed the cankers, has lived the life, done what was to be done, not seeing aught in himself to be done or to be added to what has been done, being passionless comes to be intent on renunciation because of the destruction of passion, being without hatred comes to be intent on renunciation because of the destruction of hatred, being without confusion comes to be intent on renunciation because of the destruction of confusion.

Kd.5.1.22 “Perhaps, Lord, one of the venerable ones here might think: ‘Could it be that this venerable one Vin.1.184 is intent on aloofness while hankering after gains, honour, fame?’ But this, Lord, is not to be regarded thus. Lord, the monk who has destroyed the cankers … or to be added to what has been done, being passionless comes to be intent on aloofness because BD.4.243 of the destruction of passion, being without hatred … being without confusion comes to be intent on aloofness because of the destruction of confusion.

Kd.5.1.23 “Perhaps, Lord, one of the venerable ones here might think: ‘Could it be that this venerable one is intent on non-harming, is backsliding from the essence to the contagion of habit and custom[23]?’ But this, Lord, is not to be regarded thus. Lord, the monk who has destroyed the cankers … or to be added to what has been done, being passionless comes to be intent on non-harming because of the destruction of passion, being without hatred … being without confusion comes to be intent on non-harming because of the destruction of confusion.

Kd.5.1.24 “Being passionless he comes to be intent on the destruction of grasping because of the destruction of passion, being without hatred he comes to be intent on the destruction of grasping because of the destruction of hatred, being without confusion he comes to be intent on the destruction of grasping because of the destruction of confusion; being passionless he comes to be intent on the destruction of craving because of the destruction of passion, being without hatred he comes to be intent on the destruction of craving because of the destruction of hatred, being without confusion he comes to be intent on the destruction of craving because of the destruction of confusion; being passionless he comes to be intent on non-confusion because of the destruction of passion, being without hatred he comes to be intent on non-confusion because of the destruction of hatred, being without confusion he comes to be intent on non-confusion because of the destruction of confusion.

Kd.5.1.25 “Thus, Lord, even if[24] shapes cognisable by the eye come very strongly into the field of vision of a monk whose mind is wholly freed, they do not obsess his mind for his mind comes to be undefiled,[25] firm, won to composure, and he notes its BD.4.244 passing hence.[26] If sounds cognisable by the ear … if scents cognisable by the nose … if tastes cognisable by the tongue … if touches cognisable by the body … if mental objects[27] cognisable by the mind[28] come very strongly into the field of thought of a monk whose mind is wholly freed, they do not obsess his mind for his mind comes to be undefiled, firm, won to composure, and he notes its passing hence.

Kd.5.1.26 “It is as if, Lord, there were a rocky mountain slope without a cleft, without a hollow, of one mass, and as if wild wind and rain should come very strongly from the eastern quarter—it would neither tremble nor quake nor shake violently; and as if wild wind and rain should come very strongly from the western quarter … from the northern quarter … from the southern quarter—it would neither tremble nor quake nor shake violently. Even so, Lord, if shapes cognisable by the eye come very strongly into the field of vision of a monk whose mind is wholly freed … if mental objects cognisable by the mind come very strongly into the field of thought of a monk whose mind is wholly freed, they do not obsess his mind, for his mind comes to be undefiled, firm, won to composure, and he notes its passing hence.”

Kd.5.1.27 If one is intent upon renunciation and mind’s aloofness[29],
If one is intent upon non-harming and destruction of grasping, Vin.1.185
If one is intent upon destruction of craving and mind’s non-confusion,
Having seen sensations’ rise, his mind is wholly freed.
For that monk whose mind is calmed and wholly freed
There is nothing to add to what has been done, there is naught to be done.
As a rock of one mass by wind is never moved,[30]
So shapes, tastes, sounds, scents, touches and all
BD.4.245 Pleasant and unpleasant mental objects[31] stir not a man like this.
His mind is firm, well freed,[32] and he notes its passing hence.

Footnotes and references:

1.

This Soṇa episode recurs, in a shorter form, at AN.iii.374–AN.iii.379. Soṇa’s verses at Thag.632–644. Legend of how he came to be called Soṇa (golden) given in Thag A. (see Psalms of the Bretheren p.275f.), and AN-a.i.233f. At AN.i.24 he is called foremost of those who put forth energy; his clan name is there spelt Koḷivīsa.

2.

Vin-a.1081 speaks of these as sons of (respectable) families living in these villages.

3.

Cf. Vin.4.108, where Sāgata’s behaviour gave rise to the offence of drinking strong drink. See BD.2.382, n.6.

4.

hotha.

5.

nimujjitvā … ummujjitvā. These two verbs are often used of plunging into and emerging from water. Here they seem to mean getting off one step and on to another.

6.

pāṭikā, such as is (in the old cities of Ceylon) an architectural feature placed at the bottom of a short flight of steps leading up to a vihāra or a “temple”. See Mahāvaṃsa 31, Mahāvaṃsa 61. Nowadays it is called “moonstone step”, although in shape it is half a circle. It is called “half-moon stone”, aḍḍhacandapāsāna, at Vin-a.1081.

7.

pāṭikā, such as is (in the old cities of Ceylon) an architectural feature placed at the bottom of a short flight of steps leading up to a vihāra or a “temple”. See Mahāvaṃsa 31, Mahāvaṃsa 61. Nowadays it is called “moonstone step”, although in shape it is half a circle. It is called “half-moon stone”, aḍḍhacandapāsāna, at Vin-a.1081.

8.

uttarimanussadhamma. See BD.1, Introduction, p.xxivff.

10.

dhūpāyati. At Vin.4.109 a verb used to describe his activities is padhūpāsi, he blew forth smoke.

11.

He is also said to have blazed at Vin.4.109

13.

Cf. Vin.1.12.

14.

AN.iii.374 adds, after Cool Grove, “in front of the venerable Soṇa”. This would balance end of Kd.5.1.17 below.

15.

same guṇe patiṭṭhitā.

16.

On the readings samataṃ (as here) and samathaṃ, see GS.iii.267, n.3. The former is perhaps the more likely to be meant, and would carry out the idea of the “even pitch”.

17.

indriyānaṃ ca samataṃ paṭivijjha. Commentary says: “pierce the evenness, the even nature of the faculty of faith and so on, the evenness of the faculties that are connected: so faith with wisdom and wisdom with faith, energy with contemplation and contemplation with energy.”

18.

tattha ca nimittaṃ gaṇhāhi. Nimittaṃ gaṇhāti can mean to grasp a sign, a salient feature; or to reflect on a mental object. Vin-a.1081 says: mindfulness as to this evenness should arise; seize on that characteristic of (or, reflect on) tranquillity, insight, the ways, the fruits, and practise these.

19.

Referred to at AN-a.i.237 as vīnovāda, the exhortation on the lute; cf. Psalms of the Bretheren p.276.

20.

aparena samayena.

21.

aññā, gnosis.

22.

adhimutta, striving for.

23.

sīlabbataparāmāsa. Vin-a.1082 explains: silañ ca vatañ ca parāmasitvā gahitaṃ gahaṇamattaṃ, “the mere holding on to what is held to, having rubbed up against (come into contact with) moral habit (or, good works) and custom” (as though this were enough).

24.

As also at AN.iv.404.

25.

amissikata. Vin-a.1082 explains this to mean unmixed with (or, undefiled by) the kilesas (obstructions).

26.

Vin-a.1083 says this means: “he sees the arising and passing away of that mind”, tassa cittassa uppādam pi vayam pi passati.

27.

dhammā.

28.

mano.

29.

These lines, to the end, form the conclusion of the verses ascribed to Soṇa Koḷivisa at Thag.640–Thag.644. They also occur at AN.iii.378f. Metrical translations are at Psalms of the Bretheren 277 and GS.iii.269f. Version above, and that at Vinaya Texts ii.12 are rather more literal in places; but none of the others recognises that dhammā means mental objects (last line but one), and already referred to by Soṇa (as the sixth “sense-datum”).

30.

This line occurs at Dhp.81.

31.

See note at Kd.1.11.2 (above) for further references.

32.

Thag.644 reads visaññuttaṃ instead of vippamuttaṃ (as above and at AN.iii.379).

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