Nội Dung Chính
4. DĪGHA NIKĀYA
This collection in the Suttanta Piṭaka is named Dīgha Nikāya as it is made up of thirty-four long discourses of the Buddha. It is divided into three divisions:
(1) Sīlakkhanda Vagga (division concerning morality)
(2) Mahā Vagga (the large division)
(3) Pāthika Vagga (the division beginning with the discourse on Pāthika, the naked ascetic)
1. Sīlakkhandha Vagga Pāḷi – Division Concerning Morality
This division contains thirteen suttas which deal extensively with various types of morality, namely, minor morality, basic morality applicable to all; middle morality, and major morality which are mostly practised by samaṇas and brāhmaṇas. It also discusses the wrong views then prevalent as well as brahmin views of sacrifice and caste, and various religious practices such as extreme self-mortification.
Brahmajāla Sutta (Discourse on the Net of Perfect Wisdom)
An argument between Suppiya, a wandering ascetic, and his pupil Brahmadatta, with the teacher maligning the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha and the pupil praising the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, gave rise to this famous discourse which is listed first in this Nikāya.
In connection with the maligning of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, the Buddha enjoined his disciples not to feel resentment, displeasure or anger, because it would only be spiritually harmful to them. As to the words of praise for the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, the Buddha advised his disciples not to feel pleased, delighted or elated, for it would be an obstacle to their progress in the path.
The Buddha said that whatever worldling (puthujjana) praised the Buddha he could not do full justice to the peerless virtues of the Buddha, namely, his superior concentration (samādhi) and wisdom (paññā). A worldling could touch on only “matters of a trifling and inferior nature, mere morality.” The Buddha explained the three grades of morality and said that there were other dhammas profound, hard to see, subtle and intelligible only to the wise. Anyone wishing to praise correctly the true virtues of the Buddha should do so only in terms of these dhammas.
The Buddha continued to expound on various wrong views. There were samaṇas and brāhmaṇas who, speculating on the past, adhered to and asserted their wrong views in eighteen different ways, namely:
(i) Four kinds of belief in eternity (sassata diṭṭhi)
(ii) Four kinds of dualistic belief in eternity and non-eternity (ekacca sassata diṭṭhi)
(iii) Four views of the world being finite or infinite (antānanta diṭṭhi)
(iv) Four kinds of ambiguous evasion (amarāvikkhepa vāda)
(v) Two doctrines of non-causality (adhiccasamuppanna vāda)
There were samaṇas and brāhmaṇas, who, speculating on the future, adhered to and asserted their wrong views in forty-four ways, namely:
(i) Sixteen kinds of belief in the existence of saññā after death (uddhamāghātanika saññī vāda)
(ii) Eight kinds of belief in the non-existence of saññā after death (uddhamāghātanika asaññī vāda)
(iii) Eight kinds of belief in the existence of neither saññā nor non-saññā after death (uddhamāghātanika nevasaññī nāsaññī vāda)
(iv) Seven kinds of belief in annihilation (uccheda vāda)
(v) Five kinds of mundane nibbāna as realizable in this very life (diṭṭhadhamma nibbāna vāda)
The Buddha said that whatever samaṇas and brāhmaṇas speculated on the past or the future or both the past and the future, they did so in these sixty-two ways or one of these sixty-two ways.
The Buddha announced further that he knew all these wrong views and also what would be the destination, the next existence, in which the one holding these views would be reborn.
The Buddha gave a detailed analysis of these wrong views asserted in sixty-two ways and pointed out that these views had their origin in feeling which arose as a result of repeated contact through the six sense bases. Whatever person holds these wrong views, in him feeling gives rise to craving; craving gives rise to clinging; clinging gives rise to existence; the kammic causal process in existence gives rise to rebirth; and rebirth gives rise to ageing, death, grief, lamentation, pain, distress and despair.
But whatever person knows, as they really are, the origin of the six sense bases of contact, their cessation, their pleasurableness, their danger and the way of escape from them, he realizes the dhammas, not only mere morality (sīla) but also concentration (samādhi) and liberation (vimutti), wisdom (paññā), that transcend all these wrong views.
All the samaṇas and brāhmaṇas holding the sixty-two categories of wrong views are caught in the net of this discourse just like all the fish in a lake are contained in a finely meshed net spread by a skilful fisherman or his apprentice.
Sāmaññaphala Sutta (Discourse on the Fruits of the Life of a Samaṇa)
On one full moon night while the Buddha was residing in Rājagaha at the mango grove of Jīvaka this discourse on the fruits of the life of a samaṇa, personally experienced in this very life, was taught to King Ajātasattu on request by him. The Buddha explained to him the advantage of the life of a samaṇa by giving him the examples of a servant of his household or a landholder cultivating the King’s own land becoming a samaṇa to whom the King himself would show respect and make offerings of requisites, providing him protection and security at the same time.
The Buddha provided further elucidation on other advantages, higher and better, of being a samaṇa by elaborating on: (i) how a householder, hearing the Dhamma taught by a Buddha, leaves the home life and becomes a samaṇa out of pure faith; (ii) how he becomes established in three categories of sīla, minor, middle and major; (iii) how he gains control over his sense faculties so that no depraved states of mind such as covetousness and dissatisfaction would overpower him; (iv) how he becomes endowed with mindfulness and clear comprehension and remains contented; (v) how, by dissociating himself from five hindrances, he achieves the four jhānas (the first, the second, the third and the fourth) as higher advantages than those previously mentioned; (vi) how he becomes equipped with eight kinds of higher knowledge, namely: insight knowledge, the power of creation by mind, the psychic powers, the divine power of hearing, knowledge of the minds of others, knowledge of past existences, divine power of sight, knowledge of extinction of moral intoxicants.
Thus when the knowledge of liberation arises in him, he knows he has lived the life of purity. There is no other advantage of being a samaṇa, personally experienced, more pleasing and higher than this.
Ambaṭṭha, a young disciple of Pokkharasāti, the learned brahmin, was sent by his master to investigate whether Gotama was a genuine Buddha endowed with the thirty-two personal characteristics of a great man. His insolent behaviour, taking pride in his birth as a brahmin, led the Buddha to subdue him by proving that khattiya is in fact superior to brāhmaṇa. The Buddha explained further that nobleness in man stemmed not from birth but from perfection in three categories of morality, achievements of four jhānas, and accomplishments in eight kinds of higher knowledge.
This discourse was given to the brahmin Soṇadaṇḍa who approached the Buddha while he was residing near Lake Gaggarā at Campā in the country of Aṅga. He was asked by the Buddha what attributes should one possess to be acknowledged as a brahmin. Soṇadaṇḍa enumerated high birth, learning in the Vedas, good personality, morality and knowledge as essential qualities to be a brahmin. When further questioned by the Buddha, he said that the minimum qualifications were morality and knowledge without which no one would be entitled to be called a brahmin. On his request, the Buddha explained to him the meaning of the terms morality and knowledge, which he confessed to be ignorant of, namely, the three categories of morality, achievements of four jhānas and accomplishments in eight kinds of higher knowledge.
On the eve of offering a great sacrificial feast, the brahmin Kūṭadanta went to see the Buddha for advice on how best to conduct the sacrifice. Giving the example of a former King Mahāvijita, who also made a great sacrificial offering, the Buddha declared: the principle of consent by four parties from the provinces (namely, noblemen, ministers, rich brahmins and householders); the eight qualities to be possessed by the king who would make the offerings; the four qualities of the brahmin royal adviser who would conduct the ceremonies; and the three attitudes of mind towards the sacrifices. With all these conditions fulfilled, the feast offered by the king was a great success, with no loss of life of sacrificial animals, no hardship on the people, no one impressed into service, everyone co-operating in the great feast willingly.
The brahmin Kūṭadanta then asked the Buddha if there was any sacrifice which could be made with less trouble and exertion, yet producing more fruitful result. The Buddha told him of the traditional practice of offering the four requisites to bhikkhus of high morality. Less troublesome and more profitable again was donating a monastery to the order of bhikkhus. Better still were the following practices in ascending order of beneficial effects: (i) going to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and Sangha for refuge (ii) observing the five precepts (iii) going forth from the home life and leading the holy life, becoming established in morality, becoming accomplished in the four jhānas, and becoming equipped with eight kinds of higher knowledge resulting in the realization of the extinction of āsavas. This is the sacrifice which entails less trouble and exertion but which excels all other sacrifices.
Mahāli Oṭṭhaddha, a Licchavi ruler, once came to see the Buddha to whom he recounted what Sunakkhatta, a Licchavi prince, had told him. Sunakkhatta had been a disciple of the Buddha for three years after which he left the teaching. He told Mahāli how he had acquired the divine power of sight by which he had seen myriads of pleasant, desirable forms belonging to the deva world but that he had not heard sounds belonging to the deva world. Mahāli wanted to know from the Buddha whether Sunakkhatta did not hear the sounds of the deva world because they were non-existent, or whether he did not hear them although they existed.
The Buddha explained that there were sounds in the deva world but Sunakkhatta did not hear them because he had developed concentration only for one purpose, to achieve the divine power of sight but not the divine power of hearing.
The Buddha explained further that his disciples practised the noble life under him not to acquire such divine powers but with a view to the realization of dhammas which far excel and transcend these mundane kinds of concentrations. Such dhammas are attainments of the four states of noble fruition-states of a stream-winner, a once-returner, a non-returner, and the state of mind and knowledge of an arahat freed of all āsavas that have been rendered extinct.
The Path by which these dhammas can be realized is the Noble Path of Eight Constituents: Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
Once when the Buddha was residing at Ghositārāma Monastery near Kosambī, two wandering ascetics, Muṇḍiya and Jāliya, approached him and asked whether the soul was the physical body, or the physical body the soul, or whether the soul was one thing and the physical body another.
The Buddha explained how a person who had finally realized liberation would not even consider whether the soul was the physical body, or the physical body the soul, or whether the soul was one thing and physical body another.
This discourse defines what a true samaṇa is, what a true brāhmaṇa is. The Buddha was residing in the deer park of Kaṇṇakatthala at Ujuñña. The naked ascetic Kassapa approached him and said that he had heard that Samaṇa Gotama disparaged all practices of self-mortification and that Samaṇa Gotama reviled all those who led an austere life.
The Buddha replied that they were slandering him with what was not said, what was not true. When the Buddha could see with his supernormal vision the bad destinies as well as the good destinies of those who practised extreme forms of self-mortification, and of those who practised less extreme forms of self-mortification, how could he revile all systems of self-mortification.
Kassapa then maintained that only those recluses, who for the whole of their life cultivated the practice of standing or sitting, or who were abstemious in food, eating only once in two days, seven days, fifteen days, etc., were real samaṇas and brāhmaṇas. The Buddha explained to him the futility of extreme self-mortification and said that only when a recluse practised to become accomplished in morality, concentration and knowledge, cultivated loving-kindness, dwelt in the emancipation of mind, and dwelt in the emancipation through knowledge would he be entitled to be called a samaṇa and brāhmaṇa. Then the Buddha gave a full exposition on morality, concentration and knowledge, resulting in Kassapa’s decision to join the order of the Buddha.
Once when the Buddha was staying at the Monastery of Anāthapiṇḍika in the Jeta Grove at Sāvatthi he visited the Ekasālaka Hall where various views were debated. At the time Poṭṭhapāda, the wandering ascetic, asked him about the nature of the cessation of consciousness (saññā). Poṭṭhapāda wanted to know how the cessation of consciousness was brought about. The Buddha told him that it was through reason and cause that forms of consciousness in a being arose and ceased. A certain form of consciousness arose through practice (adhicitta sikkhā) and a certain form of consciousness ceased through practice.
The Buddha then proceeded to expound on these practices consisting of observance of sīla and development of concentration which resulted in arising and ceasing of successive jhānas. The meditator progressed from one stage to the next in sequence until he achieved the cessation of all forms of consciousness (nirodha samāpatti).
This is a discourse given not by the Buddha but by his close attendant, the Venerable Ānanda, on the request of young Subha. The Buddha had passed away by then. And young Subha wanted to know from the lips of the Buddha’s close attendant what dhammas were praised by the Buddha and what those dhammas were which he urged people to practise.
Ānanda told him that the Buddha had words of praise for the three aggregates of Dhamma, namely, the aggregate of morality, the aggregate of concentration and the aggregate of knowledge. The Buddha urged people to practise these dhammas, dwell in them, and have them firmly established. Ānanda explained these aggregates of Dhamma in great detail to young Subha, in consequence of which Subha became a devoted lay disciple.
The Buddha was residing at Nālandā in Pārāvārika’s mango grove. A devoted lay disciple approached the Buddha and urged him to let one of his disciples perform miracles so that the city of Nālandā would become devoted to the Buddha.
The Buddha told him about the three kinds of miracles which he had known and realized by himself through supernormal knowledge. The first miracle, iddhi pāṭihāriya, was rejected by the Buddha because it could be mistaken as the black art called gandhārī magic. The Buddha also rejected the second miracle, ādesanā pāṭihāriya, which might be mistaken as practice of cintāmaṇi charm. He recommended the performance of the third miracle, the anusāsanī pāṭihāriya, the miracle of the power of the teaching as it involved practice in morality, concentration and knowledge leading finally to the extinction of āsavas (āsavakkhaya ñāṇa).
The discourse lays down three types of blameworthy teachers: (i) the teacher who is not yet accomplished in the noble practice and teaches pupils who do not listen to him; (ii) the teacher who is not yet accomplished in the noble practice and teaches pupils who practise as instructed by him and attain emancipation; (iii) the teacher who is fully accomplished in the noble practice and teaches pupils who do not listen to him.
The praiseworthy teacher is one who has become fully accomplished in the three practices of morality, concentration and knowledge and teaches pupils who become fully accomplished like him.
Two brahmin youths, Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja, came to see the Buddha while he was on a tour through the kingdom of Kosala. They wanted the Buddha to settle their dispute as to the correct path that led straight to companionship with Brahmā. Each one thought only the way shown by his own master was the true end.
The Buddha told them that as none of their masters had seen Brahmā, they were like a line of blind men each holding on to the preceding one. Then he showed them the true path that really led to the Brahmā realm, namely, the path of morality and concentration, and development of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity towards all sentient beings.
2. Mahā Vagga Pāḷi – The Large Division
The ten suttas in this division are some of the most important of the Tipiṭaka, dealing with historical and biographical aspects as well as the doctrinal aspects of Buddhism. The most famous sutta is the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta which gives an account of the last days and the passing away of the Buddha and the distribution of his relics. Mahāpadāna Sutta deals with brief accounts of the last seven Buddhas and the life story of the Vipassī Buddha. Doctrinally important are the two suttas: the Mahānidāna Sutta, which explains the Chain of Cause and Effect, and the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, which deals with the four methods of steadfast mindfulness and practical aspects of Buddhist meditation.
This discourse was given at Sāvatthi to the bhikkhus who were one day discussing the Buddha’s knowledge of past existences. He told them about the last seven Buddhas, with a full life story of one of them, the Vipassī Buddha, recalling all the facts of the Buddhas, their social rank, name, clan, life-span, the pairs of chief disciples, the assemblies of their followers, their attainments, and emancipation from defilements.
The Buddha explained that his ability to remember and recall all the facts of past existences was due to his own penetrating discernment as well as due to the devas making these matters known to him.
This discourse was given at Kammāsadhamma market town to the Venerable Ānanda to correct his wrong view that the doctrine of Paṭiccasamuppāda, although having signs of being deep and profound, was apparent and fathomable. The Buddha told him that this doctrine not only appeared to be deep and profound but was actually deep and profound on four counts: it was deep in meaning, deep as a doctrine, deep with respect to the manner in which it was taught, and deep with regard to the facts on which it was established.
He then gave a thorough exposition on the doctrine and said that because of lack of proper understanding and penetrative comprehension of this doctrine, beings were caught in and unable to escape from the ruinous round of rebirth. He concluded that without a clear understanding of this doctrine, even the mind of those accomplished in the attainments of jhāna would be clouded with ideas of atta.
This sutta is an important narrative of the Buddha’s last days, a detailed chronicle of what he did, what he said and what happened to him during the last year of his life. Compiled in a narrative form, it is interspersed with many discourses on some of the most fundamental and important aspects of the Buddha’s teaching. Being the longest discourse of the Dīgha Nikāya, it is divided into six chapters.
On the eve of the last great tour, the Buddha, while staying at Rājagaha, gave the famous discourses on seven factors of non-decline of kings and princes, and seven factors of non-decline of bhikkhus.
Then he set out on his last journey going first to the village of Pāṭali where he taught on the consequences of an immoral and a moral life. He then proceeded to the village of Koṭi where he expounded on the Four Noble Truths. Then the Buddha took up his residence at the village of Nātika where the famous “Discourse on the Mirror of Truth” was given.
Next the Buddha went to Vesāli with a large company of bhikkhus. At Vesāli he accepted the park offered by the courtesan Ambapāḷi. From Vesāli, the Buddha travelled to a small village named Veluva where he was overtaken by a severe illness that could have proved fatal. But the Buddha resolved to maintain the life-process and not to pass away without addressing his lay disciples and without taking leave of the Sangha. When Ānanda informed the Buddha how worried he had been because of the Buddha’s illness, the Buddha gave the famous injunction: “Let yourselves be your own support, your own refuge. Let the Dhamma, not anything else, be your refuge.”
It was at Vesāli that the Buddha made the decision to pass away and realize parinibbāna in three months’ time. Upon his making this momentous decision there was a great earthquake. Ānanda, on learning from the Buddha the reason of the earthquake, supplicated him to change the decision, but to no avail.
The Buddha then caused the Sangha to be assembled to whom he announced his approaching parinibbāna. He then went over all the fundamental principles of his teaching and exhorted them to be vigilant, alert, and to watch over their own mind so as to make an end of suffering.
The Buddha then left Vesāli and went to Bhaṇḍa village where he continued to give his discourses to the accompanying Sangha on sīla, samādhi and paññā. Proceeding further on his journey to the north, he gave the discourse on the four great authorities (mahāpadesa) at the town of Bhoga.
From there he went on to Pāvā and stayed in the Mango Grove of Cunda, the Goldsmith’s son, who made an offering of food to the Buddha and his community of bhikkhus. After eating the meal offered by Cunda, a severe illness came upon the Buddha who nevertheless continued on his journey until he reached Kusinārā where in the Sal Grove of the Malla princes he urged Ānanda to lay out the couch for him. He lay down on the couch with mindfulness and deliberation, awaiting the hour of his parinibbāna.
Even on his death-bed the Buddha continued to teach; he explained that there are four places which arouse reverence and devotion and four persons worthy of a stupa; and he answered Ānanda’s questions on how to conduct oneself with regard to women, and on what should be done regarding the remains of the Buddha. His last act of selflessness was to expound the truth and show the path to Subhadda, the wandering ascetic.
Then after ascertaining that there was not a single bhikkhu who had perplexity or doubt about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, the Buddha uttered his last words: “Inherent in all compounded things is decay and dissolution. Strive well with full mindfulness.”
Then as the assembled bhikkhus, princes and people paid homage to him with deep reverence, the Buddha passed away, realizing parinibbāna.
This discourse was given by the Buddha while he was lying on his death-bed in the Sal Grove of the Mallas. When Ānanda implored him not to realize parinibbāna in an insignificant, barren, small town, the Buddha told him that Kusinārā was not an insignificant small place. In times long past, it was known as Kusāvatī, the capital city of universal monarchs who ruled over the four quarters of the world.
The Buddha then described the magnificence and grandeur of Kusāvatī when King Mahāsudassana was the ruler there. He also told how the King ruled over his dominions righteously and how finally abandoning all attachments and practising jhāna he passed away and reached the blissful Brahmā realm.
The Buddha revealed that he himself was King Mahāsudassana of that time. He had cast off the body in this place (former Kusāvatī) six times as a universal monarch. Now he was casting it off for the seventh and last time. He ended the discourse reminding Ānanda that all compounded things are indeed impermanent. Arising and decaying are their inherent nature. Only their ultimate cessation is blissful nibbāna.
This discourse is an extension of another discourse delivered by the Buddha on his last journey. Ānanda wanted to know the destinies of lay disciples from the country of Magadha. The Buddha told him that innumerable persons from Magadha had reached the deva world by virtue of their faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. This information was given him by Janavasabha Deva who was formerly King Bimbisāra. He informed the Buddha that there were regular assemblies of devas in the deva realm on uposatha days when the king of the devas and Sanaṅkumāra Brahmā taught the Dhamma on development of the bases of psychic power, on the three opportunities, on the four methods of steadfast mindfulness and the seven accessories of concentration.
In this discourse, Pañcasikha, a gandhabba deva, told the deva assembly where Sanaṅkumāra Brahmā taught the Dhamma as shown by Mahāgovinda, the bodhisatta who had reached the Brahmā world. The Buddha said that Mahāgovinda was none other than himself and explained that the Dhamma he taught at that time could lead one only to the Brahmā world. With his teaching now as an enlightened Buddha, higher attainments such as the sotāpatti, anāgāmi and the highest achievement arahatta phala were possible.
The Buddha was residing in the Mahāvana forest at Kapilavatthu with a company of arahats numbering five hundred. Then devas and Brahmās from ten thousand cakkavāḷas came to see the Buddha and the community of bhikkhus. The Buddha told his disciples the names of the devas and Brahmās as listed in this sutta.
Once when the Buddha was residing at the Indasāla Cave near Rājagaha, Sakka, the king of devas, came to him to ask certain questions. He wanted to know why there was hostility and violence among various beings. The Buddha told him it was envy and selfishness that brought about hostility among beings. He further explained that envy and selfishness were caused by likes and dislikes, which in turn had their roots in desire. And desire grew from mental preoccupation (vitakka) which had its origin in saṃsāra-expanding illusions (papañca-saññā-saṅkha).
The Buddha then gave an outline of practices to remove thesesaṃsāra-expanding illusions including two types of quests, quests that should be pursued and quests that should not be pursued.
This sutta is one of the most important doctrinal discourses of the Buddha. It propounds the only way for the purification of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for the complete removal of pain and grief, for the attainment of the right path, and for the realization of nibbāna. This discourse, given directly to the bhikkhus at the market town of Kammāsadhamma, defines “the only way” as the four methods of steadfast mindfulness made up of fourteen ways of contemplating the body, nine ways of contemplating sensation, sixteen ways of contemplating the mind, and five ways of contemplating the Dhamma. It ends with a definite assurance of fruitful results: arahatship in this very existence or the state of an anāgāmi within seven years, seven months or seven days.
This discourse recounts how the Venerable Kumārakassapa showed the right path to Governor Pāyāsi of Setabyā town in Kosala country. Governor Pāyāsi held the wrong belief: “There is no other world; no beings arise again after death; there are no consequences of good or bad deeds.” The Venerable Kumārakassapa showed him the right path, illustrating his teaching with numerous illuminating similes. Ultimately Pāyāsi became full of faith and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. The Venerable Kumārakassapa taught him also the right kind of offerings to be made and that these offerings would be made with due respect, by one’s own hands, with due esteem and not as if discarding them. Only under these conditions would the good deed of offerings bear splendid fruits.
3. Pāthika Vagga Pāḷi
This division is made up of eleven shorter discourses of a miscellaneous nature. They deal with the Buddha’s rejection of wrong and severe asceticism practised by followers of many sects. They deal also with the periodical evolution and dissolution of the universe, the accounts of universal monarchs and the thirty-two physiognomic characteristics of a great man. There is one discourse, Siṅgāla Sutta, addressed to a young brahmin showing the duties to be performed by members of the human society. The last two suttas, Saṅgīti and Dasuttara, are discourses given by the Venerable Sāriputta and they contain lists of doctrinal terms classified according to subject matter and numerical units. The style of their composition is different from the other nine suttas of the division.
At the time of the Buddha, there were many other teachers with their own disciples holding different views on what constituted the holy life, on the origin and development of the universe, and on the performance of wonders and miracles.
Sunakkhatta, a Licchavi prince, became a disciple of the Buddha and was admitted into the order. But he found the discipline and the teaching to be beyond him and his comprehension. He became at the same time attracted to the teachings and practices of other sects. He left the order after three years. Then becoming a follower of one of the sects he began to disparage the teachings of the Buddha, and made slanderous attacks on the Buddha and his disciples. In Pāthika Sutta are short discourses in which are accounts of the Buddha’s refutation and explanation with reference to many of Sunakkhatta’s accusations.
This discourse was given to Nigrodha, the wandering ascetic, and his followers in the park of the Queen Udumbarikā near Rājagaha in order to destroy their wrong doctrine and establish wholesome doctrine. So obsessed were the wandering ascetics with their own wrong beliefs that they gave no response to the Buddha’s invitation to follow his teaching which would assure them fruitful results within seven days.
In the town of Mātulā, in the country of Magadha, bhikkhus were enjoined by the Buddha to be their own support, their own refuge, relying only on the Dhamma and not on any other refuge. Then the Buddha told them the story of Daḷhanemi, the universal monarch who possessed the Celestial Wheel as one of his seven treasures. He and his successor ruled over the four continents, wielding the power and authority of the universal monarch. Their life-span was long, and as long as they remained righteous and fulfilled the noble duties of universal monarch, making the Dhamma their only support, providing shelter and security, offering wealth and necessities to the needy, their dominions remained at peace, were prosperous and progressing.
But when the monarch failed to fulfil the noble duties of a righteous king, when the Dhamma was no longer held as a refuge, the morality of the people declined. Their life-span dwindled down to ten years only. Then the ten meritorious deeds productive of wholesome effects completely disappeared and the ten evil deeds giving unwholesome results flourished exceedingly. People failed to show reverential regard for the leaders and elders, to fulfil their duties towards parents, samaṇas and brāhmaṇas. There also developed intense mutual aversion, ill-will, thoughts of killing one another, followed by fighting, devastation and carnage.
A few who survived the holocaust agreed to give up their evil ways, to live in a spirit of harmony, doing good deeds, showing reverential regard for the leaders and elders, fulfilling their duties towards parents, samaṇas and brāhmaṇas. In consequence of improved morality, their life-span expanded again until it reached eighty thousand years when a universal monarch appeared once more to rule righteously. Bhikkhus were thus enjoined to keep within the confines of the Dhamma, making it their support, their refuge. The Dhamma would show the way for their physical and mental development until they attained arahatship.
This discourse was given as Sāvatthi to two novices under training, Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja, pointing out the wrong beliefs of brahmins as regards caste. The brahmins claimed that among the four classes of people recognised at that time brahmins were the noblest; next came the khattiya class (the nobility and royalty) followed by vessa (the trading class) and sudda (the lowest class).
The Buddha refuted these claims of the brahmins by explaining how the world was subjected to processes of evolution and dissolution and describing how human beings first appeared on earth and how the four social classes emerged. He explained further that the nobility of a person was decided not by his birth and lineage but by his morality and knowledge of the Noble Truths.
“Whoever holds wrong views and commits misdeeds is not noble whatever his birth. Whoever restrains himself in deed, word and thought and develops the bodhipakkhiya dhammas until he attains complete eradication of defilements in this very life is the chief, the noblest amongst men and devas irrespective of birth.”
The Venerable Sāriputta’s deep confidence in the Buddha was once proclaimed aloud in an eloquent eulogy of the Buddha spoken in the Buddha’s presence. For making this bold utterance on the virtues of the Buddha, the Buddha asked him whether he had personal knowledge of the minds of all the Buddhas, those of the past, of the future and of the present, their morality, their concentration, their wisdom, and the manner of their emancipation.
The Venerable Sāriputta said he did not claim to have such knowledge but justified himself by stating in detail the course of the Dhamma taken by all the Buddhas, their accomplishment in sīla, abandonment of five hindrances, establishment in the four methods of steadfast mindfulness and cultivation of the seven factors of enlightenment-as being the only course that could lead to unsurpassed supreme enlightenment.
The Venerable Ānanda accompanied by Bhikkhu Cunda went to see the Buddha to give him the news about the death of Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta, the leader of a well-known sect, and the schism that had arisen amongst his disciples.
The Buddha told them that it was natural and to be expected to happen in a teaching which was not well taught, not well imparted, not conducive to emancipation, and not taught by one who was supremely enlightened.
In contrast, the Buddha explained that when the teaching was well taught, well imparted by one who was supremely enlightened, there were no wrong views, no speculations about past or future or about atta. In the teaching of the Buddha, bhikkhus were taught the four methods of steadfast mindfulness by which wrong views and speculations were laid aside.
This discourse on thirty-two bodily marks of a great man was given by the Buddha at Sāvatthi in Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. For a person endowed with the thirty-two bodily marks of a great man, only two possible courses are open to him and no other.
“If he lives the household life, he will become a universal monarch ruling in righteousness over the four continents. If he goes forth from the home life into homelessness, he will become an enlightened Buddha.”
The Buddha explained the thirty-two bodily marks in detail, together with accounts of meritorious deeds previously performed by virtue of which each of these thirty-two bodily marks were acquired.
This discourse was given by the Buddha at Rājagaha for the edification of a young man named Siṅgāla. The youth Siṅgāla used to worship the six cardinal points, namely, the east, the south, the west, the north, the nadir and the zenith in obedience to the last advice given by his dying father. The Buddha explained to the young man that according to his teaching the six directions were: the east standing for parents; the south standing for teachers; the west standing for the wife and children; the north standing for friends and associates; the nadir standing for servants, employees; the zenith standing for samaṇas, brāhmaṇas.
The Buddha explained further that the six social groups mentioned in the discourse were to be regarded as sacred and worthy of respect and worship. One worshipped them by performing one’s duties towards them. Then these duties were explained to the youth Siṅgāla.
Four celestial kings came to see the Buddha and told him that there were non-believers among many invisible beings who might bring harm to the followers of the Buddha. The celestial kings therefore wanted to teach the bhikkhus the protecting incantation known as the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta. The Buddha gave his consent by remaining silent.
Then the four celestial kings recited the Āṭānāṭiya Paritta, which the Buddha advised the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay disciples to learn, to memorize so that they might dwell at ease, well guarded and protected.
The Buddha was touring through the country of the Mallas when he came to Pāvā. The death of Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta had taken place only recently and his followers were left in dissension and strife, wrangling over doctrines.
The Venerable Sāriputta who delivered this discourse attributed this schism among Nāṭaputta’s followers to the fact the Nāṭaputta’s teaching had not been well taught nor well imparted, and was not conducive to release from the round of existences, being taught by one who was not supremely enlightened.
But the Buddha’s teaching was well taught, well imparted, conducive to release from the round of existences, being taught by the Buddha who was supremely enlightened. He advised the bhikkhus to recite the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha, in concord and without dissension so that the teaching should last long. Then he proceeded to enumerate the Dhamma classified under separate heads as group of the ones, group of the twos, etc., up to groups of the tens to facilitate easy memorizing and reciting.
This discourse was also delivered by the Venerable Sāriputta, while the Buddha was staying at Campā, in order that the bhikkhus should get liberated from fetters and attain nibbāna, bringing about the end of suffering.
He taught the Dhamma classified under separate heads as group of the ones, group of the twos, etc., up to the groups of the tens.
Copyright Vipassana Research Institute – Source: https://www.tipitaka.org/eot#4