[\q 186/]
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THE form of this Sutta is remarkable. We have two distinct subjects discussed. First the question of the ability to see heavenly sights and hear heavenly sounds being raised, the Buddha says that it is not for the sake of acquiring such powers that people join the Order under him. And being asked what their object then is, he gradually leads the questioner on to Arahatship, as the aim, along the Eightfold Path. There the Sutta might appropriately have ended. But the Buddha himself then raises a totally different question—whether the soul and the body are the same. And though, for the reason stated below, he gives no answer, he leads the discourse again up to Arahatship along the series of mental states set out in the Sāmaññaphala.

This second part of our Dialogue might form a separate Sutta, and it is in fact added, as a Sutta by itself, to the present division of the Dialogues. Why then is it also included here? Buddhaghosa’s answer is that the young noble Mahāli, who raises the first point, was known to harbour the heresy that there is a soul, and that it has form. (The words the commentator uses are very short, and the context must, I think, be supplied from the passage translated above, Section 10 on p. 46.) It was to clear his mind of this notion that the Buddha specially raised the second point.

However this may be, the Sutta must have been already a double one, must have had its present form, before it received a place in that division of the Buddhist scriptures where it now stands. Each Sutta in that division incorporates the whole of the very ancient tract called the Sīlas. The division is therefore called the Sīla Vagga. And no Sutta not containing the Sīlas can belong to it. Our Sutta only contains the Sīlas in the second part. That part, therefore, must have belonged to it when the dialogues were arranged as they now stand.

The question raised in that second part is one of a group of questions on which primitive Buddhism expresses no [\q 187/] opinion. They are called the ten avyākatāni, the indeterminates, points not determined. Besides being often mentioned in the Dialogues translated in the present work and elsewhere, they form the subject of the Avyākata Saṃyutta (No. 44 in vol. iv of the Saṃyutta Nikāya), and they are as follows; [1]

1,2. Whether the world is eternal or not.

3,4. Whether the world is infinite or not.

5,6. Whether the soul is the same as the body, or distinct from it. [2]

7-10. Whether a man who has attained to the truth (a tathāgata) exists, or not, and in any way, after death.

There are others mentioned occasionally by themselves; but these form the usual group. Of them, those numbered 1-4 and 7-10 are speculations already condemned in the Brahma-jāla (above, pp. 27 foll., pp. 35 foll., and p. 40 respectively). The remaining two, those numbered 5 and 6, form the subject of the Jāliya, incorporated in our present Sutta.

The position taken by the primitive Buddhists as to these Indeterminates is so often referred to that it undoubtedly was an important item in the Buddha’s actual belief. It is rendered very clear by the old legend put into the Buddha’s mouth in the Udāna just quoted. There the various non-Buddhist teachers of the time are represented as expressing strong opinions one way or the other on these questions; and as getting so excited about them that they came to blows. Gotama thereupon tells a story how, in ancient days, a similar riot having taken place, the king had all the blind men in the city brought together, and had an elephant brought in. Each of the blind men touches a different part of the elephant. The king then asks them to explain what an elephant is like. He who had felt the head said it was like a water-pot. He who had felt the ear said it was like a winnowing basket. He who had felt the tusk said it was like a plough-share. He who had felt the trunk said it was like a plough-handle. He who had felt the body said it was like a granary. He who had felt its legs said it was like a pillar. He who had felt its back said it [\q 188/] was like a mortar. He who had felt its tail said it was like a pestle. He who had felt its bristles said it was like a broom. And each one was so sure he was right that they clamoured one against the other, and came to blows, to the amusement of the king. Then comes the moral:

‘In such points Brahmans and recluses stick
Wrangling on them, they violently discuss—
Poor folk ! they see but one side of the shield !’

The inference is obvious. To discuss such questions is mere speculation, useless, because it is based on insufficient evidence. This is the philosophic position; and it resembles very closely the position taken up, in the West, many centuries afterwards, by Hume and his followers. And, as usual in primitive Buddhism, the ethical corollary is very emphatically insisted upon. It is several times pointed out in the Dialogues [3] of these ten speculations that they—

‘The jungle, the desert, the puppet show, the writhing, the entanglement, of speculation—are accompanied by sorrow, by wrangling, by resentment, by the fever of excitement; they conduce neither to detachment of heart, nor to freedom from lusts, nor to tranquillity, nor to peace, nor to wisdom, nor to the insight of the higher stages of the Path, nor to Arahatship.’

In other words the speculations, being based on insufficient evidence, are not only useless—they are also, therefore, wrong; that is, from the Buddhist point of view, a disadvantage in the struggle towards the only aim worth striving for the perfection and emancipation of Arahatship.

As for the special point of our Sutta—the lesson that no wise man will condescend to discuss the question whether the soul is, or is not, the same as the body—it must be remembered that the negative is the view now known to be so widely, indeed universally prevalent among unthinking people throughout the world that it was almost certainly held also in India. The general opinion about the soul in the pre-Buddhistic Upanishads is somewhat different. There (to judge by the passages set out in my article in the J. R. A. S. for January 1899) it is looked upon as being, at least during life, smaller than the body, though after death, when it flies away from the body through an aperture in the top of the head, it was apparently regarded as a subtle and very impalpable, but still material, double of the body of the deceased.

It was the refusal to allow any place for this universal [\q 189/] belief in a semi-material soul in his own system that is the most striking, and perhaps the most original, feature in Gotama’s teaching. No other religion of which we have sufficient records to enable us to form an opinion on the point has been constructed without the soul.’ Where the others said soul,’ Gotama said usually ‘Action,’ which comes to much the same as character.

In this respect he came very near to our modern use of the word in such expressions as ‘a high-souled man’ or ‘a soul for music.’ And it is worth calling attention to the fact that even in Shakspere more than half the times the word is used it is in this secondary, ethical, emotional sense. Even in the old authorised translation of our Bible, in which the word occurs altogether 449 times, it is used 55 times merely in the sense of person, [4] only 85 times in the animistic sense, and 306 times in the sense of emotional or intellectual qualities or disposition. [5]

This will make Gotama’s position, which is really very simple, more clear. He rejected entirely the use of the word in the old animistic sense. He retained it in a personal sense, in the meaning of ‘oneself, himself,’ &C. [6] And though, of course, he acknowledged the reality of the emotional and intellectual dispositions, he refused absolutely to look upon them as a unity.

The position is so absolute, so often insisted on, so fundamental to the right understanding of primitive Buddhism, that it is essential there should be no mistake about it. Yet the position is also so original, so fundamentally opposed to what is usually understood as religious belief, both in India and elsewhere, that there is great temptation to attempt to find a loophole through which at least a covert or esoteric belief in the soul, and in future life (that is of course of a soul), can be recognised. in some sort of way, as part of so widely accepted a religious system. There is no loophole, and the efforts to find one have always met with unswerving opposition, both in the Piṭakas themselves and in extra-canonical works. [7] [\q 190/] Our available records are not at present sufficient to enable us to judge either of the numbers, or of the importance, of those Buddhists who made such attempts. But it is clear from the tone of the first chapter of the Kathā Vatthu, and from the express statements of the commentary on it, that there were such Buddhists as early as the time of Asoka. They belonged to two out of the eighteen schools of thought which had then arisen. The names of these schools are the Sammitiyā and the Vajji-puttakā. [8] We may yet hope to recover a work which will contain their arguments in their own words. But if the opinion condemned at pp. 14-19 of the Kathā Vatthu be really theirs, as the commentator declares it is, then it would seem that they held a view practically the same as that opinion of Mahāli, which the Buddha, in our Sutta, goes out of his way to raise in the form of a question, and to put aside as unworthy of discussion.

The expression sambodhi-parāyano used in this Sutta, Section i.3, has been hitherto misunderstood.

The Buddhist ideal is a subjective state to be reached, in this world, by going along an eightfold path, so called because of the eight good qualities or characteristics which make up its eight parts. Progress along this path is divided into four stages in which certain evil dispositions, the ten so-called Bonds, are got rid of. The Sambodhi is the insight, wisdom, intelligence, awakening, which, is essential to the three higher stages of this state of Arahatship. And what is connoted by the term can best, perhaps, be understood by bearing in mind its seven constituent parts, the sambojjhangā—self-possession, investigation into the truth, energy, calm, joy, concentration, and magnanimity.

In describing the first and lowest of the four stages of the Path, it is always stated (Dīgha I, 156; M. P. S. II , 27; A. II, 238, &c.) of the disciple—not that he has then attained the sambodhi, he has only attained abhisamaya but that he is sambodhi-parāyano. Childers (sub voice parāyano) explains this as "having the Four Truths as his support.’ But Buddhaghosa (Sum. I, 31.3) says: ‘He has the sambodhi—by which is meant that of the three higher stages—as his furthermost aim; in other words, he will attain to that.’ Buddhaghosa’s explanation is the only one possible in [\q 191/] the context, and is confirmed by every other passage in the Pāli Piṭakas where the word sambodhi has been traced. It never means the wisdom of a Buddha, but always the insight of the higher stages of the path to Arahatship. But it is necessary to point this out because the distinction is of the first importance for the history of Buddhism; and also because the erroneous rendering of Burnouf has been followed by Childers in the Dictionary, sub voce sambodhi (‘attainment of Buddhaship, Buddhahood’), and has not been corrected by any of the distinguished scholars who have discussed the meaning of Asoka’s eighth edict in which the word occurs. [9] The king there says that he ‘set out for the sambodhi.’ If this means that he had started, in his own opinion, along the line of the pārāmitās, towards the attainment, in some future birth, of Buddhahood, then it is most interesting and important as giving us the earliest mention of a doctrine not found in the Pāli Piṭakas, and entirely opposed to their view of Buddhism. But the word does not necessarily imply this, nor does the context require it. The doctrine spoken of with contempt, by the Mahāyānist doctors, as the ‘Lesser Vehicle’ is quite possible here, and more in accordance with all the rest of the Asoka expressions. There would seem to be no sufficient reason why we should not understand Asoka to mean that he had started, in his own opinion, along the Eightfold Path, towards the attainment, doubtless in some future birth, of Arahatship. Whether this be so or not, this is the only meaning of the word so far found in the Piṭakas.

And further, this entering on the Path—the Eightfold Path to the wisdom of the Arahat—is a quite different thing from becoming a Buddhist. There are numerous passages where the very nature of the discourse held not only to laymen (upāsakas), but even to members of the Order (bhikkhus), shows that they were not supposed to have attained as yet to the state of mind described as ‘entering upon the Path.’ Both the rules of the Order, and the precepts laid down for laymen, are, from the Piṭaka point of view, on a different plane altogether, lower than, apart from, that of the Path. Acting up to those rules, carrying out those precepts, can never even result in ‘conversion’ without the awakening of the new life. It is therefore very doubtful whether the word ‘conversion’ should be used, in English translations of Buddhist texts, to express a man’s [\q 192/] becoming an upāsaka or a bhikkhu. For though the word ‘conversion’ is used in English in two senses—either that of joining the outward organisation of a new faith, or that of having one’s eyes opened to the higher life—the second is the more accurate use of the word, and ought always to be implied in the first.

The word sambodhi-parāyano occurs in the passage first above quoted (Dīgha I, 156) in the answer to the question, ‘What is the aim of the life of the recluse (that is, of the member of the Buddhist Order)?’ Opponents and controversialists are fond of asking this question, and it is interesting to notice how it is answered. It is never the attainment of Buddhahood, but always (though the phraseology differs) the attainment of Arahatship. Thus, in the standing phrase used to state that so and so has become an Arahat (M. P. S., p. 6o, at the end of Chapter V, and often elsewhere), it is said he has realised the aim of the higher life (brahmacariya-pariyosānaṃ). The Ratha-vinīta and the Kulla Sakuludāyi Dialogues (Nos. 24 and 79 of the Majjhima Collection) lead up to the same conclusion. In the Saṃyutta IV, 51, the aim is laid to be the complete understanding of sorrow (dukkhassa pariññā) and the same reply is expanded further on in the same book (IV, 233) by the explanation that the way of gaining this understanding is to follow out the whole of the Eightfold Path to Arahatship. And this is repeated further on (S. V, 6: compare Mil. 49, 101). In the Aṅguttara (IV, 7) the object is said to be the destruction of the seven bonds, the destruction of which is precisely Arahatship.

So sambodhi-patto is used in the Sutta Nipāta, 478, 503, to describe the Arahat, of whom it is said (Itivuttaka, No 47, p. 42: compare ibid. p. 117 = A. II, 14, and also A. II, 200, 202; S. N. 765) that even here, in this world, he will reach up to the sambodhi, the way to which is said to be the Eightfold Path (M. I, 431 and the Dhamma-cakka-ppavattana Sutta, &c.). And sambodhi-parāyano, with which we started, is only another way of stating what is expressed by amata-parāyano (‘having the ambrosia of Arahatship as his aim’) in a Sutta, not yet traced, but quoted by Moggallīputta Tissa at Kathā Vatthu XXII, 7. [10]

Of course the above is not intended to imply that the Buddha had not attained the sambodhi. He was an Arahat, and, as such, had all the graces an Arahat should have. [11]

[\q 193/] On the same page of this Sutta we have two instances of a curious manner of address not infrequent in the Piṭakas, but as yet very imperfectly understood, After being told that Nāgita was the name of the Buddha’s personal attendant, we find him suddenly, and without any explanation, addressed as Kassapa. And the young Licchavi, introduced to us at the beginning of the Sutta by the name ‘Hare-lip ‘(oṭṭhaddha), is addressed both by Nāgita and by the Buddha, neither by his name Oṭṭhaddha, nor as Licchavi, but (and again without any explanation) as Mahāli.

There are several points in this question of address which cannot yet be solved, but several others are already pretty clear. There are at least eight different modes of speaking of or to a person:

1. A nickname arising out of some personal peculiarity. Such are Lambakaṇṇa (Hanging-eared), Kūṭadanta (with a protruding tooth), Oṭṭhaddha (Hare-lipped), Anāthapiṇḍika (the beggars’ friend), Dārupattika (the man with the wooden bowl). All these are used in a quite friendly, but familiar way. And such names occur so often that it would seem as if nearly everybody was known by a nickname.

2. A personal name, called in Pāli the mūla-nāma. This, like our own so-called Christian names, is not connected with any personal peculiarity. Some of these names (like similar ones among ourselves) are of very obscure derivation, but others are clear enough as adjectives with a good or lucky meaning. Such are Tissa (after the lucky star of that name), Devadatta (our Theodore), Bhaddiya (nearly the same as our Frederick), Nanda or Ānanda (Joy), Abhaya (Fearless), and many others.

3. The name of the Gotta or gens, what we should call a surname or family name. These are usually patronymic in form; such as Opamañña, Kaṇhāyana, Moggallāna, Kassapa, Kaṇḍāyana, Kondañña, Vāseṭṭha, Vessāyana, Bhāradvāja, Vacchāyana.

4. The name of the clan, called in Pāli kula-nāma, such as Sakka, Kālāma, Buli, Koliya, Licchavi, Vajji, Malla, &c.

5. The name of the mother, with putta (son) added to it; such as Sāri-putta (the more usual name by which the famous disciple Upatissa is called), Vedehi-putta (a name of Ajātasattu king of Magadhā), Maṇḍikā-putta (= Upaka),

As the former is only found as yet in one ambiguous phrase (M. I, 17; II, 211; S. IV, 6, 8, 97, 233, &c.), the discussion of its meaning would be premature.

[\q 194/] Mantāṇi-putta (= Puṇṇa), Godhi-putta (= Devadatta), Moggali-putta (= Tissa, author of the Kathā Vatthu). Less frequently the reverse is the case, and a mother or father, whose child has become famous, is simply referred to as the mother, or father, of so and so.

It is noteworthy that the name of the father is never used in this way, and that the mother’s name is never a personal name; but always taken either from the clan, or from the family, to which she belonged. Occasionally the root-form of the name of the clan, or of the trade, has -putto added to it in a similar way (Vanganta-putto, Todeyya-putto , [12] rathakāraputto). But these cases, which are rare, should rather be classified under the next division.

6. The name of the position in society, or the occupation, of the person addressed. Such are brāhmaṇa, gahapati, mahārāja, thapati, &c.

7. A mere general term of courtesy or respect, not containing any special application to the person addressed-such as bhante, āvuso, ayye, &c.

8. Lastly there is the local name, never used in addressing a person, but prefixed or added to the mūla or gotta name, in narrative sentences, to distinguish between two or more people of the same name. Thus of the eighteen different Kassapas mentioned in the books, three are distinguished, in narrative, as Uruvela-Nadi and Gayā-Kassapa respectively; of the eight different Kittas one is distinguished as Macchikāsandika; of the seventeen different Bhāradvājas one is distinguished as Kāpaṭhika. Other instances are probably Hatthako Ālavako, Bāhiyo Dārucīriyo, Pokkharasādi Subhagavaniko, &c.

On the rules regulating the choice as to which one of these various sorts of names should, under the circumstances, be used in any particular case, the following observations may be made.

It is not considered courteous among equals, except in the case of close familiarity, to use either of the two sorts of personal names, that is, either the nickname or the mūlanāma.

The Buddha addresses Brahmansas Brāhmaṇa (for instance Soṇadaṇḍa and Kūṭadanta, above in the Suttas so called; Jāṇussoṇi at M. I, I6, 178; A. I, 56, 159, 166; II, 173; IV, 54; Sañjaya at M. II, 127, 132, though his gotta name is [\q 195/] given Ākāsa-gotta; Sikha at A. II, 232, though his gotta name is given, Moggallāna). But we have had one instance above where he addresses a young Brahman as Ambaṭṭha, apparently a clan name (his gotta was Kaṇhāyaṇa). This solitary exception may be because of his youth.

On the other hand the Buddha usually addresses ascetics, not as paribbājaka, but by their gotta name. Thus at M. I, 228-250 he calls Saccako, the Nigaṇṭha, by his gotta name Aggi-vessāyana. At M. I, 497-500 he calls Dīgha-nakho (so called, no doubt, because he kept his nails long) by his gotta name, which is again Aggi-vessāyana. And at M. II, 4o he calls Vekhaṇaso by his gotta name of Kaccāna. This is only in accord with the usage followed by others besides the Buddha. Thus Jāṇussoṇi, a Brahman, at M. I, 175, addresses the ascetic Pilotika by his gotta name of Vacchāyana, and Assaji, a member of the Buddhist order, also calls Saccako by his gotta name (loc. cit.), and everybody, not a Buddhist, addresses the Buddha by his gotta name, as Gotama. When therefore we find other ascetics addressed by the Buddha by the same name as has been used in the introductory narrative (as, for instance, in the case of Sarabha, A. I, 186; Potaliya, A. II, 100; Poṭṭhapāda, D. I, 178 foll.), one may conclude that these also are probably gotta names. This custom of addressing people by their gotta name, no doubt a common one in certain cases, was expressly forbidden to Nigaṇṭhas (Jacobi, ‘Jaina-Sūtras,’ II, 305). They called their own Order a gotra (ibid. 321, 327), and apparently thought it worldly to recognise the existence of any other.

The Buddha addresses members of his own clan, whether members of his Order or not, by their personal names (so of Vappa, A. II, 197; of Mahānāma, M. I, 91, 354; A. I, 220; III, 284). The same holds good of the junior members of the Order, but some at least of the more distinguished among them are always addressed by him either by their gotta, or by their mother’s, name (compare Moggallāna, Kaccāna, Kassapa, Gotamī, Sāriputta). Nāgita, for instance, though he is addressed as Kassapa by his nephew, the novice Sīha, is addressed by the Buddha simply as Nāgita.

Probably every Brahman, and every member of each, of the free clans, had a gotta name. We have no certain instance of such a name in any other case. The gotta names used in the clans are the same as those given in Brahman books to Brahmans. It has been concluded that they are Brahman names, and that the clans must have adopted them from the Brahmans, each family or gens taking the gotta name of [\q 196/] their private chaplain, their purohita priest. But in that case we should surely expect to find some evidence that such priests were usually maintained in such clans. There is no evidence of the kind. All that we can fairly conclude is that the clans claimed, by the very use of these names, to be descended from the same ancestors as the Brahmans, who also bore the names: and that the claim was admitted to be well founded. As shown above, even Brahmans use these gotta names of non-Brahmans. It would seem that the nickname, when once generally known, tended, in speaking of a person, to drive the others out of use. But it is never used in speaking to the person referred to by it.

From the usage referred, to, as followed by the Buddha and others, it would seem that the gotta name was considered as more honourable than either of the personal names, and also than the descriptive general name or title of paribbājaka (wandering mendicant, recluse). Even the title Brāhmaṇa was dropped for the gotta name in the case of a recluse.

There are a number of problems, both as to general principles and as to details, that still remain, in this matter of names, unsolved. Is Ālāra, for instance, a nickname or a mūla-nāma; is Kālāmo a gotta name or a clan name? [13] To what classes of the people was the use of gotta names limited, and what is the historical explanation of this limitation? Were there as many as a dozen clan names in Magadhā and Kosalā combined? What was exactly implied by the clan-name, the Kula-nāma? The word gotta probably had the same meaning, when the Piṭakas were composed, as gotra has in the later law books written by the priests. How comes it then that the number of gottas referred to is so very small? Are there much more than a score altogether? What light does the meaning of the mūla and gotta names throw on the religious conceptions and social customs of the people?

I hope to return to these and similar questions when I can find time to publish my Pāli Ontomasticon, of the names in the Piṭakas and in the older inscriptions. What has here been said is probably sufficient to make the use of the names in this Sutta clear. [14]

[\q 197/]
English Introduction


[150] I. Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once staying at Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Wood . [15] Now at that time a number of Brahmans, who had been sent on pressing business of one kind or another from Kosalā and Magadhā, were lodging at Vesālī.

And they heard the news: ‘They say that the Samaṇa Gotama of the Sākya clan, who went out from a Sākya family to adopt the religious life, is now staying at Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Wood. Now regarding that venerable Gotama, such is the high reputation that has been noised abroad: “That Blessed One is an Arahat, a fully awakened one, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, who knows all worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, a Blessed One, a Buddha. He, by himself, thoroughly knows and sees, as it were, face to face this universe—including the worlds above of the gods, the Brahmās, and the Māras, and the world below with its recluses and Brahmans, its princes and peoples—and having known it, he makes his knowledge known to others. The truth, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its [\q 198/] consummation, doth he proclaim, both in the spirit and in the letter, the higher life doth he make known, in all its fullness and in all its purity. And good is it to pay visits to Arahats like that."’

2. So those Brahmans from Kosalā and Magadhā went out to the Great Wood, and to the Gabled-Hall. Now at that time the venerable Nāgita was actin as the personal attendant on the Blessed One. And they went to him, and said: ‘Where is it, Nāgita, that that venerable Gotama is lodging now, for we wish to see him.’

[151] ‘It is not a fitting time, Sirs, to call upon the Blessed One. He has retired into solitude.’

Then they sat down round about, saying, ‘We will not go away without seeing the venerable Gotama.’

3. And Hare-lip the Licchavi, too, came to the Great Wood, and to the Gabled Hall, with a retinue of his clan;. and going up to the venerable Nāgita, he saluted him, and reverently standing apart, he said to him: ‘Where, venerable Nāgita, is the Blessed One now lodging, the Arahat, the Buddha; for we wish to see him?’ And on receiving a similar reply he, too, sat down apart, saying: ‘I will not go till I have seen the August One, the Arahat, the Buddha.’

4. But Sīha, a novice, [16] came up to the venerable Nāgita, and saluted him, and standing reverently apart, he said to him,: ‘These envoys of the Brahmans from Kosalā and Magadhā, many of them, have come, O Kassapa, [17] to call upon the Blessed One; and Harelip the Licchavi, too, with a retinue of his clan, has come to do the same. ‘Twere best, O Kassapa, that all this folk should be allowed to see the Blessed One.’

[\q 199/] ‘Very well, then, Sīha. Tell the Blessed One yourself.’

‘Very good, Sir,’ said Sīha the novice in assent to the venerable Nāgita. And he went where the Blessed One was, and saluted him, and standing reverently apart, he said to him even as he had said to Nāgita.

[152] ‘Very well, Sīha. Spread out a mat for me in the shade in front of the house.’

5. And Sīha did so. And the Blessed One came out from the house, and sat down. And the Brahmans from Kosalā and Magadhā, exchanged with him the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and took their seats on one side. And Hare-lip the Licchavi also, with the retinue of his clan, bowed down to the Blessed One, and seated himself on one side. And when he was thus seated he addressed the Blessed One, and said:

‘Some few days ago, Sir, Sunakkhatta of the Licchavis [18] came to me, and said: “It is only three years, Mahāli, [19] since I first came under the Blessed One, and I can see heavenly forms, pleasant to behold, fitted to satisfy all one’s desires. exciting longing in one’s heart. But I cannot hear heavenly sounds like that.” Now, Sir, are there such heavenly sounds, which he could not hear, or have they no existence?’

‘They are real, those heavenly sounds, pleasant, fitted to satisfy one’s desires, exciting longing in one’s heart, which he could not hear. They are not things of nought.’

[\q 200/] 6. ‘But what then is the proximate, and what the ultimate cause, why he could not hear them, they being thus real and not things of nought?’

[153] 7. ‘Suppose a recluse, Mahāli, to have practised one-sided concentration of mind with the object of seeing such heavenly forms in any one direction—in the East, or the South, or the West, or the North, or above, or below, or across—and not with the object of hearing such heavenly sounds. Then since he has practised one-sided concentration, with the one object only in view, he only sees the sights, he hears not the sounds. And why not? Because of the nature of his self concentration (samādhi).

[154] 8, 9. ‘And so also, Mahāli, if he have practised one-sided concentration with the object of hearing, in any one direction, the heavenly sounds. Then, and for the same reason, he hears the sounds, but he sees not the sights.

[155] 10, II. ‘But suppose, Mahāli, he has practised self-concentration with the double object in view of seeing and hearing, in any one direction, those heavenly sights and those heavenly sounds. Then since he has practised self-concentration with the double object in view, he both sees the sights and hears the sounds. And why so? Because of the nature of his self-concentration.’

12. ‘Then, Sir, is it for the sake of attaining to the practice of such self-concentration that the brethren lead the religious life under the Blessed One Section ‘

‘No, Mahāli. There are things, higher and sweeter than that, for the sake of which they do so.’

[156] 13. ‘And what, Sir, may those other things be?’ ‘In the first place, Mahāli, a brother by the complete destruction of the Three Bonds (the Delusions of self, Doubt, and Trust in the efficacy of good works and ceremonies) [20] becomes a converted man, one who cannot be reborn in any state of woe, and is assured of [\q 201/] attaining to the Insight (of the stages higher still). [21] That, Mahāli, is a condition, higher and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.

‘And then further, Mahāli, a brother by the complete destruction of those Three Bonds, and by reducing to a minimum lust, ill will, and dullness, becomes a Oncereturner, one who on his first return to this world shall make an end of pain. That, Mahāli, is a condition higher still and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.

‘And then further, Mahāli, a brother by the complete destruction of the Five Bonds that bind people to this world [22] becomes an inheritor of the highest heavens, [23] there to pass away, thence never to return. [24] That, Mahāli, is a condition higher still and sweeter, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.

‘And then further, Mahāli, when a brother by the destruction of the Deadly Floods (or Intoxications Lusts, Becomings, Delusion, and Ignorance) has, by himself, known and realised and continues to abide here, in this visible world, in that emancipation of mind, that emancipation of heart, which is Arahatship that, Mahāli, is a condition higher still and sweeter still, for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.

‘Such, Mahāli, are the conditions higher and sweeter [\q 202/] (than seeing heavenly sights and hearing heavenly sounds), for the sake of which the brethren lead the religious life under me.’

14. ‘But is there, Sir, a path, is there a method, for the realisation of these conditions

‘Yes, Mahāli, there is.’

[157] ‘And what, Sir, may be that path, what that method?’

‘Verily it is this Noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: Right views, right aspirations, right speech, right action, a right means of livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right ecstasy in self-concentration. [25] This, Mahāli, is the path, and this the method, for the realisation of these conditions.

15. ‘One day, Mahāli, I was staying at Kosambī, in the Ghosita pleasaunce. There two recluses, Maṇḍissa the wandering mendicant, and Jāliya the pupil of Dārupattika (the man with the wooden bowl), came to me, and exchanged, with me the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and stood reverently apart. And so standing they said to me:

‘How is it then, O venerable Gotama, is the soul the same thing as the body? Or is the soul one thing and the body, another?’

‘Listen then, Sirs, and give heed attentively, and I will speak.’

‘Very good, Sir,’ said those two mendicants in assent, and I spake as follows:

[Here follows the whole of the exposition Given in the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, Sectionsd 40-75, that is to say:

1. The appearance of a Buddha and his preaching.

2. The awakening of a hearer, and his entry into the Order.

3. His self-training in act, word, and speech.

4. The minor details of morality which he observes.

5. The absence of fear, confidence of heart thence resulting.

[\q 203/] 6. The way in which he learns to guard the door of his senses.

7. The constant self-possession he thus gains.

8. The power of being content with little, with simplicity Of life.

9. The emancipation of heart from the five hindrances -covetousness, ill will, sloth of body and mind, excitement and worry, and perplexity.

10. The resulting joy and peace that he gains.]

16. ‘Then estranged from lusts, aloof from evil states, he enters into and remains in the First Rapture—a state of joy and ease, born of detachment, reasoning and investigation going on the while. Now, Sirs, when a Bhikshu knows thus and sees thus, would that make him ready to take up the subject: “Is the soul the same thing as the body, or is the soul one thing and the body another?" ‘

‘Yes, it would, Sir [26]

But I, Sirs, know thus and see thus. And nevertheless I do not say either the one or the other.’

[158] 17, 18. [The cases are then put of a Bhikshu who has acquired the second, third, and fourth Raptures (D II, 7 7-8 I) and the knowledge arising from insight

(Ñāṇa-dassana; D. II, 8 3, 84); and the same question, reply, and rejoinder are given in each case.]

19. ‘With his heart thus serene (&c. above, p. 85), he directs and bends down his mind to the knowledge of the destruction of the Deadly Floods. He knows as it really is: “This is pain.” He knows as it really is: “This is the origin of pain.” He knows as it really is: “This is the cessation of pain.” He knows as it really is: “This is the Path that leads to the cessation of pain.” He knows as they really are: “These are the Deadly Floods.” He knows as it really is: “This is the origin of the Deadly Floods.” He knows as it really is: “This is the cessation of the Deadly Floods.” He knows as it really is: “This is the [\q 204/] Path that leads to the cessation of the Deadly Floods.” To him, thus knowing, thus seeing, the heart is set free from the Deadly Taint of Lusts, is set free from the Deadly Taint of Becomings, is set free from the Deadly Taint of Ignorance. In him, thus set free, there arises the knowledge of his emancipation, and he knows: “Rebirth has been destroyed. The higher life has been fulfilled. What had to be done has been accomplished. After this present life there will be no beyond!”

‘When a Bhikshu, Sirs, knows thus and gees thus, would that make him ready to take up the question:: “Is the soul the same as the body, or is the soul one thing and the body another?" ‘

‘No, Sir, it would not.’ [27]

‘And I, Sirs, know thus and see thus. And nevertheless I do not say either the one or the other.’

Thus spake the Blessed One; and Hare-lip the Licchavi, pleased at heart, exalted the word of the Blessed One.

Here ends the Mahāli Sutta.


[1] Poṭṭhapāda sutta (translated below) Saṃyutta IV, 393; Udāna VI, 4;M. I 484,&c.

[2] Taṃ jīvaṃ tam sarīraṃ. Childers (sub voce pañho) renders this: ‘Is this the life? Is this the body? But that must be wrong. See Sum I, 319.

[3] For instance, M. I 455.

[4] ‘We were in the ship two hundred and seventy-six souls, ‘Acts xxvii. 37.

[5] There are about a score of ambiguous passages; but a different decision as to them would not change the proportion to any substantial extent.

[6] Attano, attanā, &c., in all the oblique cases. But for the nominative attā, the use of which might have misunderstood, sayaṃ is almost always, substituted.

[7] See the quotations in my ‘American Lectures’ (London, 1896), pp 39-42, and the notes above, pp. 81, 87.

[8] Kathā-vatthu-ppakaraṇa-aṭṭhakathā, p. 8 (in the Journal of the Pāli Text Society for 1889).

[9] See Senarat, ‘Inscription de Piyadasi,’ I, 186, and the other authorities referred to at I, 182 and, 223.

[10] Compare brahma-parāyano at Mil. 234, brahmacariyaparāyano at A. III, 75, and daṇḍa-parāyano at M. I, 88.

[11] Childers thinks sambodho is merely another form of sambodhi.

[12] Todeyya-putto may be rendered either ‘son of the man of Tudi’ or ‘of the son of the dwellers in Tudi’(a well-known village), or lastly ‘of the Todeyya clan,’ ‘the Todeyyan.’

[13] See my note at ‘Buddhist Suttas,’ p. 75, and compare contra A. I, 188, 278.

[14] Evaṃ-namo evaṃ-gotto at M. II, 33; S, III, 25; D. I, 242 is followed at D I, 13 by evaṃ-vaṇṇo; but evidence of any effect of social distinction on names is at present very slight.

[15] The great wood stretched from Vesālī northwards to the Himālaya range. In it they had laid out a pleasaunce for the order, and made there a storied house, with a hall below surrounded by pillars only, and facing the west, and above it the gabled apartments in which the Buddha so often stayed.

[16] He was the son of Nāgita’s sister. He had joined the Order as a novice when only seven years old, and shown so much intelligence as learner that he was a favourite with the Buddha himself. He must therefore be different from the other Sīha, also a Licchavi, who is the hero of the story told at Vin I, 233-238 = A. IV, 179-188, as the latter is not a member of the order at all. Professor Edward Mller (J. P. T. S., 1888, p. 97) confounds the two.

[17] This is the gotta, the gens, to which Nāgita belonged.

[18] This young man became the Buddha’s personal attendant; but afterwards, when the Buddha was in extreme old age (M. I, 82), he went over to the creed of Kora the Kshatriya and left the Buddhist order. Kora’s doctrine was the efficacy of asceticism, of rigid self-mortification. And it was to show how wrong this doctrine, as put forth by Sunakkhatta, was, that the Buddha told the story (Jāt. I, 398) of the uselessness of the efforts he himself has made when

‘Now scorched, now frozen, lone in fearsome woods,
Naked, without a fire, a fire within,
He as a hermit , sought the crown of faith.’

But we do not hear that Sunakkhatta ever came back to the fold.

[19] This is again the name of the gotta, the gens. Buddhaghosa (p. 316) calls him a rāja.

[20] See my ‘American Lectures’ (London, 1896, pp. 142-149) for the full meaning of these three, and of the following Bonds.

[21] Sambodhi-parāyano. So Buddhaghosa on this (p. 3 I 3) and my Introduction to the Sutta.

[22] The above three, and Sensuality and ill will.

[23] Opapātiko, literally ‘accidental’; but the use of such a word would only mislead the reader, the real connotation of the world being that of the words I have chosen. Those who gain the highest heavens are so called because there is no birth there in the ordinary way. Each being, who is there, has appeared there suddenly, accidentally as it were, without generation, conception, gestation or any of the other means attending the birth of beings in the world.

[24] It is impossible to ignore a reference here to the view expressed in the Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishad (VI, 2, 15). ‘There do they dwell far away, beyond, in the Brahmā-worlds. And for them there is no return.’

[25] See my ‘American Lectures,’ pp. 136-141; and Sum. I, 314-316.

[26] The Siamese edition reads: ‘No, it would not, Sir.’ On the idiom kallaṃ etaṃ vacanāya compare A. I, 144; M. 211

[27] So three Sinhalese and two Burmese MSS. And the Siamese edition. Two Sinhalese MSS. Read: ‘Yes, Sir, it would.’ But Buddhaghosa had clearly, both here and above, Section 16, the reading we have followed. And he gives a characteristic explanation—that whereas the Arahat (in Section 190) would have too much wisdom to be led astray, following the false trail of the soul theory, the Bhikshu who had only reached up to the Jhānas might, being still a puthujjana, an unconverted man, have leanings that way.

To hold that the soul is the same as the body is the heresy referred to in the Brahma-jāla (above, p. 46). See also the Introduction to the Kūṭadanta (above, p. 167).