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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Digha Nikaya >> Silakkhandha-vagga >> 1.4: Sonadanda Sutta (DN 4)

1. Thus have I heard. The Blessed One once, when going on a tour through the Aïga country with a great multitude of the brethren, with about five hundred brethren, arrived at Campà. And there at Campà he lodged on the bank of the Gaggarà Lake.

Now at that time the Brahman Soõadaõóa was dwelling at Campà, a place teeming with life, with much grassland and woodland and water and corn, on a royal domain granted him by Seniya Bimbisàra, the king of Magadhà, as a royal fief, with power over it as if he were the king.

2. Now the Brahmans and householders of Campà heard the news: `They say that the Samaõa Gotama of the Sàkya clan, who went out from a Sàkya family to adopt the religious life, has now arrived, with a great company of the brethren at Campà, and is staying there on the shore of the Gaggarà Lake. 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, with `Knowledge of the 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 Brahmas, and the Màras, 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 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.'

And the Brahmans and householders of Campà began to leave Campà in companies and in bands from each district, so that they could be counted, to go to the Gaggarà. Lake.

3. Now at that time Soõadaõóa the Brahman had gone apart to the upper terrace of his house for his siesta, and seeing the people thus go by, he said to his doorkeeper: `Why are the people of Campà, going forth like this towards the Gaggarà Lake?'

Then the doorkeeper told him the news. And he said: `Then, good doorkeeper, go to the Brahmans and householders of Campà, and say to them: ßSoõadaõóa the Brahman desires them to wait. He will himself come to see the Samaõa Gotama.û'

`Very well, Sir,' said the doorkeeper, and he did so.

4. Now at that time there were about five hundred Brahmans from different kingdoms lodging at Campà for some business or other. And when they heard that Soõadaõóa was intending to visit the Samaõa Gotama, they went to Soõadaõóa, and asked whether that was so.

`That is my intention, Sirs. I propose to call on the Samaõa Gotama.'

`Let not the venerable Soõadaõóa do that. It is not fitting for him to do so. If it were the venerable Soõadaõóa who went to call upon him, then the venerable Soõadaõóa's reputation would decrease and the Samaõa Gotama's would increase. This is the first reason why you, Sir, should not call upon, him, but he upon you.'

5. And they laid before Soõadaõóa the Brahman in like manner also other considerations, to wit:

That he was well born on both sides, of pure descent through the mother and through the father back through seven generations, with no slur put upon him, and no reproach, in respect of birth.

That he was prosperous, well to do, and rich.

That he was a repeater (of the sacred words), knowing the mystic verses by heart, one who had mastered the Three Vedas, with the indices, the ritual, the phonology, and the exegesis (as a fourth), and the legends as a, fifth, learned in the words and in the grammar, versed in Lokàyata (Nature-lore), and in the theory of the signs on the body of a great man.

That he was handsome, pleasant to look upon, inspiring trust, gifted with great beauty of complexion, fair in colour, fine in presence, stately to behold.

That he was virtuous, increased in virtue, gifted with virtue that had waxed great.

That he had a pleasant voice and pleasing delivery, and was gifted with polite address, distinct, not husky, suitable for making clear the matter in hand.

That he was the teacher of the teachers of many, instructing three hundred Brahmans in the repetition of the mystic verses, and that many young Brahmans, from various directions and various counties, all craving for the verses, came to learn them by heart under him.

That he was aged, old, and well stricken in years, long-lived and full of days.

That he was honoured, held of weight, esteemed worthy, venerated and revered by Seniya Bimbisàra, the king of Magadhà.

That lie was honoured, held of weight, esteemed worthy, venerated and revered by Pokkharasàdi, the Brahman.

That he dwelt at Campà, a place teeming with life, with much grassland and woodland and corn, on a royal fief granted him by Seniya Bimbisàra, the king of Magadhà, as a royal gift, with power over it as if he were the king.

For each of these reasons it was not fitting that he, Soõadaõóa the Brahman, should call upon the Samaõa Gotama, but rather that the Samaõa Gotama should call upon him.

6. And when they had thus spoken, Soõadaõóa said to them:

`Then, Sirs, listen, and hear why it is fitting that I should call upon the venerable Gotama, and not he should call upon me.

`Truly, Sirs, the venerable Gotama is well born on both sides, of pure descent through the mother and the father back through seven generations, with no slur put upon him, and no reproach in respect of birth.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama has gone forth (into the religious life), giving up the great clan of his relations.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama has gone forth (into the religious life), giving up much money and gold, treasure both buried and above the ground.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama, while he was still a young man, without a grey hair on his head, in the beauty of his early manhood, has gone forth from the household life into the hermit state.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama, though his father and mother were unwilling, and wept, their cheeks being wet with tears, nevertheless cut off his hair and beard, and donned the yellow robes, and went out from the household life into the hermit state.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama is handsome, pleasant to look upon, inspiring trust, gifted with great beauty of complexion, fair in colour, fine in presence, stately to behold.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama is virtuous with the virtue of the Arahats, good and virtuous, gifted with goodness and virtue.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama hath a pleasant voice, and a pleasing delivery, he is gifted with polite address, distinct, not husky, suitable for making clear the matter in hand.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama is the teacher of the teachers of many.

`Truly, Sirs the Samaõa Gotama has no passion of lust left in him, and has put away all fickleness of mind.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama believes in karma, and in action, [15] he is one who puts righteousness in the forefront (of his exhortations) to the Brahman race.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama went forth from a distinguished family primeval among the Kshatriya clans.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama went forth from a family prosperous, well to do, and rich.

`Truly, Sirs, people come right across the country from distant lands to ask questions of the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, multitudes of heavenly beings put their trust in the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, such is the high reputation noised abroad concerning the Samaõa Gotama, that he is said to be an Arahat, exalted, fully awakened, abounding in wisdom and righteousness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, a Blessed One, a Buddha.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama has all the thirty two bodily marks of a Great Being.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama bids all men welcome, is congenial, conciliatory, not supercilious, accessible to all, not backward in conversation.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama is honoured, held of weight, esteemed and venerated and revered by the four classes (of his followersÞthe brethren and sisters of the Order, laymen and lay women).

`Truly, Sirs, many gods and men believe in the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, in whatsoever village or town the Samaõa Gotama stays, there the non-humans do the humans no harm.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama as the head of an Order, of a school, as the teacher of a school, is the acknowledged chief of all the founders of sects. Whereas some Samaõas and Brahmans have gained a reputation by all sorts of insignificant matters, not so the Samaõa Gotama. His reputation comes from perfection in conduct and righteousness.

Truly, Sirs, the king of Magadhà, Seniya Bimbisàra, with his children and his wives, with his people, and his courtiers, has put his trust in the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, King Pasenadi of Kosala, with his children and his wives, with his people and his courtiers, has put his trust in the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, Pokkharasàdi the Brahman, with his children and his wives, with his people and his intimates, has put his trust in the Samaõa Gotama.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama is honoured, held of weight, esteemed, and venerated and revered alike by Seniya Bimbisàra, the king of Magadhà, by Pasenadi the king of Kosala, and by Pokkharasàdi the Brahman.

`Truly, Sirs, the Samaõa Gotama has now arrived at Campà, and is staying on the shores of the Gaggarà. Lake. But all Samaõas and Brahmans who come into our village borders are our guests. And guests we ought to esteem and honour, to venerate and revere. And as he is now so come, he ought to be so treated, as a guest.

`For each and all of these considerations it is not fitting that the Samaõa Gotama should call upon us, but rather does it behove us to call upon him. And so far only do I know the excellencies of the Samaõa Gotama, but these are not all of them, for his excellence is beyond measure.'

7. And when he had thus spoken, those Brahmans said to him: `The venerable Soõadaõóa declares the praises of the Samaõa Gotama on such wise, that were he to be dwelling even a hundred leagues from here, it would be enough to make a believing man go thither to call upon him, even had he to carry a bag (for the provisions for the journey) on his back. Let us then all go to call on the Samaõa Gotama together!'

So Soõadaõóa the Brahman went out to the Gaggarà Lake with a great company of Brahmans.

8. Now the following hesitation arose in Soõadaõóa's mind as he passed through the wood: `Were I to ask the Samaõa `Gotama a question, if he were to say: ßThe question ought not to be asked so, thus ought the question to be framed; " the company might thereupon speak of me with disrespect, saying: ßFoolish is this Soõadaõóa the Brahman, and inexpert. He is not even able to ask a question rightly.û But if they did so my reputation would decrease; and with my reputation my incomings would grow less, for what we have to enjoy, that depends on our reputation. But if the Samaõa Gotama were to put a question to me, I might not be able to gain his approval by my explanation of the problem. And if they were then to say to me: ßThe question ought not to be answered so; thus ought the problem to be explained; " the company might thereupon speak of me with disrespect, saying: ßFoolish is this Soõadaõóa the Brahman, and inexpert. He is not even able to satisfy the Samaõa Gotama by his explanation of the problem put.û But if they did so, my reputation would decrease; and with my reputation my incomings would grow less, for what we have to enjoy, that depends upon our reputation. But on the other hand if, having come so far, I should turn back without calling upon the Samaõa Gotama, then might the company speak disrespectfully of me, saying: ßFoolish is this Soõadaõóa the Brahman, and inexpert, though obstinate with pride, he is so afraid that he dare not call on the Samaõa Gotama. How can he turn back after having come so far?" But if they did so, my reputation would decrease; and with my reputation my incomings would grow less. For what we have to enjoy, that depends upon our reputation.'

9. So Soõadaõóa the Brahman went upto where the Blessed One was. And hen he had come there he exchanged with the Blessed One the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and took his seat on one side. And as to the Brahmans and householders of Campà, some of them bowed to the Blessed One and took their seats on one side; some of them exchanged with him the greetings and compliments of politeness and courtesy, and then took their seats on one side; some of them called out their name and family, and then took their seats on one side; and some of them took their seats on one side in silence.

10. Now as Soõadaõóa was seated there he was still filled with hesitation, thinking as before set out; and he added to himself: `Oh! would that the Samaõa Gotama would but ask me some question on my own subject, on the threefold Vedic lore. Verily, I should then be able to gain his approval by my exposition of the problem put!'

11. Now the Blessed One became aware in his own mind of the hesitation in the mind of Soõadaõóa, and he thought: `This Soõadaõóa is afflicted in his heart. I had better question him on his own doctrine.' And he said to him: `What are the things, Brahman, which the Brahmans say a man ought to have in order to be a Brahman, so that if he says: ßI am a Brahman, " he speaks accurately and does not become guilty of falsehood?'

12. Then Soõadaõóa thought: `What I wished and desired and had in my mind and hoped forÞthat the Samaõa Gotama should put to me some question on my own subject, on the threefold Vedic loreÞthat he now does. Oh! that I may be able to satisfy his heart with my exposition thereof!'

13. And drawing his body up erect, and looking round on the assembly, he said to the Blessed One: `The Brahmans, Gotama, declare him to be a Brahman who can accurately say " I am a Brahman " without being guilty of falsehood, who has five things. And what are the five? In the first place, Sir, a Brahman is well born on both sides, on the mother's side and on the father's side, of pure descent back through seven generations, with no slur put upon him, and no reproach, in respect of birth.

`Then he is a repeater (of the sacred words), knowing the mystic verses by heart, one who has mastered the Three Vedas, with the indices, the ritual, the phonology, and the exegesis (as a fourth), and the legends as a fifth, learned. in the phrases and in the grammar, versed in Lokàyata sophistry, and in the theory of the signs on the body of a great man.

`Then he is handsome, pleasant to look upon, inspiring trust, gifted with great beauty of complexion, fair in colour, fine in presence, stately to behold.

`Then he is virtuous, increased in virtue, gifted with virtue that has grown great.

`Then he is learned and wise, the first, or it may be the second, among those who hold out the ladle.'

14. `But of these five things, oh Brahman, is it possible to leave one out, and to declare the man who has the other four to be a Brahman, to be one who can accurately, and without falling into falsehood, claim to be a Brahman?'

`Yes, Gotama, that can be, done. We could leave out colour. For what does colour matter? If he have the other fourÞgood birth, technical training, virtue, and wisdom, as just set forth ÞBrahmans would still declare him to be a Brahman; and he could rightly, without danger of falsehood, claim to be one.'

15.' But of these four things, oh Brahman, is it possible to leave one out, and to declare the man who has the other three to be a Brahman, to be one who can rightly, and without falling into falsehood, claim to be a Brahman?'

`Yes, Gotama, that could be done. We could leave out the verses. For what do the verses matter? If he have the other threeÞgood birth, virtue, and wisdomÞBrahmans would still declare him to be a Brahman; and he could rightly, without danger of falsehood, claim to be one.'

16. `But of these three things, Brahman, is it possible to leave one out, and to declare the man who has the other two to be a Brahman, to be one who can accurately, and without falling into falsehood, claim to be a Brahman?'

`Yes, Gotama, that could be done. We could leave out birth. For what does birth matter? If he have the other two ¤ virtue and wisdom ¤ Brahmans would still declare him to be a Brahman; and he could rightly, without danger of falsehood, claim to be one.'

17. And when he had thus spoken the other Brahmans said to Soõadaõóa:

`Say not so venerable Soõadaõóa, say not so! He depreciates not only our colour, but he depreciates our verses and our birth. Verily the venerable Soõadaõóa is going over to the doctrine of the samaõa Gotama.'

18. Then the Blessed One said to those Brahmans: `If you, oh Brahmans, think that Soõadaõóa is unlearned, that he speaks unfittingly, that he is unwise, that he is unable to hold his own with me in this matter, let him keep silence, and do you discuss with me. But if you think him learned, able in speech, wise, able to hold his own, then do you keep silence, and let him discuss with me.'

19. And when he had thus spoken, Soõadaõóa the Brahman said to those Brahmans:

`Let not the venerable ones say so. Say not so, Sirs. I do not depreciate either our colour, nor our verses, nor our birth.'

20. Now at that time a young Brahman named Angaka, sister's son to Soõadaõóa the Brahman, was seated in that company. And Soõadaõóa said to those Brahmans: `Do the venerable ones see this Angaka, our nephew?'

`Yes, Sir, we see him.'

`Well! Angaka, Sirs, is handsome, pleasant to look upon, inspiring trust, gifted with great beauty of complexion, fair in, colour, fine in presence, stately to beholdÞnone in this assembly is like unto him in colour, save only the Samaõa Gotama.

`And Angaka, Sirs, is a repeater (of the sacred words), knowing the mystic verses by heart, one who has mastered the Three Vedas, with the indices, the ritual, the phonology, and the exegesis (as a fourth), and the legends as a fifth, learned in the phrases and the grammar, versed in Lokàyata (Nature-lore), and in the theory of the signs on the body of a great manÞI myself have taught him the verses.

`And Angaka, Sirs, is well born on both sides, on the mother's side and on the father's side, of pure descent back through seven generations, with no slur put upon him, and no reproach in respect of birthÞI myself know his forebears, on the mother's side and on the father's.

`If Angaka, Sirs, should kill. living things, and take what has not been given, and go the way of the adulterer, and speak lies, and drink strong drink, what then, Sirs, would his colour avail him? what the verses? what his birth?

`It is in so far, Sirs, as a Brahman is virtuous, increased in virtue, gifted with virtue that has grown great; in so far as he is learned and wise, the first, or it may be the second, among those who hold out the ladle, that Brahmans would declare him, as endowed with these two qualities, to be a Brahman, to be one who could rightly say " I am a Brahman" without falling into falsehood.'

21. `But of these two things, oh Brahman, is it possible to leave one out, and to declare the man who has the other to be a Brahman, to be one who can rightly, and without falling into falsehood, claim to be a, Brahman?'

Not that, Gotama! For wisdom, oh Gotama, is purified by uprightness, and uprightness is purified by wisdom. Where there is uprightness, wisdom is there, and where there is wisdom, uprightness is there. To the upright there is wisdom, to the wise there is uprightness, and wisdom and goodness are declared to be the best thing in the world. Just, oh Gotama, as one might wash hand with hand, or foot with foot, just even so, oh Gotama, is wisdom purified by uprightness, and uprightness is purified by wisdom. Where there is uprightness, wisdom is there, and where there is wisdom, uprightness is there. To the upright, there is wisdom, to the wise there is uprightness, and wisdom and goodness are declared to be the best thing in the world.'

22. `That is just so, oh Brahman. And I, too, say the same. But what, then, is that uprightness and what that wisdom?'

`We only know, oh Gotama, the general statement in this matter. May the venerable Gotama be pleased to explain the meaning of the phrase.'

`Well then, oh Brahman give ear, and pay earnest attention, and I will speak.'

23.' Very well, Sir,' said Soõadaõóa in assent to the Blessed One. And the Blessed One said:

`This also, oh Brahman, is that uprightness' (sãla).

`This, oh Brahman, is that wisdom.'

24. When he had thus spoken, Soõadaõóa the Brahman, said to the Blessed One:

`Most excellent, oh Gotama (are the words of thy mouth), most excellent! Just as if a man were to set up that which has been thrown down, or were to reveal that which has been hidden away, or were to point out the right road to him who has gone astray, or were to bring a light into the darkness so that those who had eyes could see external formsÞjust even so has the truth been made known to me, in many a figure, by the venerable Gotama. I, even I, betake myself to the venerable Gotama as my guide, to the truth, and to the Order. And may the venerable Gotama accept me as a disciple, as one who, from this day forth, as long as life endures, has taken him as his guide. And may the venerable Gotama grant me the favour of taking his tomorrow's meal with me, and also the members of the Order with him.'

Then the Blessed One signified, by silence, his consent. And Soõadaõóa, on seeing that he had done so, arose from his seat and bowed down before the Blessed One, and walking round him with his right hand towards him, departed thence. And at early dawn he made ready at his house sweet food, both hard and soft, and had the time announced to the Blessed One: `It is time, oh Gotama, and the meal is ready.'

25. Then the Blessed One, who had dressed in the early morning, put on his outer robe, and taking his bowl with him, went with the brethren to Soõadaõóa's house, and sat down on the seat prepared for him. And Soõadaõóa the Brahman satisfied the Blessed One, and the brethren, with his own hand, with sweet food, both hard and soft, until they refused any more. And when the Blessed One had finished his meal, and cleansed the bowl and his hands, Soõadaõóa took a low seat, and sat down beside him, and said:

26. `If, oh Gotama, after I have entered the assembly, I should rise from my seat to bow down before the venerable Gotama, then the assembly would find fault with me. Now he with whom the assembly should find fault, his reputation would grow less; and he who should lose his reputation, his income would grow less. For that which we have to enjoy, that depends upon our reputation. If then, when I am seated in the assembly, I stretch forth my joined palms in salutation, let the venerable Gotama accept that from me as a rising up from my seat. And if when I am seated in the assembly I take off my turban, let the venerable Gotama accept that from me as a salutation with my head. So if, when I am in my chariot, I were to get down from the chariot to salute the venerable Gotama, the surrounders would find fault with me. If, then, when mounted on my chariot, I bend down low the staff of my goad, let the venerable Gotama accept that from me as if I had got down. And if, when mounted on my chariot, I should wave my hand, let the venerable Gotama accept that from me as if I had bowed low in salutation!'

27. Then the Blessed One instructed and roused and incited and gladdened Soõadaõóa the Brahman with religious discourse, and then rose from his seat and departed thence.

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