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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Milindapanha >> Book III: The Removal of Difficulties - Vimatikkhedana Panha Chapter 4


Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids


1. The king said: 'Are the five Âyatanas, Nâgasena, (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body,) produced by various actions, or by one action?' (that is, the result of various Karmas, or of one Karma.)

'By various actions, not by one.'

'Give me an illustration.'

'Now, what do you think, O king? If I were to sow in one field five kinds of seed, would the produce of those various seeds be of different kinds?'

'Yes, certainly.'

'Well, just so with respect to the production of Âyatanas.'

'Very good, Nâgasena !'

2. The king said: 'Why is it, Nâgasena, that all men are not alike, but some are short-lived and some long-lived, some sickly and some healthy, some ugly and some beautiful, some without influence and some of great power, some poor and some wealthy, some low born and some high born, some stupid and somewise?'

The Elder replied: 'Why is it that all vegetables are not alike, but some sour, and some salt, and some pungent, and some acid, and some astringent, and some sweet?'

'I fancy, Sir, it is because they come from different kinds of seeds.'

'And just so, great king, are the differences you have mentioned among men to be explained. For it has been said by the Blessed One: "Beings, O brahmin, have each their own Karma, are inheritors of Karma, belong to the tribe of their Karma, are relatives by Karma, have each their Karma as their protecting overlord. It is Karma that divides them up into low and high and the like divisions ."'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

3. The king said: 'You told me, Nâgasena, that your renunciation was to the end that this sorrow might perish away, and no further sorrow might spring up .'

'Yes, that is so.'

'But is that renunciation brought about by previous effort, or to be striven after now, in this present time?'

The Elder replied: 'Effort is now concerned with what still remains to be done, former effort has accomplished what it had to do.'

'Give me an illustration .'

'Now what do you think, O king? Is it when you feel thirst that you would set to work to have a well or an artificial lake dug out, with the intention of getting some water to drink?'

'Certainly not, Sir.'

'Just so, great king, is effort concerned now with what still remains to be done, former effort has accomplished what it had to do.'

'Give me a further illustration.'

'Now what do you think, O king? Is it when you feel hungry that you set to work to have fields ploughed and seed planted and crops reaped with the intention of getting some food to eat?'

'Certainly not, Sir.'

'Just so, great king, is effort concerned now with what still remains to be done, former effort has accomplished what it had to do.'

'Give me a further illustration.'

'Now what do you think, O king? Is it when the battle is set in array against you that you set to work to have a moat dug, and a rampart put up, and a watch tower built, and a stronghold formed, and stores of food collected? Is it then that you would have yourself taught the management of elephants, or horsemanship, or the use of the chariot and the bow, or the art of fencing?'

'Certainly not, Sir.'

'Just so, great king, is effort concerned now with what still remains to be done, former effort has accomplished what it had to do. For it has been thus said, O king, by the Blessed One:

"Betimes let each wise man work out That which he sees to be his weal! Not with the carter's mode of thought, but firm Let him, with resolution, step right out. As a carter who has left the smooth high road, And turned to byways rough, broods ill at ease -- (Like him who hazards all at dice, and fails)-- So the weak mind who still neglects the good, And follows after evil, grieves at heart, When fallen into the power of death, as he, The ruined gamester, in his hour of need ."

'Very good, Nâgasena.

4. The king said: 'You (Buddhists ) say thus: "The fire of purgatory is very much more fierce than an ordinary fire. A small stone cast into an ordinary fire may smoke for a day without being destroyed; but a rock as big as an upper chamber cast into the furnace of purgatory would be that moment destroyed." That is a statement I cannot believe. Now, on the other hand you say thus: "Whatsoever beings are there reborn, though they

burn for hundreds of thousands of years in purgatory, yet are they not destroyed." That too is a statement 1 don't believe.'

The Elder said: 'Now what do you think, O king? Do not the females of sharks and crocodiles and tortoises and peacocks and pigeons eat hard bits of stone and gravel?'

'Yes, Sir. They do.'

'What then? Are these hard things, when they have got into the stomach, into the interior of the abdomen, destroyed?'

'Yes, they are destroyed.'

'And the embryo that may be inside the same animals,--is that too destroyed?'

'Certainly not.'

'But why not.'

'I suppose, Sir, it escapes destruction by the influence of Karma.'

'Just so, great king, it is through the influence of Karma that beings, though they have been for thousands of years in purgatory, are not destroyed. If they are reborn there, there do they grow up, and there do they die. For this, O king, has been declared by the Blessed One: "He does not die until that evil Karma is exhausted ."

'Give me a further illustration.'

'Now what do you think, O king? Do not the females of lions and tigers and panthers and dogs eat hard bits of bone and flesh?'

'Yes, they eat such things.'

'What then? are such hard things, when they have got into the stomach, into the interior of the abdomen, destroyed?'

'Yes, they are destroyed?'

'And the embryo that may be inside the same animals,--is that too destroyed?'

'Certainly not.'

'But why not?'

'I suppose, Sir, it escapes destruction by the influence of Karma.'

'Just so, great king, it is by the influence of Karma that beings in purgatory, though they burn for thousands of years, are not destroyed.'

'Give me a further illustration.'

'Now what do you think, O king? Do not the tender women--wives of the Yonakas, and nobles, and brahmins, and householders--eat hard cakes and meat.

'Yes, they eat such hard things.'

'And when those hard things have got into the stomach, into the interior of the abdomen, are not they destroyed?'

'Yes, they are.'

'But the children in their womb,--are they destroyed?'

'Certainly not.'

'And why not?'

'I suppose, Sir, they escape destruction by the influence of Karma?'

'Just so, great king, it is through the influence

of Karma that beings in purgatory, though they burn for thousands of years, yet are they not destroyed, If they are reborn there, there do they grow up, and there do they die. For this, O king, has been declared by the Blessed One: "He does not die until that evil Karma is exhausted."'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

5. The king said: 'Venerable Nâgasena, your people say that the world rests on water, the water on air, the air on space . This saying also I cannot believe.'

Then the Elder brought water in a regulation water-pot , and convinced king Milinda, saying: 'As this water is supported by the atmosphere, so is that water supported by air.'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

6. The king said: 'Is cessation Nirvâna ?

'Yes, your Majesty' .

'How is, that, Nâgasena?'

'All foolish individuals, O king, take pleasure in

the senses and in the objects of sense, find delight in them, continue to cleave to them . Hence are they carried down by that flood (of human passions), they are not set free from birth, old age, and death, from grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair,--they are not set free, I say, from suffering. But the wise, O king, the disciple of the noble ones, neither takes pleasure in those things, nor finds delight in them, nor continues cleaving to them. And inasmuch as he does not, in him craving ceases, and by the cessation of craving grasping ceases, and by the cessation of grasping becoming ceases, and when becoming has ceased birth ceases, and with its cessation birth, old age, and death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair cease to exist. Thus is the cessation brought about the end of all that aggregation of pain. Thus is it that cessation is Nirvâna.'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

7. The king said: 'Venerable Nâgasena, do all men receive Nirvâna?'

'Not all, O king. But he who walks righteously, who admits those conditions which ought to be admitted, perceives clearly those conditions which ought to be clearly perceived, abandons those conditions which ought to be abandoned, practises himself in those conditions which ought to be practised, realises those conditions which ought to be realised--he receives Nirvâna.'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

8. The king said: 'Venerable Nâgasena, does he who does not receive Nirvâna know how happy a state Nirvâna is ?'

'Yes, he knows it.'

'But how can he know that without his receiving Nirvâna?'

'Now what do you think, O king? Do those whose hands and feet have not been cut off know how sad a thing it is to have them cut off?'

'Yes, Sir, that they know.'

'But how do they know it?'

'Well, by hearing the sound of the lamentation of those whose hands and feet have been cut off, they know it.'

'Just so, great king, it is by hearing the glad words of those who have seen Nirvâna, that they who have not received it know how happy a state it is.'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'

Here ends the Fourth Chapter.

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