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Tevigga Sutta

Thus have I heard:

At one time when the Blessed One was journeying through Kosala with a great company of brethren, about five hundred, he came to the Brahman village of Manasakata.

At that time many distinguished and wealthy Brahmans were living at Manasakata. Among them were two young men, Vasettha and Bharadvaga. One day when they were taking exercise after their bath, walking up and down in thoughtful mood, they discussed which was the true path to union with Brahma and which the false. The young Brahman Vasettha spoke thus: "I think that the path that has been announced by the Brahman Pokkarasati is the straight path, the direct way which leads him who acts according to it into a state of union with Brahma."

The young Brahman Bharadvaga said: "I think the path announced by the Brahman Tarukkha is the straight path, the direct way which leads him who acts according to it into a state of union with Brahma." But neither was able to convince the other. Then the young Brahman Vasettha said to the young Brahman Bharadvaga: "There is a Samana named Gotami of the Saka clan who left them to adopt a religious life. He is now staying in the Mango Grove nearby. This venerable Gotama is of high reputation, he is even said to be a fully enlightened one, blessed and worthy, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the world, unsurpassed as a guide to erring mortals, a teacher of gods and men, a blessed Buddha. Come, Bharadvaga, let us go to the place where this Samana Gotama is staying, let us ask him and what he declares, let us bear in mind." "Very well, assented Bharadvaga."

Then the young Brahman Vasettha and the young Brahman Bharadvaga went on to the place where the Blessed One was staying. When they had come there they exchanged with the Blessed One greetings and compliments of friendship and civility, and sat down beside him. When they were thus seated, the young Brahman said to the Blessed One:

"As we were taking exercise, walking up and down, there sprang up a conversation between us as to which was the true path to union with Brahma. I said it was the one announced by the Brahman Pokkarasati; Bharadvaga, you said that it was the way taught by the Brahman Tarukkha. Not being able to agree, we decided to refer the dispute to you."

Then the Blessed One said to the two Brahmans: "Vasettha, you said that it was the path taught by the Brahman Pokkarasati; Bharadvaga you said that it was the way taught by the Brahman Tarukkha. Wherein, then, Vasettha is there a strife, a dispute, a difference of opinion between you?"

Vasettha replied: "Various Brahmans, Gotama, teach various paths to union with Brahma, is one true and another false, or are all saving paths? Are they all paths, which will lead one who acts according to them into a state of union with Brahma? Is it like the different roads that enter a village and that all meet in the center? Is it in that sense that all the various teachings of the Brahmans are to be accepted? Are they all saving paths? Are they all paths that leads one who acts according to them into a state of union with Brahma."

The Blessed one replied: "Vasettha, do you think that all these various paths lead aright?"

"I think so, Gotama."

"Would you be willing to assert that they all lead aright, Vasettha?"

"So I say, Gotama."

"But then, Vasettha, is there a single one of the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas who have ever seen Brahma face to face?"

"No indeed, Gotama."

"But, is there then, Vasettha, a single one of the pupils of the teachers of the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas who have seen Brahma face to face?"

"No, indeed, Gotama."

"But, Vasettha, is there a single one of the ancestors of all these Brahmans, back to the seventh generation, who has seen Brahma face to face?"

"No, indeed, Gotama."

"Well, then, Vasettha, there are the ancient Rishis of the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas, the authors of the verses, the utterers of the verses, whose ancient form of words are still chanted, uttered, or composed by the Brahmans of today, intoning and reciting them, as has been done for ages, did they ever speak thus, saying: ‘We know it, we have seen it, where Brahma is, whence Brahma came, whither Brahma goes?’"

"Not so, Gotama."

"Then you assert, Vasettha, that one of the Brahmans, nor their teachers, nor their teachers pupils, nor their ancestors back for seven generations, has ever seen Brahma face to face. And that even the Rishis of old, the authors and utterers of the ancient form of words which the Brahmans of today so carefully intone and recite precisely as they have been handed down, that even they did not pretend to know or to have seen where or whence or whither Brahma is. And yet, Vasettha, these Brahmans pretend that they can show the path to union with that which they have not seen, and which they know not, saying: this is the straight path, this is the direct way, which leads him, who acts according to it, into a state of union with Brahma. Now what think you, Vasettha, does it not follow that this being so, that the talk of these Brahmans, versed though they be in the three Vedas, is foolish talk."

"Yes, Gotama, this being so, it follows that the talk of these Brahmans, versed in the three Vedas is foolish talk."

"Vasettha, it is like a string of blind men clinging to one another, the foremost cannot see the way, neither can the middle one, nor the hindmost. Even so, methinks, Vasettha that the talk of the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas is but blind talk. The first sees not, the middle sees not, the hindmost sees not. The talk, then, of these Brahmans turns out to be ridicules, mere words, vain and empty.

"Just, Vasettha, as if a man should say, how I long for, how I love the most beautiful woman in this land! And people should ask him, well, good friend, this most beautiful woman in the land whom you thus love and long for, do you know whether she is a noble lady or a Brahman woman, or of the Trader caste, or a sudra? But when so asked he should answer, no, I do not know. And when people should ask him, Well, good friend this most beautiful woman in all the land whom you so love and long for, do you know her name, or her family name, whether she is tall or short, dark or of medium complexion, black or fair, or in what village or town or city she dwells? But when so asked, he should answer, I do not know. And when people should say to him, so then, good friend, whom you know not, neither have seen, how do you love and long for her? And when so asked, he should answer nevertheless, I love her. Now what think you, Vasettha? Would it not turn out, that being so, that the talk of that man was foolish talk?"

"In sooth, Gotama, it would turn out, that being so, that the talk of that man was foolish talk."

"And just even so, Vasettha, though you say that the Brahmans and all connected with them, have never seen Brahma, now what think you, Vasettha, does it not follow that this being so, the talk of the Brahmans versed though they be in the three Vedas, is foolish talk?"

"In sooth, Gotama, that being so, it follows that the talk of the Brahmans versed in the Vedas, is foolish talk."

"Very good, Vasettha. Verily then, Vasettha, that Brahmans versed in the three Vedas should be able to show the way to a state of union with that which they do not know, neither have seen—such a condition of things has no existence.

"Just as if a man should make a stairway into a place where four roads met, Vasettha, and people should say to him, well, good friend, where are you going to build your mansion for which you are building this stairway? Will it face the east, the south, or the west, or the north? How large will it be? Large or small or of medium size? And when so asked he should answer, I do not know. And people should say to him, but then, good friend, are you making a stairway and do have any idea in your mind as to what the mansion is to be like? And when so asked, he should answer, yes. Now what think you, Vasettha, would it not turn out, that being so, that the thing which the man was doing was a foolish thing to do?"

"In sooth, Gotama, that being so, it would be a foolish thing he was doing."

"And just even so, Vasettha. The way to union with Brahma, which the Brahmans are proclaiming without having seen Brahma or knowing anything about him is just as foolish. Is it not so?"

"In sooth, Gotama, that being so, it follows that the talk of the Brahmans is foolish."

"Very good, Vasettha, for these Brahmans to proclaim a way to union with Brahma which they do not know, neither have seen—such a condition of things has no existence.

"Again, Vasettha. If this river Akiravati were full of water even to the brim and overflowing, and a man should come up and want to cross over because he had business on the other side, and he standing on this bank should say, come hither, O further bank! Come over to this side! Now what think you, Vasettha, would the further bank of the river, because of the man’s invoking and praying and hoping and praising, come over to this side?"

"Certainly not, Gotama."

"In just the same way, Vasettha, do the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas, omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man a Brahman and adopting the practice of those qualities which really make men not Brahmans—say thus, Indra, we call upon thee, Soma, we call upon thee, Varuna, we call upon thee, Isana, we call upon thee, Pragapati, we cal upon thee, Brahma, we call upon thee, Mahiddhi, we call upon thee, Yama, we call upon thee! Verily, Vasettha, that those Brahmans versed in the three Vedas, but omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and adopting the practice of those qualities which really make men not Brahmans—that they, by reason of their invoking and praying and hoping and praising, should, after death and when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma—verily such a condition of things has no existence.

"Just, Vasettha, as if this river, Akiravati were full even to the brim and overflowing, and a man with business on the other side should come up and want to cross over. Now, suppose this man was bound with a heavy chain, his arms behind his back, what think you, Vasettha, would that man be able to get over the river Akiravati to the further bank?"

"Certainly not, Gotama."

"In the same way, Vasettha, there are five things leading to desire and lust which are called in the discipline of the Noble Path a ‘chain’ and a ‘bond.’ What are the five? Forms perceptible to the eye—desirable, agreeable, pleasant, attractive forms—that cause delight and are accompanied by desire and lust. Sounds of the same kind perceptible to the ear; odors of the same kind perceptible to the nose, tastes of the same kind that are perceptible to the tongue; substances of the same kind perceptible to the body by touch. These five things predisposing to passion are called in the discipline of the Noble One, a ‘chain’ and a ‘bond’. And these five things predisposing to lust, Vasettha, do the Brahmas versed in the three Vedas cling to; they are infatuated by them, guilty of them, see not the danger of them, know not how unreliable they are, and so enjoy them.

"And verily, Vasettha, that Brahmans versed in the three Vedas, but omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and adopting the practice of those qualities which really make men not Brahmans—clinging to those five things that predispose to passion, infatuated by them, guilty of them, seeing not their danger, knowing not their unreliability, and so enjoying them—that these Brahmans after death on the dissolution of the body, become united with Brahma—such a condition of things has no existence.

"Again Vasettha, if this river Akiravati were full even to the brim and overflowing, and a man with business on the other side should come up and want to cross over, and suppose he should lie down and cover himself up even to his head, and go to sleep. What do you think, Vasettha? Would that man be able to get over from this bank of the river to the further bank?"

"Certainly not, Gotama."

"Vasettha, in the discipline of the Noble Path, there are these five hindrances, which are called, ‘veils,’ ‘hindrances,’ ‘obstacles,’ and ‘entanglements.’ What are the five? The Hindrance of Lustful Desire, the Hindrance of Malice, the Hindrance of Sloth and Idleness, the Hindrance of Pride and Self Righteousness, the Hindrance of Doubt. These are the five hindrances that in the discipline of the Noble Path are called veils and hindrances and obstacles and entanglements. Now with these five hindrances, Vasettha, the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas are veiled, hindered, obstructed, and entangled. And verily, Vasettha, the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas but omitting the practice of those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and adopting the practice of those qualities which make men non-Brahmans—veils, hindered, obstructed, entangled—that these Brahmans after death on the dissolution of the body, become united to Brahma—such a condition of things has no existence.

"Now, Vasettha, when you have been among Brahmans, listening as they talked among themselves, learners and teachers and those aged and well stricken in years, what have you learned from them and of them? Is Brahma in possession of wives and wealth, or is he not?"

"He is not, Gotama."

"Is his mind full of anger, or is it free from anger?"

"Free from anger, Gotama."

"Is his mind full of malice of free from malice?"

"Free from malice, Gotama."

"Is his mind depraved, or pure?"

"It is pure, Gotama."

"Has he self mastery, or has he not?"

"He has, Gotama."

"Now, what think you, Vasettha? Are the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas, are they in possession of wives and wealth, or are they not?"

"They are, Gotama."

"Had they anger in their hearts?"

"They have, Gotama."

"Do they bear malice, or do they not?"

"They do, Gotama."

"Are they pure in heart or are they not?"

"They are not, Gotama."

"Then you say, Vasettha, that the Brahmans are in possession of wives and wealth, and that Brahma is not. Can there be agreement and likeness between the Brahmans with their wives and property and Brahma who has none of these things?"

"Certainly not, Gotama."

"Very good, Vasettha. But verily, that these Brahmans versed in the three Vedas who live married and wealthy should, after death when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma who has none of these things—such a condition of things has no existence.

"You say, Vasettha, that the Brahmans bear anger and malice in their hearts, and are sinful and uncontrolled, while Brahma is free from anger and malice, and is sinless, and has self mastery. How can there be concord and likeness between Brahmans and Brahma?"

"There cannot be, Gotama."

"Very good, Vasettha. That these Brahmans versed in the Vedas and yet bearing anger and malice in their hearts, sinful and uncontrolled, should after death, when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma, who is free from anger and malice, sinless, and has self mastery—such a conditions of things has no existence.

"So, Vasettha, the Brahmans, versed though they be in the three Vedas, while they rest in confidence are really sinking. They think they are crossing over into some happier land, but so sinking they can only arrive at despair. Therefore, the threefold knowledge of the Brahmans and the Vedas is a waterless desert, their knowledge a pathless waste, their knowledge, their destruction.

When he had finished speaking, the young Brahman Vasettha said to the Blessed One: "It has been told me, Gotama, that the Samana Gotama knows the way to a state of union with Brahma. Can you teach us?"

"What do you think, Vasettha, is the village Manasakata near from this place or far from it?"

"Manasakata is not far from here, it is quite near."

"Vasettha, supposing there was a man who was born in this village of Manasakata and who never to this time had left it, and people should ask him the way to Manasakata. Would that man born and brought up there be in any doubt or uncertainty about the way?"

"Certainly not, Gotama. He would be perfectly familiar with every road leading to his native village."

"That man, Vasettha, born and brought up in Manasakata might, if he were asked to Manasakata, fall into doubt and difficulty, but with the Tathágata, when asked about the path that leads to the world of Brahma there can be neither doubt nor difficulty. For Brahma, the world of Brahma, the path, which leads to the world of Brahma, I fully know. Yes, I know it, even as one who was born there and lives there."

When he had thus spoken, Vasettha the young Brahman, said to the Blessed One: "So it has been told me, Gotama, even that the Samana Gotama knows the way to a state of union with Brahma. It is well! Let the venerable Gotama be pleased to show us the way to a state of union with Brahma; let the venerable Gotama save the Brahman race."

"Listen then, Vasettha, and I will speak."

"So be it, Lord."

Then the Blessed One spoke and said: "Know, Vasettha, that from time to time a Tathágata is born into the world, a fully enlightened one, blessed and worthy, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to erring mortals, a teacher of gods and men, a Blessed Buddha. He thoroughly understands this universe, as those he saw it face to face, the world below with all its people, the worlds above, of Mara and of Brahma—and all creatures, Samanas and Brahmans, gods and men, and from that knowledge makes it known and teaches others. The Truth he proclaims in both its letter and in its spirit, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation. A higher life he makes known in all of its purity and in all of its perfect-ness.

"A householder or one of his sons, or a man of inferior birth in any Caste, listens to the truth he proclaims. On hearing the truth, faith in the Tathágata is awakened and when that faith is strengthened he thus considers within himself: full of hindrance is the household life, a path defiled by passion, free as the air is the life of him who has renounced all worldly things. How difficult it is for the man who dwells at home to live the higher life in all its fullness, in all its purity, in all its perfection. Let me then, shave my head and face, let me cloth myself in the garment of a mendicant and go forth from a household life into the homeless life. Then before long, forsaking his portion of the family property, be it great or be it small; forsaking his relatives, be they many or few, he shaves his head, clothes himself in the mendicant’s robe, and goes forth from the household life into the homeless state.

"When he has thus become a recluse, he passes a life of restraint according to the rules of the Patimokkha; uprightness is his delight, he sees danger in the least of those things he should avoid; he adopts and trains himself in the Precepts; he encompasses himself with purity in word and deed; he sustains his life by means that are unselfish and kind; good is his conduct, guarded the door of his senses, mindful and self possessed, he is altogether happy.

"Now, Vasettha, wherein is his conduct good? Herein, O Vasettha, putting away all unkindness to sentient beings, he abstains from destroying life. He lays aside the cudgel and sword and, full of humility and pity, he is compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life. Putting away the desire for things, which are not his, he abstains from taking anything that is not freely given him. He has only what has been given him, therewith he is content, and he passes his life in honesty and in purity of heart. Putting away all thoughts of lust, he lives a life of chastity and purity. Putting away all thoughts of deceiving, he abstains from prevarications; he speaks truthfully, from the truth he never swerves; faithful and trustworthy, he never injures his fellow men by deceit.

"Putting away all judgment of others, he abstains from slander, what he hears he repeats not elsewhere to raise a quarrel; what he hears elsewhere he repeats not here to raise a quarrel. Thus he brings together those who are divided, he encourages those who are friendly; he is a peacemaker, a lover of peace, impassioned for peace, a speaker of words that make for peace. Putting away all bitter thoughts, he abstains from harsh language. Whatever is humane, pleasant to the ear, kindly, reaching to the heart, urbane, acceptable to the people, appreciated by the people—such are the words he speaks. Putting away all foolish thoughts, he abstains from vain conversation. He speaks in season; he speaks truthfully, consistently, wisely, with restraint. He speaks only when it is appropriate for him to speak, words that are profitable, well sustained, well defined, full of wisdom.

Besides being kind to all animate life, he refrains from injuring insects or even herbs. He takes but one meal a day; abstaining from food at all other times. He abstains from attending dances, concerts, and theatrical shows. He abstains from wearing, using or adorning himself with garlands, scents and ointments, he abstains from accumulating silver or gold, from coveting great harvests, herds of cattle; he abstains from the getting of maids and women attendants, slaves either men or women; he abstains from gathering herds of sheep or goats, fowls or swine, elephants, cattle, horses and mares. He abstains from the getting of fields and lands.

He refrains from accepting commissions to carry messages, he refrains from all buying and selling, he abstains from the use of trade deceptions, false weights, alloyed metals, and false measures. He abstains from all bribery, cheating, fraud and crooked ways. He refrains from all banditry, killing or maiming, abducting, highway robbery, plundering villages, or obtaining money by threats of violence. These are the kinds of goodness he practices.

"The true Samana he who is seeking the way to the Brahma world, lets his mind pervade all quarters of the world with thoughts of love; first one quarter and then the second quarter, then the third quarter and so the fourth quarter. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with thoughts of love, far reaching, beyond measure, all embracing.

"Just, Vasettha, as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard—and that without difficulty—in all four directions; even so of all things that have form or life, there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside; he regards them all with the mind set free and filled with deep felt love. Verily, Vasettha, this is the way to a state of union with Brahma, he lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of pity, sympathy, and equanimity, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with heart of pity, sympathy and equanimity, far reaching, beyond measure, all embracing.

"Just, Vasettha, as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard—and that without difficulty—in all four directions, even so of all things that have form or life, there is not one that he passes by or leaves aside, but he regards them all with mind set free and filled with deep felt pity, sympathy, and equanimity. Verily, Vasettha, this is the way to a state of union Brahma.

"Now, what do you think, Vasettha, will the Bhikkhu who lives thus be in possession of women and wealth, or will he not?"
"He will not, Gotama."

"Will he be full of anger, or will he be free from anger?"

"He will be free from anger, Gotama."

"Will his mind be full of malice, or free from malice?"

"Free from malice, Gotama."

"Will his mind be lustful or pure?"

"It will be pure, Gotama."

"Will he have self mastery, or will he not?"

"Surely he will, Gotama."

Vasettha, you say that the Bhikkhu is free from household cares and that Brahma is free from household cares. Is there then agreement and likeness between the Bhikkhu and Brahma?"

"There is, Gotama."

"Very good, Vasettha! Then in sooth, that the Bhikkhu who is free from household cares, should, after death, when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma, who is the same—such a condition of things is in every way, possible.

"And as you say, Vasettha, that the Bhikkhu is free from anger, free from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself; and that Brahma is likewise, free from anger, free from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself. Then in sooth, Vasettha, that the Bhikkhu who is free from anger, free from malice, pure in mind, and master of himself should after death, when the body is dissolved, become united with Brahma, who is the same—such a condition of things is in every way possible."

When the Blessed One had thus spoken, the two young Brahmans, Vasettha and Bharadvaga addressed the Blessed One, saying:

"Most excellent, Lord, are the words of your mouth, most excellent! It is just as if a man were to set up what was thrown down, or to reveal that which was hidden away, or were to point out the right road to him who has gone stray, or were to bring a lamp into the darkness so that those who have eyes can see: just even so, Lord, has the truth been made known to us by the Blessed One. And we betake ourselves, Lord, to the Blessed One, to the Truth, and to the Brotherhood, as our refuge. May the Blessed One accept us as disciples, as true believers, from this day forth, as long as life shall last.

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