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Vajjiya Sutta

About Vajjiya

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Campa, on the shore of Gaggara Lake. Then Vajjiya Mahita the householder left Campa in the middle of the day to see the Blessed One, but the thought then occurred to him, "Now is not the right time to see the Blessed One, for he is in seclusion. And it is not the right time to see the monks who develop the mind, for they are in seclusion. What if I were to visit the park of the wanderers of other persuasions?" Then he headed to the park of the wanderers of other persuasions were staying.

Now on that occasion the wanderers of other persuasions had come together in a gathering and were sitting, discussing many kinds of bestial topics, making a great noise & racket. They saw Vajjiya Mahita the householder coming from afar, and on seeing him, hushed one another: "Be quiet, good sirs. Don't make any noise. Here comes Vajjiya Mahita the householder, a disciple of the contemplative Gotama. He is one of those disciples of the contemplative Gotama, clad in white, who lives in Savatthi. These people are fond of quietude and speak in praise of quietude. Maybe, if he perceives our group as quiet, he will consider it worth his while to come our way." So the wanderers fell silent.

Then Vajjiya Mahita the householder went to where the wanderers of other persuasions were staying. On arrival he greeted them courteously. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the wanderers said to him, "Is it true, householder, that the contemplative Gotama criticizes all asceticism, that he categorically denounces & disparages all ascetics who live the rough life?"

"No, venerable sirs, the Blessed One does not criticize all asceticism, nor does he categorically denounce or disparage all ascetics who live the rough life. The Blessed One criticizes what should be criticized, and praises what should be praised. Criticizing what should be criticized, praising what should be praised, the Blessed One is one who speaks making distinctions, not one who speaks categorically on this matter."

When this was said, one of the wanderers said to Vajjiya Mahita the householder, "Now wait a minute, householder. This contemplative Gotama whom you praise is a nihilist, one who doesn't declare anything."

"I tell you, venerable sirs, that the Blessed One righteously declares that 'This is skillful.' He declares that 'This is unskillful.' Declaring that 'This is skillful' and 'This is unskillful,' he is one who has declared [a teaching]. He is not a nihilist, one who doesn't declare anything."

When this was said, the wanderers fell silent, abashed, sitting with their shoulders drooping, their heads down, brooding, at a loss for words. Vajjiya Mahita the householder, perceiving that the wanderers were silent, abashed... at a loss for words, got up & went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he told the Blessed One the entirety of his conversation with the wanderers.

[The Blessed One said:] "Well done, householder. Well done. That is how you should periodically & righteously refute those foolish men. I don't say that all asceticism is to be pursued, nor do I say that all asceticism is not to be pursued. I don't say that all observances should be observed, nor do I day that all observances should not be observed. I don't say that all exertions are to be pursued, nor do I say that all exertions are not to be pursued. I don't say that all forfeiture should be forfeited, nor do I say that all forfeiture should not be forfeited. I don't say that all release is to be used for release, nor do I say that all release is not to be used for release.

"If, when an asceticism is pursued, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities wane, then I tell you that that sort of asceticism is not to be pursued. But if, when an asceticism is pursued, unskillful qualities wane and skillful qualities grow, then I tell you that that sort of asceticism is to be pursued.

"If, when an observance is observed, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities wane, then I tell you that that sort of observance is not to be observed. But if, when an observance is observed, unskillful qualities wane and skillful qualities grow, then I tell you that that sort of observance is to be observed.

"If, when an exertion is pursued... a forfeiture is forfeited...

"If, when a release is used for release, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities wane, then I tell you that that sort of release is not to be used for release. But if, when a release is used for release, unskillful qualities wane and skillful qualities grow, then I tell you that that sort of release is to be used for release."

When Vajjiya Mahita the householder had been instructed, urged, roused & encouraged by the Blessed One with a talk on Dhamma, he got up from his seat and, having bowed down to the Blessed One, left, keeping the Blessed One on his right side. Not long afterward, the Blessed One addressed the monks: "Monks, even a monk who has long penetrated the Dhamma in this Doctrine & Discipline would do well periodically & righteously to refute the wanderers of other persuasions in just the way Vajjiya Mahita the householder has done."



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