Peace is the answer  
Loading
home
English translation of
Holy Digha Nikaya

English translation by T. W. Rhys Davids
taken from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/dob/

Sonadanda Sutta

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

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

2.
Now the Brahmans and householders of Kampâ heard the news: 'They say that the Samana Gotama of the Sâkya clan, who went out from a Sâkya family to adopt the religious life, has now arrived, with a great company of the brethren at Kampâ, and is staying there on the shore of the Gaggarâ 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 Mâras, 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 cloth 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 Kampâ began to leave Kampâ in companies and in bands from each district, so that they could be counted, to go to the Gaggarâ Lake.

3.
Now at that time Sonadanda 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 Kampâ going forth like this towards the Gaggarâ Lake?'

Then the doorkeeper told him the news. And he said: 'Then, good doorkeeper, go to the Brahmans and householders of Kampâ, and say to them: "Sonadanda the Brahman desires them to wait. He will himself come to see the Samana Gotama."'

'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 Kampâ for some business or other. And when they heard that Sonadanda was intending to visit the Samana Gotama, they went to Sonadanda, and asked whether that was so.

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

'Let not the venerable Sonadanda do that. It is not fitting for him to do so. If it were the venerable Sonadanda who went to call upon him, then the venerable Sonadanda's reputation would decrease and the Samana 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 Sonadanda 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 Lokâyata (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 Bimbisâra, the king of Magadhâ--

That he was honoured, held of weight, esteemed worthy, venerated and revered by Pokkharasâdi, the Brahman--

That he dwelt at Kampâ, a place teeming with life, with much grassland and woodland and corn, on a royal fief granted him by Seniya Bimbisâra, the king of Magadhâ, 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, Sonadanda the Brahman, should call upon the Samana Gotama, but rather that the Samana Gotama should call upon him.

6.
And when they had thus spoken, Sonadanda 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 Samana Gotama has gone forth (into the religious life), giving up the great clan of his relations--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama has gone forth (into the religious life), giving up much money and gold, treasure both buried and above the ground-- 'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 homeless state--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 homeless state--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 Samana Gotama is virtuous with the virtue of the Arahats, good and virtuous, gifted with goodness and virtue--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 Samana Gotama is the teacher of the teachers of many--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama has no passion of lust left in him, and has put away all fickleness of mind--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama believes in Karma, and in action, he is one who puts righteousness in the forefront (of his exhortations) to the Brahman race--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama went forth from a distinguished family primeval among the Kshatriya clans-- 'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 Samana Gotama--

'Truly, Sirs, multitudes of heavenly beings put their trust in the Samana Gotama--

'Truly, Sirs, such is the high reputation noised abroad concerning the Samana 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 Samana Gotama has all the thirty-two bodily marks of a Great Being--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama bids all men welcome, is congenial, conciliatory, not supercilious, accessible to all, not backward in conversation--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama is honoured, held of weight, esteemed and venerated and revered by the four classes (of his followers--the brethren and sisters of the Order, laymen and lay women)--

'Truly, Sirs, many gods and men believe in the Samana Gotama--

"Truly, Sirs, in whatsoever village or town the Samana Gotama stays, there the non-humans do the humans no harm--

Continued...

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana 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 Samanas and Brahmans have gained a reputation by all sorts of insignificant matters, not so the Samana Gotama. His reputation comes from perfection in conduct and righteousness--

'Truly, Sirs, the king of Magadhâ, Seniya Bimbisâra, with his children and his wives, with his people and his courtiers, has put his trust in the Samana 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 Samana Gotama--

'Truly, Sirs, Pokkharasâdi the Brahman, with his children and his wives, with his people and his intimates, has put his trust in the Samana Gotama--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama is honoured, held of weight, esteemed, and venerated and revered alike by Seniya Bimbisâra, the king of Magadhâ, by Pasenadi the king of Kosala, and by Pokkharasâdi the Brahman--

'Truly, Sirs, the Samana Gotama has now arrived at Kampâ and is staying on the shores of the Gaggarâ Lake. But all Samanas 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 Samana 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 Samana 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 Sonadanda declares the praises of the Samana 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 Samana Gotama together!' So Sonadanda the Brahman went out to the Gaggarâ Lake with a great company of Brahmans.

8.
Now the following hesitation arose in Sonadanda's mind as he passed through the wood: 'Were I to ask the Samana Gotama a question, if he were to say: "The question ought not to be asked so, thus ought the question to be framed;" the company might thereupon speak of me with disrespect, saying: "Foolish is this Sonadanda the Brahman, and inexpert. He is not even able to ask a question rightly." 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 Samana 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: "The question ought not to be answered so; thus ought the problem to be explained;" the company might thereupon speak of me with disrespect, saying: "Foolish is this Sonadanda the Brahman, and inexpert. He is not even able to satisfy the Samana Gotama by his explanation of the problem put." 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 Samana Gotama, then might the company speak disrespectfully of me, saying: "Foolish is this Sonadanda the Brahman, and inexpert, though obstinate with pride, he is so afraid that he dare not call on the Samana 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 Sonadanda the Brahman went up to where the Blessed One was. And when 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 Kampâ, 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 Sonadanda was seated there he was still filled with hesitation, thinking as before set out; and he added to himself: 'Oh! would that the Samana 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 Sonadanda, and he thought: 'This Sonadanda 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: "I am a Brahman," he speaks accurately and does not become guilty of falsehood?'

12.
Then Sonadanda thought: 'What I wished and desired and had in my mind and hoped for--that the Samana Gotama should put to me some question on my own subject, on the threefold Vedic lore--that 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 Lokâyata 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 four--good birth, technical training, virtue, and wisdom, as just set forth-Brahmans 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 three--good birth, virtue, and wisdom--Brahmans 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 Sonadanda: 'Say not so, venerable Sonadanda, say not so! He depreciates not only our colour, but he depreciates our verses and our birth. Verily the venerable Sonadanda is going over to the doctrine of the Samana Gotama.'

18.
Then the Blessed One said to those Brahmans: 'If you, oh Brahmans, think that Sonadanda 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, Sonadanda 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 Sonadanda the Brahman, was seated in that company. And Sonadanda 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 behold--none in this assembly is like unto him in colour, save only the Samana 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 Lokâyata (Nature-lore), and in the theory of the signs on the body of a great man--I 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 birth--I 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 Sonadanda in assent to the Blessed One. And the Blessed One said:

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

'This, oh Brahman, is that wisdom.'

24.
When he had thus spoken, Sonadanda 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 forms--just 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 to-morrow's meal with me, and also the members of the Order with him.'

Then the Blessed One signified, by silence, his consent. And Sonadanda, 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 Sonadanda's house, and sat down on the seat prepared for him. And Sonadanda 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, Sonadanda 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 arising 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 Sonadanda the Brahman with religious discourse, and then rose from his seat and departed thence.

Here ends the Sonadanda Sutta.

Back to Top

-- Book 4 --





About  FAQs  Sitemap  Sources  Privacy  History  Contact