DN 1

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This page is a translated version of a page DN 1 and the translation is 100% complete.

Brahmajāla Suttam - Discourse on the great web

Story of the itinerant mendicants

1. Thus by me it was heard: Once upon a time Bhagavān set out on[1] the pathway between Rājagṛha and Nāḷanda along with a large sangha of bhikṣus - about five hundred bhikṣus. Supriya the wandering monk was also travelling on the same road with his co-dwelling student, the youngster Brahmadatta. Probably it was there that Supriya, the monk in many different ways discredited the Buddha, the Dharma and Sangha. Brahmadatta the monk’s student then in many different ways praised the Buddha, the Dharma and Sangha. In this way, the duo, teacher and student, opposing each another with partisan arguments, closely follow Bhagavān and the bhikṣu sangha.

2. Then Bhagavān arrived at a royal rest house in the mango grove for a single night’s stay, accompanied by the bhikṣu sangha. Supriya the monk also reached it with the same intention accompanied by Brahmadatta, his student. Here the duo continued their argument...

3. Then several bhikṣus, at dawn, having woken up, sat down together at the round pavilion, when this deliberation on sankhya dharma arose among them – “Considering the debate between Supriya & Brahmadatta, isn’t it astonishing and wonderful sir, how well Bhagavān (the arhat and samyak-sambuddha) has understood, perceived and clearly made known the different types of dispositions of beings…?”

4. Then Bhagavān, upon knowing that there was a discussion on sankhya dharma that arose among the bhikṣus, approached the pavilion, and once his arrival had been announced, took a seat and then asked the bhikṣus: “What was the discussion among you bhikṣus, as you were seated here, which has now been interrupted?” They said “Here lord, <at dawn … made known the different types of dispositions of beings>. This then was the discussion among us that was interrupted when Bhagavān reached.”

5. “If others discredit me, or the Dharma, or the Sangha – bhikṣus, you should not become violent, hostile or mentally disturbed for that reason; for if you become aggravated or lost self-control, it will be an obstruction for you. Would you then be able to evaluate whether what they said was well-said or ill-said?”

“No indeed, lord!”

“Therefore you should unravel what was untrue by saying ‘Such and such is not a fact; it is untrue; we are not like that; it is not known to exist among us’.”

6. “If others praise me, or the Dharma, or the Sangha – bhikṣus, you should not become joyous, or satisfied or mentally jubiliant; for it will be an obstruction for you. Therefore you should affirm what was factual by saying ‘Such and such is a fact; it is true; we are like that; it is known to exist among us’.”

The short section on virtuous conduct

7. It is for mere trifles, bhikṣus; for insignificant matters pertaining merely to virtuous conduct - that the people of the world usually glorify the Tathāgata. What are those minor and insignificant matters, bhikṣus?

8. They say “Having given up sinning against life, and thus refraining from killing, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan is devoid of the club & the sword, is modest, sympathetic, and lives as for the welfare of and in friendship with all living beings.”

Or they say “Having given up extortion, and refraining from theft, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan takes what is donated, is satisfied with such donations, and lives with such a purified ātman.”

Or they say “Having given up sexual gratification, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan is a brahmacārin[2], and refrains from the village practice of mating.”

9. Or they say “Having given up false speech, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from uttering lies, and is a truth-speaker, reliable, firm and trustworthy, not a deceiver of the world.”

Or they say “Having given up slander, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from backbiting, and does not announce to those what he has heard here, in order to divide these people; nor does he announce to these what he has heard there, in order to divide those people. Among those divided, he is a conciliator, among those who are united he is an person who causes an increase in their unity, delighting in unity, rejoicing in unity, he speaks that which causes unity.”

Or they say “Having given up harsh speech, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from rough speech – whatever speech gives comfort to the ears, kind, touches the heart, urbane, is agreeable to and liked by a lot of people – that is the kind of speech he speaks.”

Or they say “Having given up idle chatter, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from frivolous speech, his speech is timely, factual, meaningful, principled, civil, is bounded by reason & substance-laden.

10. Or they say “Having given up the practice of agriculture and animal rearing in farms, this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan...”

Or they say “Being an ekabhaktika[3], this śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from dinner, having adopted the rule of ceasing (the intake of) nightly & untimely meals…”

Or they say “Having given up watching the performance of plays & dances, singing and the playing of musical instruments, this śramaṇa…”

Or they say “Having given up the wearing of garlands, perfumes, cosmetic creams, amulets, adornments, jewels, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the use of thick or large beds, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of gold and silver, this śramaṇa ...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of raw foodgrains, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of raw meat, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of women and girls, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of maidservants and manservants, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of goats and sheep, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of fowl and swine, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of elephants, cows, horses & mares this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up the acceptance of fields and homesteads, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up being an envoy, emissary, or inquirer, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up buying and selling for profit, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up cheating using weighing scales, bronze weights & other measures, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up bribery, frauds, deception & such perverted methods, this śramaṇa...”

Or they say “Having given up slitting, slaying, binding, seizing, butchery, and similar activities, this śramaṇa...”

--The short section on virtuous conduct ends--


The medium sized section on virtuous conduct

11. Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in cultivation of plants and crops of these kinds i.e. [plants grown from] roots, stems, fruits, shoots & seeds. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

12. Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in storing up things for future use, such as foodgrains, drinks, clothing, palanquins, bedding, perfumes & meat. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

13. Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in watching all kinds of entertainment shows, such as dance performances, vocal music concerts, instrumental music concerts, fairs, ballads, rope tricks, exorcisms, elephant-fights, horse-fights, buffalo-fights, bull-fights, goat-fights, ram-fights, cock-fights, quail-fights, stick-fights, fist-fights, [shows imitating] battle-formations etc. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in drunken gambling, playing such games as []. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] use large and wide beds, [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] use ornaments and cosmetics, [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in beastly talk, [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] engage in quarrelsome talk, [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] run errands for others, [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains [from thus breaching people's trust]”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] cheat, speak much, interpret signs and make forecasts, wishing for monetary gains. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such cheating speech.”

--The medium sized section on virtuous conduct ends.--

The long section on virtuous conduct

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of yet several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

Or they say “Some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas, even while consuming food donated with trust, still [continue to] lead a wrong life by practising all kinds of beastly sciences [of several other kinds]. This śramaṇa from the Gautama clan refrains from [thus breaching people's trust through] such practices.”

This indeed bhikṣus is the way in which for mere trifles; for insignificant matters pertaining merely to virtuous conduct - that the people of the world usually glorify the Tathāgata

--The large section on virtuous conduct ends.--

Conceptions about the ultimate origins

There are, bhikṣus, other things that are majestic, hard to visualize, hard to experience, sublime and exalted, beyond the domain of argument, absolute, fit to be explained by paṇḍita (scholars), which the tathāgata through his superlative knowledge has realized for himself, and declares. Those are the things that people who praise the tathāgata should rightly praise him for. What are they?

There are, bhikṣus, some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas who have conceptualized and propounded their views about the remote past, about the remote origin of things, on 18 distinct grounds. How have they done so?

Śāśvata-vāda (The Eternalist argument)

There are, bhikṣus, some śramaṇas & brāhmaṇas who are propounders of eternalism of the ātman (self) and the loka (world), and declared on four grounds. What are those four grounds?

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paṭhamabhāṇavāro

ekaccasassatavādo

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amarāvikkhepavādo

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adhiccasamuppannavādo

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dutiyabhāṇavāro

aparantakappikā

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saññīvādo

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asaññīvādo

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nevasaññīnāsaññīvādo

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ucchedavādo

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diṭṭhadhammanibbānavādo

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paritassitavipphanditavāro

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phassapaccayāvāro

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netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjativāro

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diṭṭhigatikādhiṭṭhānavaṭṭakathā

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vivaṭṭakathādi

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The brahmajāla discourse (first sūkta of the varga) ends.

Notes

  1. The verb is used in the present tense, but is translated into the past here
  2. literally "one who travels in the path of brahman", typically used for celibate brahmin men engaged in the study of the Veda, in the Buddha's era
  3. a person who eats only one meal a day cf. Gautama Dharmasūtra 3,6.6

Old-Indic cognates

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