Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

20. Ambāṣṭha

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha traveled to Kośala accompanied by a large assembly of 1,250 monks. They went to the Kośala priest village of Icchānaṅgala and stopped to rest in a citron grove.[2]

Puṣkarasārin Sends Ambāṣṭha to Meet the Buddha

2. The priest Puṣkarasārin had stopped in the village of Utkaṭa,[3] which was bountiful and thriving. King Prasenajit had bestowed this village to Puṣkarasārin as the priest’s due. This priest was descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine [priests], so he wasn’t slighted by others. He had mastered the three Vedas[4] and could discern all the various kinds of scriptures. He was also skilled in the techniques of [recognizing] the great man’s signs and [performing] sacrifices and rituals. He had 500 disciples whom he taught without exception.

3. His best student disciple, named Ambāṣṭha,[5] was descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine [priests], so he wasn’t slighted by others. He had mastered the three Vedas and could discern all the various kinds of scriptures. He was also skilled in the techniques of [recognizing] the great man’s signs and [performing] sacrifices and rituals. He had 500 student disciples as well whom he taught without exception, the same as his teacher.

4. The priest Puṣkarasārin heard: “The ascetic Gautama of the Śākya clan, who had left home and achieved awakening, has arrived at the Kośala priest village of Icchānaṅgala and stopped to rest in a citron grove. He’s accompanied by a large assembly of 1,250 monks and possesses a great reputation that’s heard throughout the world: ‘He’s a Tathāgata, an Arhat, and a Completely Awakened One who has perfected the ten epithets. Among gods, worldly men, and demons, whether they’re Māra and the gods or ascetics and priests, he’s self-realized and teaches the Dharma for others. It’s good in the beginning, middle, and end, complete in content and expression, and purifies the religious life.’”

5. [Puṣkarasārin said:] “Since he’s a realized person, I should go and meet him! Now, I’d like to examine that ascetic Gautama to be certain he has the 32 signs. His name is heard everywhere, but is what they say about him true? Is there some way I could see the Buddha’s signs?’

6. Again, he thought, “Now, my disciple Ambāṣṭha is descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine [priests], so he’s not slighted by others. He has mastered the three Vedas and can discern all the various kinds of scriptures. He’s also skilled in the techniques of [recognizing] the great man’s signs and [performing] sacrifices and rituals. I can just send this man to examine the Buddha; he’ll recognize if he possesses the signs or not.”

7. The priest then summoned Ambāṣṭha and told him, “Go examine that ascetic Gautama and determine if he has the 32 signs or if he is a fake.”

8. Ambāṣṭha then asked his teacher, “How will I examine Gautama’s signs and know if he is a fake?”

9. His teacher replied, “Now, I’ll tell you: If he has perfected the 32 signs of a great man, he’s certain to arrive at [one of] two places, without a doubt.

10. “If he stays at home, he’ll become a wheel-turning noble king, a king who rules over the world’s four quarters, educating the people and managing the affairs of state with the Dharma. He’ll be endowed with seven treasures: 1. The golden wheel treasure, 2. the white elephant treasure, 3. the blue horse treasure, 4. the magic jewel treasure, 5. the beautiful woman treasure, 6. the householder treasure, and 7. the general treasure. That king will have a thousand sons who are courageous and knowledgeable. He’ll defeat his enemies without the use of military weapons. He’ll make the world peaceful, and the people won’t have anything to fear.

11. “If he’s unhappy with the world and leaves home to pursue the path, then he’ll become a Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One who perfects the ten epithets. This is how you’ll know if Gautama is fake or genuine.”

Ambāṣṭha Behaves Badly

12. After he accepted his teacher’s instruction, Ambāṣṭha prepared horses and a treasure chariot. At daybreak, he led his five hundred student disciples to the citron grove. Arriving there, he dismounted his chariot and proceeded on foot to the Bhagavān. He stood when the Bhagavān sat and sat when the Bhagavān stood while they were discussing a topic.

13. The Buddha asked the student, “Have you talked with elder, senior, and great priests like this in the past?”

The student asked the Buddha, “Why do you ask that?”

14. The Buddha told the student, “When I’m sitting, you stand, and you sit when I’m standing while we have this discussion. Is this the way you and your teacher discuss a teaching?”

The student said to the Buddha, “We priests discuss a teaching while both are sitting, both are standing, or both are laying down. Now, ascetics are disfigured and single.[6] They’re despicable, inferior, and practice a dark teaching. I don’t ever sit or get up when I’m discussing something with such people.”

15. The Bhagavān then said to him, “You, student, aren’t disciplined yet.”[7]

When the student heard the Bhagavān call him “you” but before he heard “aren’t disciplined yet,” he became angry and disparaged the Buddha: “These Śākyans are so envious, evil, and lacking in courtesy!”

16. The Buddha asked the student, “What did the Śākyans do to you?”[8]

The student said, “There was a time once when my teacher was in Kapilavastu of the Śākyas for some minor reason. There was a group of Śākyans who had gathered in a meeting hall for some minor reason, too. When they saw us coming from a distance, they slighted and teased us. They didn’t follow the rules of courtesy nor treat each other with respect.”

17. The Buddha told the student, “When they return to their own country, the Śākyans amuse themselves as they want like birds flying to their tree nests, coming and going freely. Śākyans amuse themselves freely in their own country in the same way.”

18. The student said to the Buddha, “There are four castes in the world: The warriors, the priests, the householders, and the workers. The other three castes always honor, respect, and support the priests. The customs of the Śākyans should be the same. Those Śākyans are low class, despicable, and inferior people, yet they disrespected us priests.”

Ambāṣṭha Is Brought to Heel

19. The Bhagavān then silently thought to himself, “This youth has repeatedly spoken insultingly and [acted like someone of] low class. Perhaps I’ll tell him about his history to discipline him.” The Buddha asked the student, “What is your clan?”

The student replied, “My clan is Svararāja.”[9]

20. The Buddha told the student, “That clan of yours is from the servant class of the Śākyas.”

His 500 student disciples raised an uproar, saying to the Buddha, “Don’t say such things as ‘This student is from the servant class of the Śākyas’! Why is that? This great student is a legitimate son of his clan. He’s handsome looking, eloquent, accommodating, and broadly learned. It’s enough to converse with Gautama.”

21. The Buddha then told the 500 students, “If your teacher is not entirely as you say, I’ll set aside your teacher and discuss the matter with you. If your teacher is superior in the ways you say, then you ought to be quiet, and I’ll discuss it with your teacher.”

The 500 students said to the Buddha, “We’ll be quiet and listen to you discuss it with our teacher.” The 500 students all fell silent.

22. The Bhagavān then told Ambāṣṭha, “Going back to a time in the distant past, there was a king named Ikṣvāku.[10] This king had four sons. One was named Ulkāmukha, the second was named Hastikaśīrṣa, the third was name Karakaṇḍa, and the fourth was named Opura.[11]

23. “The king’s four sons were young and committed offenses. The king banished them from the country, and they went south of the Himalaya Mountains to live in a teak tree grove.[12] The mothers and family members of those four sons missed them, so they held a meeting and went to King Ikṣvāku. They said, ‘Great king, you should know that we’ve been separated from your four sons for a long time. We would like to go see them.’

“The king replied, ‘If you want to go, do as you like.’

24. “After the mothers and their relatives heard the king’s instruction, they went to the teak tree grove south of the Himalaya Mountains where the four sons lived. Then the mothers said [to each other], ‘I’ll give my daughter to your son, and you give your daughter to my son. Match them up to be married as husband and wife. They’ll have handsome-looking sons.’

25. “King Ikṣvāku then heard that the mothers of his four sons had given their daughters to be their wives, and they had given birth to handsome sons. The king was delighted and exclaimed, ‘They are true Śākyans! True Śākyan boys!’ They were able to stand and survived on their own, so they were called Śākya as a result.[13]

26. “King Ikṣvāku was the first of the Śākya lineage. The king had a servant named Diśa[14] who was good-looking. She had a relationship with a priest and became pregnant as a result. She gave birth to a boy who fell to the ground able to speak. He would look for his parents and say, ‘You must bathe me! Remove this filth! I’ll love you when I’m older!’ Because he could speak, her first-born son was called Svararāja.

27. “Just as present-day people are frightened when a first-born son can speak and call him ‘Terrible,’[15] he was likewise. Being born able to speak, they called him Svararāja. From that time to today, his priest clan’s name has been Svararāja.”

28. The Buddha asked the student: “Haven’t you heard this history of your clan before when you visited senior, elder, and great priests?”

29. The student remained silent and didn’t reply. The Buddha asked him again, but he still didn’t reply. The Buddha asked him a third time, and then said to the student: “I’ve asked you a question three times. You ought to answer promptly, for when someone doesn’t answer me, their head is smashed into seven pieces by the guhyaka warriors[16] who are standing at my side armed with metal hammers.”

30. The guhyaka warriors armed with metal hammers hovered in the air over the student’s head. If he didn’t answer the question right then, their iron hammers would’ve come down and smashed the student’s head. The Buddha told the student, “Look for yourself.”

31. The student looked, and he saw the guhyaka warriors hovering in the air with their metal hammers. When he saw that, he was frightened, and his hair stood on end. He got up and moved closer to the Bhagavān, hoping the Bhagavān would protect him. He said, “Ask me again, Bhagavān. I will answer you now.”

32. The Buddha then asked the student: “Haven’t you heard this history of your clan before when you visited senior, elder, and great priests?” The student answered, “I believe that what I’ve heard before really did happen.”

33. His five hundred student disciples raised their voices, saying to each other, “This Ambāṣṭha really is descended from a Śākyan servant family!” “The ascetic Gautama speaks the truth!” “We’ve been acting badly, feeling so proud!”

34. The Bhagavān then thought, “These five hundred students will surely be arrogant after this and call him a servant. Now, I’ll do something to dismiss that servant reputation.” He then told the five hundred students, “You students, take care not to call him someone descended from a servant family. Why is that? He was once a priest who was a great and powerful sage. He attacked King Ikṣvāku to get his daughter, and the king gave her to him out of fear.” The Buddha dismissed that slave reputation with these words.

The Superiority of the Warrior Caste

35. The Bhagavān then told Ambāṣṭha, “How is it, student? Suppose a warrior woman is descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine [warriors], and she isn’t slighted by other people. If she’s married to a priest and bears him a son who’s handsome, would that son enter the warrior caste, be given a seat and water, and recite the warrior’s law?”

He replied, “He wouldn’t.”

36. “Would he get his father’s property and business?”

“He wouldn’t.”

37. “Would he inherit his father’s office?”

“He wouldn’t.”

38. “How is it, student? Suppose a priest woman is descended from seven generations of fathers and mothers who were genuine [priests], and she isn’t slighted by other people. She’s married to a warrior and bears him a son who’s handsome. When he enters that priest’s community, would he be given a seat and be offered water when he rises?”

He replied, “He would.”

39. “Would he get to recite the priest’s law, get his father’s property, or inherit his father’s office?”

“He would.”

40. “How is it, student? If a priest rejects the priesthood and joins the warrior caste, would he be given a seat, be offered water when rising, and recite the warrior’s law?”

He replied, “He wouldn’t.”

41. “Would he get his father’s property or inherit his father’s office?”

He replied, “He wouldn’t.”

42. “If a warrior rejects the warriors and joins the priests, would he be given a seat, be offered water when rising, and recite the priest’s law? … Would he get his father’s property or inherit his father’s office?”

He replied, “He would.”

43. “Therefore, student, the warrior woman is the best of women, and the warrior man is the best of men. It’s not the priests.

44. “The god Brahmā himself spoke this verse:

45. The Buddha told the student, “Brahmā spoke this verse, and it truly is well spoken and not unskillful. I agree with it. Why is that? Now, I am a Tathāgata, an Arhat, and a Completely Awakened One. I also spoke this meaning:

Leaving Home and Perfecting Precepts

46. The student said to the Buddha, “Gautama, what is this unsurpassed man like, who is accomplished in insight and conduct?”

The Buddha told the student, “Listen closely, listen closely! Consider it well. I’ll explain this for you.”

He replied, “Very well. I’d be glad to hear it.”

47. The Buddha told the student, “If the Tathāgata arises in the world who is an Arhat, Completely Awakened One, Accomplished in Insight and Conduct, Well Gone, Understander of the World, Unsurpassed Man, Trainer of Men, Teacher to Gods and People, Buddha, and Bhagavān, he alone is awakened and self-realized among all the gods, and worldly people, whether ascetics and priests, or the gods, Māra, and King Brahmā. He explains the teaching for people that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end. It’s content and expression are complete and reveal the pure practice.

48. “Suppose a householder, a householder’s son, or someone from the other castes hears the right teaching, and they believe it. With that belief, they think, ‘Now, I live at home bound to my wife and children. I’m not able to purely cultivate the religious life. I would rather shave my hair, put on the three Dharma robes, and leave home to cultivate the path.’ At some other time, they renounce home and property, abandon their friends and family, shave their hair, put on the three Dharma robes, and leave home to cultivate the path. They live with renunciants who equally abandon ornaments, and their practice of precepts is complete.

49. “They don’t harm sentient beings. They renounce weapons, are conscientious and modest, and have kind thoughts for all beings. This is not killing.

50. “They abandon thoughts of stealing. They don’t take what’s not given, their minds are pure, and they don’t think about personal profit. This is not stealing.

51. “They abandon sexual desire. They purely cultivate the religious life, are careful and energetic, aren’t defiled by desire, and live purely. This is not engaging in sex.

52. “They abandon false speech, are sincere and not deceptive, and don’t fool other people. This is not speaking falsely.

53. “They abandon duplicity. What they hear said here they don’t convey to others there. What they hear said there they don’t convey to others here. They skillfully bring together those who are alienated, and they work for mutual friendship and respect. All their speech is harmonious and aware of the occasion. This is not being duplicitous.

54. “They abandon harsh speech, which is words that are crude or fierce, that delight in troubling other people, and that cause the bonds of resentment to arise. They abandon such words. Their words are gentle and don’t cause harm. They’re beneficial to many people. The community has respect and affection for them, gladly listening to their words. This is not speaking harshly.

55. They abandon frivolous speech. Their words are aware of the occasion, sincere, and accord with the teaching. They settle disputes according to the discipline. When there’s reason to speak, their speech doesn’t miss the point. This is abandoning frivolous speech.

56. “They abandon drinking alcohol, part with carelessness, and aren’t attached to fragrances, flowers, and jewelry. They don’t watch or listen to songs and dances. They don’t sit on high seats, eat at the wrong time, or accept and use gold, silver, or the seven treasures. They don’t marry wives or concubines and don’t take care of servants, workers, elephants, horses, carts, cattle, chickens, dogs, pigs, sheep, farmland, or pleasure parks. Nor do they fool other people with fraudulent weights and measures and then carry away the profit in their hands. They don’t put others in debt to trap them. This is not being fraudulent.

57. “They abandon such evils, ceasing disputes and unskillful affairs. When they conduct themselves, they’re aware of the time and don’t act at the wrong time. They eat the amount of food their stomach holds and don’t accumulate anything more than what they need. Their robes are sufficient for their bodies. Their Dharma clothes and bowl are their constant companions like a flying bird’s wings. A monk has nothing more in the same way.

Criticisms of Other Ascetics and Priests

58. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who accept the faithful gifts of others and then seek what another has saved. They are never satisfied with their robes and meals. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

59. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and pursue their own occupation. They plant trees that are refuges for demons and spirits. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

60. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and still pursue ways of seeking benefits like high and large beds [made of] elephant ivory and various treasures, various embroideries, carpets, blankets, and cushions. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

61. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who accept another’s faithful gifts and still pursue ways of adorning themselves. They rub their bodies with ghee and oil, wash with fragrant water, smear themselves with fragrant powder, and comb their hair with fragrant oil. They wear beautiful flower garlands, color their eyes dark blue, put makeup on their faces, and attach rings and thread to themselves. They look at themselves with mirrors, wear leather shoes of various colors, and wear pure white over their clothes. They keep weapons, followers, valuable parasols, valuable fans, and decorated, valuable chariots. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

62. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and focus on entertaining themselves by playing games like chess on boards with eight squares, ten squares, a hundred squares … [a thousand] squares.[17] They have fun in various ways. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

63. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms but only teach obstructions to the path. They discuss unbeneficial things such as kings, battles, events involving chariots and horses, friends, comrades, and officials. They ride horses and chariots here and there, walk in pleasure gardens, and have conversations while lying, rising, and walking about women, clothing, eating, and family matters. They also discuss the subject of diving in the ocean to hunt for treasures. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

64. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms but only pursue countless ways of wrong livelihood. They flatter others with pretty expressions or appear to criticize them in order to pursue benefits. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

65. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms but only debate with each other. They might visit parks or go to lakes and discussion halls and refute each other. They say, ‘I know the teachings and discipline; you know nothing.’ ‘I’ve arrived at the correct path; you are going down the wrong road.’ ‘You put what’s first last or put what’s last first.’ ‘I’m tolerant of you, but you don’t tolerate me.’ ‘The words that you say aren’t true or correct.’ ‘If you have any doubts, you should come and ask me, and I’ll answer it completely.’ No one who enters my teaching does such things.

66. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and still pursue their livelihoods on other ways. They serve as messengers for kings, royal officials, priests, or householders, traveling from here to there and there to here. They take messages from here and deliver them there and take messages from there and deliver them here. They might do this personally or instruct others to do it. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

67. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms but only practice battle tactics and martial arts. They might practice wielding melee weapons or bow and arrow. They might fight animals like chickens, dogs, pigs, sheep, elephants, horses, cattle, and camels. They might fight with men and women and make many sounds with conchs, drums, while singing and dancing. They might climb poles, perform handstands, and practice various acrobatics. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

68. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path. They make their living with wrong livelihoods such as telling the signs of men and women’s good and bad fortune, their beauty and ugliness, or the signs of livestock. They do this seeking profit. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

69. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path. They make their living with wrong livelihoods. They summon demons and spirits or drive them away with various rites and prayers. In countless ways, they frighten and afflict people. They gather and scatter [people] and cause them pain and pleasure. They can also prevent miscarriages, produce clothing, and make people act like donkeys with spells, or make people blind, deaf, and dumb. They demonstrate these arts with their palms together raised to the sun and moon, and they practice asceticism in pursuit of profit. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

70. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path. They make their living with wrong livelihoods. They might perform spells for people [that cause] illness or chant spells for good and evil. They practice medicine with acupuncture, cauterization, and herbs and minerals to cure various ailments. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

71. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path. They make their living with wrong livelihoods. They might perform spells of water and fire, spells for demons, chant warrior spells, bird spells, and spells for limbs. They might perform spells or make charms for making households peaceful, or they might perform spells to understand [things] burnt by fire or chewed by mice. They might chant from books of discerning death and life, chant from books about dreams, tell fortunes using people’s hands and faces, chant from books of gods, or chant from language books. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

72. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path. They make their living with wrong livelihoods. They make predictions based on the heavens and seasons: ‘It will rain … it won’t rain … the harvest will be bountiful … the harvest will be poor … many people will fall ill … few will be ill … there’ll be terrible [events] … there’ll be peace.’ They might discuss earthquakes, comets, solar and lunar eclipses, and stellar occultations and non-occultations, saying: ‘This is a good omen; this is a bad omen.’ No one who enters my teaching does such things.

73. “Student, take the example of other ascetics and priests who eat another’s faithful alms and practice teachings that obstruct the path, making their living from wrong livelihoods. They might say, ‘This country will win; that country is not their equal … that country will win; this country is not their equal.’ They divine their fortune and misfortune and discuss the flourishing and demise [of different countries]. No one who enters my teaching does such things.

Noble Precepts and Faculties

74. “[Those who follow my teaching] only cultivate the noble precepts without the stain of mental attachments. They harbor inner joy and happiness. Even though their eyes see forms, they don’t grasp at their appearances. Their eyes aren’t seized by forms and tied to them. Their peacefulness is stable, they lack greediness, and they don’t have sadness and troubled feelings. Bad things don’t flow from them.

75. “They resolutely keep the various precepts and guard well their eye sense … ear … nose … tongue … body … and mind sense. They guide well their six contacts, guarding and disciplining themselves to become peaceful. They are like a team of four horses on level ground and well-driven by holding whip and reins. They don’t leave the road. A monk thus drives the horses of the six senses to become peaceful and not lose it.

76. “They possess such noble precepts and attain the noble’s eye sense. When eating, they stop once they’re satisfied, and they aren’t greedy for flavors. They eat food to support their body and make it free of pain and distress, not out of pride. They harmonize their body to cease old pains, ensure new pains don’t arise, have strength without issues, and make the body comfortable. It’s like someone applying a salve to a sore in order to be rid of it, not to decorate oneself out of pride.

77. “Student, a monk thus eats enough for his limbs and body and doesn’t harbor a lazy attitude. It’s like greasing a chariot to make it function well when carrying cargo wherever it needs to go. A monk is thus. He eats enough for his limbs and body because he’s going to walk on the road.

78. “Student, a monk thus accomplishes the noble precepts and attains noble faculties. When eating, they stop once they’re satisfied. In the early evening and late at night, they’re diligent and awake. During the daytime, they’re always mindful and unified in mind whether walking or sitting, and they rid themselves of the various hindrances. In the early evening, they’re always mindful and unified in mind whether walking or sitting, and they rid themselves of the various hindrances. When the middle of the night arrives, they lie down on their right side to sleep, remembering the time to wake up. Fixing their thoughts on the morning, their minds are undisturbed. When the last of the night arrives, they get up and contemplate. Whether walking or sitting, they are constantly mindful and unified in mind, ridding themselves of the various hindrances.

79. “A monk perfects such noble precepts and attains noble faculties. When eating, they stop once they’re satisfied. In the early evening and late at night, they’re diligent and awake. They’re always mindful, unified in mind, and undisturbed.

80. “How is a monk mindful and undisturbed? Such a monk observes his internal body as body with diligence and not negligence. Giving it attention and not losing it, he removes worldly greed and sadness. He observes external body as body … observes the internal and external body as body with diligence and not negligence. Giving it attention and not losing it, he removes worldly greed and sadness. He observes feelings, mind, and principles the same way. This is how a monk is mindful and undisturbed.

81. “How is he unified in mind? Suppose such a monk walks back and forth, looks right and left, turns, bends, and looks around. He holds his robe and bowl and takes the meal he receives. He urinates and defecates. He sleeps, wakes, sits, stands, speaks, and remains silent. He’s mindful and unified in mind at all times, and he doesn’t lose his composure. This is being unified in mind.

82. “It’s like someone walking with a large assembly. Whether they walk in front, in the middle, or in the back, they’re always at ease and without any anxiety. Student, when a monk thus walks back and forth … speaks, and remains silent, he’s always mindful and unified in mind without any sorrow or fear.

83. “A monk has such noble precepts and attains noble faculties. When eating, they stop when satisfied. In the early evening and late at night, they’re diligent and awake. [During the daytime,] they’re always mindful, unified in mind, and undisturbed. They happily reside in a quiet place, under a tree, or in a charnel ground. Whether they stay in a mountain cave, on open ground, or in a refuse heap, when it’s time to solicit alms, they wash their hands and feet and put their robe and bowl in a safe place when they return. They sit cross-legged with their body erect and correctly mindful. They then fix their attention to what’s in front of them.

84. “They remove stinginess and greed, and their thoughts aren’t accompanied by them. They cease anger. They don’t have resentments, and their mind abides in purity and always feels compassion. They remove sleepiness. They fix their perception to what’s bright, and they remain mindful and undisturbed. They stop restlessness, and their thoughts aren’t accompanied by it. They stop doubtfulness. They free themselves from the net of doubts, and their mind is focused solely on good qualities.

85. “It’s like slaves of a large household who are given the family’s name and peacefully set free. Escaping that menial labor, they feel joyous, and they aren’t sorrowful and fearful any longer.

86. “It’s also like someone who takes on debt to make his living and makes a large profit from it. He returns the original sum to its owner, and the remainder is enough for himself. He thinks to himself, ‘When I took this loan, I feared it wouldn’t go as I wanted. Now that I’ve made this profit, I returned the original sum to its owner, and the remainder is enough for myself. I’m so happy I won’t return to sorrow and fear.’

87. “It’s like someone who was ill for a long time and recovers from that illness. They digest what they eat and drink, and their complexion and strength is restored. They think, ‘I was ill before, but now I’ve recovered. I digest what I eat and drink, and my complexion and strength is restored. I’m so happy I won’t return to sorrow and fear.’

88. “It’s also like someone who’s been imprisoned for a long time, and they are safely released. They think to themselves, ‘I was taken and imprisoned before, but now I’ve been released! I’ll so happy I won’t return to sorrow and fear.’

89. “It’s also like someone who carries many treasures across a wasteland, and they safely make it across without encountering bandits. They think to themselves, ‘I’ve brought these treasures across that dangerous region. I’m so happy I won’t return to sorrow and fear.’ Their mind is peaceful and happy.

90. “Student, a monk who is covered by the five hindrances always feels sorrow and fear like a slave, a debtor, a person who’s ill for a long time, a prisoner, and a traveler crossing a great wasteland. Seeing that they aren’t free of them yet, their mind is obscured, covered in darkness, and their wisdom eye is dim.

Meditative Attainments

91. “They diligently detach themselves from desires and bad and unskillful things. Accompanied with perception and contemplation, their seclusion gives rise to joy and happiness, and they enter the first dhyāna. They soak themselves in joy and happiness so that it’s everywhere and overflowing. No part of them isn’t filled with it.

92. “It’s like someone skilled in filling bath containers with a variety of herbs. They soak it in water, and it becomes wet both inside and out. No part of it isn’t filled with water. A monk thus enters the first dhyāna. He’s thoroughly joyous and happy. No part of him isn’t filled with it.

93. “Thus, student, this is the start of the direct attainment of personal happiness. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

94. “They then give rise to faith, focused attention, and unified mind by detaching from perception and contemplation. Without perception or contemplation, their concentration gives rise to joy and happiness, and they enter the second dhyāna. They soak themselves in unified mind, joy, and happiness so that it’s everywhere and overflowing. No part of them isn’t filled with it.

95. “It’s like cool water that wells up from a spring on a mountain top. It doesn’t come from an outside source. Instead, clear water comes out of this pool, which returns, sinks, and becomes soaked. No part of it isn’t pervaded with the water. Student, a monk thus enters the second dhyāna, and concentration gives rise to joy and happiness. No part of him isn’t filled with it. This is the second direct attainment of personal happiness.

96. “They detach from that joy and its abode. Being equanimous, mindful, and undisturbed, they personally experience the happiness that’s taught by noble people. Giving rise to equanimity, mindfulness, and happiness, they enter the third dhyāna. They aren’t joyous, but they’re soaked with happiness so that it’s everywhere and overflowing. No part of him isn’t filled with it.

97. “It’s like blue lotus, red lotus, white lily, and white lotus flowers. When they first emerge from the mud but haven’t emerged from the water yet, their roots, stems, branches, and leaves are soaked by the water. No part of them isn’t covered by it.

98. “Student, a monk thus enters the third dhyāna. Free of joy and abiding in happiness, they soak themselves with it. No part of them isn’t covered by it. This is the third direct attainment of personal happiness.

99. “They detach from joy and happiness, and their previous sorrow and delight cease. Without pain or pleasure, their equanimity and mindfulness are purified, and they enter the fourth dhyāna. In body and mind, their purity is full and overflowing. No part of them isn’t covered by it.

100. “It’s like when a person bathes and washes themselves. They then put on fresh, white cloth to cover their body and make themselves pure.

101. “Student, a monk thus enters the fourth dhyāna. His mental purity fills up his body. No part of him isn’t covered by it. Again, his mind has no increase or decrease when he enters the fourth dhyāna, and it’s motionless. He stands unmoved, without like or dislike.

102. “It’s like a secret room that’s plastered inside and out, and the door is tightly shut. There isn’t any wind or dust, so a lamp burning inside isn’t disturbed by anything. The flame of this lamp is peaceful and unmoving.

103. “Student, a monk thus enters the fourth dhyāna. Their mind has no increase or decrease, and it’s motionless. They stand unmoved, without like or dislike. This is the fourth direct attainment of personal happiness. Why is that? These things come from diligence, not being negligent, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

The Five Excellent Attainments

104. “They attain a concentrated mind that’s pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined. They stand unmoved, conjuring themselves or someone else in their mind with all its limbs and organs without flaw. They then contemplate this, ‘This body’s form made of the four elements has created that body. This body is one thing, and that body is another. The thought arose from this body to create that body with all its limbs and organs without flaw.’

105. “It’s like someone who draws a sword from its scabbard and thinks, ‘The scabbard is one thing, and the sword is another, but the sword came from the scabbard.’

106. “It’s also like someone who spins hemp [threads] to make rope and thinks, ‘The hemp is one thing, and the rope is another, but the rope came from the hemp.’

107. “It’s also like someone who takes a snake out of a basket and thinks, ‘The basket is one thing, and the snake is another, but the snake came from the basket.’

108. “It’s also like someone who takes a robe out of a hamper and thinks, ‘The hamper is one thing, and the robe is another, but the robe came from the hamper.’

109. “Student, a monk is likewise. This is the first excellent attainment. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

110. “After their mind is concentrated, pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, they stand unmoved. They create their own or someone else’s body that’s made of the four elements in their mind, which has all its limbs and organs [without flaw]. They then contemplate this: ‘This body is made of the four elements, and that body has come from conjuration. This body is one thing, and that body is another. That created body has this mind residing in this body as its supporting basis.’

111. “It’s like beryl or maṇi gems that are polished, very bright, pure, and undefiled. Whether they are blue, yellow, or red, someone with eyes holding them in their hand can see that when they’re threaded together the gems are one thing, and the thread is another. Still, the thread supports the gems and goes from gem to gem.

112. “Student, a monk contemplates mind as the supporting basis of this body. It goes to that created body in the same way. This is the monk’s second excellent attainment. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

113. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate the realization of the knowledge of miraculous abilities. They’re can work various miracles. They miraculously make one body into countless bodies and combines countless bodies into one. They can travel by flying. Stone walls are no obstacle to them. They travel through the sky like a bird and walk on water like the earth. Their body smokes and blazes like a large bonfire. They touch the sun and moon with their hand and stand as high as the Brahma Heaven.

114. “They’re like a potter who’s good at mixing wet clay and shaping it into whatever useful container he wants. They’re also like a carpenter that’s good at handling wood, making whatever useful thing he wants from it. They’re also like an ivory worker who’s good at handling elephant tusks, or a goldsmith who’s good at refining pure gold. They make whatever useful things that they want.

115. “Student, this monk is like that. With a concentrated mind, they’re pure … and they stand unmoved … They perform whatever miracles they like … touch the sun and moon with their hand and stand as high as the Brahma Heaven. This is the monk’s third excellent attainment.

116. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate the realization of the knowledge of the heavenly ear. Their heavenly ear is purified, which goes beyond human ears. It hears two sounds: Heavenly sounds and human sounds.

117. “It’s like a city that has a great meeting hall, which is tall, wide, and spacious. A person in this hall who has a keen sense of hearing wouldn’t need to strain to hear a sound. He hears all sorts of things. This monk is like that. Because their mind is concentrated, they purify the heavenly ear and hear these two kinds of sounds. Student, this is the monk’s fourth excellent attainment.

118. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate the realization of the knowledge of other minds. They know that other people’s minds have desires or no desires, are defiled or undefiled, are deluded or not deluded, are open-minded or narrow-minded, are small-minded or broad-minded, concentrated or distracted, bound or liberated, superior or inferior, or have attained the unsurpassed mind. They fully know this.

119. “It’s like someone’s reflection in clear water. A person can surely observe that they are beautiful or ugly. This monk is like that. They can know other people’s minds because their mind is purified. Student, this is a monk’s fifth excellent attainment.

The Three Insights

120. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate the realization of the knowledge of past lives. They then can recollect countless, diverse events of their past lives. They can remember from one birth … countless births, or numerous eons of formation and destruction: ‘Dying here, I was born there with that name, surname, caste, and clan. The meals were delicious or disgusting. My life span was long or short, I experienced those pains or pleasures, and such was my form and appearance.’ They remember all of this.

121. “It’s like someone who goes from their own village or town to a city in another country. They live there walking, standing, speaking, or remaining silent, then they go from that country to another country. Thus, they travel in a circuit until they return to their native land, and they can entirely remember the countries they had traveled without any trouble: ‘From here, I went there. From there, I went here. I walked, stood, spoke, and remained silent.’ They remember all of this.

122. “Student, a monk is thus. With a concentrated mind that’s pure and undefiled, they stand unmoved and recollect the countless events of their past lives with the knowledge of past lives.

123. “This is the monk’s attainment of the first insight. Their ignorance is forever destroyed, and the state of great insight arises. The darkness is dispelled, and the state of illumination arises. This is the monk’s understanding of the knowledge of past lives. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

124. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate the realization of the knowledge of seeing birth and death. Their heavenly eye is purified, and they see sentient beings dying here, being born there, and being born here from there. Their forms are beautiful or ugly, their fruits are good or evil, and they’re noble or mean according to the results of the actions they’ve performed. He knows all of this.

125. “‘This person’s physical conduct was bad, their verbal conduct was bad, and their mental conduct was bad. They slandered the noble ones and believed wrong views. When their body broke up and their life ended, they fell to the three bad destinies.’ ‘This person’s physical conduct was good, their verbal conduct was good, and their mental conduct was good. They didn’t slander the noble ones and believed correct views. When their body broke up and their life ended, they were born in heaven or among humans.’ With their purified heavenly eye, they see sentient beings leaving and arriving in the five destinies according to their actions.

126. “It’s like a high, broad, and level area inside a city. At the head of a four-way intersection, a large and tall tower in built there from which someone with clear vision can keep watch. They see people traveling east, west, south, and north as they go. They can see all of them.

127. “Student, a monk is thus. With a concentrated mind, they’re pure and stand unmoved. They can realize the knowledge of seeing birth and death. With their purified heavenly eye, they fully see sentient beings that are good and bad being born according to their actions, going and arriving in the five destinies. He sees all of them.

128. This is the monk’s attainment of the second insight. Eliminating their ignorance, wise insight arises. The darkness is dispelled, and the light of wisdom shines. This is the realization of the insight into seeing sentient beings being born and dying. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

129. “With a concentrated mind, they’re pure, undefiled, gentle, and disciplined, and they stand unmoved. Unified in mind, they cultivate realization of the knowledge of having no contaminants. They truly know the noble truth of suffering … They truly know the contaminants, the formation of the contaminants, the ending of the contaminants, and the path that leads to the end of the contaminants.[18] They thus know and see the contaminants of desire, existence, and ignorance. Their mind is freed, and their knowledge is freed: ‘My births and deaths have been ended, the religious life has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence.’

130. “It’s like wood, stones, fish, turtles, and other water-born things in a clear stream flowing from east to west. A person with eyes clearly sees them: ‘That’s wood and stones … that’s fish and turtles.’

131. “Student, a monk is thus. With a concentrated mind, they’re pure and stand unmoved. They realize the knowledge of having no contaminants … ‘I won’t be subject to a later existence.’

132. “This is the monk’s attainment of the third insight. Eliminating their ignorance, wise insight arises. The darkness is dispelled, and the light of wisdom shines. This is the insight of the knowledge of having no contaminants. Why is that? These things come from diligence, mindfulness, and being undisturbed, which are gained from happily living in a quiet place.

133. “Student, this is the perfection of the unsurpassed insight and conduct. What do you think? Does this agree with insight and conduct or not?”

The Four Superficial Methods

134. The Buddha told the student, “Someone who can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct instead practices four methods. What are the four?

135. “Student, perhaps someone can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct. Instead, they take a spade and carry a pack into the mountains in search of herbs, and they eat tree roots. Doing so, student, they can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct. Instead, they practice this first method. How is it, student? Do you or your teacher practice this first method?”

He answered, “No.”

136. The Buddha told the student, “Your own pettiness makes you unaware of what’s true or false, yet you slander and belittle the Śākyans while your own lineage is rooted in misdeeds that grow the source of Hell.

137. “Furthermore, student, someone can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct. Instead, they take a water bottle and a walking staff into a mountain forest, and they eat fallen fruit. Doing so, student, they can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct but instead practice this second method. How is it, student? Do you or your teacher practice this method?”

He answered, “No.”

138. The Buddha told the student, “Your own pettiness makes you unaware of what’s true or false, yet you slander and belittle the Śākyans while your own lineage is rooted in misdeeds that grow the source of Hell.

139. “Furthermore, student, [someone] can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct. Instead, they give up picking herbs and fallen fruit. They return to their town and rejoin the people there, building a thatched hut and eating grass or tree leaves. Doing so, student, they can’t perfect the [unsurpassed] insight and conduct. Instead, they practice this third method. How is it, student? Do you or your teacher practice this method?”

He answered, “No.”

140. The Buddha told the student, “Your own pettiness makes you unaware of what’s true or false, yet you slander and belittle the Śākyans while your own lineage is rooted in misdeeds that grow the source of Hell.

141. “Furthermore, student, [someone] can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct, but they don’t eat herbs and grass, fallen fruit, or grass and leaves. Instead, they build a large meeting hall in a town or city, and people come from the east, west, south, and north to offer the donations that they can. Doing so, they can’t perfect the unsurpassed insight and conduct. Instead, they practice this fourth method. How is it, student? Do you or your teacher practice this method?”

He answered, “No.”

142. The Buddha told the student, “Your own pettiness makes you unaware of what’s true or false, yet you slander and belittle the Śākyans while your own lineage is rooted in misdeeds and grows from the source of Hell.

The Ancient Priests

143. “How is it, student? The priests and sages of antiquity had many arts. They praised and commended the hymns of the past. Present-day priests recite and commend them as 1. Aṣṭaka, 2. Vāmaka, 3. Vāmadeva, 4. Viśvāmitra, 5. Aṅgiras, 6. [Yamataggi], 7. Vasiṣṭha, 8. Kāśyapa, 9. Aruṇa, 10. Gautama, 11. [Suyiva], and 12. Sundara.[19] Such great sages and priests dug moats and erected meeting halls. Do you and your teacher’s followers today live like they did?”

He answered, “No.”

144. “Those great sages would have built a walled city where they lived and surrounded it with houses. Do you and your teacher’s followers today live like they did?”

He answered, “No.”

145. “Didn’t those great sages sit on high seats with layered cushions and carpets that were fine and soft? Do you and your teacher’s followers today live like they did?”

He answered, “No.”

146. “Didn’t those great sages enjoy gold, silver, jewelry, colorful flower garlands, and beautiful women? Do you and your teacher’s followers do the same? … Didn’t those great sages have treasure chariots pulled by horses whose drivers were armed with lances, that were covered with white canopies? … Didn’t they have precious fans and wear colorful and valuable sandals as well as all-white cotton cloth? Do you and your teacher’s followers wear those things?”

He answered, “No.”

147. “Student, your own pettiness makes you unaware of what’s true or false, yet you slander and belittle the Śākyans while your own lineage is rooted in misdeeds that grow the source of Hell.

148. “How is it, student? Just as those great sages and priests of antiquity praised and commended reciting the hymns, the priests today commend and recitation of Aṣṭaka and the others. They hand down their teachings and teach them to others hoping to be born in the Brahma Heaven, but it’s impossible.

149. “Student, it’s like when King Prasenajit holds a meeting with others. He might be meeting with kings, officials, priests, or householders. A low-ranking person hears them, goes into Śrāvastī, and tells the people they meet, ‘King Prasenajit had this to say.’ How is it, student? Would the king have a meeting with such a person?”

He answered, “No.”

150. “Student, that person recited the king’s words and told them to other people. Would he be made a high official by the king?”

He answered, “That would be impossible.”

151. “Student, today your tradition recites the teachings of former generations, great sages, and ancient priests. You want to be born in the Brahma Heaven, but it’s impossible. How is it, student? Do all of you accept the offerings of others while following that method of practice?”

He answered, “Yes, Gautama. We accept the offerings of others and practice that method.”

152. “Student, you and your teacher Puṣkarasārin accepted a fiefdom from the king, but when you have a meeting with King Prasenajit, you teach the king nonessential treatises and unbeneficial words, so there’s no way to admonish him to do the right things.

Ambāṣṭha Sees the Thirty-Two Signs

153. “Now you see for yourself you and your teacher’s errors. Setting those things aside, there’s just the circumstances that brought you here.”

154. Thereupon, the student examined the Tathāgata’s body searching for the signs and excellencies. He saw all the signs except for the two that weren’t visible. This caused him to feel doubtful.

155. The Bhagavān then silently thought to himself, “Now, this student doesn’t see two of the signs, and that has made him doubtful.” He then stuck out his long and broad tongue sign and covered his ear with it.

156. The student was still doubtful about the other sign, and the Bhagavān again thought, “Now, this student is still doubtful about this one sign.” He then used his miraculous ability to privately show him his hidden horse-like penis.

157. After seeing all his signs, the student no longer doubted the Tathāgata. He rose from his seat, circled the Buddha, and departed.

Ambāṣṭha Returns to His Teacher

158. While standing outside his door looking into the distance, the priest Puṣkarasārin saw his disciple approaching from far away. He met him and asked, “Did you examine Gautama to see if his signs were real? Are his virtues and miraculous abilities really as we’ve heard?”

The student then said to his teacher, “The ascetic Gautama is replete with all 32 signs. His virtues and miraculous abilities are really as we’ve heard.”

159. His teacher again asked, “Did you talk a little with Gautama?”

He answered, “I did in fact exchange words with Gautama.”

160. The teacher again asked, “What did you discuss with Gautama?”

The student told his teacher about the words he exchanged with the Buddha.

His teacher said, “I had an intelligent disciple to send as my messenger, but we’ll soon end up in Hell. Why is that? You spoke as a superior and criticized Gautama. When my messenger is displeasing, it comes back to me. You and the other intelligent disciples were sent with this errand, but I’ll soon end up in Hell [on your account].”

161. Under the influence of the bond of resentment, the teacher kicked his student, making him fall from the chariot they were riding. After he fell from the chariot, the student developed vitiligo.

Puṣkarasārin Visits the Buddha

162. Examining the position of the sun, the priest Puṣkarasārin thought, “I’d pay a visit to the ascetic Gautama, but it’s not the right time now. I’ll need to wait until tomorrow, then I’ll go and visit him.” When the sun rose the next day, he prepared his treasure chariot and horses and proceeded to the citron grove surrounded by five hundred disciples. He then dismounted and continued on foot until he reached the Bhagavān. After they exchanged greetings, he sat to one side. Looking closely at the Tathāgata’s body, he saw that he had the signs, but he didn’t see two of them.

163. The priest was doubtful about those two signs. Knowing his thoughts, the Buddha then stuck out his long and broad tongue and covered his ear with it.

164. The priest was still doubtful about the other sign. Knowing his thoughts, the Buddha used his miraculous abilities to allow him to see his hidden horse-like penis.

165. When the priest saw the Tathāgata’s 32 signs, his mind was opened, and he had no more misgivings. Quickly, he said to the Buddha, “If I meet the Buddha on the road while traveling, I’ll stop my chariot for a brief rest. You should consider it as though I’m bowing respectfully to the Bhagavān. Why is that? I’ve received another’s fiefdom. If I were to dismount from my chariot, I would lose this fiefdom and a bad reputation would be circulated about me.”

166. He also said to the Buddha, “If I dismount, untie my sword, close my parasol, and remove my banner, water bottle, and sandals, you should consider it as though I’m venerating the Tathāgata. Why is that? I’ve received another’s fiefdom. If I were to dismount from my chariot, I would lose this fiefdom and a bad reputation would be circulated about me.”

167. He also said to the Buddha, “Suppose I’m with my assembly and see the Buddha rise. If I bare my right shoulder and declare my clan’s name, you should consider it as though I’m venerating the Tathāgata. Why is that? I’ve received another’s fiefdom. If I were to dismount from my chariot, I would lose this fiefdom and a bad reputation would be circulated about me.”

168. He also said to the Buddha, “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha. Permit me to be a layman of the correct teaching! Hereafter, I won’t kill, steal, commit adultery, lie, or drink alcohol. Please let the Bhagavān and those in this large assembly accept my invitation.”

The Buddha Visits Puṣkarasārin

169. The priest saw that the Buddha remained silent and knew that he had given his consent. He then rose from his seat and departed, bowing to the Buddha and circling him three times without thinking about it. He went back and prepared meals of fine delicacies. When they were ready, he returned and said, “It’s time.”

170. The Bhagavān then put on his robe and took his bowl to the priest’s house with that large assembly of 1,250 monks. Arriving, they prepared their seats and sat down.

171. The priest then personally served the meals, giving a variety of sweet delicacies to the Buddha and the Saṅgha. When they finished eating and washing their bowls, the priest took his disciple Ambāṣṭha to the Buddha with his right hand and said, “Please let the Tathāgata permit us to repent for our wrongdoing! Please let the Tathāgata permit us to repent for our wrongdoing!” He repeated this three times.

172. He also said to the Buddha, “Like a well-trained elephant or horse that returns again to the correct path when it goes astray, this man is thus. Although he was contaminated, it’s gone now. Please permit him to repent for his wrongdoing!”

173. The Buddha told the priest, “It will lengthen your life to do so, and you’ll find peace in the present life. It will also rid your disciple of his vitiligo.” After the Buddha agreed, that disciple’s vitiligo was cured.

Puṣkarasārin Attains Stream-Entry

174. The priest then fetched a small chair for the Buddha to sit in front of the assembly, and the Bhagavān explained the teaching for them. With plain instruction that’s gainful and joyous, he discussed generosity, precepts, birth in the heavens, the defilement of desire, the trouble of the contaminants, the transcendence of escape, and the declaration of purity. When he knew that the priest’s mind was gentle, pure, undefiled, and capable of accepting instruction about the path, the Bhagavān taught him the eternal teaching of Buddhas. He explained the noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of suffering’s formation, the noble truth of suffering’s cessation, and the noble truth of suffering’s escape.

175. Sitting right there on his seat, the priest had his dust and defilements removed and his Dharma eye was purified. It was like a pure and clean white cloth that’s easily stained. The priest Puṣkarasārin was likewise. He saw the teaching, attained the teaching, became certain about the fruits of the path, didn’t believe other paths, and attained fearlessness.

176. He then said to the Buddha, “Now, I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha of monks three times. Permit me to become a layman of the correct teaching! For the rest of my life, I won’t kill, steal, commit adultery, lie, or drink alcohol. Please let the Bhagavān and the great assembly have pity on me and accept my invitation for the next seven days.” The Bhagavān then silently consented to this.

177. During the next seven days, the priest gave a variety of offerings to the Buddha and his large assembly. After that, the Bhagavān traveled among the people.

178. Not long after the Buddha departed, the priest Puṣkarasārin fell sick, and his life ended. When the monks heard that this priest had given offerings to the Buddha for seven days before his life ended, they each thought, “Where was he born after his life ended?”

179. A group of monks went to the Buddha. After bowing to him, they sat to one side of the Buddha and said, “That priest had given offerings to the Buddha for seven days before his body broke up and his life ended. Where was he reborn?”

180. The Buddha told the monks, “This clansman had broadly collected virtues, perfected one teaching and the next, and didn’t go contrary to the teaching. He ended the five lower bonds and will reach parinirvāṇa without returning to this world.”

181. When the monks heard what the Buddha had taught, they rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. Direct parallels include DN 3 and an alternate Chinese translation, T 20. [back]
  2. Icchānaṅgala. While I’ve not found a Skt. attestation, the Chinese transliteration matches the Pali closely, so I’ve adopted it. Citron grove. In Pali, the grove is named after the town, but in Chinese it’s called Iccha[ka], the name of the citron, which is a shrub that was the progenitor of later citrus fruits like lemons and limes. [back]
  3. Utkaṭa. Ch. 郁伽羅 (MCh. ɪuk-k’ie-la = *Ukkala), P. Utkaṭṭhā. Utkaṭa is the Skt. attestation, but the Chinese suggests “Utkala.” [back]
  4. Three Vedas. The Chinese literally reads “the three-division hymns of the other training” (異學三部諷誦), which seems to be a roundabout description of the three Vedas of the Brahmanical tradition. [back]
  5. Ambāṣṭha. Ch. 阿摩晝 (a-mua-ṭɪəu = *Am[b]aṭhu), P. Ambaṭṭha. [back]
  6. disfigured. This was an exaggeration referring to the practice of shaving one’s head.
    single. The Chinese expression implies being unmarried, like the English expression “single.” [back]
  7. you. Unlike English, Asian languages have different pronouns used for different hierarchical relationships. The Chinese pronoun here is one used to speak to someone in an inferior position like a servant, one’s child, or a husband addressing his wife. [back]
  8. you. The Buddha again addresses him as an inferior. [back]
  9. Svararāja. Ch. 聲王. Lit. “King of Voices.” It’s unclear exactly what the Skt. would be for this name, other than this straightforward back-translation that appears in other mythical Buddhist names. Both here and in the Theravāda account, Ambāṣṭha’s clan name appears to be a sarcasm. The ill-spoken youth gets the name “King of Voices,” which is presumably a joke that he is an embarrassment to his clan. In the Theravāda version, the joke is instead to name him “Black Way” (Kaṇhāyana), referring to Ambaṭṭha’s insults about ascetics and the story the Buddha is about to tell him. [back]
  10. Ikṣvāku. Ch. 聲摩 (MCh. ʃɪɛŋ-mua = *[Ik]śeñ-ma?). P. Okkāka, Skt. Ikṣvāku. The Chinese indicates that his name was different in the language of the Dīrgha Āgama and in several other Chinese translations from this period. The king’s name appears as 懿摩, 懿師摩, 伊摩, and 鬱摩 in other texts, indicated that it was akin to “Ikṣvama.” I’ve adopted the Skt. equivalent. [back]
  11. Ulkāmukha … Hastikaśīrṣa … Karakaṇḍa … Opura. Ch. 面光, 象食, 路指, 莊嚴; P. Okkāmukha, Karakaṇḍa, Hatthinika, and Sinisūra; Skt. Ulkāmukha, Hastikasirsa, Opura, Karakaṇḍa. The Chinese names in the list appear to include Ulkāmukha (面光) and Hastikasirsa (象食), but the other two are obscure. I’ve adopted the Skt. names. [back]
  12. teak tree grove. Ch. 直樹林. The Chinese translates śaka literally as “straight” (直) to capture the wordplay that will happen shortly. [back]
  13. Some editions of the Chinese have an interlineal note explaining the play on words: “Śākya means ‘staying in the straight tree grove.’ Therefore, they are called Śākya. Śākya also means ‘straight.’” [back]
  14. a servant. The Chinese literally reads “green clothes” (靑衣) but this was the fashion of servants and common people in China at the time, so the term served as a colloquialism for servants and workers.
    Diśa. Ch. 方面; P. disā. The Chinese translation could mean “square face,” but Disā is a name in the Pali story, and “region” or “quarter” is a more common reading of 方面. [back]
  15. Terrible. Ch. 可畏, P. pisāca. The Chinese translation of the name suggests it may not have been pisāca (“goblin”), and it seems appropriate to translate the epithet in English; so, I’ve kept to the Chinese reading. [back]
  16. guhyaka warriors. Ch. 密迹力士, Skt. guhyaka vajrapāṇi. 密迹 literally means something like “secret followers.” They were yakṣa spirits who guarded the Buddha, presumably remaining invisible until they were needed. [back]
  17. The parallel passage in DĀ 21 has a thousand squares rather than “all squares.” Given that this passage seems to be an obscure reference to game boards, I’ve adopted that reading. [back]
  18. I’ve adopted an alternate reading in previous editions that reads 如實知有漏集,如實知有漏盡 as 如實知有漏、有漏集、有漏盡 …. This supports interpreting the initial 如實知苦聖諦 as an abbreviation of the four truths of suffering that precedes the four truths applied to the contaminants, which agree with the parallel passage in DN 2. The Japanese translators maintained the Taisho reading: 彼如實知苦聖諦,如實知有漏集,如實知有漏盡,如實知趣漏盡道 = “They truly know the noble truth of suffering and truly know the formation of contaminants, truly know the ending of contaminants, and truly know the way leading to the end of the contaminants.” [back]
  19. Aṣṭaka. Ch. 阿咤摩 (MCh. a-tă-mua = *Atama[ka]), P. Aṭṭhaka. BHS Aṣṭamaka is also an extant reading in the Mahāvastu.
    Vāmaka. Ch. 婆摩 (MCh. bua-mua = *Vama).
    Vāmadeva. Ch. 婆摩提婆 (MCh. bua-mua-dei-bua = *Vamadeva).
    Viśvāmitra. Ch. 鼻波密多 (MCh. bii-pua-mɪĕt-ta = *Vipamitta) P. Vessāmitta, Skt. Viśvāmitra.
    Aṅgiras. Ch. 伊兜瀨悉 (MCh. ɪi-təu-lai-siĕt = *Ituraset), P., Skt. Aṅgiras.
    Yamataggi. Ch. 耶婆提伽 (MCh. yiă-bua-dei-k’ie = *Yavatagi). Skt. unknown.
    Vasiṣṭha. Ch. 婆婆婆悉吒 (MCh bua-bua-bua-siĕt-tă = [bhava?] *Vasetta), P. Vāseṭṭha, Skt. Vasiṣṭha. The initial 婆婆 appears to be a corruption.
    Kāśyapa. Ch. 迦葉 (MCh. kie-ʃɪɛp = *Kiṣap[a]), P. Kassapa, Skt. Kāśyapa. This was a well-known transliteration.
    Aruna. Ch. 阿樓那 (MCh. a-ləu-na = *Aruṇa). This is a well-known transliteration, but it doesn’t have a parallel in the Pali.
    Gautama. Ch. 瞿曇 (MCh. gɪuo-dəm = *Gotam[a]). Another known transliteration, but Gotama isn’t found in the Pali parallel.
    [Suyiva]. Ch. 首夷婆 (MCh. ʃɪəu-yii-bua = *Ṣuyiva). 翻梵語 (T2130.985c6) has an entry with this transliteration in a compound. It glosses it to mean “pure speech,” but I haven’t ascertained an Indic equivalent that matches it’s syllables.
    Sundara. Ch. 損陀羅 (MCh. suən-da-la = *Sundara). There’s no parallel in Pali, but it’s a known name in Skt. for a former king. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 8 August 2021