Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 9: The Only Son

5. Downfall

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “When I continuously examine the things that a person thinks about in their mind, I see: ‘This person will fall to Hell[2] in the time it takes to flex their arm.’ Why is that? Because of their evil thoughts, their mind becomes ill, and they fall down into Hell.”

3. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

4. “Therefore, monks, one should control their mind and not do defiled conduct. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

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


  1. This sūtra is parallel to AN 1.43 and Iti 20. [back]
  2. Hell. C. 泥㴝 or 泥犂 (MC. nei-lei = G. nara[ga]), P/S. naraka. The Chinese transliterates the Indic word that was equivalent to English “Hell” as a place of punishment in the afterlife. Naraka literally means a pit, so a literal translation to English could be “the Pit.” The next occurrence of “Hell,” however, translates the Indic name to Chinese as 地獄 (lit. “earth prison”). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 3 March 2023