Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 10: The Guarded Mind

8. Māra the Wicked One

1. Thus I have heard: 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, “If someone accepts one thing and doesn’t part with one thing, then Māra the Wicked One won’t be able to get an advantage over them. He won’t be able to come and harass them, either. What is that one thing? It’s virtuous, meritorious deeds. Why is that?

3. “I recall in the past when I was sitting under the tree of awakening with the bodhisattvas who had gathered in one place. Deceitful Māra the Wicked One led an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands of millions. His soldiers had all sorts of indescribable forms with animal heads and human bodies. The gods, nāgas, yakṣas, asuras, garuḍas, and mahoragas all came and assembled.[1]

4. “Māra the Wicked One then said to me, ‘Ascetic, I’ll quickly throw you to the ground!’ But the Buddha defeated that Māra foe with merit, virtue, and great power. His impurities being extinguished and having no defilement, he then achieved the unsurpassed and true awakening.

5. “Monks, one should contemplate the meaning of this. Deceitful Māra the Wicked One can’t find an advantage over a monk who has perfected his virtue, nor can he ruin his virtue.”

6. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

7. “Therefore, monks, don’t be cautious about making merit. [Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.]”

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


  1. This scene sounds very much like the one we find in the later biographical epics like the Lalitavistara and Buddhacarita, though it includes more details in common with the former than the later. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 2 April 2023