Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara-Nikāya
III. Tika Nipāta
VII. Mahā Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
or
More-Numbered Suttas

III. The Book of the Threes
VII. The Great Chapter

Sutta 62

Bhayā Suttaɱ

Terror

Translated from the Pali by
F.L. Woodward, M.A.

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[161]

[1][than][olds][bodh] THUS have I heard:

On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying near Sāvatthī, at Jeta Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍika's Park.

Then the Exalted One addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Yes, Lord," replied those monks to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One said this:

2. "Monks, the uneducated manyfolk speaks of these three terrors
that part mother and son.[1]

What are the three?

There comes a time
when a great fire breaks out.

When it breaks out,
villages,
suburbs
and towns are burned.

When these are burning,
the mother cannot reach her son,
and the son cannot reach his mother.

This is the first terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

3. Then again, monks,
there comes a time
when a mighty rain falls.

When this happens,
a great flood is caused.

When the flood comes,
villages,
suburbs
and towns are swept away.

When these are being swept away,
a mother cannot reach her son,
and the son cannot reach his mother.

This is the second terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

4. Then again, monks,
there comes a time
when there is an alarm
of a forest-raid of robbers,[2]
and the country-folk mount their carts
and drive away.

When this happens,
amid the scattering of the country-folk in carts,
a mother cannot reach her son,
and the son cannot reach his mother.

This is the third terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

 

§

 

[162] 5. Now again, monks,
the uneducated manyfolk
speaks of these three terrors
wherein a mother and her son
are sometimes together,
sometimes parted.

What are the three?

There comes a time
when a great fire breaks out.

When it breaks out,
villages,
suburbs
and towns are burned.

When these are burning,
then sometimes it may be possible
for a mother to reach her son,
and for a son to reach his mother.

This is the first terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

Then again there comes a time
when a great rain falls.

When this happens,
a great flood is caused.

When the flood comes,
villages,
suburbs
and towns are swept away.

When these are being swept away,
then sometimes it may be possible
for a mother to reach her son,
and for a son to reach his mother.

This is the second terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

Then again, monks,
there comes a time
when there is an alarm
of a forest-raid of robbers,
and the country-folk mount their carts
and drive away.

When this happens,
amid the scattering of the country-folk in carts,
then sometimes it may be possible
for a mother to reach her son,
and for a son to reach his mother.

This is the third terror
that the uneducated manyfolk speaks of.

These are the three terrors
whereof the uneducated manyfolk speaks,
wherein a mother and her son are sometimes together,
sometimes parted.

 

§

 

6. Monks, these three terrors part mother and son.

What three?

A mother cannot bear[3]
to see her son grow old.

She says,

'I am growing old.

Let not my son grow old.'

The son likewise cannot bear
to see his mother grow old.

He says,

'I am growing old.

Let not my mother grow old.'

This is the first terror
that parts mother and son.

A mother cannot bear
to see her son get sick.

She says,

'Let me get sick.

Let not my son get sick.'

The son likewise cannot bear
to see his mother get sick.

He says,

'Let me get sick.

Let not my mother get sick.'

This is the second terror
that parts mother and son.

A mother cannot bear
to see her son die.

She says,

'Let me die.

Let not my son die.'

The son likewise cannot bear
to see his mother die.

He says,

'Let me get die.

Let not my mother die.'

This is the third terror
that parts mother and son.

These are the three terrors
that part mother and son.

 

§

 

The phrase "a way which joins mother and son" is a mis-translation, and a dangerous and misleading one at that. The sutta is speaking about overcoming terrors, not ways to unite mother and son. Further the Way is not a way to unite mothers and sons except possibly in the sense of both being followers at the same time, that is, being united in an idea, certainly there is no idea here of being united in some after-life. See the Olds translation or the Bhk. Thanissaro translation for the way this whole sutta should have been handled.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

7. But, monks, there is a way,
there is a practice
that leads to the abandoning,
to the overpassing
of these three terrors
that part mother and son,
a way which joins mother and son.

What is that way,
what is that practice
which leads to the abandoning,
to the overpassing
of these three terrors
that part mother and son,
a way which joins mother and son?

It is just this Eightfold Way, to wit:

Right view,
right aim,
right speech,
right action,
right living,
right effort,
right mindfulness,
right concentration,

That is the way,
that is the practice
which leads to the abandoning,
to the overpassing
of these three terrors
that part mother and son,
a way which joins mother and son."

 


[1] Amātā-puttikāni, lit. 'not-mother-son-ish,' 'where there is no possibility of mutual protection.' Comy.

[2] Aṭavi-sankopo. So Comy. and Sinh. MSS., but text prefers sankhepo (?), as at A. iii, 66. Comy. = aṭaviyā sankopo: aṭavī = aṭavi-vāsino = corā.

[3] Labhati.


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