Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
VIII. Aṭṭhaka Nipāta
V. Uposatha Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
VIII. The Book of the Eights
V: The Observance Day

Sutta 44

Vāseṭṭh'Uposatha Suttaɱ

Vāseṭṭha

Translated from the Pali by E.M. Hare.

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[258] [174]

[1][bodh] Thus have I heard:

Once the Exalted One, was dwelling in the Gabled Hall, in Mahāvana, near Vesālī.

There Vāseṭṭha,[1] the lay disciple, approached the Exalted One,
saluted,
and sat down at one side.

As he sat at one side, The Exalted One said:[ed1]

'Vāseṭṭha, the Observance day,
when observed and kept with eight qualifications
is very fruitful,
of great advantage,
very splendid,
very thrilling.

 

§

 

Vāseṭṭha, how is it so observed and kept?

Herein, Vāseṭṭha, an Ariyan disciple reflects thus:

"All their lives
arahants abandon taking life
and abstain therefrom;
they dwell meekly and kindly,
compassionately and mercifully to all beings,
laying aside stick and sword.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will abandon taking life and abstain therefrom.

I will dwell meekly and kindly,
compassionately and mercifully to all beings
and lay aside both stick and sword.

So, in this way,
I shall follow the example of arahants
and keep the Observance."

With this first qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abandon taking what is not given
and abstain therefrom.

They dwell taking what is given,
expectant;
not stealing,
but holding themselves in purity.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will abandon taking what is not given
and abstain therefrom.

I will dwell taking what is given,
expectant;
not stealing,
but holding myself in purity.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants
and keep the Observance."

With this second qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abstain from living the ungodly life;
living the godly life,
abiding apart,
they abstain from intercourse,
the village-practice.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will abstain from living the ungodly life;
living the godly life,
abiding apart,
they abstain from intercourse,
the village-practice.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this third qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abandon lying and abstain therefrom;
speaking the truth,
bondsmen to truth,
trustworthy,
dependable,
they deceive no one in the world.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will abandon lying and abstain therefrom;
speaking the truth,
bondsmen to truth,
trustworthy,
dependable,
I will deceive no one in the world.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this fourth qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abandon spirituous liquors that cause sloth,
and abstain therefrom.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will abandon spirituous liquors that cause sloth,
and abstain therefrom.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this fifth qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants have but one meal (a day),
abstaining from food at night and at wrong times.

I, too, now, during this night and day,
will have but one meal,
abstaining from food at night and at wrong times.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this sixth qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abstain from looking on at shows and fairs,
where there is dancing,
singing and music;
from wearing,
decorating or adorning themselves
with garlands, scents and cosmetics.

I, too, now during this night and day,
will abstain from looking on at shows and fairs,
where there is dancing,
singing and music;
from wearing,
decorating or adorning myself
with garlands, scents and cosmetics.

So, thereby, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this seventh qualification is it kept.

"All their lives
arahants abandon using large and lofty beds
and abstain therefrom;
they lie on low beds,
couches or strewn grass.

I, too, this night and day,
abstaining from the using a large or lofty bed,
will lie on a low one
or on a couch or on strewn grass.

So, in this way, I shall follow the example of arahants and keep the Observance."

With this eighth qualification is it kept.

Vāseṭṭha, the Observance day,
when observed and kept with these eight qualifications
is very fruitful,
of great advantage,
very splendid,
very thrilling.'

 

§

 

'How fruitful,
how advantageous,
how splendid
and how thrilling
is the Observance day (when kept)?

Vāseṭṭha, though one hold power,
dominion,
sway
over these sixteen great peoples,
rich with the seven gems,
that is to say:

The Aŋgas,
Magadhas,
Kāsis,
Kosalas,
Vajjīs,
Mallas,
Cetīs,
Vaɱsas,
Pañcālas,
Macchas,
Sūrasenas,
Assakas,
Avantīs,
Gandharas
and the Kambojas,
yet such power is not worth a sixteenth part
of the Observance day
kept with the eight qualifications.

And why is that?

Mean, Vāseṭṭha, is the rule of man compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each fifty years of mankind
is but a single night and day to the hosts of the Four Royal devas;
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The lifespan of those devas
consists of five hundred celestial years,
each equal to that year.

This is certain, Vāseṭṭha,
that when woman or man keep the Observance day
with the eight qualifications,
they may arise,
when the body breaks up after death,
among the retinue of the Four Royal devas.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man
compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each hundred years of mankind
is but a single night and day to the devas of the Thirty;
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The life-span of those devas
consists of a thousand celestial years,
each equal to that year.

This is certain, Vāseṭṭha,
that when woman or man keep the Observance day
with the eight qualifications,
they may arise,
when the body breaks up after death,
among the deva-retinue of the Thirty.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man
compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each two hundred years of mankind
is but a single night and day to the Yama devas;
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The life-span of those devas
consists of two thousand celestial years,
each equal to that year.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man
compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each four hundred years of mankind is but a single night and day to the Tusita devas;
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The life-span of those devas
consists of four thousand celestial years,
each equal to that year.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man
compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each eight hundred years of mankind is but a single night and day to the devas who delight in creating;
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The life-span of those devas
consists of eight thousand celestial years,
each equal to that year.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man
compared with celestial happiness.

Vāseṭṭha, each sixteen hundred years of mankind is but a single nigbt and day to the devas who have power over others' creations,
their month has thirty of those nights,
their year twelve months.

The life-span of those devas
consists of sixteen thousand celestial years,
each equal to that year.

This is certain, Vāseṭṭha,
that when woman or man keep the Observance day
with the eight qualifications,
they may arise,
on the breaking up of the body after death,
among the retinue of the devas who have power over others' creations.

So, Vāseṭṭha, this is said by me concerning that:

Mean is the rule of man compared with celestial happiness.

 


 

Kill not, nor take what is not given thee,
Speak ne'er a lie, nor drink strong drink, eschew
Ungodly living, sinful intercourse,
At night eat not, nor at unfitting times,
Refrain from garlands and the use of scents
And make thy bed upon the grass-strewn ground -
Indeed this eightfold is th'Observance called,
Taught by th'Awake, who to ill's end has gone.

In ordered course the moon and sun sweep on
Both fair to see and luminous. While through
The sky they move, they gild the clouds and gloom
Dispel; o'er every realm they shed their rays -
Within this earth are treasures found: gems, pearls,
The beryl, luck-stone, singī gold, and golds
Called jāta, kañcana and haṭaka -
But not a sixteenth part the worth are they
Of the Observance kept - like sheen of moon
To all the starry host 'tis in compare.
Wherefore the virtuous woman, moral man,
Who keep th'Observance day in these eight ways,
Make merit yielding happiness and come,
Blameless, unto the blissful heaven-world.'

 


 

And when he had so spoken, Vasettha said to the Exalted One:

'Lord, if my near and dear kinsfolk
were to keep the Observance day,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

Lord, if all the nobles were thus to keep the Observance day,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all the brahmans,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all the tradesfolk[2],
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all [175] the labourers were thus to keep the Observance day it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.'

'It is just as you say, Vasettha, if your near and dear kinsfolk
were to keep the Observance day,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

Lord, if all the nobles were thus to keep the Observance day,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all the brahmans,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all the tradesfolk,
with the eightfold qualifications,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

If all the labourers were thus to keep the Observance day it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.'

And if the deva world,
with its Maras and Brahmās,
or the world of mankind,
with its recluses and godly men,
its devas and men,
were thus to keep the Observance day,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day.

'Vasettha, even if these great Sal[3] trees
were thus to keep the Observance day,
it would be for their benefit and happiness for many a day,
provided they were to act consciously -
then what need to speak of mankind!'[4]

 


[1] His name is not in the list at A.; he may be the brahman of the Tevijja Sutta; see Dial. i, 300; iii, 77, n. 3.

[2] Vessa and sudda.

[3] Mahāsālā. Comy. Before him stood two Sal trees.

[4] Cf. A. ii, 194. [AN 4.193 Woodward]

 


[ed1] Hare abridges saying: "(repeated Sutta 42 and the gāthā)" Reconstructed for this edition. For notes see AN 8.42.


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