Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
4. Rāja Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
4. The Royal Division

Sutta 86

Aŋgulimāla Suttaɱ

Discourse with Aŋgulimāla

Translated from the Pali by I.B. Horner, M.A.
Associate of Newham College, Cambridge
First Published in 1954

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[1][edmn][chlm][than][ntbb][upal] THUS have I heard:

Sāvatthī, at Jeta Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

Now at that time,
in the realm of King Pasenadi of Kosaia[1]
there was a robber named Aŋgulimāla,[2]
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages were depopulated[3]
and market towns were depopulated
and country [285] districts were depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wore a garland of fingers.

Then the Lord, having dressed in the morning,
taking his bowl and robe,
entered Sāvatthī for almsfood;
having walked for alms in Sāvatthī,
returning from the almsgathering after the meal,
having packed away his lodging,
taking his bowl and robe,
he set out along a highway
towards the robber Aŋgulimāla.

Cowherds,
goatherds,
yeomen farmers
and travellers
saw the Lord
as he was setting out along the highway
towards the robber Aŋgulimāla.

Having seen the Lord,
they spoke thus to him:

"Do not, recluse,
set out along this road.

There is a robber on this road
called Aŋgulimāla,
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages are depopulated
and market towns are depopulated
and country districts are depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wares a garland of fingers.

This is a road, recluse,
along which ten
or twenty
or thirty
or forty men
set out only after they have collected together,
and even they are at the mercy
of the robber Aŋgulimāla."

When this had been said, the Lord,
having become silent,
went on.

And a second time,
the cowherds,
goatherds,
yeomen farmers
and travellers
spoke thus to the Lord:

"Do not, recluse,
set out along this road.

There is a robber on this road
called Aŋgulimāla,
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages are depopulated
and market towns are depopulated
and country districts are depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wares a garland of fingers.

This is a road, recluse,
along which ten
or twenty
or thirty
or forty men
set out only after they have collected together,
and even they are at the mercy
of the robber Aŋgulimāla."

And a second time,
when this had been said, the Lord,
having become silent,
went on.

And a third time,
the cowherds,
goatherds,
yeomen farmers
and travellers
spoke thus to the Lord:

"Do not, recluse,
set out along this road.

There is a robber on this road
called Aŋgulimāla,
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages are depopulated
and market towns are depopulated
and country districts are depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wares a garland of fingers.

This is a road, recluse,
along which ten
or twenty
or thirty
or forty men
set out only after they have collected together,
and even they are at the mercy
of the robber Aŋgulimāla."

And a third time,
when this had been said, the Lord,
having become silent,
went on.

The robber Aŋgulimāla saw the Lord coming in the distance;
on seeing him,
it occurred to him:

"Indeed it is wonderful,
indeed it is marvellous.

This is a road,
along which ten
or twenty
or thirty
or forty men
set out only after they have collected together,
and even they are at my mercy.

And now this recluse is coming along alone,
without a companion,
it seems from choice.[4]

Suppose I were to deprive this recluse of life?"

Then the robber Aŋgulimāla,
having grasped his sword and shield,
having armed himself with bow and quiver,
followed close after the Lord.

Then the Lord performed such a wonder of psychic power
that the robber Aŋgulimāla,
although walking with all his strength,
was not able to catch up with the Lord
who was walking at an ordinary pace.

Then it occurred to the robber Aŋgulimāla:

'Indeed [286] it is wonderful,
indeed it is marvellous.

Although formerly I could attack and seize a running elephant,
I could attack and seize a running horse,
I could attack and seize a running chariot,
I could attack and seize a running deer,
now I,
although walking with all my strength,
am not able to catch up with this recluse
who is walking at an ordinary pace.

Standing still,
he said to the Lord:

"Stand still, recluse,
stand still, recluse."

"I am standing still, Aŋgulimāla,
you too stand still."

Then it occurred to the robber Aŋgulimāla:

"These recluses,
sons of the Sakyans,
are truth-speakers,
approving of truth.

But yet this recluse,
while he is walking,
says:

'I am standing still, Aŋgulimāla,
you too stand still.'

Suppose I were to question this recluse?"

Then the robber Aŋgulimāla
spoke out to the Lord in verses:[5]

"While you are walking, recluse, you say:
'I am standing still,'
and you tell me, who am standing still,
that I am not standing still.

I ask you, recluse, about this matter:
How is it that you are standing still,
yet I am not standing still?"

"I, Aŋgulimāla, am standing still,
having for all beings everywhere laid aside the stick,
But you are unrestrained regarding creatures;
therefore I am standing still,
you are not standing still."

"Long it is since a great sage was honoured by me,
yet this recluse is penetrating the Great Grove.
I will soon get rid of evil,
hearing dhamma in a verse of yours."

The Editor here forgets that this is supposed to be Aŋgulimāla speaking. Perhaps this was not originally in verse?

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

When the robber had spoken thus,
he hurled his sword and weapons down a cliff,
into a pit, a chasm.
The robber honoured the Well-farer's feet;
there he asked for the going forth.

The Awakened One and compassionate great sage
who is the Teacher of the world with its devas,
Thereupon said to him:
"Come, monk." This itself was monk's status for him.

Then the Lord set out on tour for Sāvatthī
with the venerable Aŋgulimāla as his attendant.

In due course,
walking on tour,
he [287] arrived at Sāvatthī.

While he was there
the Lord stayed near Sāvatthī,
in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

Now at that time, a great concourse of people,
having gathered together at the gate of King Pasenadi's palace,
were making a loud noise,
a great noise,
saying:

"There is a robber in your realm, sire,
called Aŋgulimāla,
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages are depopulated
and market towns are depopulated
and country districts are depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wares a garland of fingers.

Let the king drive him out."

Then King Pasenadi,
with as many as five hundred horses,
left Sāvatthī early in the morning
and started for the monastery.

Having gone by vehicle as far as the ground permitted,
he dismounted from his vehicle
and approached the Lord on foot;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

The Lord spoke thus to King Pasenadi
as he was sitting down at a respectful distance:

"What is it, sire?

Is King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha angry with you,
or the Licehavis of Vesālī,
or some hostile king?"

"Revered sir,
it is not that King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha is angry with me,
or the Licehavis of Vesālī,
or any hostile king.

There is a robber in my realm, revered sir,
named Aŋgulimāla,
a hunter,
bloody-handed,
bent on death and destruction,
merciless to living creatures.

Through him villages are depopulated
and market towns are depopulated
and country districts are depopulated.

From his constant killing of people
he wares a garland of fingers.

I, revered sir,
shall never drive him out."

"But[6] if you, sire,
were to see the robber Aŋgulimāla,
having had his hair and beard cut off,
having donned saffron robes,
having gone forth from home into homelessness,
refraining from onslaught on creatures,
refraining from taking what has not been given,
refraining from lying speech,
a one-meal-man,
a Brahma-farer,
virtuous,
of lovely character -
what would you do to him?"

"Revered sir,
we would salute him
or rise up before him
or offer him a seat
or invite him to the requisites of robe-material,
almsfood,
lodgings
and medicines for the sick,
or we would have a proper watch and ward and guard
provided for him.

But whence could there be, revered sir,
such control in moral habit
for one of bad morality,
of evil character?"

Now at that time
the venerable Aŋgulimāla was sitting near the Lord.

Then the Lord,
stretching out his right arm,
spoke thus to King Pasenadi:

"This, sire,
is Aŋgulimāla."

Then King Pasenadi was afraid,
alarmed
and his hair stood on end.

[288] Then the Lord,
knowing King Pasenadi's terror and agitation
and that his hair was standing on end,
spoke thus to King Pasenadi:

"Do not be afraid, sire,
do not be afraid, sire;
you have no cause for fear here."

Then King Pasenadi's fear and alarm
and the standing of his hair on end
all abated.

Then King Pasenadi approached the venerable Aŋgulimāla;
having approached,
he spoke thus to the venerable Aŋgulimāla:

"Revered sir,
is the master really Aŋgulimāla?"

"Yes, sire."

"Of what clan was the master's father?

Of what clan his mother?"

"Gagga was my father, sire,
Mantāni my mother."

"Revered sir, let the master,
the son of Gagga and Mantāni,
be of good cheer.

I will make an effort
in the matter of the requisites of robe-material,
almsfood,
lodgings
and medicines for the sick,
or we would have a proper watch and ward and guard
provided for the master,
the son of Gagga and Mantāni."

Now at that time the venerable Aŋgulimāla
was a forest-dweller,
an almsman,
a rag-robe wearer,
one who wore the three robes.

So the venerable Aŋgulimāla
spoke thus to King Pasenadi:

"No, sire,
I am complete as to the three robes."

Then King Pasenadi approached the Lord;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance,
King Pasenadi spoke thus to the Lord:

"It is wonderful, revered sir,
it is marvellous, revered sir,
how this Lord, revered sir,
tames the untamed,
calms the uncalmed,
helps to quell completely
those that are not completely quelled.[7]

Him, revered sir,
that I was unable to tame
with stick and sword,
the Lord has tamed
without stick or sword.

Well, I am going now, revered sir,
I am very busy,
there is much to be done."

"You do now, sire,
that for which you deem it the right time."

Then King Pasenadi,
rising from his seat,
having greeted the Lord,
departed keeping his right side towards him.

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
having dressed in the morning,
taking his bowl and robe,
entered Sāvatthī for almsfood.

And as the venerable Aŋgulimāla was walking in Sāvatthī
on an uninterrupted round for almsfood,
he saw a woman in difficult and dangerous labour.

On seeing her, it occurred to him:

"Beings are indeed impure,
beings are indeed impure."

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
having walked in Sāvatthī for [289] almsfood,
on returning from the almsgathering after the meal,
approached the Lord;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance,
the venerable Aŋgulimāla spoke thus to the Lord:

"Now, I, revered sir,
having dressed in the morning
was walking in Sāvatthī
on an uninterrupted round for almsfood,
and saw a woman in difficult and dangerous labour.

On seeing her, it occurred to me:

"Beings are indeed impure,
beings are indeed impure."

"Well then, do you, Aŋgulimāla,
approach Sāvatthī;
having approached,
speak thus to that woman:

'I, sister,
am not aware of having intentionally deprived any living thing of life
since I was born.

By this truth
may there be well-being for you,
well-being for the unborn child.'"

"But would not this be
deliberate lying on my part, revered sir?

For, revered sir,
many living things have been intentionally deprived of life by me."

"Well then,
do you, Aŋgulimāla,
approach Sāvatthī;
having approached,
speak thus to that woman:

'I, sister,
am not aware of having intentionally deprived any living thing of life
since I was born of the ariyan birth.

By this truth
may there be well-being for you,
well-being for the unborn child.'"

"Yes, revered sir,"
and the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
having answered the Lord in assent,
approached Sāvatthī;
having approached,
he spoke thus to that woman:

"I, sister,
am not aware of having intentionally deprived any living thing of life
since I was born of the ariyan birth.

By this truth
may there be well-being for you,
well-being for the unborn child.'"

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
living alone,
aloof,
diligent,
ardent,
self-resolute,
having soon realised here and now
by his own super-knowledge
that matchless goal of the Brahma-faring
for the sake of which
young men of family
rightly go forth from home into homelessness,
entering on it,
abided in it.

And he knew:

Destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so.

And so the venerable Angulimāla
was one of the perfected ones.

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
having dressed in the morning,
taking his bowl and robe,
entered Sāvatthī for almsfood.

Now at that time
a clod of earth thrown by one man
fell on the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
also a stick thrown by another
and gravel thrown by a third.[8]

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
with a broken head [290] streaming with blood,
his bowl smashed,
and his outer cloak in tatters,
approached the Lord.

The Lord saw the venerable Aŋgulimāla coming in the distance;
seeing him,
he spoke thus to the venerable Aŋgulimāla:

"Do you endure it, brahman[9]
do you endure it, brahman.

You are experiencing here and now
the ripening of that kamma
through the ripening of which
you would (otherwise) boil in Niraya Hell
for many years,
many hundreds of years,
many thousands of years."

Then the venerable Aŋgulimāla,
as he was meditating in private,
experienced the bliss of freedom,[10]
and at that time
uttered this solemn utterance:

"He[11] who formerly was slothful but afterwards is diligent
Illumes this world like the moon when freed from a cloud.

He whose evilly done kamma is closed by what is skilled
Illumes this world like the moon when freed from a cloud.

Indeed, he who, a young monk, cleaves to the Awakened One's Dispensation
Illumines this world like the moon when freed from a cloud.

Let my foes but hear talk on dhamma,
let my foes but cleave to the Awakened One's Dispensation,

Let those men, my foes, but follow dhamma -
and, calmed, only it will they accept.

Let my foes, from speakers on forbearance and commenders of gentleness
Hear dhamma from time to time and act in conformity with it.

Such a one would not harm me nor yet any other at all -
He would attain the uttermost peace and guard those who have craving and those who have none.[12]

As[13] ditchers lead the water, as fletchers shape the shaft,
As joiners shape the timber, so do the wise tame themselves.

Some[14] are tamed by the stick, goads or whips;
I, without stick, without weapon, was tamed by Him who is ' Such.'

[291] My name is 'Harmless,'[15] though once I harmful was.
Today I am truly named,[16] for I harm no thing at all.

Once I was the notorious robber Aŋgulimāla;
Being swept away by the great flood, I came to the Awakened One for refuge.

Once I was the notorious bloody-handed Aŋgulimāla -
0 see my going for refuge, becoming's cord[17] removed!

Me who had wrought such kamma as leads to many a woeful bourn,
When touched by the ripening of kamma,[18] debtless I enjoy an owner's state.[19]

Fools,[20] folk poor in wisdom, pursue slothfulness;
A wise man guards diligence as wealth supreme.

Pursue[21] not slothfulness, be not acquainted with sensual delights -
Meditating with diligence one attains abundant joy.

Well[22] was (my) coming,[23] there is no departing, nor was I ill-advised -

Among various truths[24] that which I follow is supreme.

[292] Well was (my) coming, there is no departing, nor was I ill-advised -
Won is the threefold knowledge, done is the teaching of the Awakened One."

Discourse with Aŋgulimāla:
The Sixth

 


[1] As this king is frequently mentioned in Suttas 86-90, I have almost always abbreviated his designation to; King Pasendi.

[2] Meaning "Garland of Fingers." The Sutasoma-Jātaka (No. 537) was preached concerning him.

[3] gāmā pi agāmā, katā, villages were rendered not-villages.

[4] pamyha. As this usuaUy means "by force, forcibly,"there may be in the word some allusion here to the Teacher's refusal to listen to all the pleadings and warnings which he encountered. The meaning here may however be that Angulimala thinks: it seems that by using force (pamyha maÂine) suppose I were to deprive him of life. But the syntax is against this. CPI). s.v. appawyha gives "irresistible,"cf. Monier-Williams, who for praḌahya gives 1. to be resisted, conquered or defeated; 2. having withstood, overpowered or conquered; forcibly, violently, by force.

[5] The verses ascribed to Aŋgulimāla are at Thag. 806 ff.

[6] For this paragraph and the next, see also M. ii. 89.

[7] Or, "is a helper to final nibbāna (parinibbāpetā) of those who have not reached final nibbāna." Cf. M. i. 235; D. iii. 54.

[8] MA. iii. 338 explains that these were thrown at marauding crows, dogs and pigs, but fell on the Elder.

[9] MA. iii. 339 says he was so called because his āsavas were destroyed.

[10] As Gotama is recorded to have done at Vin. i. 1, etc.

[11] The verses ascribed to Aŋgulimāla continue at Thag. 871 ff. The first two are also found at Dhp. 172, 173.

[12] tasathāvara. MA. iii. 341 and ThagA. say that tasā means those with craving (sataṇhā) while thāvarā means those without (nittaṇhā). The word also occurs at Khp. IX. 4 (KhpA. 245 giving a slightly fuller explanation than MA. or ThagA.) and at Sn. 146.

[13] This verse also at Dhp. 80, 145.

[14] With this verse cf. Vin. ii. 196.

[15] According to MA, iii. 329 Ahiɱsaka was his name while he was a student. ThagA. on the other hand says that Hiɱsaka was his original name. See Pss. Breath., p. 323, n. 3.

[16] saccanāmo'mhi, Although Saccanāma, as "He whose name is Truth," is among the epithets of the Buddha, it is not being used as an epithet here as is clear from the context.

[17] bhavanetti, explained at MA. iii. 342 as bhavarajju, the cord, called taṇhā (craving): "Creatures are bound in their hearts like cattle with a cord tied to their necks, and are led on (nīyanti) to this or that becoming." Bhavanetti is therefore the cord, lead or conduit tying to or leading to "becoming."

[18] kammavipāka is called maggacetanā, determination in or will for the Way. Inasmuch as kamma is boiled and destroyed by this means, this means is therefore called kammavipāka.

[19] bhuñjāmi bhojanaɱ. Also at Thag. 789. MA. iii. 343, Vism. 43, Jā. v. 253 distinguish four kinds of paribhoga, enjoyment, use. Here sāmiparibhoga is meant: that of a master or owner, one whose āsavas are destroyed. Bhojana might therefore be translated here as "usage," "status" or even "privilege," "right."

[20] Verse also at Dhp. 26, S. i. 26.

[21] Verse also at Dhp. 27 (reading vipulaɱ sukhaɱ, "abundant joy," as M. above), and Thag. 884 and S. i. 25 (both reading paramaɱ sukhaɱ).

[22] This verse also at Thag. 9.

[23] ThagA. i. 66 says svāgataɱ means either: this coming of mine was beautiful; or, well was the coming on my part, i.e. to the Buddha's presence.

[24] dhamma could mean either "truths, teachings,"as it appears to do at ThagA. i. 55; or "states of mind" which, as nibbāna, it appears to mean at MA. iii. 343. There are a number of variant readings for the preceding and qualifying word; in the M. text it is paṭibhattesu.

 


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