Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
5. Brāhmaṇa Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
5. The Division on Brahmans

Sutta 92

Sela Suttaɱ[1]

Discourse with Sela

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

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[1][chlm][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord walking on tour among the people of Anguttarāpa,[2]
together with a large Order of monks,
with twelve hundred and fifty monks,
arrived at the market town called Āpaṇa
belonging to the people of Anguttarāpa.

Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic[3] heard:

"Verily the recluse Gotama,
son of the Sakyans,
having gone forth from the Sakyan clan,
walking on tour among the people of Anguttarāpa
together with a large Order of monks,
with twelve hundred and fifty monks,
has reached Āpaṇa.

[333] The most lovely report has gone abroad thus
concerning this revered Gotama:[4]

'He is indeed Lord,
perfected one,
fully Self-Awakened One,
endowed with knowledge and (right) conduct,
Well-farer,
knower of the worlds,
the matchless charioteer of men to be tamed,
teacher of devas and mankind,
the Awakened One,
the Lord.

Having realised through his own super-knowledge,
he makes known this world
together with devas
including the Māras and the Brahmās;
creatures
together with recluses and brahmans,
with devas and mankind.

He teaches dhamma
that is lovely at the beginning,
lovely in the middle
and lovely at the ending;
he explains with the spirit and the letter
the Brahma-faring
completely fulfilled
and wholly purified.

Good indeed is the sight
of perfected ones such as this."

Then Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
approached the Lord;
having approached,
he exchanged greetings with the Lord;
having conversed in a friendly and courteous way,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

As the matted hair ascetic Keṇiya
was sitting down at a respectful distance
the Lord delighted,
roused,
inspired,
gladdened him
with talk on dhamma.

Then Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic,
delighted,
roused,
inspired,
gladdened by the Lord
with talk on dhamma,
spoke thus to the Lord:

"May the good Gotama
together with the Order of monks
consent to a meal with me
on the morrow."[5]

When this had been said,
the Lord spoke thus
to Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic:

"But, Keṇiya,
great is the Order of monks,
twelve hundred and fifty monks,
and you are favourably disposed towards[6] the brahmans."

And a second time did Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
speak thus to the Lord:

"Although, good Gotama,
the Order of monks is large,
twelve hundred and fifty monks,
and although I am favourably disposed towards the brahmans,
(yet) may the good Gotama consent to a meal with me
on the morrow
together with the Order of monks."

And a second time did the Lord speak thus
to Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic:

"But, Keṇiya,
great is the Order of monks,
twelve hundred and fifty monks,
and you are favourably disposed towards the brahmans."

And a third time did Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
speak thus to the Lord:

"Although, good Gotama,
the Order of monks is large,
twelve hundred and fifty monks,
and although I am favourably disposed towards the brahmans,
(yet) may the good Gotama consent to a meal with me
on the morrow
together with the Order of monks."

The Lord consented by becoming silent.

Then Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic,
having understood the Lord's consent,
rising from his seat,
approached his own hermitage;
having approached,
he addressed his friends and acquaintances,
his kith and kin,
saying:

"Let my good friends and acquaintances,
my kith and kin,
hear that the recluse Gotama
together with the Order of monks
has been invited [334] by me for a meal on the morrow.

So would you do personal service for me?"

"Yes, good sir,"
and when the friends and acquaintances,
the kith and kin of Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
had answered him in assent,
some dug pits (for the fire),
some chopped sticks,
some washed pots,
some put out jars of water,
and some got ready the seats,
while Keṇiya himself
prepared a pavilion.[7]

Now at that time Sela the brahman
was living in Āpaṇa.

He was master of the three Vedas,[8]
versed in the vocabularies and rituals
together with the phonology and exegesis
and the legendary tradition as the fifth;
he was learned in idioms,
a grammarian,
proficient in popular philosophy
and the marks of a Great Man.

He instructed three hundred brahman youths in mantras.

At that time Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
was favourably disposed towards the brahman Sela.

Then as Sela the brahman,
surrounded by the three hundred brahman youths,
was pacing up and down
and roaming about on foot
he approached the hermitage of Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic.

And in the hermitage of Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
Sela the brahman saw some people digging pits,
some chopping sticks,
some washing pots,
some putting out jars of water,
and some getting ready the seats,
while Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic himself
prepared a pavilion.

So he spoke thus to Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic:

"How now, is there to be a marriage[9]
at the good Keṇiya's
or a giving in marriage,
or is a great oblation arranged,
or has King Bimbisāra of Magadha
been invited for the morrow
together with his troops?"

"No, Sela, there is to be no marriage with me
nor giving in marriage,
nor has King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha
been invited for the morrow
together with his troops.

But I have arranged a great oblation:
the recluse Gotama,
son of the Sakyans,
gone forth from the Sakyan clan,
who has been walking on tour among the people of Aŋguttarapa,
together with a large Order of monks,
with twelve hundred and fifty monks,
has arrived at Āpaṇa.

The most lovely report has gone abroad thus concerning the recluse Gotama:

'He is indeed Lord,
perfected one,
fully Self-Awakened One,
endowed with knowledge and (right) conduct,
Well-farer,
knower of the worlds,
the matchless charioteer of men to be tamed,
teacher of devas and mankind,
the Awakened One,
the Lord.

He has been invited by me for the morrow
together with the Order of monks."

[335] "Keṇiya, did you say
'Awakened One'?"

"I did say 'Awakened One,' Sela."

"Keṇiya, did you say 'Awakened One'?"

"I did say 'Awakened One,' Sela."

Then it occurred to the brahman Sela:

"Even this sound 'Awakened One'
is hard to come by in the world.

But in our mantras
the thirty-two marks of a Great Man
are traditional.

For a Great Man endowed with these,
only two courses are open, not another . . .1 But if he goes forth from home into homelessness he becomes a perfected one, a fully Self-Awakened One, a lifter of the world's veil.

For a Great Man
possessed of these
only two courses are open,
not another:[10]

If he settles in the household state
he becomes a king who is a wheel-turner,
a dhamma-man,
a king under dhamma,
the ruler of the whole world,
one who brings stability to his realm;
and he is possessed of the seven Treasures.

These seven Treasures of his are
the wheel-treasure,
the elephant-treasure,
the horse-treasure,
the jewel-treasure,
the woman-treasure,
the householder-treasure,
the adviser-treasure as the seventh.

He will have more than a thousand sons,
valiant,
built on heroic lines,
able to crush opposing armies.

He dwells conquering this sea-girt land
by dhamma,
not by stick,
not by sword.

But, if he goes forth from home
into homelessness
he becomes a perfected one,
a fully Self-Awakened One,
a lifter of the world's veil.

And where, good Keṇiya,
is this revered Gotama,
perfected one,
fully Self-Awakened One,
staying at present?"

When this had been said, Keṇiya
the matted hair ascetic,
stretching out his right arm,
spoke thus to Sela the brahman:

"There, good Sela,
by that dark blue line of forest."

Then Sela the brahman
with the three hundred brahman youths
approached the Lord.

Then Sela the brahman
addressed these brahman youths,
saying:

"Come quietly, good sirs,
(carefully) placing foot after foot;
for, like lone-faring lions,[11]
these Lords are hard to approach.

So if I should hold converse with the recluse Gotama,
do not interrupt me, good sirs;
but wait for me
until the end of the conversation."

Then Sela the brahman approached the Lord;
having approached,
he exchanged greetings with the Lord;
having conversed in a friendly and courteous way,
he sat down at respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance
Sela the brahman looked for the thirty-two marks of a Great Man
on the Lord's body.[12]

And Sela the brahman
saw all the thirty-two marks of a Great Man
on the Lord's body
except two.

About these two marks of a great man
he was in doubt,
perplexed,
uncertain,
not satisfied -
whether what was cloth-hid was sheath-cased
and whether the tongue was large.

Then it occurred to the Lord:

"This Sela the brahman sees on me
all the thirty-two marks of a Great Man
except two.

About these two marks of a Great Man
he is in doubt,
perplexed,
uncertain,
not satisfied:
whether what is cloth-hid is sheath-cased
and whether my tongue is large."

Then the Lord contrived such a contrivance of psychic power
that Sela the brahman saw
that that which the Lord had cloth-hid was sheath-cased.

Then the Lord,
having put out his tongue,
stroked it backwards and forwards
over both his ears
and he stroked it backwards and forwards
over both his nostrils
and he covered the whole dome of his forehead
with his tongue.

Then it occurred to Sela the brahman:

"The Lord is endowed with the thirty-two marks of a Great Man in full,
not partially,
but yet I do not know
whether he is an Awakened One or not.

All the same,
I have heard it said
by aged brahmans,
full of years,
teachers of teachers:

'When their own praises are being spoken,
those that are perfected ones,
fully Self-Awakened Ones
reveal the self.[13]

Suppose [336] that I,
face to face with the recluse Gotama
were to praise him in suitable verses?"

Then Sela the brahman,
face to face with the Lord,
praised him in suitable verses:

Sela

"Your[14] body is complete,[15] gleaming, finely proportioned,[16] beautiful to behold;
you are the colour of gold, the Lord; lustrous your teeth, you are heroic.
Indeed those distinguishing signs of a finely proportioned man -
all these marks of a Great Man are on your body.
Your eyes are clear, the face is full,[17] you are well grown,[18] straight, splendid;
in the midst of an Order of recluses you shine like the sun.
Lovely to see is a monk with a golden coloured skin;
but for this recluseship what use is such supremacy of colour?[19]
You should be a king, a wheel-tumer, a bull of charioteers,[20]
victor over the whole world, chief of the Rose-apple Grove.[21]
Nobles and wealthy kings will be your vassals;
you are king of kings, the lord of men; rule, 0 Gotama."

[337] Gotama

"I am a king, Sela,
a matchless king under dhamma;
I turn the wheel by dhamma,[22]
the wheel that cannot be turned back."

Sela

"Self-Awakened do you profess to be,
'A matchless king under dhamma;
I turn the wheel by dhamma' - thus, Gotama, you speak.
But who is the revered one's captain,
the disciple second to the Teacher?
Who turns on this wheel of dhamma
That was set turning by you?"

Gotama

"The wheel set turning by me, Sela,
The matchless wheel of dhamma -
Sāriputta[23] turns it on;
he is heir born[24] to the Tathāgata.
What is to be known is known by me,
and to be developed developed is,
what is to be got rid of has been got rid of -
therefore, brahman, am I Awake.[25]
Dispel your doubt in me, have faith, brahman.
Ever difficult to come by is the sight of Self-Awakened Ones.
Ever difficult to come by is their appearance in the world.
But I, brahman, am Self-Awakened, a physician without peer,
Brahma-become, without compare, crushing Māra's hosts;
having mastered all foes I rejoice, with no fear from anywhere."

[338] Sela

"Attend to this, good sirs. As speaks the Visioned One,
physician, great hero, so roars the forest-lion.
Seeing him, Brahma-become, without compare, crushing Māra's hosts,
who should not have faith - even a base-born black?
Who wishes, let him follow me; or, who wishes it not, let him depart;
but I will go forth here under Him of Excellent Wisdom."

Brahmans

"If this teaching of the fully Self-Awakened One is agreeable to your reverence,
we too will go forth under Him of Excellent Wisdom."

Sela

"These three hundred brahmans, their palms joined in salutation, are asking
to fare the Brahma-faring under you, 0 Lord."

Gotama

"Well taught[26] is the Brahma-faring, Sela,
It is self-realised, it is timeless.
The going forth in it is nothing vain for him who trains diligently."

Sela the brahman and his company
received the going forth under the Lord,
they received ordination.

Then towards the end of that night,
Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic,
having had sumptuous foods,
solid and soft,
prepared in his own hermitage,
had the time announced to the Lord,
saying:

"It is time, good Gotama,
the meal is ready."

Then the Lord,
dressing in the morning,
taking his bowl and robe,
approached the hermitage
of the matted hair ascetic Keṇiya;
having approached,
he sat down on the appointed seat
together with the Order of monks.

Then Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
with his own hand
served and satisfied the Order of monks
with the Awakened One at its head
with sumptuous foods,
solid and soft.

When the Lord had eaten
and had withdrawn his hand from the bowl,
Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic,
taking a low seat,
sat down at a respectful distance.

As Keṇiya the matted hair ascetic
was sitting down at a respectful distance,
the Lord thanked him in these verses:

"Sacrifice is chief in fire-worship,[27]
Sāvitrī chief of Vedic metres,
[339] A king is chief of men,
The ocean chief of waters.
The moon is chief of the lamps of night,
The sun the chief of luminaries,
For those giving alms, desiring merit,
The Order is indeed the chief."

When the Lord had thanked the matted hair ascetic Keṇiya in these verses,
rising from his seat,
he departed.

Then the venerable Sela and his company,
dwelling alone,
aloof,
diligent,
ardent,
self-resolute,
having soon realised here and now
by their 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 therein;
and they 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 the venerable Sela and his company
became perfected ones.

Then the venerable Sela and his company
approached the Lord;
having approached,
having arranged his upper robe over one shoulder,
having saluted the Lord with joined palms,
he addressed the Lord in verses:[28]

"Eight days ago, 0 Visioned One, we came to you for refuge;
Lord, through your teaching we were tamed in seven nights.
You are the Wake, you the Teacher, you the Seer who is Māra's victor;
Having cut out latent tendencies, you, crossed over, help this mortality to cross.
The basis (for rebirth) has been transcended by you, the cankers shattered by you.
A lion are you, without attachment, who has got rid of fear and dread.
These three hundred monks are standing with joined palms-
Stretch forth your feet, 0 Hero, let great beings[29] honour the Teacher."

Discourse with Sela:
The Second

 


[1] The text of this Sutta is not given in M. ii. "as it is identical with that of the same name in the Suttanipata, printed at p. 99 of Prof. Fausböll's edition for the P.T.S. "This Sutta is also printed at p. 102 ff. of Dines Andersen and Helmer Smith's edn. of the Sn., likewise a P.T.S. publication. Cf. Vin. i. 245 ff., D. i. 87 ff.

[2] As in M. Sta. 54.

[3] For notes and references see B.D. iv. 336, n. 10.

[4] As in Sta. 91 (M. ii. 133).

[5] Cf. Vin. i. 248 for Keṇiya's invitation to a meal.

[6] abhippasanna, with the loc. The meaning really amounts to: being well enough pleased with to believe in; feeling very serene with.

[7] maṇḍalamāla. MA. iii. 400 calls it dusamaṇḍala, a cloth (covered) pavilion (?). SnA ii. 447 says "he made a pavilion with a canopy" (or awning).

[8] As at M. ii. 133.

[9] From here to "hard to come by in the world" below, cf. with Vin. ii. 155.

[10] As in Sta. 91 (M. ii. 134).

[11] MA. iii. 401, the solitary lion is watchful and diligent, appamāda. It is to mark the diligent dwelling that this simile is made.

[12] As in Sta. 91 (M. ii. 136).

[13] attānaɱ pātukaronti; cf. Vin. ii. 186, A. iii. 123, i.e. manifest, or make visible, exhibit, bring to light, "betray" (G.S. iii. 98) the self. But in the Buddha's Teaching this is what a foolish person does, e.g. Devadatta, not arahants, and, at D. iii. 115 not the Tathāgata.

[14] Cf. Thag. 818-837, the verses ascribed to Sela, and the responses as below.

[15] I.e. with the full complement of "marks," MA. iii. 402.

[16] sujāta. I have taken this as does Bu.: "well born in regard to excellence of height to breadth, to excellence of form," so as to keep a reference to the "mark" that is "symmetry."

[17] "Like the face of the full moon," MA. iii. 402. Cf. e.g. Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra, Ch. XII (as given in R. Robinson's Chinese Buddhist Verse, London, 1954): "The countenance of the Buddha is like the clear full moon." This is only one of many examples of this simile.

[18] brahā. This also refers to the symmetrical development of height to breadth when the arms are stretched out. The next refers to the limbs being as straight as Brahmā's.

[19] uttamavaṇṇino.

[20] rathesabko. MA. iii. 402 explains by uttamarathī, with v.l. uttamasārathī-sārathī, charioteer, occurring in the stock description of the Buddha. ThagA. ii. 44 (SHB) explains by rathesu ājāniya-usabhapuriso mahārathiko, in regard to chariots he is a thoroughbred bull of a man, a great charioteer.

[21] The same as Jambudīpa, India. ThagA. ii. 44 (SHB) says that a wheel-turner is not merely Lord of Jambudīpa but of the four great "continents" or "islands" as well.

[22] Beginning with the four peerless arousings of mindfulness. The wheel of command is: get rid of this, make that arise. The wheel of dhamma is, beginning with dhamma, as learning, pariyattidhamma; 'This, monks, is the ariyan truth of anguish,' MA. iii. 403.

[23] According to the Comys. Sāriputta was sitting nearby.

[24] anujāta, "taking after" or "born equal to." See Iti. p. 63 for three kinds of children: avajāta, anujāta, atijāta. Here no physical relationship to the Tathāgata is meant, simply "heir in dhamma" as in M. Sta. 12.

[25] This line and the preceding one are also found at M. ii. 143.

[26] MA. iii. 406 says that the use of this phrase means Sela and the three hundred brahmans went forth by the 'Come, bhikkhu' formula.

[27] For notes on these verses, which occur at Vin. i. 246, see B.D. iv. 340.

[28] As at Thag. 838-841.

[29] nāga, as in M. Stas. 5, 24 (M. i. 32, 151).

 


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