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Saɱyutta Nikāya:
III. Khandha Vagga:
22: Khandha Saɱyutta
2.4. Thera Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
III: The Book Called The Khandhā-Vagga
Containing Kindred Saings
on the Elements of Sensory Existence
and Other Subjects
XXII: Kindred Sayings on Elements (Khandhā)
2.4: The Elders

Sutta 87

Vakkali Suttaɱ

Vakkali[1]

Translated by F. L. Woodward
Edited by Mrs. Rhys Davids

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[119] [101]

[1][wlsh][bodh] Thus have I heard:—

Once the Exalted One was staying near Rājagaha in Great Grove,
at the Squirrels' Feeding-Ground.

On that occasion the venerable Vakkali was staying in the Potter's shed,[2] being sick,
afflicted,
stricken with a sore disease.[3]

Now the venerable Vakkali called to his attendants, saying:
'Come hither, friends!
Go ye to the Exalted One, and,
in my name worshipping at the feet of the Exalted One,
say unto [102] him:
"Lord, the brother Vakkali is sick,
afflicted,
stricken with a sore disease.
He worships at the feet of the Exalted one."

And thus do ye say:
"Well were it, lord,
if the Exalted One would visit brother Vakkali,
out of compassion for him."

'Even so, friend,'
replied those brethren to the venerable Vakkali,
and went to the Exalted One,
saluted him and sat down at one side.
So seated those brethren said to the Exalted One:

'Lord, the brother Vakkali is sick
afflicted,
stricken with a sore disease.
He worships at the feet of the Exalted one.
Well were it if the Exalted One
would visit brother Vakkali
out of compassion for him.'

The Exalted One consented by his silence.

Thereupon the Exalted One robed himself,
and taking bowl and robe,
went to visit the venerable Vakkali.

Now the venerable Vakkali saw the Exalted One coming,
while yet he was afar off,
and on seeing him
he stirred upon his bed.[4]

Then said the Exalted One to the venerable Vakkali:

'Enough, Vakkali!
Stir not on your bed!
There are these seats made ready.
I will sit there.'

And he sat down on a seat made ready.

So the Exalted One sat down
and said to the venerable Vakkkali:

'Well, Vakkali, I hope you are bearing up.
I hope you are enduring.[5]
Do your pains abate and not increase?
Are there signs of their abating and not increasing?'

'No, lord, I am not bearing up.
I am not enduring.
Strong pains come upon me.
They do not abate.
There is no sign of their abating,[6]
but of their increasing.'

[103] 'Have you any doubt, Vakkali?
Have you any remorse?'

'Indeed, lord, I have no little doubt.
I have no little remorse.'

'Have you not anything, Vakkali,
wherein to reproach yourself[7] as to morals?'

'Nay, lord, there is nothing wherein I reproach myself as to morals.'

'Then, Vakkali, if that is so,
you must have some worry,
you must have something you regret.'

'For a long time, lord,
I have been longing to set eyes on the Exalted One,
but I had not strength enough in this body
to come to see the Exalted one.'

[13][bps][bodh] 'Hush, Vakkali!
What is there in seeing this vile body of mine?
He who seeth the Norm, Vakkali,
he seeth me:
he who seeth me, Vakkali,
he seeth the Norm.
Verily, seeing the Norm, Vakkali,
one sees me:
seeing me,
one sees the Norm.[8]

As to this what think you, Vakkali?
Is body permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, lord.'

'Is feeling permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, lord.'

'Is perception permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, lord.'

'Are the activities permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, lord.'

'Is consciousness permanent, or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, lord.'

'Wherefore, Vakkali, he who thus seeth feels disgust for body, feels disgust for feeling, for perception, for the activities, feels disgust for consciousness.
So feeling disgust he is repelled;
being repelled, he is freed;
knowledge arises that in the freed
is the freed thing;
so that he knows:
"destroyed is rebirth;
lived is the righteous life;
done is my task;
for life in these conditions there is no hereafter."'

Then the Exalted One,
having thus taught the venerable Vakkali this lesson,
rose up and went away to Vulture's Peak.

Now not long after the departure of the Exalted One,
the venerable Vakkali called to his attendants:

'Come ye hither, friends.
Lift up my bed and go to Black Rock[9]
on the slope of Seers' Hill.
How should one of my sort
think to make an end within a house?'[10]

[104] 'Even so, friend,
replied those brethren to the venerable Vakkali,
lifted up the bed and carried him to Black Rock
on the slope of Seer's Hill.

Now the Exalted One spent the rest of that day and the night on Vulture's Peak.
Then when the night was waning
two devas of exceeding beauty
caused the whole of Vulture's Peak to be lit up,
and came to the Exalted One
and stood there at one side.[11]

So standing
one of those devas thus addressed the Exalted One:

'Lord, the brother Vakkali is bent on release.'

And the other deva said to the Exalted One:
'Surely, lord, he will win the utter release.'

Thus spake those devas.
So saying they saluted the Exalted One by the right
and vanished there and then.

Now the Exalted One,
when that night was spent,
called to the brethren:—

'Come hither, brethren.
Go ye to brother Vakkali, and say to him:
"Friend Vakkali,
listen to the words of the Exalted One
and of two devas.

This night, friend,
when night was waning
two devas of exceeding beauty
caused the whole of Vulture's Peak to be lit up,
and came to the Exalted One
and stood there at one side.

So standing
one of those devas thus addressed the Exalted One:
'Lord, the brother Vakkali is bent on release.'

And the other deva said to the Exalted One:
'Surely, lord, he will win the utter release.'

And as to that, friend Vakkali,
the Exalted One says this:

'Fear not, Vakkali.
Fear not, Vakkali.[12]
Your dying will not be evil.
Your ending will not be evil.'"'

'Even so, lord,'
replied those brethren to the Exalted One,
and went to the venerable Vakkali
and thus said to him:

'Listen, friend Vakkali,
to the word of the Exalted One
and of two devas.'

[105] Then the venerable Vekkali called to his attendants saying:

'Come hither, friends.
Lift me off from the bed.
How should one of my sort
think fit to hear the message of the Exalted One
while sitting on a high seat?'[13]

'Even so, friend,'
replied those brethren,
and lifted him off from the bed.

Then those brethren said:

'This night, friend,
when night was waning
two devas of exceeding beauty
caused the whole of Vulture's Peak to be lit up,
and came to the Exalted One
and stood there at one side.

So standing
one of those devas thus addressed the Exalted One:
'Lord, the brother Vakkali is bent on release.'

And the other deva said to the Exalted One:
'Surely, lord, he will win the utter release.'

And as to that, friend Vakkali,
the Exalted One says this:

'Fear not, Vakkali.
Fear not, Vakkali.
Your dying will not be evil.
Your ending will not be evil.'"'

'Wherefore, friends,
do ye in my name
worship at the feet of the Exalted One and say:
"Lord, brother Vakkali is sick,
afflicted,
stricken with a sore disease.
He worships at the feet of the Exalted One
and thus speaks:
'Body is impermanent, lord,
I doubt it not.
Whatsoever, lord, is impermanent,
that is woe;
I doubt it not.
What is impermanent and woeful
and of the nature to fade away,
— for that I have no desire,
no lust,
no love.
I doubt it not.
Feeling, lord,
perception,
the activities,
consciousness is impermanent and woeful
and of the nature to fade away,
— for that I have no desire,
no lust,
no love.
I have no doubt of that.'"'

'Even so, friend,'
replied those brethren to the venerable Vakkali
and went away.

Then the venerable Vakkali,
not long after the departure of those brethren,
drew a knife (and slew himself).[14]

Now those brethren went to the Exalted One and said:

"Lord, brother Vakkali is sick,
afflicted,
stricken with a sore disease.
He worships at the feet of the Exalted One
and thus speaks:
'Body is impermanent, lord,
I doubt it not.
Whatsoever, lord, is impermanent,
that is woe;
I doubt it not.
What is impermanent and woeful
and of the nature to fade away,
— for that I have no desire,
no lust,
no love.
I doubt it not.
Feeling, lord,
perception,
the activities,
consciousness is impermanent and woeful
and of the nature to fade away,
— for that I have no desire,
no lust,
no love.
I have no doubt of that.'"'

Then the Exalted One said to the brethren:

'Let us go hence, brethren,
to Black Rock,
on the slope of Seers' Hill,
since the clansman Vakkali hath slain himself.'

'Even so, lord,'
replied those brethren to the Exalted One.

Then the Exalted One went
with a number of the brethren
to [106] Black Rock
on the slope of Seers' Hill.

And from afar the Exalted One saw the venerable Vakkali
lying on the bed
with his shoulder twisted round.[15]

Now at that time a smoky cloud,
a mass of darkness
was moving to the east,[16]
was moving to the west,
to the north,
to the south,
and up and down
and to the points between.

Then the Exalted One said to the brethren:

'Do ye see, brethren,
yonder smoky cloud,
yonder mass of darkness
moving east and west,
to north and south,
and up and down
and to the points between?'

'Yes lord.

'Brethren, that is Mara, the evil one.

He is searching for the consciousness
of Vakkali, the clansman, saying:
"Where is the consciousness of Vakkali, the clansman, stationed anew?"

But, brethren,
with consciousness not stationed anew anywhere,
Vakkali the clansman is utterly well.'[17]

 


[1] See Thag. 350-4; Brethren 197-200; Dhp. A. iv, 117 (which omits the episode about Māra); Vis. M. 129.

[2] Cf. M. iii, 237.

[3]Comy. says, after keeping the rainy season, he had come to see the Master, was taken ill on the way and removed in a litter to the Potter's shed or workshop. According to Thag. Comy. he suffered from cramps owing to insufficient food.

[4] Samadhosi (from dhunati), elsewhere samañcopi. Some say he shook the bed owing to the violence of his fever, but C. says, 'out of reverence' he tried to rise to salute the Master; and adds that, in the Buddha's time, a bhikkhu always had a seat ready in case the Master paid a visit.

[5] Udānā (Soṇathera-vagga, 17, 46, 59). Comy. explains thephrase   (sometimes mistranslated 'have you food enough?') in this way.

[6] Paṭikkam'osānaŋ paññāyati. Comy., however, interprets (paṭikkamo) sānaŋ as etāsaŋ (vedanānaŋ); lit.: 'is the end of their coming on in sight?'

[7] Cf. Buddh. Psych. 28. Here attā is the equivalent of our 'conscience.'

[8] Cf. Expos. 453; Buddh. Psych. 258-9 n.

[9] A hill-top near Rājagaha. See K.S. i, 150 n.

[10] Compare the suicide of Godhika, S. i, 119; K.S. i, 150. As often happens in the Tipiṭaka, the same story is told of different persons either in ignorance or to preserve the traditional framework free from too many details. Thus the introductory part of this story is a stock passage for describing the sick and their visiting. In the Thag. Comy. and Dhp. A. versions, Vakkali does not 'use the knife,' but rises up into the air at the call of the Master and attains arahantship on the way by an effort of self-control.

[11] It is noteworthy that devas are never described as sitting down. [MO: They fear contamination! This world is said to stink unbearably to Devas.]

[12] Possibly a characteristic genuine logion. Cf. S. v, 369, 371.

[13] One of the rules of Vinaya discipline.

[14] A common practice of the Japanese Samurai (clansmen) to this day. The ethics of the deed are not discussed by Comy., who says the elder was conceited and blind to his remaining faults; thought he was khīnāsavo and might rid himself of the bodily pain. However, the pain of the knife was such that, in the very moment of dying, realizing his state of puthujjano as imperfect, he made a great effort to attain and did so before actual death. Comy. adds, 'he died lying on his right side, as arahants generally do (the traditional posture of the Buddha, "on his right side, like a lion lying"), and in a decent posture.'

[15] Vivatta-kkhandhaŋ semānaŋ.

[16] Cf. K.S. i, 151 n. At Dhp. A. the story is amplified. Cf. Warren, p. 381.

[17] Parinibbuto.


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