Majjhima Nikāya

MN98: Vāseṭṭhasutta - With Vāseṭṭha

1So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala.

2Now at that time several very well-known well-to-do brahmins were residing in Icchānaṅgala. They included the brahmins Caṅkī, Tārukkha, Pokkharasāti, Jāṇussoṇi, Todeyya, and others.

Then as the brahmin students Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja were going for a walk they began to discuss the question of how one is a brahmin.

Bhāradvāja said this: “When you’re well born on both your mother’s and father’s side, of pure descent, irrefutable and impeccable in questions of ancestry back to the seventh paternal generation — then you’re a brahmin.”

Vāseṭṭha said this: “When you’re ethical and accomplished in doing your duties — then you’re a brahmin.”

But neither was able to persuade the other.

4So Vāseṭṭha said to Bhāradvāja: “Master Bhāradvāja, the ascetic Gotama — a Sakyan, gone forth from a Sakyan family — is staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. He has this good reputation: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ Come, let’s go to see him and ask him about this matter. As he answers, so we’ll remember it.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Bhāradvāja.

5So they went to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, they sat down to one side, and Vāseṭṭha addressed the Buddha in verse:

6 “We’re both authorized masters
of the three Vedas.
I’m a student of Pokkharasāti,
and he of Tārukkha.

7 We’re fully qualified
in all the Vedic experts teach.
As philologists and grammarians,
we match our teachers in recitation.
We have a dispute
regarding the question of ancestry.

8 For Bhāradvāja says that
one is a brahmin due to birth,
but I declare it’s because of one’s actions.
Oh seer, know this as our debate.

9 Since neither of us was able
to convince the other,
we’ve come to ask you, sir,
so renowned as the awakened one.

10 As people honor with joined palms
the moon on the cusp of waxing,
bowing, they revere
Gotama in the world.

11 We ask this of Gotama,
the eye arisen in the world:
is one a brahmin due to birth,
or else because of actions?
We don’t know, please tell us,
so that we can know a brahmin.”

12 “I shall explain to you,” said the Buddha,
“accurately and in sequence,
the taxonomy of living creatures,
for species are indeed diverse.

13 Know the grass and trees,
though they lack self-awareness.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

14 Next there are bugs and moths,
and so on, to ants and termites.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

15 Know the quadrupeds, too,
both small and large.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

16 Know, too, the long-backed snakes,
crawling on their bellies.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

17 Next know the fish,
whose habitat is the water.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

18 Next know the birds,
flying with wings as chariots.
They’re defined by their birth,
for species are indeed diverse.

19 While the differences between these species
are defined by their birth,
the differences between humans
are not defined by their birth.

20 Not by hair nor by head,
not by ear nor by eye,
not by mouth nor by nose,
not by lips nor by eyebrow,

21 not by shoulder nor by neck,
not by belly nor by back,
not by buttocks nor by breast,
not by genitals nor by groin,

22 not by hands nor by feet,
not by fingers nor by nails,
not by knees nor by thighs,
not by color nor by voice:
none of these are defined by birth
as it is for other species.

23 In individual human bodies
you can’t find such distinctions.
The distinctions among humans
are spoken of by convention.

24 Anyone among humans
who lives off keeping cattle:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a farmer, not a brahmin.

25 Anyone among humans
who lives off various professions:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a professional, not a brahmin.

26 Anyone among humans
who lives off trade:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a trader, not a brahmin.

27 Anyone among humans
who lives off serving others:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as an employee, not a brahmin.

28 Anyone among humans
who lives off stealing:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a bandit, not a brahmin.

29 Anyone among humans
who lives off archery:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a soldier, not a brahmin.

30 Anyone among humans
who lives off priesthood:
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a sacrificer, not a brahmin.

31 Anyone among humans
who taxes village and nation,
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as a ruler, not a brahmin.

32 I don’t call someone a brahmin
after the mother or womb they came from.
If they still have attachments,
they’re just someone who says ‘sir’.
One with nothing, by not grasping:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

33 Having cut off all fetters
they have no anxiety.
They’ve got over clinging, and are detached:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

34 They’ve cut the strap and harness,
the reins and bridle too,
with cross-bar lifted, they’re awakened:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

35 Abuse, killing, caging:
they endure these without anger.
Patience is their powerful army:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

36 Not irritable or stuck up,
dutiful in precepts and observances,
tamed, bearing their final body:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

37 Like rain off a lotus leaf,
like a mustard seed off the point of a pin,
sensual pleasures slide off them:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

38 They understand for themselves
in this life the end of suffering;
with burden put down, detached:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

39 Deep in wisdom, intelligent,
expert in the variety of paths;
arrived at the highest goal:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

40 Socializing with neither
householders nor the homeless.
A migrant without a shelter, few in wishes:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

41 They’ve laid down the rod
against creatures firm and frail;
they don’t kill or cause to kill:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

42 Not fighting among those who fight,
they’re extinguished among those who’ve taken up arms.
Not grasping among those who grasp:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

43 They’ve discarded greed and hate,
conceit and denigration,
like a mustard seed off the point of a pin:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

44 The words they utter
are sweet, informative, and true,
and don’t offend anyone:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

45 They don’t steal anything in the world,
long or short,
fine or coarse, beautiful or ugly:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

46 They have no hope
for this world or the next;
free of hope, detached:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

47 They have no clinging,
knowledge has freed them of indecision,
they’ve arrived at the culmination of the deathless:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

48 They’ve escaped clinging
to both good and bad deeds;
sorrowless, stainless, pure:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

49 Pure as the spotless moon,
clear and undisturbed,
they’ve ended desire to be reborn:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

50 They’ve got past this grueling swamp
of delusion, transmigration.
They’ve crossed over to the far shore,
stilled and free of indecision.
They’re extinguished by not grasping:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

51 They’ve given up sensual stimulations,
and have gone forth from lay life;
they’ve ended rebirth in the sensual realm:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

52 They’ve given up craving,
and have gone forth from lay life;
they’ve ended craving to be reborn:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

53 They’ve given up human bonds,
and gone beyond heavenly bonds;
detached from all attachments:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

54 They’ve given up liking and disliking,
they’re cooled and free of attachments;
a hero, master of the whole world:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

55 They know the passing away
and rebirth of all beings;
unattached, holy, awakened:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

56 Gods, fairies, and humans
don’t know their destiny;
the perfected ones with defilements ended:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

57 They have nothing before or after,
or even in between;
one with nothing, by not grasping:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

58 Leader of the herd, excellent hero,
great hermit and victor;
unstirred, washed, awakened:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

59 They know their past lives,
and see heaven and places of loss,
and have attained the end of rebirth:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

60 For name and clan are assigned
as mere convention in the world.
Arising by mutual agreement,
they’re assigned to each individual.

61 For a long time this misconception
has prejudiced those who don’t understand.
Ignorant, they declare
that one is a brahmin by birth.

62 You’re not a brahmin by birth,
nor by birth a non-brahmin.
You’re a brahmin by your deeds,
and by deeds a non-brahmin.

63 You’re a farmer by your deeds,
by deeds you’re a professional;
you’re a trader by your deeds,
by deeds are you an employee;

64 you’re a bandit by your deeds,
by deeds you’re a soldier;
you’re a sacrificer by your deeds,
by deeds you’re a ruler.

65 In this way in accord with truth,
the astute regard deeds.
Seeing dependent origination,
they’re expert in deeds and their results.

66 Deeds make the world go on,
deeds make people go on;
sentient beings are bound by deeds,
like a moving chariot’s linchpin.

67 By austerity and spiritual practice,
by restraint and by taming:
that’s how to become a brahmin,
this is the supreme brahmin.

68 Accomplished in the three knowledges,
peaceful, with rebirth ended,
know them, Vāseṭṭha,
as Brahmā and Sakka to the wise.”

69When he had spoken, Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja said to him: “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! As if he were righting the overturned, or revealing the hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, Master Gotama has made the teaching clear in many ways. We go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the teaching, and to the mendicant Saṅgha. From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember us as lay followers who have gone for refuge for life.”

1Evaṁ me sutaṁ — ​ ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā icchānaṅgale viharati icchānaṅgalavanasaṇḍe.

Tena kho pana samayena sambahulā abhiññātā abhiññātā brāhmaṇamahāsālā icchānaṅgale paṭivasanti, seyyathidaṁ — caṅkī brāhmaṇo, tārukkho brāhmaṇo, pokkharasāti brāhmaṇo, jāṇussoṇi brāhmaṇo, todeyyo brāhmaṇo, aññe ca abhiññātā abhiññātā brāhmaṇamahāsālā.

Atha kho vāseṭṭhabhāradvājānaṁ māṇavānaṁ jaṅghāvihāraṁ anucankamantānaṁ anuvicarantānaṁ ayamantarākathā udapādi: "kathaṁ, bho, brāhmaṇo hotī"ti?

2Bhāradvājo māṇavo evamāha: "yato kho, bho, ubhato sujāto mātito ca pitito ca saṁsuddhagahaṇiko yāva sattamā pitāmahayugā akkhitto anupakkuṭṭho jātivādena –  ettāvatā kho, bho, brāhmaṇo hotī"ti.

3Vāseṭṭho māṇavo evamāha: "yato kho, bho, sīlavā ca hoti vattasampanno ca –  ettāvatā kho, bho, brāhmaṇo hotī"ti.

Neva kho asakkhi bhāradvājo māṇavo vāseṭṭhaṁ māṇavaṁ saññāpetuṁ, na pana asakkhi vāseṭṭho māṇavo bhāradvājaṁ māṇavaṁ saññāpetuṁ.

4Atha kho vāseṭṭho māṇavo bhāradvājaṁ māṇavaṁ āmantesi: "Ayaṁ kho, bho bhāradvāja, samaṇo gotamo sakyaputto sakyakulā pabbajito icchānaṅgale viharati icchānaṅgalavanasaṇḍe. Taṁ kho pana bhavantaṁ gotamaṁ evaṁ kalyāṇo kittisaddo abbhuggato: ‘itipi so bhagavā arahaṁ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṁ buddho bhagavā’ti. Āyāma, bho bhāradvāja, yena samaṇo gotamo tenupasaṅkamissāma; upasaṅkamitvā samaṇaṁ gotamaṁ etamatthaṁ pucchissāma. Yathā no samaṇo gotamo byākarissati tathā naṁ dhāressāmā"ti.

"Evaṁ, bho"ti kho bhāradvājo māṇavo vāseṭṭhassa māṇavassa paccassosi.

5Atha kho vāseṭṭhabhāradvājā māṇavā yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkamiṁsu; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavatā saddhiṁ sammodiṁsu. Sammodanīyaṁ kathaṁ sāraṇīyaṁ vītisāretvā ekamantaṁ nisīdiṁsu. Ekamantaṁ nisinno kho vāseṭṭho māṇavo bhagavantaṁ gāthāhi ajjhabhāsi: 

tevijjā mayamasmubho;
Ahaṁ pokkharasātissa,
tārukkhassāyaṁ māṇavo.

7Tevijjānaṁ yadakkhātaṁ,
tatra kevalinosmase;
Padakasmā veyyākaraṇā,
jappe ācariyasādisā;
Tesaṁ no jātivādasmiṁ,
vivādo atthi gotama.

8Jātiyā brāhmaṇo hoti,
bhāradvājo iti bhāsati;
Ahañca kammunā brūmi,
evaṁ jānāhi cakkhuma.

9Te na sakkoma ñāpetuṁ,
aññamaññaṁ mayaṁ ubho;
Bhavantaṁ puṭṭhumāgamā,
sambuddhaṁ iti vissutaṁ.

10Candaṁ yathā khayātītaṁ,
pecca pañjalikā janā;
Vandamānā namassanti,
lokasmiṁ gotamaṁ.

11Cakkhuṁ loke samuppannaṁ,
mayaṁ pucchāma gotamaṁ;
Jātiyā brāhmaṇo hoti,
udāhu bhavati kammunā;
Ajānataṁ no pabrūhi,
yathā jānemu brāhmaṇan"ti.

12"Tesaṁ vo ahaṁ byakkhissaṁ, (vāseṭṭhāti bhagavā)
Anupubbaṁ yathātathaṁ;
Jātivibhaṅgaṁ pāṇānaṁ,
Aññamaññāhi jātiyo.

13Tiṇarukkhepi jānātha,
na cāpi paṭijānare;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

14Tato kīṭe paṭaṅge ca,
yāva kunthakipillike;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

15Catuppadepi jānātha,
khuddake ca mahallake;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

16Pādudarepi jānātha,
urage dīghapiṭṭhike;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

17Tato macchepi jānātha,
udake vārigocare;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

18Tato pakkhīpi jānātha,
pattayāne vihaṅgame;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

19Yathā etāsu jātīsu,
liṅgaṁ jātimayaṁ puthu;
Evaṁ natthi manussesu,
liṅgaṁ jātimayaṁ puthu.

20Na kesehi na sīsehi,
na kaṇṇehi na akkhīhi;
Na mukhena na nāsāya,
na oṭṭhehi bhamūhi vā.

21Na gīvāya na aṁsehi,
na udarena na piṭṭhiyā;
Na soṇiyā na urasā,
na sambādhe na methune.

22Na hatthehi na pādehi,
naṅgulīhi nakhehi vā;
Na jaṅghāhi na ūrūhi,
na vaṇṇena sarena vā;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ neva,
yathā aññāsu jātisu.

23Paccattañca sarīresu,
manussesvetaṁ na vijjati;
Vokārañca manussesu,
samaññāya pavuccati.

24Yo hi koci manussesu,
gorakkhaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
kassako so na brāhmaṇo.

25Yo hi koci manussesu,
puthusippena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
sippiko so na brāhmaṇo.

26Yo hi koci manussesu,
vohāraṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
vāṇijo so na brāhmaṇo.

27Yo hi koci manussesu,
parapessena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
pessako so na brāhmaṇo.

28Yo hi koci manussesu,
adinnaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
coro eso na brāhmaṇo.

29Yo hi koci manussesu,
issatthaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
yodhājīvo na brāhmaṇo.

30Yo hi koci manussesu,
porohiccena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
yājako so na brāhmaṇo.

31Yo hi koci manussesu,
gāmaṁ raṭṭhañca bhuñjati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
rājā eso na brāhmaṇo.

32Na cāhaṁ brāhmaṇaṁ brūmi,
yonijaṁ mattisambhavaṁ;
Bhovādi nāma so hoti,
sace hoti sakiñcano;
Akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

33Sabbasaṁyojanaṁ chetvā,
yo ve na paritassati;
Sangātigaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

34Chetvā naddhiṁ varattañca,
sandānaṁ sahanukkamaṁ;
Ukkhittapalighaṁ buddhaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

35Akkosaṁ vadhabandhañca,
aduṭṭho yo titikkhati;
Khantībalaṁ balānīkaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

36Akkodhanaṁ vatavantaṁ,
sīlavantaṁ anussadaṁ;
Dantaṁ antimasārīraṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

āraggeriva sāsapo;
Yo na limpati kāmesu,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

38Yo dukkhassa pajānāti,
idheva khayamattano;
Pannabhāraṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

39Gambhīrapaññaṁ medhāviṁ,
maggāmaggassa kovidaṁ;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

40Asaṁsaṭṭhaṁ gahaṭṭhehi,
anāgārehi cūbhayaṁ;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

41Nidhāya daṇḍaṁ bhūtesu,
tasesu thāvaresu ca;
Yo na hanti na ghāteti,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

42Aviruddhaṁ viruddhesu,
attadaṇḍesu nibbutaṁ;
Sādānesu anādānaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

43Yassa rāgo ca doso ca,
māno makkho ca ohito;
Sāsaporiva āraggā,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

44Akakkasaṁ viññāpaniṁ,
giraṁ saccaṁ udīraye;
Yāya nābhisajje kiñci,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

45Yo ca dīghaṁ va rassaṁ vā,
aṇuṁ thūlaṁ subhāsubhaṁ;
Loke adinnaṁ nādeti,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

46Āsā yassa na vijjanti,
asmiṁ loke paramhi ca;
Nirāsāsaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

47Yassālayā na vijjanti,
aññāya akathaṅkathiṁ;
Amatogadhaṁ anuppattaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

48Yodhapuññañca pāpañca,
ubho saṅgaṁ upaccagā;
Asokaṁ virajaṁ suddhaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

49Candaṁ va vimalaṁ suddhaṁ,
vippasannaṁ anāvilaṁ;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

50Yo imaṁ palipathaṁ duggaṁ,
saṁsāraṁ mohamaccagā;
Tiṇṇo pāraṅgato jhāyī,
anejo akathaṅkathī;
Anupādāya nibbuto,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

51Yodhakāme pahantvāna,
anāgāro paribbaje;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

52Yodhataṇhaṁ pahantvāna,
anāgāro paribbaje;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

53Hitvā mānusakaṁ yogaṁ,
dibbaṁ yogaṁ upaccagā;
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

54Hitvā ratiñca aratiṁ,
sītībhūtaṁ nirūpadhiṁ;
Sabbalokābhibhuṁ vīraṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

55Cutiṁ yo vedi sattānaṁ,
upapattiñca sabbaso;
Asattaṁ sugataṁ buddhaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

56Yassa gatiṁ na jānanti,
devā gandhabbamānusā;
Khīṇāsavaṁ arahantaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

57Yassa pure ca pacchā ca,
majjhe ca natthi kiñcanaṁ;
Akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

58Usabhaṁ pavaraṁ vīraṁ,
mahesiṁ vijitāvinaṁ;
Anejaṁ nhātakaṁ buddhaṁ,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

59Pubbenivāsaṁ yo vedi,
saggāpāyañca passati;
Atho jātikkhayaṁ patto,
tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

60Samaññā hesā lokasmiṁ,
nāmagottaṁ pakappitaṁ;
Sammuccā samudāgataṁ,
tattha tattha pakappitaṁ.

Ajānantā no pabrunti,
jātiyā hoti brāhmaṇo.

62Na jaccā brāhmaṇo hoti,
na jaccā hoti abrāhmaṇo;
Kammunā brāhmaṇo hoti,
kammunā hoti abrāhmaṇo.

63Kassako kammunā hoti,
sippiko hoti kammunā;
Vāṇijo kammunā hoti,
pessako hoti kammunā.

64Coropi kammunā hoti,
yodhājīvopi kammunā;
Yājako kammunā hoti,
rājāpi hoti kammunā.

65Evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ,
kammaṁ passanti paṇḍitā;

66Kammunā vattati loko,
kammunā vattati pajā;
Kammanibandhanā sattā,
rathassāṇīva yāyato.

67Tapena brahmacariyena,
saṁyamena damena ca;
Etena brāhmaṇo hoti,
etaṁ brāhmaṇamuttamaṁ.

68Tīhi vijjāhi sampanno,
santo khīṇapunabbhavo;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
brahmā sakko vijānatan"ti.

69Evaṁ vutte, vāseṭṭhabhāradvājā māṇavā bhagavantaṁ etadavocuṁ: "Abhikkantaṁ, bho gotama, abhikkantaṁ, bho gotama. Seyyathāpi, bho gotama, nikkujjitaṁ vā ukkujjeyya, paṭicchannaṁ vā vivareyya, mūḷhassa vā maggaṁ ācikkheyya, andhakāre vā telapajjotaṁ dhāreyya ‘cakkhumanto rūpāni dakkhantī’ti; evamevaṁ bhotā gotamena anekapariyāyena dhammo pakāsito. Ete mayaṁ bhavantaṁ gotamaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāma dhammañca bhikkhusaṅghañca. Upāsake no bhavaṁ gotamo dhāretu ajjatagge pāṇupetaṁ saraṇaṁ gate"ti.

Vāseṭṭhasuttaṁ niṭṭhitaṁ aṭṭhamaṁ.