Khuddaka Nikāya - The Minor Texts

Sutta Nipata

Sutta Nipata Chapter 3: The Great Chapter

3:9 With Vāseṭṭha

3:9 With Vāseṭṭha

So I have heard:

At one time the Buddha was staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. Now 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: “How do you become 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.

So 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.

So 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:


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

595 We’re fully qualified
in all the Vedic experts teach.
As philologists and grammarians,
we match our teachers in recitation.

596 We have a dispute
regarding the question of ancestry.
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.

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

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

599 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 we can recognize a brahmin.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

610 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

620 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’.
Having nothing, taking nothing:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

622 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.

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

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

625 Like water from a lotus leaf,
like a mustard seed off a pin-point,
sensual pleasures slip off them:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

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

628 Socializing with neither
householders nor the homeless;
a migrant with no shelter, few in wishes:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

629 They’ve laid aside violence
against creatures firm and frail;
not killing or making others kill:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

630 Not fighting among those who fight,
extinguished among those who are armed,
not taking among those who take:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

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

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

634 They have no hope
for this world or the next.
with no need for hope, detached:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

635 They have no clinging,
knowledge has freed them of indecision,
they’ve plunged right into the deathless:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

637 Pure as the spotless moon,
clear and undisturbed,
they’ve ended delight and future lives:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

638 They’ve got past this grueling swamp
of delusion, transmigration.
Meditating in stillness, free of indecision,
they have crossed over to the far shore.
They’re extinguished by not grasping:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

639 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.

640 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.

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

642 Giving up discontent and desire,
they’re cooled and free of attachments;
a hero, master of the whole world:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

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

645 They have nothing before or after,
or even in between.
Having nothing, taking nothing:
that’s who I call a brahmin.

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

647 They know their past lives,
and sees heaven and places of loss,
and has attained the ending of rebirth,
that’s who I call a brahmin.

648 For name and clan are formulated
as mere convention in the world.
Produced by mutual agreement,
they’re formulated for each individual.

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

650 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.

651 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;

652 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.

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

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

655 By austerity and spiritual practice,
by restraint and by self-control:
that’s how to become a brahmin,
this is the supreme brahmin.

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

When he had spoken, Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja said to him: “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! … From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember us as lay followers who have gone for refuge for life.”


Evaṁ 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 anucaṅkamantānaṁ anuvicarantānaṁ ayamantarākathā udapādi:  "kathaṁ, bho, brāhmaṇo hotī"ti?

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

Vāseṭṭho māṇavo evamāha:  "yato kho, bho, sīlavā ca hoti vatasampanno ca, ettāvatā kho, bho, brāhmaṇo hotī"ti. Neva kho asakkhi bhāradvājo māṇavo vāseṭṭhaṁ māṇavaṁ saññāpetuṁ, na pana asakkhi vāseṭṭho māṇavo bhāradvājaṁ māṇavaṁ saññāpetuṁ.

Atha 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 … pe … 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.

Atha 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.

595 Tevijjānaṁ yadakkhātaṁ,
Tatra kevalinosmase;
Padakasma veyyākaraṇā,
Jappe ācariyasādisā.

596 Tesaṁ no jātivādasmiṁ,
vivādo atthi gotama;
Jātiyā brāhmaṇo hoti,
bhāradvājo iti bhāsati;
Ahañca kammunā brūmi,
evaṁ jānāhi cakkhuma.

597 Te na sakkoma saññāpetuṁ,
aññamaññaṁ mayaṁ ubho;
Bhavantaṁ puṭṭhumāgamhā,
sambuddhaṁ iti vissutaṁ.

598 Candaṁ yathā khayātītaṁ,
pecca pañjalikā janā;
Vandamānā namassanti,
evaṁ lokasmi gotamaṁ.

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

(vāseṭṭhāti bhagavā):

600 "Tesaṁ vo ahaṁ byakkhissaṁ,
Anupubbaṁ yathātathaṁ;
Jātivibhaṅgaṁ pāṇānaṁ,
Aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

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

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

603 Catuppadepi jānātha,
Khuddake ca mahallake;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
Aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

604 Pādūdarepi jānātha,
Urage dīghapiṭṭhike;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
Aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

605 Tato macchepi jānātha,
Odake vārigocare;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
Aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

606 Tato pakkhīpi jānātha,
Pattayāne vihaṅgame;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ tesaṁ,
Aññamaññā hi jātiyo.

607 Yathā etāsu jātīsu,
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ puthu;
Evaṁ natthi manussesu,
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ puthu.

608 Na kesehi na sīsena,
Na kaṇṇehi na akkhibhi;
Na mukhena na nāsāya,
Na oṭṭhehi bhamūhi vā.

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

610 Na hatthehi na pādehi,
Nāngulīhi nakhehi vā;
Na jaṅghāhi na ūrūhi,
Na vaṇṇena sarena vā;
Lingaṁ jātimayaṁ neva,
Yathā aññāsu jātisu.

611 Paccattañca sarīresu,
Manussesvetaṁ na vijjati;
Vokārañca manussesu,
Samaññāya pavuccati.

612 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Gorakkhaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Kassako so na brāhmaṇo.

613 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Puthusippena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Sippiko so na brāhmaṇo.

614 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Vohāraṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Vāṇijo so na brāhmaṇo.

615 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Parapessena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Pessiko so na brāhmaṇo.

616 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Adinnaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Coro eso na brāhmaṇo.

617 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Issatthaṁ upajīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Yodhājīvo na brāhmaṇo.

618 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Porohiccena jīvati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Yājako eso na brāhmaṇo.

619 Yo hi koci manussesu,
Gāmaṁ raṭṭhañca bhuñjati;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
Rājā eso na brāhmaṇo.

620 Na cāhaṁ brāhmaṇaṁ brūmi,
Yonijaṁ mattisambhavaṁ;
Bhovādi nāma so hoti,
Sace hoti sakiñcano;
Akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

621 Sabbasaṁyojanaṁ chetvā,
Yo ve na paritassati;
Sangātigaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

622 Chetvā naddhiṁ varattañca,
Sandānaṁ sahanukkamaṁ;
Ukkhittapalighaṁ buddhaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

623 Akkosaṁ vadhabandhañca,
Aduṭṭho yo titikkhati;
Khantībalaṁ balānīkaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

624 Akkodhanaṁ vatavantaṁ,
Sīlavantaṁ anussadaṁ;
Dantaṁ antimasārīraṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

625 Vāri pokkharapatteva,
Āraggeriva sāsapo;
Yo na limpati kāmesu,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

626 Yo dukkhassa pajānāti,
Idheva khayamattano;
Pannabhāraṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

627 Gambhīrapaññaṁ medhāviṁ,
Maggāmaggassa kovidaṁ;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

628 Asaṁsaṭṭhaṁ gahaṭṭhehi,
Anāgārehi cūbhayaṁ;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

629 Nidhāya daṇḍaṁ bhūtesu,
Tasesu thāvaresu ca;
Yo na hanti na ghāteti,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

630 Aviruddhaṁ viruddhesu,
Attadaṇḍesu nibbutaṁ;
Sādānesu anādānaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

631 Yassa rāgo ca doso ca,
Māno makkho ca pātito;
Sāsaporiva āraggā,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

632 Akakkasaṁ viññāpaniṁ,
Giraṁ saccamudīraye;
Yāya nābhisaje kañci,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

633 Yodha dīghaṁ va rassaṁ vā,
Aṇuṁ thūlaṁ subhāsubhaṁ;
Loke adinnaṁ nādiyati,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

634 Āsā yassa na vijjanti,
Asmiṁ loke paramhi ca;
Nirāsāsaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

635 Yassālayā na vijjanti,
Aññāya akathaṅkathī;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

636 Yodha puññañca pāpañca,
Ubho saṅgamupaccagā;
Asokaṁ virajaṁ suddhaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

637 Candaṁva vimalaṁ suddhaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

638 Yomaṁ palipathaṁ duggaṁ,
Saṁsāraṁ mohamaccagā;
Tiṇṇo pāraṅgato jhāyī,
Anejo akathaṅkathī;
Anupādāya nibbuto,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

639 Yodha kāme pahantvāna,
Anāgāro paribbaje;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

640 Yodha taṇhaṁ pahantvāna,
Anāgāro paribbaje;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

641 Hitvā mānusakaṁ yogaṁ,
Dibbaṁ yogaṁ upaccagā;
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

642 Hitvā ratiñca aratiṁ,
Sītibhūtaṁ nirūpadhiṁ;
Sabbalokābhibhuṁ vīraṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

643 Cutiṁ yo vedi sattānaṁ,
Upapattiñca sabbaso;
Asattaṁ sugataṁ buddhaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

644 Yassa gatiṁ na jānanti,
Devā gandhabbamānusā;
Khīṇāsavaṁ arahantaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

645 Yassa pure ca pacchā ca,
Majjhe ca natthi kiñcanaṁ;
Akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

646 Usabhaṁ pavaraṁ vīraṁ,
Mahesiṁ vijitāvinaṁ;
Anejaṁ nhātakaṁ buddhaṁ,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

647 Pubbenivāsaṁ yo vedi,
Saggāpāyañca passati;
Atho jātikkhayaṁ patto,
Tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

648 Samaññā hesā lokasmiṁ,
Nāmagottaṁ pakappitaṁ;
Sammuccā samudāgataṁ,
Tattha tattha pakappitaṁ.

649 Dīgharattamanusayitaṁ,
Ajānantā no pabruvanti,
Jātiyā hoti brāhmaṇo.

650 Na jaccā brāhmaṇo hoti,
Na jaccā hoti abrāhmaṇo;
Kammunā brāhmaṇo hoti,
Kammunā hoti abrāhmaṇo.

651 Kassako kammunā hoti,
Sippiko hoti kammunā;
Vāṇijo kammunā hoti,
Pessiko hoti kammunā.

652 Coropi kammunā hoti,
Yodhājīvopi kammunā;
Yājako kammunā hoti,
Rājāpi hoti kammunā.

653 Evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ,
Kammaṁ passanti paṇḍitā;

654 Kammunā vattati loko,
Kammunā vattati pajā;
Kammanibandhanā sattā,
Rathassāṇīva yāyato.

655 Tapena brahmacariyena,
Saṁyamena damena ca;
Etena brāhmaṇo hoti,
Etaṁ brāhmaṇamuttamaṁ.

656Tīhi vijjāhi sampanno,
santo khīṇapunabbhavo;
Evaṁ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
brahmā sakko vijānatan"ti.

Evaṁ vutte, vāseṭṭhabhāradvājā māṇavā bhagavantaṁ etadavocuṁ:  "Abhikkantaṁ, bho gotama … pe … upāsake no bhavaṁ gotamo dhāretu ajjatagge pāṇupete saraṇaṁ gate"ti.

Vāseṭṭhasuttaṁ navamaṁ.