Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kathavatthu - Of Buddhas; All-pervading Power; Phenomena (dhamma); Karma

Points of Controversy
Subjects of Discourse

5. Of Buddhas.
Controverted Point— That Buddhas differ one from
another in grades.
From the Commentary.—We hold that, with the exception of
differences in body, age, and radiance,2 at any given time, Buddhas
differ mutually in no other respect. Some, however, like the Andhakas,
hold that they differ in other qualities in general.
[1] Th.—"Wherein then do they differ—in any of the
matters pertaining to Enlightenment?3 in self-mastery?4
in omniscient insight and vision? . . .

6. Of All-Pervading Power.
Controverted -Point.—That the Buddhas persist in all

Some manuscripts read pabhava-mattang , measure of power,
which is scarcely plausible for a Buddhist. Pacceka Buddhas are
presumably not taken into account.
3 See p. 65.
Vasibhava, literally, the state of one who has practice.

From the Commentary.—Some, like the Mahasanghikas, hold that
a Buddha1 exists in the four quarters of the firmament, above, below,
and around, causing his change of habitat to come to pass in any-
sphere of being.
[1] Th.—Do you., mean that they persist2 in the eastern
quarter ? You deny. Then you contradict yourself. You
assent.3 Then I ask, How is [this Eastern] Buddha named ?
What is his family? his clan? what the names of his
parents ? or of his pair of elect disciples ? or of his body-
servant ? What sort of raiment or bowl does he- bear ? and
in what village, town, city, kingdom, or country ?
[2] Or does a Buddha persist in the southern . . .
western . . . northern quarter ? or in the nadir ? or in the
zenith ? Of any such an one I ask you the same ques-
tions. .. . Or does he persist in the realm of the four
great Kings?4 or in the heaven of the Three-and-Thirty?
or in that of the Yama or the Tusita devas ? or in that of
the devas who rejoice in creating,.or of those who exploit
the creations of others ?5 or in the Brahma-world ? If you
assent, I ask you further as before. . . .

7. Of Phenomena.
Controverted Point.—That all things are by nature im-
From the Commentary.—Some, like the Andhakas and certain of
the Uttarapathakas, hold this, judging from the fact that nothing

In the PTS edition for buddh a read buddho atthiti .
Titthanti , lit. 'stand'; the word used in XIII. 1 for 'endure.'
He denies with respect to [the locus of] the historical Sakya-
muni [sic]; he assents, since by his view the persisting is in different
4 On the possible birthplace of these deities, see Moulton, Zoro-
astrianism, 22-27, 242.
Cf. Compendium, p. 140 f.
Niyata. On this term, see above, V. 4; VI. 1. 'Not fixed' ,
below is a -niyato. On the three alternatives in § 1, see Childers's
Dictionary, s.v. rasi. The three are affirmed in Digha-Nik., iii. 217.

[however it may change] gives up its fundamental nature, matter,
e.g., being fixed as matter, and so on.
[1] Th.—Do you mean that they all belong to that Order
of things, by which the wrong-doer is assured of immediate
retribution on rebirth, or to that other Order by which the
Path-winner is assured of final salvation ? Is there not a
third congeries that is not fixed as one or the other ? You
deny. But think. Surely there is? You assent. Then
you contradict your proposition. And you must do so, for
did not the Exalted One speak of three congeries ?
[3] You affirm [as your reason] that matter is fixed as
matter, and that mind (or each mental aggregate) is fixed
as mind. Well, then, under which of those three congeries
do you find them fixed ?1
[4] A. V.—But i f I may not say that matter, or mind
is fixed as matter, or mind respectively, tell me, can body
become mind, can become one of the four mental aggre-
gates, or conversely ? Of course not. Surely then I am

8. Of Karma.
Controverted Point.—That all karmas are inflexible.
From the Commentary.—The same parties hold also this opinion,
judging by the fact that karmas which work out their own effects
under present conditions in this or the next life, or in a posterior series
of lives, are fixed with respect one to the other.
[1,-2] Similar to §§ 1, 2 in the foregoing.
[3] Th.—Do you mean that karma which eventuates in

They are not immutable in badness, nor in goodness, wrongness,
nor rightness. Therefore, since these are the only two categories
admitted as immutable, they must come under the third or mutable
'non-fixed' category or congeries (rasi).
There are two uniformities in Nature, by one of which the worst
offenders are assured of immediate retribution after death, and by the
other of which the Path-winner is assured of final salvation. And
there is a third alternative group which is neither.

this life is a fixed fact as such ? You assent.1 Then does
it belong to either of the fixed orders ? You deny. [Then
it belongs to no fixed order.] The same holds good with
respect to karma, results of which will be experienced at
the next rebirth, or in a succession of rebirths.
[4] A. U.—But you admit, do you not, that none of
these three binds of karma is mutually convertible with
the other two ? How then am I wrong ?

1 This kind of karma, if capable of eventuating at all, [invariably]
works out its effects in this very life; if not, it becomes inoperative
[ahosi-kamma]. So the Theravadin assents.-Comy. That is,
each of these three kinds of karma retains its own characteristics.


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