Showing posts with label Milinda Panha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Milinda Panha. Show all posts

Monday, May 23, 2011

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - Glossary

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

4 Fruits of the Path
1. The Stream-winner (sotàpanna). On realising  nibbàna
for the first time the stream-winner destroys the three
fetters of personality-belief, belief in rites and rituals,
and doubts. He is incapable of committing any of the
heinous crimes and if he does any other evil he is
incapable of concealing it. He is assured of attaining
arahantship within seven lives at the most.
2. The Once-returner (sakadàgàmi) greatly reduces the
strength of the fetters of desire and ill-will and will, at
most, be reborn only once more on earth before
attaining arahantship.
3. The Non-returner (anàgàmi) eradicates totally the
fetters of desire and ill-will and will not be reborn again
on earth but will gain arahantship in the higher planes of
devas or Brahmàs.
4. The Arahant removes the remaining five fetters,
destroys all ignorance and craving and puts an end to
all forms of rebirth, thus gaining the final goal of the
holy life.
4 Modes of Fearlessness (vesàrajja)
The Blessed One said, “I do not see any grounds on which
anyone might reprove me as to: 1) being fully awakened,
2) the floods being fully destroyed, 3)knowledge of what
is an obstacle to progress, 4)knowledge of Dhamma that
leads to the destruction of the floods.

5 Aggregates of Being (khandha)
When we say ‘living being’ it is just a conventional way of
speaking. Underlying this convention are the wrong views
of personality-belief, permanence and substantiality.
However, if we consider more carefully what a living be-
ing or a person really is we will find only a stream of ever
changing phenomena. These can be arranged in five
groups: the body or material phenomena; feelings, percep-
tions, mental formations and consciousness. It should not
be understood that these groups are something stable;
they are only categories.
5 Hindrances (nãvaraõa)
Sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and
remorse, doubt. These defilements are called hindrances
because they obstruct the development of concentration.
8 Causes of Earthquakes
1.This earth is supported by water, the water by air, the
air by space. At times great winds blow strongly and
the water is shaken. When the water is shaken, the
earth is shaken. (N.B. Water is the element of cohesion
or fluidity, air the element of motion. These elements
are present even in molten rock).
2.A recluse or deity of great power causes the earth to
shake by the power of concentration.
3.When the Bodhisatta passes away from the Tusita
heaven, mindfully and deliberately, and is conceived in
his mother’s womb, the great earth shakes.

4.When the Bodhisatta issues forth from his mother’s
womb, mindfully and deliberately, the great earth shakes.
5.When the òathàgata attains the supreme and perfect
enlightenment the great earth shakes.
6.When the Tathàgata sets in motion the wheel of the
Dhamma the great earth shakes.
7.When the Tathàgata, mindfully and deliberately, gives
up the life-sustaining mental process, the great earth
shakes. (He could prolong his life by supernormal
power but not being asked, he gives up the possibility
and announces the time of his death.)
8.When a Buddha passes away and attains  parinibbàna
the great earth shakes.
10 Fetters (saüyojana)
Sensual desire (kàmachanda), ill-will (byàpàda), pride
(màna), personality-belief (sakkàyadiññhi), doubt (vicikicchà),
adherence to rites and ceremonies (sãlabattaü), desire for
existence (råparàga), jealousy (issà), avarice (macchariya),
ignorance (avijjà).
10 Perfections (pàramã)
Generosity (dàna), virtue (sãla), renunciation (nekkhamma),
wisdom (pa¤¤à), energy (viriya), patience (khanti), truthful-
ness (sacca), determination (adhiññhàna), loving-kindness
(mettà) and equanimity (upekkhà).
18 Characteristics of a Buddha (Buddhadhammà)
1–3) Seeing all things; past, present and future. 4–6) Pro-
priety of action, speech and thought. 7–12) Establishment

of the following so that they cannot be frustrated by others:
intentions, doctrines, that which proceeds from concentra-
tion, energy, liberation and wisdom. 13) Avoiding pleas-
ures or anything that could  invite ridicule; 14) Avoiding
strife and contention. 15)  Omniscience. 16) Doing all
things fully conscious. 17)  Doing all things with some
purpose. 18)Not doing anything from unwise partiality.
32 Parts of the Body (for contemplation)
Head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin; flesh, sinews,
bones, bone-marrow, kidneys; heart, liver, membranes,
spleen, lungs; large intestine, small intestine, mesentery,
gorge, faeces; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat; solid fat,
liquid fat, saliva, nasal mucus, synovic fluid, urine, brain.
Abhidhamma — the higher teaching. It uses the analytical
method. Whereas the discourses use the conventional
language of man or being the Abhidhamma uses terms
like ‘five aggregates of being,’ mind and matter, visible
object and sensitive eye-base etc.
Absorptions (jhàna) — Stages of mental concentration
gained by inhibiting the five hindrances. The result of
these states is rebirth in the Brahmà realm.
Austerities (dukkarakàrikà) — These are practices of self
mortification, which were practised by the Bodhisatta.
They should be distinguished from ascetic practices
(dhutanga), which, although difficult, are neither ignoble
nor unprofitable.

Arahant — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Bactrian Greek — (Yonaka). There are several references to
Yonaka other than in the Milinda Pa¤ha. An inscription in
caves at Nasik, near Bombay refers to nine Yonaka who
were donors, and the  Mahàvaüsa has references to
monks from Yona, one Yonadhammarakkhita who must
have been a Bactrian Greek bhikkhu.
Bhikkhu — A Buddhist monk who has received the higher
ordination. The literal meaning is ‘beggar’ though a
bhikkhu is not allowed to beg, but may only stand and
wait for alms to be offered.
Bodhisatta — A being totally dedicated to the attainment
of the perfect enlightenment of a Buddha, for which one
has to develop the perfections for many aeons.
Bodhi Tree — The tree under which the Bodhisatta be-
came Buddha. The ânanda Bodhi Tree was a sapling of
the original tree that ânanda brought to Sàvatthi to re-
mind people of the Buddha when he was away.
Another sapling was sent to Sri Lanka by Asoka and is
still worshipped.
Brahmà — A god or divine being who is in a plane of exist-
ence detached from sensuality.
Brahmacàrin — One who leads a life of chastity.
Brahman — A Hindu priest or one of that caste.

Càra (good conduct) is the fulfilment of duties. Its counter-
part, sãla, is refraining from wrong-doing.
Merit (pu¤¤à) — Good actions that are the basis for happi-
ness and prosperity in the round of rebirths.
Minor and Lesser Precepts — The Pàñimokkha rules are ar-
ranged in seven groups in order of severity. Offences of
Defeat (pàràjika), Formal Meeting (saïghàdisesa), Indeter-
minate (aniyata), Forfeiture (nissaggiyà pàcittiya), Expia-
tion (pàcittiya), Confession (patidesaniyà) and Wrong-
doing (dukkaña). Wrong speech (dubhàsita) is not included
in the  Pàñimokkha itself but is found elsewhere in the
Vinaya rule. The author’s decision on this matter is very
reasonable, since the pàcittiya rules include killing ani-
mals, drinking intoxicants, telling lies, hitting or abusing
monks. These could not be called ‘minor’ training rules
that the Buddha might have considered optional after
his passing away.
— See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Parinibbàna — The death of a Buddha, Pacceka Buddha or
Patimokkha — The 227 training rules that the monks recite
in the Uposatha day ceremony every full-moon and new-

Puthujjana (Ordinary Person) — A distinction should be
made between a blind worldling (andho puthujjana) and a
well-informed person (kalyàõa puthujjana). Neither is free
from personality belief, but the well-informed person
who has faith in the Buddha’s enlightenment and be-
lieves in kamma will cultivate the path to enlightenment.
The blind worldling, who holds wrong views, will rarely
do wholesome deeds like charity, let alone take up the ar-
duous practice of meditation for concentration or insight.
Rains (vassa) — The three months from August to October
during which the monks remain in one place. A monk’s
seniority is measured in rains or the number of years he
has been a monk.
Reasoning (yoniso manasikàra) — Often translated as ‘Sys-
tematic attention’. It means paying attention to the char-
acteristics that reduce defilements rather than to those
that increase them.
Samaõa — A recluse or ascetic, not necessarily Buddhist.
Solitary Buddha — A Pacceka Buddha or one who attains
enlightenment without the help of an Omniscient Buddha.
Unlike an Omniscient Buddha, the Solitary Buddha has
not fully developed the ability to teach others.
Stream-winner — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Sutta — The collection of discourses containing the major-
ity of the Buddha’s teaching to both monastics and laity.

Tipiñaka — The threefold collection of Sutta, Vinaya and
Abhidhamma;  i.e. discourses, disciplinary rules and
Vedagå — is used in the Milinda Pa¤ha in the sense of a soul
or experiencer who sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels or
knows. It is also an epithet of the Buddha meaning ‘The
one who has attained to knowledge’.
Vinaya — The six books of the Tipiñaka that deal with the
monks’ discipline and other regulatory matters.
Visuddhimagga — A much respected manual, written in
Pali in the 3rd century A.D. by Venerable Buddhaghosa,
that elucidates the three-fold training of virtue, concen-
tration and wisdom.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Similes

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Similes

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 18
The Similes
“Venerable Nàgasena, with which qualities
must a monk be endowed in order to realise
1. The Donkey
“Just, O king, as the donkey, wherever he may lie down,
does not rest long; so should the monk who is intent on
arahantship not rest long.”
2. The Cockerel
“As the cockerel goes to roost at the proper time; so should
the monk quickly perform his duties239 after the almsround
and enter a solitary place for meditation.
“As the cockerel rises early; so should the monk rise early.
“As the cockerel constantly scratches the ground in
search of food; so should the monk constantly reflect on the
food he takes reminding himself, ‘I eat this not for enjoy-
ment, nor for complexion, but merely to appease the pain
of hunger and to enable me to practise the holy life, thus I
shall put an end to sorrow’.
238.In the Pali text, 67 similes are given but some of them are repetitive and others rely for
their effectiveness on a play on words in Pali which is difficult to translate so I have only
included a selection here. The numbering, however, has been retained to make cross-
reference easier.
239.As a point of interest, one of the duties mentioned is sweeping the surround to the cetiya
or pagoda. In the time of Asoka some 84,000 were built in India, but above in Dilemma
25 honouring the remains of the Tathàgata was not the duty of monks. In the Mahàyàna
Vinaya there are a number of extra minor training rules relating to the proper conduct
with regard to cetiyas.

“As the cockerel, though it has eyes, is blind at night;
so should the monk while meditating be as if blind, paying
no attention to sense objects that might disturb his con-
“As the cockerel, even though driven off with sticks
and stones, will not desert his roost; so should the monk not
give up his mindfulness whether he is engaged in making
robes, in building, teaching, studying the scriptures, or in
other work.
4. The Female Panther
“As the panther conceives only once and does not resort
again to the male; so should the monk, seeing the suffering
inherent in rebirth, resolve not to enter on any future
existence. For this was said by the Buddha, O king, in the
Dhaniya Sutta of the Sutta Nipàta:
“Having broken the fetters like a bull,
as an elephant having broken the creepers,
so there will be no more rebirth for me.
Therefore, rain, O cloud, if you like!”240
7. The Bamboo
“As the bamboo bends whichever way the wind blows; so
should the monk be flexible and conform to the teaching.
10. The Monkey
“As the monkey dwells in a mighty tree, well covered with
branches; so should the monk dwell with a learned teacher,
who is worthy of veneration and able to instruct him.
240.Sn. v 29. Trnsl. Hammalawa Saddhàtissa

12. The Lotus
“As the lotus remains undefiled by the water in which it is
born and grows; so should the monk be undefiled by
support, offerings and veneration.
“As the lotus remains lifted far above the water; so
should the monk remain far above worldly things.
“As the lotus trembles in the slightest breeze; so
should the monk tremble at the mere thought of doing any
evil, seeing danger in the slightest fault.
20. The Ocean
“As the ocean casts out corpses on the shore; so should the
monk cast out defilements from his mind.
“As the ocean, though it contains many treasures,
does not cast them up; so should the monk possess the
gems of the attainments but not display them.
“As the ocean associates with mighty creatures; so
should the monk associate with those fellow disciples who
are of few desires, virtuous, learned and wise.
“As the ocean does not overflow its shore; so should the
monk never transgress the precepts even for the sake of his life.
“As the ocean is not filled up even by all the rivers
that flow into it; so should the monk never be satiated with
hearing the teaching and instruction in the Dhamma, Vinaya
and Abhidhamma.
21. The Earth
“As the great earth is unmoved by fair or foul things
thrown down on it; so should the monk remain unmoved
by praise or blame, support or neglect.

“As the great earth is unadorned but has its own
odour; so should the monk be unadorned with perfumes
but endowed with the fragrance of his virtue.
“As the great earth is never weary though it bears
many things; so should the monk never be weary of giving
instruction, exhortation and encouragement.
“As the great earth is without malice or fondness; so
should the monk be without malice or fondness.
22. Water
“As water naturally remains still; so should the monk be
without hypocrisy, complaining, hinting, and improper
behaviour and remain undisturbed and pure by nature.
“As water always refreshes; so should the monk,
full of compassion, always seek the good and benefit of
“As water never harms anyone; so should the monk,
earnest in effort, never do any wrong that would produce
quarrels or strife, or anger or discontent. For it was said by
the Blessed One in the Kaõha Jàtaka:
“O Sakka, Lord of all the world, a choice thou didst declare:
No creature be aught harmed for me,
O Sakka, anywhere, Neither in body nor in mind:
this, Sakka, is my prayer.”241
27. The Moon
“As the moon increases day by day in the waxing phase; so
should the monk increase in good qualities day by day.
241.Jà. iv. 14. PTS trnsl

30. The Universal Monarch
“As the universal monarch gains the favour of the people
by the four bases of popularity [generosity, affability,
justice and impartiality] so should the monk gain the
favour of monks and laity.
“As the universal monarch allows no robbers to dwell
in his realm; so should the monk allow no cruel, lustful or
angry thought to dwell in his mind.
“As the universal monarch travels all over the world
examining the good and the bad; so should the monk exam-
ine himself thoroughly as to his thoughts, words and deeds.
35. The Mongoose
“As the mongoose protects himself with an antidote before
approaching a snake; so should the monk protect himself
with loving-kindness before approaching the world, which
abounds in anger and malice, strife and contention.
40. The Elephant
“As the elephant turns his whole body when he looks
round; so should the monk turn his whole body when he
looks round, not glancing this way and that but keeping his
eyes well controlled.
“As the elephant lifts up his feet and walks with care;
so should the monk be mindful and clearly comprehending
in walking.
46. The Indian Crane
“As the Indian crane warns people about their future fate
with his cry; so should the monk warn people about their
future fate with his teaching of Dhamma.

47. The Bat
“As the bat, though he sometimes enters men’s houses,
soon leaves; so should the monk, though he enters men’s
houses for alms, soon leave.
“As the bat when he frequents men’s houses does no
harm; so should the monk when visiting men’s houses do
no harm there, being easily supportable and considerate of
their welfare.
48. The Leech
“As the leech feeds until he is satisfied before he lets go; so
should the monk take a firm hold of his meditation object
and drink the delicious nectar of freedom until he is
50. The Rock Snake
“As the rock snake can survive for many days without food
but still keep himself alive; so should the monk be able to
keep himself going even though he receives only a little
alms. For this was said by Venerable Sàriputta:
“Whether it be dry food or wet he eats, let him to
full repletion never eat. The good recluse goes forth
in emptiness, and keeps to moderation in his food.
If but four mouthfuls or five he gets, let him drink water
for what cares a man with mind on arahantship fixed
for ease.”242
242.Thag. vv 982, 983.

60. The Carpenter
“As the carpenter discards rotten wood and takes only
sound timber; so should the monk discard wrong views
like eternalism, nihilism, the soul is the body, the soul is
one thing the body another, all teachings are alike excellent,
the unconditioned is an impossibility, men’s actions are
useless, there is no holy life, when a being dies a new being
is reborn, conditioned things are eternally existing, the one
who acts experiences the result thereof, one acts and
another experiences the result, and all other such wrong
views on the result of kamma (intention) and action (kiriya).
Having discarded all such paths he should seize the idea of
voidness, which is the true nature of conditioned things.
61. The Waterpot
“As the waterpot that is full makes no noise; so should the
monk be not garrulous even though he knows much, for
this was said by the Blessed One:
“Listen to the sound of water.
Listen to the water running through chasms and rocks.
It is the minor streams that make a loud noise,
The great waters flow silently.”
“The hollow resounds and the full is still.
Foolishness is like a half-filled pot;
The wise man is a lake full of water.”243
243.Sn. vv 720, 721, trnsl. Hammalawa Saddhàtissa. Only the second verse.

On the conclusion of this debate between the elder and the
king the great earth shook six times, lightning flashed and
the gods rained down flowers from heaven. Milinda was
filled with joy of heart and all his pride was subdued. He
ceased to have any doubt about the Triple Gem and,
renouncing all obstinacy, like a cobra deprived of its fangs
he said, “Most excellent, venerable Nàgasena! You have
solved the puzzles that were worthy of a Buddha to solve.
Among the Buddha’s followers there is no one like you,
except for Venerable Sàriputta. Please forgive me for my
faults. May you accept me as a follower, as one gone for
refuge for as long as life lasts.”
The king, with his soldiers, supported the elder and
his large following and had a dwelling place constructed
called Milinda Vihàra. Later, Milinda handed over his
kingdom to his son and, going forth into homelessness, he
developed his insight and attained arahantship.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Ascetic Practices

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Ascetic Practices

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 17
The Ascetic Practices
The king saw monks in the forest, lone and
far away from men, keeping hard vows.
Then he saw householders at home, enjoy-
ing the sweet fruits of the Noble Path.
Considering both of these deep doubts he
felt, “If laymen also realise the truth, then surely making
vows must be worthless. Come! Let me ask that best of
teachers, wise in the threefold collection of the Buddha’s
words, skilled to overthrow the arguments of the oppo-
nents. He will be able to resolve my doubts!”
Milinda approached Nàgasena, paid respects to him,
and seated at one side asked: “Venerable Nàgasena, is there
any layperson who has attained nibbàna?”
“Not only one hundred or a thousand but more than
a billion227 have attained nibbàna. “
“If, Nàgasena, laypeople living at home, enjoying the
pleasures of the senses can attain nibbàna what is the use of
the extra vows? If one’s enemies could be subdued with
fists alone what would be the use of seeking weapons? If
trees could be climbed by clambering up what would be the
use of ladders? If it was comfortable to lie on the bare
ground what would be the use of beds? Just so, if a layper-
son can attain nibbàna even while living at home what is the
use of the extra vows?”
227.As well as human beings there were millions of deities and Brahmas who realised
nibbàna while listening to the Dhamma

“There are, O king, twenty-eight virtues of these
practices on account of which the Buddhas have a high
regard for them. The keeping of the vows is a pure mode
of livelihood, its fruit is blissful, it is blameless, it brings no
suffering to others, it gives confidence,
228 it doesn’t
229 it is certain to bring growth in good qualities, it
prevents back-sliding, it doesn’t delude, it is a protection,
it fulfils one’s desires, it tames all beings, it is good for self-
discipline, it is proper for a recluse, he is independent,
he is free,
231 it destroys desire, it destroys hatred, it
destroys delusion, it humbles pride, it cuts off discursive
thoughts and makes the mind one-pointed, it overcomes
doubts, it drives away sloth, it banishes discontent, it
makes him tolerant, it is incomparable, it is beyond
measure, and it leads to the destruction of all suffering.
“Whosoever carries out these vows becomes en-
dowed with eighteen good qualities. His conduct is pure,
his practice is fully accomplished, his actions and speech
are well-guarded, his thoughts are pure, his energy is
stirred up, his fear is allayed, views of personality are
dispelled, wrath dies away and love arises, he eats per-
ceiving the repulsive nature of food, he is honoured by
all beings, he is moderate in eating, he is full of vigilance,
he is homeless and can dwell wherever it suits him, he
detests evil, he delights in solitude, and he is always
228.He is free from fear of robbers.
229.That is by the need to protect property.
230.He is unattached to families.
231.He is free to go anywhere. Vism. 59-83.

“These ten individuals are worthy of undertaking the
vows: one full of confidence, full of shame, full of courage,
void of hypocrisy, one who is self-reliant, steadfast, desir-
ous of training, of strong determination, very introspective,
and one who is of a loving disposition.
“All those laypeople who realise nibbàna while living
at home do so because they practised these vows in former
births. There is no realisation of the goal of arahantship in
this very life without these vows. Only by the utmost zeal-
ousness is arahantship attained. Thus the value of keeping
the vows if full of value and might.
“Whosoever, O king, having evil desires in his mind,
should take upon himself these vows seeking after material
gain shall incur a double punishment; in this world he will be
scorned and ridiculed and after death he will suffer in hell.
“Whosoever, O king, whose conduct is consistent
with monkhood, who is worthy of it, who desires little and
is content, given to seclusion, energetic, without guile, and
has gone forth not from desire for gain or fame but with
confidence in the Dhamma, wishing for deliverance from
old age and death, he is worthy of double honour for he is
loved by gods and men and he quickly attains the four
fruits, the four kinds of discrimination,
the three-fold
vision233 and the sixfold higher knowledge.
“What are the thirteen vows? Wearing rag-robes,
using only three robes, living only on alms-food, begging
232. Pañisambhidà¤àõa — Discrimination of meaning, law, language and intelligence.
233. Tevijjà — Recollection of past lives, knowledge of the arising and passing away of
beings, knowledge of destruction of the floods (àsava).
234. Abhi¤¤àõa — Supernormal power such as flying through the air, the divine ear or
clairaudience, penetration of minds, plus the above three

from house to house without preference, eating one meal a
day, eating from the bowl only, refusing later food, dwell-
ing in the forest, dwelling at the root of a tree, dwelling in
the open, dwelling in a cemetery, using any sleeping place
allotted to him, and not lying down to sleep.
“It was by the observance of these vows that Upasena
was able to visit the Blessed One when he was dwelling in
and it was by these same vows that Sàriputta
became of such exalted virtue that he was declared second
only to the Blessed One himself in ability to preach the
“Very good, Nàgasena, the whole teaching of the
Buddha, the supramundane attainments and all the best
achievements in the world are included in these thirteen
ascetic practices.”
235.See Vism. 59ff, for details.
236.Vin. iii. 230ff.
237.A. i. 23, cf. S. i. 191.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - A Question Solved by Inference

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - A Question Solved by Inference

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 16
A Question Solved by Inference
Milinda the king went up to the place
where Nàgasena was and, having paid
respect to him, sat down at one side.
Longing to know, to hear and to bear in
mind, and wishing to dispel his ignorance,
he roused up his courage and energy, established self-
possession and mindfulness and spoke thus to Nàgasena:
“Have you, venerable Nàgasena, ever seen the
“No, great king.”
“Then have your teachers ever seen the Buddha?”
“No, great king.”
“So, Nàgasena, the Buddha did not exist; there is no
clear evidence of the Buddha’s existence.”
“Did those warriors exist who were the founders of
the line of kings from which you are descended?”
“Certainly, venerable sir, there can be no doubt about
“Have you ever seen them?”
“No, venerable sir.”
“Have your teachers and ministers of state who lay
down the law ever seen them?”
“No, venerable sir.” D. i. Sta. 13.

“Then there is no clear evidence of the existence of
those warriors of old.”
“Nevertheless, Nàgasena, the royal insignia used by
them are still to be seen and by these we can infer and know
that the warriors of old really existed.”
“Just so, O king, we can know that the Blessed One
lived and believe in him. The royal insignia used by him are
still to be seen. There are the four foundations of mind-
fulness, the four right efforts, the four bases of success, the
five moral powers, the five controlling faculties, the seven
factors of enlightenment and the eight factors of the path;
and by these we can infer and know that the Blessed One
really existed.”
“Give me an illustration.”
“As people seeing a fine, well-planned city would
know it was laid out by a skilled architect; so the city of
righteousness laid out by the Blessed One can be seen. It
has constant mindfulness for its main street, and in that
main street market-stalls are open selling flowers, per-
fume, fruits, antidotes, medicines, nectar, precious jewels
and all kinds of merchandise. Thus, O king, the Blessed
One’s city of righteousness is well-planned, strongly built,
well protected and thus impregnable to enemies; and by
this method of inference you may know that the Blessed
One existed.”
“What are the flowers in the city of righteousness?”
“There are meditation objects made known by the Blessed
One: the perception of impermanence, of unsatisfactoriness,
soullessness, repulsiveness, danger, abandoning, dispas-

sion, disenchantment with all worlds, the impermanence of
all mental formations; the meditation on mindfulness of
breathing, the perception of the nine kinds of corpses in pro-
gressive stages of decay, the meditations on loving-
kindness, compassion, sympathetic-joy and equanimity;
mindfulness of death and mindfulness of the thirty-two
parts of the body. Whoever, longing to be free from old age
and death, takes one of these as the subject for meditation
can become free from desire, hatred and delusion, pride and
wrong views, he can cross the ocean of saüsàra, stem the tor-
rent of craving and destroy all suffering. He can then enter
the city of nibbàna where there is security, calm and bliss.”
“What are the perfumes in the city of righteousness?”
They are the undertaking of the restraints of the three ref-
uges, the five precepts, the eight precepts, the ten precepts,
and the Pàtimokkha restraint for monks. For this was said by
the Blessed One:
“No flower’s scent can waft against the wind,
Not sandalwood’s, nor musk’s, nor jasmine flower’s.
But the fragrance of the good goes against the wind
In all directions the good man’s name pervades.”223
“What are the fruits in the city of righteousness?”
“They are the fruit of stream-winner, the fruit of once-
returner, the fruit of non-returner, the fruit of arahantship,
the attainment of emptiness, the attainment of signlessness
and the attainment of desirelessness.”224
223.Dhp. v 54.

“What is the antidote in the city of righteousness?”
“The Four Noble Truths are the antidote to counteract the
poison of the defilements. Whoever longs for the highest
insight and hears this teaching is set free from birth, old
age, death, sorrow, pain, grief, lamentation and despair.”
“What is the medicine in the city of righteousness?”
“Certain medicines, O king, have been made known by the
Blessed One by which he cures gods and men. They are
these: the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right
efforts, the four bases of success, the five controlling facul-
ties, the five moral powers, the seven factors of enlighten-
ment, and the eightfold noble path. With these medicines
the Blessed One cures men of wrong views, wrong thought,
wrong speech, wrong actions, wrong livelihood, wrong
effort, wrong mindfulness and wrong concentration. He
rids them of desire, hatred and delusion, pride, personality-
belief, doubt, restlessness, sloth and torpor, shamelessness
and recklessness and all other defilements.
“What is the nectar in the city of righteousness?”
“Mindfulness of the body is like nectar, for all beings who
are infused with this nectar of mindfulness of the body are
relieved of all suffering. For this was said by the Blessed
“They enjoy the nectar of the deathless
who practise mindfulness of the body.”225
224.One with great resolution contemplates impermanence and attains signlessness, one
with great tranquillity contemplates unsatisfactoriness and attains desirelessness, one
with great wisdom contemplates not-self and attains emptiness.
225.A. i. 45.

“What are the precious jewels in the city of righteousness?”
“Virtue, concentration, wisdom, freedom, knowledge and
vision of freedom, knowledge of discrimination and the
factors of enlightenment are the precious jewels of the
Blessed One.
* “What is the precious jewel of virtue?
It is the virtue of restraint by the Pàtimokkha rules,
the virtue of restraint of the sense faculties, the vir-
tue of right livelihood, the virtue of reflection on the
proper use of the four requisites of almsfood, medi-
cine, robes and lodgings, the virtue of restraint
according to the major, middle and minor codes of
discipline226 and the habitual virtue of the noble
* “What is the precious jewel of concentration?
It is the first jhàna with initial application and sus-
tained application, the second jhàna without initial
application but with sustained application, the
third jhàna with neither initial nor sustained appli-
cation but with pure joy, bliss and one-pointedness;
and it is the concentration on emptiness, on sign-
lessness and desirelessness. When a monk wears
this jewel of concentration, evil, unprofitable
thoughts are shed from his mind like water from a
lotus leaf.
226.Described in detail in the Sàma¤¤a Phala Sutta of the Dãgha Nikàya, these disciplines list
all kinds of wrong livelihood for a monk, such as fortune telling and getting involved
in householder’s business, and all misbehaviour such as playing games.

* “What is the precious jewel of wisdom?
It is the knowledge of what is wholesome and what
unwholesome, what blameless and what blame-
worthy, and knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.
* “What is the precious jewel of freedom?
Arahantship is the gem of gems, the precious jewel of
freedom adorned with which a monk outshines all
* “What is the precious jewel of knowledge and vision
of freedom?
It is the knowledge by which the noble disciple re-
views the paths, the fruits and nibbàna, and reflects
on the defilements that have been got rid of and the
defilements that still remain.
* “What is the precious jewel of knowledge of
It is the analytical insight of meaning, law, language
and intelligence. Whoever is adorned with this jewel
is unafraid when approaching any kind of assembly,
confident in the knowledge that he can answer any
kind of question that might be put to him.
* “What is the precious jewel of the factors of
They are the jewels of mindfulness, investigation of
truth, energy, joy, tranquillity, concentration and
equanimity. Adorned with these jewels the monk
illumines the world with his virtuousness.”

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VIII

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VIII

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 15
The Solving of Dilemmas (VIII)
71. The Gift of Vessantara
“Venerable Nàgasena, do all the Bodhi-
sattas give away their wives and children,
or was it only Vessantara?”205
“All of them do.”
“But do those wives and children consent to it?”
“The wives do but the children do not due to their
tender age.”
“But was it then a meritorious deed if the children
were terrified and cried at being given away?”
“Yes it was. As a man desiring merit might take a crip-
ple wherever he wanted to go in an ox-cart and thereby the
oxen would be made to suffer; or as a king might levy a tax in
order to perform a great meritorious deed; so too, giving,
though it may cause anguish to some, is conducive to rebirth
in heaven. Is there, O king, any gift that should not be given?”
“Yes, Nàgasena, there are ten kinds of gifts that should
not be given, the giving of which leads to rebirth in states of
woe: a gift of intoxicants, of a festival, of a woman, of a
206 of suggestive designs, weapons, poisons, chains or
205.Jà. No. 547 (Jà. vi. 479ff).
206. Usabha, according to the PED, is a bull which is the leader of the herd or a very strong
man. Ven. Ledi Sayàdaw (Bodhipakkhiya Dipanã p.99, Manuals of Buddhism p.200)
describes usabha as a very special bull, which can protect the whole herd and even the
village from disease. However, in the above context a gift of a man (for sex) would be
more consistent with a gift of a woman, neither of which would be meritorious.

instruments of torture, fowls and swine, or false weights
and measures.”
“I am not asking about gifts that are not approved of
in the world. I am asking if there is any gift that should not
be given when there is someone worthy of it.”
“Then, Nàgasena, there is no gift that should not be
given. When satisfaction in Dhamma has arisen, some people
give a hundred thousand, or a kingdom or even their life.”
“Then why do you criticize the gift of Vessantara so
harshly? Is it not sometimes the case that a man in debt may
sell his son or leave him as a pledge? Just so, Vessantara
gave his son as a pledge against his future attainment of
“Nevertheless, why did he not give himself instead?”
“Because that was not what was asked for. To offer
something else would have been ignoble. Furthermore, O
king, Vessantara knew that the Brahmin would be unable
to keep the children as slaves for long since he was ad-
vanced in years. Anyway, he knew their grandfather
would pay a ransom for their return.”
“Skilfully, Nàgasena, has this puzzle been unrav-
elled. The net of heresy has been torn to pieces. Well has the
letter of the scriptures been maintained while you have
thus explained the spirit. This is so and I accept it as you
72. Austerities
“Do all Bodhisattas practise austerities or was it only the
Bodhisatta Gotama?”

“It was only the Bodhisatta Gotama.
207 In four
respects there are differences between Bodhisattas. As to
family (either warrior or priestly caste), length of time to
develop the perfections, life span, and height. However,
there is no difference between the Buddhas in respect of
their virtue or wisdom. It was in order to bring his know-
ledge to maturity that he had to practise the austerities.”
“Why then, Nàgasena, did he go forth while his
knowledge was still immature? Why didn’t he first mature
his knowledge and then renounce the world?”
“When the Bodhisatta, O king, saw the women of his
harem sleeping in disorder, then he became disgusted and
discontented. On perceiving that his mind was filled with
discontent, Màra said, ‘Seven days from now you will
become a Universal Monarch’. Yet, as if a red-hot iron bar
had entered his ear, the Bodhisatta was filled with alarm
and fear. Furthermore, O king, the Bodhisatta thought, ‘Let
me not incur blame among gods and men as being without
occupation or means. Let me be a man of action and con-
stant in earnestness.’ Thus did the Bodhisatta undertake
the austerities to bring his knowledge to maturity.”
“Venerable Nàgasena, when the Bodhisatta was un-
dergoing austerities it occurred to him ‘Might there not be
some other path to higher knowledge worthy of noble
men?’ Was he then confused about the correct way?”
“There are twenty-five conditions, O king, that cause
weakness of mind: wrath, enmity, contempt, arrogance,
envy, meanness, deceit, hypocrisy, obstinacy, contention,
207.M. Sta. 81, Ap. 301. As a result of abusing Buddha Kassapa in a former birth.
See Dilemma 46.

pride, conceit, vanity, heedlessness, sloth, drowsiness, lazi-
ness, evil friends, sights, sounds, odours, tastes, sensations
of touch, hunger and thirst, and discontent. It was hunger
and thirst that seized hold of his body and thus his mind
was not rightly directed to the destruction of the floods
(àsava). The Bodhisatta had sought after the perception of
the Four Noble Truths for many aeons so how could there
arise any confusion in his mind as to the way? Nevertheless,
he thought, ‘Might there not be some other way to wisdom?’
Formerly the Bodhisatta, when he was only one month old,
had attained the four absorptions while meditating under
the rose-apple tree while his father was ploughing.”208
“Very good, Nàgasena, I accept it as you say. It was
while bringing his knowledge to maturity that the Bodhi-
satta practised the austerities.”
73. The Power of Evil
“Which is more powerful, wholesomeness or unwhole-
“Wholesomeness is more powerful, O king.”
“That is something I cannot believe, for those who do
evil often experience the result of their deeds in this very
life when they are punished for their crimes,
210 but is there
anyone who, by offering alms to the Order or by observing
the Uposatha has received the benefit in this very life?”
208.M. i. 246, Jà. i. 57.
209. cf. Question 7 in Chapter Seven.
210.The king is jumping to conclusions to say that criminals are experiencing the results of
their evil deeds when they are punished. See Dilemma 8; “Without a Buddha’s insight
no one can ascertain the extent of the action of kamma.”

“There are, O king, six211 such cases. The slave
212 on giving a meal to Sàriputta, attained on the
same day to the dignity of a treasurer. Then there was the
mother of Gopàla, who sold her hair and therewith gave a
meal to Mahà Kaccàyana and as a result became the chief
queen of King Udena. The pious woman Suppiyà, who cut
flesh from her own thigh to provide meat for a sick monk
but on the very next day the wound healed. Mallikà, when
a slave girl, gave her own gruel to the Blessed One and
became, that very day, the chief queen of Kosala. Sumana
the florist, who presented eight bunches of jasmine to the
Blessed One, came into great prosperity and Ekasàñaka the
Brahman who gave the Blessed One his only garment and
received that day the gift of ‘All the Eights’.”213
“So then, Nàgasena, for all your searching have you
found only six cases?”
“That is so, O king.”
“Then it is unwholesomeness that is more powerful
than wholesomeness. For I have seen many men impaled
on a stake for their crimes, and in the war waged by the
general Bhaddasàla in the service of the Nanda royal family
against Chandagutta there were eighty Corpse Dances, for
they say that when a great slaughter has taken place the
headless corpses rise and dance over the battle-field. All of
those men came to destruction through the fruit of their evil
211.Seven, including five of these six, are referred to in Dilemma 4; the extra ones are Puõõa
the worker and Puõõà the slave-girl. The one here not referred to above is Puõõaka the
212. Dàso and dàsi refer to slaves; bhàtako was one who worked for a wage.
213.Eight elephants, eight horses, eight thousand kahàpaõas, eight women, eight slaves, and
the proceeds from eight villages.

deeds. Yet when King Pasenadi of Kosala gave the unpar-
alleled alms-giving did he receive wealth or glory or happi-
ness in the same life?”
“No, O king, he did not.”
“Then surely, Nàgasena, unwholesomeness is more
“Just, O king, as an inferior grain ripens in a month or
two but the best grain ripens only after five or six months,
good deeds ripen only after a long time. Furthermore, O
king, the results of both good and evil will be experienced
in a future life, but because evil is blameworthy it has been
decreed that those who do evil will be punished by the law,
yet they do not reward those who do good. If they were to
make a law to reward the good doer then good deeds
would also be rewarded in this very life.”
“Very good, Nàgasena, only by one as wise as you
could this puzzle be so well solved. The question put by me
from the ordinary viewpoint has been made clear by you in
the supramundane sense.”
74. Sharing of Merit
“Is it possible for all deceased relatives to share in the merit
of a good deed?”
“No. Only those who are born as hungry ghosts who
feed off the merit of others are able to share in the merit.
Those born in hell, those in heaven, animals, and hungry
ghosts who feed on vomit, or hungry ghosts who hunger
and thirst, or hungry ghosts who are consumed by craving,
do not derive any profit.”

“Then the offerings in those cases are fruitless, since
those for whom they were given derive no profit.”
“No, O king, they are not fruitless nor without result
for the givers themselves derive benefit from it.”
“Convince me of this by a reason.”
“If some people prepared a meal and visited their
relatives but those relatives did not accept the gift, would
that gift be wasted?”
“No, venerable sir, the owners themselves would
have it.”
“Just so, O king, the givers derive benefit from their
“Is it then possible to share demerit?”
“This is not a question you should ask, O king. You
will be asking me next why space is boundless and why
men and birds have two legs whilst deer have four!”
“I do not ask you this to annoy you, but there are
many people in the world who are perverted214 or who lack
common sense.”215
“Though it is possible to ripen a crop with water from
a tank it is not possible to use seawater. An evil deed cannot
be shared with one who has not done it and has not con-
sented to it. People convey water long distances by means
of an aqueduct but they cannot convey solid rock in the
same way. Unwholesomeness is a mean thing but whole-
someness is great.”
“Give me an illustration.”
“If a tiny drop of water were to fall on the ground
214. Vàmagàmino; pàpagàhino Evil-minded, who take hold of things wrongly.
215. Vicakkhukà — literally without eyes, (or perhaps just plain stupid).

would it flow over ten or twelve leagues?”
“Certainly not, it would only affect the spot where it
“Why is that?”
“Because of its minuteness.”
“Just so, O king, unwholesomeness is a mean thing
and because of its minuteness affects only the doer and can-
not be shared. However, if there was a mighty cloudburst
would the water spread around?”
“Certainly, venerable sir, even for ten or twelve leagues.”
“Just so, O king, wholesomeness is great and by
reason of its abundance can be shared by gods and men.”
“Venerable Nàgasena, why is it that unwholesome-
ness is so limited and wholesomeness so much more far-
“Whoever, O king, gives gifts, observes the precepts
and performs the Uposatha, he is glad and at peace, and be-
ing peaceful his goodness grows even more abundantly.
Like a deep pool of water from which as soon as water
flows away on one side it is replenished from all around.
Just so, O king, if a man were to transfer to others the merit
of any good he had done even for a hundred years the more
would his goodness grow. This is why wholesomeness is so
great. However, on doing evil, O king, a man becomes
filled with remorse and his mind cannot escape from the
thought of it, he is depressed and obtains no peace, miser-
able and despairing he wastes away. Just, O king, as a drop
of water falling onto a dry river-bed gains not in volume
but is swallowed up on the very spot where it fell. This is
why unwholesomeness is so mean and minute.”

75. Dreams
“What is this thing that people call a dream and who
dreams it?”
“It is a sign coming across the path of the mind. There
are six kinds of dreams. A person affected by wind sees a
dream, a person affected by bile, by phlegm, by a deity, by
their own habits, by a premonition. It is only the last of
these that is true, all the others are false.”
“When one dreams a dream is one awake or asleep?”
“Neither one nor the other. One dreams when one
sleeps ‘the monkey’s sleep’, which is midway between sleep
and consciousness.”
76. Premature Death
“Venerable Nàgasena, do all living beings die when their
life-span comes to an end or do some die prematurely?”
“Both, O king. Like fruits on a tree that fall sometimes
when ripe and sometimes before they are ripe due to the
wind, or insects or sticks, so too, some beings die when
their life-span ends but others die prematurely.”
“But Nàgasena, all those who die prematurely,
whether they are young or old, have reached the end of
their predetermined life-span. There is no such thing as
premature death.”
“O king, there are seven kinds of premature death for
those who, though they still have some life-span remaining,
die prematurely: starvation, thirst, snake-bite, poison, fire,
drowning, weapons. Death come about in eight ways:

through wind, bile, phlegm, a mixture of bodily fluids,
change of temperature, stress of circumstances, outside
agent, and kamma.
216 Of these, only that through kamma can
be called the end of the life-span; the rest are all premature.”
“Venerable Nàgasena, you say there is premature
death. Give me another reason for that.”
“A mighty fire, O king, that is exhausted and goes out
when its fuel has been totally consumed and not before that
by some other reason, is said to have gone out in the full-
ness of time. Just so a man who dies in old-age without any
accident is said to reach the end of the life-span. However,
in the case of a fire that is put out by a mighty cloudburst it
could not be said that it had gone out in the fullness of time;
so too whoever dies before his time due to any cause other
than kamma is said to die a premature death.”
77. Miracles at Shrines of Arahants
“Are there miracles at the shrines (cetiya) of all the arahants
or only at some?”
“Only at some. By the volitional determination of
three kinds of individuals there is a miracle: by an arahant
while he is still alive, by deities, or by a wise disciple who
has confidence. If there is no such volitional determination
then there is no miracle even at the shrine of an arahant who
had supernormal powers. However, even if there is no
miracle one should have confidence after knowing about
his pure and blameless conduct.”
216. See Dilemma 8.

78. Can Everyone Understand the Dhamma?
“Do all those who practise correctly attain insight into the
Dhamma or are there some who do not?”
“There can be no attaining of insight for those who,
though they practise correctly, are animals, hungry ghosts,
holders of wrong views, frauds (kuhaka), matricides,
patricides, murderers of arahants, schismatics, shedders of
the blood of a Tathàgata, in the robes by theft,
gone over
to another sect, violators of nuns, concealing an offence
entailing a meeting of the Order,
218 eunuchs (paõóaka), and
hermaphrodites. Neither is a child under seven years of age
able to realise the Dhamma.”
“What is the reason that a child under seven years of
age is unable to attain insight? For a child is pure in mind
and should be ready to realise the Dhamma.”
“If a child under seven, O king, could feel desire
for things leading to desire, hatred for things arousing
hatred, could be fooled by misleading things and could
distinguish between wholesomeness and unwhole-
someness then insight might be possible for him. How-
ever, the mind of a child under seven, O king, is feeble
and the unconditioned element of nibbàna is weighty
and profound. Therefore, Oking, although he practised
correctly, a child of under seven could not realise the
217.Vin. i. 86. Putting on the robe himself he pretends to be a monk.
218.Oddly, no mention is made in this list of those guilty of Pàràjika offences, but they could
be included as frauds.

79. The Bliss of Nibbàna
“Is nibbàna entirely blissful or is it partly painful?”
“It is entirely blissful.”
“But that I cannot accept. Those who seek it have to
practise austerity and exertion of body and mind, absten-
tion from food at the wrong time, suppression of sleep,
restraint of the senses, and they have to give up wealth, fam-
ily and friends. They are blissful who enjoy the pleasures of
the senses but you restrain and prevent such pleasures and
so experience physical and mental discomfort and pain.”
“O king, nibbàna has no pain; what you call pain is not
nibbàna. It is true that those who seek nibbàna experience pain
and discomfort but afterwards they experience the unalloyed
bliss of nibbàna. I will tell you a reason for that. Is there, O
king, such a thing as the bliss of the sovereignty of kings?”
“Yes there is.”
“Is it mixed with pain?”
“But why is it then, O king, that when the frontier
provinces have revolted kings have to set out from their
palaces and march over uneven ground, tormented by
mosquitoes and hot winds, and engage in fierce battles at
the risk of their lives?”
“That, venerable Nàgasena, is not the bliss of sover-
eignty. It is only the preliminary stage in the pursuit of that
bliss. It is after they have won it that they enjoy the bliss of
sovereignty. That bliss, Nàgasena, is not mixed with pain.”
“Just so, O king, nibbàna is unalloyed bliss and there
is no pain mixed in it.”

80. Description of Nibbàna
“Is it possible, Nàgasena, to point out the size, shape or
duration of nibbàna by a simile?”
“No it is not possible; there is no other thing like it.”
“Is there then any attribute of nibbàna found in other
things that can be demonstrated by a simile?”
“Yes that can be done.
“As a lotus is unwetted by water, nibbàna is unsullied
by the defilements.
“Like water, it cools the fever of defilements and
quenches the thirst of craving.
“Like medicine, it protects beings who are poisoned
by the defilements, cures the disease of suffering, and nour-
ishes like nectar.
“As the ocean is empty of corpses, nibbàna is empty of
all defilements; as the ocean is not increased by all the
rivers that flow into it, so nibbàna is not increased by all the
beings who attain it; it is the abode of great beings [the
arahants], and it is decorated with the waves of knowledge
and freedom.
“Like food, which sustains life, nibbàna drives away
old age and death; it increases the spiritual strength of
beings; it gives the beauty of virtue, it removes the distress
of the defilements, it relieves the exhaustion of all suffering.
“Like space, it is not born, does not decay or perish, it
does not pass away here and arise elsewhere, it is invin-
cible, thieves cannot steal it, it is not attached to anything,
it is the sphere of ariyans who are like birds in space, it is
unobstructed and it is infinite.

“Like a wish-fulfilling gem, it fulfils all desires, causes
delight and is lustrous.
“Like red sandalwood, it is hard to get, its fragrance
is incomparable and it is praised by good men.
“As ghee is recognisable by its special attributes, so
nibbàna has special attributes; as ghee has a sweet fragrance,
nibbàna has the sweet fragrance of virtue; as ghee has a
delicious taste, nibbàna has the delicious taste of freedom.
“Like a mountain peak, it is very high, immovable, in-
accessible to the defilements, it has no place where defile-
ments can grow, and it is without favouritism or prejudice.”
81. The Realisation of Nibbàna
“You say, Nàgasena, that nibbàna is neither past, nor
present nor future, neither arisen, nor not arisen, nor pro-
219 In that case does the man who realises nibbàna re-
alise something already produced, or does he himself
produce it first and then realise it?”
“Neither of these, O king, yet nibbàna does exist.”
“Do not, Nàgasena, answer this question by making it
obscure! Make it clear and elucidate it. It is a point on which
people are bewildered and lost in doubt. Break this dart of
“The element of nibbàna does exist, O king, and he
who practises rightly and who rightly comprehends the
formations according to the teachings of the Conqueror, he,
by his wisdom, realises nibbàna.
219.Untraced. However, cf. Dilemma 65

“How is nibbàna to be shown? By freedom from dis-
tress and danger, by purity and by coolness. As a man,
afraid and terrified at having fallen among enemies, would
be relieved and blissful when he had escaped to a safe place;
or as one fallen into a pit of filth would be at ease and glad
when he had got out of the pit and cleaned up; or as one
trapped in a forest fire would be calm and cool when he had
reached a safe spot. As fearful and terrifying should you
regard the anxiety that arises again and again on account of
birth, old age, disease and death; as filth should you regard
gain, honours and fame; as hot and searing should you
regard the three-fold fire of desire, hatred and delusion.
“How does he who is practising rightly realise
nibbàna? He rightly grasps the cyclic nature of formations
and therein he sees only birth, old age, disease and death;
he sees nothing pleasant or agreeable in any part of it.
Seeing nothing there to be taken hold of, as on a red-hot
iron ball, his mind overflows with discontent and a fever
takes hold of his body; hopeless and without a refuge he
becomes disgusted with repeated lives. To him who sees
the terror of the treadmill of life the thought arises, ‘On fire
and blazing is this wheel of life, full of suffering and
despair. If only there could be an end to it, that would be
peaceful, that would be excellent; the cessation of all mental
formations,’ the renunciation of grasping, the destruction
of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbàna!’
“Therewith his mind leaps forward into the state
where there is no becoming. Then has he found peace, then
does he exult and rejoice at the thought, ‘A refuge has been
found at last!’ He strives along the path for the cessation of

formations, searches it out, develops it, and makes much of
it. To that end he stirs up his mindfulness, energy and joy;
and from attending again and again to that thought [of
disgust with mental formations], having transcended the
treadmill of life, he brings the cycle to a halt. One who stops
the treadmill is said to have realised nibbàna.”
82. Where is Nibbàna?
“Is there a place, Nàgasena, where nibbàna is stored up?”
“No there is not, yet it does exist. As there is no place
where fire is stored up yet it may be produced by rubbing
two dry sticks together.’
“But is there any place on which a man might stand
and realise nibbàna?”
“Yes there is; virtue is the place;
220 standing on that,
and with reasoning, wherever he might be, whether in the
land of the Scythians or the Bactrians, whether in China or
221 in Kashmir or Gandhàra, on a mountain top or in
the highest heavens; the one who practises rightly realises
nibbàna. “
“Very good, Nàgasena, you have taught about nibbàna,
you have explained about the realisation of nibbàna, you
have praised the qualities of virtue, shown the right way of
practice, raised aloft the banner of the Dhamma, established
the Dhamma as a leading principle; not barren nor without
fruit are the efforts of those with right aims!”
220. cf. above Question 9 in Chapter One.
221. Cilàta is possibly Tibet. See Geography of Early Buddhism, B.C. Law.

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VII

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VII

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 14
The Solving of Dilemmas (VII)
61. Be Without Impediments
“The Blessed One said, ‘Live devoted to
and delighting in that which is without
198 What is it that is without
“The four fruits of the path and nibbàna are without
“But, Nàgasena, if that is so why do the monks con-
cern themselves with learning the Buddha’s discourses and
with building repairs and offerings to the Order?”
“Those monks who do these things need to free their
minds from impediments before they can attain the four
fruits but those who are pure by nature have done such pre-
paratory work in former births and can easily attain the
fruits without such preparations. Just as in some areas a
farmer can successfully grow crops without a fence but
elsewhere he must first build a fence or a wall before he can
grow a crop; or as one with supernormal powers can easily
pick the fruits at the top of a tall tree but others have to con-
struct a ladder first. Likewise, learning, enquiry, and other
works are like a ladder and are helpful to those monks to
reach the fruits of the four attainments. So long as there is
need of discipleship, when even those like Venerable
198.Untraced, but cf. M. i. 65.

Sàriputta find it impossible to attain arahantship without a
teacher, so there will be a use for recitation of the scriptures
and thus will those disciples become free from obstructions
and attain arahantship.”
62. The Lay Arahant
“You say that if a layman attains arahantship he must either
enter the Order that very day or die and attain
Yet if he is unable to find a robe and bowl
and preceptor then that exalted condition of arahantship is a
waste, for destruction of life is involved in it.”
“The fault does not lie with arahantship but with the
state of a layman, because it is too weak to support
arahantship. Just as, O king, although food protects the life
of beings it will take away the life of one whose digestion is
weak – so too, if a layman attains arahantship he must,
because of the weakness of that condition, enter the Order
that very day or die.”
63. The Offences of Arahants
“You say that an arahant cannot be of confused mind-
200 Can he then commit any offence?”
“He can O king, as regards the size of his hut, by
acting as a go-between, eating at the wrong time, eating
what is not offered or in thinking he has not been invited
when he has.”
199.Untraced, but a layperson can attain arahantship. Pts. contr. 114.

“But you say that those who fall into an offence do so
either from ignorance or disrespect. If an arahant can fall
into an offence and there is no disrespect in an arahant then
is there confusion of mindfulness?”
“No there is no confusion of mindfulness in an
arahant. There are two kinds of offence. There are those
things that are blameworthy in the eyes of the world, such
as killing, stealing, etc., and there are those things that are
only blameworthy for a monk, such as eating at the wrong
time, damaging trees and plants or playing in the water,
and many other things of a similar kind. These things, O
king, are not wrong in the eyes of the world but they are
wrong for a monk. An arahant is incapable of transgressing
the former type of precept but he may break the other kind
because he doesn’t know everything. He may not know the
time of day or the name and clan of some woman but every
arahant knows about freedom from suffering.”
64. What is Not Found in the World
“There are many different things found in the world,
Nàgasena, but tell me what is not to be found in the
“There are three things, O king, that are not to be
found in the world: anything, either conscious or uncon-
scious, that does not decay and perish, that formation
(saïkhàra) or conditioned thing that is permanent, and in
the ultimate sense there is no such thing as a being.”201

65. The Uncaused
“Nàgasena, there are things in the world that have come
into existence through kamma, others are the result of a
cause, and others are produced by season. Tell me, is there
anything that does not fall into either of these three
“There are two such things, O king; space and nibbàna.”
“Do not, Venerable Nàgasena, corrupt the words of
the Conqueror, or answer a question without knowing what
you are saying!”
“What have I said, O king, that you speak to me thus?”
“Venerable sir, it is right what you say about space
but with hundreds of reasons did the Blessed One proclaim
to his disciples the way to the realisation of nibbàna and yet
you say that nibbàna is not the result of any cause.”
“It is true, O king, that in many ways did the Blessed
One point out a way to the realisation of nibbàna but he did
not point out a cause for the arising of nibbàna.”
“Here, Nàgasena, we go from darkness to greater
darkness; from uncertainty to utter confusion. If there is a
father of a child we would expect to find a father of the
father. Just so, if there is a cause for the realisation of nibbàna
we would expect to find a cause for its arising.”
“Nibbàna, O king, is unconstructed, therefore no cause
has been pointed out for its production. It cannot be said of
nibbàna that it has arisen or can arise; that it is past, present or
future; or cognizable by the eye, ear, nose, tongue or body.”
“Then, Nàgasena, nibbàna is a condition that does not

“Nibbàna does exist, O king, and can be cognized by
the mind.
A noble disciple whose mind is pure, lofty, sincere,
unobstructed and free from craving can attain nibbàna.”
“Then explain by means of similes what nibbàna is.”
“Is there such a thing as the wind?”
“Yes there is.”
“Then explain by means of similes what the wind is.”
“It is not possible to explain what the wind is by
means of similes but it exists all the same.”
“Just so, O king, nibbàna exists but it is impossible to
66. Modes of Production
“What is it that is kamma-born, what cause-born, and what
season-born? What is it that is none of these?”
“All beings, O king are kamma-born. Fire, and all things
growing out of seeds are cause-born. The earth, water and
wind are season-born. Space and nibbàna exist independent-
ly of kamma, cause and season. Of nibbàna, O king, it cannot
be said that it is perceptible by the five senses, but it is per-
ceptible by the mind. The disciple whose mind is pure, and
free from obstructions, can perceive nibbàna.
67. Demons
“Are there such things as yakkhas (demons) in the world?”
“Yes, O king, there are.”

“Then why aren’t the remains of dead yakkhas seen?”
“Their remains are to be seen in the form of insects,
such as maggots, ants, moths, snakes, scorpions, centipedes
and other wild creatures.”
“Who else, Nàgasena, could have solved this puzzle
except one as wise as you!”
68. Laying Down of Rules for Monks
“Those who are famous doctors are able to prescribe suit-
able medicine for a disease before the disease has arisen
even though they are not omniscient. Why then, did the
Tathàgata not lay down the rules for monks before the
occasion arose but only when an offence had been commit-
ted and a great hue and cry was heard.”
“The Tathàgata, O king, knew beforehand that all one
hundred and fifty202 rules would have to be laid down but
he thought, ‘If I lay down all of these rules at once there will
be those who will not enter the Order for fear of the many
regulations to be observed, therefore I will lay down the
rules as the need arises’.”203
69. The Heat of the Sun
“Why is the heat of the sun sometimes fierce and some-
times not?”
202.Mentioned also in Dilemma 54. Perhaps 150 rules were referred to as the 75 training
rules are common to novices as well and hence there were 152 rules exclusively for
203. cf. Vin. iii. 9, 10

“Obscured by four things, O king, the sun does not
shine fiercely; by storm clouds, by mist, by dust clouds, or
by the moon.”204
“It is remarkable, Nàgasena, that the glorious sun,
mighty though it is, could be obscured; how much more
then, other beings!”
70. The Winter Sun
“Why is the sun more fierce in winter than in summer?”
“In the winter the sky is clear so the sun shines
fiercely but in the summer dust rises up and clouds
accumulate in the sky so the heat of the sun is reduced.”
204. cf. Vin. 1295, A. 153. “Obscured by four things, O monks, the sun does not shine fiercely;
by storm clouds, by mist, by dust clouds, or by eclipse. Obscured by four things recluses
do not shine; by drinking intoxicants, by sexual relations, by accepting gold and silver,
by wrong livelihood.” Hence this dilemma is not at all out of place here

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VI

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas VI

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 13
The Solving of Dilemmas (VI)
52. Two Buddhas Cannot Exist Together
“The Blessed One said, ‘It is impossible that
in one world two Perfectly Enlightened
Buddhas could exist at the same time.’
Yet, Nàgasena, if all the Tathàgatas teach the same
teaching, why shouldn’t they exist together? If there were
two they could teach at ease and the world would be even
more illumined.”
“O king, if two Buddhas were to exist simultaneously
this great earth could not bear the weight of their combined
goodness, it would tremble and shake and break up.
Suppose, O king, a man had eaten as much food as he
wanted so that he had no room for any more. Then, if he
were to eat the same amount of food again, would he be at
ease?” “Certainly not, venerable sir, if he were to eat again
he would die.”
“Likewise, O king, this earth could no more bear a
second Tathàgata than that man could bear a second meal.
Also, if there were two Buddhas, disputes would arise be-
tween their disciples and, moreover, the statement that
says the Buddha is supreme and has no equal would be-
come false.”
182.M. iii. 65; A. i. 27; Vbh. 336.
183.At the birth of the Bodhisatta the earth shook seven times

“Well has this dilemma been explained. Even an
unintelligent man would be satisfied, how much more a
wise one.
184 Well said, Nàgasena, I accept it as you say.”
53. Gifts to the order
“When Mahàpajàpatã Gotamã offered a bathing robe185 to
the Buddha he told her, ‘Give it to the Order, Gotamã. If you
give it to the Order I will be honoured and the Order too.’
Was it because the Order is more important than the
“O king, it was not because an offering to him would
not bear great fruit, but in order to show the greatness of
the Order so that in times to come the Order might be
esteemed. As, sir, a father praises his son in the royal court
thinking, ‘If he is established here now, he will be honoured
by the people after I am gone’. Or suppose, O king, some
man should bring a present to a king and the king present-
ed that gift to someone else — to a soldier or a messenger
— would that man therefore become superior to the king?”
“Certainly not, venerable sir. That man receives his
wages from the king and it was the king who placed him in
that position.”
“Just so, O king, the Order did not become superior to
the Tathàgata merely by the fact of a gift. There is not, O
184.Both Rhys Davids and I.B. Horner have translated the Pali: kiü na màdiso mahàpa¤¤o.
“…how much more then a wise man like me.” This makes Milinda seem conceited and
I can’t see any reason for translating the passage like that.
185. Vassikasàtikaü, see Pàcittiya 91. In the Dakkhiõavibhaïga Sutta (M iii 254), Mahàpajàpati
offers a pair of cloths (dussayugaü) that she made herself.

king, any being more worthy of gifts than the Tathàgata,
for this was said by the Blessed One himself:
“There is one being; monks, who is born into
the world for the good and benefit of many, out of
compassion for the world, for the advantage and
benefit of gods and men. Who is that being?
A Tathàgata, an arahant, Buddha supreme.”187
54. The Advantages of a Recluse’s Life
“The Blessed One said, ‘I would praise either a layman or a
monk who has practised rightly and attained the right
188 If a layman, enjoying the pleasures of the senses,
dwelling with wife and children, and using scents and
accepting gold and silver, can attain arahantship, what is the
advantage of being a monk with a shaven head, dependent
on alms, fulfilling one hundred and fifty precepts189 and
adopting the thirteen ascetic practices? Your austerity is
without effect, your renunciation is useless, your observance
of the precepts is barren, your taking of the vows is vain.
What is the use of heaping up hardship for yourselves if bliss
can be reached in comfort?”
“It is true what you say, that the one who is practising
rightly is best whether he is a monk or a layman. If a rec-
186.The author seems to have missed the point here. cf. M. iii. 256: “But when I, ânanda, say
that an offering to the Order is incalculable and immeasurable I by no means say that a
gift graded as to individuals is of greater fruit than an offering to the Order.
187.A. i. 20.
188.M. ii. 197, A. i. 69.
189.Excluding the 75 training rules there are 152.

luse, thinking ‘I am a recluse’ does not practice rightly, then
he is far from recluseship. How much more then a house-
holder in a layman’s clothes! Nevertheless, the benefit of
being a recluse is too great to measure. Being of few desires
he is easily contented, he is aloof from society, strenuous,
homeless, he fulfils the precepts, he is austere and skilled in
the practice of shaking off defilements. That is why he can
quickly accomplish any task that he undertakes; just, O
king, as your javelin, because it is smooth and straight, can
quickly reach its target.”
55. The Practice of Austerities
“When the Bodhisatta was practising austerity with the
utmost exertion he did not reach his goal, so he abandoned
that practice thinking, ‘Might there not be some other way
to liberation?’
Yet when instructing his disciples he said:
“Bestir yourselves, renounce,
Exert yourselves in my teaching,
And destroy death’s army
As an elephant a house of reeds.”191
“Why then did the Tathàgata instruct his disciples to follow
a course that he himself had abandoned?”
“Because then, O king, and still now too, that is the
only path and it is along that path that the Bodhisatta
attained Buddhahood. Although the Bodhisatta, exerting
190.M. i. 246.
191.S. i. 156, Kvu. 203, Thag 256.

himself strenuously, reduced the food he was taking to
nothing at all, and by that lack of food became weak, yet
when he returned to the use of solid food, it was by exertion
that he attained Buddhahood. There was no fault in
exertion itself but it was due only to the lack of food that
exertion failed to bring its result. If a man, through too
much haste, were to become exhausted and fall down,
unable to go on, it would not be the fault of the earth that
he fell down but due to his excessive exertion. If a man
were to wear a robe and never have it washed, the fault
would not lie with the water but with the man. That is why
the Tathàgata exhorted and led his disciples along that very
path; for that path is always ready, and always right.”
56. Reverting to Laylife
“Is it right to admit laymen to the Order before they have
attained to the path of stream-entry? If such men give up the
monk’s life people might think that the religion is fruitless.”
“If, O king, there was a pond of pure water and a man
in need of a bath went there but turned back without
bathing would the people blame the man or the pond?”
“They would blame the man.”
“Even so, O king, the Tathàgata has constructed the
pond full of the pure Dhamma thinking, ‘Those who have
defilements but are intelligent can remove their defile-
ments here.’ However, if anyone should revert to the
household life without having removed his defilements,
then the people would blame him, there would be no rea-
son to find fault with the teaching. If only stream-winners

were allowed to go forth then going forth would not be for
the sake of purification. If a man, having had a bathing
pond dug, said, ‘Let only those who have already bathed
make use of it’ would that be of any use? Moreover, those
who revert to the household life thereby show up five
special qualities of the conqueror’s teaching. They show
how glorious it is, how pure it is, how free from association
with evil, how difficult it is to penetrate the Dhamma and
how many are the restraints of the holy life.
“How do they show its glory? Just, O king, as a man
of low birth, poor and unintelligent, who comes into pos-
session of a mighty kingdom, will soon be overthrown and
deprived of his glory. So too, those who are without wis-
dom and have little merit, when they renounce the world,
are unable to carry out the teaching of the Conqueror and
revert to the lower state.
“How do they show its purity? Just, O king, as water,
when it falls onto a lotus, slips off and cannot adhere to it;
so too, those who are impure by nature, crafty and holders
of wrong views; when they have been admitted to the
religion of the Conqueror, it is not long before they disperse
from that pure and faultless religion, unable to adhere to it.
“How do they show its freedom from association
with evil? Just as the ocean does not tolerate the presence of
a corpse but quickly brings it ashore and casts it on dry
land; so too, O king, those who are evil-minded and lazy
are unable to remain in the Order in association with the
arahants who are free from stains.
“How do they show how hard the Dhamma is to
penetrate? Just, O king, as those archers who are clumsy

and unskilled are unable to perform feats of archery like
hair-splitting but miss the target; so too, those who are dull
and stupid and renounce the world are unable to grasp the
Four Noble Truths of the Conquerors, which are extremely
subtle, and missing them, turn back to the lower state.
“How do they show the manifold restraints of the
holy life? Just, O king, as a coward, when he has gone to a
battle and is surrounded by the forces of the enemy on all
sides, will turn back and take flight for fear of his life; so
too, whoever are unrestrained, shameless, impatient and
fickle, when they renounce the world they are unable to
carry out the manifold precepts and revert to the lower
57. The Mastery of the Arahants
“You say that the arahant feels only one kind of feeling;
physical feeling but not mental feeling.
192 How can this be
so? The arahant keeps going by means of his body. Has he
then no power over his body? Even a bird is the ruler over
the nest in which it dwells.”
“O king, there are ten conditions inherent in the body
over which the arahant has no control: cold, heat, hunger,
thirst, excrement, urine, fatigue, old age, disease and death.
Just as all beings living on the great earth depend on it but
have no control over it, so the arahant depends on his body
but has no control over it.”
“Why, Nàgasena, does the ordinary man feel both

bodily and mental feeling?”
“Because of the untrained state of his mind. Like a
hungry ox tied up by a weak grass rope would easily break
free, so an ordinary man’s mind becomes agitated by pain,
so he feels mental pain too. However, the arahant’s mind is
well trained, so when his body is affected by pain he fixes
his mind firmly on the idea of impermanence. His mind is
not agitated and he feels no mental pain, just as the trunk of
a great tree is unmoved by the wind although its branches
may sway.”
58. Heinous Crimes
“If a layman had committed a heinous crime193 before he
entered the Order but was unaware of it, would he be able
to attain the path of a stream-winner?”
“No, he would not, because the basis for understand-
ing the Dhamma has been destroyed in him.”
“But you say that to him who is aware of an offence
there comes remorse, which causes an obstruction in the
mind, and so he cannot comprehend the truth.
194 Yet in him
who is unaware of his offence there is no remorse and he
remains with peace of mind.”
“If, O king, a man had eaten poison but was not aware
of it, would he still die?”
193.The Pali has Pàràjika (offence of defeat) but a layman cannot commit these offences.
What is meant is: killing one’s mother, one’s father, an arahant, drawing blood from a
Tathàgata or violating a nun (the Sinhalese also gives damaging a bodhi tree). One
guilty of these offences should not be ordained. If they are ordained they should be
194. cf. A. iii. 165, “One who does amiss is dejected and knows not the mind’s release.”

“Yes, venerable sir.”
“Just so, O king, even though a man was not aware of
his offence he would not be able to comprehend the truth.”
“Surely, Nàgasena, this must be the word of the
Conqueror and to look for any fault in it is vain. It must be
as you say; and I accept it thus.”
59. The Unvirtuous
“What is the difference between a layman who has done
wrong and a monk who has done wrong?”
“There are ten qualities that distinguish a monk of
poor moral habit from a layman of poor moral habit: he is
full of reverence for the Buddha, Dhamma and Saïgha; he
recites the scriptures and asks about the meaning, he has
heard much, he enters an assembly with dignity because he
fears reproach, he guards himself in body and speech, he
sets his mind on exertion, he is in company with the monks,
and if he does any wrong he is discreet. Furthermore, in ten
ways he purifies gifts of faith. By wearing the robe of the
Buddhas, by his shaven head he bears the mark of sages, by
being in company with other monks, by his having taken
refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Saïgha, by his dwell-
ing in a lonely place suitable for exertion, by his quest for
the wealth of the Dhamma, by preaching the excellent
Dhamma, because he takes the Dhamma as his guiding
light, because he regards the Buddha as supreme, and by
his observance of the Uposatha.
195 For all these reasons he is
195.The full moon and new moon days on which the monks recite the disciplinary rules.

worthy of offerings even though he has fallen from virtue.
Just as hot water extinguishes a fire, a monk of poor moral
habit purifies the gift of benefactors, for this was said by the
Tathàgata in the Majjhima Nikàya:
“Whoever is virtuous and gives to the unvirtuous,
A gift rightfully acquired, The mind well pleased,
Firmly believing in the rich fruit of kamma,
This is an offering purified by the giver.”196
“Wonderful, Nàgasena, though I asked you an ordinary
question you have given me an extraordinary answer, as a
skilled cook would take an ordinary piece of meat and
make with it a meal fit for a king.”
60. Is Water Alive?
“There are some followers of other sects who say that you
harm life by making use of cold water.
197 When water is
heated in a vessel it makes various sounds; is this because
it has a soul and is alive?”
“No great king, it is not alive. Water that is lying in
shallow pools gets dried up by the heat of the sun and wind
but it does not make any sound. Drums make a sound but
they do not contain any life or living principle.”
196. cf. MLS. ii. 41 n 4; D. i. 167.
197.M. iii. Sta. 142

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas V

Khuddaka Nikaya - Milinda Panha - The Solving of Dilemmas V

The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala

Chapter 12
The Solving of Dilemmas (V)
41. On Dwelling Places
“It was said by the Blessed One:
“Fear is born from intimacy,
Dust is from a house arisen.
Homeless, free from intimacy,
This is the sage’s vision.”155
“Yet he also said:
“Let the wise man have dwellings built and lodge
learned men therein.”156
“If the former statement was made by the Blessed One then
the latter must be wrong.”
“Both statements were made by the Tathàgata, O
king, but the first was an inclusive statement as to the
nature of things and as to what it is proper for recluses to
desire. However, the second statement was said concern-
ing two matters only. The gift of a dwelling place has been
highly praised by the Buddhas because those who have
made such a gift will be delivered from birth, old age, dis-
ease and death. Secondly, if there is a dwelling place it is
easy for those who wish to listen to the Dhamma to visit the
155.Sn. v 207.
156.Vin. ii. 147; S. i. 100

bhikkhus, whereas if they stayed in the forest it would not
be. However, it does not follow that the bhikkhus have a
longing for a dwelling place.”
42. Restraint of the Stomach
“The Blessed One said, ‘Do not be heedless in standing for
alms, be restrained regarding the stomach.’
he also said, ‘There were times, Udàyi, when I ate a full
bowl of food or even more.’
158 This too is a double-edged
“Both statements are correct, O king, but the former
statement is inclusive and cannot be proved wrong. He
who has no restraint as regards the stomach will kill living
beings or steal for the sake of his stomach. It was bearing
this in mind that the Blessed One said, ‘Do not be heedless
in standing for alms, be restrained regarding the stomach.’
He who has self-control gains a clear insight into the Four
Noble Truths and fulfils the life of a recluse. Didn’t a mere
parrot, O king, by his restraint as to his stomach shake the
heaven of the thirty-three and bring down Sakka to wait on
However, when the Blessed One said, ‘There were
times, Udàyi, when I ate a full bowl of food or even more’
it was concerning himself. He had accomplished all that
can be accomplished by restraint, and like a perfect gem
that needs no more polishing, he needed no more training.”
157.Dhp. v 168. When the Buddha returned to his birth place, he went for alms since his
relatives had not yet invited him for the meal.
158.M. ii. 7.
159.Jà. No. 429

43. The Best of Men
“The Blessed One said, ‘I, monks, am a Brahman, one to ask
a favour of, always ready to give; this body that I bear will be
my last, I am the supreme healer and physician.’
160 Yet on
the other hand he said, ‘The chief among my disciples as re-
gards physical health is Bakkula.’
161 Now it is well known
that the Blessed One suffered several times from diseases
whereas Bakkula was always healthy. If the first statement is
true then why was the Buddha less healthy than Bakkula?”
“Although it is true that Bakkula surpassed the Buddha
in the matter of health and other disciples also surpassed
him in other aspects yet the Blessed One surpassed them all
in respect of virtue, concentration and wisdom; and it was
in reference to this that he spoke the verse, ‘I, monks, am a
Brahman, one to ask a favour of, always ready to give; this
body that I bear will be my last, I am the supreme healer
and physician’.”
“The Blessed One, O king, whether he is sick or not;
whether he is practising the ascetic practices or not — there
is no other being comparable to him. For this, O king, was
said in the Saüyutta Nikàya, ‘Just as, monks, of all creatures;
whether footless, or having two, four or many feet; whether
having form or formless; whether conscious or uncon-
scious, or neither conscious nor unconscious — of these the
Tathàgata, the arahant, the Fully Enlightened One, is reck-
oned as the chief…’.”162
160.Iti. 101.
161.As a result of treating Buddhas Anomadassã and Vipassã. A. i. 24.
162.S. v. 41.

44. The Ancient Path
“It was said by the Blessed One, ‘The Tathàgata is the
discoverer of a way that was unknown.’
163 Yet he also said,
‘Now I perceived, O monks, the ancient path along which
the previous Buddhas walked.’
164 This too is a double-
edged problem.”
“It was because the path shown by previous Buddhas
had long since disappeared and was not known by anyone,
man or god, that the Buddha said, ‘The Tathàgata is the dis-
coverer of a way that was unknown.’ Though that way had
disintegrated, become impassable and lost to view — the
Tathàgata, having gained a thorough knowledge of it, saw
by his eye of wisdom that it was the path used by previous
Buddhas. Therefore he said; ‘Now I perceived, O monks, the
ancient path along which the previous Buddhas walked.’ It
is as when a man clears the jungle and sets free a piece of
land it is called his land, though he did not make the land.”
45. The Bodhisatta’s Weakness
“It was said by the Blessed One, ‘Already in former births
when I was a man I had acquired the habit of not inflicting
harm on living beings.’
165 However, when he was an
ascetic called Lomasa Kassapa he had hundreds of animals
killed and offered as a sacrifice.
166 Why was he not com-
passionate then?”
163.S. iii. 66; cf. S. i. 190.
164. i.e. The Path leading to nibbàna. S. ii. 105.
165.D. iii. 166

“That sacrifice, O king, was done when Lomasa
Kassapa was out of his mind through infatuation with
Princess Candavati; not when he was conscious of what he
was doing. Just as a madman, when out of his senses, will
step into a fire or catch hold of a venomous snake or run
naked through the streets, so it was only because the
Bodhisatta was out of his mind that he performed the great
sacrifice. Now an evil act done by a madman is not
considered a grievous offence, nor is it grievous in respect
of the fruit that it brings in a future life. Suppose, O king,
that a madman had been guilty of a capital offence, what
punishment would you inflict upon him?”
“What punishment is due to a madman? We should
order him to be beaten and set free, that is all.”
“So then, O king, it follows that the offence of one
who is mad is pardonable.
167 Just so was it in the case of
Lomasa Kassapa who, after he regained his senses, re-
nounced the world and became assured of rebirth in the
Brahmà realm.”
46. Respect for the Robe
“Even when the Bodhisatta was an elephant he had respect
for the yellow robe168 but you also say that when he was the
Brahman youth Jotipàla, even though he was then
endowed with the discernment of a human being, he
166.Jà. iii. 30ff, 514ff. In the Jàtaka story, Kassapa ordered the animals brought for slaughter
but when they were all tied down at the stake he came to his senses and set them free.
167. cf. Vin. iii. 32, where there is no offence for one who is mad.
168.Jà. v. 49.

reviled and abused the Buddha Kassapa, calling him a
shaveling and good-for-nothing monk.
169 How can both of
these statements be true?”
“O king, the Bodhisatta’s rudeness when he was the
Brahman youth Jotipàla was due to his birth and upbring-
ing; all his family were unbelievers who worshipped Brah-
mà and thought that Brahmans were the highest among
men. Just, O king, as even the coolest water will become
warm when in contact with fire so, Jotipàla, though he was
full of merit, yet when he was reborn into a family of un-
believers he became as if blind and reviled the Tathàgata.
However, when he went to the presence of the Buddha Kas-
sapa he realised his virtue and became his devoted disciple.”
47. The Merit of the Potter
“It was said by the Blessed One, ‘For three whole months
the dwelling place of Ghatãkàra the potter remained open
to the sky but no rain fell on it.
170 Yet it was said that rain
fell on the hut of Buddha Kassapa.
Why did the hut of the
Tathàgata get wet? If rain fell on the hut of the Buddha,
who had so much merit, then it must be false that no rain
fell on the hut of Ghatãkàra because of his great merit.”
“O king, Ghatãkàra was a good man, full of virtue and
rich in merit, who supported his blind parents by his
humble trade. While he was away from the house, the
monks, having confidence in the unstinting generosity of
169.M. ii. 47, Sta. 81.
170.M. ii. 53.
171.M. ii. 54

Ghatãkàra, took away some thatch from the roof of his house
to repair the hut of Buddha Kassapa. When Ghatãkàra
returned he was neither angry nor disappointed but was
full of joy because he had gained so much merit by giving
something to the Tathàgata and ecstatic at the thought, ‘The
Blessed One has full confidence in me.’ So great was his
merit that it brought forth its result in this very life. The
Tathàgata on the other hand, was not short of merit because
the rain fell on his hut but he had considered, ‘Let people
not find fault saying that the Buddhas gain a livelihood by
the use of supernormal powers.’ Therefore the rain fell on
his hut as it did on all the others except that of Ghatãkàra.”
48. King or Brahman?
“The Blessed One said, ‘I, monks, am a Brahman, one to ask
a favour of.’
172 However, he also said, ‘A king, Sela, am I.’
If, Nàgasena, he was a king, then he must have spoken
falsely when he said he was a Brahman, for he must have
been either a Khattiya (a warrior) or a Brahman, he could
not have belonged to both castes.”
“It was not on account of his birth that he called him-
self a Brahman but because he was free from defilements,
had attained to the certainty of knowledge and because he
was one who maintained the ancient traditions of teaching
and learning by heart, self-control and discipline.
As a
172.Iti. 101.
173.Sn. v 554.
174. See Dhp. Bràhmaõavagga.

king rules the people with the law, the Buddha rules the
people by teaching Dhamma; bringing joy to those who live
rightly and reproving those who transgress the noble law.
Like a king who rules justly rules for a long time, the
Buddha’s religion endures for a long time because of his
special qualities of righteousness.”
49. Right Livelihood
“You say that the Blessed One did not accept alms received
by chanting verses175 but when preaching to laymen he
generally spoke first of the benefits of giving and accepted
the gifts offered.
176 If the first is true then why did he accept
gifts gained by preaching?”
“It is the custom of the Tathàgatas to preach first of the
benefits of giving to soften men’s hearts before going on to
preach of morality and higher matters but not on account of
that could they justly be accused of hinting to get gifts. There
is hinting that is improper and there is hinting that is blame-
less. Herein, if a bhikkhu begs for alms standing in an in-
convenient place or making signs this is improper hinting;
but if he stands in the proper place where there are people
who want to give and moves on if they do not want to give
then this is proper and does not amount to hinting. That meal
of the ploughman was offered in order to refute the subject of
the verse recited, therefore the Tathàgata rejected it.”
175.S. i. 167, Sn. v 81.
176. cf. D. i. Sta. 5.
177.Vism. 28.

50. The Reluctance of the Buddha
“You say that for four aeons (asaïkheyya) and 100,000 world-
cycles (kappa) the Bodhisatta practised the perfections in
order to gain omniscience,
178 yet after he had gained omnis-
cience his mind inclined to not teaching the Dhamma.
Like an archer who had practised for many days might hesi-
tate when the day for battle had come, even so did the Bless-
ed One hesitate to teach the Dhamma. Was it then because
of fear, or lack of clarity, or weakness, or because he was not
omniscient that he hesitated?”
“No, great king, it was for none of those reasons. It
was due to the profound nature of the Dhamma and to the
exceedingly strong passion and delusion of beings that the
Blessed One hesitated and considered to whom he should
teach it and in what manner so that they would under-
stand. Just, O king, as a king when he calls to mind the
many people who gain their livelihood in dependence on
him — the body-guards, courtiers, merchants, soldiers,
messengers, ministers and nobles — he might be exercised
at the thought; ‘How can I conciliate them all?’ Just so,
Oking, when the Tathàgata called to mind the strong pas-
sion and delusion of beings that he inclined rather to inac-
tion than to preaching. It is also in the natural order of
things that the Buddha should teach the Dhamma at the re-
quest of Brahmà, for at that time all men were worshippers
of Brahmà and placed their reliance on him. Therefore, if
one so high and mighty as Brahmà should incline to hear-
178.M. 1 53.
179.M. ii. 54.

ing Dhamma then the whole world of gods and men would
become inclined to it and so for that reason too the Buddha
waited to be asked before preaching the Dhamma.”
51. The Buddha’s Teachers
“The Blessed One said, ‘I have no teacher, one like me does
not exist. In the world with its gods no one equals me.’
Again he said, ‘In this way, monks, did âëàra the Kàlàma,
being my teacher, set me, his pupil, on exactly the same
level as himself and honour me with the highest honour.’
This too is a double-edged problem.”
“O king, when the Blessed One spoke of âëàra the
Kàlàma as his teacher he referred to the time when he was
still a Bodhisatta and before he had attained Buddhahood.
He was merely a teacher of worldly wisdom. It was in
regard to transcendental matters such as knowledge of the
Four Noble Truths and nibbàna that he said, ‘I have no
teacher, one like me does not exist. In the world with its
gods no one equals me’.”
180.Vin. i. 8; M. i. 171.
181.M. i. 165.