The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Third Chapter for Recitation]

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[17: Ānanda's Failure]

Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up his bowl and robe, entered Vesālī for alms. After walking for alms in Vesālī, and returning from the alms-round after the meal, he addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Take up the sitting mat, Ānanda, we will approach the Cāpāla shrine to dwell for the day.”

“Very well, reverend Sir,” said venerable Ānanda, and after replying to the Gracious One, and taking the sitting mat, he followed along close behind the Gracious One.

Then the Gracious One approached the Cāpāla shrine, and after approaching, he sat down on the prepared seat, and also venerable Ānanda, after worshipping the Gracious One, sat down on one side. While sitting on one side the Gracious One said this to venerable Ānanda: “Delightful, Ānanda, is Vesālī, delightful is the Udena shrine, delightful is the Gotamaka shrine, delightful is the Sattamba shrine, delightful is the Many Sons' shrine, delightful is the Sārandada shrine, delightful is the Cāpāla shrine. All these Shrines were in the Vajjī Territories, and it very much looks like they were being used as (temporary) monasteries for samaṇas residing there. If this is correct then it throws some light on the 6th condition which prevents decline for the Vajjīs listed in Chapter 2 above. According to Pāthikasuttaṁ (DN 24), the Udena Shrine was to the east of Vesālī; Gotamaka to the south, Sattamba to the west, and Bahuputta to the north of the city.01

Whoever has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power, The Four Paths to Power are concentration of desire accompanied by the process of striving (chandasamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgata); concentration of energy accompanied by the process of striving (viriya-); concentration of mind accompanied by the process of striving (citta-), and concentration of investigation accompanied by the process of striving (vimaṁsa-). They form one section of the 37 Things on the Side of Awakening (Bodhipakkhiyadhammā), see below Chapter 26.02 could, if he wanted, Ānanda, remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan. Commentary: Ettha ca kappan-ti āyukappaṁ ... idam-eva aṭṭhakathāyam niyamitaṁ; herein span means life-span ... this is fixed by the Commentary. There has been some dispute about whether kappa here means life-span or aeon. However it seems quite incredible to me that the Buddha, when his body was already broken down and falling ill, should have made such a nonsensical claim as to be able to live for an aeon!03 The Realised One has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power. If he wanted, Ānanda, the Realised One could remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan.”

But venerable Ānanda, despite such a gross hint being made by the Gracious One, such a gross suggestion being made, was unable to penetrate it, and did not beg the Gracious One, (saying): “May the Gracious One remain, reverend Sir, for the lifespan, may the Fortunate One remain for the lifespan, for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of Divinities and men,” like one whose mind was possessed by Māra.

For a second time the Gracious One addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Delightful, Ānanda, is Vesālī, delightful is the Udena shrine, delightful is the Gotamaka shrine, delightful is the Sattamba shrine, delightful is the Many Sons' shrine, delightful is the Sārandada shrine, delightful is the Cāpāla shrine.

Whoever has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power, could, if he wanted, remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan. The Realised One has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power. If he wanted, Ānanda, the Realised One could remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan.”

But venerable Ānanda, despite such a gross hint being made by the Gracious One, such a gross suggestion being made, was unable to penetrate it, and did not beg the Gracious One, (saying): “May the Gracious One remain, reverend Sir, for the lifespan, may the Fortunate One remain for the lifespan, for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of Divinities and men,” like one whose mind was possessed by Māra.

For a third time the Gracious One addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Delightful, Ānanda, is Vesālī, delightful is the Udena shrine, delightful is the Gotamaka shrine, delightful is the Sattamba shrine, delightful is the Many Sons' shrine, delightful is the Sārandada shrine, delightful is the Cāpāla shrine.

Whoever has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power, could, if he wanted, remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan. The Realised One has developed, Ānanda, made much of, carried on, established, maintained, augmented, and properly instigated the Four Paths to Power. If he wanted, Ānanda, the Realised One could remain for the lifespan or for what is left of the lifespan.”

But venerable Ānanda, despite such a gross hint being made by the Gracious One, such a gross suggestion being made, was unable to penetrate it, and did not beg the Gracious One, (saying): “May the Gracious One remain, reverend Sir, for the lifespan, may the Fortunate One remain for the lifespan, for the benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of Divinities and men,” like one whose mind was possessed by Māra.

Then the Gracious One addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Go, Ānanda, now is the time for whatever you are thinking.”

“Very well, reverend Sir,” said venerable Ānanda, and after replying to the Gracious One, rising from his seat, worshipping and circumambulating the Gracious One, he sat down not far away at the root of a certain tree.