The Way to the Beyond

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from The Short Explanation

Reverence to him, the Gracious One, the Worthy One, the Perfect Sambuddha

Introductory Verses

From the delightful city of the Kosalans,Sāvatthī.01 to the Southern lands went one who wanted to have no possessions, a brahmin perfect in the Vedas.Literally: perfect in the mantras (mantāpāragū).02 In the locality of Assaka, and near to Mūḷaka close to the bank of the Godhāvarī he lived on gleanings and fruit.This is in modern-day Maharasthra, East of Bombay, and was at that time about as far South as the Ariyans had penetrated, so that it was a very remote place indeed.03 [1-2]

In the vicinity of the river there was a large village, and with the income that arose from that he offered a great sacrifice. When that great sacrifice had been given he entered his hermitage again, and when he had re-entered it, another brahmin came along - he had sore feet, and was thirsty, with dirty teeth, and dust on his head - and after approaching the first brahmin, he begged for five hundred coins. [3-5]

After seeing him Bāvari invited him to take a seat, and he asked after his happiness and welfare, and this is the word that he spoke: “Whatever gift I had, all of it has been given away by me, please excuse me brahmin, I do not have five hundred coins.” [6-7]

“If your honour will not give me what I am begging for, then within seven days may your head split into seven pieces!” [8]

Having made a scene the dishonest man proclaimed this fearful thing. After hearing this word of his, Bāvari became miserable. Going without food he dried up, and was affected by the dart of grief, and when his heart was like that his mind did not delight in meditation. [9-10]

Having seen him terrified and miserable, a GodA God (Deva) who was living in the vicinity of the hermitage.04 who desired his welfare, approached Bāvari, and this is the word that he spoke: “He does not know the head - he is a dishonest man who wants wealth! He does not have knowledge about the head or about head-splitting.” [11-12]

“But now your honour knows! Please explain this to me when asked: the head and head-splitting, may we hear that word of yours.” [13]

“I also do not know about this, I do not have this knowledge here. The head and head-splitting! Indeed only Victors see this!”Jinā, i.e. Buddhas.05 [14]

“Then who knows about the head and head-splitting on the face of the earth? O God, please explain this to me.” [15]

“From out of the city of Kapilavatthu a world leader has renounced, he is of King Okkāka's line, a Sakyan's son, a Light-Maker. He is a Sambuddha, brahmin, in everything he is perfect, having attained all deep knowledges and strengths, endowed with Vision regarding all things, he has come to the end of all actions, in the end of all clinging he is freed. He is the Buddha in the world, the Gracious One, the Visionary who teaches the Teaching, after going there you can ask him about it, he will explain it to you.” [16-18]

Having heard the word: ‘Sambuddha’, Bāvari became elated, then his grief became but little, and he received great happiness. Bāvari, uplifted and elated, enthusiastically asked that God: “In which village, or again in which town, in which country, is the Lord of the World? Where having gone to can we revere the Sambuddha, the Supreme Human Being?” [19-20]

“The Victor is in the Kosalan's city, Sāvatthī, he has much wisdom, excellent and great intelligence, that Sakyan's son, who is free from burden and pollutant, that Bull of a Man has understanding of head-splitting.” [21]

So then the brahmin addressed his students, who were perfect in the Vedas: “Come, young men, and I shall explain, please listen to this word of mine: He whose manifestation in the world is always rare, has now arisen in the world, renowned as one called a ‘Sambuddha’. Having gone quickly to Sāvatthī, you can see the Supreme Human Being.” [22-23]

“Having seen him how will we know that he is the ‘Buddha’, O brahmin? You must tell us who do not know, how we can know it is him.” [24]

“There has come down to us in the Vedas the marks of a Great Man, they are explained as thirty-two, complete in regular order. For whoever has on his limbs the marks of a Great Man, there can be just two destinies, for a third cannot be found: If he lives in a house, when he has been victorious over this earth, without a stick or a sword he will rule according to the Teaching.Will be an Universal Monarch (Cakkavattirāja).06 But if he goes forth from the house to the homeless life, he becomes a cover-remover, a Sambuddha, a Worthy One, unexcelled. [25-28]

About my birth, family, and marks; teaching, students and other things, about the head and head-splitting, you must ask these things in your mind. If he should be a Buddha, one who sees without obstruction, the questions that are asked in your mind he will answer by way of speech.” [29-30]

After hearing Bāvari's words, the sixteen brahmin students: Ajita, Tissa Metteyya, Puṇṇaka, also Mettagū, Dhotaka, and Upasīva, Nanda, and also Hemaka, the two: Todeyya and Kappa, and Jatukaṇṇī, the one who is wise, Bhadrāvudha and Udaya, and also the brahmin Posāla, Mogharāja, the intelligent one, and the Great Seer, Piṅgiya, each one with his own group,They are said to have had a group of one thousand disciples each, and they all made the journey of some 1,500 kilometres by foot to see the Buddha.07 renowned throughout the whole world, meditators delighting in meditation,Many of them had attained very high levels of concentration (samādhi), including the spheres (āyatana) developed through refinement of the fourth absorption (jhāna).08 wise ones, influenced by their pre-dispositions, after worshipping Bāvari, and circumambulating him, they all, wearing matted-hair and deer-skins,Traditional wear for brahmin ascetics in those days.09 set out for the North. From Mūḷaka to Patiṭṭhāna first, then on to Mahissati, to Ujjenī, and Gonaddha, to Vedisa, and to the place called Vanasa, to Kosambī, and Sāketa, and Sāvatthī, the city supreme, to Setabya, and Kapilavatthu, and to the city of Kusinārā, to Pāvā, to Bhoganagara, to Vesālī, to the Magadhan city (Rājagaha), and to the Pāsāṇaka Shrine,The Commentary explains that the Buddha was at Sāvatthī when he saw them coming but realised they were still not mature enough to understand the Teaching, he therefore withdrew to Rājagaha, and to the Pāsāṇaka Shrine.10 delightful, it is the mind's delight. [31-38]

 

 

Just like a thirsty man to cool water, or like a trader to great gain, like one scorched by the heat to shade, quickly they climbed up the mountain. [39]

Now at that time the Gracious One was in front of the Community of monks, teaching the Dhamma to the monks, roaring like a lion in a forest. Ajita saw the Sambuddha, brilliant like the hundred-rayed sun, like the moon which has reached fullness on the fifteenth day of the month, and after seeing on his limbs the characteristics in their fullness, standing cheerfully on one side he asked a question in his mind: “Speak and point out his birth, speak of his family, and marks, speak of his perfection in the Vedas, how many does the brahmin school?” [40-43]

“One hundred and twenty years his age, his family is named as Bāvari, three marks are on his limbs, he is perfect in the three Vedas. In the marks, and the traditions, with the glossaries, and the ritual, he schools five hundred, in his own teaching he is perfect.” [44-45]

“Your investigation of Bāvari's marks, One Supreme among Men, O Craving-Cutter, make that clear, so that we are not left doubting.” [46]

“He can cover his face with his tongue, there is hair between his eyebrows, what is covered by a cloth is ensheathed: know it is so young man.” [47]

Not hearing any question, but having heard the questions answered, all the people were enthusiastic, and raised their hands, thinking: “Now who was it, a God, or a Brahmā, or Inda, the lord of Sujā, who asked those questions in the mind? To whom did he make reply?” [48-49]

“About the head and head-splitting, Bāvari asks this question, please explain that, Gracious One, please remove our doubts, O Seer.” [50]

“Know ignorance is called the head, and understanding is the head-splitter, joined with confidence, mindfulness, concentration, desire, and energy.” [51]

Then with great enthusiasm, being resolute, the young man, having put his deer-skin on one shoulder, fell placing his head at the Buddha's feet: “The honourable brahmin Bāvari, and his students, dear Sir, elated in heart, and happy in mind, worships your feet, O Visionary One.” [52-53]

“May the brahmin Bāvari, together with his students, be happy! And may you also be happy! May you live for a long time, young man! All of the doubts that Bāvari, or you, or anyone else has, having received leave, ask whatever you long to know in your mind.” [54-55]

Having received leave from the Sambuddha, sitting with hands raised in reverence, Ajita asked the Realised One the first question in that place: [56]