The Mahavagga – I –

 

REVERENCE TO THE BLESSED ONE BUDDHA

THE HOLY ONE BUDDHA

THE FULLY ENLIGHTENED ONE BUDDHA

 

FIRST KHANDHAKA

 The Admission to the Sangha of Bhikkhus

    At that time the Blessed Buddha dwelt at Uruvela, on the bank of the river Nerangara at the foot of the Bodhi tree [tree of wisdom],  just after he had become Sambuddha.  And the Blessed Buddha sat cross-legged at the foot of the Bodhi tree uninterruptedly during seven days, enjoying the bliss of emancipation. [1]

    Then the Blessed One [at the end of these seven days] during the first watch of the night fixed his mind upon the Chain of Causation [2], in direct and in reverse order:

    ‘From Ignorance [3] spring the shamkharas [4], from the shamkharas springs Consciousness, from Consciousness spring Name-and-Form, from Name-and-Form spring the six Provinces – of the six senses – [5], from the six Provinces springs Contact, from Contact springs Sensation, from Sensation springs Thirst (or Desire), from Thirst springs Attachment, from Attachment springs Existence, from Existence springs Birth, from Birth spring Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair.  Such is the origination of this whole mass of suffering. 

    Again, by the destruction of Ignorance, which consists in the complete absence of lust, the shamkharas are destroyed, by the destruction of the shamkharas,  Consciousness is destroyed, by the destruction of Consciousness, Name-and-Form are destroyed, by the destruction of Name-and-Form the six Provinces are destroyed, by the destruction of the six Provinces, Contact is destroyed, by the destruction of Contact, Sensation is destroyed, by the destruction of Sensation, Thirst is destroyed, by the destruction of Thirst, Attachment is destroyed, by the destruction of Attachment, Existence is destroyed, by the destruction of Existence, Birth is destroyed, by the destruction of Birth, Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection, and despair are destroyed.  Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’

   Knowing this the Blessed One then on that occasion pronounced this solemn utterance: 

    ‘When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardent, meditating Arhat, then all his doubts face away, since he realises what is that nature and what its cause.’

    Then the Blessed One during the middle watch of the night fixed his mind upon the Chain of ‘Causation, in direct and reverse order:

    ‘From Ignorance spring the shamkharas, from the shamkharas springs Consciousness, from Consciousness spring Name-and-Form, from Name-and-Form spring the six Provinces (of the six senses), from the six Provinces springs Contact, from Contact springs Sensation, from Sensation springs Thirst (or Desire), from Thirst springs Attachment, from Attachment springs Existence, from Existence springs Birth, from Birth springs Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair.  Such is the origination of this whole mass of suffering.

   Again, by the destruction of Ignorance, which consists in the complete absence of lust, the shamkharas are destroyed, by the destruction of the shamkharas Consciousness is destroyed, by the destruction of Consciousness Name-and-Form are destroyed, by the destruction of Name-and-Form the six Provinces are destroyed, by the destruction of the six Provinces, Contact is destroyed, by the destruction of Contact, Sensation is destroyed, by the destruction of Sensation, Thirst is destroyed, by the destruction of Thirst, Attachment is destroyed, by the destruction of Attachment, Existence is destroyed, by the destruction of Existence, Birth is destroyed, by the destruction of Birth, Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection, and despair are destroyed.  Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’

    Knowing this the Blessed One then on that occasion pronounced this solemn utterance: 

    ‘When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardent, meditating Arhat, then all his doubts fade away, since he has understood the cessation of causation.’

    Then the Blessed One during the third watch of the night fixed his mind fixed upon the Chain of Causation, in direct and reverse order:   

    ‘From Ignorance spring the shamkharas, from the shamkharas springs Consciousness, from Consciousness spring Name-and-Form, from Name-and-Form spring the six Provinces (of the six senses), from the six Provinces springs Contact, from Contact springs Sensation, from Sensation springs Thirst (or Desire), from Thirst springs Attachment, from Attachment springs Existence, from Existence springs Birth, from Birth springs Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair.  Such is the origination of this whole mass of suffering.

    Again, by the destruction of Ignorance, which consists in the complete absence of lust, the shamkharas are destroyed, by the destruction of the shamkharas Consciousness is destroyed, by the destruction of Consciousness Name-and-Form are destroyed, by the destruction of Name-and-Form the six Provinces are destroyed, by the destruction of the six Provinces, Contact is destroyed, by the destruction of Contact, Sensation is destroyed, by the destruction of Sensation, Thirst is destroyed, by the destruction of Thirst, Attachment is destroyed, by the destruction of Attachment, Existence is destroyed, by the destruction of Existence, Birth is destroyed, by the destruction of Birth, Old Age and Death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection, and despair are destroyed.  Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’

    Knowing this the Blessed One then on that occasion pronounced this solemn utterance:  

    ‘When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardent, meditating Arhat, he stands, dispelling the hosts of Mara, like the sun that illuminates the sky.’

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Foot Notes

[1] – After having reached the sambodhi and before teaching to the world the truth He has acquired, Gautama Buddha remains, according to the tradition, during some weeks at Uruvela, ‘enjoying the bliss of emancipation.’  The Mahavagga, which contains these facts in their oldest forms, assigns to this stay a period of four times seven days; the later tradition is unanimous in extending it to seven times seven days.

 [2] – The Chain of Causation, or the doctrine of the twelve nidanas (causes of existence), contains, as has often been observed, in a more developed form an answer to the same problem to which the second and third of the four Noble Truths (Ariyasakka) also try to give a solution, viz., the problem of the origin and destruction of suffering.  The Noble Truths simply reduce the origin of suffering to Thirst, or Desire (Tanha), in its threefold form, thirst for pleasure, thirst for existence, thirst for prosperity.  In the system of the twelve nidanas Thirst also has found its place among the causes of suffering, but it is not considered as the immediate cause.  A concatenation of other categories is inserted between tanha and its ultima effet; and on the other hand, the investigation of causes is carried on further beyond tanha.  The question is here asked, Where does tanha come from?  And thus the series of causes and effects is led back to Avigga – Avijja – Ignorance, as its deepest root.  We may add that the redactors of the Pitakas, who of course could not but observe this parallelity between the second and third ariyasakkas and the system of the twelve nidanas, go so far, in one instance (Anguttara-Nikaya, Tika-Nipata) as to directly replace, in giving the text of the four Ariyasakkas,the second and third of them by the twelve nidanas, in direct and reverse order respectively. 

[3] – In the Sammaditthi-suttanta  (Majjhima-Nikaya) we find the following explanation of what Ignorance is: 

‘Not to know Suffering; not to know the Cause of Suffering; not to know the Cessation of Suffering;  not to know the Ariyas Eight-folded Path which leads to the Cessation of Suffering; this is called Ignorance.’  The same is repeated in the explanation of the nidana formula, which is given in the Vibhanga (Abhidhamma-Pitaka, Patikkasamuppada- Vibhanga), and we must accept it, therefore, as the authentic expression of Buddhistical belief.  Ignorance, we are told, is the source of all evil and of all suffering, and the subject ignored is stated to be the four Truths. 

[4] – It is very frequently stated that there are three shamkharas, or productions:  kayashamkhara, vakishamkhara, and kittashamkhara, or, productions of body, of speech, and of thought (see, for instance, the Sammaditthi-suttanta, Majjhima-Nikaya).  The kayashamkhara consists, according to the Shamkhara-Yamaka (Abhidhamma-Pitaka), in inhalation and expiration (assasapassasa); the vakishamkhara in attention and investigation (vitakkavikara);  the kittashamkhara in ideas, sensations, and all attributes of mind except attention and investigation (sanna ka vedana ka thapetva vitakkavikare sabbe pi kittasampayuttaka dhamma).  The Vibhanga (Abhidhamma-Pitaka, Patikkasamuppadavibhanga) gives, when discussing the shamkharas, six categories instead of the three:  ‘Now which are the shamkharas that are produced by Ignorance?  Shamkharas (or productions) that lead to righteousness, shamkharas that lead to sinfulness, shakharas that lead to immovability, productions of body, of speech, and of thought.’  The Pali words are:  ‘Tattha katama aviggapakkaya shamkhara?  Punnabhishamkaro apunnabhishakharo anangabhishamkharo kayashamkharo vakishamakaro kittashamkaro.’  The list of fifty-five categories belonging to the shamkhara-khanda, is not founded, on the authority of the Pitakas themselves, but on later compendia and commentaries.

[5] – I.e., eye, ear, nose, tongue, body (or the faculty of touch), and mind.

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[“Vinaya Texts”, translated from the Pali by T.W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg, Part I, The Patimokkha, The Mahavagga, I-IV, Part II, The Mahavagga, V-X, The Kullavagga, I-III, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1899].

 

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