Pali Canon Online

The Original Words of the Buddha

Font Size

SCREEN

Cpanel

DN21 Sakkapañha Sutta: Sakka’s Questions

A God Consults the Buddha
 
[263] 1.1. THUS HAVE I HEARD.579 Once the Lord was staying in Magadha, to the east of Rājagaha, by a Brahmin village called Ambasaṇḍā, to the north of the village on Mount Vediya, in the Indasāla Cave.580 And at that time Sakka, lord of the gods,581 felt a strong desire to see the Lord. And Sakka thought: ‘Where is the Blessed Lord, the fully-enlightened Buddha, now staying?’ Then, perceiving where the Lord was, Sakka said to the Thirty-Three Gods: ‘Gentlemen, the Blessed Lord is staying in Magadha...in the Indasāla Cave. How would it be if we were to go and visit the Lord?’ ‘Very good, Lord, and may good fortune go with you’, replied the Thirty-Three Gods.
 
1.2. Then Sakka said to Pañcasikha of the gandhabbas: [264] ‘The Blessed Lord is staying in Magadha...in the Indasāla Cave. I propose to go to visit him.’ ‘Very good, Lord’, said Pañcasikha and, taking his yellow beluva-wood lute,582 he followed in attendance on Sakka. And, just as swiftly as a strong man might stretch forth his flexed arm, or flex it again, Sakka, surrounded by the Thirty-Three Gods and attended by Pañcasikha, vanished from the heaven of the Thirty-Three and appeared in Magadha...on Mount Vediya.
 
1.3. Then a tremendous light shone over Mount Vediya, illuminating the village of Ambasaṇḍā — so great was the power of the gods — so that in the surrounding villages they were saying: ‘Look, Mount Vediya is on fire today — it’s burning — it’s in flames! What is the matter, that Mount Vediya and Ambasaṇḍā are lit up like this?’ and they were so terrified that their hair stood on end.
 
1.4. Then Sakka said: ‘Pañcasikha, [265] it is hard for the likes of us to get near the Tathāgatas when they are enjoying the bliss of meditation,583 and therefore withdrawn. But if you, Pañcasikha, were first to attract584the ear of the Blessed Lord, then we might afterwards be able to approach and see the Blessed Lord, the fully-enlightened Buddha.’ ‘Very good, Lord’, said Pañcasikha and, taking his yellow beluva-wood lute, he approached the Indasāla Cave. Thinking: ‘As far as this is neither too far nor too near to the Lord, and he will hear my voice’, he stood to one side. Then, to the strains of his lute, he sang these verses extolling the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Arahants, and love:
1.6. When he heard this, the Lord said: ′Pañcasikha, the sound of your strings blends so well with your song, and your song with the strings, that neither prevails excessively over the other.590 When did you compose these verses on the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Arahants, and love?’ ‘Lord, it was when the Blessed Lord was staying on the bank of the River Nerañjarā, under the goatherd’s banyan tree [268] prior to his enlightenment. At that time I fell in love with the lady Bhaddā, bright as the sun, the daughter of King Timbarū of the gandhabbas. But the lady was in love with somebody else. It was Sikhaddi, the son of Mātali the charioteer, whom she favoured. And when I found that I could not win the lady by any manner of means, I took my yellow beluva-wood lute and went to the home of King Timbarū of the gandhabbas, and there I sang these verses:
 
1.7. (Verses as 5). ‘And, Lord, having heard the verses the lady Bhaddā Suriyavaccasā said to me: “Sir, I have not personally seen that Blessed Lord, though I heard of him when I went to the Sudhammā Hall of the Thirty-Three Gods to dance. And since, sir, you praise that Blessed Lord so highly, let us meet today.” [269] And so, Lord, I met the lady, not then but later.’
 
1.8. Then Sakka thought: ‘Pañcasikha and the Lord are in friendly conversation’, so he called to Pañcasikha: ‘My dear Pañcasikha, salute the Blessed Lord from me, saying: “Lord, Sakka, king of the gods, together with his ministers and followers, pays homage at the feet of the Blessed Lord.”’ ‘Very good, Lord’, said Pañcasikha, and did so.
 
′Pañcasikha, may Sakka, king of the gods, his ministers and followers be happy, for they all desire happiness: devas, humans, asuras, nāgas, gandhabbas, and whatever other groups of beings there are!’ for that is the way the Tathāgatas greet such mighty beings. After this greeting, Sakka entered the Indasāla Cave, saluted the Lord, and stood to one side, and the Thirty-Three Gods, with Pañcasikha, did the same.
 
1.9. Then in the Indasāla Cave the rough passages became smooth, the narrow parts became wide, and in the pitch-dark cavern it became bright, owing to the [270] power of the devas. Then the Lord said to Sakka: ‘It is wonderful, it is marvellous that the Venerable Kosiya,591 with so much, so many things to do, should come here!’ ‘Lord, I have long wished to visit the Blessed Lord, but I have always been so busy on behalf of the Thirty-Three that I was unable to come. Once the Blessed Lord was staying at Savatthi in the Salala hut, and I went to Savatthi to see the Lord.
 
1.10. ‘At that time the Blessed Lord was seated in some form of meditation, and King Vessavana’s wife Bhuñjatī was waiting on him, venerating him with palms together. I said to her: “Lady, please salute the Blessed Lord for me and say: ‘Sakka, the king of the gods, with his ministers and followers, pays homage at the Lord’s feet’. But she said: “Sir, it is not the right time to see the Blessed Lord, he is in retreat.” [271] “Well then, lady, when the Blessed Lord rises from his meditation, please tell him what I have said.” Lord, did the lady salute you on my behalf, and does the Lord remember what she said?’ ‘She did salute me, King of the Gods, and I remember what she said. I also remember that it was the sound of Your Reverence’s chariot-wheels that roused me from my meditation. ′592
 
1.11. ‘Lord, those gods who arose in the heaven of the Thirty-Three before I did have told me and assured me that whenever a Tathāgata, a fully-enlightened Arahant Buddha arises in the world, the ranks of devas increase, and those of the asuras decline in numbers. In fact I have witnessed this myself. There was, Lord, right here in Kapilavatthu a Sakyan girl called Gopikā who had faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and who observed the precepts scrupulously. She rejected the status of a woman and developed the thought of becoming a man. Then, after her death, at the breaking-up of the body, she went to a happy destination, being reborn in a heaven-state among the Thirty-Three Gods, as one of our sons, becoming known as Gopaka the devas’ son.593 Also, there were three monks who, having observed the holy life under the Blessed Lord, had been reborn in the inferior condition of gandhabbas. They lived indulging in the pleasures of the five senses, as our attendants and servants. At this, Gopaka [272] rebuked them, saying: “What were you about, sirs, that you did not listen to the Blessed Lord’s teaching? I was a woman who had faith in the Buddha...I rejected the status of a woman ... and was reborn among the Thirty-Three Gods and am known as Gopaka the devas’ son. But you, after having observed the holy life under the Blessed Lord, have been reborn in the inferior condition of gandhabbas! It is a sorry sight for us to see our fellows in the Dhamma reborn in the inferior condition of gandhabbas!” And being thus rebuked, two of those devas immediately developed mindfulness, 594 and so attained to the Realm of the Retinue of Brahma. 595 But one of them remained addicted to sensual pleasures.
 
1.12 [Gopaka spoke:]

′′′Disciple once of Him-Who-Sees,

The name I bore then Gopikā.

In Buddha, Dhamma firmly trusting

I served the Sangha cheerfully.

For loyal service paid to him

See me now, a Sakka-son,

Mighty, in the Threefold Heaven,596

Resplendent; Gopaka my name.

Then former monks I saw, who’d reached

No higher than gandhabba’s rank,

Who before had human birth

And led the life the Buddha taught.

We supplied their food and drink

And waited on them in our homes.597 [273]

Had they no ears, that they thus blest

Still could not grasp the Buddha’s law?

Each for himself must understand

That Dhamma taught by Him-Who-Sees,

And well-proclaimed. I, serving you,

Heard the Noble Ones’ good words,

And so I’m born, a Sakka-son,

Mighty, in the Threefold Heaven,

And resplendent, whereas you,

Though you served the Prince of Men

And led the matchless life he taught,

Have reappeared in humble state,

And not attained your proper rank,

A sorry sight it is to see

One’s Dhamma-fellows sunk so low

That, gandhabba-spirits, you

But come to wait upon the gods,

While as for me — I am transformed!

From household life, and female, I

Am now reborn a male, a god,

Rejoicing in celestial bliss!”
 
When thus rebuked by Gopaka,

Disciple true of Gotama,

In sore distress they all replied:

“Alas, let’s go, and strive amain,

And be no longer others’ slaves!” [274]

And of the three, two struggled hard,

And bore in mind the Teacher’s word.

They purified their hearts of lust,

Perceiving peril in desires,

And like the elephant that bursts

All restraining bonds, they broke

The fetters and the bonds of lust,

Those fetters of the evil one

So hard to overcome — and thus

The very gods, the Thirty-Three,

With Indra and Pajāpati,

Who sat enthroned in Council Hall,

These two heroes, passions purged,

Outstripped, and left them far behind.
 
On seeing which, Vasava,598 dismayed,

Chief amidst that throng of gods,

Cried: “See how these of lesser rank

Outstrip the gods, the Thirty-Three!”

Then hearing of his ruler’s fears,

Gopaka said to Vasava:

“Lord Indra, in the world of men

A Buddha, called the Sakyan Sage,599

Has gained the mastery of lust,

And these his pupils, who had failed

In mindfulness when claimed by death,

Have now regained it with my help. [275]

Though one of them is left behind

And still among gandhabbas dwells,

These two, on highest wisdom set,

In deep absorption spurn the gods!

Let no disciple ever doubt

That truth may yet be realised

By those who dwell in these abodes.600

To him who’s crossed the flood and made

An end of doubts, our homage due,

The Buddha, Victor, Lord, we give.”
 
Even here, they gained the truth, and so

Have passed beyond to greater eminence.

Those two have gained a higher place than this

In Realms of Brahmā′s Retinue. And we

Have come, O Lord, in hope that we may gain

That truth, and, if the Lord will give us leave,

To put our questions to the Blessed Lord.’
 
 
1.13. Then the Lord thought: ‘Sakka has lived a pure life for a long time. Whatever questions he may ask will be to the point and not frivolous, and he will be quick to understand my answers.’ So the Blessed Lord replied to Sakka in this verse:
‘Ask me, Sakka, all that you desire!

On what you ask, I′ll put your mind at rest.’
 
 
 
[End of first recitation-section] [276]
 




2.1. Being thus invited, Sakka, ruler of the gods, put his first question to the Lord: ‘By what fetters, sir,601 are beings bound — gods, humans, asuras, nāgas, gandhabbas and whatever other kinds there may be — whereby, although they wish to live without hate, harming, hostility or malignity, and in peace, they yet live in hate, harming one another, hostile and malign? ′ This was Sakka’s first question to the Lord, and the Lord replied: ‘Ruler of the Gods, it is the bonds of jealousy and avarice602 that bind beings so that, though they wish to live without hate,... they yet live in hate, harming one another, hostile and malign.’ This was the Lord’s reply, and Sakka, delighted, exclaimed: ‘So it is, Lord, so it is, Well-Farer! Through the Lord’s answer I have overcome my doubt and got rid of uncertainty!’
 
2.2. Then Sakka, having [277] expressed his appreciation, asked another question: ‘But sir, what gives rise to jealousy and avarice, what is their origin, how are they born, how do they arise? Owing to the presence of what do they arise, owing to the absence of what do they not arise?’ ‘Jealousy and avarice, Ruler of the Gods, take rise from like and dislike,603 this is their origin, this is how they are born, how they arise. When these are present, they arise; when these are absent, they do not arise.’ ‘But, sir, what gives rise to like and dislike?... Owing to the presence of what do they arise, owing to the absence of what do they not arise?’ ‘They arise, Ruler of the Gods, from desire604... Owing to the presence of desire they arise, owing to the absence of desire they do not arise.’ ‘But, sir, what gives rise to desire?...’ ‘Desire, Ruler of the Gods, arises from thinking605... When the mind thinks about something, desire arises; when the mind thinks about nothing, desire does not arise.’ ‘But, sir, what gives rise to thinking? ...′ ′Thinking, Ruler of the Gods, arises from the tendency to proliferation606 ... When this tendency is present, thinking arises; when it is absent, thinking does not arise.’
 
2.3. ‘Well, sir, what practice has that monk undertaken,607 who has reached the right way which is needful and leading to the cessation of the tendency to proliferation?’ [278]
 
‘Ruler of the Gods, I declare that there are two kinds of happiness:608 the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applies to unhappiness609 and equanimity.610 Why have I declared this in regard to happiness? This is how I understood happiness: When I observed that in the pursuit of such happiness, unwholesome factors increased and wholesome factors decreased, then that happiness was to be avoided. And when I observed that in the pursuit of such happiness unwholesome factors decreased and wholesome ones increased, then that happiness was to be sought after. Now, of such happiness as is accompanied by thinking and pondering,611 and of that which is not so accompanied, the latter is the more excellent. The same applies to unhappiness, and [279] to equanimity. And this, Ruler of the Gods, is the practice that monk has undertaken who has reached the right way...leading to the cessation of the tendency to proliferation.’ And Sakka expressed his delight at the Lord’s answer.
 
2.4. Then Sakka, having expressed his appreciation, asked another question: ‘Well, sir, what practice has that monk undertaken who has acquired the restraint required by the rules?′612
 
‘Ruler of the Gods, I declare that there are two kinds of bodily conduct: the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applies to conduct of speech and to the pursuit of goals. [280] Why have I declared this in regard to bodily conduct? This is how I understood bodily conduct: When I observed that by the performance of certain actions, unwholesome factors increased and wholesome factors decreased, then that form of bodily action was to be avoided. And when I observed that by the performance of such actions unwholesome factors decreased and wholesome ones increased, then such bodily action was to be followed. That is why I make this distinction. The same applies to conduct of speech and the pursuit of goals. [281] And this, Ruler of the Gods, is the practice that monk has undertaken who has acquired the restraint required by the rules.’ And Sakka expressed his delight at the Lord’s answer.
 
2.5. Then Sakka asked another question: ‘Well, sir, what practice has that monk undertaken who has acquired control of his sense-faculties?’
 
‘Ruler of the Gods, I declare that things perceived by the eye are of two kinds: the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applies to things perceived by the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind.’ At this, Sakka said: ‘Lord, I understand in full the true meaning of what the Blessed Lord has outlined in brief. Lord, whatever object perceived by the eye, if its pursuit leads to the increase of unwholesome factors and the decrease of wholesome ones, that is not to be sought after; if its pursuit leads to the decrease of unwholesome factors and the increase of wholesome ones, such an object is [282] to be sought after. And the same applies to things perceived by the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. Thus I understand in full the true meaning of what the Blessed Lord has outlined in brief, and thus through the Lord’s answer I have overcome my doubt and got rid of uncertainty.’
 
2.6. Then Sakka asked another question: ‘Sir, do all ascetics and Brahmins teach the same doctrine, practise the same discipline, want the same thing613 and pursue the same goal?’ ‘No, Ruler of the Gods, they do not.’ ‘But why, sir, do they not do so?’ ‘The world, Ruler of the Gods, is made up of many and various elements. Such being the case, beings adhere to one or other of these various things, and whatever they adhere to they become powerfully addicted to, and declare: ‘This alone is the truth, everything else is false!’ Therefore they do not all teach the same doctrine, practise the same discipline, want the same thing, pursue the same goal.’
 
‘Sir, are all ascetics and Brahmins fully [283] proficient, freed from bonds, perfect in the holy life, have they perfectly reached the goal?’ ‘No, Ruler of the Gods.’ ‘Why is that, sir?’ ‘Only those, Ruler of the Gods, who are liberated by the destruction of craving are fully proficient, freed from the bonds, perfect in the holy life, and have perfectly reached the goal.’ And Sakka rejoiced at the answer as before.
 
2.7. Then Sakka said: ′Passion,614 sir, is a disease, a boil, a dart. It seduces a man, drawing him into this or that state of becoming, so that he is reborn in high states or low. Whereas other ascetics and Brahmins of differing viewpoints gave me no chance to ask these questions, the Lord has instructed me at length, and thus removed the dart of doubt and uncertainty from me.’ [284] ‘Ruler of the Gods, do you admit to having asked the same question of other ascetics and Brahmins?’ ‘Yes, Lord.’ ‘Then, if you don′t mind, please tell me what they said.’ ‘I do not mind telling the Blessed Lord, or one like him.′615 ‘Then tell me, Ruler of the Gods.’
 
‘Lord, I went to those I considered to be ascetics and Brahmins because of their solitary life in the woods, and I put these questions to them. But instead of giving me a proper answer,616 they asked me in return: “Who are you, Venerable Sir?” I replied that I was Sakka, ruler of the gods, and they asked me what had brought me there. Then I taught them the Dhamma as far as I had heard it and practised it. But they were very pleased with even that much, and they said: “We have seen Sakka, the ruler of the gods, and he has answered the questions we put to him!” And they became my pupils instead of my becoming theirs. But I, Lord, am a disciple of the Blessed Lord, a Stream-Winner, not subject to rebirth in states of woe, firmly established and destined for full enlightenment. ′617 ‘Ruler of the Gods, do you admit to having ever previously experienced rejoicing and happiness such as you experience now?’ [285] ‘Yes, Lord.’ ‘And what was that about?’ ‘In the past, Lord, war had broken out between the gods and the asuras, and the gods had defeated the asuras. And after the battle, as victor, I thought: “Whatever is now the food of the gods,618 and what is the food of the asuras, henceforth we shall enjoy both.” But, Lord, such happiness and satisfaction, which was due to blows and wounds, does not conduce to dispassion, detachment, cessation, peace, higher knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana. But that happiness and satisfaction that is obtained by hearing the Dhamma from the Blessed Lord, which is not due to blows and wounds, does conduce to dispassion, detachment, cessation, peace, higher knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbāna.′
 
2.8. ‘And, Ruler of the Gods, what things do you call to mind when you admit to experiencing such satisfaction and happiness as this?’ ‘Lord, at such a time, six things come to mind at which I rejoice:
“I who merely as a god exist, have gained

The chance, by kamma, of another earthly life.′′619
 
 
 
That, Lord, is the first thing that occurs to me. [286]
 
“Leaving this non-human realm of gods behind,

Unerringly I’ll seek the womb I wish to find.”
 
 
That, Lord, is the second thing...
 
“My problems solved, I’ll gladly live by Buddha’s law,
 
Controlled and mindful, and with clear awareness filled.′′
 
 
That, Lord, is the third thing...
 
“And should thereby enlightenment arise in me,
 
As one-who-knows I’ll dwell, and there await my end.”
 
 
That, Lord, is the fourth thing...
 
“Then when I leave the human world again, I’ll be

Once more a god, and one of highest rank.”
 
 
That, Lord, is the fifth thing...
 
“More glorious than devas are the Peerless Gods,620
 
Among whom dwelling I shall make my final home.” [287]
 
 
That, Lord, is the sixth thing that occurs to me, and these are the six things at which I rejoice.
 
2.9. ‘Long I wandered, unfulfilled, in doubt,

In quest of the Tathagata. I thought

Hermits who live secluded and austere

Must surely be enlightened: I’ll seek them.

“What must I do to gain success, and what

Course but leads to failure?” — but, thus asked,

They could not tell me how to tread the path.

Instead, when they found out that I am king

Of gods, they asked me why I’d come to them,

And I it was who taught them what I knew

Of Dhamma, and at that, rejoicing, they

Cried: “It’s Vasava, the Lord, we’ve seen!”

But now - I’ve seen the Buddha, and my doubts

Are all dispelled, my fears are allayed,

And now to the Enlightened One I pay

Homage due, to him who’s drawn the dart

Of craving, to the Buddha, peerless Lord,

Mighty hero, kinsman of the Sun!621 [288]

Just as Brahmā’s worshipped by the gods,

So likewise today we worship you,

Enlightened One, and Teacher unsurpassed,

Whom none can equal in the human world,

Or in the heavens, dwelling of the gods!’
 
 
2.10. Then Sakka, ruler of the gods, said to Pañcasikha of the gandhabbas: ‘My dear Pañcasikha, you have been of great help to me for gaining the ear of the Blessed Lord. For it was through your gaining his ear that we were admitted to the presence of the Blessed Lord, the Arahant, the supremely enlightened Buddha. I will be a father to you, you shall be king of the gandhabbas, and I will give you Bhaddā Suriyavaccasā, whom you desired.’
 
And then Sakka, ruler of the gods, touched the earth with his hand and called out three times:
′Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the supremely enlightened Buddha!
 
Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the supremely enlightened Buddha!
 
Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the supremely enlightened Buddha!’
 
 
 
And while he had been speaking in this dialogue,622 the pure and spotless Dhamma-Eye arose within Sakka, ruler of the gods, and he knew: ‘Whatever things have an origin must come to cessation.’ And the same thing happened to eighty [289] thousand devas as well.
 


Such were the questions which Sakka, ruler of the gods, was desirous to ask,623 and which the Lord answered for him. Therefore this discourse is called ‘Sakka’s Questions.’

579 Another Sutta with a mythological background, and some truly remarkable features, including the amazing conceit of having Pañcasikha the gandhabba attract the Buddha’s attention by means of a love-song! But all this should not blind us to the fact that some deep matters are discussed in the body of the Sutta — just a little like those later Sutras in which the Lord discussed the mysteries of the Prajñāpāramitā with Subhuti against a gorgeous mythological backdrop.
 
580 RD disbelieves in any original association of this cave and tree with the god Indra (who is, or is not exactly, identical with the Sakka we meet here). The cave was still inhabited at the time of the visit of the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hsien (ca. 405 C.E.), but by the time of Hsüan-tsang (ca. 630) it was deserted.
 
581 Sakka is the ruler of the Thirty-Three Gods, in a heaven which still belongs to the Realm of Sense-Desires (kāmâvacara), above that of the Four Great Kings but far below the Realm of Brahmā - actually quite a lowly position in the Buddhist scheme of things (see Introduction, p. 41). RD has a useful summary of information about him in the introduction to this Sutta, with a list of his titles and a discussion of the question of how far he can be identified with Indra.
 
582 The vīnā is better known in the West today by its Indian name than it was in RD’s time. RD mistakenly calls it a lyre, but it is definitely a kind of lute. The author of the article beluva in PED calls it a flute (and the mistake is repeated under pandu, so is not, apparently, a misprint). It would surely have been beyond the powers of Pañcasikha, or of Krishna himself, to accompany his own song on the flute!
 
583 Jhāna, according to Sakka, but he would scarcely have known what kind of meditation the Tathāgata was practising!
 
584 Pasādeyyāsi: ‘please, attract, charm’. Not the most appropriate term (RD has ‘win overʹ), but suited to Pancasikhaʹs talents.
 
585 RD draws attention to similar things in the Mahābhārata and elsewhere in Indian literature, without commenting on the extreme oddity of its occurrence here!
 
586 The meaning of Suriyavaccasa (cf. DN 20.10).
 
587 Elephants do indeed suffer from the heat, and have to be kept cool.
 
588 This epithet omitted by Mrs Rhys Davids in her translation.
 
589 As we see below, this was supposedly composed just prior to Gotama’s enlightenment, though this conflicts with the just previous mention of Arahants!
 
590 The Buddha refrains from rebuking Pañcasikha for his somewhat inappropriate song, and pays him a neat compliment. In the ‘household life’ Gotama must have heard many love-songs, even if we disregard all the legends of his upbringing.
 
591 A title or name of Indra, used politely as, e.g., Vasetthas in DN 16,5.19, etc.
 
592 This seems to conflict a little with DN 16.4.28ff.
 
593 Devaputta: either simply a male deva or the head of a group of devas.
 
594 Note the importance of this: the following Sutta is, of course, devoted entirely to this subject.
 
595 Higher than that of the Thirty-Three Gods (see n.581).
 
596 Another name for the Heaven of the Thirty-Three Gods.
 
597 There is considered to be an implied contract between monks and their lay supporters. In return for support, monks are supposed to do their best to gain enlightenment. Not to do so is a form of dishonesty.
 
598 Vāsava is yet another name for Sakka (see RD ii, p. 296f.).
 
599 Sakyamuni: a common term for the Buddha in Mahayana scriptures, but extremely rare in the Pali Canon.
 
600 In general it is considered almost impossible for inhabitants of the heaven-worlds to gain enlightenment — almost, but not quite, is the implication here!
 
601 Mārisa: ‘Sir’, not ‘Lord’. Sakka does later go over to the more respectful form of address.
 
602 Issa-macchariya. This is better than RD’s ‘envy and selfishness’.
 
603 Piya-appiya: ‘dear and not-dear’.
 
604 Chanda: equated by DA with taṇhā ‘craving’.
 
605 Vitakka. RD says (in part): ‘The word is used, not with any fine shade of psychological meaning, but in its popular sense... “taking thought for” . . . , “being preoccupied about”’. See n.611.
 
606 Papañca: a difficult word. The meaning ‘diversification’ has been established by Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda, Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought (Kandy, BPS 1971).
 
607 ‘How has that bhikkhu gone about...?’ (RD).
 
608 Somanassa: cf. n.528.
 
609 Domanassa. Somanassa-domanassa are sometimes rendered ‘gladness and sadness’.
 
610 Upek(k)hā.
 
611 Vitakka-vicāra. This refers to the second jhāna (cf. DN 2.75, 11). I have used the rendering mentioned at n.80, instead of the more usual ‘initial and sustained application’. In a private communication, L.S. Cousins writes: ‘The words simply do not mean this...Suttanta does not distinguish between access and absorption - hence the terms used do not have their momentary Abhidhamma sense. In the case of vicāra this is not even the Abhidhamma sense, since Dhs clearly explains vicāra as “investigating”.’
 
612 Pātimokkha.
 
613 The same question as posed in DN 16.5.26 by Subhadda.
 
614 Ejā: glossed by DA as calamaṭṭhena taṇhā, which RD renders ‘Craving, with respect to the thrill’ (better, perhaps: ‘trembling with desire’). ʹʺPassionʺʹ, says RD, ‘lacks etymological coincidence... but no other term is forceful enough’. Finding no better alternative, I have adopted it here.
 
615 Cf. the similar passage in 2.15, though the response of those questioned is different, if equally unsatisfactory.
 
616 Na sampāyanti: mysteriously rendered ‘did not withdraw themselves’ (RD).
 
617 See n.622.
 
618 Ojā: cf. n.418.
 
619 The idea that a god needs to return to the human state before gaining enlightenment seems to apply here, even though Sakka is, or is supposedly, a Stream-Winner.
 
620 Akaniṭṭhā, those in the highest heaven of all. See Introduction, p. 39.
 
621 The Gotama clan were supposed to be of solar descent.
 
622It is not quite clear whether Sakka really became a Stream-Winner at this point, or earlier, when he made the claim (n.617). At the earlier point the Buddha made no direct comment, possibly knowing that this ‘conversion’ (RD), though it had not quite happened, was imminent.
According to DA (ad DN 22.1) Sakka had observed with terror the signs that his reign as king of the gods was approaching its end: hence his visit to the Buddha. For the length of life among the Thirty-Three Gods, see DN 23.11.
 
623 Or ‘was invited’ (RD, but described in a footnote as ‘doubtful’).
You are here: Home DN21 Sakkapañha Sutta: Sakka’s Questions