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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

X:9 Attaining Nibbana in the dress of a layman (Santati)

On one occasion, Santati, the Minister, returned after suppressing a rebellion on the border. King Pasenadi was so pleased with him that he honoured the Minister with expensive gifts. In addition, he also provided a dancing girl to entertain him. For several days, the Minister enjoyed himself to his heart's content, getting intoxicated with drink and infatuated with the young dancer. On the last day he went to the riverside for a bath. On the way, he met the Buddha going on an almsround, and being drunk, he just bowed casually, as a sign of respect to him. The Buddha smiled and said to Venerable Ananda, 'This Minister will come to see me this very day and after I have preached to him he will become an Arahant. Soon after becoming an Arahant he will attain parinibbana.'

Santati and his party spent the whole day at the riverside enjoying themselves. In the evening the dancer entertained the Minister and his party. The dancer, due to exhaustion, suffered a severe stroke and fell dead while dancing. The Minister was shocked and deeply distressed. In agony, grief and anguish, he went to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir! Please help me get over my sorrow; be my refuge, and let me have peace of mind.' The Buddha replied, 'Rest assured my son, you have come to One who can really help you, One who can be a constant solace to you and who will be your refuge. The amount of tears you have shed due to the death of many throughout the round of rebirths is unimaginable.' The Buddha then advised him:

'In the past you have been clinging to your cravings; get rid of them. In future, don't let such clinging enslave you. Don't also harbour any clinging in the present. By not having any clinging, craving and passion will be uprooted and you will realise Nibbana.'

After hearing the Dhamma, the Minister attained Arahanthood. Then realising that his life span was at an end, he said to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir! Let me now gain my final emancipation, for my time has comet' Soon after Santati passed away.

At the congregation, the bhikkhus asked the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir! The Minister attained parinibbana in the dress of a Minister. Is he a bhikkhu or a brahmana?' To them, the Buddha replied, 'Bhikkhus! He can be called both a bhikkhu and a brahmana. It is not important what clothes one wears so long as one is pure and freed from ignorance.'

55/170 Dhammapada & Commentary Khuddhaka J.i.106ff. despair

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.