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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XV: 1 The dispute over water

Kapilavatthu, the town of the Sakyans, and Koliya, the town of the Koliyans were situated on either side of the Rohini River.The farmers of both towns irrigated their fields from this river. One year, due to severe drought their paddy and other crops were threatened, and the farmers on both sides wanted to divert the water from the Rohini River to their own fields. Those living in Koliya wanted to divert and channel the water to irrigate their field. However, the farmers from Kapilavatthu protested that they would be denied the use of the water and their crops would be destroyed.

Both sides wanted the water for their own use only and as a result, there was much ill-will and hatred on both sides. The quarrel that started between the farmers soon spread like fire and the matter was reported to their respective rulers. Failing to find a compromise, both sides prepared to go to war.

The Buddha came to know that his relatives on both sides of the river were preparing for battle. For their wellbeing and happiness and to avoid unnecessary suffering, he decided to stop them. All alone, he went and appeared in the middle of the river. His relatives on seeing him, laid aside all their weapons and paid homage to him. Then, the Buddha admonished them, 'For the sake of some water, which is of little value, you should not destroy your lives which are of so much value. Why have you taken this unwholesome course of action? If I had not been here today, your blood would have been flowing like this river by now. You are living with hatred, but I live free from hatred. You are ailing with moral defilements, but I am free from moral defilements. You are striving to develop selfishness and enmity, but I don't strive for the development of selfishness.' Both sides then became ashamed of their foolishness and thus bloodshed was averted.

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

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.