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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XIX:3 Knowledge is not realisation (Ekudana)

Once, there was a bhikkhu by the name of Ekudana who lived in a grove near Savatthi. He knew only one stanza of exultation (Udana) by heart but he fully understood the meaning of the Dhamma as conveyed by the stanza. Whenever the occasion arose, he would exhort others to listen to the Dhamma, and he himself would recite the stanza he knew. Every time he had finished his recitation, the guardian spirits (devas) of the forest praised him and applauded him resoundingly. On one occasion two learned monks who were well-versed in the Tipitaka, accompanied by a group of bhikkhus came to his place. Ekudana asked the two monks to preach the Dhamma. They enquired if there were many who wished to listen to the Dhamma in this remote area. Ekudana told them that even the guardian spirits of the forests would applaud at the end of each discourse.

So the two learned monks took turns to preach the Dhamma, but when their discourses ended, there was no applause from the guardian spirits of the forests.

The learned monks were puzzled and they doubted the words of Ekudana. But he insisted that the guardian spirits always applauded at the end of each discourse. The two learned monks then requested him to do the preaching. Ekudana held his fan in front of him and recited the usual stanza. At the end of the recitation, the guardian spirits applauded as usual. The bhikkhus who were accompanying the two learned monks felt that the deva inhabiting the forests were showing favouritism to Ekudana.

They reported the matter to the Buddha on arrival at the Jetavana monastery. The Buddha admonished them, 'Bhikkhus! I don't say that a bhikkhu who has learnt much and talks much of the Dhamma is one who is versed in the Dhamma. One who has only learnt very little and knows only one stanza of the Dhamma, but fully comprehends the Four Noble Truths, and is ever mindful is the one who is truly versed in the Dhamma.'

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

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.