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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XXVI:16 The Buddha subdues the abusive brothers

Once there was a brahmin, whose wife was in the habit of blurting out a string of words whenever she sneezed or when something or someone touched her accidentally. One day, the brahmin invited some of his friends to a meal and suddenly she blurted out some words. Since she had attained the first stage of Sainthood, the words 'Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa' automatically came out of her mouth. These words of veneration to the Buddha angered her husband. So, in anger he went to the Buddha hoping to put some challenging questions. His first question was 'What do we have to kill to be able to live peacefully?' and his second question was, 'What do we have to kill to be able to live happily?' The Buddha replied, 'O brahmin, to be able to live happily and peacefully, one will have to kill anger (dosa). Killing one's anger is liked and praised by the Buddhas and Arahants.' The brahmin was so impressed and satisfied with the answer, that he entered the Order and later became an Arahant.

When the younger brother heard that his eldest brother had joined the Order, he became furious. He went straight away to the monastery to abuse the Buddha, but in turn the Buddha asked, 'O brahmin, let us suppose you offered some food to some guests and they left the house without taking the food. Since the guests did not accept your food, to whom would that food belong?' The brahmin replied that the food would be his. On receiving that answer, the Buddha said, 'In the same way, O brahmin, since I don't accept your abuse, the abuse would only go back to you.'* The brahmin instantly realised the sagacity of those words and felt a great respect for the Buddha. He also entered the Order and in due course became an Arahant.

After that his two younger brothers came with the same intention of abusing the Buddha. They were made to see the light by the Buddha and they also, in their turn entered the Order. Eventually they too became Arahants.

One evening, the bhikkhus remarked 'O how wonderful and how great are the virtues of the Buddha! These four brahmin brothers abused our Teacher but through his infinite wisdom he helped them realise the Truth and became their refuge.' The Buddha then replied, 'My sons, because I am patient and forbearing and do no wrong to those who do me wrong, I have become a refuge to many.'

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

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.