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Teachings of the Buddha: Deepening One's Perspective on the World and the Magandiya Sutta

by Bhikkhu Bodhi
November 1, 2013
Fri, 11/01/2013 - 10:30 -- bbodhi

This week's final sutta is the Māgandiya Sutta. Here The Buddha meets the hedonist philosopher Māgandiya and points out to him the dangers in sensual pleasures, the benefits of renunciation, and the meaning of Nibbāna. The Buddha here contends that sensual pleasures seem to be pleasurable only through a distortion of perception, but when seen rightly are like the fire in a burning charcoal pit—”painful to touch, hot, and scorching.” This passage includes some of the most powerful similes in the Nikayas, and there can be little doubt that the Buddha has not used them lightly.

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Kuru country where there was a town of the Kurus named Kammāsadhamma, on a spread of grass in the fire chamber of a brahmin belonging to the Bhāradvāja clan.
    2. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Kammāsadhamma for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Kammāsadhamma and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he went to a certain grove for the day’s abiding. Having entered the grove, he sat down at the root of a tree for the day’s abiding. [502]
    3. Then the wanderer Māgandiya, while walking and wandering for exercise, went to the fire chamber of the brahmin belonging to the Bhāradvāja clan. There he saw a spread of grass prepared and asked the brahmin: “For whom has this spread of grass been prepared in Master Bhāradvāja’s fire chamber? It seems like it might be a recluse’s bed.”
    4. “Master Māgandiya, there is the recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans, who went forth from a Sakyan clan. Now a good report of Master Gotama has been spread to this effect: ‘That Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed.’ This bed has been prepared for that Master Gotama.”
    5. “Indeed, Master Bhāradvāja, it is an ill sight we see when we see the bed of that destroyer of growth, Master Gotama.”
    “Be careful what you say, Māgandiya, be careful what you say! Many learned nobles, learned brahmins, learned householders, and learned recluses have full confidence in Master Gotama, and have been disciplined by him in the noble true way, in the Dhamma that is wholesome.”
    “Master Bhāradvāja, even if we saw that Master Gotama face to face, we would tell him to his face: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”
    “If Master Māgandiya has no objection, may I tell this to Master Gotama?”
    “Let Master Bhāradvāja be at ease. Tell him just what I have said.”
    6. Meanwhile, with the divine ear, which is purified and surpasses the human, the Blessed One heard this conversation between the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan and the wanderer Māgandiya. Then, when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from meditation, went to the brahmin’s fire chamber, and sat down on the spread of grass made ready. Then the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side. The Blessed One asked him: “Bhāradvāja, did you have any conversation with the wanderer Māgandiya [503] about this very same spread of grass?”
    When this was said, the brahmin, awestruck and with his hair standing on end, replied: “We wanted to tell Master Gotama about that very thing, but Master Gotama has anticipated us.”
    7. But this discussion between the Blessed One and the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan was left unfinished, for then the wanderer Māgandiya, while walking and wandering for exercise, came to the brahmin’s fire chamber and went up to the Blessed One. He exchanged greetings with the Blessed One, and when this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side. The Blessed One said to him:
    8. “Māgandiya, the eye delights in forms, takes delight in forms, rejoices in forms; that has been tamed by the Tathāgata, guarded, protected, and restrained, and he teaches the Dhamma for its restraint. Was it with reference to this that you said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth’?”
    “It was with reference to this, Master Gotama, that I said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”
    “The ear delights in sound … The nose delights in odours … The tongue delights in flavours … The body delights in tangibles …  The mind delights in mind-objects, takes delight in mind-objects, rejoices in mind-objects; that has been tamed by the Tathāgata, guarded, protected, and restrained, and he teaches the Dhamma for its restraint. Was it with reference to this that you said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth’?”
    “It was with reference to this, Master Gotama, that I said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”

MN 75

To continue reading the Māgandiya Sutta, click here.

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