Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 11. Sakkasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses with Sakka

II. The Second Subchapter (The Seven Vows)

11 (1) Vows
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he adopted and undertook seven vows by the undertaking of which he achieved the status of Sakka. What were the seven vows?
(1) “‘As long as I live may I support my parents.’
(2) “‘As long as I live may I respect the family elders.’
(3) “‘As long as I live may I speak gently.’
(4) “‘As long as I live may I not speak divisively.’
(5) “‘As long as I live may I dwell at home with a mind devoid of the stain of stinginess, freely generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishment, devoted to charity, delighting in giving and sharing.’
(6) “‘As long as I live may I speak the truth.’
(7) “‘As long as I live may I be free from anger, and if anger should arise in me may I dispel it quickly.’
   “In the past, bhikkhus, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he adopted and undertook these seven vows by the undertaking of which he achieved the status of Sakka. <493>

904 “When a person supports his parents,
      And respects the family elders;
      When his speech is gentle and courteous,
      And he refrains from divisive words;

905 When he strives to remove meanness,
      Is truthful, and vanquishes anger,
      The Tāvatiṃsa devas call him
      Truly a superior person.” [229]

12 (2) Sakka’s Names
At Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove. There the Blessed One said to the bhikkhus:
    “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he was a brahmin youth named Magha; therefore he is called Maghavā.
    “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he gave gifts in city after city; therefore he is called Purindada, the Urban Giver.
    “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he gave gifts considerately; therefore he is called Sakka.
    “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, <494> he gave a rest house; therefore he is called Vāsava.
    “Bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, thinks of a thousand matters in a moment; therefore he is called Sahassakkha, Thousand-eyed.
    “Bhikkhus, Sakka’s wife is the asura maiden named Sujā; therefore he is called Sujampati, Sujā’s husband.
    “Bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, exercises supreme sovereignty and rulership over the Tāvatiṃsa devas; therefore he is called lord of the devas.
    “Bhikkhus, in the past, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he adopted and undertook seven vows by the undertaking of which he achieved the status of Sakka….”
    (The remainder of this sutta is identical with the preceding one. Verses 906–7 = 904–5.) [230] <495>

13 (3) Mahāli
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Then Mahāli the Licchavi approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, has the Blessed One seen Sakka, lord of the devas?”
    “I have, Mahāli.”
    “Surely, venerable sir, that must have been one who looked like Sakka, lord of the devas; for Sakka, lord of the devas, is difficult to see.”
    “I know Sakka, Mahāli, and I know the qualities that make for Sakka, by the undertaking of which Sakka achieved the status of Sakka. <496>
    “In the past, Mahāli, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he was a brahmin youth named Magha. Therefore he is called Maghavā….”
    (Here follows the names of Sakka as in 11:12 and the seven vows as in 11:11, followed by verses 908–9 = 904–5.) [231] <497>

14 (4) Poor
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, once in the past in this same Rājagaha there was a poor man, a pauper, an indigent. He undertook faith, virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom in the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata. Having done so, with the breakup of the body, after death, [232] <498> he was reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world, in the company of the Tāvatiṃsa devas, where he outshone the other devas in regard to beauty and glory.
    “Thereupon the Tāvatiṃsa devas found fault with this, grumbled, and complained about it, saying: ‘It is wonderful indeed, sir! It is amazing indeed, sir! For formerly, when this young deva was a human being, he was a poor man, a pauper, an indigent. Yet with the breakup of the body, after death, he has been reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world, in the company of the Tāvatiṃsa devas, where he outshines the other devas in regard to beauty and glory.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, addressed the Tāvatiṃsa devas thus: ‘Dear sirs, do not find fault with this young deva. Formerly, when this young deva was a human being, he undertook faith, virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom in the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata. Having done so, with the breakup of the body, after death, he has been reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world, in the company of the Tāvatiṃsa devas, where he outshines the other devas in regard to beauty and glory.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, instructing the Tāvatiṃsa devas, Sakka, lord of the devas, on that occasion recited these verses: <499>

910 “‘When one has faith in the Tathāgata,
      Unshakable and well established,
      And good conduct built on virtue,
      Dear to the noble ones and praised;

911 “‘When one has confidence in the Saṅgha
      And one’s view is straightened out,
      They say that one isn’t poor;
      One’s life is not lived in vain.

912 “‘Therefore the person of intelligence,
      Remembering the Buddha’s Teaching,
      Should be devoted to faith and virtue,
      To confidence and vision of the Dhamma.’”

15 (5) A Delightful Place
At Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove. Then Sakka, lord of the devas, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, stood to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, what is a delightful place?” [233]

[The Blessed One:] <500>

913 “Shrines in parks and woodland shrines,
      Well-constructed lotus ponds:
      These are not worth a sixteenth part
      Of a delightful human being.

914 “Whether in a village or forest,
      In a valley or on the plain—
      Wherever the arahants dwell
      Is truly a delightful place.”

16 (6) Bestowing Alms
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha on Mount Vulture Peak. Then Sakka, lord of the devas, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and stood to one side. Standing to one side, he addressed the Blessed One in verse:

915 “For those people who bestow alms,
      For living beings in quest of merit,
      Performing merit of the mundane type,
      Where does a gift bear great fruit?”

[The Blessed One:] <501>

916 “The four practising the way
      And the four established in the fruit:
      This is the Saṅgha of upright conduct
      Endowed with wisdom and virtue.

917 “For those people who bestow alms,
      For living beings in quest of merit,
      Performing merit of the mundane type,
      A gift to the Saṅgha bears great fruit.”

17 (7) Veneration of the Buddha
At Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove. Now on that occasion the Blessed One had gone for his day’s abiding and was in seclusion. Then Sakka, lord of the devas, and Brahmā Sahampati approached the Blessed One and stood one at each doorpost. Then Sakka, lord of the devas, recited this verse in the presence of the Blessed One:

918 “Rise up, O hero, victor in battle!
      Your burden lowered, debt-free one, wander in the world.
      Your mind is fully liberated
      Like the moon on the fifteenth night.” [234]

[Brahmā Sahampati:] “It is not in such a way that the Tathāgatas are to be venerated, lord of the devas. The Tathāgatas are to be venerated thus:

919 “Rise up, O hero, victor in battle! <502>
      O caravan leader, debt-free one, wander in the world.
      Teach the Dhamma, O Blessed One:
      There will be those who will understand.”

18 (8) The Worship of Householders (or Sakka’s Worship (1))
At Sāvatthī. There the Blessed One said this: “Bhikkhus, once in the past Sakka, lord of the devas, addressed his charioteer Mātali thus: ‘Harness the chariot with its team of a thousand thoroughbreds, friend Mātali. Let us go to the park grounds to see the beautiful scenery.’ – ‘Yes, your lordship,’ Mātali the charioteer replied. Then he harnessed the chariot with its team of a thousand thoroughbreds and announced to Sakka, lord of the devas: ‘The chariot has been harnessed, dear sir. You may come at your own convenience.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, descending from the Vejayanta Palace, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation, and worshipped the different quarters. Then Mātali the charioteer addressed Sakka in verse:

920 “‘These all humbly worship you—
      Those versed in the Triple Veda,
      All the khattiyas reigning on earth,
      The Four Great Kings and the glorious Thirty— <503>
      So who, O Sakka, is that spirit
      To whom you bow in worship?’

[Sakka:]

921 “‘These all humbly worship me—
      Those versed in the Triple Veda,
      All the khattiyas reigning on earth,
      The Four Great Kings and the glorious Thirty—

922 But I worship those endowed with virtue,
      Those long trained in concentration,
      Those who have properly gone forth
      With the holy life their destination.

923 “‘I worship as well, O Mātali,
      Those householders making merit,
      The lay followers possessed of virtue
      Who righteously maintain a wife.’

[Mātali:]

924 “‘Those whom you worship, my lord Sakka,
      Are indeed the best in the world.
      I too will worship them—
      Those whom you worship, Vāsava.’ <504>

[The Blessed One:]

925 “Having given this explanation,
      Having worshipped the different quarters,
      The deva-king Maghavā, Sujā’s husband,
      The chief, climbed into his chariot.” [235]

19 (9) The Worship of the Teacher (or Sakka’s Worship (2))
(As above down to:)
    “Then, bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, descending from the Vejayanta Palace, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation and worshipped the Blessed One. Then Mātali the charioteer addressed Sakka, lord of the devas, in verse:

926 “‘Both devas and human beings
      Humbly worship you, Vāsava.
      So who, O Sakka, is that spirit
      To whom you bow in worship?’

[Sakka:] <505>

927 “‘The Perfectly Enlightened One here
      In this world with its devas,
      The Teacher of perfect name:
      He is the one whom I worship, Mātali.

928 “‘Those for whom lust and hatred
      And ignorance have been expunged,
      The arahants with taints destroyed:
      These are the ones whom I worship, Mātali.

929 “‘The trainees who delight in dismantling,
      Who diligently pursue the training
      For the removal of lust and hatred,
      For transcending ignorance:
      These are the ones whom I worship, Mātali.’

[Mātali:]

930 “‘Those whom you worship, my lord Sakka,
      Are indeed the best in the world.
      I too will worship them—
      Those whom you worship, Vāsava.’

[The Blessed One:]

931 “Having given this explanation,
      Having worshipped the Blessed One,
      The deva-king Maghavā, Sujā’s husband,
      The chief, climbed into his chariot.” <506>

20 (10) The Worship of the Saṅgha (or Sakka’s Worship (3))
(As above down to:) [236]
    “Then, bhikkhus, Sakka, lord of the devas, descending from the Vejayanta Palace, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation and worshipped the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Then Mātali the charioteer addressed Sakka, lord of the devas, in verse:

932 “‘It is these that should worship you—
      The humans stuck in a putrid body,
      Those submerged inside a corpse,
      Afflicted with hunger and thirst.

933 Why then do you envy them,
      These who dwell homeless, Vāsava?
      Tell us about the seers’ conduct;
      Let us hear what you have to say.’

[Sakka:] <507>

934 “‘This is why I envy them,
      Those who dwell homeless, Mātali:
      Whatever village they depart from,
      They leave it without concern.

935 “‘They do not keep their goods in storage,
      Neither in a pot nor in a box.
      Seeking what has been prepared by others,
      By this they live, firm in vows:
      Those wise ones who give good counsel,
      Maintaining silence, of even faring.

936 “‘While devas fight with asuras
      And people fight with one another,
      Among those who fight, they do not fight;
      Among the violent, they are quenched;
      Among those who grasp, they do not grasp:
      These are the ones whom I worship, Mātali.’

[Mātali:]

937 “‘Those whom you worship, my lord Sakka,
      Are indeed the best in the world.
      I too will worship them—
      Those whom you worship, Vāsava.’ <508>

[The Blessed One:]

938 “Having given this explanation,
      Having worshipped the Bhikkhu Saṅgha,
      The deva-king Maghavā, Sujā’s husband,
      The chief, climbed into his chariot.”
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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