Brāhmaṇadhammika Sutta | Sn II-7


7. Brāhmaṇadhammika Sutta

Discourse On The Practice Of Brahmins

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Buddha was in residence in the Jetavana Monastery build by Anāthapiṇḍika, the rich householder in Sāvatthī.

At that time a big group of rich Brahmins from the state of Kosala, all aged, senior, matured, experienced, and in the last stage of their lives,

approached the Buddha, and after exchanging pleasant greetings and courteous remarks with the Buddha, took their (appropriate) seats.

Having thus seated, they addressed the Buddha as follows:

Friend Gotama, do you see Brahmins of today in the traditional practice of the Brahmins of old days?

The Buddha replied, O, Brahmins, I do not see present-day Brahmins in the traditional practice of the Brahmāṇas of yore.

Then the old Brahmins said, Venerable Gotama, if you don't mind, please tell us about the traditional Brahman practices of yore.

Well then, Brahmins, said the Buddha, Listen and ponder well. I will tell you.

Very well, Sir,

So the Buddha made the following discourse:

286. (O, Brahmins) Brahmans of yore had well-controlled minds.

They had the virtuous precepts of guarding the 6 faculties. They renounced the 5 sensual pleasures and strove for their real welfare. (1)

287. They did not have horses nor Cows, nor silver nor gold nor any grain in store. They had their only wealth in reciting the Vedas. Their golden treasures, such as universal good will they guarded well. (2)

288. Their supporters had special rice meals prepared for offering them, when they came for alms food. These supporters had faith in the merit they would gain by such alms giving. (3)

289. People living in towns and elsewhere in the country, well off in good dwellings and clothing, colourful and fine, worshipped those Brāhmaṇa. (4)

290. Those worshiped Brāhmaṇas, being righteous in conduct were generally regarded as sacrosanct and their life immune. Every house had its doors open to them at all times. (5)

291. They remained in strict celibacy till the age of 48.They practised in reading the Vedas for knowledge and they kept the precepts for virtue. (6)

292. They never approached anyone, not even the King. They never bought a wife: they made their union out of mutual admiration only. (7)

293. They never sought sexual intercourse with their wives, except for a certain appropriate period after (the) menstruation, even during the remaining (dry) days before the next menstruation takes place. (8)

294. They held in praise the keeping of the precepts of sexual abstinence, uprightness, gentleness, self-restraint, humanity and patience. (9)

295. Amongst those ancient Brahmans there were certain Brahmans, who were exceeding nobility like the Brahma of the Brahmāloka.

Such one's had steadfastness of purpose and they were abstemious of sex even in their dreams. (10)

296. In this world some discerning people adopted those noble Brāhmaṇic practices of yore and extolled the virtues of the precepts, of sexual abstinence and patience. (11)

297. These followers of the Brāhmaṇic practices put together what they received from alms-begging, such as rice, beddings, clothing, ghee, oil (etc.) and from this pool they made sacrificial offerings. (12)

298. At the sacrificial time they did not kill cows, for they revered the cow as a giver of milk, which has healing qualities.

They regarded the cow as one of their own kith and kin. (13)

299. Those Brahmans did not kill cows because they saw the cow as the sacred animal that gives them rice meal, energy, healthy looks and general prosperity. (14)

300. Those Brahmans were gentle, stoutly built, fine-looking and had vast following.

They valued morality as their most precious treasure and had great sense of propriety in all matters.

So long as the Brahmins would follow the above practices all beings in the world would find peace and prosperity. (15)

301. (However) there arose among those Brahmans some who, for a trifling interest in sensuality, coveted a trifling sensual pleasure, and a change of mind occurred.

On seeing kingly splendour, or an embellished woman; (16)

302. Or exquisitely appointed carriages drawn by thoroughbreds, or specially allotted dwellings and furniture, etc. - their minds began to become corrupt. (17)

303. They began to covet worldly wealth, including cattle, fine women, and opulence. (18)

304. Then with the ulterior motive of gaining worldly status and favours, they approached King Okkaka and chanted new-fangled Vedic, hymns that told of what was suspicious for the King.

Your Majesty, they said, make sacrificial offerings for greater prosperity and wealth. Sacrifices will surely bring riches. (19)

305. Thereupon the great King Okkaka, Lord of the chariot ridding Monarchs, made sacrifices of horses, of human males, by killing them.

He also made ritual, sacrifices such as auspicious site-selection of sacrificial ground by throwing the yoke-pin (and marking where it fell); ghee-drinking ritual; door-opening etc.

And the Brahmins, (who arranged for these sacrificial rituals) received sumptuous fees. (20)

306. Cow, accommodation, cloth, well-decorated ladies and chariots of thoroughbred horses, well-creative and attractive; (21)

307. Very fine houses filled with all sorts of supplies; also specially allotted to the Brahmins. (22)

308. The sumptuous wealth thus received from rituals led the Brahmins, to hoarding. The more they hoarded, the more they became greedy.

Thus they became slaves to evil desires.

They therefore, composed further Vedic hymns for the Royal palace of King Okkaka. (23)

309. Your Majesty - they said, in as much as the water, the earth, gold, and silver, various wealth and riches, such as cereals, are things of general use, so also are cows.

Make sacrifice (of cows) and Your Majesty will be rewarded with great wealth, great riches. (24)

310. Thereupon, King Okkaka, lord of tile chariot-riding monarchs, as advised by the Brahmins, put thousands of cows to sacrifice. (25)

311. And King Okkaka personally slaughtered the cows with a knife, holding them by the horn.

Thus perished a great number of cows, as meek as lambs, who never had been kicking with their legs, or striking with their horns, nor in any way doing harm; but only gentle creatures that submitted themselves to milking onto the milking-pot. (26)

312. Thereupon, the Devas, the Brahmas, Sakka, Asuras, the Rākṣasas, said very unfair it is that the cows should be (treated thus), put to the sword, and they left the kingdom (in disgust). (27)

313. Previously there were only 3 kinds of ailments known to man, namely, desire, feeling hungry and ageing.

Now, as a consequence, of slaughtering cows, 98 kinds of ailments arose. (28)

314. The misdeed committed during Okkaka’s reign belonged to one of the 3 forms of evil conduct (i.e. by thought, word or deed).

The sacrifice of cows was a sacrilege, and by committing that blunder the people degenerated.

315. This evil deed of cow-sacrifice is worthy of blame by the wise. And wherever such sacrifice is seen people frown upon it. (30)

316. When the Brahmin forsook righteousness, the commoner castes and the rich merchant castes were also led astray.

Many of the ruler castes also went corrupt. Wives treated their husbands with contempt. (31)

317. The ruling castes, the Brahmins, and other lineage-preserving castes threw the caste system (caste concept) overboard and simply followed their own sensual fancies.

(Thus said the Buddha.) (32)

On hearing the Buddha's discourse the rich old Brahmins were delighted and said

Excellent Venerable Gotama, excellent! Your teachings are splendid indeed!

From this day on, till we die, please take us as your disciples.

End of the Seventh Brāhmaṇadhammika Sutta