Majjhima Nikāya - Book II Part 5


V. Brāhmaṇa Vagga

1. Brahmāyu Sutta

The Brāhmin Brahmāyu was one hundred and twenty years old when he heard of the fame of the Buddha.

He sent his disciple Uttara who was well versed in Vedas to find out by examining the thirty-two physical characteristics of a great man whether Gotama was indeed an Enlightened Buddha.

On Uttara's good report testifying to the Buddha having the requisite characteristics of a Buddha, Brahmāyu went himself to see the Buddha.

Fully satisfied, after hearing the graduated discourse, that Gotama was indeed an enlightened Buddha, he became a devoted disciple and, achieving the third stage of the Path and Fruition, an Anāgāmī before he passed away.

2. Sela Sutta

Sela was a brāhmin of Apaṇa market-town, who on hearing about the fame of the Buddha from Keṇiya the hermit went to see the Buddha accompanied by three hundred young brāhmins.

After hearing a discourse from the Buddha he became fully convinced that he had indeed seen a truly enlightened Buddha. All of them requested for and received permission from the Buddha to join the Order.

3. Assalāyana Sutta

Some five hundred brāhmins who had come to Sāvatthi on business attempted to challenge the Buddha on his views with regard to the purity and nobility of the four classes of people.

They sent Assalāyana, a highly talented young man well-versed in the Vedas, to contest with the Buddha. The young man's meeting with the Buddha ended up in his conversion.

4. Ghoṭamukha Sutta

A discussion took place between the Venerable Udena and a brāhmin by the name of Ghoṭamukha on the subject of the practice of the holy life. The Venerable Udena described four kinds of persons engaged in ascetic practices.

After the discourse the Brāhmin became a disciple of the Venerable Udena and took his refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.

5. Caṅkī Sutta

Caṅkī, a brāhmin of Opāsāda Village, came to see the Buddha with a large crowd amongst whom was a young brāhmin by the name of Kāpāṭika.

The young man entered into a discussion with the Buddha about the Three Vedas which had been handed down from generation to generation in unbroken tradition.

The tradition which the brāhmins believed to be the only Truth was likened by the Buddha to a line of blind men each one clinging on to the preceding one.

6. Esukārī Sutta

This discourse was given at Sāvatthi in connection with a brāhmin named Esukārī.

In this sutta too the Buddha rejected the brāhmin classification of society into four classes claiming the highest position for the brāhmins.

It was not only the brāhmins who could develop loving­-kindness, free from enmity and ill will. Members of other classes also could develop loving-kindness. It was not birth but the practice of wholesome dhamma that made a person noble.

7. Dhanañjāni Sutta

Dhanañjāni was an old devoted lay disciple of the Buddha.

After the death of his first wife who had great faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, he was no longer diligent in and mindful of the practice of dhamma.

His second wife was without faith in the Teaching of the Buddha. To maintain his family he resorted to wrongful means of livelihood.

The Venerable Sāriputta put him back on the right path. On his deathbed, he sent for the Venerable Sāriputta who solaced him with the dhamma. This caused him on his death to be reborn in the Brahma world.

The Buddha asked the Venerable Sāriputta why he had put the old brāhmin only on the way to the inferior Brahma world when a higher attainment was possible for him.

8. Vāseṭṭha Sutta

A discussion had arisen between two brāhmin youths Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja on the origin of a brāhmaṇa:

Bhāradvāja maintained it was birth, lineage and caste that made a person a brāhmaṇa. Vāseṭṭha believed moral conduct and performance of customary duties were essential qualifications to be a brāhmaṇa.

They went to the Buddha for settlement of their dispute.

The Buddha told them that a person was not a brāhmaṇa just because of his birth if he was full of worldly attachments, or was harnessed to greed, ill will, craving, and ignorance.

A person became a brāhmaṇa whatever his birth, when he had cut off his fetters of defile­ments, removed the obstacles of ignorance and attained the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. The most perfect brāhmaṇa was an Arahat.

9. Subha Sutta

This discourse was given on account of Subha, son of the brāhmin Todeyya, at Sāvatthi.

Like other brāhmins, Subha believed that only householders could accomplish meritorious deeds in a right manner, not those who had gone forth from the household life.

The occupation of householders produced great benefits whereas the occupation of the recluse brought little benefits.

The Buddha removed his wrong views and Subha became a devoted disciple of the Buddha.

10. Saṅgārava Sutta

Saṅgārava was a young brāhmin who was full of pride with learning in the Vedas, entertaining wrong views of his birth.

He went to ask the Buddha whether the Buddha claimed, like some samaṇas and brāhmaṇas, to have attained in this very life, special knowledge and vision, and reached the other shore.

The Buddha explained that there were three kinds of samaṇas and brāhmaṇas who made such claims:

those who made the claim through hearsay, having learnt things by hearsay only; those who made the claim by mere reasoning and logic;

and finally those who made the claim by personally realizing the penetrative insight of the Dhamma unheard of before.

The Buddha told Saṅgārava that he was of this third type and recounted how he had become accomplished in the dhamma by practice and self-realization.