So it was heard by me:
At one time Bhagavat dwelt at S‚vatthÓ, in /G/etavana, in the park of
An‚thapi/nd/ika. Then many wealthy Br‚hma/n/as of Kosala, decrepit,
elderly, old, advanced in age, or arrived at extreme old age, went to
Bhagavat, and having gone to him they talked pleasantly with him, and
after having had some pleasant and remarkable talk with him, they sat
down apart. Sitting down apart these wealthy Br‚hma/n/as said this to
Bhagavat: 'O venerable Gotama, are the Br‚hma/n/as now-a-days seen
(engaged) in the Br‚hmanical customs (dhamma) of the ancient Br‚hma/n/as?'
Bhagavat answered: 'The Br‚hma/n/as now-a-days, O Br‚hma/n/as, are
not seen (engaged) in the Br‚hmanical customs of the ancient Br‚hma/n/as.'
The Br‚hma/n/as said: 'Let the venerable Gotama tell us the
Br‚hmanical customs of the ancient Br‚hma/n/as, if it is not
inconvenient to the venerable Gotama.'
Bhagavat answered: 'Then listen, O Br‚hma/n/as, pay great attention,
I will speak.'
'Yes,' so saying the wealthy Br‚hma/n/as listened to Bhagavat.
Bhagavat said this:
The old sages (isayo) were self-restrained, penitent; having
abandoned the objects of the five senses, they studied their own
There were no cattle for the Br‚hma/n/as, nor gold, nor corn,
(but) the riches and corn of meditation were for them, and theey kept
watch over the best treasure.
What was prepared for them and placed as food at the door, they
thought was to be given to those that seek for what has been prepared by
With garments variously coloured, with beds and abodes, prosperous
people from the provinces and the whole country worshipped those
Inviolable were the Br‚hma/n/as, invincible, protected by the
Dhamma, no one opposed them (while standing) at the doors of the houses
For forty-eight years they practised juvenile chastity, the
Br‚hma/n/as formerly went in search of science and exemplary conduct.
The Br‚hma/n/as did not marry (a woman belonging to) another
(caste), nor did they buy a wife; they chose living together in mutual
love after having come together.
Excepting from the time about the cessation of the menstruation
else the Br‚hma/n/as did not indulge in sexual intercourse.
They praised chastity and virtue, rectitude, mildness, penance,
tenderness, compassion, and patience.
He who was the best of them, a strong Br‚hma/n/a, did not (even)
in sleep indulge in sexual intercourse.
Imitating his practices some wise men in this world praised
chastity and patience.
Having asked for rice, beds, garments, butter. and oil, and
gathered them justly, they made sacrifices
out of them, and when the sacrifice came on, they did not kill cows.
Like unto a mother, a father, a brother, and other relatives the
cows are our best friends, in which medicines are produced.
They give food, and they give strength, they likewise give (a
good) complexion and happiness; knowing the real state of this, they did
not kill cows.
They were graceful, large, handsome, renowned, Br‚hma/n/as by
nature, zealous for their several works; as long as they lived in the
world, this race prospered.
But there was a change in them: after gradually seeing the king's
prosperity and adorned women,
Well-made chariots drawn by noble horses, carpets in variegated
colours, palaces and houses, divided into compartments and measured out,
The great human wealth, attended with a number of cows, and
combined with a flock of beautiful women, the Br‚hma/n/as became
They then, in this matter, having composed hymns, went to Okk‚ka,
and said: 'Thou hast much wealth and corn, sacrifice thy great property,
sacrifice thy great wealth.'
And then the king, the lord of chariots, instructed by the
Br‚hma/n/as, brought about assamedha, purisamedha, samm‚p‚sa, and
v‚/k/‚peyya without any hinderance, and having offered these sacrifices
he gave the Br‚hma/n/as wealth:
Cows, beds, garments, and adorned women, and well-made chariots,
drawn by noble horses, carpets in variegated colours,
Beautiful palaces, well divided into compartments; and having
filled these with different (sorts of) corn, he gave this wealth to the
And they having thus received wealth wished for a store, and the
desire of those who had given way to (their) wishes increased still
more; they then, in this matter, having composed hymns, went again to
Okk‚ka, and said:
'As water, earth, gold, wealth, and corn, even so are there cows
for men, for this is a requisite for living beings; sacrifice thy great
property, sacrifice thy wealth.'
And then the king, the lord of chariots, instructed by the
Br‚hma/n/as, caused many hundred thousand cows to be slain in offerings.
The cows, that are like goats, do not hurt any one with their
feet or with either of their horns, they are tender, and yield vessels
(of milk),--seizing them by the horns the king caused them to be slain
with a weapon.
Then the gods, the forefathers, Inda, the Asuras, and the
Rakkhasas cried out: 'This is injustice,' because of the weapon falling
on the cows.
There were formerly three diseases: desire, hunger, and decay,
but from the slaying of cattle there came ninety-eight.
This injustice of (using) violence that has come down (to us),
was old; innocent (cows) are slain, the sacrificing (priests) have
fallen off from the Dhamma.
So this old and mean Dhamma is blamed by the wise; where people
see such a one, they blame the sacrificing priest.
So Dhamma being lost, the Suddas and the Vessikas disagreed, the
Khattiyas disagreed in manifold ways, the wife despised her husband.
The Khattiyas and the Br‚hma/n/as and those others who had been
protected by their castes, after doing away with their disputes on
descent, fell into the power of sensual pleasures.
This having been said, those wealthy Br‚hma/n/as said to Bhagavat as
'It is excellent, O venerable Gotama! It is excellent, O venerable
Gotama! As one raises what has been overthrown, or reveals what has been
hidden, or tells the way to him who has gone astray, or holds out an oil
lamp in the dark that those who have eyes may see the objects, even so
by the venerable Gotama in manifold ways the Dhamma has been
illustrated; we take refuge in the venerable Gotama, in the Dhamma, and
in the Assembly of Bhikkhus; may the venerable Gotama receive us as
followers (up‚saka), who from this day for life have taken refuge (in him).'
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