So it was heard by me:
At one time Bhagavat dwelt at I/kkh/āna/m/kala, in the
I/kkh/āna/m/kala forest. At that time many distinguished,
wealthy Brāma/n/as lived at I/kkh/āna/m/kala, as the Brāma/n/a
/K/a/m/kin, the Brāma/n/a Tārukkha, the Brāma/n/a Pokkharasāti, the
Brāhmana /G/ānusso/n/i, the Brāma/n/a Todeyya, and other distinguished,
Then this dialogue arose between the young men Vāsettha and
Bhāradvā/g/a while walking about:
'How does one become a Brāma/n/a?'
The young man Bhāradvā/g/a said: 'When one is noble by birth on both
sides, on the mother's and on the father's side, of pure conception up
to the seventh generation of ancestors, not discarded and not reproached
in point of birth, in this way one is a Brāma/n/a.'
The young man Vāse/tth/a said: 'When one is virtuous and endowed with
(holy) works, in this way he is a Brāma/n/a.'
Neither could the young man Bhāradvā/g/a convince the young man
Vāse/tth/a, nor could the young man Vāse/tth/a convince the young man
Bhāradvā/g/a. Then the young man Vāse/tth/a addressed the young man
Bhāradvā/g/a: 'O Bhāradvā/g/a, this Sama/n/a Gotama, the Sakya son, gone
out from the Sakya family, dwells at I/kkh/āna/m/kala, in the forest of
I/kkh/āna/m/kala, and the following good praising words met the
venerable Gotama: "And so he is Bhagavat, the venerable, the
enlightened, the glorious, let us go, O venerable Bhāradvā/g/a, let us
go (to the place) where the Sama/n/a Gotama is, and having gone there
let us ask the Sama/n/a Gotama about this matter, and as the Sama/n/a
Gotama replies so will we understand it."'
'Very well, O venerable one;' so the young man Bhāradvā/g/a answered
the young man Vāse/tth/a.
Then the young men Vāse/tth/a and Bhāradvā/g/a went (to the place)
where Bhagavat was, and having gone, they talked pleasantly with
Bhagavat, and after having had some pleasant and remarkable conversation
(with him) they sat down apart. Sitting down apart the young man
Vāse/tth/a addressed Bhagavat in stanzas:
'We are accepted and acknowledged masters of the three Vedas,
I am (a pupil) of Pokkharasāti, and this young man is (the pupil) of
'We are accomplished in all the knowledge propounded by those who
are acquainted with the three Vedas, we are padakas (versed in the
metre), veyyākara/n/as (grammarians?), and equal to our teachers in
'We have a controversy regarding (the distinctions of) birth, O
Gotama! Bhāradvā/g/a says, one is a Brāma/n/a by birth, and I say, by
deeds; know this, O thou clearly-seeing!
'We are both unable to convince each other, (therefore) we have
come to ask thee (who art) celebrated as perfectly enlightened.
'As people adoring the full moon worship (her) with uplifted
clasped hands, so (they worship) Gotama in the world.
'We ask Gotama who has come as an eye to the world: Is a man a
Brāhma/n/a by birth, or is he so
by deeds? Tell us who do not know, that we may know a Brāma/n/a.'
'I will explain to you, O Vāse/tth/a,'--so said Bhagavat,--'in due
order the exact distinction of living beings according to species, for
their species are manifold.
'Know ye the grass and the trees, although they do not exhibit
(it), the marks that constitute species are for them, and (their)
species are manifold.
'Then (know ye) the worms, and the moths, and the different sorts
of ants, the marks that constitute species are for them, and (their)
species are manifold.
'Know ye also the four-footed (animals), small and great, the
marks that constitute species are for them, and (their) species are
'Know ye also the serpents, the long-backed snakes, the marks
that constitute species are for them, and (their) species are manifold.
'Then know ye also the fish which range in the water, the marks
that constitute species are for them, and (their) species are manifold.
'Then know ye also the birds that are borne along on wings and
move through the air, the marks that constitute species are for them,
and (their) species are manifold.
'As in these species the marks that constitute species are
abundant, so in men the marks that constitute species are not abundant.
'Not as regards their hair, head, ears, eyes, mouth, nose, lips,
'Nor as regards their neck, shoulders, belly, back, hip, breast,
female organ, sexual intercourse,
'Nor as regards their hands, feet, palms, nails, calves, thighs,
colour, or voice are there marks that constitute species as in other
'Difference there is in beings endowed with bodies, but amongst
men this is not the case, the difference amongst men is nominal
'For whoever amongst men lives by cowkeeping,--know this, O
Vāse/tth/a,--he is a husbandman, not a Brāma/n/a.'
'And whoever amongst men lives by different mechanical
arts,--know this, O Vāse/tth/a,--he is an artisan, not a Brāma/n/a.
'And whoever amongst men lives by trade,--know this, O
Vāse/tth/a,--he is a merchant, not a Brāma/n/a.
And whoever amongst men lives by serving others,--know this, O
Vāse/tth/a,--he is a servant, not a Brāhma/n/a.
'And whoever amongst men lives by theft,--know this, O
Vāse/tth/a,--he is a thief, not a Brāhma/n/a.
'And whoever amongst men lives by archery,--know this, O
Vāse/tth/a,--he is a soldier, not a Brāma/n/a.
'And whoever amongst men lives by performing household
ceremonials,--know this, O Vāse/tth/a,--he is a sacrificer, not a
'And whoever amongst men possesses villages and countries,--know
this, O Vāse/tth/a,--he is a king, not a Brāma/n/a.
'And I do not call one a Brāma/n/a on account of his birth or of
his origin from (a particular) mother; he may be called bhovādi, and he
may be wealthy, (but) the one who is possessed of nothing and seizes
upon nothing, him I call a Brāhma/n/a.
'Whosoever, after cutting all bonds, does not tremble, has shaken
off (all) ties and is liberated, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who, after cutting the strap (i.e. enmity), the thong
(i.e. attachment), and the rope (i.e. scepticism) with all that pertains
to it, has destroyed (all) obstacles (i.e. ignorance), the enlightened
(buddha), him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever, being innocent, endures reproach, blows, and bonds,
the man who is strong in (his) endurance and has for his army this
strength, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who is free from anger, endowed with (holy) works,
virtuous, without desire, subdued, and wearing the last body, him I call
'The man who, like water on a lotus leaf, or a mustard seed on
the point of a needle, does not cling to sensual pleasures, him I call a
'The man who knows in this world the destruction of his pain, who
has laid aside (his) burden, and is liberated, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who has a profound understanding, who is wise, who knows
the true way and the wrong way, who has attained the highest good, him I
call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who does not mix with householders nor with the
houseless, who wanders about without a house, and who has few wants, him
I call a Brāhma/n/a.
'Whosoever, after refraining from hurting (living) creatures,
(both) those that tremble and those that are strong, does not kill or
cause to be killed, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who is not hostile amongst the hostile, who is peaceful
amongst the violent, not seizing (upon anything) amongst those that
seize (upon everything), him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man whose passion and hatred, arrogance and hypocrisy have
dropt like a mustard seed from the point of a needle, him I call a
'The man that utters true speech, instructive and free from
harshness, by which he does not offend any one, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever in the world does not take what has not been given (to
him), be it long or short, small or large, good or bad, him I call a
'The man who has no desire for this world or the next, who is
desireless and liberated, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who has no desire, who knowingly is free from doubt; and
has attained the depth of immortality, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever in this world has overcome good and evil, both ties,
who is free from grief and defilement, and is pure, him I call a
'The man that is stainless like the moon, pure, serene, and
undisturbed, who has destroyed joy, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever has passed over this quagmire difficult to pass, (who
has passed over) revolution (sa/m/sāra) and folly, who has crossed over,
who has reached the other shore, who is meditative, free from desire and
doubt, calm without seizing (upon anything), him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever in this world, after abandoning sensual pleasures,
wanders about houseless, and has destroyed the existence of sensual
pleasures (kāmabhava), him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever in this world, after abandoning desire, wanders about
houseless, and has destroyed the existence of desire (ta/n/hābhava), him
I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever, after leaving human attachment (yoga), has overcome
divine attachment, and is liberated from all attachment, him I call a
'The man that, after leaving pleasure and disgust, is calm and
free from the elements of existence (nirupadhi), who is a hero, and has
conquered all the world, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'Whosoever knows wholly the vanishing and reappearance of beings,
does not cling to (anything); is happy (sugata), and enlightened, him I
call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man whose way neither gods nor Gandhabbas nbr men know, and
whose passions are destroyed, who is a saint, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man for whom there is nothing, neither before nor after nor
in the middle, who possesses nothing, and does not seize (upon
anything), him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The (man that is undaunted like a) bull, who
is eminent, a hero, a great sage (mahesi), victorious, free from desire,
purified, enlightened, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'The man who knows his former dwellings, who sees both heaven and
hell, and has reached the destruction of births, him I call a Brāma/n/a.
'For what has been designated as "name" and "family" in the world
is only a term, what has been designated here and there is understood by
'Adhered to for a long time are the views of the ignorant, the
ignorant tell us, one is a Brāma/n/a by birth.
'Not by birth is one a Brāma/n/a, nor is one by birth no
Brāma/n/a; by work (kammanā) one is a Brāma/n/a, by work one is no
'By work one is a husbandman, by work one is an artisan, by work
one is a merchant, by work one is a servant.
'By work one is a thief, by work one is a soldier, by work one is
a sacrificer, by work one is a king.
'So the wise, who see the cause of things and understand the
result of work, know this work as it really is.
'By work the world exists, by work mankind
exists, beings are bound by work as the linch-pin of the rolling cart
(keeps the wheel on).
'By penance, by a religious life, by self-restraint, and by
temperance, by this one is a Brāma/n/a, such a one (they call) the best
'He who is endowed with the threefold knowledge, is calm,
and has destroyed regeneration,--know this, O Vāse/tth/a,--he is to the
wise Brahman and Sakka.'
This having been said, the young men Vāse/tth/a and Bhāradvā/g/a
spoke to Bhagavat as follows:
'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 (upāsaka), who from this day for life have taken refuge (in him).'
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