Udāna 5: Soṇavaggo
The Chapter (including the Discourse) about Soṇa

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6: The Discourse about Soṇa

 

Thus I heard:
at one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Sāvatthī, in Jeta's Wood, at Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

Then at that time venerable Mahākaccāyana was dwelling amongst the Avanti people, near Kuraraghara, on Pavatta mountain. Then at that time the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa was venerable Mahākaccāyana's supporter.

Then when the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa had gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in his mind: “According to the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life, absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.”

Then the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa went to venerable Mahākaccāyana, and after going and worshipping venerable Mahākaccāyana, he sat down on one side. While sat on one side the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa said this to venerable Mahākaccāyana: “Here, reverend Sir, having gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in my mind: ‘According to the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.’ Reverend Sir, may Master Mahākaccāyana give me the going forth.”

When that was said, venerable Mahākaccāyana said this to the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa: “A solitary meal, a solitary bed, and celibacy, Soṇa, for as long as life lasts, is difficult, come on, Soṇa, right now while still living as a householder, you should devote yourself to the Buddhas' teaching, and at suitable times (i.e. on Observance days) (have only) a solitary meal, a solitary bed, and celibacy.”

Then whatever determination the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa had to go forth abated.

For a second time when the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa had gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in his mind: “According to the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life, absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.”

For a second time the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa went to venerable Mahākaccāyana, and after going and worshipping venerable Mahākaccāyana, he sat down on one side. While sat on one side the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa said this to venerable Mahākaccāyana: “Here, reverend Sir, having gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in my mind: ‘According to the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.’ Reverend Sir, may Master Mahākaccāyana give me the going forth.”

For a second time venerable Mahākaccāyana said this to the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa: “A solitary meal, a solitary bed, and celibacy, Soṇa, for as long as life lasts, is difficult, come on, Soṇa, right now while still living as a householder, you should devote yourself to the Buddhas' teaching, and at suitable times (have only) a solitary meal, a solitary bed, and celibacy.”

For a second time whatever determination the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa had to go forth abated.

For a third time when the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa had gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in his mind: “In the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life, absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.”

For a third time the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa went to venerable Mahākaccāyana, and after going and worshipping venerable Mahākaccāyana, he sat down on one side. While sat on one side the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa said this to venerable Mahākaccāyana: “Here, reverend Sir, having gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in my mind: ‘According to the way Master Mahākaccāyana teaches the Dhamma, it is not easy, while dwelling in the home, to live the spiritual life absolutely fulfilled, absolutely pure, like a polished shell. Well now, after shaving off head-hair and beard, and donning ochre clothes, I could go forth from the home to homelessness.’ Reverend Sir, may Master Mahākaccāyana give me the going forth.”

Then venerable Mahākaccāyana gave the lay follower Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa the going forth.

Then at that time there were few monks in the Southern State of Avanti. Then with the passing of three years venerable Mahākaccāyana, having assembled, with difficulty and with trouble, from here and there, a group of ten monks from the Community of monks, gave venerable Soṇa full ordination.

Then when venerable Soṇa, after residing for the Rains Retreat, had gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in his mind: “I have not seen the Gracious One face to face, but I have heard that the Gracious One is such and such a one. If my preceptor would allow it I could go to see the Gracious One, the Worthy One, the Perfect Sambuddha.”

Then the venerable Soṇa, having risen from seclusion in the evening time, went to venerable Mahākaccāyana, and after going and worshipping venerable Mahākaccāyana, he sat down on one side. While sat on one side venerable Soṇa said this to venerable Mahākaccāyana: “Here, reverend Sir, having gone into hiding, into seclusion, this reflection arose in my mind: ‘I have not seen the Gracious One face to face, but I have heard that the Gracious One is such and such a one.’ If my preceptor would allow it me I could go to see the Gracious One, the Worthy One, the Perfect Sambuddha.”

“Good, good, Soṇa, you must go, Soṇa, to see the Gracious One, the Worthy One, the Perfect Sambuddha. You will see, Soṇa, that Gracious One who is confident, inspiring confidence, with (sense) faculties at peace, mind at peace, having attained supreme self-control and calm, controlled, guarded, with restrained faculties, a (true) nāga.

Having seen (him), in my name you should worship the Gracious One's feet with your head, ask (if he is) free from affliction, free from sickness, in good health, strong, and living comfortably, (saying): ‘My Preceptor, venerable Mahākaccāyana, reverend Sir, worships the Gracious One's feet with his head, and asks (if you are) free from affliction, free from sickness, in good health, strong, and living comfortably?’ ”

“Yes, reverend Sir”, said venerable Soṇa, and after greatly rejoicing and gladly receiving this word of venerable Mahākaccāyana, having worshipped and circumambulated venerable Mahākaccāyana, after putting his dwelling place in order, and picking up his robe and bowl, he went on walking tour towards Sāvatthī.

Walking gradually on walking tour he went to Sāvatthī, Jeta's Wood, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery, and the Gracious One, and after going and worshipping the Gracious One, he sat down on one side. While sat on one side venerable Soṇa said this to the Gracious One: “My Preceptor, venerable Mahākaccāyana, reverend Sir, worships the Gracious One's feet with his head, and asks (if you are) free from affliction, free from sickness, in good health, strong, and living comfortably?”

“Can you bear up, monk? Can you carry on? Did you come along the road without fatigue, and without going short of alms?”

“I can bear up, Gracious One, I can carry on, Gracious One, and I did come along the road without fatigue, and without going short of alms.”

Then the Gracious One addressed Venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Please prepare a dwelling place, Ānanda, for this visiting monk.”

Then it occurred to venerable Ānanda: “When the Gracious One orders me, (saying): ‘Please prepare a dwelling place, Ānanda, for this visiting monk,’ the Gracious One wants to dwell together with that monk in one living quarters. The Gracious One wants to dwell together with venerable Soṇa in one living quarters.” And in the living quarters where the Gracious One was living, there he prepared a dwelling place for venerable Soṇa.

Then the Gracious One having spent most of the night sitting in the open air, after washing his feet, entered the living quarters. Also venerable Soṇa having spent most of the night sitting in the open air, after washing his feet, entered the living quarters.

Then towards the time of dawn, after rising, the Gracious One requested venerable Soṇa, (saying): “May you be inspired to speak about the Dhamma, monk.” “Yes, reverend Sir,” said venerable Soṇa, and after replying to the Gracious One, he melodiously recited all sixteen (discourses) of the Chapter of the Eights. Now found as the 4th Chapter of the Suttanipāta collection01 Then at the end of venerable Soṇa's melodious recitation the Gracious One greatly rejoiced, (saying): “Good, good, monk, well learned, monk, well remembered, well born in mind, are the sixteen (discourses) of the Chapter of the Eights, you are endowed with a good voice, with good enunciation, pure articulation, which makes the meaning clear. How many Rains do you have, monk?” Monks count their seniority by the amount of Rains Retreats they have spent since their higher ordination.02

“I have one Rains, Gracious One.”

“But why, monk, did it take you so long (to ordain)?”

“For a long time, reverend Sir, I have seen the danger in sensual desires, but dwelling in the home there was obstruction, with many duties and many things to do.”

Then the Gracious One, having understood the significance of it, on that occasion uttered this exalted utterance:

“Having seen the danger in the world, having come to know the state free from cleaving,
The Noble One does not delight in bad deeds, the pure one does not delight in bad deeds.” Udānavarga avoids the awkward repetition, by reading in the last line: pāpo na ramate śubhe (the bad one does not delight in what is good).03