The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The First Chapter for Recitation]

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[12: Building up Pāṭaligāma]

Now at that time the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra Other versions of this discourse do not mention Sunīdha. According to the Commentary they were both brahmins, not nobles, which shows that the class system was not strictly applied at this time.01 were building up a city at Pāṭaligāma to ward off the Vajjians. Remember the dispute between the Magadhans and the Vajjīs mentioned above was over control of the trade along the River Ganges. Pāṭaligāma stood just across the waters from the Vajjī territories, and was strategically placed on the bank of that great River. Later the capital of Magadha was to move from Rājagaha (which was somewhat inland) to Pāṭaligāma (a.k.a. Pāṭaliputta).02 Then at that time a great many Divinities, thousands upon thousands, were taking possession of grounds at Pāṭaligāma.

In that place where the great Divinities took possession of grounds, there the powerful rulers and great royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

In that place where the middling Divinities took possession of grounds, there the middling rulers and middling royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

In that place where the lower Divinities took possession of grounds, there the lower rulers and lower royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

The Gracious One saw with his Divine-eye, which is purified, and surpasses that of (normal) men, that those Divinities, thousands upon thousands, were taking possession of grounds at Pāṭaligāma.

Then towards the time of dawn, having risen from his seat, the Gracious One addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Now who, Ānanda, is building a city at Pāṭaligāma?”

“The Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra, reverend Sir, are building up a city at Pāṭaligāma to ward off the Vajjians.”

“It is just as though, Ānanda, (they are building) after consulting with the Tāvatiṁsa Divinities, so, Ānanda, are the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra building up a city at Pāṭaligāma to ward off the Vajjians.

Here, Ānanda, I saw with my Divine-eye, which is purified, and surpasses that of (normal) men, that a great many Divinities, thousands upon thousands, were taking possession of grounds at Pāṭaligāma.

In that place where the great Divinities took possession of grounds, there the powerful rulers and great royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

In that place where the middling Divinities took possession of grounds, there the middling rulers and middling royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

In that place where the lower Divinities took possession of grounds, there the lower rulers and lower royal ministers' minds inclined to building up residences.

For as long, Ānanda, as there is an Ariyan sphere (of influence), for as long as there is trade, this basket-opening Pāṭaliputta will be the chief city. For Pāṭaliputta, Ānanda, there will be three dangers: from fire and from water and from the breaking of an alliance.” The Commentary explains that here has the sense of and rather than the usual or meaning (ca-kārattho vā-saddo).03

Then the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra approached the Gracious One, and after approaching, they exchanged greetings with the Gracious One, and after exchanging courteous talk and greetings, they stood on one side.

While standing on one side the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra said this to the Gracious One: “May dear Gotama consent to us (offering him) a meal today, together with the Community of monks.” The Gracious One consented by maintaining silence.

Then the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra having understood the Gracious One's consent, approached their own dwelling, and after approaching, in their own dwellings, having had excellent foodstuffs made ready, Using the plural foodstuffs to translate the two words in Pāḷi khādanīyaṁ and bhojanīyaṁ. We might say in English had excellent food and drink made ready, but that doesn't translate the Pāḷi accurately, and there is hardly a synonym for food in English that doesn't sound quaint these days. Ajahn Ṭhānissaro argues that the words mean staple and non-staple food, but it sounds awkward when used in these contexts.04 had the time announced to the Gracious One, (saying): “It is time, dear Gotama, the meal is ready.”

Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up his bowl and robe, together with the Community of monks, approached the dwelling of the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra, and after approaching, he sat down on the prepared seat.

Then the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra with their own hands served and satisfied the Community of monks with the Buddha at its head with excellent foodstuffs. Then the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra, when the Gracious One had eaten and washed his hand and bowl, having taken a low seat, sat down on one side.

While sitting on one side the Gracious One rejoiced the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra with these verses:

“In that place where he makes his dwelling, having entertained
The wise and virtuous here, the restrained, who live the spiritual life,
He should dedicate a gift (of merit) to those Divinities who were in that place.
Honoured, they pay honour, revered, they revere him.
Thereafter they have compassion on him, as a mother on her own son,
A man whom the Divinities has compassion on always sees what is auspicious.”

Then the Gracious One after rejoicing the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra with these verses, after rising from his seat, went away.

Now at that time the Magadhan chief ministers Sunīdha and Vassakāra were following close behind the Gracious One, (thinking): “That gate by which the ascetic Gotama leaves will get the name the Gotama Gate, and that ford by which he crosses the river Ganges will get the name the Gotama Ford.”

Then that gate by which the Gracious One left got the name the Gotama Gate. Then the Gracious One approached the river Ganges. Now at that time the river Ganges was full to the brim, and could be drunk from by crows (perched on the bank). Some of the people were seeking boats, some were seeking floats, and some were binding rafts, desiring to go from this shore to the shore beyond.

Then the Gracious One, just as a strong man might stretch out a bent arm, or bend in an outstretched arm, so did he vanish from the near bank of the river Ganges, and reappeared on the far bank, This would have been in Vajjian territory probably near to Ukkācelā which was just across the waters from Pāṭaligāma.05 together with the Community of monks.

The Gracious One saw those people, some seeking boats, some seeking floats, and some binding rafts, desiring to go from this shore to the shore beyond.

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

“Those who cross over a sea or a river, Comm: Saran-ti idha nadī adhippetā; sara here is a designation for a river. It normally means lake.06
(Do so) after making a bridge, and leaving the marshes behind.
(While) people are still binding together a raft,
Intelligent people have crossed over.”

The First Chapter for Recital (is Finished)