MN 85. Bodhirājakumārasuttaṁ
The Discourse to Prince Bodhi

[3. The Meeting with Āḷāra Kālāma]



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So kho ahaṁ, Rājakumāra, aparena samayena
Then at another time, Prince,

daharo va samāno, susukāḷakeso,
while still a youth, having beautiful black hair,

bhadrena yobbanena samannāgato, paṭhamena vayasā,
endowed with auspicious youthfulness, in the prime of life,

akāmakānaṁ Mātāpitūnaṁ, BJT, PTS: Mātāpitunnaṁ, alternative form. 01 assumukhānaṁ rudantānaṁ, RTE: rodantānaṁ, alternative spelling.02
though my Mother and Father didn’t like it, and were crying with tearful faces,

kesamassuṁ ohāretvā, kāsāyāni vatthāni acchādetvā,
after shaving off my hair and beard, and donning brown garments,

agārasmā anagāriyaṁ pabbajiṁ.
I went forth from the home to the homeless life.

So evaṁ pabbajito samāno,
When I had gone forth thus,

kiṁkusalagavesī, anuttaraṁ santivarapadaṁ pariyesamāno,
searching for what was wholesome, the unsurpassed, noble and peaceful state,

yena Āḷāro Kālāmo tenupasaṅkamiṁ,
I approached Āḷāra Kālāma,

upasaṅkamitvā, Āḷāraṁ Kālāmaṁ etad-avocaṁ:
and after approaching, I said this to Āḷāra Kālāma:

“Icchāmahaṁ, āvuso Kālāma,
“I desire, friend Kālāma,

imasmiṁ Dhammavinaye brahmacariyaṁ caritun.”-ti
to lead the spiritual life in this Dhamma and Discipline.” It is worth noting the Dhammavinaya may have been a general term for any ascetic’s teachings regarding theory and conduct, before being adopted by the Buddha himself for his own teaching on these subjects. 03

 

Evaṁ vutte, Rājakumāra, Āḷāro Kālāmo maṁ etad-avoca:
When this was said, Prince, Āḷāra Kālāma said this to me:

“Viharatāyasmā, tādiso ayaṁ Dhammo yattha viññū puriso
“Live here, venerable, this Dhamma is such that a wise man

na cirasseva sakaṁ ācariyakaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
in no long time, having deep knowledge himself of what comes from his own teacher,

sacchikatvā upasampajja vihareyyā.” ti
can live, having directly experienced and attained it.”

So kho ahaṁ, Rājakumāra, na cirasseva
Then, Prince, in no long time

khippam-eva taṁ Dhammaṁ pariyāpuṇiṁ.
I had soon mastered that Dhamma.

So kho ahaṁ, Rājakumāra, tāvatakeneva, RTE: tāvattakeneva, here and below.04
Then, Prince, after a little time,

oṭṭhapahatamattena, BJT: oṭṭhappahatamattena; showing gemination.05 lapitalāpanamattena,
merely through beating my lips, merely through repeating the prattling,

ñāṇavādañ-ca vadāmi theravādañ-ca,
I spoke knowingly about that teaching and confidently about that teaching,

‘Jānāmi passāmī’ ti ca paṭijānāmi.
claiming: ‘I know, I see.’

Ahañ-ceva aññe ca.
Both I and others also.

 

Tassa mayhaṁ, Rājakumāra, etad-ahosi:
Then this occurred to me, monks:

‘Na kho Āḷāro Kālāmo: “Imaṁ Dhammaṁ kevalaṁ saddhāmattakena,
o ‘Āḷāra Kālāma did not declare: “Through mere faith in this Dhamma alone,

sayaṁ abhiññā, sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmī,” ti pavedeti,
I have deep knowledge of it myself, I live, having directly experienced and attained it,”

addhā Āḷāro Kālāmo imaṁ Dhammaṁ jānaṁ passaṁ viharatī.’ ti
for sure Āḷāra Kālāma lives knowing and seeing this Dhamma.’

Atha khvāhaṁ, Rājakumāra, yena Āḷāro Kālāmo tenupasaṅkamiṁ,
Then, Prince, I approached Āḷāra Kālāma,

upasaṅkamitvā, Āḷāraṁ Kālāmaṁ etad-avocaṁ:
and after approaching, I said this to Āḷāra Kālāma:

“Kittāvatā no, āvuso Kālāma:
“In what way, friend Kālāma,

imaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
o do you declare: I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja BJT, ChS reads: viharāmī ti pavedesī ti here. 06 pavedesī?” ti
having directly experienced and attained it?”

Evaṁ vutte, Rājakumāra, Āḷāro Kālāmo Ākiñcaññāyatanaṁ pavedesi.
When this was said, Prince, Āḷāra Kālāma declared the Sphere of Nothingness. The penultimate level in the thirty-one Realms of Existence.07

Tassa mayhaṁ, Rājakumāra, etad-ahosi:
Then, Prince, this occurred to me:

‘Na kho Āḷārasseva Kālāmassa atthi saddhā, mayhaṁ patthi saddhā,
‘There is not faith for Āḷāra Kālāma (alone), for me also there is faith,

na kho Āḷārasseva Kālāmassa atthi viriyaṁ, ChS: vīriyaṁ, and similar forms throughout.08 mayhaṁ patthi viriyaṁ,
there is not energy for Āḷāra Kālāma (alone), for me also there is energy,

na kho Āḷārasseva Kālāmassa atthi sati, mayhaṁ patthi sati,
there is not mindfulness for Āḷāra Kālāma (alone), for me also there is mindfulness,

na kho Āḷārasseva Kālāmassa atthi samādhi, mayhaṁ patthi samādhi,
there is not concentration for Āḷāra Kālāma (alone), for me also there is concentration,

na kho Āḷārasseva Kālāmassa atthi paññā, mayhaṁ patthi paññā.
there is not wisdom for Āḷāra Kālāma (alone), for me also there is wisdom.

Yaṁ nūnāhaṁ yaṁ Dhammaṁ Āḷāro Kālāmo:
What if, in regard to the Dhamma that Āḷāra Kālāma

“Sayaṁ abhiññā, sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmī” ti pavedeti,
declares: “I have deep knowledge of it myself, I live, having directly experienced and attained it,”

tassa Dhammassa sacchikiriyāya padaheyyan.’-ti
I were to strive to realise that Dhamma?’

So kho ahaṁ, Rājakumāra, na cirasseva,
Then, Prince, in no long time,

khippam-eva taṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
soon having deep knowledge of that Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja vihāsiṁ.
I lived, having directly experienced and attained it.

Atha khvāhaṁ, Rājakumāra, yena Āḷāro Kālāmo tenupasaṅkamiṁ,
Then, Prince, I approached Āḷāra Kālāma,

upasaṅkamitvā, Āḷāraṁ Kālāmaṁ etad-avocaṁ:
and after approaching, I said this to Āḷāra Kālāma:

“Ettāvatā no, RTE: kho.09 āvuso Kālāma,
“Is it in this way, friend Kālāma,

imaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
o that you declare: I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja BJT reads: viharāmī ti pavedesī ti here.10 pavedesī?” ti
having directly experienced and attained it?”

“Ettāvatā kho ahaṁ, āvuso,
“In this way, friend,

imaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
o I do declare: I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja pavedemī.” ti
having directly experienced and attained it.”

“Aham-pi kho, āvuso, ettāvatā:
“In this way I also, friend,

Imaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
say: I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja viharāmī.” ti
I live, having directly experienced and attained it.”

“Lābhā no, āvuso, suladdhaṁ no, āvuso,
“It is a gain for us, friend, it is a great gain for us, friend,

ye mayaṁ āyasmantaṁ tādisaṁ sabrahmacāriṁ passāma.
that we see such a venerable with us in the spiritual life.

Iti yāhaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
Thus I declare I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja pavedemi,
having directly experienced and attained it,

taṁ tvaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
and you have deep knowledge of this Dhamma yourself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja viharasi. RTE: vihāsi, also below.11
and live, having directly experienced and attained it. Notice a contrast is set up here, between Āḷāra’s declaring (pavedemi) he has the attainment, as though it was unverified, and the Bodhisatta living (viharasi) with the attainment. 12

Yaṁ tvaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
You have deep knowledge of this Dhamma yourself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja viharasi,
and live, having directly experienced and attained it,

tam-ahaṁ Dhammaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā,
and I declare I have deep knowledge of this Dhamma myself,

sacchikatvā upasampajja pavedemi.
having directly experienced and attained it.

Iti yāhaṁ Dhammaṁ jānāmi taṁ tvaṁ Dhammaṁ jānāsi,
Thus the Dhamma I know is the Dhamma you know,

yaṁ tvaṁ Dhammaṁ jānāsi tam-ahaṁ Dhammaṁ jānāmi.
the Dhamma you know is the Dhamma I know.

Iti yādiso ahaṁ tādiso tuvaṁ, yādiso tuvaṁ tādiso ahaṁ.
Thus as I am, so are you, as you are, so am I.

Ehi dāni, āvuso, ubho va santā imaṁ gaṇaṁ pariharāmā.” ti
Come now, friend, the two of us will look after this group.”

“Iti kho, Rājakumāra, Āḷāro Kālāmo ācariyo
“Thus my teacher Āḷāra Kālāma, Prince,

me samāno, antevāsiṁ maṁ samānaṁ attano RTE, ChS: attanā, instrumental?13 samasamaṁ ṭhapesi, RTE: ṭhapeti; present indicative.14
placed me, the pupil, as equal, and in the very same position as himself,

uḷārāya ca maṁ pūjāya pūjesi.
and worshipped me with the highest worship.

Tassa mayhaṁ, Rājakumāra, etad-ahosi:
Then, Prince, this occurred to me:

‘Nāyaṁ Dhammo nibbidāya na virāgāya na nirodhāya,
o ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation

na upasamāya na abhiññāya na Sambodhāya na Nibbānāya saṁvattati,
to peace, to deep knowledge, to Complete Awakening, to Nibbāna,

yāvad-eva Ākiñcaññāyatanūpapattiyā.’ ti
but only as far as rebirth in the Sphere of Nothingness.’

So kho ahaṁ, Rājakumāra, taṁ Dhammaṁ analaṅkaritvā,
Then, Prince, having not found satisfaction in that Dhamma,

tasmā Dhammā nibbijja apakkamiṁ. PTS: nibbijjāpakkamiṁ, sandhi form.15
I was therefore disgusted with that Dhamma and went away.