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Āmagandha

A brahmin. Before the appearance of the Buddha in the world, Āmagandha became an ascetic and lived in the region of the Himavā with five hundred pupils. They ate neither fish nor flesh. Every year they came down from their hermitage in search of salt and vinegar, and the inhabitants of a village nearby received them with great honour and showed them every hospitality for four months.

Then one day the Buddha, with his monks, visited the same village, and the people having listened to his teaching became his followers. That year when Āmagandha and his disciples went as usual to the village, the householders did not show towards them the same enthusiasm as heretofore. The brahmin, enquiring what had happened, was full of excitement on hearing that the Buddha had been born, and wished to know if he ate “āmagandha,” by which he meant fish or flesh. He was greatly disappointed on learning that the Buddha did not forbid the eating of āmagandha, but, desiring to hear about it from the Buddha himself, he sought him at Jetavana. The Buddha told him that āmagandha was not really fish or flesh, but that it referred to evil actions, and that he who wished to avoid it should abstain from evil deeds of every kind. The same question had been put to the Buddha Kassapa by an ascetic named Tissa, who later became his chief disciple. In giving an account of the conversation between Kassapa Buddha and Tissa, the Buddha taught Āmagandha the Āmagandha Sutta. The Brahmin and his followers entered the Order and in a few days became Arahants. Sn., pp.42‑5; SnA.i.278 ff.

Āmagandha Sutta.– The second sutta of the Cūḷavagga of the Suttanipāta. The conversation between the Buddha and the brahmin Āmagandha mentioned above (Sn.42 ff). According to Buddhaghosa (SnA.i.280 ff) this was merely a reproduction of the conversation of the Kassapa Buddha with the ascetic Tissa, who later became his chief disciple.

The sutta is particularly interesting as being one of the few passages in which sayings of the previous Buddhas are recorded. The Buddha’s view is put forward as being identical with that which had been enunciated long ago, with the intended implication that it was a self-evident proposition accepted by all the wise.

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