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Asibandhakaputta Suttaṃ

(S.iv.311)

A Discourse to Asibandhakaputta

358. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Nāḷandā in the mango grove of Pāvārika. [312] Then the headman (gāmaṇi) Asibandhakaputta ¹ approached the Blessed One; have approached, he paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side the headman Asibandhakaputta said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, the Brahmins of the western region who carry a ceremonial water-pot, wear a garland of water–plants, purify by bathing in water, and tend the sacred fire, are said to be able to direct the departed and send them up to heaven. Venerable sir, is the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened Buddha able to make everyone in the entire world arise in a fortunate celestial realm on the break-up of the body after death?”

“Then, headman, I will ask you a counter-question. Please reply however you see fit. What do you think, headman? Here, a man is a killer of living-beings, a taker of what is not given, a sexual miscreant, a liar, a slanderer, an abuser, an idle-chatterer, he is covetous, bears ill-will, and holds wrong-views. Suppose a crowd would assemble around him, earnestly praying and praising him with joined palms: ‘May this man, on the break-up of the body after death, arise in a fortunate celestial realm.’ What do you think, headman, would that man, due to the earnest praying and praising of that crowd, arise in a fortunate celestial realm on the break-up of the body after death?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir!”

“It is as if, headman, a man would throw a big boulder into a deep pond. Then a crowd would assemble around that pond earnestly praying and praising with joined palms, ‘Rise up, good boulder, [313] float good boulder, emerge onto solid ground good boulder.’ What do you think, headman, would that big boulder, due to the earnest praying and praising, rise up, float, or emerge onto solid ground?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir!”

“In the same way, headman, if a man is a killer of living-beings, a taker of what is not given, a sexual miscreant, a liar, a slanderer, an abuser, an idle-chatterer, if he covetous, bears ill-will, and holds wrong-views, whatever that crowd might do by assembling around him, earnestly praying and praising him with joined palms: ‘May this man, on the break-up of the body after death, arise in a fortunate celestial realm,’  that man on the break-up of the body after death would arise in a state of misery, an unfortunate destination, a place of punishment, in hell.”

“What do you think, headman? Here, a man abstains from killing living-beings, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from lying, slandering, abusing, and idle-chatter. He is not covetous, does not bear ill-will, and holds right-views. Suppose a crowd would assemble around him, earnestly praying and praising him with joined palms: ‘May this man, on the break-up of the body after death, arise in a state of misery, an unfortunate destination, a place of punishment, in hell.’ What do you think, headman, would that man, due to the earnest praying and praising of that crowd, on the break-up of the body after death, arise in a state of misery, an unfortunate destination, a place of punishment, in hell?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir!”

“It is as if, headman, a man, having immersed a pot of ghee or oil into a deep pond, would break it. Any pieces or shards of the pot would sink, and any ghee or oil would float. [314] Suppose a crowd would assemble around that pond earnestly praying and praising with joined palms, ‘Sink good ghee or oil, descend good ghee or oil, go down good ghee or oil.’ What do you think, headman? Would that ghee or oil, due to the earnest praying and praising of that crowd, sink, descend, or go down?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir!”

“In the same way, headman, if a man abstains from killing living-beings, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from lying, slandering, abusing, and idle-chatter. If he is not covetous, does not bear ill-will, and holds right-views, whatever that crowd might do by assembling around him, earnestly praying and praising with joined palms: ‘May this man, on the break-up of the body after death, arise in a state of misery, an unfortunate destination, a place of punishment, in hell,’ that man, on the break-up of the body after death, would arise in a fortunate celestial realm.”

When this was said, the headman Asibandhakaputta said to the Blessed One: “It is wonderful, venerable sir, it is marvellous, venerable sir! It is as if, venerable sir, someone had set upright what had been overturned, revealed what was hidden, pointed out the path to one who was lost, brought a light into the darkness so that those with eyes can see. Thus, venerable sir, the Blessed One has explained the Dhamma in various ways. I go for refuge to the Blessed One, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. May the Blessed One regard me as a disciple who has taken refuge from today for as long as I shall live.”

Notes

1. Asibandhakaputta was a disciple of Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta, who was a fatalist. In the Saṅkhadhama Sutta (S.iv.317), the Buddha teaches Asibandhakaputta that not all evil-doers go to hell. In the Kula Sutta (S.iv.322) he teaches him the eight reasons for the destruction of families when asked if begging for alms during a famine is compassionate.