192. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi, in Prince Jeta’s grove, in the monastery of Anāthapiṇḍika. Then the matted-hair brahmin ¹ approached the Blessed One, and having approached exchanged friendly greetings. Having engaged in polite conversation, he sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, the tangled hair brahmin addressed the Blessed One in verse:–
“The inner tangle the outer tangle, this generation is entangled in a tangle.
I ask Gotama about that, who disentangles this tangle?”
“When a wise man, established well in virtue,
Develops the mind and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu ardent and wise,
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.²
“Whoever is disentangled from lust, anger, and ignorance,
The Arahant who has destroyed the outflows, they disentangle this tangle.
“Where mind and matter cease without remainder,
And the stimulus and perception of form, here the tangle is cut.”³
When this was said, the matted-hair brahmin 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. May I obtain the going-forth in the presence of the Venerable Gotama, may I obtain the higher ordination?”
The matted- hair brahmin obtained the going-forth in the presence of the Blessed One, he obtained the higher-ordination. Before long, dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, striving energetically and resolute, he realised by direct knowledge in this very life the goal of the holy life for the sake of which sons of good families rightly go forth from the household life to homelessness, and abided in it, knowing: “Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what ought to be done has been done, there will be no more of this.” The Venerable Bhāradvāja become another of the Arahants.
1. Jaṭābhāradvājo brāhmano: Jaṭā means tangled or plaited, Bhāradvāja is the name of a clan of Brahmins. It was a custom of the brahmins to retire from household life after raising a family and become celibate priests. Perhaps this clan wore their hair in plaits or left it unkempt.
2. This verse forms the foundation for the Visuddhimagga. Buddhaghosa explains at length in chapters on morality (sīla), concentration (citta), and wisdom (paññā), how the mind is developed to disentangle the practitioner from lust, anger, and delusion. Citta is often translated as “consciousness,” but in this context development of the mind through exercises in concentration is clearly meant. The chapter on the development of citta elucidates the manifold meditation objects for the cultivation of concentration and insight.
3. The verses, without the introduction and conclusion, are repeated at S.i.13.