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Māgaṇḍiya Suttaṃ



Introduction from the Commentary

At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi, when during his early morning meditation he saw in his divine eye that the brahmin Māgaṇḍiya and his wife, who lived near Kammāsadhamma in the district of the Kurū people, had the potential to gain Arahantship. He went there and sat in a certain forest grove emitting a golden light. Māgaṇḍiya, having gone there at that moment to wash his face, saw the golden radiance, and looking for its source was delighted to see the Blessed One. His daughter had a golden complexion. Many warrior princes had sought her hand in marriage without success, so the brahmin had decided to give his daughter only to a recluse with a golden complexion. Having seen the Blessed One, he decided to give his daughter to him, and rushed home to inform his wife. “My dear, I have seen a recluse of golden complexion, adorn our daughter, we will give her to him.” While she was bathing her daughter with scented water, and adorning her, the time for the almsround arrived, and the Blessed One enter Kammāsadhamma for alms.

The brahmin and his wife came with their daughter to the place where the Blessed One had been sitting. The brahmin’s wife noticed that his sitting mat was undisturbed, and concluded that it was used by one who did not indulge in sensual pleasures. The brahmin said to her: “Do not say anything inauspicious when we are seeking for auspicious signs.” Noticing a firm footprint made by the Blessed One, she concluded that it was made by one not fettered to sensual pleasures.

“The footprints of the lustful are arched up;
The footprints of the malignant are dragged along;
Those of the confused are forcefully pressed down;
These are the footprints of one with the obstructions removed.”

While this conversation was unfinished, the Blessed One returned to that place after the meal. When the brahminee saw the Blessed One’s form endowed with excellent characteristics and surrounded by an aura a fathom wide she said to the brahmin: “Is this, dear, whom you saw?” “Yes dear, he replied.” “Then coming here was pointless; it is not possible that such a one could indulge in sensual pleasures.”

As they were conversing thus, the Blessed One sat down on the straw mat. The brahmin, taking his daughter with the left hand and a libation vase in the right, he approached the Blessed One and said: “You both have a golden complexion. She is suitable for you. I give her to you to maintain as a wife.” Having said this he stood in the presence of the Blessed One wishing to give her to him.

Without speaking to the brahmin, but as if speaking to another, the Blessed One spoke the verse beginning: “Having seen craving…” meaning that having seen the three daughters of Māra at the foot of the goat-herd’s banyan tree — craving (taṇhā), discontent (arati), and passionate lust (rāga), he did not have the slightest desire for sexual intercourse, so he would not wish to touch a gross physical body full of excrement and urine even with his foot

At the conclusion of the discourse the brahmin and his wife went forth and attained Arahantship.


“Having seen craving, discontent, and passion, I had no desire for sexual intercourse.
What is this here full of excrement and urine? I do not wish to touch it even with my foot.”

“If you do not want such a jewel, a woman sought after by many valiant warriors,
What is your view, virtuous mode of life; what kind of future destiny do you declare?”

“I do not say Māgaṇḍiya,” said the Blessed One, “I declare this,” seeing what men cling to. Seeing these views, but not grasping them; perceiving the truth, I found inner peace.”

“Having decided on those preconceived views,” said Māgaṇḍiya, “The sage speaks of not grasping them. How is the meaning of inner peace explained by the wise?”

“I do not say, Māgaṇḍiya, that by view, learning, knowledge, or ritual that purity is attained,” said the Blessed One. “Nor is it attained without them. It is only by taking these factors as the means and not grasping them as ends in themselves that one attains purity and thus does not crave for more becoming.”

“If purity is not attained by view, learning, or ritual, nor without them,” said Māgaṇḍiya, “Your teaching seems confusing, because some assume that purity is from view.”

“Because of your view, Māgaṇḍiya,” said the Blessed One, “You repeatedly ask questions. Infatuated with preconceived views, to which you cling, you cannot perceive the least sense; therefore this teaching seems confusing.

“He who thinks himself ‘equal,’ ‘inferior,’ or ‘superior’ to others, by that very reason enters into disputes. However, there are no such thoughts as ‘equal,’ ‘inferior,’ or ‘superior’ occur to one who is unmoved by these three measurements.

“Why should the brahmin argue saying, ‘This is true,’ or ‘That is false?’ If one has no such thoughts as ‘equal’ or ‘unequal,’ with whom should one enter into dispute?

“The sage who has abandoned the comfort of home to live alone, intimate with no-one, free from lust, not egotistical ² — he does not engage in disputes with people.

“The hero wanders aloof in the world, not grasping onto or asserting views. As the thorny lotus rises on its stalk unsoiled by mud and water, so the sage speaks of peace, free from desire, unstained by the world and sensual desire.

“One who knows (vedagū) ³ is not conceited through views or knowledge, he is not attached to them. He is led by neither action nor learning, he does not continue in any abode.

“There are no bonds for one who is free from perceptions, there is no delusion for one who is liberated by wisdom. Those who grasp perceptions and views, wander about coming into conflict in the world.”


1. On the eve of his Enlightenment the Bodhisatta was not tempted by the divine forms of beauty created by Māra.

2. Not putting himself forward.

3. Attained to the higher knowledge of the four paths. An Arahant.