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- Sutta Nipata IV.9
- Magandiya Sutta
- To Magandiya
- For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
[Magandiya offers his daughter to the Buddha, who replies:]
On seeing [the daughters of Mara]
-- Discontent, Craving, & Passion --
there wasn't even the desire for sex.
So what would I want with this,
filled with urine & excrement?
I wouldn't want to touch it
even with my foot.
If you don't want
this gem of a woman, coveted
by many kings,
then for what sort of viewpoint,
precept, practice, life,
attainment of [further] becoming
do you argue?
'I argue for this'
doesn't occur to one
when considering what's grasped
Looking for what is ungrasped
with regard to views,
and detecting inner peace,
Sage, you speak
at any preconceived judgments.
This 'inner peace':
what does it mean?
How is it,
by an enlightened person,
He doesn't speak of purity
in connection with view,
Nor is it found by a person
through lack of view,
of precept or practice.
Letting these go, without grasping,
one wouldn't long for becoming.
If he doesn't speak of purity
in connection with view,
and it isn't found by a person
through lack of view,
of precept or practice,
it seems to me that this teaching's
for some assume a purity
in terms of
-- by means of --
dependent on view,
by what you have grasped.
And so you don't glimpse
[of what I am saying].
That's why you think
by that he'd dispute;
whereas to one unaffected
by these three,
do not occur.
Of what would the brahmin say 'true'
disputing with whom:
he in whom 'equal,' 'unequal' are not.
Having abandoned home,
living free from society,
creates no intimacies.
Rid of sensual passions, free
he wouldn't engage with people
in quarrelsome debate.
aloof from which
he should go about in the world:
the great one
wouldn't take them up
& argue for them.
As the prickly lotus
is unsmeared by water & mud,
so the sage,
an exponent of peace,
is unsmeared by sensuality &
An attainer-of-wisdom isn't measured
by views or
by what is thought,
for he isn't affected by them.
He wouldn't be led
by action, learning;
doesn't reach a conclusion
in any entrenchments.
For one dispassionate toward perception
there are no ties;
for one released by discernment,
Those who grasp at perceptions & views
go about butting their heads
in the world.
1. The Pali of the first sentence puts the words for
"view, learning, knowledge, precept, & practice" in the instrumental case.
This case stands for the relationship "by means of" or "because of"
but it also has an idiomatic meaning: "in terms of." (To keep the translation
neutral on this point, I have translated with the idiom, "in connection with,"
which can carry both possibilities.) The second sentence puts the words for lack of view,
etc., in the ablative case, which carries the meaning "because of" or
If we assume that the instrumental case in the first sentence is meant in the sense of
"by means of," then we are dealing -- as Magandiya asserts -- with plain
nonsense: the first sentence would say that a person cannot achieve purity by means of
views, etc., while the second sentence would be saying that he cannot achieve purity by
means of no view, etc. The fact that the two sentences place the relevant terms in
different grammatical cases, though, suggests that they are talking about two different
kinds of relationships. If we take the instrumental in the first sentence in the sense of
"in terms of," then the stanza not only makes sense but also fits in with
teachings of the rest of the Pali discourses: a person cannot be said to be pure simply
because he/she holds to a particular view, body of learning, etc. Purity is not defined in
those terms. The second sentence goes on to say that a person doesn't arrive at purity
from a lack of view, etc. Putting the two sentences together with the third, the message
is this: One uses right views, learning, knowledge, precepts, & practices as a path, a
means for arriving at purity. Once one arrives, one lets go of the path, for the purity of
inner peace, in its ultimate sense, is something transcending the means by which it is
In the stanza immediately following this one, it's obvious that Magandiya has not
caught this distinction.
For further illustrations of the role of Right View in taking one to a dimension beyond
all views, see AN X.93, AN X.96, and MN
24. (The analogy of the relay coaches in MN 24 actually seems more tailored to the
issues raised by the Buddha's remarks in this discourse than it does to the question it
addresses in that discourse.) See also sections III/H and III/H/i in The Wings to Awakening. [Go back]
2. An explanation of this stanza, attributed to Ven. Maha
Kaccana, is contained in SN XXII.3. [Go back]
3. "Measured ... made proud" -- two meanings of the
Pali word manameti. [Go back]
4. "Action" here can mean either kamma in its
general sense -- i.e., the attainer-of-wisdom has gone beyond creating kamma -- or in a
more restricted sense, as ritual action. According to Nd.I, it refers to the factor of
"fabrication" (sankhara) in the analysis of dependent co-arising (see SN XII.2). [Go back]
See also: SN I.1; Sn V.7