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Tipitaka Sutta Pitaka Samyutta Nikaya Context of this sutta

Samyutta Nikaya IX.14
Gandhatthena Sutta
The Thief of a Scent
For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

I have heard that on one occasion a certain monk was dwelling among the Kosalans in a forest thicket. Now at that time, after his meal, returning from his almsround, he went down to a lotus pond and sniffed a red lotus.

Then the devata inhabiting the forest thicket, feeling sympathy for the monk, desiring his benefit, desiring to bring him to his senses, approached him and addressed him with this verse:

"You sniff this water-born flower
that hasn't been given to you.
This, dear sir,    is a factor of stealing.
You             are a thief of a scent."

[The monk:]

"I don't take, don't damage.
I sniff at the lotus
    from far away.
So why do you call me
a thief of a scent?

One who
    digs up the stalks,
    damages flowers,
one of such ruthless behavior:
    why don't you say it of him?"

The devata:

"A person ruthless & grasping,
smeared like a nursing diaper:
to him
I have nothing to say.
                It's you
    to whom I should speak.

To a person unblemished,
constantly searching for purity,
a hair-tip's worth of evil
    seems as large
    as a cloud."

[The monk:]

"Yes, yakkha, you understand me
and show me sympathy.
Warn me again, yakkha,
whenever again
you see something like this."

[The devata:]

"I don't depend on you
for my living
nor am I
your hired hand.
            You, monk,
you yourself should know
how to go to the good destination."

The monk, chastened by the devata, came to his senses.

See also: SN IX.1; SN IX.9.


Updated: 1-7-2000

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