SN 4.25 : Māradhītusutta: Mara's Daughters

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mikenz66
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SN 4.25 : Māradhītusutta: Mara's Daughters

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SN 4.25 : Māradhītusutta: Mara's Daughters
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


http://suttacentral.net/en/sn4.25


Then Mara the Evil One, having spoken these verses of disappointment in the presence of the Blessed One, went away from that spot and sat down cross-legged on the ground not far from the Blessed One, silent, dismayed, with his shoulders drooping, downcast, brooding, unable to speak, scratching the ground with a stick. [321]

Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—approached Mara the Evil One and addressed him in verse: [322]
  • “Why are you despondent, father?
    Who’s the man for whom you grieve?
    We’ll catch him with the snare of lust
    As they catch the forest elephant.
    We’ll bind him tightly and bring him back,
    And he’ll be under your control.” [323]
Mara:
  • “The Arahant, the Fortunate One in the world,
    Is not easily drawn by means of lust.
    He has gone beyond Mara’s realm:
    Therefore I sorrow so bitterly.”
Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions. [324]

Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—went off to the side and took counsel: “Men’s tastes are diverse. Suppose we each manifest ourselves in the form of a hundred maidens.” Then Mara’s three daughters, each manifesting herself in the form of a hundred maidens, approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions.

Then Mara’s daughters went off to the side and again took counsel: “Men’s tastes are diverse. Suppose we each manifest ourselves in the form of a hundred women who have never given birth.” Then Mara’s three daughters, each manifesting herself in the form of a hundred women who have never given birth … in the form of a hundred women who have given birth once … … in the form of a hundred women who have given birth twice … in the form of a hundred women of middle age … in the form of a hundred old women, approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions.

Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—went off to the side and said: “What our father told us is true:
  • “‘The Arahant, the Fortunate One in the world …
    Therefore I sorrow so bitterly.’
“If we had assailed with such tactics any ascetic or brahmin who was not devoid of lust, either his heart would have burst, or he would have vomited hot blood from his mouth, or he would have gone mad or become mentally deranged; or else he would have dried up and withered away and become shrivelled, just as a green reed that has been mowed down would dry up and wither away and become shrivelled.”

Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—approached the Blessed One and stood to one side. Standing to one side, Mara’s daughter Taṇha addressed the Blessed One in verse:
  • “Is it because you are sunk in sorrow
    That you meditate in the woods?
    Because you’ve lost wealth or pine for it,
    Or committed some crime in the village?
    Why don’t you make friends with people?
    Why don’t you form any intimate ties?”
The Blessed One:
  • “Having conquered the army of the pleasant and agreeable,
    Meditating alone, I discovered bliss,
    The attainment of the goal, the peace of the heart. [325]
    Therefore I don’t make friends with people,
    Nor will I form any intimate ties.”
Then Mara’s daughter Arati addressed the Blessed One in verse:
  • “How does a bhikkhu here often dwell
    That, five floods crossed, he here has crossed the sixth?
    How does he meditate so sensual perceptions
    Are kept at bay and fail to grip him?” [326]
The Blessed One:
  • “Tranquil in body, in mind well liberated,
    Not generating, mindful, homeless,
    Knowing Dhamma, meditating thought-free,
    He does not erupt, or drift, or stiffen. [327]

    “When a bhikkhu here often dwells thus,
    With five floods crossed, he here has crossed the sixth.
    When he meditates thus, sensual perceptions
    Are kept at bay and fail to grip him.”
Then Mara’s daughter Raga addressed the Blessed One in verse:
  • “He has cut off craving, faring with his group and order;
    Surely many other beings will cross.
    Alas, this homeless one will snatch many people
    And lead them away beyond the King of Death.” [328]
The Blessed One:
  • “Truly the Tathagatas, the great heroes,
    Lead by means of the true Dhamma.
    When they are leading by means of the Dhamma,
    What envy can there be in those who understand?” [329]
Then Mara’s daughters—Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—approached Mara the Evil One. Mara saw them coming in the distance and addressed them in verses:
  • “Fools! You tried to batter a mountain
    With the stalks of lotus flowers,
    To dig up a mountain with your nails,
    To chew iron with your teeth.

    “As if, having lifted a rock with your head,
    You sought a foothold in the abyss;
    As if you struck a stump with your breast,
    You part from Gotama disappointed.”

    They had come to him glittering with beauty—
    Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—
    But the Teacher swept them away right there
    As the wind, a fallen cotton tuft.
Notes:

[321] This passage, as far as “unable to speak,” is the stock description of the defeated contestant; also at MN I 132,28-30,MN 22 234,1-2, 258,28-30. Se and Ee1 make this paragraph the last of the preceding sutta, but I follow Be and Ee2. As the two suttas form a single narrative, the division between them is arbitrary.

[322] Their names mean craving, discontent, and lusting. Spk explains that they saw their father in a despondent mood and approached to find out the reason. The story of the Buddha’s encounter with Māra’s daughters is also recorded at Ja I 78-79 and Dhp-a III 195-98; see BL 3:33-34. There it is clearly set in the fifth week after the enlightenment. The BHS parallel at Mvu III 281-86 is also assigned to this period; see Jones, 3:269-74.

[323] Spk’s explanation shows that there is more to the simile than meets the eye: “They capture an elephant and lead him out of the forest by sending a female decoy, who entices him by displaying her feminine wiles.”

[324] On the idiom pāde te samaṇa paricārema, Geiger remarks: “In courteous speech one uses pādā, feet, for the person. The meaning is: ‘We want to be at your command like slave-women’” (GermTr, p. 193, n. 5). A sexual innuendo is unmistakable.
Spk, strangely, does not offer any explanation here of anuttare upadhisaṅkhaye vimutto, but see n. 356.
  • Spk explains vimutto upadhisaṅkhaye thus: “He is liberated into Nibbāna, known as the extinction of acquisitions, as object.” The expression is also at MN I 454,3-4 and II 260,22-23. Spk-pṭ defines “the end of all kamma” (sabbakammakkhaya ) as arahantship and “the extinction of acquisitions” as Nibbāna.
[325] Spk glosses senam as kilesasenam, “the army of defilements,” and paraphrases: “Having conquered the army of the pleasant and agreeable, meditating alone, I discovered the bliss of arahantship, which is called ‘the attainment of the goal, the peace of the heart’ (atthassa pattim hadayassa santim).” Mahākaccāna provides a long commentary on this verse at AN V 47,3-48,4. [AN 10.26]
On piyarūpam sātarūpam, “the pleasant and agreeable,” see SN 12.66](II 109-12), DN II 308-11. DN 22].

[326] Spk: Five floods crossed (pañcoghatiṇṇo): one who has crossed the flood of defilements in the five sense doors. The sixth: he has crossed the sixth flood of defilements, that pertaining to the mind door. Or alternatively: by the mention of five floods, the five lower fetters are meant; by the sixth, the five higher fetters.


[327] Spk: Tranquil in body (passaddhikāyo): this comes about with the tranquillizing of the in-and-out breathing by the fourth jhāna (see AN II 41,21-28 [AN 4.38]). In mind well liberated (suvimuttacitto): well liberated by the liberation of the fruit of arahantship. Not generating (asaṅkharāno): not generating the three types of volitional formations (see SN 12.51). Meditating thought-free in the fourth jhāna. He does not erupt, etc.: He does not erupt (na kuppati) because of hatred, or drift (sarati) because of lust, or stiffen (na thīno) because of delusion. Or alternatively: by the first term the hindrance of ill will is intended; by the second, the hindrance of sensual desire; by the third, the remaining hindrances (see SN 46.2).

[328] Technical note.

[329]The verse occurs in a different context at Vin I 43,27-28.
Coyote
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Re: SN 4.25 : Māradhītusutta: Mara's Daughters

Post by Coyote »

It's odd that mara doesn't seem to figure in jain or other Indian mythology that I am aware of. This idea of a tempter seems to be unique to Buddhism, at least in Indian religions.

Nevertheless, the passages describing the state of the Buddha are quite inspiring, "battering a mountain with lotus stalks". :sage:
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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mikenz66
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Re: SN 4.25 : Māradhītusutta: Mara's Daughters

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Coyote,

That's an interesting observation. I don't know much about other early Indian religions, but some authors do point to connections to characters such as Yama and Namuci http://buddhism.about.com/od/iconsofbuddhism/a/mara.htm. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_%28demon%29.

I agree that the imagery in this sutta is amazing and the translation demonstrates Bhikkhu Bodhi's careful attention to detail and clarity.
“Fools! You tried to batter a mountain
With the stalks of lotus flowers,
To dig up a mountain with your nails,
To chew iron with your teeth.

“As if, having lifted a rock with your head,
You sought a foothold in the abyss;
As if you struck a stump with your breast,
You part from Gotama disappointed.”

They had come to him glittering with beauty—
Taṇha, Arati, and Raga—
But the Teacher swept them away right there
As the wind, a fallen cotton tuft.
:anjali:
Mike
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