SN 7.1: Dhanañjaanii Sutta — Dhanañjaani

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SN 7.1: Dhanañjaanii Sutta — Dhanañjaani

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 7.1 PTS: S i 160 CDB i 254 Dhanañjaanii Sutta: Dhanañjaani
translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe ... .wlsh.html

Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying near Raajagaha, in the Bamboo Grove,[1] at the Squirrels' Feeding-Place. Now at that time the Brahman lady Dhanañjaani, wife of a certain Brahman of the Bhaaradvaaja family, was a fervent supporter of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. And this lady, while serving the Bhaaradvaaja Brahman with his dinner, came before him and burst out with this triple inspired utterance: "Praise to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Fully Self-Enlightened One! Praise to the Dhamma! Praise to the Sangha!"

At these words the Brahman said to her "Now then, now then! Every chance she gets this wretched woman has to sing the praises of that shaveling recluse! Now, woman, I'm going to tell that teacher of yours what I think of him!"

"Oh, Brahman, I know of nobody in this world with its gods, Maaras and Brahmaas, with its recluses and brahmans, whether they be divine or human, who could thus rebuke the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Fully Self-Enlightened One. But go on, Brahman, go and you will find out."

Then the Brahman, angry and displeased, went to see the Blessed One. After exchanging greetings and compliments with the Blessed One in a friendly and courteous manner, he sat down to one side. So seated, he addressed the Blessed One thus in verse:
  • What must we slay to live in happiness?
    What must we slay if we would weep no more?
    Is there any single thing of which,
    You'd approve the killing, Gotama?

    [The Blessed One replied:]
    By slaying wrath you'll live in happiness
    Slaying wrath, you'll no more need to weep.
    Kill the poisoned root of anger, Brahman,
    Which with sweetness leads to fevered rage.[2]
    Killing this the Noble Ones commend:
    Slaying this, you'll no more need to weep.
At these words the Brahman said to the Blessed One: "Excellent, good Gotama,[3] most excellent! It is, good Gotama, as if someone were to set up something that had been knocked down, or to reveal what had been hidden, or to point out the right path to a man who had got lost, or to bring an oil lamp into a dark place so that those with eyes could see what was there — just so has the good Gotama shown me the truth[4] in various ways! I declare[5] that I go to the Lord Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma and to the Sangha of monks, I wish to embrace the homeless life[6] under the Lord Gotama, I wish to receive ordination."[7]

So the Bhaaradvaaja Brahman was received into the homeless life under the Blessed One, and received ordination. And not so long after his ordination the Venerable Bhaaradvaaja, remaining alone and secluded, heedful, ardent and resolute, quickly attained that for which young men of good birth rightly go forth from home into the homeless life, coming to realize for himself, in this present life, the unsurpassed goal of the holy life, realizing that "birth is destroyed, the holy life has been accomplished, what was to be done is done! There is no further life in this world."[8]

And that Bhaaradvaaja became an Arahant.


1. Ve.luvan.

2.Madhur-agga appears to mean "the height (agga) of intoxicating sweetness (madhura)."

3. He still, to begin with, uses the patronizing address bho Gotama.

4. Dhamma.

5. Esaaham: "I" (emphatic)

6. Pabbajjaa: now the term for the lower ordination as a saama.nera (novice).

7. Upasampadaa: now the term for the higher ordination as a bhikkhu.

8. Itthataaya:
The phrase 'naaparam itthattaaya' is here rendered as 'There is nothing beyond this for (a designation of) the conditions of this existence.' This phrase has been variously rendered (e.g., 'for life in these conditions there is no hereafter' — K.S. I 177; 'there is no more of being such or so' — M.L.S. 70, etc.)
The commentary gives more than one interpretation. For instance at S.A. I 205 (VI. I 3), it is explained with particular reference to the preceding phrase, thus: "Done is the task': the meaning is that the sixteenfold task (viz comprehension, abandonment, realization and development of the Four Truths by means of the Four Paths) has been accomplished. 'No-more-for thisness': now there is no more Path-development to be done for this state, that is, as regards this sixteenfold task or the destruction of defilements. Or else, 'for-thisness' means beyond this present process of aggregates of such a type, there is no other process of aggregates. And he knew that these five aggregates on being comprehended, just stand like a tree cut off at the root.

Perhaps the meaning of 'naaparam itthattaaya' can best be elicited from the following two Canonical passages:

I. "This consciousness turns back from name-and-form, it does not go beyond (naapara.m gacchati). In so far can one be born, or grow old, or die, or pass away, or reappear, in so far as this is, to wit: consciousness is dependent on name-and-form, name-and-form on consciousness, the six sense-spheres on name-and-form, contact on the six sense-spheres, feeling on contact, craving on feeling, grasping on craving, becoming on grasping, birth on becoming, and old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are dependent on birth. Thus is the arising of this entire mass of suffering." D.II 32f. Mahaapadaana S.

II. "In so far only, Aananda, can one be born, or grow old, or die or pass away or reappear, in so far only is there any pathway for verbal expression, in so far only is there any pathway for terminology, in so far only is there any pathway for designations, in so far only is there a whirling round for a designation of 'this-ness' (ettaavataa va.t.ta.m va.t.tati itthatta.m pa~n~naapanaaya) that is to say, as far as name-and-form together with consciousness. — D. II 63f. Mahaanidaana S.

The very understanding that 'consciousness turns back from name-and-form and that it does not go beyond, is the saving-wisdom which amounts to a full comprehension of the illusion (Maayaa) that is consciousness. Between these two links of the Pa.ticca Samuppaada there is a vortex or a whirling-round for a designation of 'this-ness' (i.e., 'the conditions of this existence'). Now, a vortex or an eddy, is 'a current running back, contrary to the main stream, thus causing a circular motion,'* and this Sa.msaaric vortex too is the outcome of defying the flux of nature with its three characteristics of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anattaa). When the reflex-mechanism of the consciousness is discovered, the motive force for this whirling round will lose its sanction. The nutriment-of-consciousness (vi~n~naa.naahaara) will expose itself to be a vicious 'feed-back system,' even as in the case of a vortex. 'Name-and-form' will be seen as a mere product of proliferation (papancanaamaruupa.m Sn. v. 530) — a Narcissistic image doted upon due to delusion. With this vision 'of-things-as-they-are' (yathaabhuuta~naa.nadassana), there comes a disgust (nibbidaa) for this interplay which is nothing but a secondary manifestation of a conflict (dukkha) with the 'main stream' of Nature. This disgust gives rise to a 'turning-away' (viraaga), which leads to the Freedom (vimutti) from the conflict that characterizes Sa.msaaric existence as a whole. There can be a designation or a 'pointing-out' (pa~n~naapana) as a 'this-ness' (itthatta) only as long as the vortex of individual existence is kept going. When the vortex ceases, all pathways of designation lose their point of reference, since where there was an 'itthatta,' now 'tathataa' (thus-ness or such-ness) prevails. The Tathaagata, the Transcendent One thus truly becomes 'deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, as is the great ocean' (M. I. 488), and the five aggregates which he has abandoned, have only a semblance of connection with him now, like the stirred up surface waters which still betoken a vortex long since ceased at its depths.

'Naapara.m itthattaya' is the guarantee of this freedom from the Sa.msaaric vortex. It conveys the arahant's conviction that 'in so far only' — that as far as name-and-form together with consciousness — 'can one be born, or grow old or die or pass away or reappear,' and that there is nothing beyond this for the designation of these conditions of Sa.msaaric existence.

*Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary p. 335.
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Re: SN 7.1: Dhanañjaanii Sutta — Dhanañjaani

Post by mikenz66 »

Notes from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation.

Now on that occasion the wife of a certain brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan, a brahmin lady named Dhanañjānī, had full confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha.
  • The story related here is also at Dhp-a IV,161-63; see BL 3:288-89. The opening is similar to that of MN No. 100 [MN100](II 209,21 foll.), which concerns a brahmin lady of the same name, there spelt Dhānañjānı̄.
Once, while the brahmin lady Dhanañjānī was bringing the brahmin his meal, she stumbled, whereupon she uttered three times this inspired utterance: “Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One! Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One! Homage to the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One!”
  • Spk: The brahmin had invited five hundred fellow brahmins to a banquet. The previous day he had pleaded with his wife not to disgrace him by praising the Buddha before his peers. When she stumbled over a stack of fire-wood while serving food to the brahmins, she knelt down and paid homage to the Buddha. Scandalized by this, the brahmins reviled her husband and walked out without even finishing their meal.
When this was said, the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan said to her: “For the slightest thing this wretched woman spouts out praise of that shaveling ascetic! Now, wretched woman, I am going to refute the doctrine of that teacher of yours.ʺ
  • asalī, here rendered “wretched woman,” is a term of severe contempt, used by the brahmins to address outcasts.
When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and addressed the Blessed One in verse:
  • The verses have already appeared at []SN1.71[/url] and SN2.3, with different narrative settings. This illustrates once again how the “floating mass” of didactic verses could be freely drawn upon to suit different pedagogical requirements.
Having slain what does one not sorrow?
What is the one thing, O Gotama,
Whose killing you approve?”
  • Spk: He formulated his question with the following intent: “If he says, ‘I approve of the killing of such and such,’ then I’ll call him a killer and challenge his claim to be an ascetic; but if he says he doesn’t approve of any killing, I’ll say, ‘Then you don’t desire the killing of lust, etc., so why do you wander about as an ascetic?’ Thus the ascetic Gotama will be caught on the horns of this dilemma, unable either to swallow it or to cough it up.” He greeted the Buddha cordially in order to hide his anger.
He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.”
  • This is the stock canonical description of the attainment of arahantship. The sentence beginning “He directly knew,” according to Spk, shows “the plane of reviewing” (paccavekkhaṇabhūmi ).

    The commentaries propose two ways of interpreting nāparam itthattāya, depending on whether the last word is taken as dative or ablative. Spk: “Now there is no development of the path again done ‘for this state’ (itthabhāvāya = itthattāya as dative), that is, for the state of the sixteen tasks or for the destruction of the defilements. (The ‘sixteen tasks’ are the four tasks of the path—full understanding, abandonment, realization, and development (as at SN56.11; V 422,3-30)—taken in conjunction with each of the four supramundane paths.) Or alternatively: itthattāya = itthabhāvato (the ablative, ‘beyond thisness’). Now there is no further continuum of aggregates beyond this present continuum of aggregates. These five aggregates stand fully understood like a tree cut down at the root.”

    I take itthattāya as a dative meaning “for this state of being,” i.e., for existence in any state of being, so that the phrase conveys the same sense as the alternative “roar of liberation,” natthi dāni punabbhavo, “Now there is no renewed existence” (see 22.27 (III 29,30), etc.). Elsewhere (e.g., at DN I 17,33[DN1]; MN II 130,16 foll.[MN90]; AN I 63,30-64,18 [AN2.36]) itthatta signifies the human state (or perhaps the entire sensory realm) as contrasted with higher states of being. As the stem form itthatta is clearly neuter, it is difficult to accept the commentarial explanation of itthattāya as an ablative.
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Re: SN 7.1: Dhanañjaanii Sutta — Dhanañjaani

Post by mikenz66 »

It's interesting how the Brahman goes from complaining about his wife's devotion to the Buddha to going forth as a bhikkhu. Presumably Dhanañjaani approved...

The way that the verses are recycled in SN1.71, SN2.3, SN7.1, and SN11.21 is also interesting. The current sutta has the most elaborate background story.