SN 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta

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SN 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

SN 7.21 PTS: S i 182 CDB i 278 Sangaarava Sutta: Sangaarava
translated from the Pali by Maurice O'Connell Walshe ... .wlsh.html

[At Saavatthii] At that time the brahman Sangaarava was living there, a "purity-by-water" man who believed in purification by water: his practice was to go down into the water every evening and every morning. Now the Venerable Aananda, rising early, took his robe and bowl and went into Saavatthii for alms. [Returning he went to the Blessed One and said:] "It would be well, Lord, if the Blessed One were to visit the dwelling of Sangaarava the Brahman, out of compassion for him."

The Blessed One silently consented. [Having visited him, the Blessed One said:] "Is it true, brahman, that you are a 'purity-by-water' man... that you go down to the water every evening and morning?"

"Yes, good Gotama."

"What benefit do you expect from [this practice]?"

"It is like this, good Gotama. The evil deeds that I do in the day I cause to be borne away in the evening, and the evil deeds that I do in the night I cause to be borne away in the morning. That is the benefit I expect from [this practice.]"

[The Blessed One said:]
  • Dhamma is a lake, virtue's the ford,[1]
    Undefiled, which good men praise to others:
    Men of wisdom come and bathe therein,
    Then, clean of limb, they reach the Other Shore.
At these words the Brahman Sangaarava said to the Blessed One: "Excellent... [as in SN 7.1, but ending:] I go to the Lord Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma and to the Sangha of monks. May the Lord Gotama accept me as a lay-disciple who has taken refuge in him from this day forth as long as life shall last."


1. Tittha "ford" also means "bathing-place." There is an intentional play on both meanings of the word here.
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Re: SN 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta

Post by mikenz66 »

From Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:

“The Dhamma, brahmin, is a lake with fords of virtue—
A limpid lake the good praise to the good—
Where the knowledge-masters go to bathe,
And, dry-limbed, cross to the far shore.”

[This also occurs in SN 7.9]
  • Spk: “Just as, after you have worshipped the fire, you enter the Sundarikā River and wash the ashes, soot, and sweat from your body, so for me the Dhamma of the eightfold path is the lake where I bathe thousands of living beings. The lake is limpid (anāvila) because, unlike your river which becomes muddy when four or five bathe in it at the same time, the lake of the Dhamma remains limpid and clear even when hundreds of thousands enter it to bathe.”

    On “the bath without water,” see SN 1.58:
    • “What is declared the deviant path?
      What undergoes destruction night and day?
      What is the stain of the holy life?
      What is the bath without water?”

      “Lust is declared the deviant path;
      Life undergoes destruction night and day;
      Women are the stain of the holy life:
      Here menfolk are enmeshed.
      Austerity and the holy life—
      That is the bath without water.”
      • Spk: The deviant path (uppatha) is a nonpath (amagga) for going to heaven and Nibbāna. Undergoes destruction day and night (rattindivakkhaya): it is destroyed by the days and nights or during the days and nights. Women are the stain of the holy life: by washing off an external stain one can become clean, but if one is defiled by the stain of women it is not possible to make oneself pure. Austerity (tapa) is a name for restraint, the ascetic practices (dhutaṅgaguṇa), energy, and extreme asceticism (dukkarakārika); all these except extreme asceticism (i.e., self-mortification) are practices that burn up the defilements. The holy life (brahmacariya ) is abstinence from sexual intercourse.

        On “the bath without water” see [the verse being discussed here]. To appreciate this expression one must remember that for the brahmins in the Buddha’s time (as for many Hindus today) ritual bathing was a way to wash away one’s sins. The Buddha replaced this with the “internal bath” of the mind; see [the sutta being discussed here] below and MN I 39,1-2 MN 7, MN I 280,18-20 MN 39.
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Re: SN 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta

Post by ihrjordan »

It's interesting that a lot of brahmins in the Buddha's day insisted that the way to "purification" (which is kind of a vague implication in itself) was through physical rituals despite the sentiment that they believed the physical world to be entirely mind made and therefore illusory. I still don't get how they could come to such a conclusion based off what we know of their general world view; to me it's like searching for crackers when you're dying of thirst. To add to the contradictions, wasn't the "fire ritual" the de facto way to union with Brahma? in which not only sentient beings were sacraficed but also the sacraficer symbolically killed his self everytime he put fuel into the fire, thus gradually burning away his sense of seperateness. I can only assume that brahmins seen fire as the way for organic material (us) to die so why would brahmin's engage in ritual bathing when it's common knowledge that water is what sustains the "me" and "other" in the first place?!
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Re: SN 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta

Post by yikeren »

Of those established in virtue
And know not the possibilities
(Of those we know a many)
The Tathagatha extends the boundary

Let virtual settles, the lake clears
To see the coming and going
Knowing that is just that
Nothing more to be done