Questions of Ajita parallels

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and scriptures.
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Ceisiwr
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Questions of Ajita parallels

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Pāli version
[Ajita:]
With what
is the world shrouded?
Because of what
doesn't it shine?
With what
is it smeared? Tell me.
What
is its great danger & fear?

[The Buddha:]
With ignorance
the world is shrouded.
Because of stinginess,
heedlessness,
it doesn't shine.

With longing
it's smeared — I tell you.
Suffering-stress:
its great danger & fear.

[Ajita:]
They flow every which way,
the streams.
What is their blocking,
what their restraint — tell me —
with what are they finally stopped?

[The Buddha:]
Whatever streams
there are in the world:
their blocking is
mindfulness, mindfulness
is their restraint — I tell you —
with discernment
they're finally stopped.

[Ajita:]
Discernment & mindfulness,
name & form, dear sir:
Tell me, when asked this,
where are they brought to a halt?

[The Buddha:]
This question you've asked, Ajita,
I'll answer it for you —
where name & form
are brought to a halt
without trace:
With the cessation of consciousness
they're brought
to a halt.

[Ajita:]
Those here who have fathomed the Dhamma,
those who are learners,
those who are run-of-the-mill:
When you, dear sir, astute,
are asked this,
tell me their manner of life.

[The Buddha:]
He should not hanker
for sensual pleasures,
should be limpid in mind.
Skilled in all mental qualities,
he, the monk, should live his life
mindfully.


Chinese version (T1579, 30.386b15–c5)
[Ajita asked:]
“What could cover the world?
What could make it un-manifest?
What could also defile it?
What is the great fear?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Ignorance covers the world.
Carelessness makes it un-manifest.
Idle discourse could defile it.
Suffering is the great fear.”

[Ajita asked:]
“The streams have outlets everywhere.
Who could stop these outlets?
What should be said to prevent them?
Who could make the streams be stopped?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“The streams of the world have outlets;
these outlets could be stopped by mindfulness.
I say it could be prevented,
that they could be stopped by wisdom.”

[Ajita asked:]
“Mindfulness, wisdom and name-and-form,
they are all I inquire about now.
How should they be annihilated permanently?
I sincerely wish that you preach this for me.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Mindfulness, wisdom and name-and-form,
I say, are everything.
If consciousness ceases permanently,
thus they are annihilated permanently.”

[Ajita714 asked:]
“What is the operation of mindfulness,
so that consciousness is permanently ceased?
I now request that you would explain to me with any means
and cause me to be without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“In internal and external sensations,
one does not give rise to delight.
This is the operation of mindfulness,
[so that] consciousness would cease permanently.”

[Ajita asked:]
“As those who have well expounded the dharma
and the learners of different types
constantly comprehend and proceed toward liberation,
I request the Buddha to preach to me [how they did that].”

[The Buddha replied:]
“They do not indulge in sensual pleasures;
their minds are without defilements;
and they are skillfully mindful of all dharmas.
Therefore, such monks could proceed toward [liberation].”


Sanskrit version (YBh 136a1–4])
[Ajita asked:]
“By what is this world enclosed?
Why does it not shine?
And what do you say is its plaster?
And what is its great fear?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“The world is enclosed by ignorance.
On account of negligence it does not shine.
I say its plaster is desire.
Suffering is its great fear.”

[Ajita asked:]
“Streams flow everywhere.
What hinders streams?
Tell [me] about the restraint of streams.
By what is a stream dammed?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Mindfulness hinders the world’s streams.
I will tell [you] about the restrain of streams.
By wisdom is [a stream] dammed.”

[Ajita asked:]
“Of wisdom and mindfulness
and name-and-form altogether,
tell me about this when asked.
Where is this stopped?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Wisdom and mindfulness
and name-and-form altogether.
From the cessation of consciousness,
this is stopped here.”

[Ajita asked:]
“How is consciousness stopped
for one who wanders mindful?
Tell me about this when asked,
precisely and without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Internally and externally,
from not finding pleasure in sensation,
consciousness is thus stopped
for one who wanders mindful.”

[Ajita asked:]
“Honourable one, when asked,
tell me about the behaviour of the wise,
of those who have directly experienced the dharma,
and who are those learners of different types.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“He would not desire sensual pleasures.
He would be pure with regard to his mind.
Skilled in all mental states,
mindful, a monk would wander”

Tibetan version (Peking 5536.299b4–300a3; Derge 4035.257a6–b4)
[Ajita asked:]
“What is it that obscures this world?
What is it that makes it unclear?
By what is it pervaded?
What indeed is its great fear?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“By ignorance the world is obscured.
Due to carelessness is it not clear.
By thought it is pervaded, I say;
and suffering is its great fear.

[Ajita asked:]
“Streams flow everywhere;
What is it that can reverse the streams?
Please explain the damming of streams.
What is it that stops a stream?”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Those which are the streams of the world,
are reversed by mindfulness.
As to explaining the damming of these streams,
they are stopped by wisdom.”

[Ajita asked:]
“Wisdom and mindfulness,
name-and-form in all aspects,
from where do they cease,
tell me about this when asked.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Wisdom and mindfulness,
name-and-form in all aspects,
when consciousness ceases,
then they also come to cease therein.”

[Ajita asked:]
“How is consciousness stopped
for one who proceeds endowed with mindfulness?
Please explain that to me
exactly as it is, without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“In internal and external sensations,
if not finding pleasure,
in that way consciousness is stopped
for one who proceeds endowed with mindfulness.”

[Ajita asked:]
Those who have experienced the dharma,
and the various learners
among them, [what is] the practice of wisdom,
tell me when asked, honourable one.

[The Buddha replied:]
Not desiring sensual pleasures,
[whose] mind is undefiled,
is skilled in all dharmas
with mindfulness, the monk roams everywhere."

For the most part all of the parallels agree with the Pāli text. The major difference is that all the other versions contain these two stanzas as an answer to how to annihilate consciousness, or bring it to cessation.

Chinese version
[Ajita714 asked:]
“What is the operation of mindfulness,
so that consciousness is permanently ceased?
I now request that you would explain to me with any means
and cause me to be without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“In internal and external sensations,
one does not give rise to delight.
This is the operation of mindfulness,
[so that] consciousness would cease permanently.”

Sanskrit version
[Ajita asked:]
“How is consciousness stopped
for one who wanders mindful?
Tell me about this when asked,
precisely and without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“Internally and externally,
from not finding pleasure in sensation,
consciousness is thus stopped
for one who wanders mindful.”

Tibetan version
[Ajita asked:]
“How is consciousness stopped
for one who proceeds endowed with mindfulness?
Please explain that to me
exactly as it is, without doubt.”

[The Buddha replied:]
“In internal and external sensations,
if not finding pleasure,
in that way consciousness is stopped
for one who proceeds endowed with mindfulness.”

This was possibly the result of textual loss in the Pāli canon.
"For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an non-deceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an non-deceptive nature."

- Dhātuvibhaṅga sutta
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Ceisiwr
Posts: 15560
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: Questions of Ajita parallels

Post by Ceisiwr »

Perhaps not a textual loss after all. The stanzas are there in Snp 5.13
"For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an non-deceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an non-deceptive nature."

- Dhātuvibhaṅga sutta
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