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Saṁyutta Nikāya — The Connected Discourses

SN35: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases

SN35:87 Channa

1On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary.[n.48] The sutta is also at MN144, entitled the Channovada Sutta. Obviously, this Channa is different from the one who appears at SN22.90. Now on that occasion the Venerable Sāriputta, the Venerable Mahācunda, and the Venerable Channa were dwelling on Mount Vulture Peak, and the Venerable Channa was sick, afflicted, gravely ill. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta sn.iv.56 emerged from seclusion, approached the Venerable Mahācunda, and said to him: "Come, friend Cunda, let us approach the Venerable Channa and ask about his illness."

"Yes, friend," the Venerable Mahācunda replied.

2Then the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahācunda approached the Venerable Channa and exchanged greetings with him, after which they sat down in the appointed seats. The Venerable Sāriputta then said to the Venerable Channa: "I hope you are bearing up, friend Channa, I hope you are getting better. I hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned."

3"Friend Sāriputta, I am not bearing up, I am not getting better. [n.49] What follows is the stock description of unbearable pain. Strong painful feelings are increasing in me, not subsiding, and their increase, not their subsiding, is to be discerned. Just as if a strong man were to split my head open with a sharp sword, so too violent winds cut through my head. I am not bearing up … . Just as if a strong man were to tighten a tough leather strap around my head as a headband, so too there are violent pains in my head. I am not bearing up … . Just as if a skilled butcher or his apprentice were to carve up an ox's belly with a sharp butcher's knife, so too violent winds are carving up my belly. I am not bearing up … . Just as if two strong men were to seize a weaker man by both arms and roast him over a pit of hot coals, sn.iv.57 so too there is a violent burning in my body. I am not bearing up, I am not getting better. Strong painful feelings are increasing in me, not subsiding, and their increase, not their subsiding, is to be discerned. I will use the knife,[n.50] Satthaṁ aharissami. An expression for committing suicide. friend Sāriputta, I have no desire to live."

4"Let the Venerable Channa not use the knife. Let the Venerable Channa live. We want the Venerable Channa to live. If the Venerable Channa lacks suitable food, I will go in search of suitable food for him; if he lacks suitable medicine, I will go in search of suitable medicine for him; if he lacks a proper attendant, I will attend on him. Let the Venerable Channa not use the knife. Let the Venerable Channa live. We want the Venerable Channa to live."

5"Friend Sāriputta, it is not that I lack suitable food; I have suitable food. It is not that I lack suitable medicine; I have suitable medicine. It is not that I lack proper attendants; I have proper attendants. Moreover, friend, for a long time the Teacher has been served by me in an agreeable way, not in a disagreeable way; for it is proper for a disciple to serve the Teacher in an agreeable way, not in a disagreeable way. Remember this, friend Sāriputta: the bhikkhu Channa will use the knife blamelessly."[n.51] Anupavajjaṁ Channo bhikkhu satthaṁ āharissati. By this he seems to be insinuating that he is an arahant. Spk glosses "blamelessly" (anupavajjaṇ) with "without continued existence, without rebirth (appavattikaṇ appaṇtisandhikaṁ)."

6"We would ask the Venerable Channa about a certain point, if he would grant us the favour of answering our question." sn.iv.58

"Ask, friend Sāriputta. When I have heard I shall know."

7"Friend Channa, do you regard the eye, eye-consciousness, and things cognizable with eye-consciousness thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’? Do you regard the ear, ear-consciousness, and things cognizable with ear-consciousness thus … ? Do you regard the mind, mind-consciousness, and things cognizable with mind-consciousness thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?

8"Friend Sāriputta, I regard the eye, eye-consciousness, and things cognizable with eye-consciousness thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ I regard the ear, ear-consciousness, and things cognizable with ear-consciousness thus … I regard the mind, mind-consciousness, and things cognizable with mind-consciousness thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’"

9"Friend Channa, what have you seen and directly known in the eye, in eye-consciousness, and in things cognizable with eye-consciousness, that you regard them thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self’? What have you seen and directly known in the ear … in the mind, in mind-consciousness, and in things cognizable with mind-consciousness, that you regard them thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self’?"

10"Friend Sāriputta, it is because I have seen and directly known cessation in the eye, in eye-consciousness, and in things cognizable with eye-consciousness, that I regard them thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ It is because I have seen and directly known cessation in the ear … sn.iv.59 … in the mind, in mind-consciousness, and in things cognizable with mind-consciousness, that I regard them thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’"[n.52] Spk: Channa replied to Sāriputta's questions by ascribing arahantship to himself, but Sāriputta, while knowing that he was still a worldling, just kept quiet. Mahācunda, however, gave him an exhortation to convince him of this.

11When this was said, the Venerable Mahācunda said to the Venerable Channa: "Therefore, friend Channa, this teaching of the Blessed One is to be constantly given close attention: ‘For one who is dependent there is wavering; for one who is independent there is no wavering. When there is no wavering, there is tranquillity; when there is tranquillity, there is no inclination; when there is no inclination, there is no coming and going; when there is no coming and going, there is no passing away and being reborn; when there is no passing away and being reborn, there is neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. This itself is the end of suffering.’"[n.53] This "teaching of the Blessed One" is at Ud 4.4. Spk explains the connection between the teaching and the present situation thus: For one who is dependent (nissitassa): "dependent" on account of craving, conceit, and views; there is wavering (calitaṇ): palpitation. As Channa is unable to endure the arisen pain, there is now the palpitation of one who isn’t free from the grip of such thoughts as "I am in pain, the pain is mine." By this, he is telling him, "You’re still a worldling." No inclination (nati): no inclination of craving. No coming by way of rebirth, no going by way of death. This itself is the end of suffering: this itself is the end, the termination, the limit, of the suffering of defilements and of the suffering of the round. As to those who argue that the phrase "in between the two" (ubhayamantarena) implies an intermediate state (antarābhava), their statement is nonsense, for the existence of an intermediate state is rejected in the Abhidhamma. Therefore the meaning is: "Neither here, nor there, nor both—the other alternative."
Though the Theravada Abhidhamma (see Kvu 362–66) and the commentaries argue against the existence of an antarabhava, a number of canonical texts seem to support this notion. See below n. 382, and V, n. 65.

12Then, when the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahācunda had given the Venerable Channa this exhortation, they rose from their seats and departed. Then, soon after they had left, the Venerable Channa used the knife.[n.54] Spk: He cut his jugular vein and just then the fear of death entered him. As the sign of his rebirth destiny appeared, he realized he was still a worldling and his mind became agitated. He set up insight, discerned the formations, and reaching arahantship, he attained final Nibbāna as a "same-header" (samasīsī). Spk: The elder, thinking, "What is the use of living?" lay down and slit his jugular vein with a knife. Painful feelings arose. He suppressed them, comprehended the pains (with insight), set up mindfulness, explored his meditation subject, and attained arahantship as a "same-header" (samasisi; see Pp 13,25–27, commented on at Pp-a 186–87). He was a jīvitasamasisi, one who attains the destruction of defilements and the end of life simultaneously. (Another kind of samasisi recovers from a grave illness at the same time that he attains arahantship.)


13Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: "Venerable sir, the Venerable Channa has used the knife. What is his destination, what is his future bourn?"

"Sāriputta, didn’t the bhikkhu Channa declare his blameless-ness right in your presence?"[n.55] Spk: Although this declaration (of blamelessness) was made while Channa was still a worldling, as his attainment of final Nibbāna followed immediately, the Buddha answered by referring to that very declaration.
It should be noted that this commentarial interpretation is imposed on the text from the outside, as it were. If one sticks to the actual wording of the text it seems that Channa was already an arahant when he made his declaration, the dramatic punch being delivered by the failure of his two brother-monks to recognize this. The implication, of course, is that excruciating pain might motivate even an arahant to take his own life—not from aversion but simply from a wish to be free from unbearable pain.


"Venerable sir, there is a Vajjian village named Pubbavijjhana. There the Venerable Channa had friendly families, intimate families, hospitable families."[n.56] The name of the village differs slightly among the various eds.; I follow Ee here. I take mittakulāni suhajjakulani upavajjakulāni—the terms used to describe the lay families that supported the Venerable Channa—to be synonyms. The third term gives the opportunity for a word play. Spk glosses it as upasaṅkamitabbakulāni, "families to be approached" (that is, for his requisites). According to CPD, upavajja here represents Skt upavrajya; the word in this sense is not in PED, though this may be the only instance where it bears such a meaning. The word is homonymous with another word meaning "blameworthy," representing Skt upavadya, thus linking up with Channa's earlier avowal that he would kill himself blamelessly (anupavajja). See the following note.

"The Venerable Channa did indeed have these friendly families, Sāriputta, intimate families, hospitable families; but I do not sn.iv.60 say that to this extent one is blameworthy. Sāriputta, when one lays down this body and takes up another body, then I say one is blameworthy. This did not happen in the case of the bhikkhu Channa. The bhikkhu Channa used the knife blamelessly. Thus, Sāriputta, should you remember it."[n.57] When the Buddha speaks about the conditions under which one is blameworthy (sa-upavajja), upavajja represents upavadya. Though earlier Spk explained the correct sense of upavajjakulāni, here the commentator seems oblivious to the pun and comments as if Channa had actually been at fault for associating too closely with lay people: "The Elder Sāriputta, showing the fault of intimacy with families (kulasaṇsaggadosa) in the preliminary stage of practice, asks: ‘When that bhikkhu had such supporters, could he have attained final Nibbāna?’ The Blessed One answers showing that he was not intimate with families. For intimacy with families as a fault in monks, see 9:7, 16:3, 16:4, 20:9, 20:10."

1Ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā rājagahe vihārati veḷuvane kalandakanivāpe. Tena kho pana samayena āyasmā ca sāriputto āyasmā ca mahācundo āyasmā ca channo gijjhakūṭe pabbate vihāranti. Tena kho pana samayena yena āyasmā channo ābādhiko hoti dukkhito bāḷhagilāno. Atha kho āyasmā sāriputto sāyanhasamayaṁ paṭisallānā vuṭṭhito yenāyasmā mahācundo tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā āyasmantaṁ mahācundaṁ etadavoca: "āyāmāvuso cunda, yenāyasmā channo tenupasaṅkamissāma gilānapucchakā"ti.

"Evamāvuso"ti kho āyasmā mahācundo āyasmato sāriputtassa paccassosi.

2Atha kho āyasmā ca sāriputto āyasmā ca mahācundo yenāyasmā channo tenupasaṅkamiṁsu; upasaṅkamitvā paññatte āsane nisīdiṁsu. Nisajja kho āyasmā sāriputto āyasmantaṁ channaṁ etadavoca: "Kacci te, āvuso channa, khamanīyaṁ, kacci yāpanīyaṁ, kacci dukkhā vedanā paṭikkamanti no abhikkamanti, paṭikkamosānaṁ paññāyati no abhikkamo"ti?

3"Na me, āvuso sāriputta, khamanīyaṁ na yāpanīyaṁ, bāḷhā me dukkhā vedanā abhikkamanti no paṭikkamanti, abhikkamosānaṁ paññāyati no paṭikkamo. Seyyathāpi, āvuso, balavā puriso tiṇhena sikharena muddhani abhimattheyya; evameva kho, āvuso, adhimattā vātā muddhani ūhananti. Na me, āvuso, khamanīyaṁ, na yāpanīyaṁ … pe … no paṭikkamo. Seyyathāpi, āvuso, balavā puriso daḷhena varattakkhaṇḍena sīse sīsaveṭhaṁ dadeyya; evameva kho, āvuso, adhimattā sīse sīsavedanā. Na me, āvuso, khamanīyaṁ, na yāpanīyaṁ … pe … no paṭikkamo. Seyyathāpi, āvuso, dakkho goghātako vā goghātakantevāsī vā tiṇhena govikantanena kucchiṁ parikanteyya; evameva kho adhimattā vātā kucchiṁ parikantanti. Na me, āvuso, khamanīyaṁ, na yāpanīyaṁ … pe … no paṭikkamo. Seyyathāpi, āvuso, dve balavanto purisā dubbalataraṁ purisaṁ nānābāhāsu gahetvā aṅgārakāsuyā santāpeyyuṁ samparitāpeyyuṁ; evameva kho, āvuso, adhimatto kāyasmiṁ ḍāho. Na me, āvuso, khamanīyaṁ, na yāpanīyaṁ, bāḷhā me dukkhā vedanā abhikkamanti no paṭikkamanti, abhikkamosānaṁ paññāyati no paṭikkamo. Satthaṁ, āvuso sāriputta, āharissāmi, nāvakaṅkhāmi jīvitan"ti.

4"Mā āyasmā channo satthaṁ āharesi. Yāpetāyasmā channo, yāpentaṁ mayaṁ āyasmantaṁ channaṁ icchāma. Sace āyasmato channassa natthi sappāyāni bhojanāni, ahaṁ āyasmato channassa sappāyāni bhojanāni pariyesissāmi. Sace āyasmato channassa natthi sappāyāni bhesajjāni, ahaṁ āyasmato channassa sappāyāni bhesajjāni pariyesissāmi. Sace āyasmato channassa natthi patirūpā upaṭṭhākā, ahaṁ āyasmantaṁ channaṁ upaṭṭhahissāmi. Mā āyasmā channo satthaṁ āharesi. Yāpetāyasmā channo, yāpentaṁ mayaṁ āyasmantaṁ channaṁ icchāmā"ti.

5"Na me, āvuso sāriputta, natthi sappāyāni bhojanāni; atthi me sappāyāni bhojanāni. Napi me natthi sappāyāni bhesajjāni; atthi me sappāyāni bhesajjāni. Napi me natthi patirūpā upaṭṭhākā; atthi me patirūpā upaṭṭhākā. Api ca me, āvuso, satthā pariciṇṇo dīgharattaṁ manāpeneva, no amanāpena. Etañhi, āvuso, sāvakassa patirūpaṁ yaṁ satthāraṁ paricareyya manāpeneva, no amanāpena. ‘Anupavajjaṁ channo bhikkhu satthaṁ āharissatī’ti – evametaṁ, āvuso sāriputta, dhārehī"ti.

6"Puccheyyāma mayaṁ āyasmantaṁ channaṁ kañcideva desaṁ, sace āyasmā channo okāsaṁ karoti pañhassa veyyākaraṇāyā"ti.

"Pucchāvuso sāriputta, sutvā vedissāmā"ti.

7"Cakkhuṁ, āvuso channa, cakkhuviññāṇaṁ cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassasi … pe … jivhaṁ, āvuso channa, jivhāviññāṇaṁ jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassasi … pe … manaṁ, āvuso channa, manoviññāṇaṁ manoviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassasī"ti?

8"Cakkhuṁ, āvuso sāriputta, cakkhuviññāṇaṁ cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmi … pe … jivhaṁ, āvuso sāriputta, jivhāviññāṇaṁ jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmi … pe … manaṁ, āvuso sāriputta, manoviññāṇaṁ manoviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmī"ti.

9"Cakkhusmiṁ, āvuso channa, cakkhuviññāṇe cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu kiṁ disvā kiṁ abhiññāya cakkhuṁ cakkhuviññāṇaṁ cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassasi … jivhāya, āvuso channa, jivhāviññāṇe jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu kiṁ disvā kiṁ abhiññāya jivhaṁ jivhāviññāṇaṁ jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassasi … manasmiṁ, āvuso channa, manoviññāṇe manoviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu kiṁ disvā kiṁ abhiññāya manaṁ manoviññāṇaṁ manoviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassasī"ti?

10"Cakkhusmiṁ, āvuso sāriputta, cakkhuviññāṇe cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu nirodhaṁ disvā nirodhaṁ abhiññāya cakkhuṁ cakkhuviññāṇaṁ cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmi … pe … jivhāya, āvuso sāriputta, jivhāviññāṇe jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu nirodhaṁ disvā nirodhaṁ abhiññāya jivhaṁ jivhāviññāṇaṁ jivhāviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmi … pe … manasmiṁ, āvuso sāriputta, manoviññāṇe manoviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu nirodhaṁ disvā nirodhaṁ abhiññāya manaṁ manoviññāṇaṁ manoviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassāmī"ti.

11Evaṁ vutte, āyasmā mahācundo āyasmantaṁ channaṁ etadavoca: "tasmātiha, āvuso channa, idampi tassa bhagavato sāsanaṁ niccakappaṁ sādhukaṁ manasi kātabbaṁ: ‘nissitassa calitaṁ, anissitassa calitaṁ natthi. Calite asati passaddhi hoti. Passaddhiyā sati nati na hoti. Natiyā asati āgatigati na hoti. Āgatigatiyā asati cutūpapāto na hoti. Cutūpapāte asati nevidha na huraṁ na ubhayamantarena. Esevanto dukkhassā’"ti.

12Atha kho āyasmā ca sāriputto āyasmā ca mahācundo āyasmantaṁ channaṁ iminā ovādena ovaditvā uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkamiṁsu. Atha kho āyasmā channo acirapakkantesu tesu āyasmantesu satthaṁ āharesi.


13Atha kho āyasmā sāriputto yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā ekamantaṁ nisīdi. Ekamantaṁ nisinno kho āyasmā sāriputto bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "āyasmatā, bhante, channena satthaṁ āharitaṁ. Tassa kā gati ko abhisamparāyo"ti?

"Nanu te, sāriputta, channena bhikkhunā sammukhāyeva anupavajjatā byākatā"ti?


"Atthi, bhante, pubbavijjanaṁ nāma vajjigāmo. Tatthāyasmato channassa mittakulāni suhajjakulāni upavajjakulānī"ti.

"Honti hete, sāriputta, channassa bhikkhuno mittakulāni suhajjakulāni upavajjakulāni. Na kho panāhaṁ, sāriputta, ettāvatā saupavajjoti vadāmi. Yo kho, sāriputta, tañca kāyaṁ nikkhipati, aññañca kāyaṁ upādiyati, tamahaṁ saupavajjoti vadāmi. Taṁ channassa bhikkhuno natthi. ‘Anupavajjaṁ channena bhikkhunā satthaṁ āharitan’ti – evametaṁ, sāriputta, dhārehī"ti.

Catutthaṁ.