Saṁyutta Nikāya — The Connected Discourses

SN4: Connected Discourses with Māra

SN4:18 Alms

1On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Magadhans at the brahmin village of Pañcasala. sn.i.114 Now on that occasion the gift-festival of the young people was being held at the brahmin village of Pañcasala.[n.293] Se and Ee1 & 2 have kumarakanam as against Be kumarikanam, "of the young girls." Spk explains that on this day—"a kind of St. Valentine's Day" (KS 1:143, n. 1)—the young girls send presents to their sweethearts among the boys, and the boys send ornaments to the girls, even a garland of flowers if they can give nothing else. Then, in the morning, the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Pañcasala for alms. Now on that occasion Māra the Evil One had taken possession of the brahmin householders of Pañcasala, (inciting in them the thought,) "Don’t let the ascetic Gotama get alms."

2Then the Blessed One left Pañcasala with his bowl just as cleanly washed as it was when he entered it for alms. Then Māra the Evil One approached the Blessed One and said to him: "Maybe you got alms, ascetic?"

"Was it you, Evil One, who saw to it that I didn’t get alms?"

"Then, venerable sir, let the Blessed One enter Pañcasala a second time for alms. I will see to it that the Blessed One gets alms."[n.294] Spk: Five hundred maidens were about to offer festival cakes to the Buddha, and the Buddha would have given them a discourse at the conclusion of which they would have been established in the fruit of stream-entry; but Māra, wishing to prevent this outcome, took possession of the girls. The expression yatha dhotena pattena, "with a bowl just as cleanly washed as when he entered," is a euphemistic way of saying that the bowl was empty.
Spk: Māra made a false promise when he offered "to see to it" that the Buddha would get alms. He actually wanted the Buddha to expose himself to ridicule by the village boys (for coming for alms a second time after leaving with an empty bowl).

The Blessed One:

3v.482 "You have produced demerit, Māra,
Having assailed the Tathāgata.
Do you really think, O Evil One,
‘My evil does not ripen’?

4v.483 "Happily indeed we live,
We who own nothing at all.
We shall dwell feeding on rapture
Like the devas of Streaming Radiance."[n.295] Spk explains kiñcana, in pāda b, as "the various kinds of defilements such as the ‘something’ (called) lust, etc." On the use of kiñcana to denote defilements, see SN41.7 (IV 297,18–19). The devas of Streaming Radiance (deva abhassara) inhabit the highest plane corresponding to the second jhāna, located in the form realm. They are said to subsist on rapture (pitibhakkha) because they are sustained by the nourishment of the jhāna. The verse occurs at Dhp 200, the story at Dhp-a 257–58; see BL 3:72–73. In the sequel to the verse, omitted in BL, the five hundred girls hear the Buddha’s verse and become established in the fruit of stream-entry.

5Then Māra the Evil One … disappeared right there.

1Ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā magadhesu vihārati pañcasālāyaṁ brāhmaṇagāme. Tena kho pana samayena pañcasālāyaṁ brāhmaṇagāme kumārikānaṁ pāhunakāni bhavanti. Atha kho bhagavā pubbaṇhasamayaṁ nivāsetvā pattacīvaramādāya pañcasālaṁ brāhmaṇagāmaṁ piṇḍāya pāvisi. Tena kho pana samayena pañcasāleyyakā brāhmaṇagahapatikā mārena pāpimatā anvāviṭṭhā bhavanti: "mā samaṇo gotamo piṇḍamalatthā"ti.

2Atha kho bhagavā yathādhotena pattena pañcasālaṁ brāhmaṇagāmaṁ piṇḍāya pāvisi tathādhotena pattena paṭikkami. Atha kho māro pāpimā yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "api tvaṁ, samaṇa, piṇḍamalatthā"ti?

"Tathā nu tvaṁ, pāpima, akāsi yathāhaṁ piṇḍaṁ na labheyyan"ti.

"Tena hi, bhante, bhagavā dutiyampi pañcasālaṁ brāhmaṇagāmaṁ piṇḍāya pavisatu. Tathāhaṁ karissāmi yathā bhagavā piṇḍaṁ lacchatī"ti.

3"Apuññaṁ pasavi māro,
āsajja naṁ tathāgataṁ;
Kiṁ nu maññasi pāpima,
na me pāpaṁ vipaccati.

4Susukhaṁ vata jīvāma,
yesaṁ no natthi kiñcanaṁ;
Pītibhakkhā bhavissāma,
devā ābhassarā yathā"ti.

5Atha kho māro pāpimā "jānāti maṁ bhagavā, jānāti maṁ sugato"ti dukkhī dummano tatthevantaradhāyīti.