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Saṁyutta Nikāya — The Connected Discourses

SN48: Connected Discourses on the Faculties

SN48:42 The Brahmin Uṇṇabha

1At Sāvatthī. Then the brahmin Uṇṇabha approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One:

2"Master Gotama, these five faculties have different domains, different resorts; they do not experience each others’ resort and domain. What five? The eye faculty, the ear faculty, the nose faculty, the tongue faculty, the body faculty.[n.225] The same conversation is recorded at MN I 295,5–17. Though the five faculties are usually identified with the physical sense organs, here they seem to correspond to the five kinds of sense consciousness, for the physical sense faculties cannot properly be said to experience (paccanubhoti) an objective domain (visaya) or resort (gocara). Their function is only to serve as the media through which consciousness cognizes objects. sn.v.218 Now, Master Gotama, as these five faculties have different domains, different resorts, and do not experience each others’ resort and domain, what is it that they take recourse in? And what is it that experiences their resort and domain?"

3"Brahmin, these five faculties have different domains, different resorts; they do not experience each others’ resort and domain. What five? The eye faculty, the ear faculty, the nose faculty, the tongue faculty, the body faculty. Now, brahmin, these five faculties having different domains, different resorts, not experiencing each others’ resort and domain—they take recourse in the mind, and the mind experiences their resort and domain."[n.226] Manopaṭisaraṇaṁ mano ca nesaṁ gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhoti. Spk explains mano here as the mind-door javana, which experiences the object by way of lust, hatred, or delusion. In my view, this introduces an unnecessary ethical slant on the passage, which I take to be primarily epistemic in import. I interpret the sentence simply to mean that mind-consciousness has access to the data provided by the five types of sense consciousness, which it collates, categorizes, and interprets with its own stock-in-trade, namely, concepts.

4"But, Master Gotama, what is it that the mind takes recourse in?"

"The mind, brahmin, takes recourse in mindfulness."

"But, Master Gotama, what is it that mindfulness takes recourse in?"

"Mindfulness, brahmin, takes recourse in liberation."[n.227] Spk: Mindfulness is the path, liberation the fruit.

"But, Master Gotama, what is it that liberation takes recourse in?"

"Liberation, brahmin, takes recourse in Nibbāna."

"But, Master Gotama, what is it that Nibbāna takes recourse in?"

"You have gone beyond the range of questioning, brahmin. You weren’t able to grasp the limit to questioning. For, brahmin, the holy life is lived with Nibbāna as its ground, Nibbāna as its destination, Nibbāna as its final goal."[n.228] Also at SN23.1. See III, n. 243. Ee ajjhaparaṁ should be amended. Be has accayāsi, Se ccasarā, either of which is acceptable.

5Then the brahmin Uṇṇabha, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One's statement, rose from his seat and paid homage to the Blessed One, after which he departed keeping him on his right.

6Then, not long after the brahmin Uṇṇabha had departed, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:

"Bhikkhus, suppose in a house or hall with a peaked roof, opposite a window facing east, the sun was rising. When its rays enter through the window, where would they settle?"


"On the western wall, venerable sir." sn.v.219

"So too, bhikkhus, the brahmin Uṇṇabha has gained faith in the Tathāgata that is settled, deeply rooted, established, firm. It cannot be removed by any ascetic or brahmin or deva or Māra or Brahma or by anyone in the world. If, bhikkhus, the brahmin Uṇṇabha were to die at this time, there is no fetter bound by which he might again come to this world."[n.229] This is the usual way of declaring him to be a nonreturner. Strangely, however, Spk says this was stated to indicate that he stood in the position of a "jhāna nonreturner," meaning that he was a stream-enterer who had abandoned the five hindrances by the first jhāna. If he were to die without having fallen away from jhāna he would be reborn in a higher world and attain final Nibbāna there, while if he were to lose the jhāna his destiny would be undetermined. However, he did not lose it, so his destiny was determined; thus the Buddha made this declaration to indicate he was a "jhāna nonreturner."

1Sāvatthinidānaṁ. Atha kho uṇṇābho brāhmaṇo yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavatā saddhiṁ sammodi. Sammodanīyaṁ kathaṁ sāraṇīyaṁ vītisāretvā ekamantaṁ nisīdi. Ekamantaṁ nisinno kho uṇṇābho brāhmaṇo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: 

2"Pañcimāni, bho gotama, indriyāni nānāvisayāni nānāgocarāni, na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhonti. Katamāni pañca? Cakkhundriyaṁ, sotindriyaṁ, ghānindriyaṁ, jivhindriyaṁ, kāyindriyaṁ. Imesaṁ nu kho, bho gotama, pañcannaṁ indriyānaṁ nānāvisayānaṁ nānāgocarānaṁ na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhontānaṁ kiṁ paṭisaraṇaṁ, ko ca nesaṁ gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhotī"ti?

3"Pañcimāni, brāhmaṇa, indriyāni nānāvisayāni nānāgocarāni na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhonti. Katamāni pañca? Cakkhundriyaṁ, sotindriyaṁ, ghānindriyaṁ, jivhindriyaṁ, kāyindriyaṁ. Imesaṁ kho, brāhmaṇa, pañcannaṁ indriyānaṁ nānāvisayānaṁ nānāgocarānaṁ na aññamaññassa gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhontānaṁ mano paṭisaraṇaṁ, manova nesaṁ gocaravisayaṁ paccanubhotī"ti.

4"Manassa pana, bho gotama, kiṁ paṭisaraṇan"ti?

"Manassa kho, brāhmaṇa, sati paṭisaraṇan"ti.

"Satiyā pana, bho gotama, kiṁ paṭisaraṇan"ti?

"Satiyā kho, brāhmaṇa, vimutti paṭisaraṇan"ti.

"Vimuttiyā pana, bho gotama, kiṁ paṭisaraṇan"ti?

"Vimuttiyā kho, brāhmaṇa, nibbānaṁ paṭisaraṇan"ti.

"Nibbānassa pana, bho gotama, kiṁ paṭisaraṇan"ti?

"Accayāsi, brāhmaṇa, pañhaṁ, nāsakkhi pañhassa pariyantaṁ gahetuṁ. Nibbānogadhañhi, brāhmaṇa, brahmacariyaṁ vussati nibbānaparāyaṇaṁ nibbānapariyosānan"ti.

5Atha kho uṇṇābho brāhmaṇo bhagavato bhāsitaṁ abhinanditvā anumoditvā uṭṭhāyāsanā bhagavantaṁ abhivādetvā padakkhiṇaṁ katvā pakkāmi.

6Atha kho bhagavā acirapakkante uṇṇābhe brāhmaṇe bhikkhū āmantesi:

"Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, kūṭāgāre vā kūṭāgārasālāyaṁ vā pācīnavātapānā sūriye uggacchante vātapānena rasmi pavisitvā kvāssa patiṭṭhitā"ti?


"Pacchimāyaṁ, bhante, bhittiyan"ti.

"Evameva kho, bhikkhave, uṇṇābhassa brāhmaṇassa tathāgate saddhā niviṭṭhā mūlajātā patiṭṭhitā daḷhā asaṁhāriyā samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṁ. Imamhi ce, bhikkhave, samaye uṇṇābho brāhmaṇo kālaṁ kareyya, natthi taṁ saṁyojanaṁ yena saṁyojanena saṁyutto uṇṇābho brāhmaṇo puna imaṁ lokaṁ āgaccheyyā"ti.

Dutiyaṁ.