Ekottara Agama 20.4



[i]‘Thus have I heard.

At one time the Buddha was staying in Śrāvastī, at Jetṛ’s Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. Then the Exalted One said to the bhikṣus:

Now it is apposite for me to say [the following] – there are persons who are like lions and those who are like sheep. Listen attentively and take heed (śṛṇuta ca suṣṭhu ca manasi-kuruta) of what [I am going to say].

We shall, Exalted One,[ii] replied the bhikṣus. [In order to] instruct them, the Exalted One went on:[iii]

How does a person resemble a lion? There is [, for example,] a bhikṣu, someone who receives what is respectfully offered (satkāra): robes,[iv] alms-food (piṇḍapāta), lodging (śayanāsana) and medicine for treating the sick.[v] Having received and then enjoying (pari-bhuj) them, attachment does not arise in his mind; neither thoughts of desire arise in him nor any [wrong] perception. Not [entertaining] any [wrong] ideas whatsoever, he is absolutely certain about the Teaching (dharma) conducive to emancipation (nairyāṇika). Even if he has to go without gains and favours (lābhasatkāra), he is neither distracted (vikṣipta) nor does he experience elation and dejection.

[He is] like the royal lion [whenever the latter has] to make do with a small domestic animal [as prey]. At that time the king of beasts, too, does not think like this: This is good, that is bad. - Attachment does not arise in his mind: neither thoughts of desire arise in him nor [wrong] perception. Similar is [the behaviour of] this person: Whenever[vi] he receives respectful offerings… attachment does not arise in his mind. Even if he does not receive anything, he does not entertain any [wrong] ideas.

Take for example someone who receives what people respectfully offer him: robes, alms-food, lodging, help and medicine for the sick. Having received and then enjoying them, attachment arises in his mind; thoughts of sensuous desire (kāmarāga) arise in him and he is absolutely oblivious of the path leading to emancipation. Should he receive nothing, he does not stop fretting.[vii] Having received respectful offerings, however, he boasts of himself and insults the other bhikṣus [by saying]: It is me who is fit (samartha) to receive robes … medicine for the sick, whereas these bhikṣus are not.

[Let us take] the simile of that single sheep in the midst of a large flock of sheep. Having separated itself from the flock, that sheep went to a large heap of dung. Having feasted on the faeces at a distance from the flock, it returned to it and, boasting of itself, [it insulted the other sheep by saying]: I am fit to receive excellent food, these sheep are not. Similarly, whenever the [second type of] person receives gains and favours, robes… medicine for the sick, he loses his composure and attachment arises in his mind; then he boasts of himself [while insulting] the [other] bhikṣus [by saying]: I am fit to receive (T2, 600a) respectful offerings, these bhikṣus are not.

Therefore, bhikṣus, you should train [to be] like the royal lion and not like the sheep. Thus, O bhikṣus, you should train.

After listening to the Buddha’s words, the bhikṣus were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice.[viii]

[i] CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 599, c5-p. 600, a4; Hayashi, p.181 ff. This translation originally published as Ekottarāgama XXVIII, Buddhist Studies Review 18.2, 2001, p 219-221. Translated from the Chinese version by Thích Huyên-Vi and Bhikkhu Pāsādika in collaboration with Sara Boin-Webb.

[ii] For ## read ##

[iii] Lit: ‘At that time the bhikṣus received instruction from the Buddha; the Exalted One said …’

[iv] ### rendering cīvara seems peculiar to EᾹ, Cf. BSR 11, 2 (1994), p.160, n.7, where the above two characters are translated separately rather than as a compound.

[v] ### rendering glānapratyayabhaiṣajya seems peculiar to EĀ. As for the translation of the term, cf. SWTF, 12th fascicle, p.259 s.v. cīvara °

[vi] Lit.: ‘if’.

[vii] Lit.: ‘always these thoughts arise’.

[viii] The second half of the EᾹ discourse has a parallel at S II, p. 228f.: Sāvatthi… Dāruṇo bhikkhave lābhasakkārasiloko… pe… adhigamāya… Seyyathapi bhikkhave piḷhakā gūthādī gūthapurā puṇṇā gūthassa… Noteworthy is the v.l. mīḷhakā of the Nālandā ed. In n. 3: elakā, ‘ewe, female sheep’, instead of ‘beetle’. For the English translation of S see F.H. Woodward, Kindred Sayings II PTS, London 1922 ff., p.155: ‘At Sāvatthī: - Dire, brethren, are gains, favors, and flattery… Just as if a beetle, dung-eating, dung-filled, stuffed with dung…’ The scarab beetle is, of course, readily associated with dung, and it seems altogether unlikely that a sheep, notwithstanding a certain amount of whimsy, should feed on dung. So the simile of the dung-beetle may be more plausible than that of the dung-consuming sheep.

The editors of T and Akanuma point out as a parallel to the above Pali sutta a place in the Chinese SᾹ: T2, 346a18-25. In this text, however, thematically a parallel cannot be seen. In the given SᾹ passage the Buddha compares existence in Saṁsāra to nauseating ordure, and the only element shared with the S discourse is the word ‘ordure/dung’.

Interestingly, there is another SᾹ version quoted in Bh. Pāsādika, Nāgārjuna’s Sūtrasamuccaya, A Critical Edition of the mḍo kun las btus pa, Copenhagen 1989, p.99 f. which, though deviating in some points, is a parallel both to S II, p. 228 f. and the second half of the present EᾹ text. Since the translation of the Yaṅ dag par ldan pa’ I luṅ passage in the Sūtrasamuccaya is not easily accessible, it may be quoted here (slightly amended) as it appeared in Linh-Son’ – publication d’études bouddhologiques 12 (1980), p. 31: ‘Under a Nyagrodha tree there stayed a large flock of sheep. Among that flock there was a sheep that fed on dung. It went to dung-pit to have a good meal, and having eaten to its heart’s content, it put in front of itself a heap of dung and sat down. Having turned its head it just looked down on the other sheep. Similar [is the behaviour of] a monk who is overcome and obsessed by [hankering after] gains, honors, and renown. He enters a village, a town, or a city to collect alms. There he eats to his heart’s content clean and tasty food and is also [invited] to lunch the following day. Carrying extra [portions of] the alms [to which he had been invited], he goes his way. Then he says to his [fellow] monks: Venerable sirs, we have partaken of this clean and delicious food to our heart’s content. The [extra] portions I do not require. It will be all right to throw the remains away; but if you like, have them. – Thus that [monk] just looks down on other well-behaved and deserving monks. In this way, monks, gains, honours, and renown are harmful (dāruṇa).’