AN 4.36 Doṇa

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AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:51 am

AN 4.36 (AN ii 37) Doṇa
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


On one occasion the Blessed One was traveling along the highway between Ukkaṭṭhā and Setavya. The brahmin Doṇa was also traveling along the highway between Ukkaṭṭhā and Setavya. The brahmin Doṇa then saw the thousand-spoked wheels of the Blessed One’s footprints, with their rims and hubs, complete in all respects, [695] and thought: “It is astounding and amazing! These surely could not be the footprints of a human being!”

Then the Blessed One left the highway and sat down at the foot of a tree, folding his legs crosswise, straightening his body, and establishing mindfulness in front of him. Tracking the Blessed One’s footprints, the brahmin Doṇa saw the Blessed One sitting at the foot of the tree—graceful, inspiring confidence, with peaceful faculties and peaceful mind, one who had attained to the highest taming and serenity, like a tamed and guarded bull elephant with controlled faculties. He then approached the Blessed One and said to him:

(1) “Could you be a deva, sir?” [696]

“I will not be a deva, brahmin.”

(2) “Could you be a gandhabba, sir?” [697]

“I will not be a gandhabba, brahmin.”

(3) “Could you be a yakkha, sir?”

“I will not be a yakkha, brahmin.”

(4) “Could you be a human being, sir?”

“I will not be a human being, brahmin.”

“When you are asked: ‘Could you be a deva, sir?’ you say: ‘I will not be a deva, brahmin.’ When you are asked: ‘Could you be a gandhabba, sir?’ you say: ‘I will not be a gandhabba, brahmin.’ When you are asked: ‘Could you be a yakkha, sir?’ you say: ‘I will not be a yakkha, brahmin.’ When you are asked: ‘Could you be a human being, sir?’ you say: ‘I will not be a human being, brahmin.’ What, then, could you be, sir?”

(1) “Brahmin, I have abandoned those taints because of which I might have become a deva; I have cut them off at the root, made them like palm stumps, obliterated them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. (2) I have abandoned those taints because of which I might have become a gandhabba … (3) … might have become a yakkha … (4) … might have become a human being; I have cut them off at the root, made them like palm stumps, obliterated them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Just as a blue, red, or white lotus flower, though born in the water and grown up in the water, rises above the water and stands unsoiled by the water, even so, though born in the world and grown up in the world, I have overcome the world and dwell unsoiled by the world. Remember me, brahmin, as a Buddha.

    “I have destroyed those taints by which
    I might have been reborn as a deva
    or as a gandhabba that travels through the sky;
    by which I might have reached the state of a yakkha,
    or arrived back at the human state: [698]
    I have dispelled and cut down these taints.

    “As a lovely white lotus
    is not soiled by the water,
    I am not soiled by the world:
    therefore, O brahmin, I am a Buddha.” [699]
Notes

[695] This is one of the thirty-two marks of a great person, said to be the karmic consequence of living for the happiness of many, dispelling fear and terror, providing lawful protection and shelter, and supplying all necessities. See DN 30.1.7, III 147–49.

[696] Mp interprets the conversation on both sides as referring to the future: the brahmin asks about the Buddha’s future rebirth and the latter replies with respect to his future rebirth. As I read the exchange, however, a subtle word play is involved. The brahmin uses the future bhavissati as a polite way of inquiring about the present, which I render “could you be?” (Bhavissanti is used above in just this way, negatively, in the sentence, na vat’imāni manussabhūtassa padāni bhavissanti, “These could not be….”) But the Buddha uses the future form literally and thus in each case answers, “I will not be” (na bhavissāmi), referring to his destiny in a future life. Two Chinese parallels, SĀ 101 (at T II 28a19–28b17) and EĀ 38.3 (at T II 717c18–718a12), render this entire conversation as pertaining to the present. The brahmin asks the Buddha whether he is () a deva, a nāga, etc., a human being, or a nonhuman being, and the Buddha simply denies () that he is any of these. There is no reference to the future.

[697] Gandhabbas are celestial beings sometimes depicted as the musicians of the devas. Yakkhas are fierce spirits noted for their destructiveness.

[698] The verb abbaje here is optative of abbajati (Skt āvrajati). See DOP sv abbajati.

[699] Mp: “At the end of the discourse, the brahmin attained three paths and fruits and, in 12,000 phrases, spoke the praise called ‘Doṇa’s Thunder.’ When a great commotion erupted after the Buddha’s passing, he settled it and distributed the relics” (at DN 16.6.25, II 166).

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Re: AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:58 am

AN 4.36 PTS: A ii 37
Dona Sutta: With Dona
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


A passerby, struck by the Buddha's serene presence, asks him, "What are you? Are you a deva? A spirit? A human being?" The Buddha's now-famous reply has made this one of the most oft-quoted passages in the entire Canon.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


On one occasion the Blessed One was traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya, and Dona the brahman was also traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya. Dona the brahman saw, in the Blessed One's footprints, wheels with 1,000 spokes, together with rims and hubs, complete in all their features. On seeing them, the thought occurred to him, "How amazing! How astounding! These are not the footprints of a human being!"

Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga.[1] On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"[2]

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."

"When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"

"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'

    "The fermentations by which I would go
    to a deva-state,
    or become a gandhabba in the sky,
    or go to a yakkha-state & human-state:
    Those have been destroyed by me,
    ruined, their stems removed.
    Like a blue lotus, rising up,
    unsmeared by water,
    unsmeared am I by the world,
    and so, brahman,
    I'm awake."
Notes

1. "Naga" is a term used to describe a great being, such as an elephant or a great, magical serpent. Buddhists adopted the term as an epithet for the Buddha and his arahant disciples.

2. Dona phrases his question in the future tense, which has led to a great deal of discussion as to what this entire dialogue means: Is he asking what the Buddha will be in a future life, or is he asking what he is right now? The context of the discussion seems to demand the second alternative — Dona wants to know what kind of being would have such amazing footprints, and the Buddha's image of the lotus describes his present state — but the grammar of Dona's questions would seem to demand the first. However, A. K. Warder, in his Introduction to Pali (p. 55), notes that the future tense is often used to express perplexity, surprise, or wonder about something in the present: "What might this be?" "What on earth is this?" This seems to be the sense of Dona's questions here. His earlier statement — "These are not the footprints of a human being" — is also phrased in the future tense, and the mood of wonder extends throughout his conversation with the Buddha.
It's also possible that the Buddha's answers to Dona's questions — which, like the questions, are put in the future tense — are a form of word-play, in which the Buddha is using the future tense in both its meanings, to refer both to his present and to his future state.

The Buddha's refusal to identify himself as a human being relates to a point made throughout the Canon, that an awakened person cannot be defined in any way at all. On this point, see MN 72, SN 22.85, SN 22.86, and the article, "A Verb for Nirvana." Because a mind with clinging is "located" by its clinging, an awakened person takes no place in any world: this is why he/she is unsmeared by the world (loka), like the lotus unsmeared by water.

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Re: AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:09 am

I heard it said that that meeting occurred immediately after the Buddha's enlightenment. Is this true as the sutta itself does not offer a clue to the chronology of this meeting.

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Re: AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:36 am

Perhaps the timing is in the Commentaries.

I actually had the Dona sutta confused with this passage from MN 26 Ariyapariyesanā, The Noble Search:

Then, bhikkhus, when I had stayed at Uruvelā as long as I chose, I set out to wander by stages to Benares. Between Gayā and the Place of Enlightenment the Ājīvaka Upaka saw me on the road and said: ‘Friend, your faculties are clear, the colour of your skin is pure and bright. Under whom have you gone forth, friend? Who is your teacher? Whose Dhamma do you profess? ’ I replied to the Ājīvaka Upaka in stanzas:

‘I am one who has transcended all, a knower of all,
Unsullied among all things, renouncing all,
By craving’s ceasing freed. Having known this all
For myself, to whom should I point as teacher?

I have no teacher, and one like me
Exists nowhere in all the world
With all its gods, because I have
No person for my counterpart.

I am the Accomplished One in the world,
I am the Teacher Supreme.
I alone am a Fully Enlightened One
Whose fires are quenched and extinguished.

I go now to the city of Kāsi
To set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma.
In a world that has become blind
I go to beat the drum of the Deathless.’

‘By your claims, friend, you ought to be the Universal Victor.’
‘The victors are those like me
Who have won to destruction of taints.
I have vanquished all evil states,
Therefore, Upaka, I am a victor.’

“When this was said, the Ājīvaka Upaka said: ‘May it be so, friend.’ Shaking his head, he took a bypath and departed.


:anjali:
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Re: AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby gavesako » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:52 am

This must be the same brahmin Dona who settled the dispute after Buddha's parinibbana and divided his relics among different clans:

http://www.budsir.org/E_hist79.htm
http://what-buddha-said.net/gallery/ind ... the_relics

1. Dona.-A brahmin. He was at Kusinārā at the time of the Buddha's death, and it was his intervention which prevented a quarrel among the kings who assembled there to claim the Buddha's relics. He pointed out to them the impropriety of a quarrel over anything connected with the Buddha, the teacher of Peace. The claimants thereupon asked Dona to undertake the distribution of the relics. He divided them into eight parts, one of which he gave to each king. He himself kept the vessel used for collecting and dividing the relics, and over it he built a thūpa, celebrating a feast in its honour (D.ii.166f; Bu.xxviii.4; UdA.402).
Dona first met the Buddha on the road between Ukkatthā and Setavyā. He saw the Buddha's footprints and, following them, he came upon the Buddha seated at the foot of a-tree. Dona asked him various questions as to his identity and the Buddha explained to him his Buddha-hood (A.ii.37f). The Commentary (AA.ii.505f) states that Dona was a teacher with a large following, and that the Buddha's journey to Setavyā was undertaken for the purpose of meeting him. At the end of the Buddha's discourse, Dona became an anāgāmī and composed a poem of twelve thousand words in praise of the Buddha. This poem became known as the Donagajjita. Dona was held in very high esteem as a teacher, and it is said (DA.ii.607f) that, at some time or other practically all the chiefs of Jambudīpa had sat at his feet. Therefore he was able to dissuade them from quarrelling over the Buddha's relics. On that occasion he stood on a hill and recited the Donagajjita. At first his voice could not be heard through the uproar, but, by degrees, they recognised his voice and listened with wrapt attention.
At the distribution of the relics, Dona, watching his opportunity, hid, in his turban, the right eye-tooth of the Buddha, but Sakka saw this, and thinking that Dona was incapable of rendering suitable honour to this relic, removed it and placed it in the Cūlāmani-cetiya (DA.ii.609).

http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/d/dona.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: AN 4.36 Doṇa

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:59 am

OK, I see now my confusion between Dona and Upaka as their stories share some similarities. :anjali:


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