Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi
At Savatthi. Standing to one side, that devata recited this verse in the presence of the Blessed One:
- “One who has sons delights in sons,
One with cattle delights in cattle.
Acquisitions truly are a man’s delight;
Without acquisitions one does not delight.”
- “One who has sons sorrows over sons,
One with cattle sorrows over cattle.
Acquisitions truly are a man’s sorrows;
Without acquisitions one does not sorrow.”
 Upadhi, “acquisitions” (from upa + dhā, “to rest upon”) means literally “that upon which something rests,” i.e., the “foundations” or “paraphernalia” of existence. The word has both objective and subjective extensions. Objectively, it refers to the things acquired, i.e., one’s assets and possessions; subjectively, to the act of appropriation rooted in craving. In many instances the two senses merge, and often both are intended. The word functions as a close counterpart of upādāna, “clinging,” to which,
however, it is not etymologically related. See in this connection 12:66 and II, n. 187,
- Idaṃ kho dukkhaṃ upadhinidānaṃ, etc. Spk: It has its source in “acquisition as the aggregates” (khandhupadhinidānaṃ); for here the five aggregates are intended by “acquisition.” On upadhi, see I, n. 21. The standard exegetical analysis of upadhi is fourfold: as defilements, aggregates, sensual pleasures, and volitional formations. As upadhi is conditioned by taṇhā, one might contend that here upadhi is synonymous with upādāna. Spk, however, does not endorse this interpretation, and the fact that upadhi is declared the basis for aging-and-death and the other types of suffering supports Spk’s gloss khandhupadhi. Possibly a double meaning is intended: upadhi as the aggregates is the immediate condition for aging-and-death, while upadhi as equivalent to upādāna is the remote condition for existence and birth, which in turn is the remote condition for aging-and-death. On upadhi as the origin of suffering, see Sn p. 141,7-8: yaṃ kiñci dukkhaṃ sambhoti sabbaṃ upadhipaccayā.
Spk (along with other commentaries) offers a fourfold classification of upadhi: (i) kāmūpadhi, acquisitions as sensual pleasures and material possessions; (ii) khandhūpadhi, the five aggregates; (iii) kilesūpadhi, defilements, which are the foundation for suffering in the realm of misery; and (iv) abhisaṅkhārūpadhi, volitional formations, accumulations of kamma, which are the foundation for all suffering in saṃsāra. In the deva’s verse upadhi is used in the first sense.
In his reply the Buddha turns the devatā’s expression “one without acquisitions” (nirupadhi) on its head by using the term as a designation for the arahant, who is free from all four kinds of upadhi and thus completely free from suffering. The pair of verses recurs below at 4:8, with Māra as the interlocutor.