MN 89 The Memorial of the Dhamma

HeartDhamma

MN 89 The Memorial of the Dhamma

 

Dhammacetiya Sutta #

 

A teaching on the sound reputation, the blunt proof of joy and smiling in the Buddha’s dispensation and the deep goodness of Dhamma.

 

Thus have I heard—

 

Once, the beloved teacher was living with the Sakyans

In Medāḷumpa, a small sakyan town.

 

At that time,

the king Pasenadi of Kosala

arrived in Nagaraka on some errands.

 

Then the king said to his esquire Kārānaya the tall: [1]

“Good Kārānaya, harness the finest carriage,

We are going to the lovely meadow,

to see its beauty.”

 

“As you please, your majesty.” He answered.

 

And he harnessed the finest carriage for the king and announced:

“A fine carriage has been harnessed your majesty,

you may go at any suitable time.

 

The king climbed aboard and left Nagaraka

in the full splendour of royal pomp

and set forth to the park.

 

[The King at the Park] #

 

Having gone as far as the carriage would allow,

He descended from and walk the rest of the way.

When he finally reached the park,

the King went for a leisure walk.

 

Walking over here, walking over there[2]

And there he discovered;

Roots of trees…

which were remarkably beautiful

uplifting,

quiet,

far from human voices,

breathing solitude,

away from the presence of men,

perfectly conducive for retreat.[3]

 

Upon seeing this, he remembered the Buddha:

Those roots of trees

Are remarkably beautiful

uplifting,

quiet,

far from human voices,

breathing solitude,

away from the presence of men,

perfectly conducive for retreat.

Just as when we attended on the Worthy Arahant,

The Perfectly All Awakened Buddha.

 

Then the king said to Kārāyana the Tall:

“Isn’t it so… good Kārāyana?”

 

“Good Kārāyana,

where does the Teacher,

the Arahant,

the Perfectly All Awakened Buddha reside now?”

 

“There is a Sakyan village named Medāḷupa your majesty.

This is where the Awakened One resides.”

 

“How far is this town good Kārāyana?

 

“Not very far your Majesty,

Three yojanas,

it is possible to make it there before sundown.”

 

“Then my good Kārāyana,

ready this finest carriage,

we are going to see the Perfectly All Awakened Buddha.”

 

Then Kārāyana the Tall prepared the carriage

and announced it to the King.

The king Pasenadi of Kosala embarked and they left

from Nagaraka to Medāḷupa.

 

[Visiting the Buddha] #

 

Before sundown,

they reached Medāḷupa

and made it for the park.

Having gone as far as the ground would allow,

They alighted and continued on foot.

 

On that occasion,

there was a great number of monks walking about in the open.

The king then went to these monks and asked:

 

“Bhante, where is the Bhagavā, the Arahant,

completely All-Awakened One now residing?

We long to see the Buddha.” [4]

“This is his residence, your majesty,

            with the closed door.

 

Approach quietly,

without rushing,

go to the porch,

scratch your throat

and knock on the door.

The Teacher will open the door for you.”

Then the king Pasenadi of Kosala gave his sword and turban

to Kārāyana the Tall.

 

And Kārāyana the Tall thought:

“The king is now going into a private meeting,

I will stand here and wait.” [5]

The king then went to the residence,

approaching quietly,

without rushing,

he went to the porch,

scratched his throat

and knocked on the door.

The Teacher opened the door.

 

When the King entered the dwelling,

he fell with his head at the feet of the Awakened One,

covered his feet with kisses,

lovingly rubbed his feet with his hands

and announced himself: [6]

 

“I am the King Pasenadi of Kosala Bhante.”

“I am the king Pasenadi of Kosala Bhante.”

 

[Buddha]

“What reason do you see, great king,

to pay such supreme respects to this body

And for exhibiting such striking display of affection?” [7]

 

[King Pasenadi]

“Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus: [8]

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’” [9]

 

[1. Prefect Spiritual Life] #

 

“Often Bhante,

I see some monks and brahmins

who have reached the climax in their practice,

who stopped making progress,

who live an incomplete spiritual life for 10 years,

Some for 20 years,

Some for 30 years

Some for 40 years.”

 

“Some time afterwards,

I see then all bathed clean,

all scented in perfumes,

with groomed hair and beards,

given, bent and immersed

in the five objects of sensory infatuation.”

 

“But here Bhante I see monks,

who live the spiritual life

for as long as their life lasts,

for as long as they breathe,

they are realized,

and thoroughly cleansed.” [10]

 

“I see none outside this community,

who live such fully realized,

and thoroughly cleansed spiritual life.” [11]

 

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[2. Living Harmoniously] #

 

“Further Bhante,

Kings quarrel amongst kings, [12]

Warriors quarrel amongst warriors,

Brahmins fight amongst Brahmins,

Householders argue amongst householders,

 

Mothers quarrel with their children,

Children with mothers,

Fathers with children,

Children with fathers,

Brothers with sisters

Sisters with brothers,

Friends against friends.”

 

“But here Bhante, I see monks,

who live in unity,

harmoniously,

without dispute,

coexisting like milk and water,

Looking at one another with caring eyes.” [13]

 

“And I see none outside this community,

a company who lives so united.” [14]

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[3. Living in Bliss] #

 

“Further Bhante,

I walk and tour around

from one park to another,

From one meadow to another,

from one garden grove to another.

 

“There I see all kinds of monks and spiritual practitioners,

who are emaciated,

rough-looking,

sick-looking,
extremely pale

and discolored;

Their veins protruding all over them.” [15]

 

“Laying eyes upon them,

one would think that they are jail mates.” [16]

 

Thus, Bhante, we ponder:

“Surely these venerable ones must live

the spiritual life in complete displeasure.

 

Surely they have committed terrible actions in the past;

For them to…  [look like this.]”

 

I approach them and ask:

“Venerable ones,

what is the reason why you are so emaciated…

and they reply:

 

“It is a hereditary disease your majesty.[17]

 

But here, Bhante, I see monks

laughing and smiling,

exulting joy,

displaying sheer delight,

living in bliss,

unconcerned,

pacified,

living on generosity,

Their minds, like wild deers. [18]

 

Then Bhante we think:

“Surely these venerable ones have realized

glorious and unpreceded mental achievements.

 

By which they live

laughing and smiling,

exulting joy,

exhibiting sheer delight,

living in bliss,

unconcerned,

pacified,

Living on generosity,

Their minds, like wild deers.

 

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[4. Showing Respect] #

 

“Moreover Bhante,

I am a quite well known khattiya king,

empowered to execute those who should be executed,

fine those who should be fined,

and to exile those who should be exiled.

 

“But, Bhante, when treating such a case,

others repeatedly break in when I speak.

 

So much so, I do not even get the chance to say:

‘Good sirs,

do not interrupt me when I am treating a case,

wait until my talk has come to an end.’

 

Thus Bhante, others repeatedly break in on my speech.”

 

“But here Bhante, I see monks:

On some occasions,

When the Awakened is teaching Dhamma

to an audience of many hundred monks,

neither a sneeze

nor a cough

is to be heard from the monks.”

 

“Once Bhante,

the Beloved One was teaching Dhamma

to an assembly of many hundreds.

 

Then a certain monk cleared his throat.

His fellow brother monk nudged him with his knee saying:

‘Be quiet venerable, do not make a sound,

Do you not see that the Teacher,

the Awakened Buddha is teaching Dhamma?’

 

Then Bhante we thought:

‘How astounding, how amazing!

How is it possible for any such assembly

to be of such composure,

without stick nor sword! [19]

 

Never have we encountered anywhere else,

an assembly of such composure and deportment.

 

Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[5. Bringing around Khattiyas] #

 

“Further Bhante,

I sometimes see clever rulers and warriors of the ruling caste,

who are ingenious,

skilled in the art of debate,

renowned for splitting hair. [20]

 

They tour around,

crushing others’ teachings

with sharpness of wit and intellect.[21]

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama

is approaching such village or country.’

 

They then prepare their questions thinking:

‘When the monk Gotama arrives,

we will put this question to him;

 

If he is asked this,

he will answer in that way,

Having answered in that way,

we will refute him in this way;

If he is asked that,

he will answer in this way,

Having answered in this way,

we will refute him in that other way.’

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama has arrived.’

They approach the Awakened One.

Then the Awakened One directly

shows them,

moves them,

sharpens them,

and gladdens them

by a talk on the good Dhamma. [22]

 

After the Awakened One has done so,

They do not so much as ask their question,

What to say then of refuting his teaching? [23]

 

On the contrary,

they ask for the going forth

and become his students and followers.” [24]

 

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[6. Bringing around Brahmin Priests] #

 

“Further, Bhante,

I sometimes see clever brahmin priests,

who are ingenious,

skilled in the art of debate,

renowned for splitting hair.

 

They tour around,

crushing others’ teachings

with sharpness of wit and intellect

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama

is approaching such village or country.’

They then prepare their questions thinking:

‘When the monk Gotama arrives,

we will put this question to him;

 

If he is asked this,

he will answer in that way,

Having answered in that way,

we will refute him in this way;

If he is asked that,

he will answer in this way,

Having answered in this way,

we will refute him in that other way.’

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama has arrived.’

They approach the Awakened One.

 

Then the Awakened One directly

shows them,

moves them,

sharpens them,

and gladdens them

by a talk on the good Dhamma.

After the Awakened One has done so,

They do not so much as ask their question,

What to say then of refuting his teaching?

 

On the contrary,

they ask for the going forth

and become his students and followers.”

 

Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[7. Bringing around Lay Meditators] #

 

“Further, Bhante,

I sometimes see clever lay meditators, [25]

who are ingenious,

skilled in the art of debate,

renowned for splitting hair.

 

They tour around,

crushing others’ teachings

with sharpness of wit and intellect

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama

is approaching such village or country.’

They then prepare their questions thinking:

‘When the monk Gotama arrives,

we will put this question to him;

 

If he is asked this,

he will answer in that way,

Having answered in that way,

we will refute him in this way;

If he is asked that,

he will answer in this way,

Having answered in this way,

we will refute him in that other way.’

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama has arrived.’

 

They approach the Awakened One.

Then the Awakened One directly

shows them,

moves them,

sharpens them,

and gladdens them

by a talk on the good Dhamma.

 

After the Awakened One has done so,

They do not so much as ask their question,

What to say then of refuting his teaching?

 

On the contrary,

they ask for the going forth

and become his students and followers.”

 

Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[8. Bringing around Monks] #

 

“Further, Bhante,

I sometimes see clever brahmin priests,

who are ingenious,

skilled in the art of debate,

renowned for splitting hair.

 

They tour around,

crushing others’ teachings

with sharpness of wit and intellect.

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama

is approaching such village or country.’

 

They then prepare their questions thinking:

‘When the monk Gotama arrives,

we will put this question to him;

 

If he is asked this,

he will answer in that way,

Having answered in that way,

we will refute him in this way;

If he is asked that,

he will answer in this way,

Having answered in this way,

we will refute him in that other way.’

 

They hear:

‘Rumor has it, good sir,

that the wanderer Gotama has arrived.’

 

They approach the Awakened One.

Then the Awakened One directly

shows them,

moves them,

sharpens them,

and gladdens them

by a talk on the good Dhamma.

 

After the Awakened One has done so,

They do not so much as ask their question,

What to say then of refuting his teaching?

 

On the contrary,

they beg permission to the Awakened One

to leave behind the house life

for the homeless spiritual wandering.[26]

 

And they ordain under the Awakened One.[27]

And after having gone forth as monks,

dwelling alone,

secluded,

attentive,

intent

and resolute,

 

In no long time,

they attain the purpose

for which sons [and daughters] of good families

honestly leave their home and become homeless,

seeking for the highest,

 

The complete perfection of the holy life.

 

And having realized it in this present life,

By their own direct knowledge,

 

They abide in it.”

 

“Then they say to me:

‘We very nearly went astray,

We very nearly gotten lost.’ [28]

 

‘For in the past,

not being true monks,

we would have sworn that we were. [29]

Not being true spiritual people,

we would have sworn that we were,

Not being fully awakened,

we would have sworn that we were.

 

But now we are truly monks,

we are truly spiritual people,

we are truly fully awakened.’”

 

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

 

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[9. Isidatta & Purāṇā] #

 

“Further, Bhante,

My two officers, Isidatta and Purāṇā,

whom I feed,

whom I offer vehicles,

for whom I provide a living,

and to whom I bring glory and success; [30]

 

They do not nearly show me the same respect

as they do the Awakened One.”

 

“Once Bhante,

when the army was marching out,

investigating some other countries,

a time came when we had to put up with tight,

uncomfortable quarters for some time.”

 

At that time, Bhante, on many occasions,

my two officers would speak about the Dhamma

for most of the night,

And they would finally lay down

with their heads pointing in the direction of the Buddha

and their feet towards me.” [31]

 

Bhante we cannot help but think:

‘How astounding, how unbelievable!’

My two officers, Isidatta and Purāṇā,

whom I feed,

whom I offer vehicles,

for whom I provide a living,

and to whom I bring glory and success;

 

They do not nearly show me the same respect

as they do the Awakened One.”

 

“Surely, these venerable ones have realized

glorious and unpreceded mental achievements.” [32]

 

“Therefore Bhante,

there is for me, clear evidence

about the Awakened One’s teaching thus:

‘The teacher is a Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha,

the Dhamma is rightly spoken,

the saṅgha is practicing properly.’”

 

[10. Similar Qualities] #

 

“Further Bhante,

the Awakened One is from the ruling caste

and I am from the ruling caste,

the Awakened One is Kosalan

and I am Kosalan,

the Awakened One is about eighty years of age

and I am about eighty years of age.”

 

“This is the reason why Bhante,

we are showing such striking display of affection

towards the Illuminated One.”

 

“But now we must depart:

As much requires our attention

and we have much to do.”

 

[Buddha]

“Do now as you please your majesty.”

 

At that time,

the King Pasenadi of Kosala

paid loving respects to the Teacher,

stood up and left.

Then, shortly after the King had left,

the Teacher addressed the monks saying:

 

“Monks,

today the King Pasenadi of Kosala

declared the Great Memorial of the Dhamma.” [33]

 

“Monks,

Remember the Memorial of the Dhamma,

Understand the Memorial of the Dhamma,

Bear in mind the Memorial of the Dhamma.

For the Memorial of the Dhamma is conducive to happiness,

and it touches to the core of the spiritual life.” [34]

 

 

This is what the Awakened One said.

Glad at heart, the monks rejoiced in the Awakened One words.

 

 

[1] dīghaṃ kārāyanaṃ

[2] Interesting resemblance in this expression to vitakka vicāra, (Thinking about this or that) anucaṅkamano anuvicaramāno (walking here and there).

[3] rukkhamūlāni pāsādikāni pasādanīyāni appasaddāni appanigghosāni vijanavātāni  manussarāhasseyyakāni paṭisallānasāruppāni.

[4] Dassanakāmā hi mayaṃ taṃ bhagavantaṃ arahantaṃ sammāsambuddhan”ti.

[5] “rahāyati kho dāni rājā, idheva dāni mayā ṭhātabban”ti.

[6] bhagavato pādāni mukhena ca paricumbati, pāṇīhi ca parisambāhati, nāmañca sāveti:

[7] “Kiṃ pana tvaṃ, mahārāja, atthavasaṃ sampassamāno imasmiṃ sarīre evarūpaṃ paramanipaccakāraṃ karosi, mittūpahāraṃ upadaṃsesī”ti?

[8] “Atthi kho me, bhante, bhagavati dhammanvayo hoti. Anvaya: From Anveti: To follow along, to go with, in accordance

[9] ‘sammāsambuddho bhagavā, svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo, suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho’ti. Su+akkhāti.

[10] Idha panāhaṃ, bhante, bhikkhū passāmi yāvajīvaṃ āpāṇakoṭikaṃ paripuṇṇaṃ parisuddhaṃ brahmacariyaṃ carante.

[11] Na kho panāhaṃ, bhante, ito bahiddhā aññaṃ evaṃ paripuṇṇaṃ parisuddhaṃ brahmacariyaṃ samanupassāmi.

[12] rājānopi rājūhi vivadanti,

[13] Idha panāhaṃ bhikkhū passāmi samagge sammodamāne avivadamāne khīrodakībhūte aññamaññaṃ piyacakkhūhi sampassante viharante. Samagge: sa+magga or sam+agga. Same in path or together as one.

[14] Na kho panāhaṃ, bhante, ito bahiddhā aññaṃ evaṃ samaggaṃ parisaṃ samanupassāmi.

[15] Sohaṃ tattha passāmi eke samaṇabrāhmaṇe kise lūkhe dubbaṇṇe uppaṇḍuppaṇḍukajāte dhamanisanthatagatte,

[16] na viya maññe cakkhuṃ bandhante janassa dassanāya.

[17] Bandhukarogo: A hereditary disease. The interpretation of this obscure passage is incongruous. I would lean towards saying that we should probably see this as a sign that those people performed harmful deeds in the past, the reason for which they were reborn with some kinds of generational disease (logical deduction taken from the preceding sentences).

[18] Idha panāhaṃ, bhante, bhikkhū passāmi haṭṭhapahaṭṭhe udaggudagge abhiratarūpe pīṇindriye, appossukke pannalome paradattavutte migabhūtena cetasā viharante.

[19] Adaṇḍena vata kira, bho, asatthena evaṃ suvinītā parisā bhavissatī’ti.

[20] Puna caparāhaṃ, bhante, passāmi idhekacce khattiyapaṇḍite nipuṇe kataparappavāde vālavedhirūpe.

[21] Te bhindantā maññe caranti paññāgatena diṭṭhigatāni.

[22] Te bhagavā dhammiyā kathāya sandasseti samādapeti samuttejeti sampahaṃseti.

[23] na ceva bhagavantaṃ pañhaṃ pucchanti, kuto vādaṃ āropessanti?

[24] Aññadatthu bhagavato sāvakā sampajjanti.

[25] Gahapati: Householders

[26] Aññadatthu bhagavantaṃyeva okāsaṃ yācanti agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajjāya.

[27] Te bhagavā pabbājeti.

[28] ’manaṃ vata, bho, anassāma; manaṃ vata, bho, panassāma’.

[29] Mayañhi pubbe assamaṇāva samānā samaṇāmhāti paṭijānimhā,

[30] ime isidattapurāṇā thapatayo mamabhattā mamayānā, ahaṃ nesaṃ jīvikāya dātā, yasassa āhattā;

[31] In the west, this is insignificant, but in Asia, this is highly disrespectful.

[32] Addhā ime āyasmanto tassa bhagavato sāsane uḷāraṃ pubbenāparaṃ visesaṃ jānantī’ti.

[33] “eso, bhikkhave, rājā pasenadi kosalo dhammacetiyāni bhāsitvā uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkanto. Cetiya (nt.) [cp. from ci, to heap up, cp. citi, cināti] 1. a tumulus, sepulchral monument, cairn,

[34] Uggaṇhatha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni; pariyāpuṇātha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni; dhāretha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni. Atthasaṃhitāni, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni ādibrahmacariyakānī”ti.

 

This is a gift of Dhamma

All Sutta Translations by Ānanda are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.