Mystic Lotus

Dhammapada Verse 189



RELEASE FROM SUFFERING
IS GAINED BY SEEKING REFUGE IN
THE BUDDHA, DHAMMA AND SANGHA








Anabhiratabhikkhu Vatthu

RELEASE FROM SUFFERING
IS GAINED BY SEEKING REFUGE IN
THE BUDDHA, DHAMMA AND SANGHA



Bahum ve saranam yanti
pabbatani vanani ca
aramarukkhacetyani
manussa bhayatajjita.


To many a refuge fear-stricken men betake themselves -
to hills, woods, groves, trees, and shrines.


Netam kho saranam khemam
netam saranamuttamam
netam saranamagamma
sabbadukkha pamuccati.


Nay no such refuge is safe, no such refuge is supreme.
Not by resorting to such a refuge is one freed from all ill.


Yo ca buddhanca dhammanca
samghanca saranam gato
cattari ariyasaccani
sammappannaya passati.

Dukkham dukkhasamuppadam
dukkhassa ca atikkamam
ariyam catthangikam maggam
dukkhupasamagaminam.

Etam kho saranam khemam
etam saranamuttamam
etam saranamagamma
sabbadukkha pamuccati.


He who has gone for refuge
to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha,
sees with right knowledge
the four Noble Truths
  1. Suffering,
  2. the Cause of Suffering,
  3. the Transcending of Suffering, and
  4. the Noble Eightfold Path
which leads to the Cessation of Suffering.

This, indeed, is refuge secure.
This, indeed, is refuge supreme.
By seeking such refuge
one is released from all sorrow.


Story


Aggidatta was the head priest during the time of King Mahakosala, father of King Pasenadi. After the death of King Mahakosala, Aggidatta gave away his property in charity, and after that he left his home and became a non-Buddhist ascetic. He lived with his ten thousand followers in a place near the border of the three kingdoms of Anga, Magadha and Kuru, not far from a mound of sand where a powerful naga was staying. To his followers and the people of these three kingdoms, Aggidatta used to exhort: "Pay homage to forests, mountains, parks and gardens, and trees; by doing so, you will be liberated from all ills of life."



One day, the Buddha saw Aggidatta and his followers in his vision and realized that the time was ripe for them to attain Arahatship. So the Buddha sent Thera Maha Moggalana to Aggidatta and his followers and told him that he himself would follow afterwards. Thera Maha Moggalana went to the place of Aggidatta and his followers and asked them to give him shelter for one night. They first turned down his request, but finally they agreed to let him stop at the mound of sand, the home of the naga. The naga was very antagonistic to Thera Maha Moggalana, and there followed a duel between the naga and the thera; on both sides, there was a display of power by emitting smoke and flames. However, in the end, the naga was subdued. He coiled himself round the mound of sand, and raised his head spreading it out like an umbrella over Thera Maha Moggalana, thus showing respect for him. Early in the morning, Aggidatta and the other ascetics came to the mound of sand to find out whether Thera Maha Moggalana was still alive; they had expected to see him dead. When they found the naga tamed, and meekly holding his head like an umbrella over Thera Maha Moggalana, they were very much astounded.



Just then, the Buddha arrived and Thera Maha Moggallana got up from his seat on the mound and paid obeisance to the Buddha. Thera Maha Moggalana then proclaimed to the audience of ascetics, "This is my Teacher, the supreme Buddha, and I am but a humble pupil of this great Teacher!" Hearing him, the ascetics who had been very much impressed even by the power of Thera Maha Moggalana were awed by the greater power of the Buddha. The Buddha then asked Aggidatta what he taught his followers and the residents of the neighbourhood. Aggidatta replied that he had taught them to pay homage to mountains, forests, parks and gardens, and trees, and that by doing so, they would be liberated from all ills of life. The Buddha's reply to Aggidatta was, "Aggidatta, people go to mountains, forests, gardens and parks, and trees for refuge when they are threatened with danger, but these things cannot offer them any protection. Only those who take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha are liberated from the round of rebirths (samsara)."


Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

To many a refuge fear-stricken men betake themselves -
to hills, woods, groves, trees, and shrines.

Nay no such refuge is safe, no such refuge is supreme.
Not by resorting to such a refuge is one freed from all ill.

He who has gone for refuge
to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha,
sees with right knowledge
the four Noble Truths
  1. Suffering,
  2. the Cause of Suffering,
  3. the Transcending of Suffering, and
  4. the Noble Eightfold Path
which leads to the Cessation of Suffering.

This, indeed, is refuge secure.
This, indeed, is refuge supreme.
By seeking such refuge
one is released from all sorrow.



At the end of the discourse Aggidatta and all his followers attained Arahatship. All of them entered the Order of the bhikkhus. On that day, when the disciples of Aggidatta from Anga, Magadha and Kuru came to pay respect to him, they saw their teacher and his followers garbed as bhikkhus and they were puzzled and wondered, "Who is the more powerful? Our teacher or Samana Gotama? Our teacher must be more powerful because Samana Gotama has come to our teacher." The Buddha knew what they were thinking; Aggidatta also felt that he must set their minds at rest. So, he paid obeisance to the Buddha in the presence of his disciples, and said, "Venerable Sir! You are my teacher, I am but a disciple of yours." Thus, the audience came to realize the supremacy of the Buddha.







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Majjhima Nikaya