CHAPTER III. A PARABLE
Then the venerable Sâriputra, pleased, glad, charmed, cheerful, thrilling with delight and joy, stretched his joined hands towards the Lord, and, looking up to the Lord with a steady gaze, addressed him in this strain: I am astonished, amazed, O Lord! I am in ecstasy to hear such a call from the Lord. For when, before I had heard of this law from the Lord,
I saw other Bodhisattvas, and heard that the Bodhisattvas would in future get the name of Buddhas, I felt extremely sorry, extremely vexed to be,deprived from so grand a sight as the Tathâgata-knowledge.
I always was occupied with the same and ever-reeurring thought: 'Whereas the entrance into the fixed points [Or, elements) of the law is nominally equal, we have been dismissed by the Lord with the inferior vehicle.' Instantly, however, O Lord, I felt that it was our own fault,
not the Lord's. For had we regarded the Lord at the time of his giving the allsurpassing demonstration of the law, that is, the exposition of supreme, perfect enlightenment, then, O Lord, we should have become adepts in those laws.
But because, without understanding the mystery of the Lord, we, at the moment of the Bodhisattvas not being assembled, heard only in a hurry, caught, meditated, minded, took to heart the first lessons pronounced ori the law, therefore, O Lord, I used to pass day and night in self-reproach.
(But) to-day, O Lord, I have reached complete extinction; to-day, O Lord, I have become calm; to-day, O Lord, I am wholly come to rest; to-day, O Lord, I have reached Arhatship; to-day, O Lord, I am the Lord's eldest son, born from his law, sprung into existence by the law, made by the law, inheriting from the law, accomplished by the law.
2. Wonderful is the voice [Rather, call] of the Sugatas; it dispels the doubt and pain of living beings; my pain also is all gone now that I, freed from imperfections, have heard that voice (or, call).
5. 'The thirty-two characteristic signs have failed me, and the gold colour of the skin has vanished; all the (ten) powers and emancipations have likewise been lost. O how have I gone astray at the equal laws!
10. And on hearing this Buddha-law, I thought: 'To be sure, this is expounded mysteriously'; it is an inscrutable, subtle, and faultless science, which is announced by the Ginas on the terrace of enlightenment.'
11. Formerly I was attached to (heretical) theories, being a wandering monk and in high honour (or, of the same opinions) with the heretics; afterwards has the Lord, regarding my disposition, taught me Nirvâna, to detach me from perverted views.
After this speech of the venerable Sâriputra, the Lord said to him: I declare to thee, Sâriputra, I announce to thee, in presence of this world including the gods, Mâras, and Brahmas, in presence of this people, including ascetics and Brahmans, that thou, Sâriputra, hast been by me made ripe for supreme, perfect enlightenment, in presence of twenty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Buddhas, and that thou, Sâriputra, hast for a long time followed my commandments. Thou, Sâriputra, art, by the counsel of the Bodhisattva, by the decree of the Bodhisattva, reborn here under my rule.
Owing to the mighty will of the Bodhisattva thou, Sâriputra, hast no recollection of thy former vow to observe the (religious) course; of the counsel of the Bodhisattva, the decree of the Bodhisattva.
Thou thinkest that thou hast reached final rest. I, wishing to revive and renew in thee the knowledge of thy former vow to observe the (religious) course, will reveal to the disciples the Dharmaparyaya called 'the Lotus of the True Law,' this Sûrânta, &c.
Again, Sâriputra, at a future period, after innumerable, inconceivable, immeasurable Æons, when thou shalt have learnt the true law of hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Tathâgatas, showed devotion in various ways, and achieved the present Bodhisattva-course, thou shalt become in the world a Tathâgata, &c., named Padmaprabha, endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata, a knower of the world, an unsurpassed tamer of men, a master of gods and men, a Lord Buddha.
At that time then, Sâriputra, the Buddha-field of that Lord, the Tathâgata Padmaprabha, to be called Viraga, will be level, pleasant, delightful, extremely beautiful to see, pure, prosperous, rich, quiet, abounding with food, replete with many races of men; it will consist of lapis lazuli, and contain a checker-board of eight compartments distinguished by gold threads, each compartment having its jewel tree always and perpetually filled with blossoms and fruits of seven precious substances.
Now that Tathâgata Padmaprabha, &c., Sâriputra, will preach the law by the instrumentality of three vehicles . Further, Sâriputra, that Tathâgata will not appear at the decay of the Æon, but preach the law by virtue of a vow.
The Bodhisattvas of a Buddha-field, Sâriputra, are called ratnas (jewels), and at that time there will be many Bodhisattvas in that sphere (called) Viraga; innumerable, incalculable, beyond computation, abstraction made from their being computed by the Tathâgatas. On that account is that Æon called Maharatnapratimandita.
Now, to proceed, Sâriputra, at that period the Bodhisattvas of that field will in walking step on jewel lotuses. And these Bodhisattvas will not be plying their work for the first time, they having accumulated roots of goodness and observed the course of duty under many hundred thousand Buddhas;
are perfectioned in the rites preparatory to transcendent knowledge; accomplished in the direction of all true laws; mild, thoughtful. Generally, Sâriputra, will that Buddha-region teem with such Bodhisattvas.
At the expiration of twelve intermediate kalpas, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata Padmaprabha, after announcing the future destiny of the Bodhisattva called Dhritiparipûrnan Dhriti, perserverence, endurance. Dhritiparipûrna is, full of perserverance or endurance) to superior perfect enlightenment, is to enter complete Nirvâna.
'This Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Dhritiparipûrna, O monks, shall immediately after me come to supreme, perfect enlightenment. He shall become in the world a Tathâgata named Padmavrishabhavikrâmin, an Arhat, &c., endowed with science and conduct, &c. &c.'
Now the Tathigata Padmavrishabhavikrâmin, Sâriputra, will have a Buddha-field of quite the same description. The true law, Sâriputra, of that Tathâgata Padmavrishabhavikrâmin will, after his extinction, last thirty-two intermediate kalpas, and the counterfeit of his true law will last as many intermediate kalpas.
And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
28. And the afire-mentioned Gina, then in his last bodily existence, shall, after passing the state of prince royal, renounce sensual pleasures, leave home (to become a wandering ascetic), and thereafter reach the supreme and the highest enlightenment.
on hearing the announcement of the venerable Sâriputra's destiny to supreme, perfect enlightenment, were so pleased, glad, charmed, thrilling with delight and joy, that they covered the Lord severally with their own robes, while Indra the chief of gods,
High aloft they whirled celestial clothes and struck hundred thousands of celestial musical instruments and cymbals, high in the sky; and after pouring a great rain of flowers they uttered these words:
35. Many laws have we heard near the Lord of the world, but never before did we hear a law like this.
But these twelve hundred self-controlled (disciples), O Lord, who have been placed by thee on the stage of Saikshas, have been thus admonished and instructed: 'My preaching of the law, O monks, comes to this, that deliverance from birth, decrepitude, disease, and death is inseparably connected with Nirvâna;' and these two thousand monks,
O Lord, thy disciples, both those who are still under training and adepts, who all of them are free from false views about the soul, false views about existence, false views about cessation of existence, free, in short, from all false views, who are fancying themselves to have reached the stage of Nirvâna, these have fallen into uncertainty by hearing from the mouth of the Lord this law which they had not heard before.
preaches the law by able devices, varying directions and indications, fundamental ideas, interpretations, with due regard to the different dispositions and inclinations of creatures whose temperaments are so various?
But, Sâriputra, to elucidate this matter more at large, I will tell thee a parable, for men of good understanding will generally readily enough catch the meaning of what is taught under the shape of a parable.
Let us suppose the following case, Sâriputra. In a certain village, town, borough, province, kingdom, or capital, there was a certain housekeeper, old, aged, decrepit, very advanced in years, rich, wealthy, opulent; he had a great house, high, spacious, built a long time ago and old, inhabited by some two, three, four, or five hundred living beings.
The house had but one door, and a thatch; its terraces were tottering, the bases of its pillars rotten, the coverings and plaster of the walls loose. On a sudden the whole house was from every side put in conflagration by a mass of fire. Let us suppose that the man had many little boys, say five, or ten, or even twenty, and that he himself had come out of the house.
I myself am able to come out from the burning house through the door, quickly and safely, without being touched or scorched by that great mass of fire; but my children, those young boys, are staying in the burning house, playing, amusing, and diverting themselves with all sorts of sports.
They do not perceive, nor know, nor understand, nor mind that the house is on fire, and do not get afraid. Though scorched by that great mass of fire, and affected with such a mass of pain, they do not mind the pain, nor do they conceive the idea of escaping.
The man, Sâriputra, is strong, has powerful arms, and (so) he makes this reflection: I am strong, and have powerful arms; why, let me gather all my little boys and take them to my breast to effect their escape from the house.
This house has but one opening; the door is shut; and those boys, fickle, unsteady, and childlike as they are, will, it is to be feared, run hither and thither, and come to grief and disaster in this mass of fire.
Therefore I will warn them. So resolved, he calls to the boys: Come, my children; the house is burning with a mass of fire; come, lest ye be burnt in that mass of fire, and come to grief and disaster.
But the ignorant boys do not heed the words of him who is their well-wisher; they are not afraid, not alarmed, and feel no misgiving; they do not care, nor fly, nor even know nor understand the purport of the word 'burning;' on the contrary, they run hither and thither, walk about, and repeatedly look at their father; all, because they are so ignorant.
Let me therefore by some skilful means get the boys out of the house. The man knows the disposition of the boys, and has a clear perception of their inclinations. Now these boys happen to have many and manifold toys to play with, pretty, nice, pleasant, dear, amusing, and precious.
The man, knowing the disposition of the boys, says to them:
My children, your toys, which are so pretty, precious, and admirable, which you are so loth to miss, which are so various and multifarious, (such as) bullock-carts, goat-carts, deer-carts, which are so pretty, nice, dear, and precious to you, have all been put by me outside the house-door for you to play with. Come, run out, leave the house; to each of you I shall give what he wants. Come soon; come out for the sake of these toys.
And the boys, on hearing the names mentioned of such playthings as they like and desire, so agreeable to their taste, so pretty, dear, and delightful, quickly rush out from the burning house, with eager effort and great alacrity, one having no time to wait for the other, and pushing each other on with the cry of 'Who shall arrive first, the very first?'
The man, seeing that his children have safely and happily escaped, and knowing that they are free from danger, goes and sits down in the open air on the square of the village, his heart filled with joy and delight, released from trouble and hindrance, quite at ease. The boys go up to the place where their father is sitting, and say:
'Father, give us those toys to play with, those bullock-carts, goat-carts, and deer-carts.'
Then, Sâriputra, the man gives to his sons, who run swift as the wind, bullock-carts only, made of seven precious substances, provided with benches, hung with a multitude of small bells, lofty, adorned with rare and wonderful jewels, embellished with jewel wreaths, decorated with garlands of flowers,
carpeted with cotton mattresses and woollen coverlets, covered with white cloth and silk, having on both sides rosy cushions, yoked with white, very fair and fleet bullocks, led by a multitude of men.
That man does so, Sâriputra, because being rich, wealthy, and in possession of many treasures and granaries, he rightly thinks: Why should I give these boys inferior carts, all these boys being my own children, dear and precious? I have got such great vehicles, and ought to treat all the boys equally and without partiality. As I own many treasures and granaries, I could give such great vehicles to all beings, how much more then to my own children.
Meanwhile the boys are mounting the vehicles with feelings of astonishment and wonder. Now, Sâriputra, what is thy opinion? Has that man made himself guilty of a falsehood by first holding out to his children the prospect of three vehicles and afterwards giving to each of them the greatest vehicles only, the most magnificent vehicles?
Sâriputra answered: By no means, Lord; by no means, Sugata. That is not sufficient, O Lord, to qualify the man as a speaker of falsehood, since it only was a skilful device to persuade his children to go out of the burning house and save their lives. Nay, besides recovering their very body, O Lord, they have received all those toys.
If that man, O Lord, had given no single cart, even then he would not have been a speaker of falsehood, for he had previously been meditating on saving the little boys from a great mass of pain by some able device.
Even in this case, O Lord, the man would not have been guilty of falsehood, and far less now that he, considering his having plenty of treasures and prompted by no other motive but the love of his children, gives to all, to coax them, vehicles of one kind, and those the greatest vehicles. That man, Lord, is not guilty of falsehood.
The venerable Siriputra having thus spoken, the Lord said to him: Very well, very well, Sâriputra, quite so; it is even as thou sayest. So, too, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata, &c., is free from all dangers, wholly exempt from all misfortune, despondency, calamity, pain, grief, the thick enveloping dark mists of ignorance.
He, the Tathâgata, endowed with Buddha-knowledge, forces, absence of hesitation, uncommon properties, and mighty by magical power, is the father of the world, who has reached the highest perfection in the knowledge of skilful means, who is most merciful, long-suffering, benevolent, compassionate.
He appears in this triple world, which is like a house the roof and shelter whereof are decayed, (a house) burning by a mass of misery, in order to deliver from affection, hatred, and delusion the beings subject to birth, old age, disease, death, grief, wailing, pain, melancholy, despondency, the dark enveloping mists of ignorance, in order to rouse them to supreme and perfect enlightenment.
Once born, he sees how the creatures are burnt, tormented, vexed, distressed by birth, old age, disease, death, grief, wailing, pain, melancholy, despondency; how for the sake of enjoyments, and prompted by sensual desires, they severally suffer various pains.
In consequence both of what in this world they are seeking and what they have acquired, they will in a future state suffer various pains, in hell, in the brute creation, in the realm of Yama; suffer such pains as poverty in the world of gods or men, union with hateful persons or things, and separation from the beloved ones.
they are not startled, do not try to escape, but are enjoying themselves in that triple world which is like unto a burning house, and run hither and thither. Though overwhelmed by that mass of evil, they do not conceive the idea that they must beware of it.
Under such circumstances, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata reflects thus: Verily, I am the father of these beings; I must save them from this mass of evil, and bestow on them the immense, inconceivable bliss of Buddha-knowledge, wherewith they shall sport, play, and divert themselves, wherein they shall find their rest.
If, in the conviction of my possessing the power of knowledge and magical faculties, I manifest to these beings the knowledue, forces, and absence of hesitation of the Tathâgata, without availing myself of some device, these beings will not escape.
Now, Sâriputra, even as that man with powerful arms, without using the strength of his arms, attracts his children out of the burning house by an able device, and afterwards gives them magnificent, great carts, so, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c.,
possessed of knowledge and freedom from all hesitation, without using them, in order to attract the creatures out of the triple world which is like a burning house with decayed roof and shelter, shows, by his knowledge of able devices, three vehicles,
flavours, and contacts. For in delighting in this triple world ye are burnt, heated, inflamed with the thirst inseparable from the pleasures of the five senses. Fly from this triple world; betake yourselves to the three vehicles:
the vehicle of the disciples, the vehicle of the Pratyekabuddhas, the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas. I give you my pledge for it, that I shall give you these three vehicles; make an effort to run out of this triple world.
Ye will feel the great delight of the faculties, powers, constituents of Bodhi, meditations, the (eight) degrees of emancipation, self-concentration, and the results of self-concentration, and ye will become greatly happy and cheerful.
Amongst them there are some who, wishing to follow the dictate of an authoritative voice, apply themselves to the commandment of the Tathâgata to acquire the knowledge of the four great truths, for the sake of their own complete Nirvâna.
These one may say to be those who, coveting the vehicle of the disciples, fly from the triple world, just as some of the boys will fly from that burning house, prompted by a desire of getting a cart yoked with deer.
Other beings desirous of the science without a master, of self-restraint and tranquillity, apply themselves to the commandment of the Tatha'gata to learn to understand causes and effects, for the sake of their own complete Nirvâna.
These one may say to be those who, coveting the vehicle of the Pratyekabuddhas, fly from the triple world, just as some of the boys fly from the burning house, prompted by the desire of getting a cart yoked with goats.
Others again desirous of the knowledge of the all-knowing, the knowledge of Buddha, the knowledge of the self-born one, the science without a master, apply themselves to the commandment of the Tathâgata to learn to understand the knowledge, powers, and freedom from hesitation of the Tathâgata, for the sake of the common weal and happiness,
These one may say to be those who, coveting the great vehicle, fly from the triple world. Therefore they are called Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas. They may be likened to those among the boys who have fled from the burning house prompted by the desire of getting a cart yoked with bullocks.
In the same manner, Sâriputra, as that man, on
seeing his children escaped from the burning house and knowing them safely and happily rescued and out of danger, in the consciousness of his great wealth, gives the boys one single grand cart; so, too, Sâriputra,
the Tathigata, the Arhat, &c., on seeing many kotis of beings recovered from the triple world, released from sorrow, fear, terror, and calamity, having escaped owing to the command of the Tathâgata, delivered from all fears, calamities, and difficulties, and having reached the bliss of Nirvâna, so, too, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata,
the Arhat, &c., considering that he possesses great wealth of knowledge, power, and absence of hesitation, and that all beings are his children, leads them by no other vehicle but the Buddha-vehicle to full development.
the pleasures of meditation, emancipation, self-concentration, and its results; (toys) all of the same kind. Even as that man, Sâriputra, cannot be said to have told a falsehood for having held out to those boys the prospect of three vehicles and given to all of them but one great vehicle,
a magnificent vehicle made of seven precious substances, decorated with all sorts of ornaments, a vehicle of one kind, the most egregious of all, so, too, Sâriputra, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., tells no falsehood when by an able device he first holds forth three vehicles and afterwards leads all to complete Nirvâna by the one great vehicle.
For the Tathâgata, Sâriputra, who is rich in treasures and storehouses of abundant knowledge, powers, and absence of hesitation, is able to teach all beings the law which is connected with the knowledge of the all-knowing. In this way, Sâriputra, one has to understand how the Tatha'gata by an able device and direction shows but one vehicle, the great vehicle.
And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
39. A man has an old house, large, but very infirm; its terraces are decaying and the columns rotten at their bases.
40. The windows and balconies are partly ruined, the wall as well as its coverings and plaster decaying; the coping shows rents from age; the thatch is everywhere pierced with holes.
42. Its roof-rafters are wholly ruined; the walls and partitions crumbling away; kotis of vultures nestle in it, as well as doves, owls, and other birds.
44. Further, one may meet in it here and there beings not belonging to the human race. It is defiled with excrement and urine, and teeming with worms, insects, and fire-flies; it resounds from the howling of dogs and jackals.
55. Such is that dreadful house, spacious and high, but very infirm, full of holes, frail and dreary. (Let us suppose that) it is the property of a certain man,
58. Vultures are driven out by hundreds; urchins withdraw with parched faces; hundreds of mischievous beasts of prey I run, scorched, on every side, crying and shouting.
64. And as he hears them he quickly steps in to save his children, lest his ignorant children might perish in the flames.
73. All the boys, on hearing of such carts, exert themselves, immediately rush out hastily, and reach, free from harm, the open air.
78. And make true all that you promised us in the house when saying, 'I will give you three sorts of vehicles.' Do give them; it is now the right time.
80. Carts made of precious substances, yoked with bullocks, most excellent, with benches and a row of tinkling bells, decorated with umbrellas and flags, and adorned with a network of gems and pearls.
83. The carts are yoked with white bullocks, well fed, strong, of great size, very fine, who are tended by numerous persons.
87. But I, who am detached from the triple world and serene, am living in absolute retirement in a wood. This triple world is my domain, and those who in it are suffering from burning heat are my sons.
98. And I am teaching blessed rest (Nirvâna), in. so far as, though you have not yet reached (final) rest, you are delivered from the trouble of the mundane whirl, provided you seek the vehicle of the Buddhas.
103. And from what are they emancipated, Sâriputra? They are emancipated from chimeras. Yet they are not wholly freed; the Chief declares that they have not yet reached (final and complete) rest in this world.
104. Why is it that I do not pronounce one to be delivered before one's having reached the highest, supreme enlightenment? (Because) such is mywill; I am the ruler of the law, who is born in this world to lead to beatitude.
109. This Sûtra is apt to puzzle the ignorant, and I do not pronounce it before having penetrated to superior knowledge. Indeed, it is not within the range of the disciples, nor do the Pratyekabuddhas come to it.
111. But do not speak of this matter to haughty persons, nor to conceited ones, nor to Yogins who are not self-restrained; for the fools, always revelling in sensual pleasures, might in their blindness scorn the law manifested.
114. After having disappeared from amongst men, they shall dwell in the lowest hell (Avîki) during a whole kalpa, and thereafter they shall fall lower and lower, the fools, passing through repeated births for many intermediate kalpas.
116. Under such circumstances they shall grow blackish of colour, spotted, covered with sores, itchy; moreover, they shall be hairless and feeble, (all) those who have an aversion to my supreme enlightenment.
125. The man whom they happen to serve is unwilling to give them much, and what he gives is soon lost. Such is the fruit of sinfulness.
127. Some commit thefts, affrays, assaults, or acts of hostility, whereas others commit robberies of goods; (all this) befalls the sinner.
146. And he who keeps (in memory) the great Ritras, while he never shows any liking for other books, nor even knows a single stanza from another work; to all of them thou mayst expound this sublime Sûtra.
149. During a full Æon, Sâriputra, I could speak of thousands of kotis of (connected) points, (but this suffices); thou mayst reveal this Sûtra to all who are striving after the highest supreme enlightenment.