1:10  Āḷavaka

This sutta is identical with SN 10:12.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Āḷavī in the haunt of the Āḷavaka yakkha. Then the Āḷavaka yakkha went to the Blessed One and on arrival said to him: “Get out, contemplative!”

[Saying,] “All right, my friend,” the Blessed One went out.

“Come in, contemplative!”

“All right, my friend,” the Blessed One went in.

A second time.… A third time, the Āḷavaka yakkha said to the Blessed One, “Get out, contemplative!”

“All right, my friend,” the Blessed One went out.

“Come in, contemplative!”

“All right, my friend,” the Blessed One went in.

Then a fourth time, the Āḷavaka yakkha said to the Blessed One, “Get out, contemplative!”

“I won’t go out, my friend. Do what you have to do.”

“I will ask you a question, contemplative. If you can’t answer me, I will hurl out your mind or rip open your heart or, grabbing you by the feet, hurl you across the Ganges.”

“My friend, I see no one in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, its contemplatives & brahmans, its royalty & commonfolk, who could hurl out my mind or rip open my heart or, grabbing me by the feet, hurl me across the Ganges. But nevertheless, ask me what you wish.”

Āḷavaka:

What     is a person’s highest wealth here?

What,    when well-practiced, brings bliss?

What     is the most excellent of savors?

Living in what way

is one’s life called the best?

The Buddha:

Conviction     is a person’s highest wealth here.

Dhamma,     when well-practiced, brings bliss.

Truth          is the most excellent of savors.1

Living with discernment,

one’s life is called best.

Āḷavaka:

How     does one cross over the flood?

How     over the sea?

How     does one overcome suffering & stress?

How     is a person purified?

The Buddha:

Through conviction     one crosses over the flood.

Through heedfulness,     the sea.

Through persistence     one overcomes

suffering & stress.

Through discernment     a person is purified.

Āḷavaka:

How     does one gain discernment?

How     does one find wealth?

How     does one attain honor?

How     bind friends to oneself?

Passing from this world

to

the next world,

how     does one not grieve?

The Buddha:

Convinced of the arahants’ Dhamma

for attaining unbinding,

—heedful, investigating—

one listening well

gains discernment.

Doing what’s fitting,

enduring burdens,

one with initiative

finds wealth.

Through truth

one attains honor.

Giving

binds friends to oneself.

Endowed with these four qualities,

—truth,

self-control,

stamina,

generosity—

a householder of conviction,

on passing away, doesn’t grieve.

Now, go ask others,

common brahmans & contemplatives,

if anything better than

truth,

self-control,

stamina,

& generosity

here can be found.

Āḷavaka:

How could I go ask

common brahmans & contemplatives?—

now that today I discern

what benefits

the next life.

It was truly for my well-being

that the Awakened One came

to stay in Āḷavī.

Today I discern

where what is given

bears great fruit.

I will wander from village to village,

town to town,

paying homage     to the One Self-Awakened

& to the Dhamma’s     true rightness.

vv. 181–192

Note

1. This is apparently a reference to the concept of “savor” (rasa) in Indian aesthetic theory. For more on this topic, see the Introduction to this translation.

See also: MN 35; Sn 2:5