Book Eight, Part II—His Humanity

1. *His Compassion—The Maha Karunik* -- 2. *Healing of the Stricken* -- 3. *His Concern for the Sick* -- 4. *His Tolerance of the Intolerant* -- 5. *His Sense of Equality and Equal Treatment*

§ 1. His Compassion—The Maha Karunik

    1. When once the Blessed Lord was staying in Shravasti, the almsmen came and informed him that they were constantly harassed by the Deva who disturbed them in their meditations.
    2. After hearing their stories of harassment, the Blessed Lord gave them the following instructions:
    3. "He who is skilled in his godness, who wishes to attain that calm state, should act thus: he should be able, upright, near perfectly upright, of noble speech, gentle and humble.
    4. "Contented, easily supportable, with few duties, of light livelihood, controlled in senses, discreet, not impudent, not greedily attached to families.
    5. "He should not pursue anything trifling such that other wise men might censure him. He should wish, 'May all beings be happy and secure; may their hearts be wholesome.'
    6. "Whatever living beings there be--feeble or strong, tall, stout ,and medium, short, small, or large, without exception;
    7. "Seen or unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born, or who are to be born--may all beings be happy.
    8. "Let none deceive another, nor despise any person whatsoever in any place; let him not wish any harm to another, out of anger or ill-will.
    9. "Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings.
    10. "Let his thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world, above, below and across, without any obstruction, without any enmity.
    11. "Whether he stands, walks, sits, lies down, as long as he is awake, he should develop this mindfulness; this, they say, is the noblest living here.
    12. "Not falling into error (self-illusion), being virtuous and endowed with insight, by discarding attachment to sense desires, never does he come again for conception in a womb."
    13. In short, he told them "Love your enemies."

§2. Healing of the Stricken: A Consummate Healer of Sorrow.

(2.i) Consoling Visakha

    1. Visakha was an upasika. It was her routine to give alms to the bhikkhus.
    2. One day her grand-daughter, Suddata, who lived with her, fell ill and died.
    3. Visakha was unable to bear the grief.
    4. After [the] cremation, she went to the Buddha and sat on one side, sad, with tearful eyes.
    5. "O Visakha," asked the Blessed One, "wherefore dost thou sit, sad and mournful, shedding tears?"
    6. She told him of her grand-daughter's death, saying, "She was a dutiful girl, and I cannot find her like."
    7. "How many young girls, say, are there dwelling in Shravasti, O Visakha?"
    8. "Lord, men say there are several kotis (several millions)."
    9. "If all these were like thy grand-daughter, would thou not love them?"
    10. "Verily, Lord," replied Visakha.
    11. "And how many die daily in Shravasti?"
    12. "Many, Lord."
    13. "Then there is never a moment when thou wouldst not be grieving for someone?"
    14. "True, Lord."
    15. "Wouldst thou then spend thy life weeping day and night?"
    16. "I understand, Lord; it is well said!"
    17. "Grieve, then, no more."

(2.ii) Comforting Kisa Gautami

    1. Kisa Gautami was married to the son of a merchant of Shravasti.
    2. Soon after marriage, a son was born to her.
    3. Unfortunately her child died of a snake-bite before it could walk.
    4. She could not believe that her child was really dead, as she had not seen death before.
    5. The little spot red from the bite of a snake, did not look as if it could be the cause of the child's death.
    6. She therefore took her dead child and wandered about from house to house, in such a wild state of mind that people believed that she had gone out of her senses.
    7. At last one old man advised her to go and seek out Gautama, who happened at the time to be in Shravasti.
    8. So she came to the Blessed One, and asked him for some medicine for her dead child.
    9. The Blessed One listened to her story and to her lamentations.
    10. Then the Blessed One told her, "Go enter the town, and at any house where yet there has been no death, thence bring a little mustard seed, and with that I will revive your child."
    11. She thought this was easy, and with the dead body of her child she entered the town.
    12. But she soon found that she had failed, as every house she visited had suffered loss in the death of some member.
    13. As one householder told her, "The living are few, and the dead are many."
    14. So she returned to the Blessed Lord, disappointed and empty-handed.
    15. The Blessed Lord then asked her if she did not then realize that death was the common lot of all, and whether she should grieve as though it was her special misfortune.
    16. She then went and cremated the child, saying, "All is impermanent; this is the law."

§ 3. His Concern for the Sick


    1. Now at one time a certain brother was suffering from dysentery, and lay where he had fallen down in his own excreta.
    2. And the Exalted One, going on his rounds of the lodgings, with the venerable Ananda in attendance, came to the lodging of that brother.
    3. Now the Exalted One saw that brother lying where he had fallen in his own excreta; and seeing him, he went towards him, and said, "Brother, what ails you?"
    4. "I have dysentery. Lord."
    5. "But is there anyone taking care of you, brother?"
    6. "No, Lord."
    7. "Why is it, brother, that the brethren do not take care of you?"
    8. "I am useless to the brethren, Lord; therefore the brethren do not care for me."
    9. Then the Exalted One said to the venerable Ananda, "Go you, Ananda, and fetch water. I will wash this brother."
    10. "Yes, Lord," replied the venerable Ananda to the Exalted One. When he had fetched the water, the Exalted One poured it out, while the venerable Ananda washed that brother all over. Then the Exalted One, taking him by the head and the venerable Ananda taking him by the feet, together they laid him on the bed.
    11. Then the Exalted One, in this connection and on this occasion, gathered the Order of Brethren together, and questioned the brethren, saying:
    12. "Brethren, is there in such and such a lodging a brother who is sick?"
    13. "There is, Lord."
    14. "And what ails that brother?"
    15. "Lord, that brother has dysentery."
    16. "But, brethren, is there anyone taking care of him?"
    17. "No, Lord."
    18. "Why not? Why do not the brethren take care of him?"
    19. "The brother is useless to the brethren, Lord. That is why the brethren do not take care of him."
    20. "Brethren, ye have no mother and father to take care of you. If ye will not take care of each other, who else, I ask, will do so? Brethren, he who would wait on me, let him wait on the sick.
    21. "If he have a teacher, let his teacher take care of him so long as he is alive, and wait for his recovery. If he have a tutor or a lodger, a disciple or a fellow lodger or a fellow disciple, such should take care of him and await his recovery. If no one takes care of him, it shall be reckoned an offence."


    1. Once the Exalted One was staying near Rajagraha in the great grove, at the squirrels feeding ground.
    2. On that occasion the venerable Vakkali was staying in the potter's shed, being sick, afflicted, stricken with a sore disease.
    3. Now the venerable Vakkali called to his attendants, saying: "Come hither, friends! Go ye to the Exalted One and, in my name worshipping at the feet of the Exalted One, say unto him, 'Lord, the brother Vakkali is sick, afflicted, stricken with a sore disease. He worships at the feet of the .Exalted One.' And thus do you say: 'Well were it, Lord, if the Exalted One would visit brother Vakkali, out of compassion for him.'"
    4. The Exalted One consented by His silence. Thereupon the Exalted One robed himself and, taking bowl and robe, went to visit the venerable Vakkali.
    5. Now the venerable Vakkali saw the Exalted One coming while he was yet far off, and on seeing him he stirred upon his bed.
    6. Then said the Exalted One to the venerable Vakkali, "Enough, Vakkali! Stir not on your bed! There are these seats made ready;. I will sit there." And he sat down on a seat made ready. So the Exalted One sat down and said to the venerable Vakkali:
    7. "Well, Vakkali, I hope you are bearing up. I hope you are enduring. Do your pains abate and not increase? Are there signs of their abating and not increasing?"
    8. "No, Lord, I am not bearing up, I am not enduring. Strong pains come upon me. They do not abate. There is no sign of their abating, but of their increasing."
    9. "Have you any doubt, Vakkali? Have you any remorse?"
    10. "Indeed, Lord, I have no doubt. I have no remorse."
    11. "Have you not anything, Vakkali, wherein you reproach yourself as to morals?"
    12. "Nay, Lord, there is nothing wherein I reproach myself as to morals."
    13. "Then, Vakkali, if that is so, you must have some worry, you must have something you regret."
    14. "For a long time. Lord, I have been longing to set eyes on the Exalted One, but I had not strength enough in this body to come to see the Exalted One."
    15. "Hush, Vakkali; what is there in seeing this vile body of mine? He who seeth the Norm, he seeth me; he who seeth, Vakkali, seeth the Norm. Verily, seeing the Norm, Vakkali, one seeth me; seeing me, one seeth the Norm."


    1. Thus have I heard: The Exalted One was once staying among the Bhaggi, at crocodile haunt in Bhesakala grove in the deer-park. Then the housefather, Nakulapita, came to the Exalted One, saluted Him, and sat down at one side.
    2. As he sat there, the housefather Nakulapita addressed the Exalted One, saying: "Master, I am a broken-down old man, aged, far gone in years; I have reached life's end, I am sick and always ailing. Moreover, Master, I am one to whom rarely comes the sight of the Exalted One and the worshipful brethren. Let the Exalted One cheer and comfort me, so that it be a profit and a blessing unto me for many a long day."
    3. "True it is, true it is, housefather, that your body is weak and cumbered! For one carrying this body about, housefather, to claim but a moment's health would be sheer foolishness. Wherefore, housefather, thus should you train yourself: 'Though my body is sick, my mind shall not be sick.' Thus, housefather, must you train yourself."
    4. Then Nakulapita, the housefather, welcomed and gladly heard the words of the Exalted One; and rising from his seat ,he saluted the Exalted One by the right, and departed.


    1. Once the Exalted One was staying among the Sakyans at Kapilavastu, in the fig-tree park.
    2. Then on that occasion a number of brethren were busy with making robes for the Exalted One. "For," said they, "when the three months are over, the Exalted One, his robes being complete, will go forth on his rounds."
    3. Now Mahanama, the Sakyan, heard it said, "A number of brethren are busy with making robes, and so forth"...and he went to the Exalted One, saluted him, and sat down at one side. So seated, Mahanama, the Sakyan, said:
    4. "I hear it said. Lord, that a number of the brethren are busy with making robes for the Exalted One, saying, 'when the robes are complete, at the end of the three months, the Exalted One will go forth on his rounds.'  Now, Lord, we have never heard from the Exalted One's own lips how a discreet layman who is sick, in pain, grievously afflicted, should be cheered by another discreet lay-brother."
    5. "A discreet lay-brother, Mahanama, who is sick...should be cheered by another discreet lay-brother with the Four Comfortable Assurances, thus: 'Take comfort, good sir, in the Norm, and in the Order of Brethren; likewise in the virtues dear to the Norm kept unbroken and unsoiled, which tend to balance of mind.'
    6. "Then, Mahanama, when a discreet lay-brother who is sick has thus been cheered with the Four Comfortable Assurances by another lay-brother, such should be the words of that other:
    7. "Suppose the sick man should have a longing for his parents. Then if the sick man says, 'I have a longing for my parents,' the other should reply, 'My dear good man, you are subject to death. Whether you have longing for your parents or not, you will die. 'Twere just as well for you to abandon all longing for your parents.'
    8. "And suppose the sick man says, 'That longing for my parents is now abandoned,' then the other should say, 'Ye,t my good sir, you still have a longing for your children. As you must die in any case, 'twere just as well for you to abandon longing for your children.'
    9. "And so also should he speak in respect of the five pleasures of the senses. Suppose the sick man says,  I have a longing for the five pleasures of sense,' the other should say, 'My friend, heavenly delights are more excellent than the five pleasures of sense, and more choice. 'Twere well for you to remove your mind from human joys and fix it on the joys of the Four Great Deva Kings.'
    10. "Again, if the sick man says, 'My mind is so fixed,' let the other say, 'Better to fix your mind on the Brahma world.' And then if the sick man's mind is so fixed, let the other say:
    11. "'My good sir, even the Brahma world is impermanent, not lasting, subject to personality. Well for you, dear sir, if you raise your mind above the Brahma world, and concentrate on cessation from the personal.'
    12. "And if the sick man says he has done so, then I declare, Mahanama, that there is no difference between the lay-brother who can thus aver, and the disciple whose mind is freed from the asavas--that is to say, so far as emancipation goes."

§ 4. His Tolerance of the Intolerant

1. Once the Blessed Lord was dwelling in the realm of the Yakkha Alavaka, in the town of Alavi. Then the Yakkha Alavaka approached the Blessed Lord and, having approached him, said thus: "Get out, O Monk!"
    2. The Blessed Lord departed, saying: "Very well, friend."
    3. The Yakkha then ordered, "Enter, O Monk."
    4. The Blessed Lord entered, saying: "Very well, friend."
    5. For the second time also the Yakkha Alavaka told the Blessed Lord, "Get out, O Monk!"
    6. The Lord departed, saying: " Very well, friend."
    7. "Enter, O Monk!" said the Yakkha, the second time.
    8. The Lord entered, saying: "Very well, friend."
    9. For the third time also the Yakkha Alavaka told the Lord, "Get out, O Monk!"
    10. The Lord departed, saying: "Very well, friend."
    11. "Enter, O Monk " said the Yakkha again.
    12. The' Lord entered, saying: "Very well, friend."
    13. For the fourth time did the Yakkha tell the Lord, "Get out, O Monk!"
    14. This time the Lord replied:  I shall not get out, friend; you may do what you like."
    15. "I shall put a question to you; monk; if you do not answer my question, I will drive you out of your wits or I will tear [out] your heart, or I will take you by the feet and throw you to the other side of the river," said the angry Yakkha,
    16. "I do not see, friend, anyone in the world who could drive me out of my wits or tear out my heart, or take me by the feet and throw me across the river. Still, friend, you may put any question you like."
    17. Then the Yakkha Alavaka asked the Lord the following questions:
    18. "What is the noblest wealth for a man in this world? What pure action brings happiness? What  is the sweetest of all tastes? What manner of living is said to be the noblest living?"
    19. The Lord replied: "Faith is the noblest wealth for a man in this world. The Dhamma well observed brings happiness. Truth is the sweetest of all tastes. The living endowed with wisdom is said to be the noblest thing."
    20. Yakkha Alavaka asked: " How does one cross the flood (rebirth)? How does one cross the sea (existence)? How does one overcome suffering?"
    21. The Lord replied: "One crosses the flood by Faith. One crosses the sea by Vigilance. One overcomes suffering by Exertion. One purifies oneself by wisdom."
    22. Yakkha Alavaka asked: "How does one acquire knowledge? How does one obtain wealth? How does one attain fame? How does one gain friends? Passing from this world to the other world after death, how does one not repent ?"
    23. The Lord replied: "Having faith in Arahats and in the Dhamma for the attainment of Nibbana, and by obedience, the diligent, attentive person acquires wisdom.
    24. "One who does what is proper, one who is resolute, one who is awake, he acquires wealth. One who gives acquires friends.
    25. "The faithful householder in whom truthfulness, righteousness, patience, and generosity are found, he does not repent after death.
    26. "Come on! Also consult other numerous monks and Brahmins, whether there are any other qualities higher than truth, self-control, charity and patience."
    27. Yakkha Alavaka said: "Now, why should I consult various Brahmins and monks?  Today I know the prosperity which belongs to my future good.
    28. "Indeed! the Buddha came to the dwelling of Alavi for my benefit. Today I know to whom, when given, it returns the greatest fruit.
    29. "From today I will wander from village to village, from town to town, paying my respect to the fully Enlightened One, and his perfect Doctrine."

§ 5. His Sense of Equality and Equal Treatment

    1. Whatever rules the Blessed Lord had made for the members of the Sangh were voluntarily and willingly accepted by him to be binding on him also.
    2. He never claimed any exemption or any special treatment on the ground that he was the acknowledged head of the fraternity, and to whom any concession would have been most willingly made by the fraternity out of the boundless love and respect they bore for him.
    3. The rule that the members of the Sangh could take only one meal a day was accepted and followed by the Blessed Lord as much as it was by the bhikkhu.
    4. The rule that the members of the Sangh should have no private property was accepted and followed by the Blessed Lord as much as it was by the bhikkhu.
    5. The rule that no member of the Sangh should have more than three pieces of cloths was accepted and followed by the Blessed Lord as much as it was by the bhikkhu.
    6. Once, when the Lord was living in the Sakyan country at Kapilavastu in the banyan grove, Maha-Prajapati Gautami, the mother of the Blessed Lord, came to the Lord with two new lengths of cloth which she begged the Lord to be so good as to accept from her, as it was the work of her own hands at the loom expressly for him.
    7. To her the Lord made the answer, "Give it to the confraternity."
    8. A second and a third time did Gautami repeat her request, only to receive the same reply.
    9. Then  Ananda intervened, saying, "Pray accept, sir, the cloth presented by Gautami. She was of great service to the Lord as nurse and foster-mother, suckling her nephew when his own mother died." But the Blessed Lord insisted upon the cloth being given to the confraternity.
    10. Originally it was the rule of the Sangh that the robes of the members should be made of rags picked up from dung heaps. This rule was made to prevent the wealthier classes from joining the Sangh.
    11. Once Jivika prevailed upon the Blessed Lord to accept a robe of newly made cloth. When the Lord accepted it, he at the same time relaxed the original rule and allowed the bhikkhu the same privilege.


-- main book index page -- detailed book section-map -- book sources --
-- Dr. Ambedkar's work -- fwp's main page --