The Two Brahmans





At one time when the Blessed One was journeying through Kosala he

came to the Brahman village which is called Manasakata. There he

stayed in a mango grove.



And two young Brahmans came to him who were of different schools.

One was named Vasettha and the other Bharadvaja. And Vasettha

said to the Blessed One:



"We have a dispute as to the true path. I say the straight path

which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which has been

announced by the Brahman Pokkharasati, while my friend says the

straight path which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which

has been announced by the Brahman Tarukkha.



"Now, regarding thy high reputation, O samana, and knowing that

thou art called the Enlightened One, the teacher of men and gods,

the Blessed Buddha, we have come to ask thee, are all these paths

paths of salvation? There are many roads all around our village,

and all lead to Manasakata. Is it just so with the paths of the

sages? Are all paths paths to salvation, and do they all lead to

a union with Brahma?



And the Blessed One proposed these questions to the two Brahmans:

"Do you think that all paths are right?"



Both answered and said: "Yes, Gotama, we think so."



"But tell me," continued the Buddha, "has any one of the

Brahmans, versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?"



"No, sir!" was the reply.



"But, then," said the Blessed One, "has any teacher of the

Brahmans, versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?"



The two Brahmans said: "No, sir."



"But, then," said the Blessed One, "has any one of the authors of

the Vedas seen Brahma face to face?"



Again the two Brahmans answered in the negative and exclaimed:

"How can any one see Brahma or understand him, for the mortal

cannot understand the immortal." And the Blessed One proposed an

illustration, saying:



"It is as if a man should make a staircase in the place where

four roads cross, to mount up into a mansion. And people should

ask him, 'Where, good friend, is this mansion, to mount up into

which you are making this staircase? Knowest thou whether it is

in the east, or in the south, or in the west, or in the north?

Whether it is high, or low, or of medium size?' And when so asked

he should answer, 'I know it not.' And people should say to him,

'But, then, good friend, thou art making a staircase to mount up

into something--taking it for a mansion--which all the while thou

knowest not, neither hast thou seen it.' And when so asked he

should answer, 'That is exactly what I do; yea I know that I

cannot know it.' What would you think of him? Would you not say

that the talk of that man was foolish talk?"



"In sooth, Gotama," said the two Brahmans, "it would be foolish

talk!"



The Blessed One continued: "Then the Brahmans should say, 'We

show you the way unto a union of what we know not and what we

have not seen.' This being the substance of Brahman lore, does it

not follow that their task is vain?"



"It does follow," replied Bharadvaja.



Said the Blessed One: "Thus it is impossible that Brahmans versed

in the three Vedas should be able to show the way to a state of

union with that which they neither know nor have seen. Just as

when a string of blind men are clinging one to the other. Neither

can the foremost see, nor can those in the middle see, nor can

the hindmost see. Even so, methinks, the talk of the Brahmans

versed in the three Vedas is but blind talk; it is ridiculous,

consists of mere words, and is a vain and empty thing."



"Now suppose," added the Blessed One, "that a man should come

hither to the bank of the river, and, having some business on the

other side, should want to cross. Do you suppose that if he were

to invoke the other bank of the river to come over to him on this

side, the bank would come on account of his praying?"



"Certainly not, Gotama."



"Yet this is the way of the Brahmans. They omit the practice of

those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and say,

'Indra, we call upon thee; Soma, we call upon thee; Varuna, we

call upon thee; Brahma, we call upon thee.' Verily, it is not

possible that these Brahmahns, on account of their invocations,

prayers, and praises, should after death be united with Brahma."



"Now tell me," continued the Buddha, "what do the Brahmans say of

Brahma? Is his mind full of lust?"



And when the Brahmans denied this, the Buddha asked:



"Is Brahma's mind full of malice, sloth, or pride?"



"No, sir!" was the reply. "He is the opposite of all this."



And the Buddha went on: "But are the Brahmans free from these

vices?"



"No, sir!" said Vasettha.



The Holy One said: "The Brahmans cling to the five things leading

to worldliness and yield to the temptations of the senses; they

are entangled in the five hindrances, lust, malice, sloth, pride,

and doubt. How can they be united to that which is most unlike

their nature? Therefore the threefold wisdom of the Brahmans is a

waterless desert, a pathless jungle, and a hopeless desolation."



When the Buddha had thus spoken, one of the Brahmans said: "We

are told, Gotama, that the Sakyamuni knows the path to a union

with Brahma."



And the Blessed One said: "What do you think, O Brahmans, of a

man born and brought up in Manasakata? Would he be in doubt about

the most direct way from this spot to Manasakata?"



"Certainly not, Gotama."



"Thus," replied the Buddha, "the Tathagata knows the straight

path that leads to a union with Brahma. He knows it as one who

has entered the world of Brahma and has been born in it. There

can be no doubt in the Tathagata."



And the two young Brahmans said: "If thou knowest the way show it

to us."



And the Buddha said:



"The Tathagata sees the universe face to face and understands its

nature. He proclaims the truth both in its letter and in its

spirit, and his doctrine is glorious in its origin, glorious in

its progress, glorious in its consummation. The Tathagata reveals

the higher life in its purity and perfection. He can show you the

way to that which is contrary to the five great hindrances.



"The Tathagata lets his mind pervade the four quarters of the

world with thoughts of love. And thus the whole wide world,

above, below, around, and everywhere will continue to be filled

with love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure.



"Just as a mighty trumpeter makes himself heard--and that without

difficulty--in all the four quarters of the earth; even so is the

coming of the Tathagata: there is not one living creature that

the Tathagata passes by or leaves aside, but regards them all

with mind set free, and deep-felt love.



"And this is the sign that a man follows the right path:

Uprightness is his delight, and he sees danger in the least of

those things which he should avoid. He trains himself in the

commands of morality, he encompasseth himself with holiness in

word and deed; he sustains his life by means that are quite pure;

good is his conduct, guarded is the door of his senses; mindful

and self-possessed, he is altogether happy.



"He who walks in the eightfold noble path with unswerving

determination is sure to reach Nirvana. The Tathagata anxiously

watches over his children and with loving care helps them to see

the light.



"When a hen has eight or ten or twelve eggs, over which she has

properly brooded, the wish arises in her heart, 'O would that my

little chickens would break open the egg-shell with their claws,

or with their beaks, and come forth into the light in safety!'

yet all the while those little chickens are sure to break the

egg-shell and will come forth into the light in safety. Even so,

a brother who with firm determination walks in the noble path is

sure to come forth into the light, sure to reach up to the higher

wisdom, sure to attain to the highest bliss of enlightenment."





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