The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 4. Mārasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses with Māra

III. The Third Subchapter (The Māra Pentad)

21 (1) A Number
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Silāvatī. Now on that occasion a number of bhikkhus were dwelling not far from the Blessed One—diligent, ardent, and resolute. Then Māra the Evil One manifested himself in the form of a brahmin, with a large matted topknot, clad in an antelope hide, old, crooked like a roof bracket, wheezing, holding a staff of udumbara wood. He approached those bhikkhus <260> and said to them: “You, sirs, have gone forth while young, lads with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, without having dallied with sensual pleasures. Enjoy human sensual pleasures, sirs; do not abandon what is directly visible in order to pursue what takes time.”
    “We have not abandoned what is directly visible, brahmin, in order to pursue what takes time. We have abandoned what takes time in order to pursue what is directly visible. For the Blessed One, brahmin, has stated that sensual pleasures are time-consuming, full of suffering, full of despair, and the danger in them is still greater, while this Dhamma is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.” [118]
    When this was said, Māra the Evil One shook his head, lolled his tongue, knit his brow into three furrows, and departed leaning on his staff.
    Then those bhikkhus approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported everything in full. <261> [The Blessed One said:] “That was not a brahmin, bhikkhus. That was Māra the Evil One, who had come in order to confound you.”
    Then the Blessed One, having understood the meaning of this, on that occasion recited this verse: <262>

488 “How could a person incline to sensual pleasures
      Who has seen the source whence suffering springs?
      Having known acquisition as a tie in the world,
      A person should train for its removal.” [119]

22 (2) Samiddhi
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Silāvatī. Now on that occasion the Venerable Samiddhi was dwelling not far from the Blessed One—diligent, ardent, and resolute. Then, while the Venerable Samiddhi was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: “It is indeed a gain for me, it is well gained by me, that my teacher is the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One! It is indeed a gain for me, it is well gained by me, that I have gone forth in this well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline! It is indeed a gain for me, it is well gained by me, that my companions in the holy life are virtuous, of good character!”
    Then Māra the Evil One, having known with his own mind the reflection in the mind of the Venerable Samiddhi, approached him and, not far from him, made a loud noise, frightful and terrifying, <263> as though the earth were splitting open.
    Then the Venerable Samiddhi approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported what had happened. [The Blessed One said:] “That was not the earth splitting open, Samiddhi. That was Māra the Evil One, who had come in order to confound you. Go back, Samiddhi, and dwell diligent, ardent, and resolute.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the Venerable Samiddhi replied. [120] Then he rose from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, and departed, keeping him on the right.
    A second time, while the Venerable Samiddhi was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind … And a second time Māra the Evil One … <264> … made a loud noise, frightful and terrifying, as though the earth were splitting open.
    Then the Venerable Samiddhi, having understood, “This is Māra the Evil One,” addressed him in verse:

489 “I have gone forth out of faith
      From the home to the homeless life.
      My mindfulness and wisdom are mature,
      And my mind well concentrated.
      Conjure up whatever forms you wish,
      But you will never make me tremble.”

Then Māra the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhu Samiddhi knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.

23 (3) Godhika
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Godhika was dwelling on the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. Then, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, <265> he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A second time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A third time … A fourth time … [121] A fifth time … A sixth time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind, but he fell away from that temporary liberation of mind. A seventh time, while the Venerable Godhika was dwelling diligent, ardent, and resolute, he reached temporary liberation of mind.
    Then it occurred to the Venerable Godhika: “Six times already I have fallen away from temporary liberation of mind. Let me use the knife.”<266>
    Then Māra the Evil One, having known with his own mind the reflection in the Venerable Godhika’s mind, approached the Blessed One and addressed him with these verses:

490 “O great hero, great in wisdom,
      Blazing forth with power and glory!
      I worship your feet, One with Vision,
      Who has overcome all enmity and fear.

491 “O great hero who has vanquished death,
      Your disciple is longing for death.
      He intends [to take his own life]:
      Restrain him from this, O luminous one!

492 “How, O Blessed One, can your disciple—
      One delighting in the Teaching,
      A trainee seeking his mind’s ideal—
      Take his own life, O widely famed?”

Now on that occasion the Venerable Godhika had just used the knife. Then the Blessed One, having understood, “This is Māra the Evil One,” addressed him in verse:

493 “Such indeed is how the steadfast act:
      They are not attached to life. <267>
      Having drawn out craving with its root,
      Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”

Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Come, bhikkhus, let us go to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope, where the clansman Godhika has used the knife.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. Then the Blessed One, together with a number of bhikkhus, went to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. The Blessed One saw in the distance the Venerable Godhika lying on the bed with his shoulder turned. [122]
    Now on that occasion a cloud of smoke, a swirl of darkness, was moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters. The Blessed One then addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Do you see, bhikkhus, that cloud of smoke, that swirl of darkness, moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “That, bhikkhus, is Māra the Evil One searching for the consciousness of the clansman Godhika, wondering: ‘Where now <268> has the consciousness of the clansman Godhika been established?’ However, bhikkhus, with consciousness unestablished, the clansman Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”
    Then Māra the Evil One, taking a lute of yellow vilva-wood, approached the Blessed One and addressed him in verse:

494 “Above, below, and across,
      In the four quarters and in between,
      I have been searching but do not find
      Where Godhika has gone.”

[The Blessed One:]

495 “That steadfast man was resolute,
      A meditator always rejoicing in meditation,
      Applying himself day and night
      Without attachment even to life.

496 “Having conquered the army of Death,
      Not returning to renewed existence,
      Having drawn out craving with its root,
      Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.” <269>

497 So much was he stricken with sorrow
      That his lute dropped from his armpit.
      Thereupon that disappointed spirit
      Disappeared right on the spot.

24 (4) Seven Years of Pursuit
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Uruvelā on the bank of the river Nerañjarā at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree. Now on that occasion Māra the Evil One had been following the Blessed One for seven years, seeking to gain access to him but without success. Then Māra the Evil One approached the Blessed One and addressed him in verse: [123]

498 “Is it because you are sunk in sorrow
      That you meditate in the woods?
      Because you’ve lost wealth or pine for it,
      Or committed some crime in the village?
      Why don’t you make friends with people? <270>
      Why don’t you form any intimate ties?”

[The Blessed One:]

499 “Having dug up entirely the root of sorrow,
      Guiltless, I meditate free from sorrow.
      Having cut off all greedy urge for existence,
      I meditate taintless, O kinsman of the negligent!”

[Māra:]

500 “That of which they say ‘It’s mine,’
      And those who speak in terms of ‘mine’—
      If your mind exists among these,
      You won’t escape me, ascetic.”

[The Blessed One:]

501 “That which they speak of is not mine,
      I’m not one of those who speak [of mine].
      You should know thus, O Evil One:
      Even my path you will not see.”

[Māra:]

502 “If you have discovered the path,
      The secure way leading to the Deathless, <271>
      Be off and walk that path alone;
      What’s the point of instructing others?”

[The Blessed One:]

503 “Those people going to the far shore
      Ask what lies beyond Death’s realm.
      When asked, I explain to them
      The truth without acquisitions.”

[Māra:] “Suppose, venerable sir, not far from a village or a town there was a lotus pond in which a crab was living. Then a group of boys and girls would leave the village or town and go to the pond. They would pull the crab out from the water and set it down on high ground. Then, whenever that crab would extend one of its claws, those boys and girls would cut it off, break it, and smash it to bits with sticks and stones. Thus, when all its claws have been cut off, broken, and smashed to bits, that crab would be unable to return to that pond. <272> So too, venerable sir, all those distortions, manoeuvres, and contortions of mine have been cut off, [124] broken, and smashed to bits by the Blessed One. Now, venerable sir, I am unable to approach the Blessed One again seeking to gain access to him.”
    Then Māra the Evil One, in the presence of the Blessed One, recited these verses of disappointment:

504 “There was a crow that walked around
      A stone that looked like a lump of fat.
      ‘Let’s find something tender here,’ [he thought,]
      ‘Perhaps there’s something nice and tasty.’

505 But because he found nothing tasty there,
      The crow departed from that spot.
      Just like the crow that attacked the stone,
      We leave Gotama disappointed.” <273>

25 (5) Māra’s Daughters
Then Māra the Evil One, having spoken these verses of disappointment in the presence of the Blessed One, went away from that spot and sat down cross-legged on the ground not far from the Blessed One, silent, dismayed, with his shoulders drooping, downcast, brooding, unable to speak, scratching the ground with a stick.
    Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—approached Māra the Evil One and addressed him in verse:

506 “Why are you despondent, father?
      Who’s the man for whom you grieve?
      We’ll catch him with the snare of lust
      As they catch the forest elephant.
      We’ll bind him tightly and bring him back,
      And he’ll be under your control.”

[Māra:]

507 “The Arahant, the Fortunate One in the world,
      Is not easily drawn by means of lust.
      He has gone beyond Māra’s realm:
      Therefore I sorrow so bitterly.” <274>

Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions.
    Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—went off to the side and took counsel: “Men’s tastes are diverse. Suppose we each manifest ourselves in the form of a hundred maidens.” [125] Then Māra’s three daughters, each manifesting herself in the form of a hundred maidens, approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions.
    Then Māra’s daughters went off to the side and again took counsel: “Men’s tastes are diverse. Suppose we each manifest ourselves in the form of a hundred women who have never given birth.” Then Māra’s three daughters, each manifesting herself in the form of a hundred women who have never given birth … in the form of a hundred women who have given birth once … <275> … in the form of a hundred women who have given birth twice … in the form of a hundred women of middle age … in the form of a hundred old women, approached the Blessed One and said to him: “We serve at your feet, ascetic.” But the Blessed One paid no attention, as he was liberated in the unsurpassed extinction of acquisitions.
    Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—went off to the side and said: “What our father told us is true:

508 “‘The Arahant, the Fortunate One in the world …
      Therefore I sorrow so bitterly.’

“If we had assailed with such tactics any ascetic or brahmin who was not devoid of lust, either his heart would have burst, or he would have vomited hot blood from his mouth, [126] or he would have gone mad or become mentally deranged; or else he would have dried up and withered away and become shrivelled, just as a green reed that has been mowed down would dry up and wither away and become shrivelled.”
    Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—approached the Blessed One and stood to one side. <276> Standing to one side, Māra’s daughter Taṇhā addressed the Blessed One in verse:

509 “Is it because you are sunk in sorrow
      That you meditate in the woods?
      Because you have lost wealth or pine for it,
      Or committed some crime in the village?
      Why don’t you make friends with people?
      Why don’t you form any intimate ties?”

[The Blessed One:]

510 “Having conquered the army of the pleasant and agreeable,
      Meditating alone, I discovered bliss,
      The attainment of the goal, the peace of the heart.
      Therefore I don’t make friends with people,
      Nor will I form any intimate ties.”

Then Māra’s daughter Aratī addressed the Blessed One in verse: <277>

511 “How does a bhikkhu here often dwell
      That, five floods crossed, he here has crossed the sixth?
      How does he meditate so sensual perceptions
      Are kept at bay and fail to grip him?”

[The Blessed One:]

512 “Tranquil in body, in mind well liberated,
      Not generating, mindful, homeless,
      Knowing Dhamma, meditating thought-free,
      He does not erupt, or drift, or stiffen.

513 “When a bhikkhu here often dwells thus,
      With five floods crossed, he here has crossed the sixth.
      When he meditates thus, sensual perceptions
      Are kept at bay and fail to grip him.” [127]

Then Māra’s daughter Ragā addressed the Blessed One in verse: <278>

514 “He has cut off craving, faring with his group and order;
      Surely many other beings will cross.
      Alas, this homeless one will snatch many people
      And lead them away beyond the King of Death.”

[The Blessed One:]

515 “Truly the Tathāgatas, the great heroes,
      Lead by means of the true Dhamma.
      When they are leading by means of the Dhamma,
      What envy can there be in those who understand?”

Then Māra’s daughters—Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—approached Māra the Evil One. Māra saw them coming in the distance and addressed them in verses:

516 “Fools! You tried to batter a mountain
      With the stalks of lotus flowers,
      To dig up a mountain with your nails,
      To chew iron with your teeth. <279>

517 “As if, having lifted a rock with your head,
      You sought a foothold in the abyss;
      As if you struck a stump with your breast,
      You part from Gotama disappointed.”

518 They had come to him glittering with beauty—
      Taṇhā, Aratī, and Ragā—
      But the Teacher swept them away right there
      As the wind, a fallen cotton tuft. <280>
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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