The eight kinds of individuals: Considering as individuals, the one who is staying on the first path and the one enjoying the fruition is one, thus making them eight kinds of individuals. Ettha ca purisoti vā puggaloti vā ekatthāni etāni padāni:- Thus the words man and individual have the same meaning. (Saṅghānussatikathā, Visuddhimaggo)
The verses are extracted from the Dhajaggasutta, found in the Saṃyuttanikāyo, the last chapter of the Sagāthāvaggo, the Sakkasaṃyuttaṃ. The Sakkasaṃyutta collects verses attributed to Sakka, the ruler of the devas of the Tāvatiṃsa world, the heavenly fields of the devas. The Tāvatiṃsa world is the realm of the thirty-three, the second of the sense fields of heavenly worlds. Thirty three youths were reborn there as a result of meritorious deeds in their past lives. Sakka attempts to rule in righteousness, full of patience and compassionate understanding, but is constantly attacked by the asuras under their leaders Verocana and Vepacitti (see 3.2.1 - Samuddakasuttaṃ), who favour force and vengeance.
The Buddha relates here an incident in the past where he refers to a battle in full swing between the Devas and the Asuras. Sakka, being their king tried to rouse the Devas and to stir his army by asking them to remember him, or as a substitute some of his gods in order to gain refreshed strength and to get rid of their fear. The Buddha then compares the fear that might arise during the battle with the difficulties that might arise during meditation and encourages the meditator to recollect the qualities of the Triple Gem, whenever lacking in their zeal and overcome by hindrances in their meditation. Using this as an example the Buddha reveals that while full faith in the refuge of the Triple Gem would fully function, Sakka’s advice was bound to fail: Taṃ kissa hetu? Sakko hi, bhikkhave, devānamindo avītarāgo avītadoso avītamoho bhīru chambhī utrāsī palāyīti. Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgato hi, bhikkhave, arahaṃ sammāsambuddho vītarāgo vītadoso vītamoho abhīru acchambhī anutrāsī apalāyī”ti - ‘Why is this so? Because Sakka, O’ Bhikkhus, is himself not free from rāgo, doso, moho, he himself is fearful, frightened, terrified and runs away. Not so the Tathāgato, he is completely free from rāgo, doso, moho, he is not fearful, frightened, terrified and does not run away’. These concluding verses summarise Buddha’s encouragement for his Bhikkhus inspiring them with the qualities of the triple gem whenever they were lacking in their zeal and being overcome by hindrances in their meditation.
Pāli lesson (with audio) 1.4.3
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