Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 1.2.1
Ekapuggalavaggo - The One Person
The next four suttas1 further emphasising the topic of ‘dullabho’2 are all selected from the Aṅguttaranikāyo. The Aṅguttaranikāyo is a selection of texts that are collected in divisions, so called nipāta, and arranged by progressive, numerical increase. Therefore Aṅguttaranikāyo3 can be translated as ‘collection’ or ‘assemblage’ (nikāyo) of things increased by one item (aṅguttara) — Gradual Sayings or Numerical Discourses. The selection starts with one item (Ekakanipātapāḷi), increases up to eleven items (Ekādasakanipātapāḷi), and is collected in groups called vaggo.
This Ekapuggalavaggo describes the rare arising of one person, the tathāgata, the arahant, the sammasambuddha. The expression ‘tathāgato’ is a term that the Buddha uses whenever he talks about himself. It can be derived from tathā gata — having gone thus, i.e. having gone the path to enlightenment from the beginning to the end; as well as from tatha āgata — having come thus, i.e. having attained the state of enlightenment by the path he and all the Buddhas have proclaimed.4
The following qualities of the Buddha usually start with itipiso bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddho… and together with the qualities of Dhamma (svakkhato bhagavato dhammo…) and the qualities of Saṅgha (supattipanno bhagavato savaka saṅgho…) form the homage (vandana) to the Triple Gem. The inspiration derived for one's own practice by properly understanding these qualities is called Buddhānussati, Dhammānussati and Saṅghānussati. These anussati are explained in great detail in the Visuddhimaggo.5
The Buddha at one time tried to inspire his Bhikkhus by a simile of a war between the devā and the asurā6 where he compared this war with the struggle a Bhikkhu may encounter during his meditation alone in the vast forest. In case of fear arising, of hairs standing to the end a meditator should remember the qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma or the Saṅgha:
… mameva tasmiṃ samaye anussareyyātha – ‘itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā’ti’
… you may remember me at such a period in the following way: ‘Such truly is he: freed from impurities, having destroyed all mental defilements, fully enlightened by his own efforts, perfect in theory and in practice, having reached the final goal, knower of the entire universe, incomparable trainer of men, teacher of gods and humans, the Buddha, the Blessed One’.
The chapter of Buddhānussati in the Visuddhimaggo deals in great detail with the derivation of roots and meanings of each of these characteristics. For example the term arahaṃ/arahant/arahat can be derived in various ways:
Araha means deserving, worthy; arahaṃ is someone worthy of one’s veneration; ara also takes the connotation of spoke of a wheel and hari describes an enemy, hata or hanta are derived (p.p.) of ‘hanati’ (to kill, destroy) so the word arahat is understood as somebody, who has destroyed these spokes (of the wheel of becoming) and killed his enemies.
The term vijjacarana is translated as theory and practice. A practitioner should understand that carana consists of sīla and samadhi, and the vijja of paññā. A simile compares vijja with the eye of a human being while carana resembles the limbs. In the same sense as a person is only perfect with good eyesight and fully-functioning limbs, a practitioner of Dhamma should therefore establish oneself in carana by developing proper concentration on the base of perfect moral behaviour as well as vijja, developing one’s own wisdom through insight.
Further literally sugato means well gone, but could also be derived for example from sobhaṇa-gamana (perfect manner of trotting the path) and sammā gata (having gone rightly without derivation). Another explanation of sugato (well spoken) gets derived from sammā gadati and will be taken up later on.7
Finally inspiration may be gained from the commentarial explanation of bhagavā:
Bhaggarāgo bhaggadoso, bhaggamoho anāsavo;
Bhaggāssa pāpakā dhammā, bhagavā tena vuccatī”ti8
Having abolished desire, aversion and delusion,
Freed from impurities, rid of all evil states –Such a One is rightly called a Bhagavā.
3. aṅguttara: aṅga + uttara: limb, attribute + higher, above.
4. For more details of the qualities of tathāgato refer to Lokasuttaṃ and Kāḷakārāmasuttaṃ in Aṅguttaranikāyo, Catukkanipātapāḷi, Paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Uruvelavaggo.
5. See Buddhānussatikathā, Dhammānussatikathā, Saṅghānussatikathā.
8. Maṅgalasuttavaṇṇanā, Khuddakapāṭha-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye Nikkhepappayojanaṃ.