Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 1.2.2
Puggalavaggo - The Two Rare Individuals
The current sutta is called Puggalavaggo: puggala + vaggo (individual + section, chapter) and is taken from the Dukanipātapāḷi of the Aṅguttaranikāyo. By increasing the number of appearances by one more, compared with the Ekapuggalavaggo the number of rare but beneficial appearances in this world, so difficult to encounter, is now augmented to two:
“Katame dve? Tathāgato ca arahaṃ sammāsambuddho, rājā ca cakkavattī.”
“It is the Tathāgata, who is an Arahant, a Sammāsambuddha, and the wheel turning monarch.”
After the birth of Gotama had taken place, his father, king Suddhodana selected eight Brahmins to read the signs and make a prophecy about his son’s future. All, except one by the name of Sudatta, predicted that Gotama would become either a wheel turning monarch (rājā cakkavattī) or if he renounces the world a fully enlightened sammāsambuddho. The latter was the assured prediction made by Sudatta. All were convinced that whatever task Gotama was to undertake, he would accomplish it and thus gave him the name:
Siddhattha — one who has completed his task (for the benefit of the world) — comes from siddha, p.p. of sijjhati (succeed, accomplish), and attha (welfare, blessing, benefit).
The second individual, a rājā cakkavattī (a wheel turning monarch) is a ruler or an administrative government that rules for the welfare of its citizens — which is likewise extremely rare to encounter. The Cakkavattisutta1 narrates the qualities of a ruler who fulfils the conditions of a rājā cakkavattī and also illustrates the negative results for the whole of the society otherwise.
Whenever a king loses his own practice of ethics and moral understanding of virtue, righteousness will decline and along with this, prosperity will also decline. This declining prosperity and inauspiciousness spreads like a cancer over the whole country. In the Cakkavattisuttaṃ the prince asks his father to explain to him, what a wheel turning monarch should do and the king replies:
“ … dhammaṃyeva nissāya dhammaṃ sakkaronto dhammaṃ garuṃ karonto dhammaṃ mānento dhammaṃ pūjento dhammaṃ apacāyamāno dhammaddhajo dhammaketu dhammādhipateyyo dhammikaṃ rakkhāvaraṇaguttiṃ2 saṃvidahassu antojanasmiṃ balakāyasmiṃ khattiyesu anuyantesu brāhmaṇagahapatikesu negamajānapadesu3 samaṇabrāhmaṇesu migapakkhīsu”.
“ … Making Dhamma your base, honouring it, revering and respecting it, venerating and cherishing it, paying homage to it and having Dhamma as your emblem and banner, acknowledging Dhamma as your master, making proper arrangements to guard, ward and protect according to Dhamma for families, troops, for nobles and vassals, Brahmins and householders, for town-dwellers and country folks, for those ascetics who have left the households and for animals and birds.”
Asoka, the historical king tried to follow the example of a rājā cakkavattī by establishing righteousness amongst his subjects and support for the needy in every field of his empire. In his Rock Edicts he expresses his desire to serve his subjects like his children, to protect and respect all life. He also tried to emphasise and inspire his subjects to follow the Dhamma in every aspect:
‘All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men.’ (Kalinga Rock Edicts) ‘…various animals were declared to be protected…’ (Seven Pillar Edicts)
It may be noted that the expression: uppajjamānā uppajjant describes in its grammatical form the enduring process of fulfilling the perfections (uppajjamānā) ‘when, upon arising’. It thus relates to the great aspiration of the Tathāgata in performing his persistent efforts. uppajjanti (they arise) for the sake and benefit of the wellbeing of many folk, and not for any other reason:
uppajjantā bahujanahitatthāya uppajjanti,
na aññena kāraṇenāti evamettha attho veditabbo.
May deep respect and gratitude develop with many beings!
1. About ideal government and ultimate possible administration, see 3.6.12 Cakkavattisuttaṃ – The Duties of a Righteous King and likewise the Buddha’s advice in 3.6.13 Sārandadasuttaṃ – How to Live in Harmony and True Democracy.
2. rakkhāvaraṇaguttiṃ: rakkhā + avaraṇa + guttiṃ: protection + obstruction + guard.
3. negamajānapadesu: negama + jānapadesu (loc.): townfolk + countryfolk.