Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.4.4
The Consequences of Wrong Speech

Katvāna kaṭṭham udaraṃ iva gabbhinīyā,
Ciñcāya duṭṭhavacanaṃ janakāyamajjhe,
Santena soma vidhinā jitavā munindo,
Taṃ tejasā bhavatu te jayamaṅgalāni.

Forming her belly with a piece of wood pretending pregnancy,
Ciñcāya abused him in the midst of an assembly of people with corrupt speech,
With calmness and quietude the sage of the Munis conquered her.
Through the power of this may joyous victory be yours.

These verses from the Jayamaṅgala-aṭṭhagāthā are well known to participants of a ten-day-Vipassana course in the tradition of S.N.Goenka and refer to Ciñcā, an attractive female follower of some heretics. Their renown decreased and they were losing followers as the spread of Dhamma by the Bhikkhusaṇgha was gaining popularity for the teachings of the Buddha. In order to scatter discredit about the Bikkhusaṇgha and the Buddha amongst the people these heretics had trained Ciñcā to pretend pregnancy and to offend the Buddha during a public meeting with the abuse of irresponsibility and callousness towards his own child.

Such an intentional deliberate lie irrespective of better knowledge of the truth presents the base for any kind of unwholesome and harmful behaviour and action. Not only that the performance of such a calculated lie embraces distrust of its efficacy and creditability and thus provokes the necessity to create a castle of supportive further falseness. Such a person may also tend to subsequently perform any other misdeed by ignoring possible kammic consequences: ‘Vitiṇṇaparalokassāti vissaṭṭhaparalokassa1. Īdiso hi manussasampatti devalokasampatti avasāne nibbānasampattīti imā tissopi sampattiyo na passati.’ — ‘Having overcome concern for the next world he has dismissed the next world. Because such a person does not behold the three successful attainments: the attainment of human birth, of the world of gods and of the attainment of Nibbāna.’

The Buddha’s simile displayed to his son Rāhula2 confirms that someone who expresses a lie with full knowledge thus provides the base for any other breakage of wholesome conduct.

After having washed his feet with only little remaining water the Buddha shows the nearly empty water vessel to his son and asks: ‘‘passasi no tvaṃ, rāhula, imaṃ parittaṃ udakāvasesaṃ3 udakādhāne4 ṭhapita’’nti?- “Do you perceive this little water left in the water vessel?” and continued explaining: ‘‘Evaṃ parittakaṃ kho, rāhula, tesaṃ sāmaññaṃ yesaṃ natthi sampajānamusāvāde lajjā5’’ti – “of such like little value is the sāmaññaship of those who are not ashamed to tell a sampajānamusāvāde– a deliberate lie.” The Buddha then further throws all the water away, ‘‘passasi no tvaṃ, rāhula, parittaṃ udakāvasesaṃ chaḍḍita6’’nti? – and finally turns the vessel upside down and shows the fully empty vessel ‘‘passasi no tvaṃ, rāhula, imaṃ udakādhānaṃ nikkujjita7’’nti? Explaining the meaning of both examples compares this with a monk, who by telling this kind of intentional lie has thrown his recluseship away and having it turned upside down.

The Buddha concludes by replacing the vessel upside again: Atha kho bhagavā taṃ udakādhānaṃ ukkujjitvā āyasmantaṃ rāhulaṃ āmantesi ‘‘passasi no tvaṃ, rāhula, imaṃ udakādhānaṃ rittaṃ8 tuccha9’’nti? ‘‘Evaṃ, bhante’’. ‘‘Evaṃ rittaṃ tucchaṃ kho, rāhula, tesaṃ sāmaññaṃ yesaṃ natthi sampajānamusāvāde lajjāti. – “Do you perceive this now empty and hollow vessel, Rāhula?” ‘‘Yes, Bhante.’’ “Likewise vain and purposeless like this empty vessel is the sāmaññaship for a recluse who is not ashamed telling such a deliberate lie!”

[1] vissaṭṭhaparalokassa: vi+s+saṭṭha (pp. of sajati) + para + lokassa: having dismissed + next + world

[2] see lessons 3.3.6 and 3.3.7

[3] udakāvasesaṃ: udaka + āvasesaṃ: water + dwelling place: water left

[4] udakādhāne: udaka + ādhāne: water + laying: water remained

[5] lajjā: shame, modesty

[6] chaḍḍita (pp.): thrown away, cast away, abandoned

[7] nikkujjita (pp) overturned, upside down

[8] rittaṃ: riñjati (pp.): devoid, empty

[9] tuccha (adj.): empty, vain, devoid


Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.4.4

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Last modified: Thursday, 28 December 2023, 10:43 AM