Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa


Introduction to 3.4.9
Kosambiyasuttaṃ
(Quarrel Breeds Disharmony!)

Imesu kira sajjanti1,
Eke samaṇabrāhmaṇā;
Viggayha2 naṃ vivadanti
Janā ekaṅgadassino.

Deeply attached to their own views,
Some recluses and Brahmins, indeed,
Engage in quarrels and disputes.
These are people who only see one side of things.3

Both the commentarial explanations of musāvāda as well as samphappalāpa emphasize the respective volition to deceive or uselessly to while away the time of others.4 The commentarial expositions of pisuṇā vācā as well as pharusā vācā illuminate likewise the underlying intention to divide and insult and highlight the effect that this can have on the offender:

Pisuṇā vācātiādīsu yāya vācāya yassa taṃ vācaṃ bhāsati, tassa hadaye attano piyabhāvaṃ parassa ca suññabhāvaṃ karoti, sā pisuṇā vācā. Tesaṃ mūlabhūtā cetanāpi pisuṇāvācādināmameva5 labhati, sā eva ca idha adhippetāti. - Speech based on maliciousness and suchlike: Malicious speech is speech that if spoken generates in the heart of the person to whom it is addressed, affection for oneself and lack of regard for another. Of these the root is volition and therefor it receives the designation: ‘malicious speech and suchlike’. - Tattha saṃkiliṭṭhacittassa paresaṃ vā bhedāya attano piyakamyatāya6 vā kāyavacīpayogasamuṭṭhāpikā7 cetanā pisuṇā vācā. - Therein, based on the volition of one with a defiled mind, that prompts effort by body or by speech to cause either division among others or to generate esteem for oneself, that defines malicious speech.

According to the qualities of the people, that are getting divided, the intention is qualified less or more blameworthy That kammic effects take place, the following four constituents have to be fulfilled:

Tassā cattāro sambhārā bhinditabbo8 paro, ‘‘iti ime nānā bhavissanti vinā bhavissantī’’ti bhedapurekkhāratā9 vā, ‘‘ahaṃ piyo bhavissāmi vissāsiko10’’ti piyakamyatā vā, tajjo11 vāyāmo, tassa tadatthavijānananti12. Its constituents are four: others to be divided; the intention to separate: “thus these will be alienated and estranged”; or the desire to endear oneself: “thus I will be liked and become trustworthy”; the respective effort and that meaning being recognized by the other person.

Likewise pharusa vācā is defined as all kind of speech by which one makes both oneself and another callous, speech which in itself is harsh and neither pleasant to the ear nor to the heart. - Yāya pana attānampi parampi pharusampi karoti, sā vācā sayampi pharusā neva kaṇṇasukhā na hadayasukhā vā, ayaṃ pharusā vācā.. Parassa mammacchedakakāyavacīpayogasamuṭṭhāpikā13 ekantapharusā cetanā pharusā vācā. Harsh speech is the entirely callous volition intention prompting effort by body or by speech to hurt another's vital feelings.

Again a differentiation is made in the effect and culpability, whether such kind of speech is addressed to people with less or more qualities.14 The commentary corroborates once more that it depends on the respective intention, i.e. apparently angry words of a mother to make her children comply, but uttered with gentleness in her mind do not qualify her words as apharusā vācā: Yathā ca cittasaṇhatāya15 pharusā vācā na hoti, evaṃ vacanasaṇhatāya apharusā vācā na hoti. Na hi mārāpetukāmassa – ‘‘imaṃ sukhaṃ sayāpethā’’ti vacanaṃ apharusā vācā hoti, cittapharusatāya panesā pharusā vācāva. – Just as gentleness of mind doesn’t turn speech harsh, likewise don’t gentle words form speech unharsh. As in the case of the wish: “Let him sleep happily!” spoken by one with the desire to kill is not unharsh speech. Harsh speech gains its quality (of being rude) on account of harshness of mind only. Its constituents are three: another to be abused, an angry mind, the act of abusing: - Tassā tayo sambhārā – akkositabbo16 paro, kupitacittaṃ, akkosanāti.

Cetanā – volition, intention focuses its associated mental factors in acting upon the respective object – thus expressing its state of willing. Volition determines the moral and ethical quality of the intended action and herewith generates kamma17: “Cetanāhaṃ, bhikkhave, kammaṃ vadāmi. Cetayitvā kammaṃ karoti – kāyena vācāya manasā.” – “It is volition, O’Bhikkhus, that I call kamma – for being governed by the will, one performs an action by body, speech or mind!”

In the Kosambiyasuttaṃ the Buddha refers to an incident18, when he found bhikkhus in dispute and disagreement about some arguments. In order to indicate their mental disposition during this quarrel he asked them whether at such a time they were upholding the principles of Metta towards their comrades in the holy life: “……api nu tumhākaṃ tasmiṃ samaye mettaṃ kāyakammaṃ paccupaṭṭhitaṃ hoti ……mettaṃ vacīkammaṃ ……mettaṃ manokammaṃ paccupaṭṭhitaṃ hoti?”

After he had brought these Bhikkhus to senses he taught them the six valuable qualities to be remembered, developed and multiplied in order to dwell in mutual love, harmony non-dispute and unity: “……chayime, bhikkhave, dhammā sāraṇīyā piyakaraṇā garukaraṇā saṅgahāya avivādāya sāmaggiyā ekībhāvāya saṃvattanti: …… mettaṃ kāyakammaṃ paccupaṭṭhitaṃ ……. mettaṃ vacīkammaṃ paccupaṭṭhitaṃ …… mettaṃ manokammaṃ paccupaṭṭhitaṃ hoti …… ye te lābhā dhammikā dhammaladdhā antamaso pattapariyāpannamattampi …… yāni tāni sīlāni akhaṇḍāni acchiddāni asabalāni …… yāyaṃ diṭṭhi ariyā niyyānikā niyyāti takkarassa sammā dukkhakkhayāya ……!” – “…… these are: maintaining Metta by body, speech and mind towards one’s companions; …… sharing all possessions with them in common;…… upholding unbroken, unblemished and untorn Sīla, …… developing the Noble Right View that is leading the one who practices it to the end of suffering!”


[1] sajjati/ sajati: cling, hold on to

[2] viggayha: viggaṇhati (ger.): quarrel, dispute

[3] Paṭhamanānātitthiyasuttaṃ, Jaccandhavaggo, Udānapāḷi

[4] compare: 3.4.5 & 3.4.7

[5] pisuṇāvācādināmameva: pisuṇā + vācā +adi +nāmam + eva: malicious + speech + suchlike + designation + so

[6] piyakamyatāya: piya + kamyatāya: dear + desire

[7] kāyavacīpayogasamuṭṭhāpikā: kāyavacīpayoga + samuṭṭhāpikā: by means of body and speech + causing, occasioning

[8] bhinditabbo –bhindati (fpp): to be divided

[9] bhedapurekkhāratā: bheda + purekkhā + ratā: breaking + preference + liking

[10] vissāsiko: intimate, confidential, trustworthy

[11] tajjo: tad + ya: suchlike

[12] tadatthavijānananti: tad + attha + vijānananti: this + meaning + recognition

[13] mammacchedakakāyavacīpayogasamuṭṭhāpikā: mammacchedaka + kāyavacīpayogasamuṭṭhāpikā: breaking the joints (fig.): violent + by means of body and speech + causing, occasioning

[14] sā yaṃ sandhāya pavattitā, tassa appaguṇatāya appasāvajjā, mahāguṇatāya mahāsāvajjā.

[15] cittasaṇhatāya: citta + saṇha + tāya: mind + gentle, soft + state of

[16] akkositabbo: akkosati (fpp.): accuse, revile

[17] Nibbedhikasuttaṃ, Chakkanipātapāḷi, Mahāvaggo, Aṅguttaranikāyo

[18] related at: Kosambakavivādakathā, Kosambakakkhandhako, Mahāvaggapāḷi, Vinayapiṭake: a greater clash about a disciplinary rule arouse between the Bhikkhus dwelling at Kosambi which split them into two fractions.

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Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.4.9

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Last modified: Tuesday, 21 February 2017, 7:29 PM