Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.6.3
Parābhavasuttaṃ - The Causes of Downfall

The Parābhavasutta summarizes all the vices that should be avoided by any wise person who wants to remain a ‘satidovāriko1 and points warningly to the entire field of pitfalls one may come across during one’s life. This sutta is described as the twin-sutta of the Maṅgalasuttaṃ. While the Maṅgalasutta presents all the wholesome blessings for a householder2 and indicates the actions that should be performed the Parābhavasutta highlights its opposite. Both suttas open with the same introducing words, but the day after the Maṅgalasuttaṃ was preached and reported to the devas the respective devatā was requested to approach the Buddha again to enquire about the actions that would lead to the corruption and ruin of beings.3

An interesting episode from the Vinaya4 depicts how satidovāriko – awareness as a doorkeeper - could be enforced and presents one more tool to foster sammā-ājīvo. This refers to a well-known incident where Devadatta – planning to split the Saṅgha – requested the Buddha to allow certain dhutaṅgāni5 with the hope that the Buddha would refuse these so Devadatta could win some followers who wanted to adopt more severe practises6. The Buddha replied in the manner as stated below and advised in reference to the last proposal of Devadatta to follow a principle that he called ‘tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ7. Although the Buddha addresses the Bhikkhus a layperson likewise may take refuge to this beneficial procedure! This method – checking upon unwanted side-effects that may be known, seen, heard or suspected - presents a further healthy opportunity8 to assure purity. Verifying and ascertaining one’s own blamelessness regarding one’s livelihood, profession and its implications strengthens awareness as well as mental calm. Thus one gets assurance that neither direct harm is done nor indirect results or implied harmful consequences of one’s actions may occur.9

This is the reference10:
…...“Atha kho devadatto sapariso yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṃ abhivādetvā ekamantaṃ nisīdi. Ekamantaṃ nisinno kho devadatto bhagavantaṃ etadavoca: "bhagavā bhante anekapariyāyena11 appicchassa santuṭṭhassa sallekhassa dhutassa pāsādikassa12 apacayassa13 viriyārambhassa vaṇṇavādī.” – ……At that time Devadatta and his friends approached the Bhagavā, having approached the Bhagavā they sat down at one side. Then Devadatta addressed the Bhagavā in the following manner: “Bhante, the Bhagavā praises in many ways the qualities of having little desires, of being contented, of being strenuous and of austere and strict practice, of being engaged in reducing (the hindrances) and putting forth effort.”

Imāni bhante pañca vatthūni anekapariyāyena appicchatāya santuṭṭhiyā sallekhāya dhūtāya pāsādikāya apacayāya viriyārambhāya saṃvattanti.” – “Bhante, there are these five components that will be conducive to having little desires, of being contented, of being strenuous and of austere and strict practice, of being engaged in reducing (the hindrances) and putting forth effort.”

Sādhu, bhante, bhikkhū yāvajīvaṃ āraññikā assu; yo gāmantaṃ osareyya14 vajjaṃ naṃ phuseyya, yāvajīvaṃ piṇḍapātikā assu, yo nimantanaṃ sādiyeyya15 vajjaṃ naṃ phuseyya, yāvajīvaṃ paṃsukulikā assu, yo gahapaticīvaraṃ sādiseyya vajjaṃ naṃ phuseyya, yāvajīvaṃ rukkhamūlikā assu, yo channaṃ upagaccheyya vajjaṃ naṃ phuseyya, yāvajīvaṃ macchamaṃsaṃ na khādeyyuṃ, yo macchamaṃsaṃ khādeyya vajjaṃ naṃ phuseyyā’’ti. – “It would be helpful, Bhante, if the Bhikkhus were living during their entire life in the forest only, whoever would approach a village should be prone to reproach; for their entire life should they receive food in the bowl only, whoever accepts an invitation by a householder should be prone to reproach; for their entire life should they wear ragged worn-out robes only, whoever accepts garments by a householder should be prone to reproach; they should dwell for their entire life at the root of a tree, whoever goes for shelter, should be prone to reproach; for their entire life they should neither eat fish nor meat, whoever should eat fish or meat should be prone to reproach!”

The Buddha then replied: - ‘‘Alaṃ, devadatta, yo icchati āraññiko hotu, yo icchati gāmante viharatu; yo icchati piṇḍapātiko hotu, yo icchati nimantanaṃ sādiyatu, yo icchati paṃsukūliko hotu, yo icchati gahapaticīvaraṃ sādiyatu. Aṭṭhamāse kho mayā, devadatta, rukkhamūlasenāsanaṃ anuññātaṃ16, tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ17 macchamaṃsaṃ – adiṭṭhaṃ asutaṃ aparisaṅkita18’’nti. – “Enough now Devadatta, whoever prefers to live in the forest only, let him live there; whoever prefers to dwell in a village, let him do so; whoever prefers to receive his food in the bowl only, let him do so; whoever likes to accept an invitation by a householder, allow him likewise; whoever likes to wear ragged worn-out robes, let him do so; whoever accepts garments by a householder let him accept them. But whoever likes to dwell at the root of a tree this is permitted for eight months only, accepting fish and meat is allowed if pure under three conditions: not seen, not heard and not suspected.”

The commentary20 expounds: …… “Macchamaṃsavatthusmiṃ21 tikoṭiparisuddhanti tīhi koṭīhi parisuddhaṃ, diṭṭhādīhi22 aparisuddhīhi virahitanti23 attho. Tenevāha – ‘‘adiṭṭhaṃ, asutaṃ, aparisaṅkita’’nti. Tattha ‘‘adiṭṭhaṃ’’ nāma bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya migamacche vadhitvā gayhamānaṃ24 adiṭṭhaṃ. ‘‘Asutaṃ’’ nāma bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya migamacche vadhitvā gahitanti asutaṃ. ‘‘Aparisaṅkitaṃ’’ pana diṭṭhaparisaṅkitaṃ sutaparisaṅkitaṃ tadubhayavimuttaparisaṅkitañca25 ñatvā tabbipakkhato26 jānitabbaṃ. Kathaṃ? - ……” ‘With regard to the issue: ‘fish and meat are pure under three conditions’ – ‘with these three conditions fulfilled’ means it is pure, if devoid of the three impurities of having been seen, of having been heard of and of having been suspected (of being killed for one’s own sake). Therefore it is said: ‘not seen, not heard and not suspected’. Here: ‘not seen’ refers to ‘meat’ (literally deer), or fish (being received with their alms) – their killing specifically for the Bhikkhus was not seen. ‘Not heard’ refers to ‘meat’ or fish received – that it was not heard that their being slaughtered was specifically for the Bhikkhus. ‘Not suspected’ means if having felt suspicion because something was seen or heard then the contrary should be found out; till having understood it to be purged from both these suspicions. How?”

“Idha bhikkhū passanti manusse jālavāgurādihatthe27 gāmato va nikkhamante araññe vā vicarante, dutiyadivase ca nesaṃ taṃ gāmaṃ piṇḍāya paviṭṭhānaṃ28 samacchamaṃsaṃ piṇḍapātaṃ abhiharanti. Te tena diṭṭhena parisaṅkanti29 ‘‘bhikkhūnaṃ nukho atthāya kata’’nti idaṃ diṭṭhaparisaṅkitaṃ, nāma etaṃ gahetuṃ na vaṭṭati. Yaṃ evaṃ aparisaṅkitaṃ taṃ vaṭṭati”. – “Here the Bhikkhus see men leaving the village and approaching the forest with net and snares in their hands and on the next day, when on their alms round at this village they get served with fish or meat in their bowls. Because of what they saw they become suspicious: ‘Was this done for the Bhikkhus’s sake?’ – This is called ‘suspected on account of something seen’ - then it should not be accepted. It can be accepted if it is not suspected in this way”.

“Sace pana te manussā ‘‘kasmā bhante na gaṇhathā’’ti pucchitvā tamatthaṃ sutvā ‘‘nayidaṃ bhante bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya kataṃ, amhehi attano atthāya vā rājayuttādīnaṃ atthāya vā kata’’nti vadanti kappati30. – “If these men, after having asked: ‘How come, Bhante, why did you not take this?’ having heard the reason, say: ‘No, Bhante, it hasn’t been done for the Bhikkhus, we did it for our own sake, or on behalf of the king and suchlike’ then taking it is admissible”.

“Naheva kho bhikkhū passanti; apica suṇanti, manussā kira jālavāgurādihatthā gāmato vā nikkhamanti, araññe vā vicarantī’’ti. Dutiyadivase ca nesaṃ taṃ gāmaṃ piṇḍāya paviṭṭhānaṃ samacchamaṃsaṃ piṇḍapātaṃ abhiharanti. Te tena sutena parisaṅkanti ‘‘bhikkhūnaṃ nukho atthāya kata’’nti idaṃ ‘‘sutaparisaṅkitaṃ’’ nāma. Etaṃ gahetuṃ na vaṭṭati, yaṃ evaṃ aparisaṅkitaṃ taṃ vaṭṭati”. – “Here the Bhikkhus do not see but hear that men leave the village and approach the forest with net and snares in their hands and on the next day, when on their alms round at this village they get served with fish or meat in their bowls. It occurs to them that this was done for the Bhikkhus sake: this it is ‘suspected on account of something heard’. Then it should not be accepted. It can be accepted if it is not suspected in this way”.

“Sace pana te manussā ‘‘kasmā, bhante, na gaṇhathā’’ti pucchitvā tamatthaṃ sutvā ‘‘nayidaṃ, bhante, bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya kataṃ, amhehi attano atthāya vā rājayuttādīnaṃ atthāya vā kata’’nti vadanti kappati”. – “If these men, after having asked: ‘How come, Bhante, why did you not take this?’ having heard the reason, say: ‘No, Bhante, it hasn’t been done for the Bhikkhus, we did it for our own sake, or on behalf of the king and suchlike’ then taking it is admissible”.

“Na heva kho pana bhikkhū passanti na suṇanti, apica kho tesaṃ taṃ gāmaṃ piṇḍāya paviṭṭhānaṃ pattaṃ gahetvā samacchamaṃsaṃ piṇḍapātaṃ abhisaṅkharitvā abhiharanti. Te parisaṅkanti ‘‘bhikkhūnaṃ nu kho atthāya kata’’nti, idaṃ tadubhayavinimuttaparisaṅkitaṃ nāma, etampi gahetuṃ na vaṭṭati. Yaṃ evaṃ aparisaṅkitaṃ, taṃ vaṭṭati. Sace pana te manussā ‘‘kasmā, bhante, na gaṇhathā’’ti pucchitvā tamatthaṃ sutvā ‘‘nayidaṃ, bhante, bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya kataṃ, amhehi attano atthāya vā rājayuttādīnaṃ vā atthāya kataṃ, pavattamaṃsaṃ31 vā kappiyameva labhitvā bhikkhūnaṃ atthāya sampādita’’nti vadanti, kappati. Matānaṃ petakiccatthāya32 maṅgalādīnaṃ vā atthāya katepi eseva nayo. Yaṃ yañhi bhikkhūnaṃyeva atthāya akataṃ, yattha ca nibbematiko33 hoti, taṃ sabbaṃ kappati.

“Here the Bhikkhus neither see nor hear any of this, but when on their alms round at the village they get served in their bowls with prepared fish or meat. Then if they suspect: “This was done for the Bhikkhus sake?”This is ‘not purged of these two suspicions’ and so should not be accepted. It can be accepted if it is not suspected in this way.

If these men, after having asked: ‘How come, Bhante, why did you not take this?’ having heard the reason, say: ‘No, Bhante, it hasn’t been done for the Bhikkhus, we did it for our own sake, or on behalf of the king and suchlike, having received raw flesh we thought it proper having it prepared for the Bhikkhus’ then it is admissible”. It is done as conduct34 for the wellbeing and so forth of the deceased and the dead. If it is not done especially on behalf of the Bhikkhus then it is in concordance, and taking it is admissible”.

In today’s complicated and entangled global world, where side effects and implications of one’s profession remain often invisible, investigation into the ‘tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ’- aspects of one’s livelihood presents a helpful tool for all who aspire to avoid harmful consequences for themselves and others.
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[1] see 3.6.0 - verses introducing this chapter
[2] see 3.6.8
[3] Maṅgalasuttaṃ kira sutvā devānaṃ etadahosi – ‘‘bhagavatā maṅgalasutte sattānaṃ vuḍḍhiñca sotthiñca kathayamānena ekaṃsena bhavo eva kathito, no parābhavo. Handa dāni yena sattā parihāyanti vinassanti, taṃ nesaṃ parābhavampi pucchāmā’’ti. …… Tato sakkena devānamindena āṇatto aññataro devaputto bhagavantaṃ parābhavapañhaṃ pucchi. Atha bhagavā pucchāvasena imaṃ suttamabhāsi. – Then after they had heard the Maṅgalasuttaṃ it occurred to the Devas: - “The Bhagavā has expounded the Maṅgalasuttaṃ for the growth and accomplishment of beings, this elucidation is definitely for their development, not for their ruin. But well, here beings come to ruin, will get destroyed, so let us ask about the cause for decay!” …… Therefore a certain devaputto, commanded by Sakka, the lord of the Devas asked the Bhagavā the question about ruin. On account of this question the Bhagavā uttered this sutta. Parābhavasuttavaṇṇanā, Suttanipāta-aṭṭhakathāya, Paramatthajotikāya khuddaka-aṭṭhakathāya
[4] Vinayapiṭake, Pārājikapāḷi, Saṅghabhedasikkhāpadaṃ
[5] dhutanga: Certain strenuous practices that are supposed to ‘shake off’ (dhuta pp. of dhunāti: shake off, remove) impurities, these were partly practised by other ascetics. Devadatta here mentions five from the set of normally thirteen. These could voluntarily - all or selected- be undertaken by those Bhikkhus who wanted to maintain them, but were never enforced by the Buddha. These are (paṃsukūla dhutaṅga: used or abandoned robes; tecīvarika dhutaṅga: using three robes only; piṇḍapāta dhutaṅga: using only the bowl to collect one’s meals; sapadānacārika dhutaṅga: accepting every meal without skipping any house; ekāsanika dhutaṅga: one meal only, pattapiṇḍika dhutaṅga: using everything that has been offered within one bowl, no other recipient is used; khalupacchābhattika dhutaṅga: no longer accepting any extra food after having started to take the meal; āraññika dhutaṅga: remaining within the forest, rukkhamūla dhutaṅga: dwelling at the roots of a tree; abbhokāsikadhutaṅga: having no shelter, remaining in open space, susānika dhutaṅga: dwelling at spots, within charnel grounds, where bodies are buried; yathāsantatika dhutaṅga: sleeping at the allotted location; nesajjika dhutaṅga: avoiding the lying posture
[6] See also the reference after that incidence that is narrated in the Suttapiṭaka, recounted in lesson 1.3.9 Saṅghabhedasuttaṃ. Here Devadatta requests Ānanda to inform the Buddha that on this very day he is initiating his own Saṅgha.
[7] tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ: ti + koṭi + parisuddhaṃ: three + points, divisions + utterly pure
[8] Two other principles: upholding awareness and examining one’s volition and maintaining righteousness in three aspects were explained at lesson 3.6.1 - Vibhaṅgasuttaṃ
[9] See also the Buddha’s advice to Rāhula at 3.3.6 and 3.3.7 - Ambalaṭṭhikarāhulovādasuttaṃ. Here the Buddha instructs Rāhula to reflect on any action, whether ‘it could lead to affliction for himself, to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both and whether it was an unwholesome action with painful consequences and painful results? If, on this very reflection, he would realize the opposite he should avoid performing any suchlike action’: - ‘tadeva te ….kammaṃ paccavekkhitabbaṃ– ‘yaṃ nu kho ahaṃ idaṃ … kammaṃ kattukāmo idaṃ me … kammaṃ attabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya, parabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya– akusalaṃ idaṃ … kammaṃ dukkhudrayaṃ dukkhavipākan’ti? Sace tvaṃ, rāhula, paccavekkhamāno evaṃ jāneyyāsi– ‘yaṃ kho ahaṃ idaṃ … kammaṃ kattukāmo idaṃ me … kammaṃ attabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya, parabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṃvatteyya– akusalaṃ idaṃ … kammaṃ dukkhudrayaṃ dukkhavipākan’ti, evarūpaṃ te, rāhula, … kammaṃ sasakkaṃ na karaṇīyaṃ.’
[10] Saṅghabhedasikkhāpadaṃ, Saṅghādisesakaṇḍaṃ, Pārājikapāḷi
[11] anekapariyāyena: aneka + pariyāyena: various +ways: in many ways
[12] pāsādiko: engaging, amiable, gracious
[13] dhutassa pāsādikassa apacayassa: (gen./dat.) practices + engaging + reducing
[14] osarati: go to, enter, approach
[15] sādiyati: acquiesce, accept, permit, agree
[16] anujānāti (pp.): give permission, allow
[17] tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ: ti + koṭi + parisuddhaṃ: three + points, divisions + utterly pure
[18] a + parisaṅkita: not + suspected
[19] i.e not during the four months of the rainy season
[20] Macchamaṃsavinicchayakathā, Ganthārambhakathā, Vinayasaṅgaha-aṭṭhakathā
[21] macchamaṃsavatthusmiṃ: maccha + maṃsa + vatthusmiṃ: fish + meat + with regard to
[22] diṭṭhādīhi: diṭṭha + ādī + hi: seen + beginning with + because
[23] virahitanti: virahitaṃ +ti: exempt from, without
[24] gayhamānaṃ - gahitaṃ + ti: being taken – taken
[25] tadubhayavimuttaparisaṅkitañca: tad + ubhaya + vimutta + parisaṅkitaṃ + ca: thus + both + purged + suspected
[26] tabbipakkhato: tad + vipakkha + to: that + opposite
[27] jālavāgurādihatthe: jāla + vāgura +ādi + hatthe: net + net, snare + so forth + in the hand
[28] paviṭṭhānaṃ (pp. of) pavisati: enter, go into
[29] parisaṅkanti: they suspect
[30] kappati: be fit, proper, suitable
[31] pavattamaṃsaṃ: raw flesh, fresh meat
[32] petakiccatthāya: peta + kicca+ atthāya: deceased + duty + for the purpose, reason
[33] nibbematiko: not disagreeing, in accordance
[34] i.e. sharing the merits of this gift to the Bhikkhus with the dead
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Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.6.3

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Last modified: Tuesday, 6 June 2017, 7:38 PM