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Issatta Suttaṃ

(S.i.98)

The Archer

The Sāvatthi introduction.¹ Sitting at one side, King Pasenadi of Kosala said to the Blessed One:–

“Where, venerable sir, should donations be given?”

“Wherever, great king, the mind is pleased.”

“Where, venerable sir, is a gift of great fruit?”

“This is one question, great king, ‘Where should a gift be given?’ and ‘Where given is a gift of great fruit?’ is another question. A gift given to the virtuous, great king, is of great fruit, not that given to the immoral. Then I will ask a counter-question, great king. Please answer it as you see fit.

“What do you think, great king, if you were at war and a great battle was imminent, if a warrior (khattiyayouth came who was untrained (asikkhito), unpractised (akatahattho), undisciplined akatayoggo), unskilled in archery (akatūpāsano), a coward (bhīru), petrified (chambhī), fearful (utrāsī), and liable to flee (palāyī), would you enlist that man, would he be of any use to you?”

“No, venerable sir, I would not enlist that man, he would not be of any use to me.”

“What do you think, great king, if a brahmin (brāhmaṇa) youth … a merchant (vessa) youth … a worker (sudda) youth came who was untrained, unpractised, undisciplined, unskilled in archery, a coward, petrified, fearful, and liable to flee, would you enlist that man, would he be of any use to you?”

“No, venerable sir, I would not enlist that man, he would not be of any use to me.”

“What do you think, great king, if you were at war and a great battle was imminent, if a warrior youth came who was well-trained, practised, disciplined, skilled in archery, brave, not petrified, fearless, and not liable to flee, would you enlist that man, would he be of any use to you?”

“Yes, venerable sir, I would enlist that man, he would be of use to me.”

“What do you think, great king, if a brahmin youth … a merchant youth … a worker youth came who was well-trained, skilled, disciplined, brave, not petrified, fearless, and not liable to flee, would you enlist that man, would he be of any use to you?”

“Yes, venerable sir, I would enlist that man, he would be of use to me.”

“In the same way, great king, from whatever family one goes forth from the household life to the homeless life, who has abandoned five factors and is endowed with five factors, whatever is given to them is of great fruit. What five factors are abandoned? Sensual desire is abandoned, ill-will is abandoned, sloth and torpor are abandoned, restless and remorse are abandoned, doubt is abandoned. These five factors are abandoned. With what five factors are they endowed? They are endowed with the aggregate of morality (sīlakkhandhehi) of an Arahant (asekkhena), the aggregate of concentration of an Arahant, the aggregate of wisdom of an Arahant, the aggregate of liberation of an Arahant, the aggregate of knowledge and vision of liberation of an Arahant. They are endowed with these five factors. Thus having abandoned five factors and being endowed with five factors, what is given to them is of great fruit.”

Thus said the Blessed One. After the Fortunate One had spoken these words, the Teacher added:–

“An archer who is strong and energetic, a youth skilled in archery
A king preparing for battle would enlist, not a coward, on account of his birth.

“Who is patient and obedient, established in those states
Noble and wise, one should prefer even one of low birth.

“Build delightful retreats and invite the learned to dwell therein,
Build water tanks in the wilderness and bridges over difficult terrain.

“Food and drink and eatables, clothes, beds, and seats,
Give to those of upright character, with a bright clear mind.

“As the storm with a hundred clouds thunders and flashes lightning
On hills and valleys, rains down on the earth, flooding them all.

“So the wise and learned with confidence, having prepared a meal,
Satisfying those who beg for alms, with food and drink.
Rejoicing he scatters gifts saying ‘Give, give!’

“That is his thundering, like the rain of the gods,
An abundant torrent of merit will rain down on the giver.”

Notes

1. The first discourse in the second chapter of the Kosala Saṃyutta (the Sattajaṭila Sutta) was given to King Pasenadi while the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi at the Eastern Monastery, in the Palace of Migāra’s mother (Visākhā). The remainder, including this one just say “Sāvatthinidānaṃ,” i.e. with the same introduction. The first discourse in the first chapter was given while the Blessed One was staying at Sāvatthi in Prince Jeta’s grove at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. The remaining discourses in the first chapter also just say “Sāvatthinidānaṃ.” without elaborating, so presumably they were also all given in Prince Jeta’s grove, at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

2. There were four castes at the time of the Buddha: He himself was of the warrior or ruling caste. Those who were hunters, fishermen, and butchers, were regarded as outcastes (vasala). The Buddha ordained anyone who was suitable, whatever his family background.