Samyukta Āgama (2) 12

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

Ānanda and the three kinds of scent

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying in Rājagaha on the mountain Isigili.

At that time the Venerable Ānanda was in silent seclusion, when this thought came to him: “Once the World-honored One spoke about three kinds of scent: The scents of roots, stalks and blossoms; and about how there are no better scents than these. However he said these three can only be sensed with the wind, and cannot be sensed against the wind.” Having had this thought, Ānanda rose from his seat, went to the Buddha, and having paid homage at his feet stood to one side. He said to the Buddha: “World-honored One! Just now, while I was in silent seclusion, this thought came to me: ‘Once the World-honored One has spoken about three kinds of scent: The scents of roots, stalks and blossoms; and about how these are the best among all scents. However, he said, these could only be sensed with the wind and not against the wind.’ World-honored One, is there a scent that can be sensed both with and against the wind?”

The Buddha said to Ānanda: “There is, there is. In this world there is a good scent that can be sensed both with and against the wind. And what scent? If there is, in a village or town, a man or woman who practices restraint, does not kill, does not steal, does not engage in sexual misconduct, does not lie, and does not drink alcohol, then all devas and all those who have attained divine sight will praise this person. Thus, if in a town or village a man or a woman keeps the five precepts, the scent of the precepts is sensed with and against the wind.”

At that time the Buddha spoke this verse:

“Sandal and aloeswood/ roots, stalks and blossoms:
these scents are sensed with the wind /
no one senses them against the wind.

The great man keeping the precepts /
his fragrance pervades the world,
his fame fills the ten directions /
it is sensed both with and against the wind.

Sandal and aloeswood /
the water lily and jasmine;
these scents are inferior. /
Unlike the scent of the precepts,
those scents /
do not reach far;
the scent of the precepts, however, reaches everywhere /
better even than the heavenly scents.

One who keeps the pure precepts /
untiringly as the basis of his life
abides peacefully without defilements /
by correct insight attains liberation.

Though the demons try to find him /
they do not know his abode;
this is called the path to peace /
this is the purest path,
forever leaving the many realms /
abandoning the saṃsāric worlds.”

When the Buddha had finished speaking, the monks, having listened to what he had said, were happy and remembered it well.