Samyukta Āgama (2) 14

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

Mettiya and Mettiyā slander Dabba

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying in Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove of Kalanda.

At that time there was the monk Dabba Mallaputta. When the World-honored One put him in charge of provisions and lodgings, Dabba, having received the order, served as manager. One time, later, it was the turn of a monk called Mettiya to receive an invitation from a donor, according to the order among the monks. According to the order among the monks, Dabba sent Mettiya to partake of the food at the donor’s place. When Mettiya went there, however, the food was extremely unpalatable. After this had happened three times, Mettiya felt extremely sorry for himself and consequently was greatly distressed. He told his sister, the nun Mettiyā: “Whenever Dabba sends me to a meal, every time I get extremely unpalatable food! What misery!” And he said to the nun Mettiyā: “Sister, Dabba has afflicted me three times with bad food. Couldn’t you now use some “skillful means” to revenge my anger?” Mettiyā said: “But how could I help you?” The monk Mettiya: “I have a plan. Go to the Buddha and say: ‘Dabba once sexually harassed me.’ And I will bear witness and say: ‘It is true, it is true.’” The nun Mettiyā said: “But wouldn’t it be slander to accuse someone who has been pure in keeping the precepts?” Thereupon Mettiya said: “Sister! If you don’t do this for me, then from now on I won’t speak to you again any more.” The nun said: “If you insist, I will do as you say.” The monk Mettiya: “Sister, let me go first, you follow later.”

Mettiya went to the Buddha and, having paid homage at his feet, sat to one side. Then the nun Mettiyā came to the Buddha and, having paid homage at his feet, stood to one side and said: “World-honored One! How comes it that Dabba Mallaputta has sexually harassed me?” And the monk Mettiya: “It is true! World-honored One!”

At that time the monk Dabba was among those present. The Buddha asked him: “Did you hear this?” And Dabba answered: “World-honored One! The Buddha knows me.” The Buddha said: “In this case you cannot say it like this. If you have done it you should say: ‘I remember;’ if you have not done it, you should say: ‘I do not remember.’” He answered the Buddha: “World-honored One! I truly do not remember this.”

Here Rāhula said: “World-honored One! This monk Dabba has sexually harassed the nun Mettiyā and the monk Mettiya has borne witness saying “I have seen how Dabba sexually harassed Mettiyā.” What else is Dabba supposed to say?” The Buddha said to Rahula: “If you were slandered by the nun Mettiyā, if she were to say: ‘Rāhula has sexually harassed me’ and the monk Mettiya had also testified: ‘I have seen how Rāhula sexually harassed Mettiyā.’ What would you say?” Rāhula answered: “World-honored One! Slandered, I would only say: ‘The Bhagavant knows me, he himself is witness to my innocence.’” The Buddha said: “Even you know this. How could Dabba, pure and innocent, fail to say it.”

The Buddha told the monks: “You can recite the Vinaya together with Dabba. The nun Mettiyā has been undone by her own words.”

The monks having received the Buddha’s order, sternly interrogated Mettiya: “Where did you see Dabba harassing Mettiyā? Did you alone see it, or were others with you?” When questioned in this way, Mettiya could not reply. Only then did he concede his slander: “When Dabba sent me to accept donors” invitations, three times I have received spoiled food! Out of greed, hatred and ignorance I have slandered him.”

When later the World-honored One emerged from his silent abode and sat on the prepared seat in front of the assembled monks, the monks told him: “World-honored One! We have recited the Vinaya with Dabba and expelled Mettiyā. Through interrogating Mettiya we have learned that Dabba was falsely accused.”

Then the Buddha spoke this verse:

“If all one has accomplished /
is merely lies
has thrown away his future /
there is no evil that he will not do.

One should rather with this body /
swallow a hot iron ball
than, having broken the precepts, /
accept offerings made in pure faith.”

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