Samyukta Āgama (2) 31
The daughters of Māra
Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying in the village of Uruvelā near the river Nerañjarā, under the Bodhi tree. This was not long after he had attained Buddhahood. At that time King Māra had this thought: “The Buddha is staying in the village Uruvelā near the river Nerañjarā, under the Bodhi tree. He has just attained Buddhahood. I should go there and try to mislead him.”
He went to the Buddha and spoke this verse:
“You live alone in the wilderness /
unspeaking, always silent.
Of radiant countenance and with celestial body /
all senses perceiving happiness,
like someone who had lost his fortune /
and later regained it.
You are idling your time away in the silence of meditation /
and the enjoyment that comes with it.
Since you have been able to discard public honors /
and do not desire status and profit,
why do you not with others /
form close friendships?”
“For a long time I have attained meditative concentration /
where the mind is always still.
I have defeated your armies of desire /
and attained the highest fortune.
My senses are always quiet and happy /
In my mind I have attained silent extinction.
At that time King Māra spoke this verse:
“Now, since you have attained the true way /
you can rest in Nirvāṇa.
Since you have reached the wonderful Dhamma /
you should keep it forever in your bosom.
Uprightly face and understand it alone; /
why should you teach the manyfolk?”
“Humankind does not belong to you. /
If someone asks me about the teaching that leads to the other shore,
I will correctly explain /
the truth to let them attain extinction.
Stopping their mind without giving up; /
Māra will not overpower them.”
At that time King Māra spoke this verse:
“It is as if there were a largewhite boulder /
its color like that of fat.
A flock of crows cannot distinguish the two /
they perch on it and peck away,
but do not get the taste they wanted /
and with bruised beaks take off again into the air.
I myself am like this /
having come in vain, there is nothing more to do.”
Then King Māra, having spoken this verse, became depressed and dispirited and felt deep regret. He went to an empty place where he crouched alone and, drawing figures on the ground with an arrow, tried to think of a way to prevent the Buddha from teaching. Māra had three daughters; the first was called Desire, the second Passion, and the third Pleasure. Māra’s daughters came to his side and addressed their father with a verse:
“Father, you are called “Great Lord,” /
why are you so depressed?
We will with the snare of desire /
bind him the Buddha as one catches a bird,
and bring him to you, father, /
to make you feel at ease.”
King Māra answered with a verse:
Then, Māra’s three daughters changed their appearance, becoming extraordinarily beautiful. They went to the Buddha, paid homage to his feet and sat to one side. The three daughters said together with one voice: “We have come to worship you and be at your service.” But the World-honored One had already attained the final cutting-off of desires and did not even look at them. They addressed him like this a second and a third time. The Buddha did not look at them. Then, Māra’s three daughters retreated and discussed the matter: “It is in the nature of men that they like different types of women. Some like their women young, some like them middle-aged and some mature.” Upon saying that, each daughter changed into six hundred women, some of them small girls, some teenagers, some of them already married women, and some not yet married, some of them had given birth already and some had not yet given birth. Having thus transformed themselves into a multitude of women, they all went to the Buddha and said to him: “World-honored One! We have come to worship the World-honored One and be at his service. We will serve the World-honored One in every way.”
The Buddha did not look at them. They addressed him like this a second and a third time. The Buddha did not look at them at all. Then, Māra’s daughters retreated and conferred again: “He must have attained the final cutting-off of desire, the supreme liberation. Otherwise he would have looked at us and become mad, spitting blood. It might even have torn his heart apart. Let us go to him and debate with him in verse.”
Māra’s daughter Desire asked in a verse:
“I have already attained the great treasure /
attained quiet extinction in the mind.
I have destroyed the host of passion and desire /
am not attached to wonderful forms.
I dwell alone sitting in meditation /
experiencing the ultimate joy.
For this reason /
I do not desire close friends.”
Māra’s daughter Passion spoke this verse:
“Dwelling in which state, oh monk, /
have you crossed the five currents of sense-pleasures,
as well as the sixth i.e. The mind /
in what meditation do you abide?
That you attained the crossing from the shore of great desire /
forever free from the bondage of becoming?”
At that time the World-honored One spoke a verse:
Having attained the method of cutting off discursive thought /
having achieved total abandoning of hatred and desire;
if one can abide in this state /
one can cross the five currents,
and the sixth as well /
If one can sit in meditation like this,
one can cross from the great fetter of desire /
and leave the relentless flow of becoming.”
Māra’s daughter Pleasure said in a verse:
“Having cut off the fetter of desire /
having abandoned what most people are attached to,
crossing over the currents of many desires /
crossing from the fatal shore of many desires;
only the wise /
can cross against these difficulties.”
The Buddha has already crossed beyond all attachment /
desiring to argue with him
is like wanting to catch the wind with a net /
like wanting to take down the moon from the sky,
or like wanting to scoop the ocean with one’s hands /
in the hope of bailing it dry.
The Buddha has already left all attachment behind; /
desiring to go and argue with him
is like lifting one’s foot to stride over Mount Sumeru /
or to find solid earth to step on in the great ocean.
The Buddha has already abandoned all attachment, /
yet you go and argue with him!”