Samyukta Āgama (2) 38

Sakka Saṃyutta

Sakka debates with Vepacitti

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park.

At that time the World-honored One told the monks: “A long time ago Sakka Devānaṃ Inda, leader of the gods, was about to do battle with the asuras. At that time Sakka Devānaṃ Inda said to Vepacitti, king of the asuras: “We should not lead our armies to harm each other, but instead should debate, and thus decide who wins and who loses.” Vepacitti said to Sakka Devānaṃ Inda: “Kosiya, if we were to debate, who would determine the winner and the loser?” Sakka Devānaṃ Inda said: “In both our armies there are people who are intelligent, of wise judgment, able to tell good from bad, and to decide who will be the winner and who the loser.” Vepacitti said: “You speak first, Sakka!” But Sakka answered: “My turn will come. You are the older deva. You speak first.” And Vepacitti spoke this verse:

“If I were to tolerate transgressions /
the foolish would say of my patient manner:
‘His patience is born of fear’ /
and deem themselves superior.”

In reply Sakka Devānaṃ Inda spoke this verse:

“Though the other might call it fear /
and think he has gained the upper hand,
precious treasures and all benefits /
are for those invincible ones who are patient when insulted.”

Then Vepacitti spoke another verse:

“The foolish have no wisdom /
they have to be restrained.
They are like a cow at the rear /
attempting to stampede over those ones in front of it on the path.
The knife and cudgel are necessary /
to reign in fools.”

Sakka Devānaṃ Inda answered with this verse:

“I believe that for restraining the foolish /
silent patience is the best.
When extreme hatred or anger or rage /
is suffered patiently, the other party will naturally calm down.

Those without anger, without violence, /
those are noble ones,
They are disciples of noble ones; /
those one should always befriend.

For those filled with hatred and anger, /
their hatred is an obstacle heavy as a mountain.
But if, at a time of hatred and anger, /
one can restrain oneself even a little,
then that is called good karma /
like reining in an unruly horse.”

The wise among the gods and the asuras debated this thoroughly, weighing up who had won and who had lost. They agreed that the king of the asuras had spoken in favor of strife and battle, while Sakka Devānaṃ Inda had spoken for ending quarrels, his mind not favoring angry contest. Thus, the asura king lost and Sakka won.”

The Buddha told the monks: “Sakka Devānaṃ Inda, who rules freely in the Tāvatiṃsa heaven, has during the long night of saṃsāra patiently suffered insults, now extols the way of patience. You too, monks, should bear insults patiently, and extol those who are patient. This is called living the homeless life.”

When the Buddha had finished speaking, the monks, having heard what he had said, were happy and bore it well in mind remembered it well.