Samyukta Āgama (2) 42

Sakka Saṃyutta

Sakka pays obeisance to the Buddha 3 (Saṅgha)

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

At that time the Buddha told the monks: “A long time ago Sakka Devānaṃ Inda wanted to go for a ride and enjoy his parkland. He ordered his charioteer Mātali: “Harness the thousand-horse chariot!” Soon Mātali had harnessed the chariot, went to Sakka, and said to him: “The chariot is ready. We may leave whenever you please.” Thereupon Sakka left the Vejayanta Palace and with palms together paid obeisance facing west. When Mātali saw this, surprise and fear arose in him, and he dropped whip and reins.

Sakka said: “What have you seen that you are so scared?” Mātali said: “Maghavā! Husband of Sujā! When I saw you with folded hands paying obeisance facing west, my mind became filled with fear and I dropped whip and reins. All beings revere you; all the kings are under your rule. The four heavenly kings and the thirty-three gods all respectfully revere you. Who then surpasses you in power, that you stand and pay obeisance with folded hands facing west?” Sakka answered: “I am revered by everyone: this might be as you say. However, what all gods and human beings respectfully venerate is the Saṅgha. I respectfully pay obeisance to the Saṅgha.”

Thereupon Mātali spoke a verse:

“The human body is filled with pus and sweat, /
worse than an exposed corpse,
always afflicted by hunger and thirst. /
Why do you admire these homeless ones?
Why do you now /
venerate them thus?
What beauty do they have /
and what virtue?
Please tell me, /
I will now listen attentively.”

Then Sakka Devānaṃ Inda spoke a verse:

“Just because they are homeless, /
I admire them.
They own no goods, /
no storehouses and no grain.

They have left all tasks and business /
to frugally live out their lives in harmony.
They keep the precepts well, /
discuss the wonderful Dhamma.
Brave and firm are they, without fear, /
practicing noble silence.

Gods and asuras /
fight incessantly,
and as to men, /
each harbors anger and ambition.
I venerate those /
who have abandoned knife and cudgel.

Everyone else strives to accumulate riches; /
they let go of everything.
What the world holds dear, /
their minds have discarded.

I pay obeisance to those /
who have abandoned all extremes.
This, Mātali, /
you should know.”

Then Mātali spoke this verse:

“You venerate the very best /
I will follow you in paying homage to them.
What the Maghavā venerates /
I too shall venerate.”

Having spoken this verse, Sakka mounted the chariot and departed.

The Buddha told the monks: “Sakka is powerful among men and gods. If even he venerates the Saṅgha, how much more should you, monks, who have left home to train in the path, venerate the Saṅgha.

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