Samyukta Āgama (2) 47

Sakka Saṃyutta

Vepacitti is ill

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

At that time the World-honored One said to the monks: “Long ago the asura king Vepacitti was suffering from an illness, was exhausted and too weak to walk. At that time Sakka Devānaṃ Inda went to him. The asura said to Sakka: ‘I wish you would heal my illness, make me healthy again, full-bodied and fresh-looking as before.’ Sakka said: ‘If you teach me the asura’s magical art of deception, I will heal your illness and make you happy as before.’ The asura said: ‘Wait, I have to consult with the other asuras. If it is possible, I will teach you.’ And the asura king asked the asuras. At that time an asura, who had mastered the art of deception, said: ‘Sakka’s behaviour has always been upright and virtuous, without deception. You tell him this: “If you learn the asura’s art of deception, you will fall into the Raurava Hell.” He then might say: “I am not going to learn this art from the asuras. Nevertheless, you offered to give it anyway, so your illness will be healed.”’

Accepting this advice the asura king spoke this verse to Sakka:

“Thousand-eyed Sakka, husband of Sujā, /
those that know the art of deception must fall
Into the Raurava Hell /
and stay there for a kalpa to be burnt and boiled.”

When Sakka heard this he said: ‘Enough! Enough! I do not need the art of deception!’ and he promptly said: ‘May your illness cease! May you rest without pain!’”

The Buddha told the monks: “Although Sakka Devānaṃ Inda dwells as king among the gods, he does not use deceptions or tricks, he acts with truth and honesty. How much more should you who have left the household life and shaved off hair and beard, how much more should you refrain from using deceptive trickery, and act with sincerity and honesty! To act with sincerity and honesty should be the way of those who have left the household life.”

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