Samyukta Āgama (2) 48

Sakka Saṃyutta

Vepacitti is forced to make an oath

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

At that time Sakka went to the Buddha. When he felt it was time to return, he asked to take a precept. Which precept?

Sakka said: “On the way back to my palace, if I see anyone who hates me and plans to hurt me, I will not harm this person in any way.” Vepacitti, having heard that Sakka had taken this precept, took his sword and waited along the road. When Sakka Devānaṃ Inda heard that the asura, with sword in hand, lay waiting for him by the roadside, he shouted to the asura from a distance casting a spell: “Stop! Stop and be bound!”

Vepacitti said to Sakka: “From the Buddha you took a precept saying: ‘On the way back to my palace, if I see anyone who hates me and plans to hurt me, I will not harm this person in any way.’ How can you not keep this precept?”

Sakka replied: “Although I took a precept, saying to you ‘Hold! Hold and be bound!’ does not break the precept.”

Vepacitti said: “Kosiya! Let me go!”

Sakka said: “Swear an oath that you will never act in hatred against me again: then I will let you go.”

And Vepacitti took the oath saying:

“For greed, hatred, lies, slander of the wise and noble /
May I suffer the bad results of these deeds should I commit them.”

Having heard this vow, Sakka said to Vepacitti: “Be released!”

Sakka Devānaṃ Inda returned to the Buddha, prostrated at his feet, and told him: “World-honored One! Vepacitti, having heard that I had taken a precept, took his sword and waited for me along the road intending to overpower me. I shouted at him from a distance casting a spell: ‘Stop! Stop and be bound!’ Vepacitti said to me: ‘From the Buddha you took a precept saying: “On the way back to my palace, if I see anyone who hates me and plans to hurt me, I will not harm this person in any way.” How can you not keep this precept?’ I replied: ‘Although I took a precept, saying to you “Hold and be bound!” does not break the precept.’ Vepacitti said to me: ‘Kosiya! Let me go!’ and I told him: ‘If you take a solemn oath that you will never engender hatred against me again, I will release you.’ Then Vepacitti, having heard what I said, spoke an oath saying:

“For greed, hatred, lies, slander of the wise and noble /
May I suffer the bad results of these deeds should I commit them.”

On hearing this vow I released him.”

Sakkathen said to the Buddha: “This asura swore a solemn oath. Will he, from now on, act without hatred and evil?”

The Buddha told Sakka: “Even if the asura had not sworn this oath, he may not have done evil: how much more so after having sworn it?”

On hearing what the Buddha had said, Sakka jumped up in delight, vanished from his seat and returned to his heavenly palace.