Sutta Nipāta

Vaṅgīsa Sutta

2.12. Vaṅgīsa’s Questions, Buddha’s Answer

Thus have I heard:

At one time the Lord dwelt at Āḷāvī, at the Aggāḷava Shrine. Not long before, the venerable Vaṅgīsa’s preceptor, by name the elder Nigrodhakappa, had become completely Cool at the Aggāḷava Shrine. Then in Vaṅgīsa’s mind, being at one and in solitude, arose this thought: “Has my preceptor become completely Cool or has he not?”

Later in the day Vaṅgīsa left his solitude and went to the Lord and having drawn near him, paid his respects and sat to one side. While sitting there Vaṅgīsa said this to the Lord: “While I was sitting in meditation this thought arose in my mind: ‘Has my preceptor become completely Cool or has he not?’”

Vaṅgīsa then arose from his seat, placed his upper robe over one shoulder and, lotussing his hands respectfully, addressed the Lord with these verses.

Vaṅgīsa
We ask now the Teacher of wisdom supreme—
who’s cut off all doubts in this very life,
that Aggāḷava bhikkhu who died recently,
famous, well-known, was he truly Cool-become?

His name Nigrodhakappa was,
to that brahmin given by the Radiant One,
he went around revering you, and, strenuous
seeking Liberation, O Seer of the Secure.

O Sakya, All-Seeing, we all wish to know
concerning this hearkener, Kappa by name,
all of our ears are ready to hear—
the Teacher you are, the One unsurpassed.

Sever our doubt and tell me of this:
that he knew complete Cool, O Wisdom Profound:
tell this in our midst, O All-Seeing One,
as thousand-eyed Sakka by devas ringed.

Whatever here deluded paths bring on the bondages,
on ignorance’s side, the bases for all doubts,
on reaching the Tathāgata they cease to be,
for certainly his Eye is supreme among men.

If never, no one, could defilements disperse,
as forceful wind a piled-up mass of clouds,
enshrouded would be, for sure, the whole world,
and even the illustrious would have no chance to shine.

But the Wise in this world are the makers of light
and you, a Wise One, are such I conceive,
we have come upon Him who Knows and who Sees—
to those here assembled, Kappa clearly reveal.

Swiftly send forth fair speech, O Fairest One,
as swan (its neck) stretches sounding softly forth;
with your melodious voice so well-modulated
to it we listen, all of us, attentively.

Remainderless, you’ve let go of birth and death—
I’ll urge the One who’s Cleansed to Dharma teach;
ordinary persons cannot act out their desires,
but with discrimination Tathāgatas act.

(Your) expositions (of Dharma) so thoroughly based
on straightforward wisdom then thoroughly grasped;
(and he) last lotussed his hands with greatest respect:
so do not delude us, You of wisdom supreme.

Having known the Dharma noble, the basics and refined,
You the Energetic One who Knows, do not delude.
I long for your words as for water one does
in summer season by heat overcome.
Rain down on our ears!

That purpose for which Kappāyana led
the life of purity—surely it wasn’t in vain;
did he become Cool or did residues remain—
tell of his Freedom, that we long to hear.

Buddha
Craving he cut for mind and body both—
craving’s stream that long had lain within him;
completely he has crossed beyond all birth and death—
So the Blessed One spoke, the Fore before the Five.

Vaṅgīsa
Hearing your word, O Seventh of Seers,
I’m both pleased and truly satisfied.
Truly my question’s not in vain—
that brahmin did elude me not!

As he spoke, he acted so,
one of the Buddha’s hearkeners
who rent the deceiver Māra’s net,
spread wide and very strong.

Lord, Kappa the capable
saw graspings’, clingings’ source;
Kappāyana has gone beyond
death’s realm so hard to cross.