Scriptural

Alavaka Sutta – Part 2

Pañham taṁ samaṇa pucchissāmi. Sace me na vyākarissasi, cittaṁ vā te khipissāmi, hadayaṁ vā te phālessāmi, pādesu vā gahetvā pāragaṅgāyaṁ khipissāmi’ti. 
“Oh recluse, I am going to ask you questions. If you do not answer me, I will drive you insane, or split your heart, or grab your feet and throw you across the river.”

Nakhvāhaṇtaṁ āvuso passāmi sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya yo me cittaṁ vā khipeyya, hadayaṁ vā phāleyya, pādessu vā gahetvā pāragaṅgāya khipeyya, Apica tvaṁ āvuso puccha yadākaṅkhasī’ti. 
“Well, oh friend, I do not see anyone in this world with its devās, with its Māras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brāhmins, with its devās and humans, who could either drive me insane, or split my heart, or grab my feet and throw me across the river. Nevertheless, friend, ask what you will.”

When Buddha refused to comply with the Yaksha’s request, he threatened to harm Buddha. However, Buddha proclaimed that none, including the highest God (Brahma) can harm a Buddha. From this verse, we should understand that Buddha’s earlier compliance with the Yaksha’s command wasn’t;t caused by duress.

I think it is more likely that Buddha was trying to calm the agitated Yaksha. This is because that Yaksha was ripe for conversion and Buddha was preparing the Yaksha’s mind for enlightenment.

If you remember the Mangala sutta, you will recall that sutta was spoken to address the question of a heavenly being. In this case, the Yaksha Alavaka also had question for the Buddha.

Atha kho Āḷavako yakkho Bhagavantaṁ gāthāya ajjhabhāsi. 
Then the demon Ālavaka addressed the Blessed One in verse:

1. Kiṁsū’dha vittaṁ purisassaseṭṭhaṁ? – Kiṁsū suciṇṇo sukhamā’vahāti?
Kiṁsū have sādhutaraṁ rasānaṁ? – Kathaṁ jīviṁ jīvitamāhu seṭṭhaṁ’ti?


What wealth here is best for man?

This question may have entered our minds at one point or another. In our daily affairs, we are pre-occupied with activities relating to accumulation. Wealth is not limited to money and can include various worldly concerns. Some people accumulate money and gold, some accumulate land, others accumulate accolades and recognition. Some gather a wealth of friendships and many other mundane pursuits. Some take pride and delight in making people laugh. Some may want to accumulate a wealth of travel experience or gastronomic indulgence…..

Maybe it is good that we reflect about ourselves, and ask. What exactly is driving our passion in life? What have we been trying to accumulate until now?

What well practiced will bring happiness?

This refers to our core values or principles of existence. Each one of us embraces a certain set of behaviours, beliefs, and practices that we think will bring us happiness. For example, some people believe in revenge or an eye for an eye. Some people believe that it is best to mind their own business. Our practices are influenced by our culture, family and friends, religions, etc. They define who we are and how we go about living our life.

So what exactly is your practice in life?

What is the sweetest of all tastes?

Taste here is not limited to our sense of tongue but includes all our sensory inputs. In short, we can rephrase this question to say, “What is the best experience?” You might wonder why Alavaka seemed to be talking in a riddle? This is because he isn’t human and the communication is happening in the spiritual realm.

One of Buddha’s abilities is unhindered communication. He understands all language and can make Himself understood by all beings. Personally, I am glad that the sutta retained the original vocabulary and words.

Okay, I am feeling a bit mischievous today and will like to sidetrack. Sometimes exorcism goes haywire because of miscommunication. Unless, we have capabilities like Pra Acharn Mun, Master Guangqin, etc, we cannot really expect to communicate well with the various spiritual entities. Much violence in this world comes from miscommunication……

How lived is the life they say is best?

Have you ever pondered if you are wasting your life? How should we live our life so that it is the best? Isn’t that a very important question?

So let us leave it for now. Take time to ponder over a cup of tea. Then we will discuss Buddha’s answer in the next post.

May all be well and happy.

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