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Maha-sihanada Sutta:
The Great Discourse on the Lion’s Roar

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Vesali in the grove outside the city to the west.

Now on that occasion Sunakkhatta, son of the Licchavis, had recently left this Dhamma and Discipline. He was making this statement before the Vesali assembly: “The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him, and when he teaches the Dhamma to anyone, it leads him when he practices it to the complete destruction of suffering.

Then, when it was morning, the Venerable Sariputta dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Vesali for alms. Then he heard Sunakkhatta, son of the Licchavis, making this statement before the Vesali assembly. When he had wandered for alms in Vesali and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and told the Blessed One what Sunakkhatta was saying.

The Blessed One said: “Sariputta, the misguided man Sunakkhatta is angry, and his words are spoken out of anger. Thinking to discredit the Tathagata, he actually praises him; for it is a praise of the Tathagata to say of him: ‘When he teaches the Dhamma to anyone, it leads him when he practices it to the complete destruction of suffering.’

“Sariputta, this misguided man Sunakkhatta will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One is Accomplished, fully enlightened, Perfect in True Knowledge and Conduct, Sublime, Knower of Worlds, Incomparable Guide of persons to be tamed, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Enlightened, Blessed.

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One enjoys the various kinds of supernormal power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through an enclosure, through a mountain, as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hand he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he wields bodily mastery even as far as the Brahma-world.’

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘With the divine ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, that Blessed One hears both kinds of sounds, the heavenly and the human, those that are far as well as near.’

“And he will never infer of me according to Dhamma: ‘That Blessed One encompasses with his own mind, the minds of other beings.
a mind affected by lust as affected by lust and a mind unaffected by lust as unaffected by lust;
a mind affected by hate as affected by hate and a mind unaffected by hate as unaffected by hate;
a mind affected by delusion as affected by delusion and a mind unaffected by delusion as unaffected by delusion;
a contracted mind as contracted and a distracted mind as distracted;
an exalted mind as exalted and an unexalted mind as unexalted;
a surpassed mind as surpassed and an unsurpassed mind as unsurpassed;
a concentrated mind as concentrated and an unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated;
a liberated mind as liberated and an unliberated mind as unliberated.’

Ten Powers of a Tathagata

“Sariputta, the Tathagata has these ten Tathagata’s powers, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma. What are the ten?

(1) “Here, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the possible as possible and the impossible as impossible. And that [70] is a Tathagata’s power that the Tathagata has, by virtue of which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma.

(2) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the results of actions undertaken, past, future and present, with possibilities and with causes. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(3) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the ways leading to all destinations. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(4) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the world with its many and different elements. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(5) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is how beings have different inclinations. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(6) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the disposition of the faculties of other beings, other persons. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(7) “Again, the Tathagata understands as it actually is the defilement, the cleansing and the emergence in regard to the jhanas, liberations, concentrations and attainments. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(8) “Again, the Tathagata recollects his manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars he recollects his manifold past lives. That too is a Tathagata’s power.

(9) “Again, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, the Tathagata sees beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and he understands how beings pass on according to their actions thus: ‘These worthy beings who were ill-conducted in body, speech and mind, revilers of noble ones, wrong in their views, giving effect to wrong view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, [71] after death, have reappeared in a state of deprivation, in a bad destination, in perdition, even in hell; but these worthy beings who were well-conducted in body, speech and mind, not revilers of noble ones, right in their views, giving effect to right view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, after death, have reappeared in a good destination, even in the heavenly world.’ Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and he understands how beings pass on according to their actions. That too is a Tathagata’s power…

(10) “Again, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, the Tathagata here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints. That too is a Tathagata’s power that a Tathagata has, by virtue of which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma.

20. “The Tathagata has these ten Tathagata’s powers, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma.

21. “Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me: ‘The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma (merely) hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him’ — unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell. Just as a bhikkhu possessed of virtue, concentration and wisdom would here and now enjoy final knowledge, so it will happen in this case, I say, that unless he abandons that assertion and that state of mind and relinquishes that view, then as (surely as if he had been) carried off and put there he will wind up in hell.

Four Kinds of Intrepidity

22. “Sariputta, the Tathagata has these four kinds of intrepidity, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma. What are the four?

23. “Here, I see no ground on which any recluse or brahman or god or Mara or Brahma or anyone at all in the world could, in accordance with the Dhamma, accuse me thus: ‘While you claim full enlightenment, you are not fully enlightened in regard to certain things.’ [72] And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness and intrepidity.

24. “I see no ground on which any recluse… or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘While you claim to have destroyed the taints, these taints are undestroyed by you.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness and intrepidity.

25. “I see no ground on which any recluse… or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘Those things called obstructions by you are not able to obstruct one who engages in them.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness and intrepidity.

26. “I see no ground on which any recluse… or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘When you teach the Dhamma to someone, it does not lead him when he practices it to the complete destruction of suffering.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness and intrepidity.

27. “A Tathagata has these four kinds of intrepidity, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma.

28. “Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me… he will wind up in hell.

The Eight Assemblies

“Sariputta, there are these eight assemblies. What are the eight? An assembly of nobles, an assembly of brahmans, an assembly of householders, an assembly of recluses, an assembly of gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings, an assembly of gods of the heaven of the Thirty-three, an assembly of Mara’s retinue, an assembly of Brahmas. Possessing these four kinds of intrepidity, the Tathagata approaches and enters these eight assemblies.

“I recall having approached many hundred assemblies of nobles… many hundred assemblies of brahmans… many hundred assemblies of householders… many hundred assemblies of recluses… many hundred assemblies of gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings… many hundred assemblies of gods of the heaven of the Thirty-three… many hundred assemblies of Mara’s retinue… many hundred assemblies of Brahmas. And formerly I had sat with them there and talked with them and held conversations with them, yet I see no ground for thinking that fear or timidity might come upon me there. And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness and intrepidity.

“Sariputta, when I know and see thus, should anyone say of me… he will wind up in hell.

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