The Buddha and His Teachings

by

 Venerable Narada Mahathera

Book Publication No: 102S


CHAPTER 39

THE STATE OF AN ARAHANT

"Though little he recites the Sacred Texts, but acts in accordance with the teaching, forsaking lust, hatred and ignorance, truly knowing, with mind well freed, clinging to naught here and hereafter, he shares the fruits of the Holy Life."
-- DHAMMAPADA

The Tipitaka abounds with interesting and self-elevating sayings that describe the peaceful and happy state of an Arahant, who abides in the world, till the end of his life, serving other seekers of truth by example and by precept.

In the Dhammapada the Buddha states:

For him who has completed the journey, [1] for him who is sorrowless, [2] for him who from everything [3] is wholly free, for him who has destroyed all Ties, [4] the fever (of passion) exists not. [5] -- Verse 90.

The mindful exert themselves. To no abode are they attached. Like swans that quit their pools, home after home they abandon (and go). [6] -- Verse  91.

They for whom there is no accumulation, [7] who reflect well over their food, [8] who have Deliverance, [9] which is Void and Signless, as their object, their course like that of birds in the air cannot be traced. -- Verse 92.

He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who has Deliverance, which is Void and Signless, as his object, his path, like that of birds in the air, cannot be traced. -- Verse 93.

He whose senses are subdued, like steeds well trained by a charioteer, he whose pride is destroyed and is free from the corruptions,-- such a steadfast one even the gods hold dear. -- Verse 94.

Like the earth, a balanced and well-disciplined person resents not. He is comparable to an Indakhila. [10] Like a pool, unsullied by mud, is he, -- to such a balanced one [11] life's wanderings do not arise. [12] -- Verse 95.

Calm is his mind, calm is his speech, calm is his action, who, rightly knowing, is wholly freed [13] perfectly peaceful, [14] and equipoised. -- Verse 96.

The [15] man who is not credulous, [16] who understands the Uncreated [17] (Nibbāna), who has cut off the links, [18] who has put an end to occasion [19] (of good and evil), who has eschewed [20] all desires [21] he, indeed, is a supreme man.  -- Verse 97.

Whether in village or in forest, in vale or on hill, [22] wherever Arahants dwell, delightful, indeed, is that spot. -- Verse 98.

Delightful are the forests where worldlings delight not; the passionless [23] will rejoice (therein),(for) they seek no sensual pleasures. -- Verse 99.

Ah, happily do we live without hate amongst the hateful; amidst hateful men we dwell unhating. -- Verse  197.

Ah, happily do we live in good health [24] amongst the ailing; amidst ailing men we dwell in good health.   -- Verse  198.  

Ah, happily do we live without yearning (for sensual pleasures) amongst those who yearn (for them); amidst those who yearn (for them) we dwell without yearning.  -- Verse 199 

Ah, happily do we live, we who have no impediments. [25] Feeders of joy shall we be even as the gods of the Radiant Realm. -- Verse 200.

For whom there exists neither the hither [26] nor the farther shore, [27] nor both the hither and the farther shore, he who is undistressed and unbound [28]-- him I call a brāhmana.   -- Verse 385.

He who is meditative, [29] stainless and secluded, [30] he who has done his duty and is free from corruptions, [31] he who has attained the Highest Goal, [32]-- him I call a brāhmana.   -- Verse 386.   

He that does no evil through body, speech, or mind, who is restrained in these three respects, -- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  391.

He who has cut off all fetters, who trembles not, who has gone beyond ties, who is unbound,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  397.

He who has cut the strap (hatred), the thong (craving), and the rope (heresies), together with the appendages (latent tendencies), who has thrown up the cross-bar (ignorance), who is enlightened [33] (Buddha),-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 398.

He who, without anger, endures reproach, flogging and punishments, whose power -- the potent army-is patience, --him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  399.

He who is not wrathful, but is dutiful, [34] virtuous, free from craving, self-controlled and bears his final body, [35] ? him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  400.

Like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle, he who clings not to sensual pleasures,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  401.

He who realizes here in this world the destruction of his sorrow, who has laid the burden [36] aside and is emancipated, -- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  402.

He whose knowledge is deep, who is wise, who is skilled in the right and wrong way, [37] who has reached the highest goal,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 403.

He who is not intimate either with householders or with the homeless ones, who wanders without an abode, who is without desires,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 404.

He who has laid aside the cudgel in his dealings with beings, [38] whether feeble or strong, who neither harms nor kills, -- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 405.

He who is friendly amongst the hostile, who is peaceful amongst the violent, who is unattached amongst the attached, [39]-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 406.

In whom lust, hatred, pride, and detraction are fallen off like a mustard seed from the point of a needle,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  407.

He who utters gentle, instructive, true words, who by his speech gives offence to none,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  408.

He who has no desires, whether pertaining to this world or to the next, who is desireless and emancipated,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  410.

Herein he who has transcended both good and bad and the ties [40] as well, who is sorrowless, stainless, and pure,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  412.

He who is spotless as the moon, who is pure, serene, and unperturbed, who has destroyed craving for becoming, -- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  413.

He who, discarding human ties and transcending celestial ties, is completely delivered from all ties, [41] -- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 417.

He who has given up likes [42] and dislikes, [43] who is cooled and is without defilements, [44] who has conquered the world, [45] and is strenuous,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  418.

He who has no clinging to aggregates that are past, future, or present, who is without clinging and grasping,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  421.

The fearless, [46] the noble, the hero, the great sage, [47] the conqueror, [48] the desireless, the cleanser [49] (of defilements), the enlightened, [50]? him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse 422.

That sage who knows his former abodes, who sees the blissful  [51] and the woeful states, [52] who has reached the end of births, [53] who, with superior wisdom, has perfected himself  [54] who has completed [55] (the holy life), and reached the end of all passions,-- him I call a brāhmana. -- Verse  423.


[1] Of life in the round of existence, i.e., an Arahant.

[2] One gives up sorrow by attaining Anāgāmi, the third stage of Sainthood. It is at this stage one eradicates completely attachment to sense-desires and illwill or aversion.

[3] Sabbadhi, the five Aggregates etc.

[4] There are four kinds of ganthas (ties)-- namely,

1. covetousness (abhijjhā), 2. ill-will (vyāpāda), 3. indulgence in (wrongful) rites and ceremonies (sīlabbataparāmāsa), and 4. adherence to one's preconceptions as truth (idam saccābhinivesa).

[5] This verse refers to the ethical state of an Arahant. Heat is both physical and mental. An Arahant experiences bodily heat as long as he is alive, but is not thereby worried. Mental heat of passions he experiences not.

[6] Arahants wander whithersoever they like without any attachment to any particular place as they are free from the conception of "I" and "mine".

[7] There are two kinds of accumulation -- namely, kammic activities and the four necessaries of life. The former tend to prolong life in Samsāra and the latter, though essential, may prove an obstacle to spiritual progress.

[8] To get rid of the desire for food.

[9] Nibbāna is Deliverance from suffering (vimokkha). It is called Void because it is void of lust, hatred and ignorance, not because it is nothingness or annihilation. Nibbāna is a positive supramundane state which cannot be expressed in mundane words. It is Signless because it is free from the signs of lust etc. Arahants experience Nibbānic bliss while alive. It is not correct to say that Arahants exist after death, or do not exist after death, for Nibbāna is neither eternalism nor nihilism. In Nibbāna nothing is eternalized nor is anything, except passions, annihilated. Arahants experience Nibbānic bliss by attaining to the fruit of Arahantship in this life itself.

[10] By indakhila is meant either a column as firm and high as that of Sakka's or the chief column that stands at the entrance to a city.

 Commentators state that these indakhilas are firm posts which are erected either inside or outside the city as an embellishment. Usually they are made of bricks or of durable wood and are octagonal in shape. Half of the post is embedded in the earth, hence the metaphor as firm and steady as an indakhila.

[11] Tādi is one who has neither attachment to desirable objects nor aversion to undesirable objects. Nor does he cling to anything. Amidst the eight worldly conditions -- gain and loss, fame and infamy, blame and praise, happiness and pain -- an Arahant remains unperturbed, manifesting neither attachment nor aversion, neither elation nor depression.

[12] As they are not subject to birth and death.

[13] From all deftlements.

[14] Since his mind is absolutely pure.

[15] The pun in the original Pāli is lost in the translation.

[16] Assaddho -- lit., unfaithful. He does not merely accept from other sources because he himself knows from personal experience.

[17] Akata, Nibbāna. It is so called because it is not created by anyone. Akata?ū can also be interpreted as ungrateful.

[18] The links of existence and rebirth. Sandhicchedo also means a house-breaker that is a burglar.

[19] Hata + avakāso, he who has destroyed the opportunity.

[20] Vanta + āso, he who eats vomit is another meaning.

[21] By means of the four paths of Sainthood. Gross forms of desire are eradicated at the first three stages, the subtle forms at the last stage.

[22] Ninna and thala, lit., low-lying and elevated grounds.

[23] The passionless Arahants rejoice in secluded forests which have no attraction for worldlings.

[24] Free from the disease of passions

[25] Ki?ana, such as lust, hatred, and delusion which are hindrances to spiritual progress.

[26] Pāram -- the six personal sense-fields.

[27] Apāram -- the six external sense-fields.

[28] Not grasping anything as "me" and "mine."

[29] He who practises concentration (samatha) and insight (vipassanā).

[30] Āsīnam -- living alone in the forest

[31] By realizing the four Truths and eradicating the fetters

[32] That is, Nibbāna.

[33] Who has understood the four Noble Truths.

[34] Devoted to religious austerity.

[35] Because he, having destroyed the Passions would be reborn no more.

[36] The burden of the Aggregates.

[37] Who knows the way to the woeful states, to the blissful states, and to Nibbāna.

[38] Literally, towards beings.

[39] Those who are attached to the Aggregates.

[40] Lust, hatred, delusion, pride and false views.

[41] Undisturbed by defilements.

[42] That is, attachment to sense-desires.

[43] Arati, dislike for forest life (commentary).

[44] Upadhi. There are four kinds of upadhi,-- namely, the aggregates (khandha), the passions (kilesa), volitional activities (abhisamkhāra), and sense-desires (kāma)

[45] That is, the world of Aggregates.

[46] Usabham, fearless as a bull.

[47] Mahesim, seeker of higher morality, concentration, and wisdom.

[48] Vijitāvinam, the conqueror of passions.

[49] Nahātakam, he who has washed away all impurities.

[50] Buddham, he who has understood the four Noble Truths.

[51] Sagga, the six heavenly Realms, the sixteen Rūpa Realms, and the four Arūpa Realms.

[52] Apāya the four woeful states.

[53] Jātikkhayam, i.e. Arahantship.

[54] Abhi?āvosito, i.e., reached the culmination by comprehending that which should be comprehended, by discarding that which should be discarded, by realizing that which should be realized, and by developing that which should be developed (commentary).

[55] Sabbavositavosanam, i.e., having lived the Holy Life which culminates in wisdom pertaining to the Path of Arahantship, the end of all passions.

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