The Discourse about Quarrels and Disputes

According to one tradition [1] the following discourse, which is from what is considered one of the earliest collections of the teachings, [2] took place following the war between the Sākiyans and the Koliyans over the waters of the Rohinī river. [3]

Following the Buddha’s successful resolution of the conflict, he preached the following discourse, which was meant to educate those overcome by hatred (dosacarita) into understanding the root cause of their affliction.

After the discourse 250 young men from both clans decided to go forth, besides those young men it was heard by Mahāpajāpati Gotamī, who also decided to go forth; and the young men’s wives joined her in her aspiration, and became the first set of bhikkhunis.

The discourse therefore can be seen as having been very influential, and is even now recommended for those who have trouble understanding the origin of the mental defilement of hatred and aversion.

It is given in question and answer form, and follows the paṭiccasamuppāda method of following the causal chain link by link.

The discourse is part of a set of six discourses that address the six main character-types known to the commentaries: those biased towards passion, hatred, delusion, reasoning, faith and intelligence.

In the translation that follows the sign ° indicates that two lines
have been taken together for the purpose of translation

Painting by Bhikkhu Sumedha
Painting by Bhikkhu Sumedha

 

Kalahavivādasuttaṁ (Sn 4.11)
The Discourse about Quarrels and Disputes

“Kuto pahūtā kalahā vivādā,
“From where arise quarrels, disputes,

paridevasokā sahamaccharā ca,
lamentations, griefs together with selfishness,

mānātimānā sahapesuṇā ca?
conceit, pride, together with slander?

Kuto pahūtā te tad-iṅgha brūhi.”
From where do these arise, come, please tell this.”

“Piyā pahūtā kalahā vivādā,
“From what is held dear arise quarrels, disputes,

paridevasokā sahamaccharā ca,
lamentations, griefs together with selfishness,

mānātimānā sahapesuṇā ca.
conceit, pride, together with slander.

Maccherayuttā kalahā vivādā,
Selfishness is connected with quarrels and disputes,

vivādajātesu ca pesuṇāni.”
and when disputes occur there is slander.”

 

“Piyā su lokasmiṁ kuto nidānā,
“What is the source of what is held dear in the world,

ye cāpi lobhā vicaranti loke?
and the greed that is found in the world?

Āsā ca niṭṭhā ca kuto nidānā
What is the source of hopes and their fulfillment

ye samparāyāya narassa honti.”
for a man in regard to the next world?”

“Chandānidānāni piyāni loke,
“Desire is the source of things held dear in the world,

ye cāpi lobhā vicaranti loke.
and the greed that is found in the world.

Āsā ca niṭṭhā ca ito nidānā,
From this there are hopes and their fulfillment,

ye samparāyāya narassa honti.”
for a man in regard to the next world.”

 

“Chando nu lokasmiṁ kuto nidāno,
“What is the source of desire in the world,

vinicchayā cāpi kuto pahūtā,
from what arises discrimination,

kodho mosavajjañ-ca kathaṁkathā ca,
anger, false speech and uncertainty,

ye vā pi dhammā samaṇena vuttā.”
and whatever (bad) thoughts are spoken of by the ascetic?”

“Sātaṁ asātan-ti yam-āhu loke,
“The agreeable and disagreeable are spoken of in the world,

tam-ūpanissāya pahoti chando,
desire arises from dependence on this,

rūpesu disvā vibhavaṁ bhavañ-ca,
having seen continuation and discontinuation in forms,

vinicchayaṁ kubbati jantu loke.
a person makes discrimination in the world.

Kodho mosavajjañ-ca kathaṁkathā ca,
There is anger, false speech and uncertainty,

ete pi dhammā dvaya-m-eva sante.
when these two thoughts exist.

Kathaṁkathī ñāṇapathāya sikkhe,
One who is uncertain should train in the path of knowledge,

ñatvā pavuttā samaṇena dhammā.”
having understood those (bad) thoughts spoken of by the ascetic.”

 

“Sātaṁ asātañ-ca kuto nidānā,
“From where arise the agreeable and disagreeable in the world,

kismiṁ asante na bhavanti hete?
with the non-existence of what do these not come into being?

Vibhavaṁ bhavañ-cāpi yam-etam-atthaṁ,
There is this discontinuity and continuity,

etaṁ me pabrūhi yato nidānaṁ?”
tell me what is the source of this?”

“Phassanidānaṁ sātaṁ asātaṁ,
“With contact as source there is the agreeable and the disagreeable,

phasse asante na bhavanti hete,
with the non-existence of contact these do not arise.

Vibhavaṁ bhavañ-cāpi yam-etam-atthaṁ,
There is this discontinuity and continuity,

etaṁ te pabrūmi ito nidānaṁ.”
I say to you from this is the source of that.”

 

“Phasso nu lokasmiṁ kuto nidāno,
“What is the source of contact in the world

pariggahā cāpi kuto pahūtā?
from where do possessions also arise?

Kismiṁ asante na mamattam-atthi,
with the non-existence of what is there no self-centeredness

kismiṁ vibhūte na phusanti phassā?”
with the disappearance of what are there no contacts?”

“Nāmañ-ca rūpañ-ca paṭicca phassā,
“Mind and bodily form are the condition for contacts,

icchānidānāni pariggahāni,
longings are the source of possessions,

icchā na santyā na mamattam-atthi,
when there are no longings there is no self-centeredness,

rūpe vibhūte na phusanti phassā.”
with the disappearance of bodily form contacts do not make contact.”

 

“Kathaṁsametassa vibhoti rūpaṁ,
“Having realised what does bodily form disappear,

sukhaṁ dukhañ-cāpi kathaṁ vibhoti?
how does happiness and suffering disappear?

Etaṁ me pabrūhi yathā vibhoti,
Tell me in what way it disappears,

‘taṁ jāniyāmā,’ ti me mano ahu.”
‘we should know this,’ is what my mind says.”

“Na saññasaññī, na visaññasaññī,
“Not perceiving perceptions, not perceiving no perceptions, [4]

no pi asaññī, na vibhūtasaññī,
not without perception, not perceiving what has disappeared, [5]

Evaṁsametassa vibhoti rūpaṁ,
For one who has realised that bodily form disappears,

saññānidānā hi papañcasaṅkhā.”
for the source of perceptions is known as an impediment.”

 

“Yaṁ taṁ apucchimha akittayī no,
“You have explained to us what we asked about

aññaṁ taṁ pucchāma, tad-iṅgha brūhi,
there is another thing we ask, come, please tell this,

ettāvataggaṁ nu? vadanti heke,
° do some of the wise say this much is the highest,

yakkhassa suddhiṁ idha paṇḍitāse,
for purification of the spirit here,

udāhu aññam-pi vadanti etto?”
or do they say that is something else?”

“Ettāvataggam-pi vadanti heke,
° “Some of the wise do say this much is the highest, [6]

yakkhassa suddhiṁ idha paṇḍitāse,
for purification of the spirit here,

tesaṁ paneke samayaṁ vadanti
and some of them, known as skilful, say this is the penetration [7]

anupādisese kusalā vadānā.
in which there is no attachment remaining.

Ete ca ñatvā ‘upanissitā’ ti,
Having understood these are ‘dependent’,

ñatvā munī nissaye so vimaṁsī,
having understood dependence, the enquiring sage,

ñatvā vimutto, na vivādam-eti,
understanding freedom, does not enter into dispute,

bhavābhavāya na sameti dhīro.” ti
the wise one does not go from this life to that life.”

 




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Notes:

  1. see the Anguttara Commentary to Mahāpajāpati Gotamī’s story AA 1.14.5.1
  2. Suttanipāta 4.11
  3. For the full story of that war see here
  4. Explained in the Niddesa as meaning not perceiving normal perceptions, not perceiving abnormal perceptions. However the reference is evidently to the state of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññānāsaññā), especially as no pi asaññī in the next line is defined as cessation (nirodha).
  5. This refers to the four formless attainments (arūpasamāpatti), where form has disappeared. Norman has misunderstood the commentary here.
  6. For instance Rāma, whose teaching the Bodhisatta studied with his son Uddaka, held this as the highest, not knowing anything beyond.
  7. Samaya here is evidently for abhisamaya, penetration.

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