DN 25 : Udumbarika Sihanada Sutta ( The Great Lion’s Roar to the Udumbarikans)
Thus have i heard. Once the Buddha was staying in Rajagaha at the Vultures' Peak. At that time the wanderer Nigrodha was staying at the Udumbarika lodging for wanderers, with a large company of 3000 wanderers. One morning, the householder Sandhana came to Rajagaha in order to see the Buddha but he thought: 'It is not the proper time to see the Blessed Lord as he is in retreat. Perhaps I should go to the Udumbarika lodging and call on Nigrodha.' When he went there, Nigrodha was sitting in the midst of a large crowd of wanderers who were all shouting and screaming and indulging in various kinds of unedifying conversation about kings, robbers, ministers, armies, dangers, war, food, drink, clothes, beds, garlands, perfumes, relatives, carriages, villages, towns and cities, countries, women, heroes, street- and well-gossip, talk of the departed, desultory chat, speculation about land and sea, talk of being and non-being. The wanderers are all gossiping and talking of various bits of news, debating theories, and passing around rumors.
Then Nigrodha saw Sandhana approaching from a distance and he called his followers to be quiet, don't make a noise, as Sandhana who is a follower of the ascetic Gotama is approaching. He told his followers: "Sadhana is one of the white-robed householder followers of the ascetic Gotama in Rajagaha. These good folk are fond of quiet, they are taught to be quiet and speak in praise of quiet. If he sees that this company is quiet, he will most likely want to come and visit us.' At this the wanderers fell silent. Sandhana approached Nigrodha and exchanged courtesies with him and sat down to one side. Sandhana said: 'Reverend sirs, the way the wanderers of another faith conduct themselves when they come together is such that they make a great clamour and indulge in all manner of unedifying conversation. The Blessed Buddha's way is different: he seeks a lodging in the forest, in the depths of the jungle, free from noise, with little sound, far from the madding crowd, undisturbed by men, well fitted for seclusion.'
Then Nigrodha replied: 'Well now, householder, do you know whom the ascetic Gotarna talks to? Whom does he converse with? From whom does he get his lucidity of wisdom? I say that the ascetic Gotama's wisdom is destroyed by the solitary life, he is not accustomed to crowds, he is no good at conversation, he is right out of touch. Just as bison762 circling around keep to the fringes, so it is with the ascetic Gotarna. In fact, householder, if the ascetic Gotama were to come to this assembly, we would baffle him with a single question and we would knock him over like an empty pot.' (Nigrodha criticized the blessed one as such)
Buddha with his divine-ear-faculty, purified and surpassing human range, heard this exchange between Sandhana and Nigrodha. Descending from the Vultures' Peak, he came to the Peacocks' Feeding Ground beside the Sumagadha Tank and walked up and down there in the open air. Nigrodha caught sight of him and he called his company:' to be quiet as Buddha is fond of quiet and he speaks in praise of quiet. If he sees that this company is quiet, he will most likely want to come and visit us. If he does so, we will put this question to him: "Lord, what is this doctrine in which the Blessed Lord trains his disciples and which those disciples whom he has so trained as to benefit from it recognize as their principal support, and the perfection of the holy life?" At this, the wanderers were silent.
Then the Buddha approached Nigrodha and Nigrodha said: 'Come, Blessed Lord! At last the Blessed Lord has gone out of his way to come here. Be seated, Lord.' The Lord sat down on the prepared seat and Nigrodha took a low stool and sat down to one side. Then the Lord said to him: 'Nigrodha, what was the subject of your conversation just now? What talk have I interrupted?' Nigrodha replied: 'we wanted to ask what is the doctrine in which the Blessed Lord trains his disciples and which those disciples whom he has so trained as to benefit from it recognize as their principal support, and the perfection of the holy life?"' Buddha replied: 'Nigrodha, it is hard for you who has different views, of different inclinations and subject to different influences, following a different teacher to understand the doctrine which I teach my disciples. Why don't you discuss with me about your own teaching, about your extreme austerity instead? How are the conditions of austerity and self-mortification fulfilled and how are they not fulfilled?' At this the wanderers made a great commotion and exclaimed: 'It is wonderful, it is marvellous of the ascetic Gotama in holding back with his own theories and in inviting others to discuss theirs!'
Silencing them, Nigrodha said: 'Lord, we teach the higher austerities which we regard them as essential and we adhere to them. Such being the case, what do you think constitutes their fulfillment or non- fulfillment?'
Buddha: 'Suppose, Nigrodha, a self-mortifier goes naked, uses no polite restraints, licks his hands, does not come or stand still when requested. He does not accept food out of the pot or pan, wears rough clothes, the kind dead bodies are wrapped in. He plucks his hair and beard, makes his bed with thorn branches and dry hay, and he is dirty and unwashed. Or he washes three times before the sun sets, but he takes no water. What do you think Nigrodha, is the higher austerity thereby fulfilled or not? '
Nigrodha: 'Indeed, Lord, it is fulfilled.'
Buddha: 'But, Nigrodha, I maintain that this higher austerity can be faulted in various ways. Take the case, Nigrodha, of a self-mortifier who practices a certain austerity. As a result, he is pleased and satisfied at having attained his end. He elevates himself, disparages others, becomes intoxicated with conceit, infatuated and therefore careless. This is a fault in that self-mortifier. Again, a self-modifier practices a certain austerity and this brings him gains, honors and fame. As a result, he is pleased and satisfied at having attained his end. Again he elevates himself, disparages others, he becomes intoxicated with conceit, infatuated and therefore careless. This too is a fault in that self-mortifier. Again, a self-mortifier practices a certain austerity, he divides his food into two heaps, saying: "This suits me, that doesn't suit me!" He eagerly rejects what he dislikes, while he eats up greedily what he likes, recklessly and passionately, not seeing the peril, with no thought for the consequences. This is a fault in that self-mortifier."
Buddha continued: "Again a self-mortifier practices a certain austerity for the sake of gains, honors and fame, thinking: " I am worthy of respect: the royalty and the noblemen will all bow down to me, and pay respect to me" This is a fault in that self-mortifier. Again, a self-mortifier disparages and belittles some ascetic or Brahmin, saying: "See bow he lives in abundance, eating all sorts of things! He chews them all up with that thunderbolt of a jaw of his and they call him an ascetic!" This is a fault in that self-mortifier. Then he sees another ascetic / brahmin being praised, being offered alms, being worshipped and thinks: "What? How dare they honor him and ignore me! I am obviously the superior, they just do not see it." He turns green with jealousy, which is another fault." Again, a self-mortifier sits in a prominent position with power and benefits, this is a fault in that self-mortifier. Or he goes round ostentatiously among the families, as if to say: "See, this is my way of renunciation!" And this is a fault in that self-mortifier. Or he behaves in an underhand way; on being asked: "Do you approve of this?" Although he does not approve he says: "I do", or although he does approve he says: "I do not." In this way he becomes a conscious liar. This is a fault in that self-mortifier. '
Buddha continued : 'When the Tathagata or a disciple of the Tathagata presents the Dhamma in a way that should command his approval but just for the sake of stirring disharmony, the self-mortifier does not and withholds that assent. This is a fault in that self-mortifier. Or he is angry and bad-tempered and this is a fault in that self-mortifier. Or he is mean and spiteful, envious and jealous, crafty and deceitful, obstinate and proud, with evil desires and under their sway, with wrong views and given to extremist opinions; he is tainted with worldliness, holding on firmly, unwilling to give up. This is a fault in that self-mortifier. What do you think, Nigrodha? Are these things faults in the higher austerity, or not?'
Nigrodha: 'Certainly they are, Lord. It’d be easy enough for one man to have all of those faults you spoke of, leastways only one or two of them."
Buddha: 'Now, Nigrodha, take the case of a certain self-mortifier who practices a certain austerity. As a result, he is not pleased and satisfied at having attained his end. This being so in this respect he is purified. He does not elevate himself, does not disparage others and thus he does not become a conscious liar. In this respect he is purified. When the Tathagata or a disciple of the Tathagata presents the Dhamma in a way that should command his assent,the self-mortifier gives his assent. In this respect he is purified. He is not angry or bad-tempered, he is not mean and spiteful, envious and jealous, crafty and deceitful, obstinate, he is without evil desires and not under their sway, he is without wrong views and not given to extremist opinions, he is not tainted with worldliness, does not hold on firmly and is not unwilling to give up. In this respect he is purified. He does not have the faults in the examples as mentioned before. So what do you think, Nigrodha? Is the higher austerity purified by these things or not?'
Nigrodha :'Certainly it is, Lord, it attains its peak there, penetrating to the pith.' Buddha: 'No, Nigrodha, it does not attain its peak there, it has only reached the outer bark.' Nigrodha: 'Well then, Lord, how does austerity attain its peak, penetrating to the pith? It would be good if the Blessed Lord were to cause my austerity to attain its peak, to penetrate to the pith.'
Buddha: 'The self-mortifier should observes the fourfold restraint. What are the fourfold restraint? Here, a self-mortifier 1. Does not harm a living being, does not cause living being to be harmed, does not approve of such harming. 2. He does not take what is not given, or cause it to be taken, or approve of such taking. 3. He does not tell a lie, or cause a lie to be told, or approve of such lying. 4. He does not crave for sense-pleasures, cause others to do so, or approve of such craving. In this way, a self-mortifier observes the fourfold restraint. And through this restraint, through making this his austerity, he takes an upward course and does not fall back into lower things. '
Buddha continued: 'Then he finds a solitary lodging, at the root of a forest tree, in a mountain cave or gorge, a charnel-ground, a jungle-thicket, or in the open air on a heap of straw. Then after the alms-round, he sits down cross-legged, holding his body erect, having established mindfulness before him (meditate). Abandoning cravings for sensory desires, he dwells with a mind freed from such hankering, and his mind is purified of it. Abandoning ill-will and hatred, he dwells with a mind freed from them and by compassionate love for the welfare of all living beings, his mind is purified of them. Abandoning sloth-and-torpor, by the perception of light, mindful and clearly aware, his mind is purified of sloth-and-torpor. Abandoning worry and restlessness and with an inwardly calmed heart his mind is purified of worry and restlessness. Abandoning doubt, he dwells with doubt left behind, without uncertainty, his mind purified of doubt. 'Having abandoned these five hindrances and in order to weaken by insight the defilements of the mind, he dwells, letting his mind filled with loving-kindness, pervade one quarter, then a second, then a third, then a fourth. He continues to pervade everywhere with a mind filled with loving-kindness, extensive, measureless, free from hatred and ill-will. Then he dwells, letting his mind filled with compassion, with sympathetic joy, with equanimity (The four immeasurable). What do you think, Nigrodha? Is the higher austerity purified by these things, or not?'
Nigrodha :'Certainly it is, Lord. It attains its peak there, penetrating to the pith.' Buddha: 'No, Nigrodha, it does not attain its peak there. It has only penetrated to the inner bark.' Nigrodha :'Well then, Lord, how does austerity attain its peak, penetrating to the pith? It would be good if the Blessed Lord were to cause my austerity to attain its peak, to penetrate to the pith.' Buddha: 'Nigrodha, take the case of a self-mortifier who observes the fourfold restraint. He recalls various past lives, their conditions and details. What do you think, Nigrodha? Is the higher austerity purified by these things, or not?' Nigrodha: 'Certainly it is, Lord. It attains its peak there, penetrating to the pith.' Buddha: 'No, Nigrodha, it only reaches the fibers surrounding the pith.' Nigrodha:'Well then, Lord, how does austerity reach its peak, penetrating to the pith?'
Buddha: 'Well, Nigrodha, take the case of a self-mortifier who observes the fourfold restraint and he remembers various past lives. Then with the purified divine eye, he sees beings passing away and arising as kamma directs them. What do you think, Nigrodha? Is the higher austerity purified by these things, or not?' Nigrodha:'Certainly it is, Lord. It attains its peak there, penetrating to the pith.' Buddha: 'So indeed it is, Nigrodha, that austerity is so purified as to reach its peak and penetrate to the pith. Thus when you ask: "What, Lord, is this doctrine in which the Blessed Lord trains his disciples and which those disciples whom he has so trained as to benefit from it recognize as their principal support and the perfection of the holy life?" I say that it is by something more far-reaching and excellent that I train them in.'
At this the wanderers made a great commotion and exclaimed: 'We and our teacher are ruined! We know of nothing higher or more far-reaching than our teaching!' The householder Sandhana realized that these wanderers of other views are actually listening and attending to the Lord's words, inclining their minds to the higher wisdom then he said to Nigrodha: 'Reverend Nigrodha, you said to me: "Come now, householder, do you know whom the ascetic Gotama talks to? You criticized that his wisdom is destroyed by the solitary life, he is no good at conversation, he is right out of touch." So now that the Blessed Lord has come here, why don't you baffle him with a single question and knock him over like an empty pot? '
Hearing these words, Nigrodha was silent and upset, his shoulders drooped, he hung his head and sat there downcast and bewildered. Seeing the state he was in, Buddha said: 'Is it true, Nigrodha, that you said that?' Nigrodha: 'Lord, it is true that I said that, foolishly, mistakenly, and wickedly.' Buddha: 'What do you think, Nigrodha? Have you ever heard the elderly wanderers, venerable, the teachers of teachers, that those who in the past were Arahants, fully-enlightened Buddhas would come together, by shouting and screaming and making a great clamour and indulging in unedifying conversation like the way you and your teachers do? Or did they not say that those Blessed Ones sought lodging in the forest, in the depths of the jungle, free from noise, with little sound, far from the madding crowd, undisturbed by men, well-fitted for seclusion, just as I do now?' Nigrodha: 'Lord, I have heard it said that those who were Arahants, fully-enlightened Buddhas did not indulge in loud and violent talk and the do not engage in gossiping but they sought lodging in the forest just as the Blessed Lord does now.'
Buddha then commented: 'Nigrodha, you are an intelligent mature man. Did it never occur to you to think: "The Blessed Lord is enlightened and teaches a doctrine of enlightenment. He is self-restrained and teaches a doctrine of self-restraint, he is calm and teaches a doctrine of calm. He has gone beyond and teaches a doctrine of going beyond, he has gained Nibbana and teaches a doctrine for the gaining of Nibbana"?'
Nigrodha said to the Lord: 'Transgression overcame me! I was foolish, blind and evil when I spoke thus of the Lord earlier. May the Lord accept my confession and apology of this fault, that I may restrain myself in future ' Buddha: 'Indeed, Nigrodha, transgression overcame you and you were blinded by evil to speak thus of me. But since you recognize the nature of your transgression and make amends, we accept your confession. For Nigrodha, it is the mark of a wise man for one to recognize his own mistakes and to make confessions and amends for them.But Nigrodha, I tell you this: If any man of intelligence who is sincere, honest, and straightforward, comes to me and I will instruct and teach him Dhamma. If he practices what he is taught, then within seven years he will attain in this life to that unequaled holy life and goal, for the sake of which young men who went forth from household life into homelessness, by his own knowledge and realization. Let alone seven years - in six years, five, four, three, two years, one year, seven months, six months, five, four, three, two months, one month, half a month. Let alone half a month - in seven days he can gain that goal. '
Buddha: 'Nigrodha, you may think: "The ascetic Gotama says this in order to get disciples." But you should not regard it like that. Let him who is your teacher remain so. Or you may think: "The ascetic Gotama wants us to abandon our rules." But you should not regard it like that. Let your rules remain as they are. Or you may think: "The ascetic Gotama wants us to abandon our way of life." But you should not regard it like that. Let your way of life remain as it was. Or you may think: "This Gotama wants us to break our own rules and change the things that we consider to be bad" But you should not regard it like that. Let those things you consider wrong continue to be so considered. Or you may think: "This Gotama wants to pull us away from what we consider to be good." But you should not regard it like that. Let whatever you consider right continue to be so considered. Nigrodha, I do not speak for any of these reasons'
Buddha continued: 'There are, Nigrodha, unwholesome things that have not been abandoned, tainted, conducive to rebirth. These tainted things will result in fearful futures filled with pain, decay, and death. It is for the abandonment of these things that I teach Dhamma. If you practice accordingly, these tainted things will be abandoned, and the things that make for purification will develop and grow. Then you will all attain to and dwell, in this very life, by your own insight and realization, in the fullness of perfected wisdom.'
At these words the wanderers sat silent and upset, their shoulders drooped, they hung their heads and sat there down- cast and bewildered, so possessed were their minds by Mara (the evil one). Then Buddha said: 'Every one of these foolish men is possessed by the evil one (Mara) such that not a single one will think: "Let us now follow the holy life proclaimed by the ascetic Gotama and learn it, for seven days is an insignificantly small period."
Then Buddha having uttered his lion's roar in the Udumbarika park left and went back to the Vultures' Peak. The householder Sandhana also returned to Rajagaha.
In summary, this is a sutta that started with Nigrodha from the wandering ascetics who criticized Buddha's teachings. Then when Buddha came to Udumbarika lodging, he allowed Nigrodha to discuss their ways of austerity instead of discussing his own Dhamma. By doing so, he allows Nigrodha to feel at ease rather than challenged. Then by questioning and answer, Buddha pointed out the flaws in their austerity practice. After hearing the faults in the austerity practice and hearing what the true doctrine Buddha teaches and how this doctrine will lead to end of suffering, onward to path of Nibbana; Nigrodha felt upset and ashamed. Although the wanderers know at the end of Buddha's discourse that what Buddha taught is true and beneficial but they still grasped to their practice and refused to try and practice what Buddha has taught. Thus Buddha ended by saying that they were still held on by Mara (the evil one).
References: 1. www.accesstoinsight.org 2. https://suttacentral.net/ 3. The long discourses of the Buddha (Bhikkhu Bodhi)