[Buddha-l] Ariyapariyesana

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 8 14:38:27 MST 2011

Hi Lance,

Lots of things packed in, so it may take a few messages to respond to all of 


> I don't think there is much doubt that the account in the
> Ariyapariyesana and several other suttas is much older than the version
> of Aśvaghoṣa.

No one said otherwise.

What is at issue is the fact that we can find, from early one, a variety of 
versions of details of Buddha's biography -- even within the canonical Pali 
materials themselves -- and many alternate versions were apparently afloat 
from early on as well, with efforts to make Buddha more and more divine, 
resisted by the Theravadins (or whichever name one wishes to assign to the 
folks represented by the Kathavatthu, for example). Some are preserved in 
Lalitavistara, Mahavastu, etc., and later in certain Mahayana treatments, 
but we have certainly lost some of the earlier stories that circulated. A 
mainstream story -- or its skeleton -- eventually becomes the core of all 
later versions (with variations and countless embellishments), so when 
something appears, like the Ariyapariyesana sutta, which omits the usually 
highlighted events, and suggests, even in passing, details contrary to what 
became the mainstream story, attention is drawn. You will notice that my 
comments were largely in defense of the plausibility and soundness of the 
mainstream story, since the Ariyapariyesana has a number of features that 
suggest its lateness, features which I did not specify in detail, but only 
gave some brief examples.

> Abhidhamma doesn't occur at all in the Ariyapariyesana.

True. I wrote too quickly. I was thinking about other Majjhima texts, like 
Gulissāni sutta and Mahāgosiṅga sutta. I'll say more about them later. My 
intent in alluding to the them was to indicate how sometimes an 
"anachronistic" term -- to borrow the characterization by Nanamoli and Bh. 
Bodhi -- sheds light.

>Forms of kilesa
> occur some 250 times in the Majjhimanikāya alone. I don't think it is at
> all rare.

I trust your computation (not being able to check that at the moment), but 
would suggest that number is misleading, since it gives the impression that 
the term is widely used and dispersed throughout the Nikayas. It is not 
absent from the Nikayas, but tends to occur in abhidhammic-type clusters, 
which rapidly elevate the total count. For instance, the Vatthūpama sutta 
(MN 7):

4. Katame ca bhikkhave cittassa upakkilesā: abhijjhāvisamalobho cittassa 
upakkileso. Byāpādo cittassa upakkileso. Kodho cittassa upakkileso. Upanāho 
cittassa upakkileso. Makkho cittassa upakkileso. Paḷāso cittassa upakkileso. 
Issā cittassa upakkileso. Macchariyaṃ cittassa upakkileso. Māyā cittassa 
upakkileso. Sāṭheyyaṃ cittassa upakkileso. Thambho cittassa upakkileso. 
Sārambho cittassa upakkileso. Māno cittassa upakkileso. Atimāno cittassa 
upakkileso. Mado cittassa upakkileso. Pamādo cittassa upakkileso.

5. Sa kho so bhikkhave bhikkhu abhijjhāvisamalobho cittassa upakkilesoti iti 
viditvā abhijjhāvisamalobhaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Byāpādo cittassa 
upakkilesoti iti viditvā byāpādaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Kodho 
cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā kodhaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. 
Upanāho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā upanāhaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ 
pajahati. Makkho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā makkhaṃ cittassa 
upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Paḷāso cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā paḷāsaṃ 
cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Issā cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā issaṃ 
cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Macchariyaṃ cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā 
macchariyaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Māyā cittassa upakkilesoti iti 
viditvā māyaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Sāṭheyyaṃ cittassa upakkilesoti 
iti viditvā sāṭheyyaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Thambho cittassa 
upakkilesoti iti viditvā thambhaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. Sārambho 
cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā sārambhaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. 
Māno cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā mānaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ pajahati. 
Atimāno cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā atimānaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ 
pajahati. Mado cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā madaṃ cittassa upakkilesaṃ 
pajahati. Pamādo cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā pamādaṃ cittassa 
upakkilesaṃ pajahati.

6. Yato ca kho bhikkhave bhikkhuno abhijjhāvisamalobho cittassa upakkilesoti 
iti viditvā abhijjhāvisamalobho cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, byāpādo 
cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā byāpādo cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, 
kodho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā kodho cittassa upakkileso pahīno 
hoti, upanāho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā upanāho cittassa upakkileso 
pahīno hoti, makkho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā makkho cittassa 
upakkileso pahīno hoti, paḷāso cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā paḷāso 
cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, issā cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā issā 
cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, macchariyaṃ cittassa upakkilesoti iti 
viditvā macchariyaṃ cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, māyā cittassa 
upakkilesoti iti viditvā māyā cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, sāṭheyyaṃ 
cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā sāṭheyyaṃ cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, 
thambho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā thambho cittassa upakkileso pahīno 
hoti, sārambho cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā sārambho cittassa 
upakkileso pahīno hoti, māno cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā māno cittassa 
upakkileso pahīno hoti, atimāno cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā atimāno 
cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, mado cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā mado 
cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti, pamādo cittassa upakkilesoti iti viditvā 
pamādo cittassa upakkileso pahīno hoti.

I'll let others count up the upakkilesa-s just in this small portion of the 
sutta. Is this sutta early or later? I'll say something about that in a 
separate message.

The point is that while the term is not spread throughout the Majjhima, when 
it does occur, it tends to arrive in a tsunami. E.g.:

Cūḷadukkhakkhandha suttaṃ (MN 14)

2. Dīgharattāhaṃ bhante bhagavatā evaṃ dhammaṃ desitaṃ ajānāmi: lobho 
cittassa upakkileso, doso cittassa upakkileso, moho cittassa upakkileso'ti. 
Evañcāhaṃ bhante bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāmi: lobho cittassa 
upakkileso, doso cittassa upakkileso, moho cittassa upakkilesoti...

The PTS Pali-Eng Dictionary, which I cited as claiming the word kilesa is 
found much more frequently in later literature (that was their claim), gives 
this, with Nikaya citations, for upakkilesa (p. 139):

Upakkilesa [fr. upa + kliś] anything that spoils or obstructs, a minor 
stain, impurity, defilement, depravity, Vin ii.295 (cp. SnA 487 & VvA 134 & 
see abbha); M i.36, 91; D iii.42 sq., 49 sq., 201; S v.92 sq. (pañca 
cittassa upakkilesā), 108, 115; A i.10 (āgantuka), 207 (cittassa), 253 
(oḷārika etc.); ii.53 (candima -- suriyānaŋ samaṇa -- brāhmaṇānaŋ), 67; 
iii.16 (jātarūpassa, cittassa), 386 sq.; iv.177 (vigatā); v.195; Ps i.164 
(eighteen); Pug 60; Dhs 1059, 1136; Nett 86 sq., 94, 114 sq.; Sdhp 216, 225 
(as upaklesa). Ten stains at Vism 633.

As we know, the preferred term in non-Theravada works became (skt) 
āgantuka-kleśa, typically translated "adventitious defilements."

Just taking a single example from the PTS Dict. citation, "S v.92 sq. (pañca 
cittassa upakkilesā)" refers to a Samyutta N. sutta appropriately enough 
called the Kilesa sutta. It consists of two paragraphs: The first asks and 
answers What are the five "corruptions" (upakkilesa) of gold -- the answer 
being a foreign intrusion, viz. iron, copper, tin, lead, or silver, 
"corrupted by which gold is neither malleable nore wieldy nor radiant, but 
brittle and not properly fit for work." The second paragraph asks the same 
re: five corruptions of mind. They turn out to be sensual desire 
(kāmacchanda), ill-will (vyāpāda), sloth and torpor (thīna-middha), 
restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca), and doubt (vicikicchā), 
"corrupted by which the mind is neither malleable nore wieldy nor radiant, 
but brittle and not properly fit for work."

Nevermind that this is seven, not five items (at least when transferred into 
English, which forces one to look at semantic considerations -- thīna-middha 
are a related pair perhaps, and frequently conjoined in this way, but 
uddhacca-kukkucca are not semantic near-synomyms, their similarity merely a 
superficial resemblance of endings, uddhaca involving being agitated, 
distracted, fluttery focus, i.e., the MTV generation, and kukkucca meaning 
"remorse, worry"), and nevermind that the five things actually are better 
known by another label, the five nīvaraṇas, "five obstructions" (labelling 
them five mental upakkilesas is not the usual nomenclature), more 
interesting for our purposes is that most editions omit the passages listing 
and describing the latter four. In their Eng. tr., Nanamoli and Bhikkhu 
Bodhi insert the omitted portion in square brackets, and offer a note that 
begins "The bracketed passage is in Se only, but is clearly necessary..." Se 
is the Sinhala-script edition of SN. The note ends by requesting that we 
look at "the following two notes for a similar case in which certain textual 
traditions have preserved the unity" (vol 2, p. 1905). One could equally 
claim the notes show where "helpful" redactors added in what they thought 
belonged in missing texts, and also could be a sign of some textual problems 
that, presupposing the integrity of the sinhala emendations, etc., get 
ignored and swept under the rug.

[to be continued]


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