Sakkapañha Sutta ("Sakka’s Questions")

SO I HAVE HEARD. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Magadhans; east of Rājagaha there’s a brahmin village named Ambasaṇḍā, north of which, on Mount Vediyaka, is the Indasāla cave.

Now at that time a keen desire to seeing the Buddha came over Sakka, the lord of gods. He thought, “Where is the Blessed One at present, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha?”

He saw that the Buddha was at the Indasāla cave, and addressed the gods of the Thirty-Three, “Good sirs, the Buddha is staying in the land of the Magadhans at the Indasāla cave. What if we were to go and see that Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha?”

“Yes, lord,” replied the gods.

Then Sakka addressed the fairy Pañcasikha, “Dear Pañcasikha, the Buddha is staying in the land of the Magadhans at the Indasāla cave. What if we were to go and see that Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha?”

“Yes, lord,” replied the fairy Pañcasikha. Taking his arched harp made from the pale timber of wood-apple, he went as Sakka’s attendant.

Then Sakka went at the head of a retinue consisting of the gods of the Thirty-Three and the fairy Pañcasikha. As easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, he vanished from the heaven of the gods of the Thirty-Three and landed on Mount Vediyaka north of Ambasaṇḍā.

Now at that time a dazzling light appeared over Mount Vediyaka and Ambasaṇḍā, as happens through the glory of the gods. People in the villages round about, terrified, shocked, and awestruck, said, “Mount Vediyaka must be on fire today, blazing and burning! Oh why has such a dazzling light appeared over Mount Vediyaka and Ambasaṇḍā?”

Then Sakka addressed the fairy Pañcasikha, “My dear Pañcasikha, it’s hard for one like me to get near the Realized Ones while they are on retreat practicing absorption, enjoying absorption. But if you were to charm the Buddha first, then I could go to see him.”

“Yes, lord,” replied the fairy Pañcasikha. Taking his arched harp made from the pale timber of wood-apple, he went to the Indasāla cave. When he had drawn near, he stood to one side, thinking, “This is neither too far nor too near; and he’ll hear my voice.”

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