DN25.1. On the Wanderer Nigrodha

Udumbarika Sihanada Sutta ("The Lion’s Roar at Udumbarikā’s Monastery")

so i have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha, on the Vulture’s Peak Mountain.

Now at that time the wanderer Nigrodha was residing in the lady Udumbarikā’s monastery for wanderers, together with a large assembly of three thousand wanderers. Then the householder Sandhana left Rājagaha in the middle of the day to see the Buddha.

Then it occurred to him, “It’s the wrong time to see the Buddha, as he’s in retreat. And it’s the wrong time to see the esteemed mendicants, as they’re in retreat. Why don’t I visit the wanderer Nigrodha at the lady Udumbarikā’s monastery for wanderers?” So he went to the monastery of the wanderers.

Now at that time, Nigrodha was sitting together with a large assembly of wanderers making an uproar, a dreadful racket. They engaged in all kinds of unworthy talk, such as talk about kings, bandits, and ministers; talk about armies, threats, and wars; talk about food, drink, clothes, and beds; talk about garlands and fragrances; talk about family, vehicles, villages, towns, cities, and countries; talk about women and heroes; street talk and well talk; talk about the departed; motley talk; tales of land and sea; and talk about being reborn in this or that state of existence.

Nigrodha saw Sandhāna coming off in the distance, and hushed his own assembly: “Be quiet, good sirs, don’t make a sound. The householder Sandhāna, a disciple of the ascetic Gotama, is coming. He is included among the white-clothed lay disciples of the ascetic Gotama, who is residing near Rājagaha. Such venerables like the quiet, are educated to be quiet, and praise the quiet. Hopefully if he sees that our assembly is quiet he’ll see fit to approach.” Then those wanderers fell silent.

Then Sandhāna went up to the wanderer Nigrodha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to Nigrodha, “The way the wanderers make an uproar as they sit together and talk about all kinds of unworthy topics is one thing. It’s quite different to the way the Buddha frequents remote lodgings in the wilderness and the forest that are quiet and still, far from the madding crowd, remote from human settlements, and fit for retreat.”

When Sandhāna said this, Nigrodha said to him, “Surely, householder, you should know better! With whom does the ascetic Gotama converse? With whom does he engage in discussion? With whom does he achieve lucidity of wisdom? Staying in empty huts has destroyed the ascetic Gotama’s wisdom. Not frequenting assemblies, he is unable to hold a discussion. He just lurks on the periphery. He’s just like the nilgai antelope, circling around and lurking on the periphery. Please, householder, let the ascetic Gotama come to this assembly. I’ll sink him with just one question! I’ll roll him over and wrap him up like a hollow pot!”

With clairaudience that is purified and superhuman, the Buddha heard this discussion between the householder Sandhāna and the wanderer Nigrodha. Then the Buddha descended Vulture’s Peak Mountain and went to the peacocks’ feeding ground on the bank of the Sumāgadhā, where he practiced walking meditation in the open air.

Nigrodha saw him, and hushed his own assembly: “Be quiet, good sirs, don’t make a sound. The ascetic Gotama is walking meditation on the bank of the Sumāgadhā. The venerable likes quiet and praises quiet. Hopefully if he sees that our assembly is quiet he’ll see fit to approach. If he comes, I’ll ask him this question: ‘Sir, what teaching do you use to guide your disciples, through which they claim solace in the fundamental purpose of the spiritual life?’” Then those wanderers fell silent.

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