SuttaCentral

"Acid Pickle" in MN 13, MN 14

So Google search has failed me. What is the “acid pickle” in MN 13 & MN 14?

Furthermore, for the sake of sensual pleasures they break into houses, plunder wealth, steal from isolated buildings, commit highway robbery, and commit adultery. The rulers would arrest them and subject them to various punishments—whipping, caning, and clubbing; cutting off hands or feet, or both; cutting off ears or nose, or both; the ‘porridge pot’, the ‘shell-shave’, the ‘demon’s mouth’, the ‘garland of fire’, the ‘burning hand’, the ‘grass blades’, the ‘bark dress’, the ‘antelope’, the ‘meat hook’, the ‘coins’, the ‘acid pickle’, the ‘twisting bar’, the ‘straw mat’; being splashed with hot oil, being fed to the dogs, being impaled alive, and being beheaded. These result in death and deadly pain. This too is a drawback of sensual pleasures apparent in this very life, a mass of suffering caused by sensual pleasures.

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From Piya Tan’s analysis of MN 14:

Kings then seize them inflicting on them various kinds of torture: having them whipped, caned, clubbed, their hands cut off, their feet cut off, their limbs cut off, their ears cut off, their noses cut off, their ears and noses cut off; having them subjected to the ‘porridge pot’, to the 'polished-shell shave‘, to ‘Rahu‘s mouth’, to the ‘fiery garland’, to the ‘flaming hand’, to the ‘blades of grass’, to the ‘bark dress’, to [being strapped to the ground by an iron ring around each limb, fastened by iron spikes and then surrounded by fire, called the ‘black antelope’, to [having pieces of their flesh cut and hung on] the ‘meat hooks’, to the ‘coins’ [disc-slice], to the ‘lye pickling’ [immersion in strong alkaline solution], to the ‘pivoting pin’ [where a spike is driven in his skull from ear to ear], to the ‘rolledup straw mat’ [being beaten up]; and having them splashed with boiling oil, and having them thrown to the dogs to be devoured, having them impaled alive on stakes, and having their heads cut off with a sword.

The descriptions in brackets come from the commentary (MA, the Majjhima Nikāya Aṭṭhakathā) I believe.

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Thanks, @Christopher.

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eWWWWWWWW!
That people still indulge in Crime despite millennia of harsh laws and harsher punishment says a lot about the power of Sensual Pleasures!
:grimacing: :grimacing: :grimacing:

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And the ineffectiveness of punitive “justice”

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…And to top it all, the injustice of favoritism by those in charge!

SN 42.13
But you can see someone, garlanded and adorned, nicely bathed and anointed, hair and beard dressed, taking his pleasure with women as if he were a king. You might ask someone: ‘Mister, what did that man do?’ And they’d reply: ‘Mister, that man attacked the king’s enemy and killed them. The king was delighted and gave him this reward. That’s why he’s garlanded and adorned, nicely bathed and anointed, hair and beard dressed, taking his pleasure with women as if he were a king.’

Stop the World! I wanna get off… :laughing:

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And just like in real life:

AN3.100:8.1: Take the case of a person who is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.
AN3.100:8.2: While another person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.
AN3.100:9.1: What kind of person is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars?
AN3.100:9.2: A person who is poor, with few possessions and little wealth.
AN3.100:9.3: That kind of person is thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.
AN3.100:10.1: What kind of person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars?
AN3.100:10.2: A person who is rich, affluent, and wealthy.
AN3.100:10.3: That kind of person isn’t thrown in jail for stealing half a dollar, a dollar, or a hundred dollars.
AN3.100:10.4: This is how it is in the case of a person who does a trivial bad deed, but they go to hell.
AN3.100:10.6: Meanwhile, another person does the same trivial bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot. …

AN3.100:13.3: It’s like a sheep dealer or butcher. They can execute, jail, fine, or otherwise punish one person who steals from them, but not another.
AN3.100:14.1: What kind of person can they punish?
AN3.100:14.2: A person who is poor, with few possessions and little wealth.
AN3.100:14.3: That’s the kind of person they can punish.
AN3.100:15.1: What kind of person can’t they punish?
AN3.100:15.2: A person who is rich, affluent, and wealthy.
AN3.100:15.3: That’s the kind of person they can’t punish.
AN3.100:15.4: In fact, all they can do is raise their joined palms and ask:
AN3.100:15.5: ‘Please, good sir, give me my sheep or pay me for it.’
AN3.100:15.6: This is how it is in the case of a person who does a trivial bad deed, but it lands them in hell.
AN3.100:15.7: Meanwhile, another person does the same trivial bad deed, but experiences it in the present life, without even a bit left over, not to speak of a lot. …

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Underappreciated: exactly how cynical the Buddha was when it comes to the application of worldly justice.


The Pali is khārāpatacchika. Cone defines khāra as a saline, corrosive, or alkali, a caustic such as soda or potash. The compound means “a form of torture involving inflicting wounds which are then treated with a caustic fluid”.

IIRC, I used “acid” rather than “lye” as it is more readily understandable as a torture. While the two are chemically opposite, I’m not sure that that distinction was known at the time. But perhaps “caustic” would be better.

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It’s so difficult to read these descriptions and passages. I’m really sensitive, cry easily at movies, an "empath,"etc. Metta and karuna training are immensely helpful. But at the same time is the advice to read these suttas and practice sitting with what arises and develop equanimity, or to guard the sense gates and just not read in the first place?

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Honestly, just skip them! You already have a highly tuned sense of suffering and compassion, and these passages are probably not for you.

Traditionally, the commentaries would usually explain such strong passages by saying they were intended for particularly recalcitrant monks, who the Buddha could not get through to any other way. Rejoice! That’s not you!

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Phew! Thank you Bhante! :pray:

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