Impermanence and Vepullapabbata sutta (Life span and climbing time)

In Vepullapabbatasutta,
Vepullapabbatasutta (edited)
You can find comparison of Vepulla rock from deferent eras with diferent life spans and time taken to climb the rock is different in Vepullapabbatasutta.

  1. The Tivaras - life span of 40000 years
    Climbed the rock in 4 days and descend it in 4 days.

  2. The Rohitassaes - life span of 30000 years. climbed the rock in 3 days and descended it in 3 days.

  3. The Suppiyas - life span of 20000 years.Climbed the Supassa rock in 2 days and descended it in 2 days.

  4. The life span of the Magadhians is very short ~100 years
    Climb the Vepulla rock in a moment and descend it in a moment.

I. Increased body size makes them slow, if so why?
II. Height of the Vepulla peak decreased with the time, if so how?

What are the possible explainations to this example which was used to explain impermanence of the world?

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Wow, your link points to a very old translation.

The link to change Sujato’s more recent translation is here:

Interesting sutta by the way. I feel it is hard to say for sure why the lifespans are so randomly huge but I totally get the point of using the effects of erosion as a indicator of impermanence.

This morning I went for a hike here in western Australia and was reminded that 450 million years ago Australia and all other continents were all lumped into one single massive continent (what now is India was right next to what now is Australia!) and some of the rocks I was looking at were already around by when that was the case.

That gave me some perspective of how massive is the timescale in which the planet exists.

And made me wonder if the rocks I saw in front of me, few metres above sea level, were back then part of a massive mountain or volcano! To me that is all about impermanence!



Any ideas about body size and the life span?
Of cause the planet kept changing for millions of years, however, I wonder about the continuous existance of Humans on the planet from the origin of the planet as explained in agganna sutta.

Don’t know what to think about the lifespans. I wonder if it was part of the mythos of ancient India the idea that people were living shorter and shorter lives and then when looking into the past everyone expected stories to mention very long lifespans. A similar thing seems to happen in the Christian texts which indicate that the first generations had lived long lives?

Also, given the distant past those people are placed, in eons of previous Buddha’s, maybe these were not necessarily humans, but combination of five clinging aggregates which experienced samsara in a similar way to our species?

The Buddha didn’t explain impermanence, he just declared it at the start of the sutta:

Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning.

All the examples just point out that a longer life still ends (so don’t dally!) and that acceptance of impermanent conditions in this very life results in:

their stilling is true bliss

Therefore this sutta is an instruction, not an explanation.

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Well, I suppose mountains do wear down over huge periods of geological time due to erosion. What was once a Himalaya-sized mountain could eventually end up a mere foothill like Vulture’s Peak.

There is also the nearby sutta SN15.5 that defines an eon in terms of wearing down a mountain with the rub of a fine cloth every 100 years (though I’d reckon natural erosion would do it a whole lot faster! :slight_smile: ):

“Suppose there was a huge stone mountain, a league long, a league wide, and a league high, with no cracks or holes, one solid mass. And as each century passed someone would stroke it with a fine cloth from Kāsī. By this means the huge stone mountain would be worn away before the eon comes to an end. That’s how long an eon is.