Is there a contradiction in the Kevatta Sutta?

Thanks so much for the site, it’s awesome. I’ll add SC integration to our 2-do list!

Sorry I can’t help with the readings, the script is too hard for me. Perhaps @Dheerayupa can help?

No wonder, is seems to be in the archaic Khmer script the Thai people are still keen on using for yantras and the like.

But my maybe it’s just a weird looking Thai script :disappointed_relieved:

The search page on the site offers these possible scripts:

  • Tham Lue
  • Tai Khuen
  • Tham Lao
  • Shan
  • Thai Nithet
  • Thai
  • Burmese
  • Khom
  • Lao Boran

So there’s that. Although in truth, most (all?) of them are closely related, so it’s not as hard as all that. But it takes time to get familiar with them.

Oh, I found it. It’s Tham Lan Na. I will try to look into it tomorrow. It will be slow and painful, but hey, per aspera ad exstinctiōnem :slight_smile:


You my already know this, but Ven Ñāṇananda discusses the idea of the luminous consciousness quite a bit in his Nibbāna sermons and also in his more recent work “The Law of Dependent Arising”.

Just as your asavas, if some of them cease without remainder, you become a stream-enterer.

I think you must mean fetters, as none of the three āsava usually mentioned in the Nikāyas (kāmāsava, bhavāsava, avijjāsava ) cease with stream-entry (although of course sakkāya-diṭṭhi) does). But of course there are lots of terms for the defilements in the suttas that are all realted in one way or the other.

hmmm, I treid to paste this under your appropriate post but it didnt seem to work :confused:

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I have a very complicated relationship with the Venerable’s works. Still, one day I will overcome myself and delve deeper into his books, they are definitely worth it.

Right, thanks for the correction :anjal: I always get a little bit confused when it comes to asavas, fetters, roots and all that stuff :slight_smile:

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Oh, I find his work the most profound outside of the suttas themselves (and of course it’s all based on the suttas). And as you say definitly worth it. In fact, worth reading and re-reading…:anjal:

My impression was always that it is more of a hit and miss. Sometimes brilliant beyond measure, sometimes pretty odd and unconvincing. But I agree, his books are profound and challenging.

So you appear to be saying this is reason why DN suttas, such as the Maha-Nidana Sutta (DN 15) have definitions in them that are different to the stock suttas on the same subject in the other Nikaya (eg. MN 9; SN 12.2). For example, DN 15 excludes ignorance, sankhara & sense-spheres; has a different definition of consciousness, nama-rupa & birth; and does not define aging-&-death. The definition of nama-rupa in DN 15, to me, sounds like the Brahmanistic nama-rupa Bhikkhu Sujato described in his earlier post. Given the omissions in DN 15 of at least three nidanas, I wonder why it is called ‘Great’ when it only has 9 nidana & other suttas have 12 nidana? In your opinion, do such sutta (such as DN 15) still count as being ‘Buddha-Dhamma’ or are they a Brahmanism is disguise?

Due to your clear explanation, I am able to put myself in the brahmins’ shoes or sandals.

In the old translations of Bhikkhu Nanamoli & others, the term ‘nama-rupa’ was generally translated as ‘mentality-materiality’ rather than ‘name-form’, which appears to have recently become fashionable among Western scholars. I do recall Bhikkhu Bodhi explaining somewhere in one of his introductions why he changed from ‘mentality-materiality’ to ‘name-form’.

Sujato. Possibly, you have shed some light on the ‘contradiction’ I sense in the Kevatta Sutta.

Possibly, the term ‘nama-rupa’ can be translated as ‘mentality-materiality’ in the Buddhist contexts, such as Dependent Origination, SN 12.67, etc, and ‘name-form’ in the Brahmanistic contexts, such as the Kevatta Sutta (DN 11; MN 49), Jata Sutta (SN 7.6), etc.

Instead of Bhikkhu Bodhi having to choose one translation over the other, the venerable bhikkhu could use both.

What do we think about that?

Dear Ajahn @sujato and @Vstakan,

I can’t read the script, either. I went to the website you gave for the bilingual Pali-Lao manuscript – the first page explains that the alphabets used are Tai Yuan and the language is Tai Yuan - Pali. The text was recorded in Laos in 1836. This Thai Yuan language is the same asอักษรธรรมล้านนา.

Sorry that I cannot be of much help. :cry:

With much respect,



I don’t think it’s as simple as that. DN was primarily a text collection for Non-Buddhists, but it doesn’t mean no other texts could be added to it earlier or later for any other reason. Take the two last Suttas in DN: they are just long lists of Dhamma topics. DN 15, due to its highly speculative doctrinal contents could not be possibly directed at the non-Buddhist audience. If I would show it to my girlfriend, she wouldn’t really understand much, whereas she could easily connect to much of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.

How, why and when DN 15 was compiled and how it can be compared to other Suttas is a difficult question that I am not really ready to answer without first consulting any papers on its Chinese Agama counterparts. Unfortunately, I have no information on such papers except this one by Bucknell :sweat: Anyway, I should warn you I am very sceptic about how unconvincing Bucknell’s arguments are: the shorter version of the Dependent Origination fits the teachings by Venerable Sariputta so nicely it can hardly be a coincidence. Besides, as I said multiple times elsewhere, in my opinion it is crucial that the Buddha says ‘to this extent designations etc. go’, as if specifying the difference between the shorter and longer DO formulae. In other words, I think, it may well be possible the first two nidanas cannot be satisfyingly described linguistically. And don’t forget there is one more deviating DO formula, in the Udana, a book that is scarcely Brahminical.

Just as I mentioned above, I don’t think specifically DN 15 is ‘Brahmanism in disguise’ because it fits so perfectly with Ven. Sariputta’s simile of two bundles supporting each other and otherwise doesn’t contradict the Buddhadhamma in any way, neither does it disavow the longer version. Honestly, I know of no Sutta that is Brahminical (even though my competence is limited), but I know of certain interpretations of Suttas that are kinda itty-bitty Brahminical, and the Original Mind or vinnana-nibbana theories kinda smack of, you know, the Upanishads :slight_smile:

Thanks for your help, it is very much appreciated! :anjal:

Well, looks like tomorrow I will have to make a nice pot of coffee and slowly decipher or try to decipher the manuscript with p. 65 in one hand and the Lanna character table in the other one. It won’t actually be that bad: I need only a couple of neighbouring words to see if my identification of the page as the end of DN 11 was correct :grin:

Those works I find very long & difficult to read. I am not a very good reader. In the context of my reading of those works being not complete, my impression of those works is they appear to focus on the cessation of thinking (‘sankhara’) as here-&-now Nibbana rather than the cessation of craving.

There must be a difference between cessation of thinking & cessation of craving since, I imagine, a mind free from craving can remain in here-&-now Nibbana and continue to think when necessary; where as a mind in ‘non-thinking-Nibbana’ must enter & exit Nibbana when simply talking.

I read Concept & Reality once (or maybe Magic of the Mind) &, at the time, it did not make sense to me because it seemed to keep emphasising non-thinking & non-perception as Nibbana.

A definition of Nibbana I read in MN 26 refers to ‘calming of all sankhara’ (sabbasaṅkhārasamatho) & destruction of craving (taṇhakkhayo) where as I have gained the impression those works focus on 'sabbasaṅkhārakkhayo ’ (destruction of thought concepts).

Hmm, I didn’t quite get the same impression from his work. He does talk quite a bit about papañca… AN 8.30 is a lovely sutta showing the connection between nonproliferation and nibbāna.

There must be a difference between cessation of thinking & cessation of craving

Of course, I agree. For example thinking ceases in jhana, which of course is not Nibbāna

I would say non-proliferation does not necessarily mean ‘non-thinking’. In my experience, thinking alone does not proliferate. Instead, proliferation of superficial thinking is driven by proliferation of underlying ignorance, craving & the energy of other defilements. Therefore, here-&-now Nibbana will always be the destruction of craving (greed, hatred & delusion) and ‘non-proliferation’ is not something different to the end of craving.

In my opinion, a different ‘core teaching’ will not be found in small obscure suttas tucked away in a corner of the Nikayas which may use different terms/words that are somehow misconstrued due to translations. I think the ending of the Kevatta Sutta is similar to this. The same verse is found in MN 49, another adventure with Brahma gods.

I would like to thank everyone for their contributions. I have come to the personal conclusion the verse about ‘luminous consciousness’ was a teaching specifically for Brahmans rather than about Nibbana. It seems like the Buddha essentially instructed these Brahmans & Brahma Gods to give up their Brahmanistic pre-occupation with Brahmanistic ‘nama-rupa’, i.e., believing their naming of rupa was an essential dharma.

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