In AN 3.70, about the Uposatha (Sabbath) Day, there is a passage referencing Brahma that seems somewhat out of place and that perhaps suggests parts of the original teachings are lost. This passage occurs in the first section of the recollections involving the Buddha and the Buddha’s qualities. These recollections seem to be taught as a means to cleans the mind of defilements on Sabbath Days.
At the end of the section on recollecting the Buddha, the text reads:
And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Realized One: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ As they recollect the Realized One, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. This is called: ‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of Brahmā, living together with Brahmā. And because they think of Brahmā their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.
Why would the Buddha seem to be called Brahma? Is it possible that this is the remnants of a separate recollection that we’re only left with part of? In other words, perhaps the mention of Brahma should go to a separate section involving the recollection of Brahma and his qualities, but we’re missing parts of the original teachings?
Additional evidence supporting this hypothesis is that this sutta does include a section on recollecting devas and the qualities of devas to help cleanse the mind.
Does anyone have any other ideas about the meaning of this passage appearing to link Buddha to Brahma? Perhaps Chinese parallels could shed some light – are you familiar with any of them Charles @cdpatton?
As a side note, Bhante @sujato’s translation of Uposatha as Sabbath helps shed new light on the meaning of the word, similarities between between different cultures, and the universality of perhaps the need for recurring holy days.