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Sutta where Buddha informed a Brahma what the Brahma did to become a Brahma?

I think the Buddha says that he understands what the Brahma did in order to become a Brahma - one of the things was that the Buddha himself was a student of that Brahma in a past life, and that Brahma thought of him as a “pious” or “devout” student or something along these lines.

Can anyone identify and locate this sutta? Thank you in advance. :pray:

Edit: The sutta might have said something along these lines:
“I remember coming across a sutta where the Buddha had a face to face meeting with the Brahma and the Brahma challenged him, I think, to try to disappear. The Brahma was unable to disappear, but the Buddha was.”
but I can’t seem to remember if it actually did, since the sutta that I had in mind, shared below, didn’t include the answer to the above question.

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The following is suggestive but not directly related:

DN16:3.23.1: I recall having approached an assembly of hundreds of brahmins … Brahmās. There too I used to sit with them, converse, and engage in discussion. And my appearance and voice became just like theirs. I educated, encouraged, fired up, and inspired them with a Dhamma talk. But when I spoke they didn’t know: ‘Who is this that speaks? Is it a god or a human?’ And when my Dhamma talk was finished I vanished. But when I vanished they didn’t know: ‘Who was that who vanished? Was it a god or a human?’

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This may be the one, imo:

On the Invitation of Brahmā
MN 49


Well look now, good sir, I will vanish from you!’

‘All right, then, Brahmā, vanish from me—if you can.’
Then Baka the Brahmā said, ‘I will vanish from the ascetic Gotama! I will vanish from the ascetic Gotama!’ But he was unable to vanish from me.
So I said to him, ‘Well look now, Brahmā, I will vanish from you!’

‘All right, then, good sir, vanish from me—if you can.’

Then I used my psychic power to will that my voice would extend so that Brahmā, his assembly, and his retinue would hear me, but they would not see me. And while invisible I recited this verse:

‘Seeing the danger in continued existence—
that life in any existence will cease to be—
I didn’t welcome any kind of existence, 
and didn’t grasp at relishing.’

Then Brahmā, his assembly, and his retinue, their minds full of wonder and amazement, thought, ‘It’s incredible, it’s amazing! The ascetic Gotama has such psychic power and might! We’ve never before seen or heard of any other ascetic or brahmin with psychic power and might like the ascetic Gotama, who has gone forth from the Sakyan clan. Though people enjoy continued existence, loving it so much, he has extracted it down to its root.’


  • 5 parallels

  • Is it EBT?
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And another…

SN6.5:1.2: Now at that time a certain Brahmā had the following harmful misconception:
SN6.5:1.3: “No ascetic or brahmin can come here!”
SN6.5:1.4: Then the Buddha knew what that Brahmā was thinking. As easily as a strong person would extend or contract their arm, he vanished from Jeta’s Grove and reappeared in that Brahmā realm.

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And then when Brahmā finally gave up and said “I can’t find you,” the Buddha was on top of his head the whole time? I know that story. It’s popular in India. I don’t know where it’s from.

Looking at the above, it might be MN 49?

I think that this is the one that I had in mind when I initially asked the question, but it seems that my memory was faulty - I am looking for a sutta where the Buddha tells a Brahma what are the reasons and actions that that being undertook, as a result of which he ended up becoming a Brahma.

I think one of the reasons listed was that the Brahma thought and regarded the Buddha (in his previous life) as a “pious or devout student.”

You found the sutta that I had in mind - but due to my mistaken description, I think it isn’t the one that I was looking for - where the Buddha provides the reasons for why or how a Brahma was able to end up becoming a Brahma.

While this particular sutta wasn’t what I had in mind, I can definitely see the similarities. It’s always nice to read another sutta anyway.

This sounds vaguely familiar :thinking: I am forgetting whether this was from a sutta or not though.

I am looking for the one where the Buddha identifies the reasons why a Brahma ended up becoming a Brahma.

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https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/did-the-buddha-invent-trolling/3526

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That reminds me of DN1, which describes how the first inhabitant of the Brahma realm identifies with the singularity of being Brahma, especially when loneliness sets in and others appear to acclaim the first as the Brahma:

DN1:2.3.1: There comes a time when, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos expands. As it expands an empty mansion of Brahmā appears. Then a certain sentient being—due to the running out of their life-span or merit—passes away from that host of radiant deities and is reborn in that empty mansion of Brahmā (…)

What’s remarkable about this portrayal is that the arising of a Brahma coincides with the passing away from radiant deities in a sort of devolution.

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It was in DN 19 that a Brahma taught the bodhisatta

I’m in doubt, so I ask Brahmā—who is free of doubt—
about things one may learn from another.
Standing on what, training in what
may a mortal reach the deathless Brahmā realm?

And probably the other sutta you mean is SN 6.4 where Brahma Baka asks the Buddha:

What precepts and observances did I practice in the past? Explain to me so I can understand.
You gave drink to many people who were oppressed by thirst and heat…

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In DN 13 the Buddha is teaching the path that leads to Brahmā, but not to a Brahmā, but to a brahmin (after first describing what doesn’t lead to Brahmā):

4. Teaching the Path to Brahmā

The Buddha said this:

“It’s when a Realized One arises in the world, perfected, a fully awakened Buddha … That’s how a mendicant is accomplished in ethics. … Seeing that the hindrances have been given up in them, joy springs up. Being joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when blissful, the mind becomes immersed.

They meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

Suppose there was a powerful horn blower. They’d easily make themselves heard in the four directions. In the same way, when the heart’s release by love has been developed and cultivated like this, any limited deeds they’ve done don’t remain or persist there. This is a path to companionship with Brahmā.

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates spreading a heart full of compassion …

They meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing …

They meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

Suppose there was a powerful horn blower. They’d easily make themselves heard in the four directions. In the same way, when the heart’s release by equanimity has been developed and cultivated like this, any limited deeds they’ve done don’t remain or persist there. This too is a path to companionship with Brahmā.

What do you think, Vāseṭṭha? When a mendicant meditates like this, are they possessive or not?”

“They are not.”

“Is their heart full of enmity or not?”

“It is not.”

“Is their heart full of ill will or not?”

“It is not.”

“Is their heart corrupted or not?”

“It is not.”

“Do they wield power or not?”

“They do.”

“So it seems that that mendicant is not possessive, and neither is Brahmā. Would a mendicant who is not possessive come together and converge with Brahmā, who isn’t possessive?”

“Yes, Master Gotama.”

“Good, Vāseṭṭha! It’s possible that a mendicant who is not possessive will, when the body breaks up, after death, be reborn in the company of Brahmā, who isn’t possessive.

And it seems that that mendicant has no enmity, ill will, corruption, and does wield power, while Brahmā is the same in all these things. Would a mendicant who is the same as Brahmā in all things come together and converge with him?”

“Yes, Master Gotama.”

“Good, Vāseṭṭha! It’s possible that that mendicant will, when the body breaks up, after death, be reborn in the company of Brahmā.”

Yes, that too is an explanation how Brahmā Baka got where he is now; but less systematic than the one mentioned above.

What precepts and observances did I practice in the past?
Explain to me so I can understand.”

“You gave drink to many people
who were oppressed by thirst and heat.
They’re the precepts and observances you practiced in the past.
I recollect it like one who has wakened from sleep.

When people at Deer River Bank were seized,
you released the captives as they were led away.
That’s the precepts and observances you practiced in the past.
I recollect it like one who has wakened from sleep.

When a boat on the Ganges River was seized
by a fierce dragon desiring human flesh,
you freed it wielding mighty force.
That’s the precepts and observances you practiced in the past.
I recollect it like one who has wakened from sleep.

I used to be your servant named Kappa.
You thought he was intelligent and loyal.
That’s the precepts and observances you practiced in the past.
I recollect it like one who has wakened from sleep.”

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This is the one that I had in mind when I asked the question. However, it was not the one that had the part that I had in mind.

The former seems to be about how to be reborn in the company of a Brahma as opposed to how a particular Brahma was taught by the Buddha regarding how he was able to become a Brahma.

Yes, this is the correct one:

Thank you everyone who attempted to find the answer to this question. I appreciate all of the attempts!
:pray::slightly_smiling_face::pray::slightly_smiling_face::pray::slightly_smiling_face:

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While it does not tell you how to become the head of the group, AN4.123 tells how jhanas takes you to a rebirth among Brahma’s host and beyond.

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