"War against mental defilements (or mind) is more difficult than a war against all armies of the world"

I have heard long ago from a forgotten source that the Buddha one time said “war against mental defilements (or mind) is more difficult than a war against all armies of the world.”

Tried to find this in Pali scriptures but whatever I get is not as explicit as this. Maximum I get a mention that monks should wage war against their defilements (no comparison with a war against all armies of the world).

I might remember this quote wrong, it might not exist anywhere in any scripture. But I still believe that I really heard it from a trustworthy source. Can anybody help me get the exact (or the closest) quote in the Pali texts?



Is this what you are thinking of?

One may conquer a thousand men a thousand times in a battle,
but having conquered one’s own self, one would surely be supreme in battle.
Dhammapada 106 SuttaCentral


Searching for “victory” in Voice, I get: SuttaCentral Voice

Searching for “victory” in SC, I get: SuttaCentral

The closest are perhaps:

AN5.75:17.1: Seyyathāpi so, bhikkhave, yodhājīvo sahati rajaggaṁ, sahati dhajaggaṁ, sahati ussāraṇaṁ, sahati sampahāraṁ, so taṁ saṅgāmaṁ abhivijinitvā vijitasaṅgāmo tameva saṅgāmasīsaṁ ajjhāvasati;
AN5.75:17.1: I say that this person is like the warrior who can prevail over a cloud of dust and a banner’s crest and turmoil and being struck. He wins victory in battle, establishing himself as foremost in battle.


SN45.4:4.2: “imasseva kho etaṁ, ānanda, ariyassa aṭṭhaṅgikassa maggassa adhivacanaṁ:
SN45.4:4.2: “These are all terms for the noble eightfold path:
SN45.4:4.3: ‘brahmayānaṁ’ itipi, ‘dhammayānaṁ’ itipi, ‘anuttaro saṅgāmavijayo’ itipīti.
SN45.4:4.3: ‘vehicle of Brahmā’, or else ‘vehicle of truth’, or else ‘supreme victory in battle’.

Found nothing really new by searching for “victor” or “win”, nor for “warrior”.


With “conquer” I still find:

SN35.103:3.1: Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sabbajī hoti?
SN35.103:3.1: And how is a mendicant a conqueror of all?
SN35.103:3.2: Yato kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu channaṁ phassāyatanānaṁ samudayañca atthaṅgamañca assādañca ādīnavañca nissaraṇañca yathābhūtaṁ viditvā anupādāvimutto hoti;
SN35.103:3.2: It’s when a mendicant comes to be freed by not grasping after truly understanding these six sense fields’ origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape.
SN35.103:3.3: evaṁ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sabbajī hoti.
SN35.103:3.3: That’s how a mendicant is a conqueror of all.


Thank you both very much. This is more than I expected.

Sadhu sadhu sadhu. :heart: