Which is the real ending of MN1? Bhikkhus ... delighted at the Buddha's words, ... or not?

Hello, :anjal:

Which is the real [or more probable] ending of MN1?

… delighted at the Buddha’s words,
… or not?

IB Horner ( and similarly in Bengali & French translations)

Thus spoke the Lord. Delighted, these monks rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Not delighted
B. Bodhi, ( and similarly in B. Sujato, Thannissaro B., Czech, German, Burmese, Spanish, Sinhala, Chinese translations)

That is what the Blessed One said, but those bhikkhus did not delight in the Blessed One’s words.

Remaining languages of 22 available on SC — not searched yet.

Some explanations, imo.

Spanish (google translate)

This is what the Blessed One said, but these monks did not delight in the words of the Blessed One.

The translator proposes to consider another possible interpretation, according to which the monks have perfectly understood and accepted this message and knew how to assimilate it par excellence: they did not delight in the Buddha’s words, because according to what he expounded here –in its shortened version of the exposition of conditional origin - delight, even in states as sublime as the base of infinite space, the base of infinite consciousness, etc., is ultimately the cause of dissatisfaction (dukkha). Furthermore, going back to the beginning of the sutta, it is precisely “the ordinary, uneducated person” who is characterized by the enjoyment of delight at all times. “The disciple who follows the course of perfection” is advised not to delight and, from the first arahant, delight has already been completely eliminated.

French (google translate)

Thus spoke the Lord.

The monks were satisfied with the words of the Lord and they rejoiced.

The commentary says, on the contrary, that the monks were not satisfied with the words of the Lord and that they did not rejoice in them. They said to themselves: "Ordinary beings perceive the earth as earth while the monks who practice, the Accomplished and the Tathagata know it directly. What does this mean ? we do not understand it when we have so far learned and easily understood everything that the Lord told us. " Their sense of superiority faded, they regained the respect due to the Lord and began to come to consult him again.

Later the Lord explained to other monks that he had already in the past lowered the pride of these monks of Brahmin origin, and he narrated to them the Mûlapariyâyajâtaka, where there is question of an eminent Brahmin who transmits everything his knowledge to his students, and they end up believing him his equals, but the guru submits to them two puzzles that they cannot solve, which puts them in their place.

The story does not end there. Subsequently the Lord went to Vesali. There he saw that these monks had matured and he said to them the Gotamakasutta (AN I 276) which this time rightly ends with the assertion that the monks were satisfied with the words of the Lord and that they rejoiced.

Burmese (My Summary of burmese explanation). Words in […] are my additions.

In some pali variants, ended in “delighted”. However, here, Buddha intended just to lessen the pride of the Bhikkhus, not aiming for their [thorough] understanding and [immediate] enlightenment [because their minds are not ripe enough yet], translated according to commentary.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

If the listeners present at this discourse were indeed interested in fitting Buddhist teachings into a Samkhyan mold, then it’s small wonder that they were displeased — one of the few places where we read of a negative reaction to the Buddha’s words. They had hoped to hear his contribution to their project, but instead they hear their whole pattern of thinking & theorizing attacked as ignorant & ill-informed. The Commentary tells us, though, they were later able to overcome their displeasure and eventually attain Awakening on listening to the discourse reported in AN 3.123.

Mulapariyaya Sutta: The Root Sequence



I. B. Horner translated the PTS version of the Pāli root text. And PTS version lacks the negator (na) in the sentence.

But Cattasangāyana , Buddha Jayanti (sinhalese) and Mahasangiti versions are having the negator.

That is why the difference.
Cattasangāyana version:
Na te bhikkhū bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti.
Na attamanā te bhikkhū
PTS version;
Attamanā te bhikkhū bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti


If we go by Lectio difficilior potior, then it is the negative reading which would be the most ancient.


The Agama sutra that closely parallels MN 1 is EA 44.6, and it gives a bit more detail. It says that the monks who heard the discourse didn’t accept it and said that it was a teaching of Mara. The Buddha then “put his foot down” (so to speak), saying that this really is the teaching of Buddhas and that they should accept it. Then it ends as most sutras do with the monks rejoicing and accepting the discourse.


The sense of it being that the monks weren’t happy, because it is such a radical and ‘opposite’ teaching to what one imagines (delusion view)… Only when it is penetrated does one realise that it brings liberation from suffering - ‘this teaching is hard to see and hard to penetrate’ it literally goes ‘against the grain’ :pray:


Wow, that’s very dramatic and unexpected! Is there any formal study or analysis of such variation in translation?


I :heart: MN1. It is absolutely delightful, especially in the monk’s non-delight, which is quite the punchline that made me laugh when I read it. I read it first in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation, which gives:

delight is the root of suffering

That itself was amazing, provocative and insightful. And the monk’s consternation and unhappiness simply emphasizes that very crucial point. Note that if the monks had delighted in what the Buddha said, it would have ruined the sutta! :wink:

Indeed, whenever I explain Buddhism to others, I usually get blank looks if I say, “delight is the root of suffering.” It’s quite hilarious actually, since those faces looking back at me exactly mirror the faces of the monks from 2500 years ago. Indeed, I bet that even today some Buddhist monks would have the same look of consternation at reading that delight is the root of suffering for the first time. It’s not an obvious statement, as “common sense” suggests that delights can be relished without suffering. In this case, common sense would be wrong. Delight and relishing are the root of suffering.

MN1 pierces a core delusion. It pierces the delusion that relishing without suffering is possible. I suppose that with further practice I’ll even stop relishing MN1. Unfortunately, it still makes me giggle.


It also made me laugh. On reading MN1 yesterday, I didn’t feel delighted, thinking “this sutta is just too deep for me”, until seeing the last sentence stating the monks also did not delight at Buddha’s words.

I’m not alone in the dark, after all :smile:

Edit [added]:

MN1: one of the deepest and most difficult suttas in the Pali Canon.


Bhikkhu Analayo on MN1 and EA44.6

------------------ Another similar case is the 想經 in the Madhyama-āgama, which Akanuma (1990, 163) reckons a parallel to the Mūlapariyāya-sutta of the Majjhima-nikāya.31 While the Mūlapariyāya- sutta describes the perceptual reactions of worldlings, disciples in higher trainings, arahants and a Tathāgata, the 想經 discusses two types of recluses/ Brahmins and the Buddha. Other differences are that the Pāli discourse includes nibbāna in the range of objects for such perceptual reactions and concludes by noting that the listening monks were not pleased with the Buddha’s ex­position,32 a rather unusual conclusion to a discourse. While the 想經 disagrees in all these respects, a discourse in the Ekottarika-āgama, the 一切諸法之本經,33 agrees with the Mūlapariyāya-sutta in examining worldlings, disciples in higher trainings, arahants, and a Tathāgata; it also includes nibbāna in its range of objects; and it also reports that the monks did not delight in the Buddha’s ex­position. 34 The agreement between the Ekottarika-āgama 一切 諸法之本經 and the Mūlapariyāya-sutta suggests that the considerably different presentation given in the Madhyama-āgama 想經, found also in an individual translation,35 probably goes back to a different occasion.

Thus these two discourses from the Madhyama-āgama, the 意行經 and the 想經, do not really fit the idea of a ‘parallel’, since in spite of considerable similarity in the theme of their exposition with the corresponding Majjhima-nikāya discourses, the differences make it improbable that the Chinese and Pāli versions derive from the same original occasion. ------------------
From footnotes: 34 EĀ 44.6 at T 125, 766b15. A somewhat similar episode, with a group of monks being unable to appreciate a teaching given by the Buddha, can be found in the Kāśyapaparivarta, cf. the Sanskrit edition by Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya (2002, 48), folio 69 verso line 2-3 (§138); Chinese versions in T 310, 637b13; T 350, 193b15; T 351, 199b26; T 352, 214c21; a Khotanese version in Skjærvø (2003, 417); and a Tibetan version at D dkon brtsegs, cha 146b6.


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Just found this previous thread [with 28 replies/discussion].


Thanks a lot.

Then it is the more likely answer, imo, together with the followings from Bhikkhu Brahmali and Bhikkhu Analayo, regarding “lectio difficilior potior”.

by Bhikkhu Brahmali

by Bhikkhu Anālayo
from — Madhyama-āgama Studies

The unusual conclusion of the Mūlapariyāya-sutta, which re- ports that the monks did not delight in the discourse, and the probable reasons why this conclusion is not found in the Madh- yama-āgama version.

The Conclusion of the Mūlapariyāya-sutta

In relation to the unusual concluding section of the Mūlapari-yāya-sutta, according to which the monks did not delight in the Buddha’s exposition, Minh Chau (1991: 204) notes that the discourses identified by Akanuma (1929/1990: 163) as the parallel versions – a discourse in the Madhyama-āgama and an individual translation – instead employ the standard conclusion to a discourse, namely, that the monks were delighted with the Buddha’s exposition. Thich Minh Chau then reasons that the negation na “might have been used to earmark its [the discourse’s] expunging from the Pāli Tipiṭaka, but the later Pāli compilers forgot to do so”. Yet, that the monks did not delight in the discourse is also recorded in an Ekottarika-āgama parallel to the Mūlapariyāya-sutta.

This rather unusual ending was also known to the Pāli com- mentators, who provide an explanation for it. They report that the Buddha had preached this discourse to humble the pride of a group of five hundred monks. The monks did not delight in the discourse, the commentary explains, because they were unable to understand what the Buddha had taught them. On this explanation, their unusual reaction could indeed have been part of the discourse right from its outset.

The Pāli editions of the Mūlapariyāya-sutta do in fact vary, as according to the PTS edition the monks did delight in the exposition given by the Buddha on this occasion. This difference be- tween texts within the Theravāda tradition suggests an explana- tion that might also apply to the parallels to the Mūlapariyāya- sutta found in the Madhyama-āgama and in an individual transla- tion, in that the natural levelling tendency of oral transmission or else the influence of editors or translators led to a ‘correction’ of the concluding section in accordance with the standard phrase employed at the end of all other discourses: the monks delighted in what the Buddha said.

In other words, the lack of delight of the monks as the more unusual reading, lectio difficilior, is in this case likely to be the more original version and there seems to be no need to assume that it expresses a wish to erase the discourse from the Majjhima- nikāya collection.

So, The more probable answer to the OP would be according to “lectio difficilior”.

That is:

those bhikkhus 
did 'Not' delight in 
the Blessed One’s words.



Yes, the Madhyama Sutra is similar in its content, but it doesn’t have the same intro or conclusion, while EA 44.6 matches the Pali closely both in content and narrative. I think it confirms that the Pali conclusion should be that the monks weren’t delighted.


That sounds interesting Is there a translation of EA 44.6 available?


Of course, I’ve got one.
Unfortunately, it was done by google just two days ago :roll_eyes:

Ekottarāgama 增壹阿含經
44.6 (六)法之本


一時,佛在優迦羅竹園中,與大 比丘眾五百人俱。

爾時,世尊告諸比丘:「我今 與汝當說妙法,初善、中善、竟善,義理深邃, 清淨修行梵行,此經名曰一切諸法之本。汝 等善思念之。」

諸比丘對曰:「如是。世尊!」是時, 諸比丘從佛受教。

佛告之曰:「彼云何名為 一切諸法之本?於是,比丘!凡夫之人不覩 賢聖之教,亦不掌護如來言教,不親近善 知識,不受善知識言教。彼觀此地如實 知之,此是地如審是地;如實是地,亦復是 水,亦復是火,亦復是風,四事合以為人,愚 者之所娛樂。天自知為天,樂於天中天; 梵天自知為梵天,大梵自知為大梵,無能 出者;光音天還自相知由光音天來;遍淨天 自知為遍淨天;果實天自知為果實天而 不錯亂;阿毘耶陀天自知為阿毘耶陀天; 空處天自知為空處天;識處天自知為識 處天;不用處天自知為不用處天;有想無想處天自知為有想無想處天;見者自知為 見;聞者自知為聞;欲者自知為欲;智者 自知為智;一類自知為一類;若干類自知 為若干類;悉具足自知為悉具足;涅槃自 知為涅槃,於中而自娛樂。所以然者,非 智者之所說也。

「若聖弟子往覲聖人,承受 其法,與善知識從事,恒親近善知識,觀此 地種皆悉分明,知所來處,亦不著於地,無 有污染之心。水、火、風亦復如是。人、天、梵王、 光音、遍淨、果實、阿毘耶陀天、空處、識處、不用 處、有想無想處,見、聞、念、知,一種、若干種,乃至 於涅槃,亦不著於涅槃,不起涅槃之想。所 以然者,皆由善分別、善觀察。若彼比丘漏 盡阿羅漢,所作已辦,捨於重擔,盡生死原 本,平等解脫,彼能分別地種,都不起想 著。地種、人、天、梵王,乃至有想無想處,亦復如 是。至於涅槃,不著涅槃,不起涅槃之想。 所以然者,皆由壞婬、怒、癡之所致也。比 丘當知,如來、至真、等正覺善能分別於地,亦 不著於地種,不起地種之想。所以然者,皆由破愛網之所致,因有有生,因生有 老死,皆悉除盡,是故如來成最正覺。」佛說 此語時,是時諸比丘不受其教。所以然 者,由魔波旬閉塞心意故。

「此經名曰一切 諸法之本,我今具足說之。諸佛世尊所應 修行,我今已具足施行。汝等當念閑居樹 下,端意坐禪,思惟妙義。今不為者,後悔無 益。此是我之教誡也。」

爾時,諸比丘聞佛所 說,歡喜奉行。

Google translate


44.6 (Six) The Basis of Law

Wen Rushi:

At one time, the Buddha was in the Yugaro Bamboo Garden, with 500 people in Dabiqiu.

In the meantime, Shizun told Zhuqiu: "I and Ru should talk about the magical law, the first, the middle, the actually good, the profound reasoning, and the pure practice of Brahman. This is the name of all the laws. "

The bhikkhus said, “If so. The Supreme!” At that time, the bhikkhus were taught from the Buddha.

The Buddha said: "What is the name of the cloud of all the laws? So, bhikkhu! People of ordinary people do not know the teachings of the sages, they do not guard the teachings of Lai Lai, they are not close to the good knowledge, they are not taught by the good knowledge. Observe this place as it is known, this is the place as the trial is the ground; the truth is the ground, it is also water, it is fire, it is wind again, the four things make people together, the fool’s entertainment. Heaven knows itself as heaven, happy Heaven is in heaven; Brahma knows himself as Brahma, Da Brahma knows as Brahma, the incompetent; Guangyin Tian also knows that he comes from Guangyin Tian; Bian Jingtian knows as Bian Jingtian; Fruit Tian knows as fruit The sky is confusing and chaotic; Abiyetuo knows himself as Abiyetuo; If you want to know what you want, you know what you want to know; if you see what you want, see what you see; if you see it, you know it; if you know it, you know it; if you want it, you know it; There are several types of self-knowledge; self-knowledge is self-knowledge; nirvana knows nirvana, and entertains itself in the middle. Therefore, those who are not wise also say.

"If a saint disciple goes to a saint, accepts his law, engages with good knowledge, and stays close to good knowledge, he knows all the things here, knows where they come from, and does n’t touch the ground. There is no pollution. Water, fire, The wind is the same. People, heaven, the King of Brahma, Guangyin, Bianjing, fruit, Abhiedot, the sky, the place of knowledge, the place of need, the place of thought, see, smell, read, know, one kind Several kinds, even Nirvana, do n’t focus on Nirvana, ca n’t afford Nirvana’s thoughts. Therefore, all of them are distinguished and observed by kindness. If Bibiqiu misses all Arahant, what he has done, give up the burden, and live and die, Equal liberation, he can plant separately, can’t think about it. The land species, man, heaven, the King of Brahma, even if there is no thought, it is the same. As for Nirvana, Nirvana can not be thought of. Those who are caused by bad sex, anger, and infatuation. Bhikkhu knows that, such as coming, true, etc., the righteousness and goodness can be separated from the ground, and not be planted on the ground. All are caused by the broken love network, because there is life, because of life and old death, all know that the division is complete, so it is the most correct way to come When the Buddha said this, it was the time that the bhikkhus were not taught. Therefore, the intention is blocked by Mobo Xun.

"The name of this scripture says the basis of all the Dharma, I have enough to say today. The Buddhas should practice, I have enough to do it now. You should wait to sit under the tree, sit on the meditative mind, and think of the righteousness. If you do n’t do it today, regret it. Useless. This is also my teaching. "

At that time, Zhu Qiu heard the Buddha said that he rejoiced.

Regarding google translations, I recently noticed koan-ish power in them, for a good and square satori.

Here is a snippet of MN1 in Burmese, google translated. Simply too deep; deeper than the original; deeper than the works of Ven. Nanananda :smile:

Bhikkhus, the Tathagata, who knows the Dhamma for the sake of receiving special gifts, also knows the ground as the ground. He knoweth not the ground: but knoweth the ground, and knoweth it not.



I don’t see a digital version unfortunately, but there is a translation:

Bhikkhu Pasadika ‘The Ekottarāgama Parallel to the Mūlapariyāyasutta’. The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies 9: 141–149.


OK, thanks!
The tables of contents are here:

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