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Sutta Nipata

Sutta Nipāta 1.10 Ālavaka Sutta
Discourse to Ālavaka the Demon

The Supreme Buddha defeats the Demon Ālavaka with the power of his wisdom.

Thus have I heard: On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Ālavi, in the abode of the demon Ālavaka. At that time, the demon Ālavaka approached the Blessed One, and on arrival, said to the Blessed One:

“Get out, you recluse.” Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went out.

“Come in, you recluse.” Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went in.

“Get out, you recluse,” said the demon Ālavaka to the Blessed One a second time. Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went out.

“Come in, you recluse.” Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went in.

“Get out, you recluse,” said the demon Ālavaka to the Blessed One a third time. Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went out.

“Come in, you recluse.” Saying, “Very well, friend,” the Blessed One went in.

“Get out, you recluse,” said the demon Ālavaka to the Blessed One a fourth time. “No, oh friend, I will not go out. Do what you will.”

“Oh recluse, I am going to ask you questions. If you do not answer me, I will drive you insane, or split your heart, or grab your feet and throw you across the river.”

“Well, oh friend, I do not see anyone in this world with its devās, with its Māras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brāhmins, with its devās and humans, who could either drive me insane, or split my heart, or grab my feet and throw me across the river. Nevertheless, friend, ask what you will.”

Then the demon Ālavaka addressed the Blessed One in verse:

“What wealth here is best for man? What well practiced will bring happiness? What is the sweetest of all tastes? How lived is the life they say is best?”

The Buddha:

“Faith is the wealth here best for man; Dhamma well practised shall bring happiness; truth indeed is the sweetest of all tastes; one living life with wisdom, they say is best.”

Ālavaka:

“How does one cross over the flood? How does one cross over the ocean? How does one overcome suffering? How is one’s life purified?”

The Buddha:

“By faith one crosses over the flood; by diligence is the ocean crossed; by effort one overcomes suffering; by wisdom one’s life is purified.”

Ālavaka:

“How does one gain wisdom? How does one obtain wealth? How does one achieve fame? How does one win many friends? When passing from this world to the next, how does one not sorrow?”

The Buddha:

“When Arahants teach the Dhamma leading to Nibbāna, if one listens to that Dhamma with close attention and confident mind, and investigates that Dhamma diligently, then, in this way, one wins wisdom.

“Doing what is proper, being dutiful, and exerting effort, one obtains wealth. By truthfulness one achieves fame; by giving gifts one wins many friends.

“If a faithful householder is truthful, wise, energetic, and fond of giving, by virtue of these four qualities, he will not sorrow when he passes on.

“If you wish, ask of other recluses and brāhmins, if there is anything better in this world than truth, self-control generosity, and patience.”

Ālavaka:

“Why should I now ask other recluses and brāhmins, when today I learned of all factors that lead to happiness in this life and the next?

“Indeed, out of compassion for me, the Buddha came to my dwelling at Ālavi. On this day, I learned to whom a gift should be given to gain the highest fruit.

“From village to village and town to town, I shall now travel about worshipping the Supreme Buddha and praising the excellence of the Dhamma.”

Having thus spoken, the demon Ālavaka said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent, Master Gotama! Just as a man were to set upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way the Dhamma has been made clear in many ways by the Master Gotama. I go for refuge to the Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. May the Venerable Gotama accept me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, from today onwards, for as long as life lasts.”

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Sutta Nipāta 1.10 Ālavaka Sutta: Discourse to Ālavaka the Demon

Notes:

This sutta is also found at SN 10.12.

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