KŪṬADANTA SUTTA, translated by T. W. Rhys Davids WHOEVER put this Sutta together must have been deeply imbued with the spirit of. Kutadanta’s Question. Brahman Kutadanta is prepaing to perform an abundant sacrifice. A lot of bulls, cows, goats and rams are brought to the. Now at that time the brahmin Kūṭadanta was living in Khāṇumata. It was a crown property given by King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, teeming with living .

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Kutadanta Sutta, Kūtadanta-sutta: 1 definition

Once the Lord was traveling through Magadha with a large company of some five hundred monks, and he arrived at a Brahmin village called Khanumata. And there he stayed at the Ambalatthika park. And Kutadanta planned a great sacrifice: And the Brahmins and householders of Khanumata heard say: He teaches a Dhamma that is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and he displays the fully-perfected, thoroughly purified holy life.

And indeed it is good to such Arahants. Just then, Kutadanta had gone up to his verandah for his midday rest. Seeing all the Brahmins and householders making sutga Ambalatthika, he asked his steward the reason. Now I do not understand all this, but I want to make a big sacrifice.

Suppose, I were shtta go to the ascetic Gotama and ask him about the matter. And at that time several hundred Brahmins were staying at Khanumata intending to take part in Kutadanta’s sacrifice. Hearing of his intention to visit the ascetic Gotama, they went and asked him if this were true.

This being so, it is not right that the Reverend Sonandanda should visit the ascetic Gotama, but rather the ascetic Gotama should visit him. The Reverend Sonadanda is handsome, good-looking, pleasing, of the most beautiful complexion, in form and countenance like Brahma, of no mean appearance. He is virtuous, of increasing virtue, endowed with increasing virtue.

He is well-spoken, of pleasing address, polite, of pure and clear enunciation, speaking to the point.

5. Kutadanta Sutta

He is the teacher’s teacher of many, teaching the mantras to three hundred youths, and many young men come from different districts and regions seeking to learn the mantras in his presence, desirous to kutasanta them from him. He is aged, grown old, venerable, advanced in years, long past his youth, whereas the ascetic Gotama is youthful and newly gone forth as a wanderer. The Reverend Sonadanda is esteemed, made much of, honored, revered, worshipped by King Seniya Bimbisara and by suttaa Brahmin Pokkharasati.

He lives at Campa, a populous place, full of grass, timber, water and corn, which has been given to him by King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha as a royal gift, and with royal powers. This being so, it is not proper that the Reverend Kutadanta should visit the ascetic Gotama, but rather the ascetic Gotama should visit him. Then Kutadanta said to the Brahmins: Therefore it is fitting for us to visit him. He went forth, leaving a great body of kinsmen. In fact he gave up much gold and wealth to go forth, both hidden away and openly displayed.

The ascetic Gotama, while youthful, a black-haired youth, in the prime of his young days, in the first stage of life went forth from the household life into homelessness. Leaving his grieving parents weeping with tear-stained faces, having cut off his hair and beard and put on yellow robes, he went forth into homelessness. Iutadanta has abandoned sensuality and dispelled vanity.


He teaches action and the results of action, honoring the blameless Brahmin way of life. He is a wanderer of high birth, of a leading Khattiya family.

He is a wanderer from a wealthy family, of great wealth and possessions. People come to consult him from foreign kingdoms and foreign lands. Many thousands of Devas have taken refuge with him. This good report has been spread about him: He is welcoming, kindly of speech, courteous, genial, clear and ready of speech.

He is attended by four assemblies, revered, honored, esteemed and worshipped by them. Many Devas and humans are devoted to him. Whenever he stays in any town or village, that place is not troubled by non-human beings. He has a crowd, a multitude of followers, is a teacher of many, he is consulted by the chief of the various leaders of sects. It is not the way with the ascetic Gotama’s reputation, as it is with that of some ascetics and Brahmins, about whom this or that is reported – the ascetic Gotama’s fame is based on his achievement of unsurpassed wisdom and conduct.

Indeed King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha has gone for refuge to him together with his son, his wife, his followers and his ministers. He is revered, honored, esteemed and worshipped by them. The ascetic Gotama has arrived in Campa and is staying by Gaggara’s lotus-pond.

And whatever ascetics and Brahmins come to our territory are our guests. And we should revere, honor, esteem and worship guests. Having come to Gaggara’s lotus-pond, the ascetic Gotama is such a guest, and should be treated as such. Therefore it is not proper that he should come to us, but rather we should go to him. However much I might praise the ascetic Gotama, that praise is insufficient, he is beyond all praise. The ascetic Gotama has arrived in Khanumata and is staying at Ambalatthika.

On hearing this, the Brahmins said: And, sir, we shall all go to visit the ascetic Gotama. He approached the Lord, exchanged courtesies with him, and sat down to one side. Some of the Brahmins and householders of Khanumata made obeisance to the Lord, some exchanged courtesies with him, some saluted him with joined palms, some announced their names and clan, and some sat down to one side in silence. Sitting to one side, Kutadanta addressed the Lord: It would be well if the ascetic Gotama were to explain this to me.

And when King Mahavijita was musing in private, the thought came to him: Suppose now I were to make a great sacrifice which would be to my benefit and happiness for a long time? Instruct me, Reverend Sir, how this may be to my lasting benefit and happiness. If your Majesty were to tax this region, that would be the wrong thing to do. Suppose Your Majesty were to think: Those who survived would later harm Your Majesty’s realm. However, with this plan you can completely eliminate the plague.

To those in the kingdom who are engaged in cultivating crops and raising cattle, let Your Majesty distribute grain and fodder; to those in trade, give capital; to those in government stta assign proper living wages. Then those people, being intent on their occupations, will not harm the kingdom. Your Majesty’s revenues will be great, the land will be tranquil suta not beset by thieves, and the people, with joy in their hearts, will play with their children, and will dwell in open houses.


Then King Mahavijita sent for the chaplain and said: Now I wish to make a great sacrifice. Instruct me as to how this may be done to my lasting benefit and happiness. Assist me in this, gentlemen, that it may be to my lasting benefit and happiness. The King agreed, and did so. He is a faithful giver and host, not shutting his door against ascetics, Brahmins and wayfarers, beggars and the needy – a fountain of goodness.

He is very learned in what should be learnt. He knows the meaning of whatever is said, saying: These constitute the accessories for the sacrifice.

He is learned, accomplished and wise, and is the first or second to hold the sacrificial ladle. He has these four qualities. These constitute the accessories to the sacrifice. Then, prior to the sacrifice, the Brahmin chaplain taught the King the three modes. Then, prior to the sacrifice, the chaplain dispelled the King’s qualms with ten conditions for the recipient: To those who take life, so will it be to them; but those who abstain from taking life will have a successful sacrifice and will rejoice in it, and their hearts may be calmed within.

To those kkutadanta have wrong views it will turn out accordingly, but those who have right views will have a successful sacrifice and will rejoice in it, and their hearts may be calmed within.

So the chaplain instructed the King who was making the great sacrifice with sixteen reasons, urged him, inspired him and gladdened his heart.

Thus the King may know that he will have a successful sacrifice and rejoice in it, and his heart will be calmed within. Or someone might say: Thus the chaplain instructed the King with sixteen reasons. But those who wanted to do something did it, those who did not wish to did not: The sacrifice was carried out with ghee, oil, butter, curds, honey and molasses. Whatever is left over, you suttw away. At the King’s refusal, they went away to one side and consulted together. The King is making a great sacrifice.

Let us follow his example. Thus there were the four assenting kktadanta, and King Mahavijita was endowed with eight things, and the chaplain with four things in three modes. This, Brahmin, is called the sixteen-fold successful sacrifice in three modes. At this the Brahmins shouted loudly and noisily: What a splendid way to perform a sacrifice! And the Brahmins asked him why he did not applaud the ascetic Gotama’s fine words. My head would split open if I did not.

Does the Reverend Gotama acknowledge that he performed, or caused to be performed, such a sacrifice, and that in consequence at death, after the breaking-up of the body, he was reborn in a good sphere, a heavenly state?

I was the Brahmin chaplain who conducted that sacrifice.