Sariputta’s Lion Roar

Sariputta makes an interesting assertion in the Sampasādanīya Sutta. He boldly declares that “there never has been, there will never be, and there is now no other recluse or brahmin who is better or wiser than the Blessed One.” Wow! Sounds intense. Let’s dig deeper.

The Buddha’s Response

You’d think that the Buddha would have immediately praised Sariputta for making the assertion, but no.

He says,

Uḷārā kho te ayaṁ Sāriputta āsabhivācā bhāsitā,
You have spoken this great and imposing speech, Sāriputta,

ekaṁso gahito sīhanādo nadito…
a definite, (well-)grasped, lion’s roar that was roared…

and proceeds to ask him if he has known the minds of the past, future, or present Buddhas. Sariputta responds by saying that he has not known the minds of past, present or future buddhas, but that he has understood the ‘drift of the Dhamma’!

Two Translations

This is amazing.

“Na kho me Bhante atītānāgatapaccuppannesu Arahantesu Sammāsambuddhesu
“I do not, reverend Sir, in regard to those past, future, and present Worthy and Perfect Sambuddhas

cetopariyañāṇaṁ atthi.
have full and exact knowledge with (my own) mind.

Api ca me Dhammanvayo vidito.
However, I understand (what I said) is in conformity with the Teaching.

From my perspective, this statement is worth a good amount of contemplation!

With this translation of the Pali (from here) that we see above, we can marvel at how Sariputta has such confidence in the Buddha due to what he personally sees! He gnos the Dharma. The Dharma confirms the Buddha’s supremacy with regard to self-awakening. What Sariputta has seen for himself is enough for him to GNO this. He doesn’t accept it on faith (a point made a bit later in the Sutta).

But, another translation makes the topic more interesting!

Let’s see:

“No, bhante, I have no knowledge of the minds of the worthy fully self-awakened ones of the past, of the future or of the present. But it is known through the drift of the Dharma [the Dharma lineage].

We learn (here) that “the drift of the Dharma,” is dhamm’anvaya.

So, our first translator gave us:
However, I understand (what I said) is in conformity with the Teaching.

But, the second translation, pulls out the ‘the Drift of the Dhamma’ and the translator teaches us:

“The drift of the Dharma,” dhamm’anvaya, “by means of the Dharma” (D 2:83 = 3:100), ie by inference through the Dharma. CPD gives these meanings of anvaya: (1) series, lineage, succession; (2) successor, next, following; (3) ifc: following, descended from, dependent on; (4) (logical) connection, reasoning, inference, conclusion, consequence; (5) “positive concomitance.” …. Sariputta means that his lion-roar is based on his understanding and realization of the Dharma.

His serene faith is supported by his own realization, it is understood through (super)logical connection, reasoning, inference, conflusion, consequence, etc.. !

This (Sariputta’s faith being grounded in Gnosis) is extremely significant and is really the only point I want to make now.

But, if you have questions, please ask them!

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