Dhammapada Verses 419 and 420
Cutim yo vedi sattanam
asattam sugatam buddham
tamaham brumi brahmanam.
Yassa gatim na jananti
tamaham brumi brahmanam.
Verse 419: Him I call a brahmana, who knows
the death and rebirth of beings in every detail, who is detached, who follows
the good practice and knows the Four Noble Truths.
Verse 420: Him I call a brahmana, whose
destination the devas or gandhabbas or men do not know who has eradicated moral
intoxicants and is an arahat.
The Story of Thera Vangisa
While residing at the Jetavana
monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (419) and (420) of this book, with
reference to Thera Vangisa.
Once, in Rajagaha, there was a
brahmin by the name of Vangisa who by simply tapping on the skull of a dead
person could tell whether that person was reborn in the world of the devas, or
of the human beings, or in one of the four lower worlds (apayas). The brahmins
took Vangisa to many villages and people flocked to him and paid him ten, twenty
or a hundred to find out from him where their various dead relatives were
On one occasion, Vangisa and his
party came to a place not far from the Jetavana monastery. Seeing those people
who were going to the Buddha, the brahmins invited them to come to Vangisa who
could tell where their relatives had been reborn. But the Buddha's disciples
said to them, "Our teacher is one without a rival, he only is the
Enlightened One." The brahmins took that statement as a challenge and took
Vangisa along with them to the Jetavana monastery to compete with the Buddha.
The Buddha, knowing their intention, instructed the bhikkhus to bring the skulls
of a person reborn in niraya, of a person reborn in the animal world, of a
person reborn in the human world, of a person reborn in the deva world and also
of an arahat. The five were then placed in a row. When Vangisa was shown those
skulls he could tell where the owners of the first four skulls were reborn but
when he came to the skull of the arahat he was at a loss. Then the Buddha said,
"Vangisa, don't you know? I do know where the owner of that skull is."
Vangisa then asked the Buddha to let him have the magical incantation (mantra)
by which he could thus know; but the Buddha told him that the mantra could be
given only to a bhikkhu. Vangisa then told the brahmins to wait outside the
monastery while he was being taught the mantra. Thus, Vangisa became a bhikkhu
and as a bhikkhu, he was instructed by the Buddha to contemplate the thirty-two
constituents of the body. Vangisa diligently practised meditation as instructed
by the Buddha and attained arahatship within a short time.
When the brahmins who were
waiting outside the monastery came to ask Vangisa whether he had acquired the
mantra, Vangisa said, "You all had better go now; as for me, I should no
longer go along with you." Other bhikkhus hearing him thought he was
telling lies, so they went to the Buddha and said, "Venerable Sir! Vangisa
is falsely claiming to have attained arahatship." To them the Buddha said,
"Bhikkhus! Vangisa really knows the death and rebirth of beings."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as
|Verse 419: Him I call
a brahmana, who knows the death and rebirth of beings in every detail,
who is detached, who follows the good practice and knows the Four
|Verse 420: Him I call
a brahmana, whose destination the devas or gandhabbas or men do not
know who has eradicated moral intoxicants and is an arahat.