Sister Vajira Confronts Mara – The Vajira Sutta

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Introduction

For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked inline and at the end of this article. ([x]) Inline links will open in a new window.

Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

 [1]  Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta

[2]  Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the single path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [3]  Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

In the Vajira Sutta, Bhikkhuni Vajira confronts Mara. Throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma the use of metaphor is common. particularly the metaphor of Mara. In common folklore of the Buddha’s time Mara is an evil and malevolent god. As metaphor, Mara describes the quality of a mind conflicted and troubled due to ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Here the metaphor accurately describes  the conflict within Vajira’s mind whose conditioned views give rise to doubt and fear. [4] Mara And Metaphor

This sutta describers I-making and impermanence. Mara represents the conditioned grasping-after constant self-establishment of a mind conflicted by its own ignorance. Mara represents this inner conflict that results from a mind clinging wrong views of itself onto impermanent and impersonal phenomena resulting in stress and suffering. Mara represents the inner dialogue that maintains continued greed, aversion, delusion, confusion, and craving that follows ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

My comments below are in italics.

Sister Vajira Confronts Mara – The Vajira Sutta

Samyutta Nikaya 5:10

On one occasion near Savatthi, in the early morning, Sister Vajira adjusted her robes and went for alms. Upon her return she ate her meal and went the Grove Of The Blind for the day’s abiding.

Mara, the evil one arises in Ajira’s  mind in the form of doubt, fear and terror that could cause her to abandon her Dhamma practice:

  • “Who created this being?
  • “Where is this being’s creator?
  • “Where did this being originate?
  • “Where does this being cease to exist?

Vajira had a counter-thought: “It is Mara the evil one who has planted the seeds of doubt and fear in my mind hoping to force me to abandon my Dhamma practice.

“My mind, distorted and corrupted by ignorance still clings to fabricated views.These are certainly a heap of fabrications:

  • Assuming a being was created.
  • Assuming an unfounded position.

“Wisdom shows that no being can be described in this manner. Just as when a certain assemblage of parts may be called a chariot, so to, when the Five Clinging-Aggregates are present one assumes a being.

The Five Clinging-Aggregates are form, feelings, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness – the ongoing personal experience of stress and suffering, of Dukkha, resulting from clinging ignorant views to impermanent phenomena. [5] Five Clinging-Aggregates

“For it is only stress that arises (from ignorance of Four Noble Truths), stress arising and passing away. Nothing but stress arises from ignorance. Nothing ceases but stress.”

Mara, the evil one, sad and dejected that Vajira knows her own ignorance vanished right then and there, never to arise again.

Vajira’s mind cleared from the cessation of ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

End Of Sutta

For Further Study

  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3.  Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Mara And Metaphor
  5. Five Clinging-Aggregates

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

 

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