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SN 17.5
PTS: S ii 228
CDB i 684
Piḷhika Sutta: The Dung Beetle
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
Alternate translation: Thanissaro
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

"A fatal thing, monks, are gains, favors and fame, a bitter, harsh impediment to the attainment of the unsurpassed freedom from bondage. It is just like a beetle,[1] feeding on dung, full of dung, gorged with dung, standing before a great dung-hill, who might despise other beetles, saying: 'I am a dung-eater, full of dung, gorged with dung, and before me is this great dung-hill!'

"In the same way, monks, if some monk is overwhelmed with gains, favors and fame so that his head is turned, so, having risen early and taken his robe and bowl and gone for alms to the village or market town, he eats his fill, gets invited again for next day, and has a full bowl. Then he goes to the monks' park,[2] and boasts in the midst of the assembled monks: 'I have had a good meal, and I am invited again for tomorrow. My bowl is full. I have got a robe, alms, lodgings and medical requisites. But these other monks have little merit and little influence, they do not get [all these] requisites.' Thus this bhikkhu, who is so overwhelmed with gains, favors and fame that his head is turned, despises other well-behaved bhikkhus. But this will bring harm and sorrow to that wretched man for many a long day. That shows you, monks, how disastrous gains, favors and fame are, what a bitter, harsh impediment to the attainment of the unsurpassed freedom from bondage. Therefore monks, you should train yourselves thus: 'Whatever gains, favors and fame may come our way we will reject, lest it turn our heads.' So, monks, you should train yourselves."


The meaning (and indeed the form) of this word is doubtful. Feer's text has "Pi.lhika (or Mi.lhaka?)" in the heading, and the word is translated in KS ["Book of the Kindred Sayings," trans. of the Sa.myutta Nikaaya by C.A.F. Rhys Davids (Vols. I-II) and F.L. Woodward (Vols. III-V), 1917-30, PTS] (as here) "dung-beetle." The PED ["Pali-English Dictionary," by T.W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, 1921-25, PTS] says the reading should be mi.lhakaa and renders it "cess-pool," which is obvious nonsense, since a creature of some kind is required. Under pi.lhaka the PED quotes SA [SN Commentary] as "incorrectly" explaining it by a low insect "breeding in excrements." While "dung-beetle" may conceivably not be entomologically quite correct (a point about which this translator can offer no opinion), there can be no doubt that some such creature is intended, and the PED remarks can only be described as perverse.
AAraama. From the meaning of "pleasure" (aa+ramati "enjoys") this word developed the sense of "pleasure-park" and, after the donation of such parks to the Buddha by Anaathapi.n.dika and Ambapaalii, specifically such a park for the use of bhikkhus. Now also used for a monastery complex.
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