When Gotama was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery, he had entered the City for alms. At that time, a Brahman, Aggikabharadvaja, who was notorious for his strict religious observance, was conducting a fire sacrifice. When the Brahman saw Gotama, he became terrified that his sacrifice would be ruined: Gotama was an outcaste: he had no caste, for he had been born into one one caste, then adopted the duties of all the others. Having no caste, no society, he had no duty - and violated the Dharma of Vishnu, whom the Brahman was now honoring.
"Get away!" shouted the Brahman, almost hysterically. "Go! You shaved your head, but you are a wretched monk! You are an outcast - an outcaste!"
Gotama replied calmly to the Brahman, "do you know, Brahman, what an outcast is, and what makes an outcaste? It would be good if you'd permit me to explain the Dharma, as you are yourself rejecting the duties of your caste, and will be cast out by the members of your caste." The Brahman calmed for a moment, and asked Gotama to explain. Gotama then explained,
Not by birth is one a Brahman, by self-control alone one becomes a Brahman. By lack of self-control one becomes a criminal.
Caste, society, is not given by birth. Nor are the duties of that society. A true outcast, a true outcaste, a true criminal has no good society, no good friends - for they are not a good friend, nor good to associate with. They have both rejected their duty, and been turned away by those who would perform their duty.
They are angry, shelter and protect their hatred and distaste, reluctant to speak well of others, discredit the good in others, perverted in their views, deceitful. If asked to say something good, they say what is detrimental, or talk evasively.
They will needlessly kill living beings, whether born of womb, egg or seed without regret, they have no sympathy for living beings. They are not worthy of the honor their food does them.
They terrorize their village or city, and become notorious as an oppressor.
Whoever takes what is not given to them is an outcast, an outcaste. They have no good society, no good friends - for they are not a good friend, nor good to associate with. They have both rejected their duty, and been turned away by those who would perform their duty.
Having incurred a debt, they run away when pressed to pay, saying "I owe you no debt!" They do not acknowledge all that conditioned their own success.
Desiring something, they kill the person in possession of that thing, and grab what they desire - or make lies to obtain what they desire. They will lie for the purpose of deception itself - or to obtain what they want. Or merely to hurt, and deprive someone else of what they cannot have.
By force or by consent, they sexually associate with the wives of relatives or friends.
Being wealthy, they do not support their parents when their parents have grown old.
They strike or hurt by words their family and friends.
They would try to commit a wrong action in secret, so that it may not be known by others.
They will go to another's house, enjoy choice foods, and then not return the honor to their host by equal hospitality when their host repays the visit.
They are like a beggar who appears at mealtime with harsh words, or like a person who would not offer a beggar food.
They exalt themselves by belittling others, they are selfish, shameless. They have no fear of the consequences of their bad actions.
They revile the Buddhas, they revile householders (Grihasthis), they revile recluses (Sannyasis).
They pretend to be a Buddha, a householder, a recluse - when they are not one. This is the worst sort of criminal.
When Gotama said this, Aggikabharadvaja thanked him, "just as a man were to set upright what had been overturned, or reveal what had been hidden, or point the way to one who had gone astray, to hold an oil lamp in the dark for someone else to see things, in this way, you have shown me the Dharma. I take refuge in the Buddha Gotama, his Dharma and his Sangha. May Gotama accept me as one of his students!"
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