[ Translation by JC Ahangama from the Singhala translation found at metta.lk. (Sutta means story or composition.) ]

Devadaha sutta

Devadaha Story is one of the discourses in the Buddhist Tripitaka where Buddha speaks to his disciples about his visit to Devadaha.

At Devadaha Buddha encounters pious monks of the Nigantha faith. They are known to practice self-torture in order to expend sins (bad karma) of the past. They teach that one should impose hardship to the body, live as a hermit, avoid bad or good deeds such that you expend all previous karma and stop accumulating new ones. They say that when no new karma is accumulated (by purposeful action) and when existing karma wares out, no rebirth happens.

Buddha gives a hypothetical: A poison tipped arrow hits a man. His friends and relatives get a surgeon to help. The doctor pulls out the arrow, inserts an instrument to locate the arrow tip, pulls out the instrument, inserts another instrument to grab the arrow tip, pulls out the arrow tip, and finally, applies medicine to the wound. Each of these actions causes the man excruciating pain, yet he endured them. Later, this man walks about with the wound healed having fully regained his health. He thinks to himself, "I was once shot and underwent extreme suffering owing to it, and now I am fully recovered and restored to full health and feel pleased".

(to be continued. . .)

Buddha does not directly acknowledge the karma theory or rebirth. So far, where I have seen him refer to rebirth is when he talks about bhava or state of existence. Then there is the famous statement, 'ceþanaaham bhikkhave kammá vaðaami'. That too places the onus for action and its gravity on how the mind of the doer perceives it excluding external connection or judgement. Instead of all those ideas that cannot be empirically proved, he draws our attention to our own thoughts about our sensations. He tells us to watch the thought process and understand that our interpretations are what cause us to categorize our feelings and thus give them emotional validity.