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I am looking for a translation of the Suchiloma Sutta other than the one I have found through searching on Google or some insight into the Pali.

In the story, the Demon Suchiloma wants to test the Buddha and 'strikes him with his body' whereupon the Buddha withdraws his own body.

Here is the passage I am interested in:

Thereupon the demon Suchiloma addressed Bhagava thus: "O Samana! Are you afraid of me?" (Bhagava said,) "Friend! though your touching me is sinful, (yet) I am not afraid of you."

I seem to recall reading a translation of this sutta in which the Buddha's words are translated as something like: Friend, I am not afraid of you, but still, contact with you is not pleasant.

Can anyone point to an alternate translation or to a Pali version of the sutta (along with any insight into the meaning of the passage in question)?

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Here is an alternative translation up on Sutta Central: https://suttacentral.net/en/snp2.5

However, the sentence you are looking for is translated as so:

Friend, I am not afraid of you, but your touch is evil.

The word "evil" here translates Pali pāpako - bad, malignant, evil, wrong, sinful.

I suppose the meaning is that, although Enlightened One is not afraid to come in contact with demonic influences, even for Buddha the close contact with them is not beneficial. As poisonous food may upset the stomach, so poisonous thoughts may upset the mind.

  • Thanks! is there a way to see the Pali on Sutta Central? – Adamokkha Sep 20 '15 at 20:32
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    If you click the little icon with three horizontal lines in the top left corner of the screen on sutta central it brings up a drop bar for language. Pali is the first language listed. – Bakmoon Sep 20 '15 at 20:48
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You might want to download Bhikkhu Bodhi's one hour talk on this Sutta from

http://bodhimonastery.org/sutta-nipata.html

It is track 31.

I was curious, so I listened to this track and Bhikkhu Bodhi explains the point that you are asking about. The Yakkha's name is "Sūciloma"; "sūci" means needle and "loma" means hair of the body (one of the 32 parts). So this particular Yakkha had body hairs that were sharp like needles.

Sūciloma wanted to determine if the Buddha was a "real ascetic" or a "fake ascetic". A "real ascetic" would not be afraid of a Yakkha while a "fake ascetic" would show fear. So Sūciloma approaches the Buddha and bends over the Buddha. Your translation of "strikes him with his body" is not correct; the Pāḷi word upanāmesi means "to bend over to, to place against or close to, to approach, bring near".

When the Buddha withdraws his body, Sūciloma asks "Are you afraid of me?" The Buddha replies, "Friend, I am not afraid of you, though your touch is painful". Bhikkhu Bodhi explains that the Pāḷi word pāpako literally means "evil" but in this context should be interpreted as meaning painful to the touch [because of your sharp body hairs].

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Can anyone point to an alternate translation or to a Pali version of the sutta (along with any insight into the meaning of the passage in question)?

We can see this type of another situation in With the Yakkha Āḷavaka

At one time the Lord dwelt at Āḷavī in the haunt of the yakkha Āḷavaka. Then the latter went to the Lord’s dwelling and spoke to him as follows: “Monk, come out!”

“Very well, friend” said the Buddha (and came out).

“Monk, go in!”

“Very well, friend” said the Buddha and entered his dwelling. He repeated these demands twice, but on the fourth demand the Buddha said:

“I shall not come out to you, friend, do what you will.”

“Monk, I shall ask you a question and if you cannot answer it I shall either overthrow your mind, split your heart, or seizing you by the feet, throw you to the other side of the Ganges river.”

“I do not see, friend, anyone in the world with its devas, Māras and Brahmās, in this generation with its monks and brahmins, princes and men who can either overthrow my mind, or split my heart, or seize me by the feet and throw me to the other side of the Ganges river. However, friend, ask what you will.”

By considering these two occasions we can assume Load Buddha gave an example, How to handle a tough (difficult) situation when one goes to preach someone. They are not ready to accept, and in aggressive moods. So the preacher must have develop the quality 'patience' as shown in this answer.

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