I was recently listening to a sermon on Agganna Sutta that was on Youtube. I will share my thoughts and questions on the Agganna sutta in a different post. Let me share few passages first and then get to the question.

At that period, Vasettha, there was just one mass of water, and all was darkness, blinding darkness.... And sooner or later, after a very long period of time, savory earth spread itself over the waters where those beings were. It looked just like the skin that forms itself over hot milk as it cools. It was endowed with color, smell, and taste. It was the color of fine ghee or heated butter and it was very sweet, like pure wild honey (1)

Some of the creatures of light (the Abbhasaras) who had curiosity and a greedy nature began to dive and taste the savory Earth's substance. At that moment, the creature found out that it tasted so delicious. Thus, greed started to seep in and it ate the substance voraciously, greedily, also calling its comrades (who were flying above and on earth) to join in the feast. Not long afterwards, the creatures began to eat greedily, and due to the huge amount of the mud substance they could feed on it for a very long time

And this is about the story of Adam and Eve.

Adam is told that he can till the ground and eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except for a tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which he is prohibited from eating. Subsequently, Eve is created from one of Adam's ribs to be Adam's companion. However, a serpent tricks Eve into eating fruit from the forbidden tree, and she gives some of the fruit to Adam. God curses the serpent and the ground. God prophetically tells the woman and the man what will be the consequences of their sin of disobeying God. Then he banishes 'the man' from the Garden of Eden.

According to what I learned from the Agganna Sutta Buddhism is about taking our selves back to where we came from (Brahmas) but not stopping there and attaining Nirvana. In Abrahamic Religions it is also mentioned that people should strive to go back to the initial innocence of humans (Adam and Eve to be particular).

I find it strange to see that all chaos began from eating something that they were no supposed to in both teachings. Whether it was meant to be metaphorical I do not know. Shed some light to this if you can.

3 Answers 3


In buddhism eating anything is not forbidden. Is it the the desire to experience also and the creatures evolved to have the respective faculties like the tongue. These experiences increase carving and lust which worsened the conditions of beings.

Also according to Jesus lived in India by Holger Kersten, abrahamic religions were influenced by Buddhism. Hence there can be similarities. Some may be pure coincidence. As Buddha mentioned his teaching is not previously taught it is unlikely to be influenced by any other religion.

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    The story of creation comes from a time that was way before Jesus and is mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. True it does not forbid eating anything but I think lord Buddha have advised to avoid eating certain types of meat. Not because it is a sin for some other reason I do not know.
    – Heisenberg
    Feb 12, 2016 at 4:00
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    And Abraham himself existed about 1500 years before Buddha so I doubt it was influenced by Buddhism.
    – Heisenberg
    Feb 12, 2016 at 4:02

There are many web sites on the 'net where the suttas are collected, but some people recommend http://dharmafarer.org/ as a source for "in-depth analysis" of a sutta.

Here then is Dharmafarer's translation and analysis of the Aggañña Sutta.

Instead of or as well as listening to a sermon on YouTube, you can read the sutta[s] yourself.

The Dharmafarer version includes many footnotes and much introductory text: it might be worth just reading the sutta first (to know and/or understand what's being discussed) and then reading the introduction and so on.

In the introduction, it says,

5 Buddhist humour

Like the Aggañña Sutta, most of the suttas mentioned above [3] belong to the genre of religious humour. 15 The humorous language and imagery of such suttas is understandable as they deal with well-established ideas and norms, taken seriously especially by those who used them to legitimize their affluence and position in society. Like the Brahmana,dhammika Sutta, the Aggañña Sutta criticizes the brahmins saying that they have forgotten their past, resulting in their degeneration from an ideal way of life.

The two narratives are, on the surface level of a temporal sequence of actual events, quite different; but when read as parables using stories of the past to make a contemporary moral point, they complement each other perfectly well. (Collins 1993a:320)

Richard Gombrich, in his Theravada Buddhism: A social history from Benares to Colombo, remarks that the Aggañña Sutta is “an extended satire on brahminical ideas, full of parody and puns… As a debunking job I think the sermon is serious: its main aim is to show that the class system is nothing but a human invention”; however, “I cannot go here into all the reasons why I think that the positive statements in the myth are satirical and not meant to be taken literally.” (1988:85). In his book, “The Buddha’s Book of Genesis” (1992a), Gombrich goes on to elaborate on the significance of the Buddha’s humour in presenting a parody and pastiche of brahmanical claims, teachings and practices.

This isn't the only time Richard Gombrich argues for a non-literal interpretation; but read the sutta and see for yourself.

Anyway, this ties into your question: according to this interpretation, any "similarity" might be, not between this story and the Abrahamic Bible, but between this story and brahminical ideas.

Also I don't know what you mean about "strive to go back to the initial innocence of humans". As far as I know, Christianity teaches that people are saved or justified from original sin by Christ, and not especially as a result of their own striving. Yes, Christians are supposed to avoid further sinning which would distance them from God, but so far as I know Buddhism is unusual (compared with Christianity at least, though Judaism and Islam may have a different view) in putting the responsibility for salvation on the practitioner (i.e. on each Buddhist), instead of on the (Christian) Redeemer.

I find it strange to see that all chaos began from eating something that they were no supposed to in both teachings. Whether it was meant to be metaphorical I do not know.

In this sutta I guess it's an allegory for desire and for physicality/coarseness (whereas in Genesis it's, what, an allegory for knowledge-of-good-and-evil, duality, loss of innocence, and disobedience, maybe free will and ego).

If you compare any two stories in the world you're likely to find some similarities: e.g. there's more than one person, they're on a planet, they eat and talk to each other, wear clothes, live somewhere, go places, and use things and lose things etc.

These two stories don't seem to me a very close/remarkable coincidence.


This is a very good question. So I do not understand why it would have been downvoted.

In addition to Chris' answer I would like to comment (I would do this as a comment, but I don't have enough reputation) that it would be much worth also reading the Patika Sutta (D 24), which is cited in the referenced exposition on the Agañña Sutta.

There the Buddha declares that

There are, Bhaggava, certain recluses and brahmins who declare it as their doctrine, that the beginning of things was owing to a debauch of pleasure.

but this is only one of a range of possibilities he enumerates about how beings might remember what they think of as the "beginning of all" or come to regard it that way by tradition although they have actually forgotten it, but the Buddha claims to remember even more and tells about it.

Another quite interesting idea (through remembrance) of origin that comes after is that:

There are, Bhaggava, certain recluses and brahmins, who declare as their traditional doctrine, that the beginning of things was owing to a debauch of mind.

(and is maybe quite pertinent as well to some states of mental existence in such internet realms as these, and how these beings come down to "fall from grace")

So while these remembrances retellings could certainly provide some good moral lessons, that could help remind one of better states that had been before, and also the reason why they were lost, so as to motivate one to return to that purity of old times, the real answer the Buddha gives elsewhere and repeatedly is:

From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.

SN 15.3: Tears

See also: Samsara

So to answer your question directly,

I find it strange to see that all chaos began from eating something that they were no supposed to in both teachings. Whether it was meant to be metaphorical I do not know. Shed some light to this if you can.

this is not how all chaos began, but just some periods of relative purity and "order", after which by excessive debauchery that relative purity was again spoiled and lost, and a new episode of grosser chaos was set rolling again, and again, and again, this is happening, on individual as well as greater and more universal scales, as long as one has not found the way out.

But according to the Buddha the reason was not that "they were not supposed to", and there is no external watcher behind who brings disaster as a punishment, but just the nature of existence in this world which continues for each individual as long as the ignorance about and behind these mechanisms is not seen through.

As the Buddha taught it is craving that is the ground for all becoming (and all the suffering that comes with it, from refined and subtle to more grosser and grosser forms), and ignorance of these mechanisms which leaves the craving to continue untouched and continuing in our mental streams, so such episodes from the past are just some illustrative samples that could remind us and also inform and inspire other religious traditions to uphold their moral ideals, and provide for their stories of origin, as they have recognized and observed similar things to their varying extents and the depravity that comes generally from unfettered sense desire and the purity that can be cultivated from restraint and abstinence. And so this seems to be a quite universal theme in all more developed ethical and religious traditions.

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