Three translations of Bhikkhu Sujato say:

But Master Gotama, when a mendicant’s mind is freed like this, where are they reborn?

Evaṃ vimuttacitto pana, bho gotama, bhikkhu kuhiṃ upapajjatī ti?

‘They’re reborn’ doesn’t apply, Vaccha.

“Upapajjatīti kho, vaccha, na upeti”.

Well then, are they not reborn?

Tena hi, bho gotama, na upapajjatī ti?

They’re not reborn’ doesn’t apply, Vaccha.

“Na upapajjatīti kho, vaccha, na upeti”.

MN 72

Seeing this, a learned noble disciple becomes disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness.

Evaṃ passaṃ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako rūpasmimpi nibbindati, vedanāyapi nibbindati, saññāyapi nibbindati, saṅkhāresupi nibbindati, viññāṇasmimpi nibbindati.

Being disillusioned they become dispassionate. Being dispassionate they’re freed. When freed, they know ‘it is freed’.

Nibbindaṃ virajjati; virāgā vimuccati. Vimuttasmiṃ vimuttamiti ñāṇaṃ hoti.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’

‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti.

SN 22.59

The sage at peace is not reborn, does not grow old, and does not die. They are not shaken, and do not yearn.

Muni kho pana, bhikkhu, santo na jāyati, na jīyati, na mīyati, na kuppati, na piheti.

For they have nothing which would cause them to be reborn. Not being reborn, how could they grow old? Not growing old, how could they die? Not dying, how could they be shaken? Not shaking, for what could they yearn?

Tañhissa, bhikkhu, natthi yena jāyetha, ajāyamāno kiṃ jīyissati, ajīyamāno kiṃ mīyissati, amīyamāno kiṃ kuppissati, akuppamāno kissa pihessati?

MN 140

Why does MN 72 say "not reborn" does not apply to the freed mind (vimuttacitto) but SN 22.59 and MN 140 say "rebirth is ended" and the arahant is "not reborn"?

  • 1
    Apparently khina in khina jati means "has exhausted", so the phrase would literally mean "birth has exhausted" (not re-birth), meaning the samsaric tendency for sustaining the self that was born as a result of 11th link of Dependent Origination has exhausted itself, ran to its end and disbanded.
    – Andrei Volkov
    Sep 26 '18 at 12:01
  • Isn't MN 72 more literally asking where the Bhikkhu (or "a Bhikkhu") is reborn (not the freed mind)? So the title should be (more literally) "Why is a Bhikkhu with a freed mind etc.", and the text "does not apply to the Bhikkhu".
    – ChrisW
    Sep 26 '18 at 13:59

Well then, are they not reborn?

Tena hi, bho gotama, na upapajjatī ti?

‘They’re not reborn’ doesn’t apply, Vaccha.

I would suggest it has to do with the way this question is formulated. It's not about rebirth having ended but about pointing to a person because of the use of the word 'they'.

Talking about a 'they', 'him', 'her' doesn't apply anymore. So, the question is wrongly put.

That's my take on it.

  • 2
    IMO the pronoun "they" isn't in the Pali (though a subject may be implicit when a verb is used). I think the Pali says, more literally, "And in this way freed, friend Gotama, [a/the] monk to where is reborn?" and "Then, friend Gotama, not reborn?" I think the subject is assumed to be bhikkhu i.e. the mendicant.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 26 '18 at 13:52
  • On a different note, I've always thought it would be much more meaningful to translate it as "Comrade Gotama" ;)))
    – Andrei Volkov
    Sep 26 '18 at 14:28
  • @AndreiVolkov Why so? "Comrade" implies to me a strict equality of social rank (see also Why should one not address a venerable as friend?), though also helper or ally.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 26 '18 at 14:40
  • 1
    @AndreiVolkov I imagine that "the wanderer Vacchagotta" wasn't a bhikkhu? The introduction to MN 72 doesn't have the usual formal reverences. I think bhikkhus referred to each other as friends -- until The Blessed One's Final Exhortation with "And, Ananda, whereas now the bhikkhus address one another as 'friend,' let it not be so.... But yes I don't quite get the formality, e.g. a French child says "vous" to a school teacher (or any adult), but "tu" to a parent (or God).
    – ChrisW
    Sep 26 '18 at 16:03
  • 1
    ... and an adult says tu to friends and to their social equals, or tu to everyone only if they're like, veterans of 1968. I guess it's just convention (which was why I asked about it -- to understand a reason). But then again, people (you too) mention doing prostrations, so...
    – ChrisW
    Sep 26 '18 at 16:05

Re. MN 72, isn't this like, "When you stop beating your wife? Did you ever, eventually, stop beating her? Or, have you not stopped beating her yet?" The only feasible answer is that that question "doesn't apply".

Re. SN 22.59 I think your opinion is that "rebirth" refers to the arising of self-views, so "not reborn" implies "no more self-views" (nor conceits).

  • I marked this answer down because it is not an answer using the suttas. Instead, it refers to my opinion expressed elsewhere. Sep 26 '18 at 17:21

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