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Samyutta Nikaya
Brahmaṇa Saṁyutta

7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta
Saṅgārava

Can we remove the results of our bad actions by bathing?

At the city of Sāvatthī…

Now at that time, there was a person named Saṅgārava of the brahmin caste living in the city of Sāvatthī. He believed that life can be purified by dipping oneself in water. He lived committed to the practice of dipping himself in water at dawn and dusk. On a certain morning, Venerable Ānanda wore his robe, took his bowl and double-layered robe, and went to the city of Sāvatthī for alms.

After his alms-round, he had his meal. Then he went to the Buddha, worshipped him respectfully, sat down to one side, and said to him, “Bhante, there is a person named Saṅgārava of the brahmin caste living in the city of Sāvatthī. He believes that life can be purified by dipping oneself in water. He lives committed to the practice of dipping himself in water at dawn and dusk. Bhante, please visit him at his home out of compassion.” The Buddha agreed in silence.

The Buddha put on his robe on the following morning, took his bowl and double-layered robe, and went to the home of Saṅgārava, and sat down on the seat prepared for him. Then Saṅgārava went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.

When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side. The Buddha asked him, “Is it really true, Saṅgārava, that you believe that life can be purified by dipping oneself in water, and because of that you live committed to the practice of dipping yourself in water at dawn and dusk?”

“Yes, Master Gotama.”

“But Saṅgārava, for what reason do you believe in purification by water?”

“It’s because, Master Gotama, whatever bad deeds I’ve done during the day I wash off by bathing at dusk. And whatever bad deeds I’ve done during the night, I wash off by bathing at dawn. That’s the reason why I am committed to the practice of purification by water.”

The Buddha:

“Saṅgārava, there is a lake where noble ones
with perfect knowledge bathe.
There they do not get wet.
The water in that lake is still and clear.
It is praised by the grateful people.
Those who bathe in that lake cross the suffering of saṁsara.
The shore to get into this lake is virtue.
The name of the lake is ‘the Dhamma.’”

When the Buddha said this, Saṅgārava said to the Buddha, “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! Just as if someone turned upright, what was upside down, revealed what was hidden, pointed out the path to whoever was lost, or lit a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes could see what’s there, Master Gotama taught me the Dhamma, which is clear in many ways. I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha. From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge to the Triple Gem for as long as I live.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 7.21 Saṅgārava Sutta: Saṅgārava

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