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The Story of the Nigantha Ascetics

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While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (316) and (317) of this book, with reference to Nigantha ascetics, who covered only the front part of their bodies.

One day, some Niganthas went on an alms-round with their bowls covered with a piece of cloth. Some bhikkhus seeing them commented, "These Nigantha ascetics who cover the front part of the body are more respectable compared to those Acelaka ascetics who go about without wearing anything." Hearing this comment, those ascetics retorted, "Yes, indeed, we do cover up our front part (by covering our bowls); but we cover it up not out of shame in going naked. We only cover up our bowls to keep away dust from our food, for even dust contains life in it."

When the bhikkhus reported what the Nigantha ascetics said, the Buddha replied, "Bhikkhus, those ascetics who go about covering only the front part of their bodies are not ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, but they are ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of; because of their wrong view they would only go to bad destinations."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 316: Those beings who are ashamed of what should not be ashamed of, who are not ashamed of what should be ashamed of, and who hold wrong views go to a lower plane of existence (duggati).

Verse 317: Those beings who see danger in what is not dangerous, who do not see danger in what is dangerous, and who hold wrong views go to a lower plane of existence (duggati).

At the end of the discourse many Nigantha ascetics became frightened and joined the Buddhist Order.
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