Pancavaggi Sutta (SN 22.59)

Second Sutta – Pañcavaggi Sutta (SN 22.59)
The Five Brethren
Link to Sutta
This followed the first sermon by a certain period of time, again to the first five ascetics who were now Stream
Entrants. The Mahavagga’s account starts at Section 6.38 of Link to Mahavagga
1. The Buddha teaches the five monks that each of the five khandas (Sanskrit skandhas) are not-self
(anatta, Sanskrit an-atman). Each of the five monks had already seen through the illusory “self” or ego
of the first fetter. What atta/atman or “self” was the Buddha referring to here? Why was it so
valuable for the monks to reflect on this?
2. Each of the five khandhas are confirmed by the monks to be impermanent and thus unsatisfactory.
Thus, for each of the khandhas, it is to be regarded as “this is not mine (n' etam mama), this I am not (n’
eso ’ham asmi), this is not my self (na me so attā).” What exactly are the things being negated here,
and why is it important that they be negated?
3. The Sutta closes with “Now during this utterance, the hearts of the bhikkhus of the group of five were
liberated from taints through clinging no more” or, alternately, “the hearts of the group of five monks,
through not clinging (not being sustained), were fully released from fermentation/effluents (asavas).”
What does that mean? What are these taints/asavas?
4. By the end of the Sutta, each of the five monks had attained Arahantship. This is often described in
terms of breaking all ten fetters, whereas in this Sutta one negates “mine/I Am/my self” to eventually rid
them of the asavas. Is this the same thing?
5. The so-called positive nidanas (Link to Upanisa Sutta) have knowledge of the destruction of the asavas
as their final step. Sangharakshita suggests that when each asava is destroyed, it can be seen as forming
a spiral (Link to Spiral Path description). In what ways is this an upward spiral, and in what ways
might it be seen as a downward spiral?
6. Whatever ideas and questions you come up with!