Concepts III - The best of carriages II

In the Commentary to this sutta, the Saratthappakasiní, it is said that when the Brahmin Janussoni drove around town, he had people announce his coming ahead of time. When people had something to do outside of town, they would not leave, in order to see Janussoni driving out. If people had already left town, they would return in order to see him. They believed it to be an auspicious sign to see the treasures and wealth of someone like Janussoni. When the Brahmin Janussoni was going to drive around the whole day, the people in town swept the roads from early morning on. They made them smooth with sand and scattered flowers all over. They helped each other put up flags and banners and they caused the whole town to be filled with the smell of incense.
Janussoni rode through the town in a white carriage with white paraphernalia, pulled by four white horses. The wheels and fittings of the carriage were made of silver. Janussoni had two carriages, one for battle and one for all his paraphernalia. The battle carriage was four-sided and not so big; it could only take two or three people. But the carriage for all his paraphernalia was very large. There was room for eight to ten people who carried the canopy, the fan and palm leaves. These people could stand or comfortably lie down. The horses that pulled the carriage were all white and their ornaments were made of silver. The carriage looked white because its coverings were made of silver and it was decorated with ivory. The coverings of the other carriages were lion and tiger skins or yellow cloth. However, Janussoni’s carriage was covered by very precious cloth. The reins, and even the bridles were covered with silver. The canopy erected in the middle of the carriage was white.
Janussoni’s turban was seven inches wide and made of silver. His clothes were white, the colour of a lump of foam. His clothes and the coverings of his carriage were all of very expensive materials. His sandals, unlike the sandals of those that travel or go into the forest, were meant to be worn when he went in his carriage, and they were ornamented with silver. His fan was white with a handle of crystal. He was the only person whose adornments were completely white. He used white face powder and white flowers to adorn himself. His jewellery, including the rings on his ten fingers and in his ears, was made of silver. His retinue consisted of ten thousand people and they were dressed in white clothes and adorned with white flowers and white jewellery.
Janussoni enjoyed his wealth and dignity from the early morning, while he took his breakfast, applied perfumes and dressed himself in white. He went outside his palace and took off in his carriage. The brahmins of his retinue, who were also dressed in white, adorned with white cosmetics and white flowers, surrounded him while they carried his white canopy. Then, coins were scattered about for the children, and the people of the town would gather and cheer, tossing pieces of cloth. Janussoni went around town to display his wealth. Thus, he would give people who wanted to have auspicious signs and blessings for good luck, an opportunity to see him. Those who were fortunate were able to enter the palace and go up to the first floor, open the windows and look down for a good view. When people saw the carriage of Janussoni, they exclaimed that this was the best of carriages.
The Buddha said to Ananda that people want to be praised because of beauty and wealth. However, just by being praised, one will not necessarily be beautiful and rich.Although the people who saw Janussoni’s carriage praised it as the best of carriages, it would not be the best just because people praised it as such. The Buddha said that in reality, Janussoni’s carriage was a miserable, ugly thing.
The Buddha further said to Ananda that the best of carriages is a term that may be applied to the Eightfold Path. This is an excellent way because it liberates one from all that is wrong. By the Noble Eightfold Path one can become an ariyan and attain nibbana. The wisdom carriage, the Dhamma carriage, is the best vehicle, the best battle carriage. Nothing can surpass this carriage, and with it, the defilements can be conquered.
Thus, we see the difference between the carriage of Janussoni and that of the Dhamma. There can be wrong view and wrong practice just because of seeing something. Some people may believe that white is an auspicious colour that conditions them to become pure, and without defilements. However, the Buddha said that in reality, Janussoni’s carriage was a miserable, ugly thing because it caused people to have wrong view. They had thought it was the best of carriages. The understanding of things as they are has nothing to do with the colour of someone’s clothes or ornaments. When satipatthana arises and is aware of the characteristics of the realities that appear, it can be said that that it is the vehicle of panna that leads to the eradication of defilements.

Topic 290