Saṃyutta Nikāya 11
Connected Discourses with Sakka
4. Vepacitti or Patience
At Savatthī. The Blessed One said this:
“Once in the past, bhikkhus, the devas and the asuras were arrayed for battle. Then Vepacitti, lord of the asuras, addressed the asuras thus: ‘Dear sirs, in the impending battle between the devas and the asuras, if the asuras win and the devas are defeated, bind Sakka, lord of the devas, by his four limbs and neck and bring him to me in the city of the asuras.’ And Sakka, lord of the devas, addressed the Tavatiṃsa devas thus: ‘Dear sirs, in the impending battle between the devas and the asuras, if the devas win and the asuras are defeated, bind Vepacitti, lord of the asuras, by his four limbs and neck and bring him to me in the Sudhamma assembly hall.’
“In that battle, bhikkhus, the devas won and the asuras were defeated. Then the Tavatiṃsa devas bound Vepacitti by his four limbs and neck and brought him to Sakka in the Sudhamma assembly hall. When Sakka was entering and leaving the Sudhamma assembly hall, Vepacitti, bound by his four limbs and neck, abused and reviled him with rude, harsh words. Then, bhikkhus, Matali the charioteer addressed Sakka, lord of the devas, in verse:
“‘When face to face with Vepacitti
Is it, Maghava, from fear or weakness
That you endure him so patiently,
Listening to his harsh words?’
“‘It is neither through fear nor weakness
That I am patient with Vepacitti.
How can a wise person like me
Engage in combat with a fool?’
“‘Fools would vent their anger even more
If no one would keep them in check.
Hence with drastic punishment
The wise man should restrain the fool.’
“‘I myself think this alone
Is the way to check the fool:
When one knows one’s foe is angry
One mindfully maintains one’s peace.’
“‘I see this fault, O Vasava,
In practising patient endurance:
When the fool thinks of you thus,
“He endures me out of fear,”
The dolt will chase you even more
As a bull does one who flees.’
“‘Let it be whether or not he thinks,
“He endures me out of fear,”
Of goals that culminate in one’s own good
None is found better than patience.
“‘When a person endowed with strength
Patiently endures a weakling,
They call that the supreme patience;
The weakling must be patient always.
“‘They call that strength no strength at all—
The strength that is the strength of folly—
But no one can reproach a person
Who is strong because guarded by Dhamma.
“‘One who repays an angry man with anger
Thereby makes things worse for himself.
Not repaying an angry man with anger,
One wins a battle hard to win.
“‘He practises for the welfare of both,
His own and the other’s,
When, knowing that his foe is angry,
He mindfully maintains his peace.
“‘When he achieves the cure of both—
His own and the other’s—
The people who consider him a fool
Are unskilled in the Dhamma.’
“So, bhikkhus, if Sakka, lord of the devas, subsisting on the fruit of his own merit, exercising supreme sovereignty and rulership over the Tavatiṃsa devas, will be one who speaks in praise of patience and gentleness, then how much more would it be fitting here for you, who have gone forth in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline, to be patient and gentle.”