Ādittapariyāya Sutta

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Āditta-pariyāya sutta (S. *ādityaparyāyasūtra; C. ranshao), commonly translated as The Fire Sermon, is a discourse found in multiple collections within the Pali canon. A parallel text is also found in the Chinese canon.[1]

According to the Vinaya Pitaka, this was the third discourse delivered by the Buddha after his enlightenment, and it was delivered to a group of one thousand recently converted monks who had previously practiced the fire sacrifice of the Brahmanical tradition.[1][2]

The Pali commentary, Sāratthappakāsini (Spk.), attributed to Buddhaghosa, states:

Having led the thousand bhikkhus monks to Gayā's Head, the Blessed One reflected, 'What kind of Dhamma talk would be suitable for them?' He then realized, 'In the past they worshipped the fire morning and evening. I will teach them that the twelve sense bases are burning and blazing. In this way they will be able to attain arahantship.[3]


In this discourse, the Buddha describes the twelve sense bases (and related mental factors) as burning with the "fires" of attachment (rāga), aversion (dveṣa) and ignorance (avidyā).

Peter Harvey states:

Nirvana literally means ‘extinction’ or ‘quenching’, being the word used for the ‘extinction’ of a fire. The ‘fires’ of which Nirvana is the extinction are described in the Fire Sermon... This teaches that everything internal and external to a person is ‘burning’ with the ‘fires’ of attachment (raga), hatred (dosa; Skt. dvesha) and delusion (moha) and of birth, ageing and death. Here the ‘fires’ refer both to the causes of dukkha and to dukkha itself. Attachment (i.e. sensual and other forms of lust) and hatred are closely related to craving for things and craving to be rid of things, and delusion is synonymous with spiritual ignorance. Nirvana during life is frequently defined as the destruction of these three ‘fires’ or defilements (e.g. S.IV. 251 (BW. 364; EB. 3.4.1)).[4]

Text and translations

One version of this discourse, designated as "SN 35.28" in the Pali canon, has multiple translations into the English language. For example:

This discourse is also found in the Pali canon's Vinaya Pitaka at "Vin I 35".[5]

A parallel text is found in the Samyukta Agama of the Chinese canon.[1]

T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

The third part of T. S. Eliot's celebrated poem The Waste Land is titled "The Fire Sermon," in a reference to this discourse. In a footnote, Eliot states that this Buddhist discourse "corresponds in importance to the Sermon on the Mount."[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Ādittapariyāyasutta.
  2. Rhys Davids & Oldenberg (1881), the Mahavagga, First Khandhaka, chs. 15 - 21; Gombrich (1990), p. 16; and Ñanamoli (1981), "Introduction"
  3. Bodhi (2000), p. 1401, n. 13.
  4. Harvey 2013, Chapter 3.
  5. Rhys Davids & Oldenberg (1881), the Mahavagga, First Khandhaka, ch. 21; Bodhi (2005), p. 449, n. 38; and, Gombrich (1990), p. 16.
  6. Allison et al.. (1975), p. 1042 n. 9. Eliot concludes "The Fire Sermon" section with: "Burning burning burning burning / O Lord Thou pluckest me out / O Lord Thou pluckest // burning" and associates the identified footnote with the first line represented here ("Burning burning....").