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Vajirāsutta - a sutta from the Pali canon in which the nun Vajirā has a dialog with the demon Mara. In this dialog, Vajirā uses the simile of the chariot to describe how what we call the "self" (atman) is merely a collection of heaps (skandha).

This sutta is translated by Bhikkhu Sujato as follows:

At Sāvatthī.

Then the nun Vajirā robed up in the morning and, taking her bowl and robe, entered Sāvatthī for alms. She wandered for alms in Sāvatthī. After the meal, on her return from almsround, she went to the Dark Forest, plunged deep into it, and sat at the root of a tree for the day’s meditation.

Then Māra the Wicked, wanting to make the nun Vajirā feel fear, terror, and goosebumps, wanting to make her fall away from immersion, went up to her and addressed her in verse:

“Who created this sentient being? Where is its maker? Where has the being arisen? And where does it cease?”

Then the nun Vajirā thought, “Who’s speaking this verse, a human or a non-human?”

Then she thought, “This is Māra the Wicked, wanting to make me feel fear, terror, and goosebumps, wanting to make me fall away from immersion!”

Then Vajirā, knowing that this was Māra the Wicked, replied to him in verse:

“Why do you believe there’s such a thing as a ‘sentient being’? Māra, is this your theory? This is just a pile of conditions, you won’t find a sentient being here. When the parts are assembled we use the word ‘chariot’. So too, when the aggregates are present ‘sentient being’ is the convention we use. But it’s only suffering that comes to be, lasts a while, then disappears. Naught but suffering comes to be, naught but suffering ceases.”

Then Māra the Wicked, thinking, “The nun Vajirā knows me!” miserable and sad, vanished right there.[1]


  1. SuttaCentral icon square 170px.png With Vajirā, SuttaCentral