discourse of the Buddha on the Snake Simile (AlagaddúpamaSutta) that is presented here, together with explanatory notestaken mostly from the commentarial literature, is the 22nd text inthe “Collection of Discourses of Medium Length” (Majjhima Nikáya).It is a text rich of contents and graced by many similes. At the very beginning there is a sequence of ten pithy similes on the perils of sensedesires; then follows the simile on correctly or wrongly getting hold of asnake (from which our text derives its name); further, and still betterknown, the parable of the raft; and finally the simile of the vegetation ofthe Jeta Grove. The evocative power of these similes will strengthen theimpact of the sutta’s message, in him who ponders on them deeply andrepeatedly.The main concern of this discourse is to warn against misconceptions,misrepresentations and dilution of the Teaching.While the Buddha repeatedly stressed that his Teaching should beaccepted only after due investigation, and uninfluenced by tradition orexternal authority; while he also advised his monks to make light of praiseand blame of the Teaching uttered by outsiders (see here §38f.); the Masterwas quite firm, and even stern, when misrepresentations of the Teachingoccurred on the part of his monks — that is, by those who had acceptedthe Teaching and had chosen a life devoted to its realization. Ourdiscourse is not the only one where the Buddha had voiced a stern rebukeof monks who misinterpreted essential parts of the Teaching (see, e.g.
MN 38). What moved the Buddha to do so was his deep concern that theefficacy of his unique Path of Deliverance should not be impaired, hisTeaching not be undermined from within, and the purity of conduct and