One might tend for a hundred years
the forest’s sacred fire,
but if for only a moment one
might honour the self-developed,
such honour were better by far
than centuries of sacrifice.
Explanation: A person may perform fire-worship ritual in the forest for a hundred years. Yet, for a person who adores just for a moment, a self-restrained, disciplined Arahat, that moment’s adoration of the Arahat is far nobler than the fire-worship of hundred years.
The Story of Venerable Sariputta’s Nephew (Verse 107)
While residing at the Veluvana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Venerable Sariputta’s nephew.
For the Venerable went to his nephew also and said, “Brahmin, do you ever do a single good deed?” “Yes, Venerable.”
“What do you do?” “Month after month, I slay a single beast and tend the sacrificial fire.”
“For what purpose do you do that?” “That, they say, is the way to the World of Brahma.”
“Who told you so?” “My teachers, Venerable.”
“Neither you nor your teachers know the way to the World of Brahma. Come, let us go to the Buddha.”
So Venerable Sariputta conducted his nephew to the Buddha, informed the Buddha of the incident, and said to him, “Venerable, tell this man the way to the world of the Brahma.”
Said the Buddha, “Brahmin, are you correctly reported?” “Yes, Venerable.” “Brahmin, though you should thus tend the sacrificial fire for a hundred years, yet would the merit of your performance not attain the worth of honour done to my disciple for even a single instant.”