Khuddaka Nikaya


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Theragatha
Chapter XIII — The Nineteens

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

 


 

XIII.1[idx] — Ambapali

Black was my hair
— the color of bees —
and curled at the tips;
    with age, it looked like coarse hemp.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Fragrant, like a perfumed basket
filled with flowers: my coiffure.
    With age it smelled musty,
    like animal fur.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Thick and lush, like a well-tended grove,
made splendid, the tips elaborate
with comb and pin.
    With age, it grew thin
    and bare here and there.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Adorned with gold and delicate pins,
it was splendid, ornamented with braids.
    Now, with age,
    that head has gone bald.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Curved, as if well-drawn by an artist,
my brows were once splendid.
    With age, they droop down in folds.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Radiant, brilliant like jewels,
my eyes: elongated, black — deep black.
    With age, they're no longer splendid.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like a delicate peak, my nose
was splendid in the prime of my youth.
    With age, it's like a long pepper.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like bracelets — well-fashioned, well-finished —
my ears were once splendid.
    With age, they droop down in folds.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like plaintain buds in their color,
my teeth were once splendid.
    With age, they're broken and yellowed.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like that of a cuckoo in the dense jungle,
flitting through deep forest thickets:
sweet was the tone of my voice.
    With age, it cracks here and there.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Smooth — like a conch shell well-polished —
my neck was once splendid.
    With age, it's broken down, bent.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like rounded door-bars — both of them —
my arms were once splendid.
    With age, they're like dried up patali trees.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Adorned with gold and delicate rings,
my hands were once splendid.
    With age, they're like onions and tubers.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Swelling, round, firm, and high,
both my breasts were once splendid.
    In the drought of old age, they dangle
    like empty old water bags.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Like a sheet of gold, well-burnished,
my body was splendid.
    Now it's covered with very fine wrinkles.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Smooth in their lines, like an elephant's trunk,
both my thighs were once splendid.
    With age, they're like knotted bamboo.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Adorned with gold and delicate anklets,
my calves were once splendid.
    With age, they're like sesame sticks.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

As if they were stuffed with soft cotton,
both my feet were once splendid.
    With age, they're shriveled and cracked.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

Such was this physical heap,
now: decrepit, the home of pains, many pains.
    A house with its plaster all fallen off.
The truth of the Truth-speaker's words
        doesn't change.

 

§

 

XIII.2[idx] — Rohini

[Rohini's father:]

You go to sleep saying,
    "Contemplatives."
You wake up,
    "Contemplatives."
You praise only
    contemplatives.
No doubt you will be
    a contemplative.

Abundant food and drink
you give to contemplatives.
Now, Rohini, I ask you:
    Why do you hold
    contemplatives dear?

They don't like to work,
    they're lazy,
living off what's given by others,
full of hankerings,
wanting delicious things:
    Why do you hold
    contemplatives dear?

[Rohini:]

For a long time, father,
you've quizzed me
about contemplatives.
I'll praise to you
their    discernment,
    virtue,
    endeavor.

They do like to work,
    they're not lazy.
They do the best work:
        They abandon
        passion and anger.
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

They rid themselves
of the three evil roots,[1]
doing pure actions.
        All their evil's
        abandoned.
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Clean         their bodily action,
so is         their verbal action.
Clean         their mental action:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Spotless, like mother of pearl,
pure within and without,
perfect in clear qualities:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Learned,     maintaining the Dhamma,
noble, living the Dhamma,
they teach the goal
        and the Dhamma:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Learned,     maintaining the Dhamma,
noble, living the Dhamma,
with unified minds
        and mindful:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Traveling far, mindful,
giving counsel unruffled,
they discern the end
        of suffering:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

When they leave any village
they don't turn to look back
        at anything.
How free from concern
they go!
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

They don't store in a granary,
        pot,
        or basket.
They hunt [only]
for what's already cooked:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

They take neither silver,
    nor gold,
    nor money.
They live off whatever is present:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

Having gone forth
from different families
and from different countries,
        still they hold
        one another dear:
    That's why I hold
    contemplatives dear.

[Rohini's father:]

Rohini, truly for our well-being
were you born in our family.
You have conviction
in the Buddha and Dhamma,
and strong respect
for the Sangha.

You truly discern
this field of merit
    unexcelled.
These contemplatives will receive
our offering, too,
for here we'll set up
our abundant sacrifice.

[Rohini:]

If you're afraid of pain,
if you dislike pain,
go to the Buddha for refuge,
go to the Dhamma and Sangha.
Take on the precepts:
    That will lead
    to your well-being.

[Rohini's father:]

I go to the Buddha for refuge;
I go to the Dhamma and Sangha.
I take on the precepts:
    That will lead
    to my well-being.

Before, I was a kinsman to Brahma;
now, truly a brahman.
I'm a three-knowledge man and safe,
consummate in knowledge,
    washed clean.

 

§

 

XIII.5[idx] — Subha, the Goldsmith's Daughter

"I was child, with clean clothes,
when I first heard the Dhamma.
And within me, heedful,
was a break-through to the truth.
Then I arrived
at an enormous dissatisfaction
with all sensuality.
Seeing the danger
    in self-identity,
I longed only
    for renunciation.
Leaving my circle of relatives,
slaves, workers,
prosperous villages and fields,
delightful, enticing possessions,
I went forth,
abandoning not-insignificant wealth.

Having gone out through conviction
in the well-taught true Dhamma,
it wouldn't be proper for me —
    aspiring to nothingness —
having cast off gold and silver
to take them back.
Gold and silver
    don't buy Awakening,
    don't buy peace.
This [gold] isn't proper for contemplatives.
This isn't noble wealth.
    This is
greediness, intoxication,
delusion, bondage to dust,
suspicion, many troubles.
There's no lasting stability here.
It's to this extent that many, many men
    — heedless, their hearts defiled —
opposing one another, create
conflicts, murder, bondage,
calamity, loss, grief, and lamentation.
Many misfortunes are seen
for those head-over-heels in sensuality.
    So, my relatives:
    Why do you, like enemies,
    try to bind me to sensuality?
You know I've gone forth,
seeing the danger in sensuality.
Gold coin and bullion
can't put an end to fermentations.
Sensuality is an enemy,
a murderer,
hostile, arrows and bonds.
    So, my relatives:
    Why do you, like enemies,
    try to bind me to sensuality?
You know I've gone forth
with shaven head, wrapped in a patchwork cloak.
Leftover alms-scraps, gleanings,
a robe made from cast-off cloth:
    That's what's proper for me —
    the requisites of one with no home.
The great seers have rejected sensuality,
    both human and divine.
Released are they,     in the place of security.
Arrived are they,     in unshakeable ease.

So may I not come into union
with sensuality, in which no shelter is found.
It's an enemy, a murderer
    — sensuality —
painful, like a mass of flame.
    Greed:
an obstacle, fearful, threatened,
full of thorns,
very out-of-tune,
a great cause of delusion.
    Sensuality:
a frightening attack,
like a snake's head
in which fools delight —
blinded, run-of-the-mill.

Because many people in the world
are stuck in the mud of sensuality,
    unknowing,
they don't realize the end of birth and death.
Many people follow the path
to bad destinations
because of sensuality,
bringing disease on themselves.

Thus sensuality creates enemies.
It burns, is defiled.
It's the bait of the world,
constraining, the bondage of death,
maddening, deceptive, agitating the mind.
It's a net cast by Mara
for the defilement of living beings:
with endless drawbacks, much pain,
    great poison,
giving little enjoyment, creating conflict,
drying up the good side [of the mind].
I, having caused much trouble like this
because of sensuality,
    will not return to it,
as I always delight in Unbinding.
Doing battle with sensuality
in hopes of the cool state,
I will stay heedful, finding delight
in the ending of fetters.
I follow the path —
    eightfold, straight,
    griefless, stainless, secure —
over which great seers
have crossed."

See this Subha, the goldsmith's daughter,
standing firm in the Dhamma,
entering the imperturbable state,[2]
doing jhana at the foot of a tree.
This is the eighth day of her going forth
confident, beautiful through the true Dhamma.
Trained by Uppalavanna,
she's a three-knowledge woman
who's left death behind;
freed from slavery, debtless,
a nun with developed faculties,The three unskillful roots are greed, aversion, and delusion.[3]
set loose from all ties,
her task done,
fermentation-    free.

Sakka, lord of beings,
with his community of devas,
approaching her through supranormal power,
pays homage to her:
    Subha the goldsmith's daughter.

 


[1] The three unskillful roots are greed, aversion, and delusion.

[2] See MN 106.

[3] This can mean that she has achieved restraint over her sense faculties, or that she has fully developed the faculties of conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. See. SN XLVIII.10 and AN IV.37.

 


 

References:

See also:
SN VII.17;
Sn I.4.

 


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