Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
4. Rāja Vagga

Sutta 82

Raṭṭhapāla Suttaɱ

About Ratthapala

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][lupt][chlm][pts][ntbb][upal] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One, on a wandering tour among the Kurus
with a large community of monks,
arrived at Thullakotthita,
a town of the Kurus.

The brahmans and householders of Thullakotthita heard it said,
"Gotama the contemplative
— the son of the Sakyans,
having gone forth from the Sakyan clan —
has arrived at Kesaputta.
And of that Master Gotama
this fine reputation has spread:
'He is indeed a Blessed One,
worthy, and rightly self-awakened,
consummate in knowledge and conduct,
well-gone,
a knower of the cosmos,
an unexcelled trainer of those persons ready to be tamed,
teacher of human and divine beings,
awakened, blessed.
He has made known
— having realized it through direct knowledge —
this world with its devas, maras, and brahmas,
its generations with their contemplatives and priests,
their rulers and common people.
He has explained the Dhamma
admirable in the beginning,
admirable in the middle,
admirable in the end;
has expounded the holy life
both in its particulars and in its essence,
entirely perfect, surpassingly pure.

It's good to see such a worthy one.'"

So the brahmans and householders of Thullakotthita
went to the Blessed One.
On arrival, some of them bowed down to the Blessed One and sat to one side.
Some of them exchanged courteous greetings with him and,
after an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies,
sat to one side.
Some of them sat to one side
having saluted him with their hands
palm-to-palm over their hearts.
Some of them sat to one side
having announced their name and clan.
Some of them sat to one side in silence.
As they were sitting there,
the Blessed One instructed, urged, roused,
and encouraged them with a talk on Dhamma.

Now at that time a clansman named Ratthapala,
the son of the leading clan in that same Thullakotthita,
was sitting in that assembly.
The thought occurred to him,
"As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One,
it's not easy, living at home,
to practice the holy life totally perfect,
totally pure, a polished shell.
What if I, having shaved off my hair and beard
and putting on the ochre robe,
were to go forth from the household life
into homelessness?"

Then the brahmans and householders of Thullakotthita,
having been instructed, urged, roused,
and encouraged by the Blessed One's talk on Dhamma,
delighted and rejoiced in his words.
Rising from their seats,
bowing down to him,
they left, keeping him on their right.

Then Ratthapala, not long after the brahmans and householders of Thullakotthita had left,
approached the Blessed One and,
on arrival, said to him,
"As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One,
it's not easy, living at home,
to practice the holy life totally perfect,
totally pure, a polished shell.
Lord, I want
— having shaved off my hair and beard
and putting on the ochre robe —
to go forth from the household life into homelessness.
May I receive the going-forth
in the Blessed One's presence?
May I receive admission?"

"Do you have your parents' permission, Ratthapala,
to go forth from the household life into homelessness?"

"No, lord, I haven't."

"Ratthapala, Tathagatas do not give the going-forth
to anyone who doesn't have his parents' permission."

"Lord, I will do what needs to be done
so that my parents will give their permission
for me to go forth from the household life into homelessness."

Then Ratthapala, rising from his seat,
bowing down to the Blessed One
and keeping him on his right,
went to his parents and said,
"Mom, Dad, as I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One,
it's not easy, living at home,
to practice the holy life totally perfect,
totally pure, a polished shell.
I want
— having shaved off my hair and beard
and putting on the ochre robe —
to go forth from the household life into homelessness.
Please give me your permission
to go forth from the household life into homelessness."

When this was said, Ratthapala's parents said to him,
"Ratthapala, dear, you are our only son,
dear and appealing,
raised in comfort, brought up in comfort.
You know nothing of suffering.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.
While eating, drinking, and looking after yourself,
you may enjoy yourself by indulging in sensual pleasures and making merit.
We don't give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.[1]
Even with your death we would not want to be separated from you,
so how could we
— while you're alive —
give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

A second time...
A third time, Ratthapala said to his parents,
"Mom, Dad, as I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One,
it's not easy, living at home,
to practice the holy life totally perfect,
totally pure, a polished shell.
I want
— having shaved off my hair and beard
and putting on the ochre robe —
to go forth from the household life into homelessness.
Please give me your permission
to go forth from the household life into homelessness."

A third time, Ratthapala's parents said to him,
"Ratthapala, dear, you are our only son,
dear and appealing,
raised in comfort, brought up in comfort.
You know nothing of suffering.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.
While eating, drinking, and looking after yourself,
you may enjoy yourself by indulging in sensual pleasures and making merit.
We don't give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.[2]
Even with your death we would not want to be separated from you,
so how could we
— while you're alive —
give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

Then Ratthapala, not getting his parents' permission
to go forth from the household life into homelessness,
lay down right there on the bare floor, [saying,]
"Here will be my death or my going-forth."
And he went without food for one day ... two days ... three days, four ... five ... six days.
He went without food for seven days.[3]

His parents said to him,
"Ratthapala, dear, you are our only son,
dear and appealing, raised in comfort,
brought up in comfort.
You know nothing of suffering.
Get up, dear.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.
While eating, drinking, and looking after yourself,
you may enjoy yourself by indulging in sensual pleasures and making merit.
We don't give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.
Even with your death
we would not want to be separated from you,
so how could we
— while you're alive —
give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

When this was said, Ratthapala remained silent.

A second time ... A third time, Ratthapala's parents said to him,
"Ratthapala, dear, you are our only son,
dear and appealing, raised in comfort,
brought up in comfort.
You know nothing of suffering.
Get up, dear.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.
While eating, drinking, and looking after yourself,
you may enjoy yourself by indulging in sensual pleasures and making merit.
We don't give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.
Even with your death
we would not want to be separated from you,
so how could we
— while you're alive —
give our permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

A third time, Ratthapala remained silent.

Then Ratthapala's parents went to his friends and said to them,
"My dears, Ratthapala has lain down on the bare floor, [saying,]
'Here will be my death or my going-forth.'
Please, dears, go to Ratthapala and say to him,
'Friend Ratthapala, you are your parents' only son ...
Get up, friend Ratthapala.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself ...
How could your parents
— while you're alive —
give their permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?'"[4]

So Ratthapala's friends went to Ratthapala
and, on arrival, said to him,
"Friend Ratthapala, you are your parents' only son ...
Get up, friend Ratthapala.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself ...
How could your parents
— while you're alive —
give their permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

When this was said, Ratthapala remained silent.

A second time ... A third time, his friends said to him,
"Friend Ratthapala, you are your parents' only son ...
Get up, friend Ratthapala.
Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself ...
How could your parents
— while you're alive —
give their permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness?"

A third time, Ratthapala remained silent.

So Ratthapala's friends went to his parents
and, on arrival, said to them,
"Mom, Dad, Ratthapala is lying there on the bare floor, [having said,]
'Here will be my death or my going-forth.
If you don't give him your permission to go forth
from the household life into homelessness,
right there will be his death.
But if you do give him your permission ...
then even when he has gone forth,
you will see him.
And if he does not enjoy going forth
from the household life into homelessness,
where else will he go?
He'll return right here.
So please give him permission to go forth
from the household life into homelessness."

"Then, dears, we give our permission for Ratthapala to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.
But when he has gone forth,
he must visit his parents."

Then Ratthapala's friends went to him and said,
"Get up, Ratthapala.[5] Your parents give their permission for you to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.
But when you have gone forth,
you must visit your parents."

Then Ratthapala got up and,
on regaining strength,
went to the Blessed One.
On arrival, having bowed down to him,
he sat to one side.
As he was sitting there,
he said to the Blessed One,
"I have received my parents' permission, lord, to go forth
from the household life into homelessness.
May the Blessed One give me the going-forth!"

Then Ratthapala the clansman
obtained the going-forth in the Blessed One's presence,
he obtained admission.
And not long after his admission,
one half month after his admission,
the Blessed One
— having stayed at Thullakotthita as long as he liked —
set out wandering to Savatthi.
Wandering by stages,
he eventually arrived at Savatthi.
There he lived at Savatthi in Jeta's Grove,
Anathapindika's monastery.

As for Ven. Ratthapala
— dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute —
he in no long time reached and remained in
the supreme goal of the holy life,
for which clansmen rightly go forth
from home into homelessness,
knowing and realizing it for himself in the here and now.
He knew: "Birth is ended,
the holy life fulfilled,
the task done.
There is nothing further for the sake of this world."
And thus Ven. Ratthapala became another one of the arahants.

Then Ven. Ratthapala went to the Blessed One
and, on arrival, having bowed down to him,
sat to one side.
As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One,
"Lord, I want to visit my parents,
if you give me permission."
Then the Blessed One,
encompassing Ven. Ratthapala's awareness with his awareness,
considered and understood,
"Ven. Ratthapala is incapable of leaving the training
and reverting to the lower life."
So he said to him,
"Now is the time, Ratthapala,
for you to do as you see fit."

Then Ven. Ratthapala,
rising from his seat,
bowing down to the Blessed One
and keeping him on his right, [departed].
Putting his lodgings in order
and, carrying his bowl and robes,
set out wandering toward Thullakotthita.
Wandering by stages,
he eventually arrived at Thullakotthita.
There he stayed in Thullakotthita
in King Koravya's Migacira [garden].
Then, early in the morning
— putting on his under robe and carrying his bowl and robes —
he went into Thullakotthita for alms.
As he went for alms from house to house in Thullakotthita,
he came to his own father's house.

Now at that time
Ven. Ratthapala's father was in the middle door-porch
having his hair combed.
He saw Ven. Ratthapala coming from afar
and, on seeing him, said,
"It was by these shaven-headed contemplatives
that our only son, dear and appealing,
was made to go forth!"
So Ven. Ratthapala
— instead of receiving a gift or a polite refusal
at his own father's house —
got nothing but abuse.

Just then a slavewoman
belonging to one of his relatives
was about to throw away some day-old porridge.
So Ven. Ratthapala said to her,
"Sister, if that is to be thrown away,
pour it here into my bowl."
While she was pouring the day-old porridge into this bowl,
she recognized his hands, feet, and voice.
So she went to his mother and said,
"May it please you to know, my lady,
that master-son Ratthapala has arrived."

"Hey, if what you say is true,
I give you your freedom!"

Then Ven. Ratthapala's mother went to his father and said,
"May it please you to know, householder,
that they say the clansman Ratthapala has arrived."

Now at that time
Ven. Ratthapala was sitting by a wall,
eating the day-old porridge.
His father went to him and said,
"Ratthapala, my dear, isn't there
— What? You're eating day-old porridge?
Don't you have your own home to go to?"

"How could we have a home, householder?
We have gone forth from the household life
into homelessness.
We are homeless, householder.
We went to your house, but
— instead of receiving a gift
or a polite refusal —
we got nothing but abuse."

"Come, dear Ratthapala.
Let's go home."

"Enough, householder.
My meal for today is finished."

"In that case, dear Ratthapala,
acquiesce to the meal for tomorrow."

So Ven. Ratthapala acquiesced in silence.

Understanding Ven. Ratthapala's acquiesence,
his father went to his house
and, having the floor coated with fresh cow dung,
had a great heap of gold and silver made,
two great heaps made
— one of gold, one of silver —
so large that a man standing on the near side
could not see a man standing on the far side,
just as a man standing on the far side
could not see a man standing on the near.
Hiding them behind screens,
he set out a seat between them,
surrounded by a curtain.[6]
Addressing Ven. Ratthapala's former wives, he said to them,
"Come, daughters-in-law.
Adorn yourself in the ornaments that our son, Ratthapala,
used to find dear and appealing."

Then, as the night was ending,
Ven. Ratthapala's father had exquisite staple and non-staple foods
prepared in his own house
and had the time announced to Ven. Ratthapala:
"It's time, dear Ratthapala.
The meal is ready."

Then, early in the morning
— putting on his under robe and carrying his bowl and robes —
Ven. Ratthapala went to his father's house
and, on arrival, sat down on the seat made ready.
Then his father revealed the heap of gold and silver, said to him,
"This, my dear Ratthapala, is your mother's inheritance.
The other is your fathers;
the other, your grandfather's
— [enough that] you can enjoy wealth and make merit.
Come, my dear Ratthapala.
Leave the training and revert to the lower life.
Enjoy wealth and make merit!"

"Householder, if you'd do as I say,
you would have this heap of gold and silver
loaded on carts and hauled away
to be dumped midstream in the river Ganges.
Why is that?
This [wealth] will be the cause
of your sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair."

Then, clasping each of his feet,
Ven. Ratthapala's former wives said to him,
"What are they like, dear master-son:
those nymphs for whose sake
you lead the holy life?"

"Sisters, we don't lead the holy life
for the sake of nymphs."

"'Sisters' he calls us!"
And they fell down right there in a faint.

Then Ven. Ratthapala said to his father,
"Householder, if there's food to be given,
then give it.
Don't harass us."

"Eat, then, my dear Ratthapala.
The meal is ready."

So, with his own hands,
Ven. Ratthapala's father served and satisfied him
with exquisite staple and non-staple foods.
When he had finished his meal
and withdrawn his hand from the bowl,
Ven. Ratthapala stood up and recited these verses:

Look at the image beautified,
a heap of festering wounds, shored up:
ill, but the object
   of many resolves,
where there is nothing
   lasting or sure.[7]

Look at the form beautified
with earrings and gems:
   a skeleton wrapped in skin,
   made attractive with clothes.

Feet reddened with henna,
a face smeared with powder:
   enough to deceive a fool,
   but not a seeker for the further shore.

Hair plaited in eight pleats,
eyes smeared with unguent:
   enough to deceive a fool,
   but not a seeker for the further shore.

Like a newly painted unguent pot —
a putrid body adorned:
   enough to deceive a fool,
   but not a seeker for the further shore.

The hunter set out the snares,
but the deer didn't go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
      we go,
   leaving the hunters
      to weep.

After reciting these verses while standing,
Ven. Ratthapala went to King Koravya's Migacira.
On arrival, he sat down in the shade of a tree
for the day's abiding.

Then King Koravya said to his gamekeeper:
"Clean up the Migacira pleasure garden.
I am going there to see the beautiful grounds."

"As you say, your majesty,"
the gamekeeper responded to the king.
As he was cleaning up Migacira
he saw Ven. Ratthapala sitting
in the shade of a certain tree
for the day's abiding.
On seeing him, he went to the king and said,
"Migacira has been cleaned up for you, your majesty.
And the clansman Ratthapala
— the son of the leading clan in this Thullakotthita,
of whom you have often spoken highly —
is there, sitting
in the shade of a certain tree
for the day's abiding."

"In that case, my dear gamekeeper,
never mind about the pleasure garden for today.
I am now going to pay my respects
to that Master Ratthapala."

Then, saying,
"Give away all the staple and non-staple foods
that have been prepared,"
King Koravya had auspicious vehicles harnessed.
Mounting an auspicious vehicle
he set out from Thullakotthita
accompanied by other auspicious vehicles
in full royal pomp
to see Ven. Ratthapala.
Going as far by vehicle as the ground would permit,
he dismounted and went to Ven. Ratthapala,
accompanied by many eminent members of his court.
On arrival, he exchanged courteous greetings with Ven. Ratthapala.
After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies,
he stood to one side.
As he was standing there,
he said to Ven. Ratthapala,
"May Master Ratthapala sit here on the elephant rug."

"Never mind, great king.
You sit there.
I am sitting on my own seat."

So King Koravya sat down on the seat prepared.
As he was sitting there,
he said to Ven. Ratthapala,
"There are cases where,
having suffered these four kinds of loss,
men shave off their hair and beard,
put on the ochre robe,
and go forth from the home life into homelessness.
Which four?

Loss through aging,
loss through illness,
loss of wealth,
and loss of relatives...
But Master Ratthapala has suffered none of these.
What did he know or see or hear
that Master Ratthapala went forth
from the home life into homelessness?"

"Great king, there are four Dhamma summaries
stated by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened.
Having known and seen and heard them,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness.
Which four?

"'The world[8] is swept away.
It does not endure':
This is the first Dhamma summary
stated by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened.
Having known and seen and heard it,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness.

"'The world is without shelter,
without protector':
This is the second Dhamma summary...

"'The world is without ownership.
One has to pass on,
leaving everything behind':
This is the third Dhamma summary...

"'The world is insufficient,
insatiable, a slave to craving':
This is the fourth Dhamma summary...

"These, great king,
are the four Dhamma summaries
stated by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened.
Having known and seen and heard them,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness."

"Master Ratthapala, you say,
'The world is swept away.
It does not endure.'
Now how is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king:
When you were twenty or twenty-five years old
— an expert elephant rider, an expert horseman,
an expert charioteer, an expert archer,
an expert swordsman —
were you strong in arm and strong in thigh,
fit, and seasoned in warfare?"

"Yes, Master Ratthapala,
when I was twenty or twenty-five years old ...
I was strong in arm and strong in thigh,
fit, and seasoned in warfare.
It was as if I had supernormal power.
I do not see anyone who was my equal in strength."

"And what do you think, great king:
Are you even now
as strong in arm and strong in thigh,
as fit, and as seasoned in warfare?"

"Not at all, Master Ratthapala.
I'm now a feeble old man,
aged, advanced in years,
having come to the last stage of life,
80 years old.
Sometimes, thinking,
'I will place my foot here,'
I place it somewhere else."

"It was in reference to this, great king,
that the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened, said:
'The world is swept away.
It does not endure.'
Having known and seen and heard this,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala.
It's astounding, how well that has been said
by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened:
'The world is swept away.
It does not endure.'
For the world really is swept away, Master Ratthapala.
It does not endure.

"Now, in this royal court
there are elephant troops and cavalry
and chariot troops and infantry
that will serve to defend us from dangers.
And yet you say,
'The world is without shelter, without protector.'
How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king:
Do you have any recurring illness?"

"Yes, Master Ratthapala,
I have a recurring wind-illness.[9]
Sometimes my friends and advisors,
relatives and blood-kinsmen,
stand around me saying,
'This time King Koravya will die.
This time King Koravya will die.'"

"And what do you think, great king:
Can you say to your friends and advisors,
relatives and blood-kinsmen,
'My friends and advisors,
relatives and blood-kinsmen are commanded:
all of you who are present,
share out this pain
so that I may feel less pain'?
Or do you have to feel that pain all alone?"

"Oh, no, Master Ratthapala,
I can't say to my friends and advisors,
relatives and blood-kinsmen,
'All of you who are present,
share out this pain
so that I may feel less pain.'
I have to feel that pain all alone."

"It was in reference to this, great king,
that the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened, said:
'The world is without shelter, without protector.'
Having known and seen and heard this,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala.
It's astounding, how well that has been said
by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened:
'The world is without shelter, without protector.'
For the world really is without shelter, Master Ratthapala.
It is without protector.

"Now, in this royal court
there is a great deal of gold and silver
stashed away underground and in attic vaults.
And yet you say,
'The world is without ownership.
One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.'
How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king?
As you now enjoy yourself
endowed and replete with the five strings of sensuality,
can you say,
'Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way,
endowed and replete with the very same five strings of sensuality'?
Or will this wealth fall to others,
while you pass on in accordance with your kamma?"

"On, no, Master Ratthapala,
I can't say,
'Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way,
endowed and replete with the very same five strings of sensuality.'
This wealth will fall to others,
while I pass on in accordance with my kamma."

"It was in reference to this, great king,
that the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened, said:
'The world is without ownership.
One has to pass on,
leaving everything behind.'
Having known and seen and heard this,
I went forth from the home life
into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala.
It's astounding, how well that has been said
by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened:
'The world is without ownership.
One has to pass on,
leaving everything behind.'
For the world really is without ownership, Master Ratthapala.
One has to pass on,
leaving everything behind.

"Now, Master Ratthapala, you say, 'The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.' How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king: Do you now rule over the prosperous country of Kuru?"

"That is so, Master Ratthapala. I rule over the prosperous country of Kuru."

"What do you think, great king:
Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours
were to come to you from the east.
On arrival he would say to you,
'May it please your majesty to know,
I have come from the east.
There I saw a great country,
powerful and prosperous,
populous and crowded with people.
Plenty are the elephant troops there,
plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, and infantry troops.
Plenty is the ivory-work there,
plenty the gold and silver,
both worked and unworked.
Plenty are the women for the taking.
It is possible, with the forces you now have,
to conquer it.
Conquer it, great king!'
What would you do?"

"Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala,
I would rule over it."

"Now what do you think, great king?
Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours
were to come to you from the west ... the north ... the south ...
the other side of the ocean.
On arrival he would say to you,
'May it please your majesty to know,
I have come from the other side of the ocean.
There I saw a great country,
powerful and prosperous,
populous and crowded with people.
Plenty are the elephant troops there,
plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, and infantry troops.
Plenty is the ivory-work there,
plenty the gold and silver,
both worked and unworked.
Plenty are the women for the taking.
It is possible, with the forces you now have,
to conquer it.
Conquer it, great king!'
What would you do?"

"Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala,
I would rule over it, too."

"It was in reference to this, great king,
that the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened, said:
'The world is insufficient, insatiable,
a slave to craving.'
Having known and seen and heard this,
I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala.
It's astounding, how well that has been said
by the Blessed One who knows and sees,
worthy and rightly self-awakened:
'The world is insufficient, insatiable,
a slave to craving.'
For the world really is insufficient, Master Ratthapala.
It's insatiable, a slave to craving."

That is what Ven. Ratthapala said.
Having said that,
he further said this:

I see in the world
    people with wealth
who, from delusion,
    don't make a gift
    of the treasure they've gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean's near shore,
    longs for the ocean's
    far shore as well.

Kings and others
    — plenty of people —
go to death with craving
    unabated. Unsated
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world's sensual pleasures.

One's relatives weep
and pull out their hair.
'Oh woe, our loved one is dead,' they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
    on a pyre,
    then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died —
    not relatives,
    friends,
    or companions.

His heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one —
    not children, wives,
    dominion, or riches.

Long life
can't be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing —
    impermanent,
    subject to change.

The rich and the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish and wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don't tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth —
for those who haven't reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
    out of delusion,
    doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
and to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
    — one thing
    after another —
while those of weak discernment,
    trusting in one,
also go to a womb
and to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
    is destroyed
    by his own act,
so evil people
-- after dying, in the next world —
    are destroyed
    by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures —
    variegated,
    enticing,
    sweet —
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that's why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
    — young and old —
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
    I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
        for sure.

 


[1] and [2] The preceding three sentences appear in this location only in the Thai edition of the Canon, although they appear below in all editions of the Canon.

[3] This reference to the number of days Ratthapala went without food appears only in the Thai edition of the Canon.

[4] This paragraph is not in the Thai edition of the Canon.

[5] This first sentence in quotation marks is not in the Thai edition of the Canon.

[6] This passage in the Thai edition of the Canon is much more elaborate than the corresponding passage in other editions of the Canon. The other editions mention simply that the father went home and had a heap of gold and silver made and concealed with a screen. The detail of the height of the heaps seems to have been adopted from the Commentary, for the commentators — in discussing this passage — feel called upon to explain how tall the piles were. If that detail had been in the original Pali, they wouldn't have had to supply it. As for the two heaps, that detail seems required by the later passage where Ven. Ratthapala's father points out three separate inheritances, although that passage — as indicated in the translation, mentions "heap" in the singular.
Apparently there were some discrepancies in the original discourse that subsequent editors tried to correct, but it's hard to reach a definitive conclusion as to which version is closer to the original. On the one hand, it might be that the two extra heaps were mentioned in the original, but later deleted in some editions to bring the description in line with the fact that the later passage mentions "heap" in the singular; on the other hand, it might be that the original described the father making one heap, and the editors later amended the passage to account for his later reference to three inheritances. [Ed.: Three heaps can be referred to as 'a heap'.]

[7] This verse is identical with Dhp 147.

[8] For the meaning of the word "world" in this discourse, see SN 35.82.

[9] In ancient Indian medicine, a variety of illnesses — such as indigestion, sharp pains running through the body, etc. — were said to be caused by an imbalance of the wind-property (vaayo-dhaatu) in the body.

 


 

References:

See also: Thag XVI.4


 

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