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The Raṭṭhapāla Sutta

Majjhima Nikāya,

Sutta 82

Journal
of
The Royal Asiatic Society
London, The Royal Asiatic Society
1894
 
Article XXIII
The Raṭṭhapāla Sutta
By
Walter Lupton, I.C.S.

Public Domain
This work has been reformatted for presentation on BuddhaDust
Thanks to J.B. Hare's Internet Sacred Text Archives for originally posting this material
Digitized and formatted for Internet Sacred Text Archives by Cristopher M. Weimer

 


 

Introduction

The Sutta of which the Pāli text, together with a translation, is here given[edfn1] is No. 82 of the Majjhima Nikāya. I have availed myself througbout of Buddhaghosa's Commentary, the Papañca-Sūdanī; but only so much of it is here reproduced, in the form of extracts, as I thought was necessary either to support a rendering, or to illustrate a point, of the text. Such extracts are marked 'Pap. Sūd.' I have added, at the end of the text, a few further references of general interest.

In its form the Raṭṭhapāla Sutta stands midway between those Suttas (the vast majority) in which the chief interlocutor is the Buddha himself, and those Suttas in which this place is held by one of hie disciples. Of this latter class, the Madhura Sutta on Caste, which appeared in the April number of this Journal, is an example. The present Sutta differs from this in that the Buddha does indeed figure, as in the first class of Suttas; but his appearance is rather an episode than the essential part, and the story of the conversion of the young nobleman is really an introduction to the main part of the Sutta, from which the Buddha disappears. The main interest rather lies in the attitude of contemporary opinion towards the demands made by the Buddha's teaching, and in bringing out the feeling, not confined, perhaps, to the days of Gotama, of surprise, not unmingled with pity, of the average man in the world, and of the world, towards earnest spirits prepared to give up everything which the world regards as making life worth living, to pursue an ideal, to tread the higher path. The bulk of mankind is content with a lower standard. "It is possible," says his father to Raṭṭhapāla, "both to enjoy the good things of life, and to perform good works." What need of such rigid system of self-denial? asks the world. "Come, Raṭṭhapāla," echoes his father; "give up this Discipline, return to family life," or, as the Pāli words actually translate, 'take the lower course.' Finally, King Koravya takes up the parable, and presents the case for the world in four questions. Briefly summarised, the position is this: One can understand, perhaps, a man who is old, or diseased, or impoverished, or desolate, renouncing the world; one can understand, that is, a man who is no longer able to enjoy the things of life, and who is out of heart generally with the world, making a show of giving up this mundane existence for higher things. But here is a young man in the heyday of youth, with rank and position, with health and wealth; and it is such an one who is renouncing all and everything to become a 'shaveling ascetic.' This is the wonder. Sour grapes, the world can understand; but this other thing — the hands of surprise are upraised thereat.

Apart from this general interest, it cannot be said that the student of Buddhism, as such, will find anything remarkable in this Sutta. But it may be of interest to note that the story which is the framework of the Sutta was certainly a popular one with the Buddhist community; for we find it again in the Vinaya, Sutta Vibhaṇga, Pārājika, 1. 5 (Oldenberg's edition, vol. iii. p. xi.), and in the Jātaka (Fausböll, vol. i. p. 156, the Vātamiga-Jātaka); while the story of Raṭṭhapāla is referred to again, by way of illustration, in the Sutta Vibhaṇga (Oldenberg, vol. iii. p. 148; Saŋghādisesa, vi. 4-6). In the first case, substituting Sudinna for Raṭṭhapāla, the story is repeated almost verbatim, for the first three-fourths. The last fourth of the story is different, in that Sudinna yields to the entreaties of mother and wife, and becomes the pattern backslider, as Raṭṭhapāla remains the instance of steadfast resolution. The Jātaka tale, on the other hand, if more pointed, is meagre and somewhat far removed from our version. Still there is enough, in Jātaka phraseology, 'to establish the identity' of the two, and to see how in the Jātaka the story was clipped and altered to suit its present purpose. Suffice it to say here that it is the slave-girl who, with the mother's consent, sets herself to break down the resolution of the young Prince Tissa, the Jātaka Raṭṭhapāla, or rather Sudinna, for Tissa is secluced from the Way of Holiness, and relapses with Sudinna into the laity.

It would be an interesting question to ask, in connection with the date of the various portions of the Tipiṭakaŋ, which of the three versions, if any, is the primordial story, or whether some story of the kind was generally current in the early centuries of Buddhism. If it be permitted to hazard a theory based on a close comparison of the two stories, I should consider that Sudinna was evolved as the correlative of Raṭṭhapāla, in order to illustrate certain precepts of the Vinaya Nikāya. For the latter is admittedly a composite work, pieced together at different periods. But in the present state of our knowledge of the age of the texts, we are limited to speculation; and it is perhaps idle to attempt to argue the question one way or the other.

 


 

The Raṭṭhapāla Sutta

(Majjhima-Nikāya, No. 82.)

[1][chlm][pts][than][ntbb][upal] THUS HAVE I HEARD. — Once the Blessed One, as he wandered from place to place in the Kuru country, with a great company of Brethren, arrived at the town of the Kurus, named Thullakoṭṭhita. Now tidings came to the Brahmins and householders of Thullakoṭṭhita that the sage Gotama, of the Sakya clan and tribe, having renounced the world, and wandering from place to place in the Kuru country with a great company of Brethren, was arrived at Thullakoṭṭhita; and that regarding the Blessed One, Gotama, such was the high repute noised abroad that it was said of him that he was a Blessed One, an Arahat, a very Buddha, excellent in wisdom and conduct, an auspicious one, who has surveyed all existence, an incomparable breaker-in of restive humanity, a teacher of gods and men, a blessed Buddha; that he, having brought himself to the knowledge thereof, and realised it face-to-face, tells of this world of existence, with its Devas, its Māra, and its Brahmā, and of the beings therein, Samanas and Brahmins, and the rest of mankind with the beings they have deified; he preaches a Doctrine, fair at beginning, fair at end, fair throughout, text and interpretation; he makes known a way of Holiness supremely beautiful; it was good to go and see such Arahats as he was.

So the Brahmins and householders of Thullakoṭṭhita went to the place where the Blessed One was; and when they had come thither; some of them sat down respectfully beside him; some, on the other hand, exchanged friendly greetings with the Blessed One; and when they had exchanged with him the greetings of friendliness and civility, then sat down beside him. Others sat down by him, making humble obeisance with palms upraised in reverential attitude towards the Blessed One; and some made mention of their name and house, and so sat down with and householders of Thullakoṭṭhita were thus seated beside him, the Blessed One instructed them with a discourse of the Doctrine, and caused them to receive it, and stirred them up, and brought them to extol it. Now at that time there was sitting in that congregation a young man of noble birth, Raṭṭhapāla by name, a son of the chief family in this very Thullakoṭṭhita. Now the young man Raṭṭhapāla thought thus: "So far as the Blessed One expounds the Doctrine point by point, it is no easy matter for one who lives the ordinary lay life of the householder to go the Way of Holiness, most perfect, most pure as the polished shell. Wherefore were it better for me, cutting off my hair and beard, and putting on yellow robes, to relinquish the household life and go forth unto homelessness."

Then, when the Brahmins and householders of Thullakoṭṭhita had been instructed by the Blessed One by his discourse of the Doctrine, and had received it in their minds and been stirred up to acknowledge and extol it; and, having rejoiced in the words of the Blessed One and given him thanks and risen from their seats, and, having said a respectful farewell, had taken their departure, keeping him ever on the right — then the young man Raṭṭhapāla, while the Brahmins and householders were not yet gone far off, approached the Blessed One, and sat respectfully beside him. And when he was thus seated, the young man, Raṭṭhapāla. spake as follows to the Blessed One: "As far, Lord, as I understand the Doctrine set forth by the Blessed One, point by point, it is no easy matter for one who leads the household life, to go the Way of Holiness, most perfect, most pure as the polished shell. I would, Lord, obtain admission to the ascetic life from the Blessed One; yea, I would obtain full admission into the order."

"Have you then; Raṭṭhapāla, your parents' consent to your going forth from home to houselessness?"

"I have not, Lord, their consent to my going forth from home to homelessness."

"Then, Raṭṭhapāla, the Tathāgatas receive not him into the homeless life who has not his parents' consent."

"Then, Lord, so will I do that my parents will allow me to go forth from home to homelessness." And the young man, Raṭṭhapāla, rising up from his seat, greeted respectfully the Blessed One; and passing from him, keeping him ever on the right, came to the place where his mother and father were, and being come, spake thus to them: "My dear parents, so far as I understand the Doctrine set forth by the Blessed one, point by point, it is no easy matter for one who leads the household life, to go the Way of Holiness, most perfect, most pure as the polished shell. I wish, then, having cut off my hair and beard, and donned yellow robes, to give up this life of home, and go forth to the homeless state. Do ye allow me so to go forth!"

When he had said this, the parents of the young man Raṭṭhapāla spake to him thus: — "My dear Raṭṭhapāla, you are our only son, dear to us and beloved, well cared for, delicately nurtured. You have never, dear Raṭṭhapāla, known any sorrow. Come, Raṭṭhapāla, eat and drink, and associate with your companions; and eating and drinking and associating with your companions, and enjoying the pleasures of life, and doing good works, remain content therewith. We do not allow you to give up home and go forth a homeless one. We shall be unwilling to be separated from you even by death. Shall we, then, allow the living to give up home and go forth unto homelessness?"

A second time also, and a third, the young man Raṭṭhapāla spake to his parents; and a second time, and a third also, they returned him answer in the same words. Then the young man, Raṭṭhapāla, obtaining not from his parents their consent to his renunciation, flung himself then and there even on the bare ground, saying, "Here, here, death shall come to me, if I go not forth a homeless one." And his parents said to him: "Dear Raṭṭhapāla, you are our only son, dear to us and beloved (etc. as above). We cannot let you go forth from home to homelessness." So they spake, but Raṭṭhapāla remained silent. And they spake to him a second time, and a third time; and ever at each entreaty, Raṭṭhapāla lay there, answering naught.

Then the parents of the young man Raṭṭhapāla went to his friends; and when they had come, they spake thus to them; — "Good sirs, this Raṭṭhapāla of ours is lying on the bare ground and saying, 'Here even shall death come upon me, or I go forth a homeless one.' Come, good sirs, go to Raṭṭhapāla, and say to him, 'Friend Raṭṭhapāla, you are your parents' only son, dear to them and beloved, well cared for and delicately nurtured. You have never, Raṭṭhapāla, known sorrow. Get up, friend Raṭṭhapāla, eat and drink, and associate with your companions; and eating and drinking, and associating with your companions, and taking the pleasures of life, and doing good works, remain content therewith. Your mother and father cannot see their son go forth from home to homelessness. They will be unwilling to give you up even to death when it comes at its appointed time. Shall they then, while you are yet alive, allow you to go forth from home to homelessness?'"

So the friends of the young man Raṭṭhapāla, hearkening to his parents, approached the place where Raṭṭhapāla was; and when they had come to him, they spake as they had promised. Thus they spake, but Raṭṭhapāla remained silent; and a second time, and a third, they spake to him; and ever Raṭṭhapāla lay there, answering naught.

Then the friends of the young man Raṭṭhapāla came to where his mother and father were, and said to them; — "Good parents, your son Raṭṭhapāla is lying on the bare ground, and saying, 'Here even shall death come upon me, or I go forth a homeless one.' If ye consent not to his going forth to the life of homelessness, there, even on that very spot, will he meet his death. But if ye consent, ye will indeed see him gone forth unto homelessness; yet if he shall not find contentment in his homeless life, what other course will there be for him? 'Twill be here, and here alone, that he will turn back. Allow him, then, to go forth from home unto homelessness."

"We allow him, then, to go forth; but when he has become a homeless ascetic, he must from time to time come to see his parents."

Then his friends went to the place where Raṭṭhapāla lay, and said to him, "Friend Raṭṭhapāla, you are your parents' only son, dear to them and beloved, well cared for and delicately nurtured; you have never, friend Raṭṭhapāla, known any sorrow; get up [and eat and drink and associate with your companions, and eating and drinking and enjoying ease, and taking the pleasures of life, and doing good works, remain content therewith]; you have your parents' consent to go forth from your home unto homelessness; but when you are gone forth, you must come from time to time to see them."

Then Raṭṭhapāla rose up and, having fortified himself with food, went to where the Blessed One was. And when he had come thither, and greeted him respectfully, he sat dawn beside him, and when he was thus seated, Raṭṭhapāla spoke to the Blessed One: — "My parents have consented, Lord, that I should go forth from home to homelessness. Let the Blessed One receive me." Accordingly the young man, Raṭṭhapāla, found admission at the hands of the Blessed One, yea, full admission to the homeless state.

Now the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla had not been admitted to the full religious life longer than a fortnight, when the Blessed One, having sojourned at Thullakoṭṭhita as was convenient, departed thence for Sāvatthi; and thither, after the circuit of his wanderings, he at length arrived. There the Blessed One took up his residence in Jetavana, in the garden of Anāthapiṇḍika. But the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, dwelling in solitude, far removed from the world, diligent and persevering, and earnest in effort, in no long time attained that for which the young scions of noble lineage give up home to go forth to homelessnes, namely the supreme goal of the Way of Holiness; having brought himself here in this visible world to the knowledge of it, and realised it face-to-face, dwelling ever therein. And he came to full understanding that re-birth was to be no more, that the Way of Holiness had been traversed, that all that should be done had been accomplished, and that after this life there would be for him no beyond. So the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla became yet another among the Arahats.

Then the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla came to the place where the Blessed One was; and when he had come there took his seat respectfully beside him. And being thas seated, the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla said to the Blessed One: "Lord; I wish to go and see my mother and father, if the Blessed One grant me permission." Thereupan the Blessed One pondered in his mind the thoughts of Raṭṭhapāla; and when he became conscious that Raṭṭhapāla was not minded to abandon the Discipline and to take to the lesser path, the lay-life, the Blessed One said to the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla: "At your pleasure, Raṭṭhapāla; go whenever you think fit."

So Raṭṭhapāla arose from his seat, and taking respectful farewell passed from the Blessed One, keeping him ever on the right. And, having arranaged his dwelling-place, and taking his robes and bowl, he departed thence for Thullakoṭṭhita; whither in the course of his wanderings he at length arrived, and took up his residence there in a pleasaunce called Deer Park, belonging to King Koravya. Then in the morning the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, putting on his yellow robes and taking his bowl, entered Thullakoṭṭhita for alms; and as he went from house to house in succession on his round for alms, he came to the place where his father dwelt. Now at this time his father was in the central hall of his house, being tended by his barber. Glancing up, he saw the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla coming in the distance. And seeing him he said, "These shaveling ascetics caused our only son, our dear and beloved boy; to give up his home for homelessness." And so the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla received no gift at his father's house, nor even courteous refusal, but abuse alone.

Now at that moment a slave girl belonging to the relatives of the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla was about to throw away some gruel which had turned sour from being kept overnight. So the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla said to her: "Sister, if you are going to throw away that sour gruel, put it here into my bowl." Now, as she put this sour old gruel into the bowl of the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, she recognised his hands and his feet, and the sound of his voice. Thereupon she went to the place where his mother was, and said to her: "If you please, ma'am, do you know, my young master, Raṭṭhapāla, is come back." "Oh! If you but speak the truth," the mother replied, "you shall obtain your freedom." And then, going to his father, she said to him: "Do you know, husband, they say our son Raṭṭhapāla is returned."

In the meantime, the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla was eating his sour gruel under a wall close by, when his father came to him and said: "Is it so then, my dear Raṭṭhapāla, will you eat sour old gruel? Nay, dear Raṭṭhapāla, must you not come to your own house?"

"Where, householder," he answered, "is our house who have given up home to go forth unto homelessness. We went, homeless one, to your house, householder; but there we obtained no alms, not even courteous refusal, but only abuse."

"Come, dear Raṭṭhapāla, we will go home."

"Nay, householder, the need of a meal is at an end to-day."

"Then consent, dear Raṭṭhapāla, to take your meal with me to-morrow."

The Venerable Raṭṭhapāla by his silence consented; and his father, perceiving his consent, returned to his own house. And when he had returned, he caused a great heap of treasure and gold to be made, and caused it to be covered with mats. Then he summoned the wives of the mundane life of the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, and said to them: "Come here, my daughters, trick yourselves out; in all the brave adornments in which ye were formerly so dear and winning to the young man Raṭṭhapāla." And in the course of that night his father caused drinks and meats and delicacies to be prepared in his house; and went and informed the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla when it was the time. "It is the time, dear Raṭṭhapāla," he said; "the food is ready." Then in the morning the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, clothed in his robes, took his bowl and went to his father's house; and sat down on the seat prepared for him.

Then his father, causing the heap of treasure and gold to be uncovered, said to the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla: "This, dear Raṭṭhapāla, is your maternal wealth, that your paternal wealth, and that other the wealth of your father's fathers. It is possible both to enjoy the good things of life, dear Raṭṭhapāla, and to perform good works. Come, dear Raṭṭhapāla, give up this Discipline, and return to family life, enjoy your wealth, and perform good works."

"If, householder, you would carry out my words, you would have this heap of treasure and gold put on to carts and conveyed to the Ganges, and there plunged into the middle of the stream; for therefrom will arise to you, householder, sorrow, and wailing, and grief, and woe, and despair."

Then they who had been the wives of his mundane life came to the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, and each of them, taking hold of his feet, said to him, "Who and what, pray, dear lord, are the goddesses for whose sake you go now the Way of Holiness?"

"Nay, sisters, 'tis for the sake of no goddesses that I now tread the Way of Holiness."

"Our lord Raṭṭhapāla addresses us by the name of sisters," they exclaimed; and they fell, swooning away, to the ground.

Then the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla said to his father, "If, householder, food is to be given, then do ye give it; but do not harass me therewith."

"Eat, my son; the food is ready," said his father, and with his own hands he caused him to take his fill of drinks and meats and delicacies, pressing him with more until he refused. Then the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, having eaten and withdrawn his hand from the bowl, standing up and not sitting, recited these stanzas: —

"Behold this tricked-out frame, this maimed, corrupt,
And propped-up body, that doth yet so much
Usurp the thoughts of men, abiding not!

 

Behold this tricked-out form, bejewelled, ringed,
Set up with bones and skin; how to the view
Its garish raiment makes it bright and fair!

 

Fair feet, red tinged with dye, and fragrant mouth
That odorous powders had the savouring of; —
Such folly is enough for folly's friends,
But not for him who seeks the Shore beyond.

 

Fair locks in eight-fold curls, eyes fringed with black; —
Such folly is enough for folly's friends,
But not for him who seeks the Shore beyond.

 

Yea, tinged with black, fresh painted and adorned,
This fatal mass of foul mortality; —
Such folly is enough for folly's friends,
But not for him who seeks the Shore beyond.

 

The keeper set his snare, but as the deer
Not even touched the net; so we depart,
Our need of food fulfilled, unfettered, free;
But they who set the snare, they weep and wail."

And having recited these stanzas, standing ever, then the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla went to the deer-park of King Koravya. And when he had come thither, he sat down at the root of a tree to pass the heat of the day. Now King Koravya called his park-keeper and said to him: "Keeper, clear out the Migacīra park; we are going to visit it." "Certainly, your Majesty," answered the keeper, and as he was clearing the park he saw the [799] Venerable Raṭṭhapāla sitting under a tree. And having seen him, he went to the place where King Koravya was, and said, "Your Majesty, the park is cleared; and there is there the young sir, Raṭṭhapāla, the son of the chief family in Thullakoṭṭita, whom you have frequently extolled. He is sitting at the foot of a tree to pass the heat of the day." "Then, keeper, let the park be for to-day; we will go and wait on that worshipful Raṭṭhapāla." So saying, King Koravya, having given orders for them to remove the food which had been prepared for him, and having caused his chariots so fair, so fair, to be made ready, got into his chariot so fair, and passed forth from Thullakoṭṭhita with his chariots so fair, so fair, in royal pomp to see the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla, and having gone in his chariot as far as a chariot might go, he alighted from it, and made his way on foot with a brilliant train to the place where the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla was. And when he had come there, be exchanged with the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla the greetings and compliments of friendliness and civility, and remaining standing beside him, he said to him: "Let the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla sit himself here on a couch of flowers."

"Nay, great King, sit you there. I will remain on my own seat."

So King Koravya sat down on the seat prepared for him; and when he was thus seated, he spake thus to the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla: "These, Raṭṭhapāla, are the four losses, overtaken by which in this world some persons cut off their hair and beard, and putting on yellow robes give up home to go forth unto homelessness. What are the four? They are, the loss from old age, the loss from sickness, the loss of wealth, and the loss of relatives. And what, Raṭṭhapāla, is the loss from old age? ln this world, Raṭṭhapāla, a person becomes worn, and old, and aged, burdened with many years, nearing the term of his life. Then he falls a-thinking to himself: 'I am now worn and old and aged, and burdened with the weight of years, my term of life nearly done. I cannot now acquire the wealth I have not acquired, nor keep that which I have acquired. It were better then for me, cutting off my hair and beard, and putting on yellow robes, to go forth unto homelessness.' So he, overtaken by the loss from old age, cutting off his hair and beard, and clothed in yellow robes, goes forth from his home unto homelessness. This, Raṭṭhapāla, is called the loss from old age. Raṭṭhapāla, however, is still young and vigorous, still but a youth, with hair that age has not yet whitened; still in the fair bloom of youth, in the prime of his days. This loss from old age has not come to Raṭṭhapāla. What has Raṭṭhapāla known, or seen, or heard, that he has gone forth, forsaking his home, unto homelessness?

"And what, Raṭṭhapāla, is the loss from sickness? On this earth, Raṭṭhapāla, a person becomes ill, racked with pain, exceedingly sick, and he falls a-thinking to himself: 'Here I am, ill, racked with pain, exceedingly ill; I cannot acquire the wealth that I have not acquired, or increase that which I have acquired; it were better, therefore, for me to cut off my hair and beard, and, putting on yellow robes, to give up all and go forth to homelessness.' So he, overtaken by the loss from sickness, having cut off his hair and beard, and put on yellow robes, gives up all, and goes forth unto homelessness. This, Raṭṭhapāla, is called loss from sickness. But Raṭṭhapāla is still in good health, free from pain, with a healthy digestion, troubled by no excess of either hot or cold. Raṭṭhapāla has not suffered from loss by sickness. What has Raṭṭhapāla known, or seen, or heard, that he has gone forth from home unto homelessness?

"And what, Raṭṭhapāla, is loss of wealth? On this earth, Raṭṭhapāla, a certain one is wealthy, of great riches, having much substance; by degrees this substance of his goes to destruction. He falls a-thinking to himself: 'Formerly I was wealthy, of great riches, having much substance; by degrees my substance has gone to destruction. I cannot acquire wealth that I have not acquired, nor can I increase the wealth that I have. It were therefore better for me, cutting off my hair and beard, and donning yellow robes, to give up all and go forth to homelessness.' So he, overtaken by loss of property, cuts off his hair and beard, and, putting on the yellow robes, goes forth to homelessness. This, Raṭṭhapāla, is called loss of wealth. But Raṭṭhapāla is the son of the chief family in this very Thūlakoṭṭhitam. He has not suffered from loss of wealth. What has Raṭṭhapāla known, or seen, or heard, that he has given up home to go forth unto homelessness?

"And what, Raṭṭhapāla, is loss of relatives? On this earth, Raṭṭhapāla, a certain one has many friends and blood relations; by degrees these friends and relatives fall away; and he falls a-thinking to himself: 'Formerly I had many friends and blood relations; these by degrees have fallen away; I cannot now acquire the wealth I have not acquired, nor can I increase that which I have. Therefore it were better for me to cut off my hair and beard, and, putting on yellow robes, to go forth from home to homelessness.' So he, overtaken by loss of relatives, cuts off his hair and beard, and, putting on the yellow robes, goes forth. This, Raṭṭhapāla, is called loss of relatives. But Raṭṭhapāla has, in this very town, many friends and relatives; he has not, therefore, suffered from loss of relatives. What, then, has Raṭṭhapāla known, or seen, or heard, that he has gone forth from home to homelessness?

These indeed, Raṭṭhapāla, are the four kinds of losses which cause some men to cut off their hair and beard, and, putting on yellow robes, to go forth from home to homelessness. These Raṭṭhapāla has not suffered. What then has Raṭṭhapāla known or seen or heard that he is gone forth?"

"There are four Doctrines, great King, declared by the Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha; which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth from home to homelessness. What are the four? 'The world passes away; it has no permanence.' This, great King, is the first doctrine declared by that Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha; which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth unto homelessness.

"'The world is without a refuge, without protection.' This is the second doctrine declared by that Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha; which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth unto homelessness.

"'The world has naught of its own, but, forsaking all, must pass away.' This is the third doctrine of the Blessed One (etc.), which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth into homelessness.

"'The world is ever wanting more, unsated, the slave of desire.' This, great King, is the fourth doctrine of the Blessed One (etc.), which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth from home to homelessness.

"These indeed, great King, are the four Doctrines declared by that Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha; and these I, having known, and seen, and heard, have passed forth from home to homelessness."

"You have said, Raṭṭhapāla, 'that the world passes away; it has not permanence.' But how, Raṭṭhapāla, is this statement to be understood?"

"What think you, great King? Were you at twenty or twenty-five skilled in the management of elephants and horses and chariots, expert in the use or the bow and sword, firm of foot and strong of arm, at home in the fight?"

"At twenty or twenty-five, Raṭṭhapāla, I was skilled in the management of elephants and horses and chariots, expert in the use of bow and sword, firm of foot and strong of arm, at home in the fight. Why, at one time, Raṭṭhapāla, my strength was more than human; I saw no equal of myself in strength."

"Then what think you, great King? Are you now thus firm of foot and strong of arm, unassailable in the fight?"

"Not so, Raṭṭhapāla, I am now worn and old and aged, burdened with length of years, my days well-nigh run. My age is eighty; sometimes, Raṭṭhapāla, I go to place my foot in one place, and put it down in another."

"Concerning this, then, great King, was it said by that Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha, that the world passes away, and has no permanence,' which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth to homelessness."

"Marvellous, Raṭṭhapāla, wonderful! how well this indeed has been said by that Blessed One (etc.) that the things of the world pass away and have no permanence. For they do pass away, Raṭṭhapāla, and have no permanence. But in this royal house, Raṭṭhapāla, there are bodies of elephants, and of horses, and of chariots, and of infantry; and these would be a good protection against our necessity. But you said, Raṭṭhapāla, that the things of the world are without refuge, without protection. How then, Raṭṭhapāla, is this statement to be understood?"

"What think you, great King, of this? Have you any habitual complaint?"

"Yes, indeed, Raṭṭhapāla, I have a certain complaint which comes upon me, So that sometimes my friends and relatives stand round me and say, 'King Koravya must now fulfil his time! King Koravya will die.'"

"What think you, then, great King? Can you say to these friends and relatives, 'Come, friends and relatives, all of you, good people, divide this suffering with me, that so my own share of pain may be lightened.' Or must you bear this suffering alone?"

"No, Raṭṭhapāla, I cannot say to these friends and relatives what you have suggested; but I have to bear my suffering alone."

"Concerning this, then, was it spoken by that Blessed One (etc.), that the things of the world are without a refuge, without protection; which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth unto homelessness."

"Marvellous, Raṭṭhapāla, wonderful! how well was it said by the Blessed one that the things of the world are without a refuge, without protection. For they are, indeed, without a refuge, without protection. But, Raṭṭhapāla, in this royal house is there abundant stock of treasure and gold stored up both in vault and in attic. But you, Raṭṭhapāla, said that the world has naught of its own, but, giving up all, must pass away. Yet how is this statement, Raṭṭhapāla, to be understood?"

"What think you, great King, of this? The pleasures of your five senses which you now possess and enjoy, and by which you are surrounded in this life, will you possess and enjoy, and be surrounded by, these very same pleasures hereafter also? Or will others enter upon this wealth, while you go to fare according to your deserts?"

"The pleasures, Raṭṭhapāla, which I possess and enjoy and am surrounded by in this life, I cannot, shall not, possess and enjoy, and be surrounded by these very same pleasures hereafter also. Then, indeed, others will enter upon this wealth, and I shall go to fare according to my deserts."

"Concerning this, then, great King, was it said by that Blessed One (etc.) that the world has naught of its own, but, leaving all, must pass away; which I, having known, and seen, and heard, have gone forth to homelessness."

"Marvellous, Raṭṭhapāla, wonderful! How well said by that Blessed One (etc.) that the world has naught of its own, but, leaving all, must pass away. But Raṭṭhapāla said that the world is ever wanting more, unsated, the slave of desire. Yet how, Raṭṭhapāla, must this be understood?"

"What think you of this, great King? Is this Kuru country in which you dwell prosperous?"

"Even so, Raṭṭhapāla, this Kuru country, in which I dwell, is prosperous."

"Then what think you, great King? If a servant of yours should come from the East country, a man trustworthy and faithful; and when he had come, should say to you, 'If you please, great King, know that I am come from the East country: there saw I a mighty province, prosperous and rich, populous, thickspread with inhabitants. There are there vast numbers of elephants, and horses, and chariots, and infantry; there, too, is rouch ivory and skins; there much gold and coins, unwrought and wrought; there, too, multitudes of women. And it may be won by such and such a number of your servants. Conquer it, great King.' Pray, would you do it?"

"Yes, Raṭṭhapāla, I would conquer it and dwell there."

"What think you, great King? If your servants should come from the west country and from the north also, and from the south, having travelled across seas, faithful and trustworthy men; and if they were to tell you the same story (as above), and each should say, 'Conquer this land, great King': pray, would you do it?"

"I would indeed conquer it, Raṭṭhapāla, and dwell there."

"Concerning this, then, great King, was it said by that Blessed One, the All-Knowing and Seeing, the Arahat, the Very Buddha, that the world is ever wanting more, unsated, the slave of desire; which I, having perceived, and seen, and heard, have gone forth from home unto homelessness."

"Marvellous, Raṭṭhapāla, wonderful! How well was it said by that Blessed One (etc.) that the world is ever wanting more, unsated, and the slave of desire."

Thus spake the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla; and, having thus spoken, he said this further: "I see rich men in the world; they acquire wealth but bestow it not, from infatuation. Greedy, they hoard their riches, and in their desire long ever after more.

"A king, having conquered the world with violence, up to the limits of the ocean, occupying it all on this side of the sea, unsatisfied still, would desire, too, the parts beyond.

"Kings, and many others of the earth, approach death with desires unquenched; still unsated, they leave the body: in the world there is no standing still in desire.

"Their relatives bewail him with dishevelled hair; and say 'Alas, verily he is dead!' They wrap him in a cloth and bear him away; and taking him to the pile, they burn him.

"So he, forsaking his wealth, pierced with stakes, is burnt in a single cloth. To the dying, neither relatives nor friends are a refuge here.

"The heirs take away his wealth; its owner goes to fare according to his deserts. The dead man wealth follows not, nor sons, nor wife, nor property, nor land.

"By wealth a man gains not length of years; nor by possessions escapes the decay of age. Short is this life, say the wise, and unenduring, full of change.

"Rich and poor alike are touched by this stroke; the fool even with the wise is touched. But the fool, thus stricken, that moment in his folly succumbs; the wise man is touched but is unmoved.

"Therefore wisdom is better than riches: 'tis by this that a man attains Arahatship, the end of existence. For they in whom folly hath not ceased, go on from birth to birth performing sinful acts.

"Man enters the womb and goes to a new existence, being born and re-born continually; believing such a one, the man of little wit again enters the womb and again is born to existence.

"As the wicked thief, taken in house-breaking, is punished in consequence of his own act, even so mankind; the wicked man is punished hereafter in another world in consequence of his own act.

"The pleasures of sense, varied, and sweet, and heart-delighting, stir up the mind in changing modes. Seeing the evils of the pleasures of sense, therefore I went forth, O King, unto homelessness.

"As fruit from the tree, so at the dissolution of the body fall the boy, and the youth, and the aged. Seeing this, O King, went I forth from home unto homelessness. Most excellent is the recluse's certain way."

 


[edfn1]The Pali and commentary is nowhere to be seen.


 

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