Khuddaka Nikaya

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Canto I. Psalms of Single Verses


Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses


Translated from the Pali by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids.


Public Domain


He was reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthi, as the son of an eminent person, and was named Eraka.[1] He had beauty and charm, so that in all that he had to do he was in the most highly favoured position for doing it. His parents wedded him to a maiden suitable for beauty, virtue, years, and accomplishments. But anon, because it was his final life, he grew agitated at continued being, and sought [87] the Master. After hearing him teach the Norm, Eraka left the world. And the Master gave him an exercise, but for some days he remained mastered by evil thoughts. Then the Master, knowing the course of his thoughts, admonished him in a verse. And he, on hearing it, thought: 'Unfitly have I acted; I, fool, that I should have continued full of bad thoughts when learning from such a Master.' And in distress he devoted himself to gaining insight, and soon won arahantship. Thereupon he confessed aññā by repeating that verse:

[93] Woeful are worldly wishes, Eraka!
No weal in worldly wishes, Eraka!
Whoso desireth joys of sense desireth ill.
Whoso desires not joys of sense desires no ill.[2]


[1] Erākā seems to have been a kind of plant, perhaps a grass, woven into blankets or mats (Vinaya Texts, ii. 35, n. 8; Jātaka, iii. 91; Sitters, lxii. 435). A town is called Eraka-grass in Majjh., i. 87 = Milinda, i. 276. Cf. also Dhp. Com., iii. 231.

[2] The austere jejune simplicity of this gāthā is not poetic, and is closely followed in the translation. Kāmā (worldly wishes; joys of sense) is not easy to equate. Buddhism defines this plane of life, and animal life, and the lower heavens, too, as all 'sphere of Kāmā.' 'Unregenerate desire' is perhaps the nearest rendering. 'Desire' alone is not correct, for there is the dhamma-chanda, or desire for higher things, also characterizing life on the kāmāvacara plane. Dr. Neumann has 'Lust'; our word 'lust' is degraded by specialization. 'Pleasure' should not be so degraded, for there is pleasure (sukha) not entailing woe.


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