Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto I. Psalms of Single Verses


 

Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses

XCV
Cakkhupāla

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

[idx][pali][than]

Public Domain

 

He was reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī, as the son of a landed proprietor named Mahā-Suvaññā, and received the name of Pāla.[1] He was also called Pāla major, because his younger brother was called Pāla minor. And the parents bound the sons in domestic bonds. But the Master came to the Jeta Grove, and there Pāla major heard him, and leaving his brother to manage the property entered the Order. After five years of novitiate, he went with sixty bhikkhus to perfect his studies. And they chose a woodland spot near a border village, where the villagers were lay-followere, and he, dwelling in a leaf-hut, practised the duties of a recluse.

He was attacked by ophthalmia, and a doctor prescribed for him. But he did not follow the advice, and the disease grew worse. 'Better,' he thought, 'is the allaying of the moral torments (kilesā) than that of eye-disease.' Thus he neglected the latter and worked at his insight, so that eyes and torments perished at the same time. And he became a 'dry-visioned' arahant.[2]

Now the village patrons asked the bhikkhus what had become of the Thera, and, hearing of his blindness, they [89] ministered to his wants full of compunction. Then those bhikkhus having also won arahantship, they proposed that they should return to Sāvatthi to salute the Master; but the Thera said: 'I am weak and blind, and the journey is not without risk. I should hinder you. Do ye go first and salute for me the Master and the great Theras, and tell Pāla minor of my state that he may send a servant to me.' At length they consented to go, after taking leave of their patrons and providing him with a lodging. And they carried out his bidding, and Pāla minor sent his nephew Pālika. And the bhikkhus ordained Pālika, because the road was not safe for a solitary layman. He went and announced himself to the Thera, and set out with him. Midway, near a village in the forest, a woodcutter's wife was singing. And the novice was smitten by the sound, and, bidding his uncle wait, went and dallied with her. The Thera thought: 'Now I heard a woman singing, and my novice stays long. Is he not evilly employed?' The youth returned, saying: 'Let us go, sir.' And the Thera said: 'What! hast thou been vile?' The novice at length confessed, and the Thera said: 'One so evil shall hold no staff for me. Get thee hence!' 'But the way is perilous, and you are blind. How will you go?' 'Fool! even if I lie down and die, yet will I get on, but not with such as thee.' Then he uttered this verse:

[95] All blind am I and perished are mine eyes
And through the jungle's wilderness I fare.
E'en then I'll go, and were it lying down,
But not with child of evil as my mate.

Then the other, conscious of his evil action, weeping with outstretched arms, plunged into the forest. But the efficacy of the Thera's virtue made Sakka's throne hot, and the god, in the shape of a man journeying to Sāvatthi, took his staff and brought him that evening to Sāvatthi to the Jeta Grove. And Pāla minor ministered to him all his days.

 


[1] The full name means Eye-guardian, the father's Great-golden. The story is given in somewhat ampler detail and slightly varied diction in the Dhammapada Commentary on the opening verses of that anthology. Pronounced Chakkhu-.

[2] See Compendium, p. 75.

 


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