Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto I. Psalms of Single Verses


 

Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses

XCVII
Tissa

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

Public Domain

[Pali]

 

Reborn in this Buddha-age at the town of Roguva in a rāja's family, at his father's death he succeeded to the title. As an absent ally of King Bimbisāra, he sent him presents of jewels, pearls, and robes. The king sent him in return the life of the Buddha on a painted panel, and the Conditioned Genesis on a gold plate specially inscribed.[1]

[91] When he saw these, because he had resolved under former Buddhas and because it was his last birth, he pondered on going forward and turning back, setting the order of the doctrine in his heart and growing uneasy till he came to this conclusion: 'Now have I seen the likeness of the Exalted One, and have learnt the order of his doctrine at the same time. Full of ill are worldly desires. What have I to do with the life in houses?' And he abdicated, entered the Order, and, taking his earthen bowl and followed, as was Prince Pukkusāti,[2] by a lamenting populace, he left the town and went to Rājagaha. There he dwelt in the Sabbasoṇḍika Cave, and visited the Exalted One. And learning of him, he won arahantship. Thereupon alluding to his experiences, he uttered this psalm:

[97] Renouncing costly vessels wrought in bronze,
In gold, I grasped this earthen bowl.
The second time was I anointed then.

 


[1] Early historians were not over-careful in the matter of attributing civilization of their own day to an earlier age; nevertheless, writing was certainly known in India in early Buddhist days, even though the use of it might (through lack of suitable book-material) be limited to the brief contents of tablets. As to the contents written, the historical critic should bear in mind that a ministry, growing in public esteem and success for forty years, may well have seen its founder's life and leading doctrines written and circulated, even without the printing press.

[2] Tissa's story is, indeed, so like a brief resume of the full and pleasant chronicle of the friendship between Pukkusāti, king of Takkasilā and Bimbisāra, recorded by Buddhaghosa in the Commentary on Majjh., iii. 237 ff., that it seems not unlikely the two accounts bifurcated out of one. Pukkusāti, was gored by a fierce cow on the eve of his entering the Order, and so is not inscribed among the Theras. Bimbisāra's gifts differ a little in either story. To Pukkusāti he sent a description of the 'Three Gems' - Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha - and on the gold plate he had inscribed various tenets, Satipaṭṭhānas, Eightfold Path, thirty-seven Wisdom Factors, but not the Paṭicca-samuppāda. There is no commoner name in Indian literature than Tissa, but this ex-king of Roguva is not identifiable with any other of the known Tissas. The verse recurs in Ps. CCLIV.

 


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