Khuddaka Nikaya

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Canto II. Psalms of Two Verses


Canto II.
Psalms of Two Verses


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

Public Domain



Reborn in this Buddha-age, in the two hundred and eighteenth year thereof, as the younger brother of King Dhammasoka, he was named Vitasoka.[1] Come of age, he acquired the accomplishments befitting noble youths, and then as a lay-pupil of Thera Giridatta became highly proficient in the Sutta- and Abhidhamma-Piṭakas.

Now one day when his hair was being dressed, he took the mirror from the barber's hand, and contemplating his body, saw some grey hairs. In agitation he sent down insight into his mind, and exerting himself to meditate, he became, as he there sat, a Stream-winner. Taking Orders under Giridatta, he not long after won arahantship. Thereupon he thus declared aññā:

[169] 'Now let him shave me!' - so the barber came.
From him I took the mirror and, therein
Reflected, on myself I gazed arid thought:

[170] 'Futile for lasting is this body shown.'
[Thus thinking on the source that blinds our sight My spirit's] darkness melted into light.
Stripped are the swathing vestments utterly![2] Now is there no more coming back to be?


[1] According to the Commentary, Vitasoka (one who has ended grief) is none other than the younger brother of Emperor Asoka, whose career forms an episode in the Divyāvadāna (translated by Buraouf in Buddhisme Indien, 1844), in which Vitasoka is impelled to leave the world through the arahant Yasa. Neither Giridatta nor the barber episode is alluded to, which shows how different was the tradition handed on by Dhammapāla. The grey hair episode is a very old tale, told in Majjh., ii. 83; Jāt., i., No. 9.

Napery. (2). Personal linen. Linen: cloth woven from flax. > Napkin.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] The barber was also bathman and head-dresser; hence coḷā (vestments), which means any napery, may be an allusion to the muslin folds of the turban, or to bath robes and towels, or to dress. The Commentary only expands the altered scale of values in the prince's life. Pacchavekkisaɱ has the double sense of our 'reflected.'


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