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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto V. Psalms of Five Verses


 

Canto V.
Psalms of Five Verses

CXCVIII
Rājadatta

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

Public Domain

[Index][Pali] [than]

 

Reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthi in a caravan-leaders' family, his parents called him Rājadatta ('given by the king'), because they had obtained him through praying to Vessavana, the great firmament deity.[1] Come of age, he once took 500 carts of merchandise to Rājagaha. Now there he squandered all his money, spending a thousand a day on a beautiful courtesan, so that he was penniless and had rot enough to eat, and wandered about in wretchedness. So he came with other laymen to the Bamboo Grove, where the Master sat teaching the Norm to a great congregation. And Rājadatta, seated at the fringe of the assembly, heard and believed, and entered the Order. Undertaking the Dhutangas,[2] he dwelt in a charnel-field.

Now another caravan-leader also spent his thousand on the courtesan, and wore on his hand a ring of great value, which she coveted. She got men to steal it, but the owner's servants told the police,[3] and they raided her house, slew her, and cast her body into the charnel-field.

The Thera Rājadatta, walking therein to find a foul object for meditation, noticed this corpse. For a while [190] he concentrated his attention, but the portions of her yet unmangled by dogs and jackals distracted him and all but overmastered him. Much distraught, he exhorted his heart, and went away for a brief space; then recommencing, he induced jhāna, confirmed his insight, and so won arahantship.

Thereupon, reflecting on his success and filled with zest and joy, he said:

[315] A bhikkhu to the charnel-field had gone,
And there he saw a woman's body cast
Untended 'mid the dead, the food of worms.

[316] Most men had felt repugnance at the sight,
Seeing the corpse, the poor dead evil thing.
In me was sensual passion manifest,
And I became as blind and lost control.

[317] But swifter from that place than seething rice
Could boiling overflow, I turned and fled;[4]
Aside elsewhere I took my seat cross-legged,
In heedful and discriminating mood.

[318] Thereon arose in me the deeper thought:[5] Attention to the fact and to the cause.
The misery of it all was manifest.
Distaste, indifference the mind possessed;

[319] And so my heart was set at liberty.
O see the seemly order of the Norm!
The Threefold Wisdom have I made my own,
And all tñe Buddha bids us do is done.

 


[1] One of four so-called Great Kings, each presiding over a quarter of the visible world; called also Kuvera, he presided over the northern quarter [Dialogues, ii. 287 f.).

[2] Supererogatory austerities (Milinda, ii., book vi.).

[3] Avacārakamanusaā (?). I have not found the word elsewhere, and only guess at the meaning.

[4] The Commentary explains as follows: yāvatā kālena suparidhotatintataṇḍulanāliyā odanaɱ paccati, tato, oram eva kālaɱ, tato lahukātena rāgaɱ vinodento.

[5] = verses 269, 270.

 


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