Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto V. Psalms of Five Verses


 

Canto V.
Psalms of Five Verses

CCV
Vakkali

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

Public Domain

[Index][Pali] [than]

 

Reborn in the time of our Master at Sāvatthī in a brahmin clan, they named him Vakkali. When he had grown wise and had learnt the three Vedas, and was [198] proficient in brahmin accomplishments, he saw the Master. Never sated by looking at the perfection of the Master's visible body, he went about with him. And when in his house he thought: 'I shall not [here] get a chance of seeing Him constantly'; so he entered the Order, and spent all his time, save at his meals and toilet, doing nothing else but contemplating the Exalted One. The Master, waiting[1] for the maturity of his insight, for a long while made no comment; then one day he said: 'What is to thee, Vakkali, this foul body that thou seest? He who seeth the Norm, he it is that seeth me. For seeing the Norm he seeth me, and seeing me he seeth the Norm.' At the Master's words, Vakkali ceased to look, but he was unable to go away. Hence the Master thinking: 'This bhikkhu, if he get not deeply moved, will not awake," said on the last day of the rains: 'Depart, Vakkali!' Thus bidden, he could not stay; but thinking: 'What is life to me if I cannot see him?' climbed the Vulture's Peak to a place of precipices. The Master, knowing what Vakkali was about, thought: 'This bhikkhu, finding no comfort away from me, will destroy the conditions for winning the topmost fruits'; and revealing himself in a glory, spake thus:

Now let the bhikkhu with exceeding joy
Delighting in the Buddhas Way and Lore,
Go up on to the holy, happy Path,
Where things component ne'er excite him more.[2]

And stretching forth his hand, he said: 'COME, BHIKKHU!'

The Thera, filled with mighty joy and rapture at the thought: 'I see Him-of-the-Ten-Powers, and mine is it to hear Him say: Come!' came to himself and realized what he was doing. Rising in the air, he stood on the nearest point of the hill while he pondered on the Master's verse; [199] then arresting his rapture, he realized arahantship, together with grasp of the form and meaning of the Norm. This is what is recorded both in the Anguttara Commentary and in that on the Dhammapada.

But here they[3] say as follows: Admonished by the Master's 'What is to thee... ?' Vakkali dwelt on the Vulture's Peak, establishing himself in insight, and descending into the avenue thereof by the might of his faith. The Exalted One, knowing this, gave him a special exercise which he could not achieve, and 'from insufficient food he suffered from cramps. Knowing him thus suffering, the Exalted One went and asked him:

[350] Thou who foredone with cramping pains,
Dwell'st in the jungle, in the woods,
Thy range confined, in hardship dire -
Tell me, bhikkhu, how wilt thou live?

And the Thera declaring his constant happiness through unworldly joys, replied:

[351] With bliss and rapture's flooding wave
This mortal frame will I suffuse.
Though hard and rough what I endure,
Yet will I in the jungle dwell.

[352] Herein myself I'll exercise: -
The Starting-points of Mindfulness,
The Powers five, the Forces too,
The Factors of Enlightenment -
So will I in the jungle dwell.

[353] For I have seen [what friends have wrought]:[4]
Their striving roused, their straining mind,
Their staunch and ever onward stride,
In concord bound, - and having seen,
E'en in the jungle will I dwell,

[354] [200] Remembering Him, the Very Wake,
Supremely tamed, intent, serene, -
With mind unwearied night and day,
Thus will I in the jungle dwell.

Thus saying, the Thera conjured up insight, and then it was that he won arahantship.

 


[1] Or 'causing to come' (āgamento). The Anguttara Commentary has the same expression, but then says [after no comment]: 'Discerning that it was now ripe, and he able to enlighten him, said ...'

[2] Dhammapada, verse 381. The adhigacche is not present tense as in Fausboll'a 'adit.' nor future as in Max Müller's translation. The Master's body was eminently a type of 'things component' (sankhāra)

[3] Presumably the sources cf his own work. The Commentaries referred to are quoted accurately by him - to wii, the Manoratha-pūraṇā on Ang., i. 24, Ī 2, and the Dhammapada Commentary on verse 381.

[4] '"Having seen" his co-religionists. By this he shows his good fortune in virtuous friends' (Commentary).

 


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