Khuddaka Nikaya

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Canto VII. Psalms of Seven Verses


Canto VII.
Psalms of Seven Verses


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

Public Domain



Reborn in this Baddha-age at Rājagaha, as the son of a very wealthy councillor, he was named Samudda. And because of his beauty he became known as Sundara-Samudda.[1] In the prime of his youth he saw the majesty of the Buddha at the festival of his coming to Rājagaha,, and through faith and his native inclination he left the world for the Order. Entrusted with a message he went from Rājagaha, to Sāvatthi and there stayed with a virtuous friend, learning how to practise himself in insight. Now his mother at Rājagaha, seeing other councillors' sons and their wives dressed in their best enjoying themselves at a festival, thought of her son and wept. And a certain courtesan to comfort her offered to go and entice him back. The mother promised, if she would do so, and he were to marry her, to make her mistress of the family, and gave her many gifts. Well attended, she went to Sāvatthi, and stopping at a house where the Thera came day after day on his alms round, she caused him to be carefully attended to, showing herself decked and adorned and wearing golden slippers. And one day, slipping these off at the house door, [229] she saluted him with clasped hands as he passed and invited him in with seductive air. Then the Thera, a worldly thought fluttering, resolved then and there to make a supreme effort, and so standing, conjured up meditation and acquired sixfold abhiññā. Concerning this it is said:

[459] Adorned and clad to make a gallant show,
Crowned with a wreath and decked with many gems,
Her feet made red with lac, with slippers dight,
A woman of the town accosted me,

[460] Doffing her slippers, greeting hands-to-head,
With soft, sweet tones and opening compliment:

[461] 'So young, so fair, and hast thou left the world -
Stay here within my Rule and Ordinance.
Take thou thy fill of human pleasures. See,
'Tis I will give thee all the means thereto.
Nay, 'tis the truth that I am telling thee.
Or if thou doubt, I'll bring thee fire and swear.[2]

[462] When thou and I are old, we both of us
Will take our staff to lean upon, and so
We both will leave the world and win both ways.'[3]

[463] Seeing that public woman making plea,
And proffering obeisance gaily decked
In brave array like snare of Māra laid,

[464] [230] Thereat arose in me the deeper view:
Attention to the fact and to the cause.
The misery of it all was manifest;
Distaste, indifference the mind possessed;

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


[1] Sundārā-Samud'da = beautiful sea. Samudda does not play a part elsewhere in the Canon, but his soubriquet only appears as the name of a bhikkhu of Rājagaha cited in the Vinaya, or type of bhikkhu who underwent similar St. Anthony's ordeals (Vinaya, iii. 86).

[2] So the Commentary: 'If you do not believe me, I, having fetched fire, will make the fire-motived oath.' Cf. Laws of Manu, viii. 114, 115 (SBE, xxv.), referring to an ordeal by fire for testing veracity. Or only an invocation of fire as witness to the oath may be implied. Such a reading is less forced than Dr. Neumann's, who would see in 'truth' and 'fire' the woman's travesty of religious terms to suit her own 'Rule' (sāsana).

[3] See Laws of Manu. vi., ĪĪ 2, 3, on husband and wife becoming hermits together when both were old.


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