Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto X. Psalms of Ten Verses


 

Canto X.
Psalms of Ten Verses

CCXXXVII
Kappa

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

Public Domain

[Pali] [than]

 

Reborn in this Buddha-age in the kingdom of Magadha, as the son of a provincial hereditary rāja, he succeeded his father, but was addicted to self-indulgence and sensuality. Him the Master saw, as he roused himself from a reverie [260] of great compassion and surveyed the world for treasure for his net of insight. And pondering, 'What now will he become?' he discerned that 'This one, hearing from me a discourse on foul things, will have his heart diverted from lusts, and will renounce the world and win arahantship.' Going to Kappa through the air, he addressed to him these verses:

[567] Filled full with divers things impure,
Great congeries of excrement,
Like stale and stagnant pool of slime,
Like a great cancer, like a sore,

[568] Filled full of serum and of blood,
As't were from dung-heap issuing,
Dropping with fluid-ever thus
The body leaks, a carrion thing.

[569] By sixty tendons kept in place,
And smeared with plaster of the flesh,
By dermis armed and cuticle -
In carrion carcase lies small gain.

[570] By bony framework rendered firm,
By sinew-threads together knit,
The which, as they in concert work,
Effect our postures manifold;

[571] Faring world without end to death,
E'en to the King of Mortals' realm: -
If it be even here cast off,
A man may go where'er he will.[1]

[572] The body cloaked in ignorance,
Entrammelled by the fourfold tie,[2]
[261] The body flood-engulfed and drowned,
In net of latent bias caught,

[573] To the five Hindrances a slave,
By restless play of mind obsessed,
By pregnant craving ever dogged,
In trammels of illusion swathed: -)

[574] Lo! such a thing this body is,
Carried about on Karma's car,
To manifold becoming doomed,
Now to success, to failure then.

[575] And they who say of it ''Tis mine!' -
Poor foolish blinded many-folk -
They swell the dreadful field of death,[3]
Grasping rebirth again, again.

[576] They who this body seek to shun,
As they would serpent smeared with slime,
They, vomiting becoming's root,
Shall make an end, sane and immune.

Kappa, hearing the Master discourse in so many figures on the nature and destiny of the body-complex, in fear, and aversion at his own body, besought him in distress for ordination. The Master consigned him to a bhikkhu to be ordained. Kappa received five exercises, and forthwith attained arahantship as his hair was being shaved. He thereupon went to render homage to the Master, and seated at one side, confessed aññā in those very verses. Hence they became Thera-verses.

 


[1] On this verse that may have been annexed, proverb-wise, from Animistic literature, the Commentary has: 'In just this world having cast away (chaḍḍetvā) .... By these words he shows that, since the body is a transitory thing, no tie is to be formed.' Dr. Neumann considers that what may be cast off is the power of death.

[2] Viz., covetousness, ill-will, faith in ritual, clinging to dogma (Bud. Pay., p. 804 f.; Compendium, p. 171). On the four Floods and sevenfold Bias (anusaya) see (Compendium, ibid., f.).

[3] Cf. verse 456.

 


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