Khuddaka Nikaya

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Canto XVI. Psalms of Twenty Verses


Canto XVI.
Psalms of Twenty Verses




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

Public Domain


Reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī as the son of a certain very eminent brahmin, he was called, when adult, after his family name Pārāpara, 'the Pārāpariya' (Pārā-parite).[1] Well educated in brahmin lore and accomplishments, he went one day into the Jeta Grove Vihāra, at the Master's preaching hour, and took his seat at the fringe of the assembly. The Master, contemplating his character, [295] taught the Sutta, called 'Practice of Faculties,'[2] whereupon Pārāpariya found faith and entered the Order. After learning the Sutta by heart, he pondered over the meaning, thinking: 'In verses the meaning would appear so and so.' Thus pondering on the subject of sense-perception he established insight, and in due time won arahantship. Later he expressed his meditations in verse as follows:

[726] To a Brother came these musings,
To the bhikkhu Pārāpariya,
As he sat alone, secluded,
World-detached and meditating:

[727] What is there of course or order,
What is there in rite, or conduct,
Which may make a man accomplish
That which to himself is owing,
Nor work harm on any other?

[728] Lo! the parts and powers of humans
Make for welfare and for evil:
Powers unguarded make for evil,
Guarded powers make for welfare.

[729] One who guardeth parts and powers,
One who tendeth parts and powers,
He may do to self his duty,
Nor work harm on any other.

[730] If he go with unrestrained
Power of sight among sense-objects, [296] All the evil ne'er discerning,
He doth not escape from sorrow.[3]

[731] If he go with unrestrained
Power of hearing sounds about him,
All the evil ne'er discerning,
He doth not escape from sorrow.

[732] If in divers kinds of odours
He indulge, voluptuously,
Way of refuge ne'er discerning,[4]
He doth not escape from sorrow.

[733] Taste of sour and sweet and bitter
Relishing and pondering over,
Cleaving to desires of palate:
Ne'er his heart will be awakened.

[734] Lovely, luring things of contact,
Touching, feeling, pondering over,
Lust-exciting, he impassioned
Findeth divers forms of sorrow.

[735] Yea, who in these sense-impressions
Cannot guard the mind [recipient],
Sorrow thereby will pursue him,
E'en by way of all five senses.

[736] Body full of blood and matter
And of plenteous other carrion,
So by human skill and wit is
Rendered fair like painted casket,

[737] That the bitter suffering from it
Shows as sweetly satisfying,
Bound to what we hold beloved,
As a razor blade, that's hidden
'Neath thick crust of honey-syrup,
[297] Undiscerned [by the greedy].[5]

[738] He who dotes on form of woman,
Taste and touch and scent of woman,
Findeth divers shapes of sorrow.

[739] All that emanates from woman[6]
Permeating [all men's senses,] -
This and that man's five gates [open,] -
'Gainst all these to make a barrier
If a man have grit and valiance,

[740] He is wise and he is righteous,
He is clever and far-seeing;
For he may, at ease and cheerful,
Set himself to righteous duties.

[741] When immersed in temporal profit,[7]
If he shun vain undertakings,
If he judge it right to shun them,
He is earnest and far-seeing.

[742] Is a work with good connected,
Is his love set on th' Ideal,[8]
Let him take the work and do it;
Other loves that Love surpasseth.

[743] Many, manifold the methods
Whereby man his fellows cheateth;
Smiting, slaying, sore afflicting
He with violence oppresses.[9]

[744] As a strong man plying woodcraft,
Useth nail to smite a nail out,
[298] So the wise and virtuous brethren
Use one power to smite out others: -

[745] Faith and effort, concentration,
Mindfulness and wisdom plying,
Five by other Five outsmiting,
Goes the saint from flaws released.[10]

[746] He is wise and he is righteous;
He hath kept the Rule proclaimed
Wholly, fully by the Buddha.
He is happy, he doth prosper.


[1] Connected with, perhaps, but not identical with, the Pārāpariya of CXVI. of the Rājagaha Pārāparas. This one is the Pārāpariya of CCLVII.

[2] The only Sutta I can discover with this title (Indriya-bhāvana) is the last Sutta in the Majjhima Nikāya. This refers to the methods used by the brahmin teacher Pārāsariya, and then gives the method of 'faculty-training' taught in the 'Ariyan Vinaya,' the Buddha speaking (at Kajangalā, not Sāvatthī), and the interlocutors being Uttara, the brahmin's pupil, and Ānanda. Identity of subject is the one thing connecting Sutta and poem. There is no identity of treatment, and the two problems are set up: (1) Was Pārāpariya paraphrasing another version? (2) Was Pārāpariya Pārāsariya himself?

[3] The Commentary supports the reading na hi muccati, altered by Neumann.

[4] Dr. Neumann's 'Und nicht die freie Höhe sieht' is perhaps unnecessarily free, and is scarcely a good antithesis to fragrant odours, as anyone knows who has left a malodorous Alpine village for the odours of the flower-covered uplands in June.

[5] 'As one greedy of sweet things licking the edge of a razor' (Commentary).

[6] Lit., streams - i.e., her visible shape, etc., objects of sense (Commentary). The Pali is more refined than the Neumann German version, and the dragging in again of the maligned concrete 'Weib'- 'Wo nieder man zum Weibe sinkt' - is entirely unwarranted by the Pali.

[7] The Commentary upholds the atho (in exegesis tato) sīdati saññutaɱ. adding 'if he lays hold of good of a temporal kind.'

[8] Dhammagatā rati - lit., set on the Norm.

[9] Redundant padas, omitted in translating, have got into the Pali.

[10] Here again the German translation misses the point. Satisfaction with the five modes of sensuous pleasure is to be ejected by the five modes of spiritual sense, sense-powers or faculties by spiritual powers. See XV., n. 2, and Compendium, p. 180. Cf. above, verse 725, n. There is a play on words in āṇi, nail, anīgho, flawless, untranslatable in English.


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