Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto XVII. Psalms of Thirty Verses


 

Canto XVII.
Psalms of Thirty Verses

CCLVIII
Phussa

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

Public Domain

[Pali]

 

Reborn in this Buddha-age as the son of the ruler of a province,[1] he was named Phussa, and was trained in all the accomplishments of noble youths. But because of the conditions to which he had attained, his heart hung not upon worldly desires, so that when he heard a certain great Thera preach the Norm, he believed, and entered the Order. Practising himself in Jhāna, he thereby established insight, and in due course acquired sixfold abhiññā.

Now one day an ascetic named Paṇḍara-gotta[2] heard him teach the Norm. And seeing around the Thera a company of bhikkhus all of virtuous conduct, trained and controlled in body and mind, that ascetic thought: 'Excellent i' faith is this system! Long may it prevail on earth!' And he asked the Thera: 'How will it be, your reverence, with the progress of bhikkhus in the future?'

To explain this situation the Compilers first placed this verse:

[949] Paṇḍarasa-gotta, hermit,
Seeing such a goodly audience,
Modest, quiet, contemplative,
Questions asked, addressing Phussa:-

[336] [950] What in the days to come will be your aims,
And what will be your tendencies[3] and what
Will be your customs and observances?[4]
To me who ask thee do thou this declare.

Phussa.

[951] List to my words, Seer, Paṇḍarasa named,
And store them in thy mind attentively;
I will pronounce concerning things to come.[5]

[952] Hasty of temper and malign,
Arrogant, hypocritical,
Deceitful, envious, bickerers:
Thus many in those days shall be;

[953] Deeming they know the depths of truth,
While standing at the water's edge.
Flighty, irreverent towards the Norm;
And mutually irreverent.

[954] Yea, many evils on this earth
Shall in the future come to pass.
This Norm of ours so well set forth
The stupid-minded will corrupt.

[955] When in the Conclave voice and vote
Are giv'n, men, tho' in virtue poor,
Will forward be, in backers strong,[6]
Scurrilous and unscholarly.

[956] When in the Conclave voice and vote
Are given, they of virtuous mind
And honesty will weaklings be,
Of shamefaced mood and little zeal.

[337] [957] Silver and gold, fields, sites and herds,[7]
Slaves, maids and men, in days to come
The undiscerning will accept.

[958] And foolish ones in testy mood,
Lacking in ethical restraint,
Will truculently go about
Like wild things spoiling for a fight.

[959] Sobriety they will not know:-
They will be draped in robe of blue,[8]
Hypocrites, stiff-necked, obstinate,
Chatterers, skilled diplomatists,[9]
Counterfeiting the saints of old.

[960] Hair sleek with oil, and frivolous mien,
And eyelids with collyrium dyed,
And swathed in robe of ivory hue:
Thus will they go about the streets.

[961] The yellow robe, that goodly dye,
That freed souls wear without disgust,
The Banner of the Arahant,
Creates in them but queasiness,
Who hanker after robes of white.

[962] Greedy of gain they will become,
Sluggish and poor in energy;
Finding fatigue in woodland haunts,
Around the township will they bide.

[963] And ever bent on wrongful ways,
Without restraint, as pupils apt,
They'll follow those who get most gifts.

[964] But they to whom no gifts are given,
Will find nor honour nor regard;
Though they be men of worth and charm,
No following will be theirs that day.

[338] [965] Scorning their own, the yellow gear,
Some will wear red of foreign dye,[10]
And others will be found to wear
White robes of some sectarian flag.

[966] Dishonour toward the yellow robe
They in those days will show; bhikkhus
Will not consider what it means.

[967] Want of discernment such as this
Was tragedy unthinkable
To that wise beast who lay o'ercome
By pain, wounded, in dire distress.[11]

[968] For the Six-tusker then beheld
The well-dyed flag of arahants,
And thereanent the elephant,
Pointing the moral, verses spake:

[969] 'Who suffers vice, yet dons the saffron robe,
Keeping apart from self-control and truth,
Unworthy he to wear the saffron hue.

[970] Who vice rejects, steadfast in virtuous ways,
And yokes himself to self-control and truth,
Worthy is he to wear the saffron hue'
[12]

[971] Immoral, stupid and perverse,
A wanton doer, one whose heart
Wavers, whose mind is overcast:
Unworthy he of saffron robe.

[339] [972] He who with virtue blest, is freed
From passion, is intent in heart,
Whose hopes and purposes are white[13]
Worthy is he of saffron robe.

[973] A fool with mind puffed up, distraught,
For whom no moral code exists:
Gear white of hue doth he deserve.
For saffron robe what use hath he?

[974] Brethren and Sisters, in that day,
With hearts corrupt, and impious,
Will bully and humiliate
Such as have trained their hearts in love.

[975] And fools e'en by their Elders taught
Rightly to wear and use the robe,
For want of wit will listen not,
Perverse and wanton doers all.

[976] And so the fools, instructed thus,
Lacking in mutual respect,
Will not their tutors' word obey,
No more than vicious hack its groom.

[977] Thus in the age that is to come
Will be the course and tendencies
Of bhikkhus and of bhikkhunīs,
When the last time shall be at hand.[14]

[978] Until this time of mighty dread
That now is not shall come to pass,
Be ye of gentle, docile hearts,
Filled with a mutual regard.

[979] Be loving and be pitiful
And well controlled in virtue's ways,
[340] Strenuous, bent upon the goal,
And onward ever bravely press.

[980] That danger doth in dalliance lie:-
That earnestness is sure and safe:-
This when ye see, then cultivate
The Eightfold Path, so shall ye touch,
So make your own,[15] the Deathless Way.

Thus spake the Thera to his congregation. Now just these verses were his confession of aññā.

 


[1] Maṇḍalikarañño. See p. 83, n. 5.

[2] The Commentary gives Paṇḍa, Paṇḍara, Paṇḍarasa, as equally valid. Nothing more is known of him; but it may be he is connected with the Paṇḍarangas, a set of 'Wanderers' in the days of Bindusāra and his son Emperor Asoka. Samantapāsādikā, Vtnaya, iii., 300.)

[3] = kiṃ-disajjhāsayā (Commentary).

[4] =vārittacārittavanto (Commentary).

[5] Analogous predictions of dangers besetting the Order in the future (anāgata-bhayāni, etc.) are ascribed, in several discourses, to the Buddha [Ang. Nik., iii. 105-110; cf. pp. 176 f., 247 f., 329 f., 340 [? 339]).

[6] = pakkhabalena balavanto (Commentary).

[7] I.e., for building, or fallow ground - 'akatabhūmibhāgo vatthu,' 'herds,' lit., goats, representing all cattle (Cy.). cf. Vin. Texts, iii. 389 f.

[8] 'Dyed of inappropriate colour generally' (Commentary).

[9] cf. JPTS, 1885, p. 53; Milinda, ii. 258 ; Iti-vuttaka, p. 112. The Commentary in places defines in the same words as Buddhaghosa (Ang. Nik., ii. 26).

[10] On milakkhurajanaṃ rattaṃ the Commentary has kāḷakarajanena rattaŋ, 'the nasal ŋ being inserted metri causâ' in milakkhurajana-rattaŋ.

[11] Ruppato, dat. of ruppaṃ; sarīravikāraṃ āpajjato (Commentary). cf. Sutta Nipāta, v. 331.

[12] From the Chaddanta (Six-tusker) Jātaka, v., No. 514. The elephant, who, it was claimed, was the Bodhisat (destined to become a Buddha), is trapped in a pit by the craft of a hunter, who, to avoid creating suspioion of harm in the beast's mind, disguises himself as a bhikkhu! The Jātaka verses are also incorporated in the Dhammapada, verses 9, 10. cf. Kāsāva-Jātaka, ii., No. 221. On the word-play, kasāva, 'vice,' kāsāva, 'yellow dye,' see M. Müller's Dhammapada, SBE, x. 5, n. 9. The citation of this ancient gāthā, and its story, by another book of the Khuddaka-Nikāya is of historical interest.

[13] cf. verse 549. Suvisuddhamano vitakko anāvilasankappo vā (Cy.).

[14] 'What,' asks the Commentary, 'is the last time (pacchimo kālo)? "From the Third Council" (at Patna, in Asoka's reign) is a reply disputed by some. For there are five stages (yugāni) in the [life of the] Sāsana: Vimutti, samādhi, sīla, suta, dāna. They follow in this order, till only the outward signs (lingamattaṃ) survive.'

[15] 'Touch' - i.e., 'realize,' Commentary reading phusantā.

 


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