Khuddaka Nikaya

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Canto XVII. Psalms of Thirty Verses


Canto XVII.
Psalms of Thirty Verses


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

Public Domain



His story and that of Moggallana the Great[1] are taken together. AEons ago, in the days of the Buddha Anomadassi, they were playmates, named Sarada and Sirivaddha, sons, the one of an eminent brahmin, the other of a great landowner. Sarada succeeded to his father's estate, but oppressed with the general doom of all creatures, he left the world to seek a path of release, inviting Sirivaddha to do likewise. 'I cannot,' answered Sirivaddha, but he yielded when Sarada, as a Rishi, had been visited by the Buddha. Now all Sarada's followers became arahants after hearing Anoma, the chief disciple, preach the Norm. But Sarada himself, being pre-occupied in mind, was unable to penetrate to the Paths and the Fruits. Thereupon both Sarada and Sirivaddha aspired, in presence of the Buddha, to occupy, like Anoma, the post of chief disciples to a Buddha in the future. This the Buddha promised should come to pass in the days of Gotama Buddha. There is no record of their subsequent kamma, but before our Exalted One arose, Sarada was reborn not far from Rājagaha, at the township [341] of the Upatissas,[2] of Rūpasarī the brahminee, and on the same day Sirivaddha was born, not far from Rājagaha, at the township of the Kolitas, of Moggalī the brahminee. And because each was the son of the head of his family, the one was named Upatissa, the other Kolita. Both boys[3] were reared in luxury, and excelled in all accomplishments. But seeing the crowds one day assembled for the hill-top fair[4] at Rājagaha, they both, because their insight had attained maturity, beheld how, within a century, all that folk would fall into the jaws of death, and with agitation they decided to seek a doctrine of release. And they left the world in the school of the Wanderer Sañjaya, agreeing each to tell the other if he first arrived at Amata.

In Sañjaya's teaching they found nothing genuine, and pursued their quest, asking recluses and brahmins, till through Assaji the bhikkhu, they found the Exalted One,[5] and were by him ordained with the laying on of the hand and the words: Come, bhikkhus. Made Stream-winners by Assaji's summary of the Norm,[6] they had no need to study, for each of the other three Paths. Why? Because of their consummate knowledge even as disciples. Thereby the Venerable Moggallāna, on the seventh day, at the village of Kallavāla in Magadha, overcame sloth and torpor by the Master's injunction, and listening to an exercise on elements,[7] won the topmost point, while the Venerable Sāriputta, half a month after his ordination, won it while dwelling with the Master in the Sūkarakhata Cave[8] at Rājagaha; while [342] Dīghanakha, the Wanderer, his sister's son, was being taught the 'Vedanapariggaha' Suttanta.[9] Thereafter the Master, in conclave at Jetavana, ranked Sāriputta chief among his disciples in wisdom and insight.

And he, established in the position of General of the Norm, working for the good of beings, one day thus declared his aññā before his fellow-disciples:

[981] Whoso according to his powers
Is virtuous,[10] saintly, clear in mind,
Earnest his purpose to perform,
Who loveth introspective work,[11]
Well concentrated and intent,
Lone and detached, blissful, serene:
This man is rightly Bhikkhu named.

[982] When he of food or moist or dry partakes,[12]
Let him not fully satiated be.
Lean in the stomach, temperate at meals,
And watchful let the bhikkhu wend his way.[13]

[983] Hath he but eaten mouthfuls four or five,
Let him drink water: — here is sure enough
Refreshment for a bhikkhu filled with zeal.

[984] Things that are seemly let him get and take: -
Raiment that's worn for this specific end: -
Comfort enough for bhikkhu filled with zeal.

[985] [343] And when he sitteth cross-legged on his couch,
If but his knees be screened from falling rain,[14]
'Tis ease enough for bhikkhu filled with zeal.

[986] Whoso hath looked on pleasure as but pain;
Who hath discerned in pain the piercing dart;
Saw no abiding self betwixt the two: -[15]
What world will hold, what fate detain that man?

[987] Ne'er give me one with evil in his heart,
Inert, inactive, and intractable,
Knowing but little of the holy Norm.
What world will hold, what fate detain that man?[16]

[988] He who is learned in the holy Norm,
Can understand, is thoroughly intent
On moral base, and knit to inward calm: -
Let him for me the head and foremost stand.

[989] Whose heart is to obsessions[17] given o'er -
A deer seduced by fascination's snare -
He from Nibbāna goeth far astray,
To utmost haven fails to find the course.

[990] [344] But he who from obsessions clears the heart,
Delighting in that path where these are not,
He to Nibbāna surely finds the way,
To utmost haven safely steers his course.

Now one day the Thera, seeing where his younger brother Revata[18] was dwelling - a waterless jungle of thorn and acacia trees - commended rim, saying:

[991] In village or the wild, in vale, on hill,
Where'er the men of worth, the arahants,
Their dwelling make, delightful is that spot.

[992] Delightful are the forests, where no crowd
Doth come to take its pleasure; there will they
Who are released from passions find their joy.
Not seekers they for sense-satiety.

Again, the Thera showing kindness to an unfortunate brahmin named Rādha, caused him to leave tho world and enter the Order.[19] Afterwards, while on tour, he admonished Rādha, pleased with his gentle behaviour:

[993] As one who shows where treasures hidden lie,
So is the man of wisdom who discerns
What to avoid, and utters sage rebuke: -
If such an able guide ye see and heed,
For you who follow, better 'tis, not worse.

Now one day, the Master not going himself to suppress the corrupt settlement of the Assaji-Punabbasu bhikkhus [345] on Kiṭā Hill,[20] Sāriputta went instead with Moggallāna and their followers. And when Sāriputta's admonition was disregarded, he spake thus:

[994] One should exhort, one should instruct, forbid,
Hinder that which is mischievous and wrong.
So acting, by the good is one beloved;
'Tis only evil-doers who take dislike.

When the brethren were saying that he whom the Master was teaching - namely, Dīghanakha the Wanderer[21] - was fully prepared by his antecedents, Sāriputta interposed, saying: That was not so:

[995] Another was't to whom He taught the Norm -
The Exalted One, the Buddha, He who Sees -
For while the Norm was being taught I heard,
Seeking for good with hearing all attent.

[996] And not in vain, I trow, my listening,
For I have won release, am sane, immune.
Nor to attain the vision of my past,
Nor for the means to see - the eye divine -

[997] The mystic power to read the thoughts of men,
Discern decease, rebirth in earth and heaven,
Nor for the ear celestially attuned
Had I to pitch and to adjust the mind.[22]

The next three stanzas were spoken of him, when, dwelling at the Dove's Cave Vihara, he took no injury from the Yakkha's blow:[23]

[346] [998] Seated at foot of tree, with shaven head,
Wrapped in his cloak, in wisdom ranked supreme,
The Thera Upatissa musing deep,

[999] His thought transcending acts percipient,[24]
Disciple of the supreme Buddha, he
Thus far in Ariyan silence was immersed.

[1000] E'en as a mountain-crag unshaken stands,
Sure-based, a Brother with illusions gone,
Like to that mountain stands unwavering.

Now one day, through the Thera's absence of mind, the lap of his robe hong down. And a novice said: 'Your reverence, it should be draped around you.' Then Sari-putta, nodding, said: 'Good, you have done well to say so!' And going a little way, he draped his robe round him. And showing that for such as he that was a fault, he said:

[1001] The man of blameless life, who ever seeks
For what is pure, doth deem some trifling fault,
That is no heavier than the tip of any hair,
Weighty as [burden of the gravid] cloud.[25]

Again he showed the equanimity of his mind in respect to living or dying with the verse:

[1002] Not fain am I to die nor yet to live.
I shall lay down this mortal frame anon
With mind alert, with consciousness controlled.

[1003] With thought of death I dally not, nor yet
Delight in living. I await the hour
Like any hireling who hath done his task.[26]

Again, in teaching the Norm, he uttered these verses:

[1004] On both sides [of the scene we look,] and lo!
Tis dying, not the dearth of death [we see], [347] Be it the backward or the forward view.[27]
Fulfil ye then your course, lest ye be lost!
See that this moment pass not by for nought![28]

[1005] E'en as a border city guarded well
Within, without, so guard ye well yourselves!
See that the moment pass not and be lost,
For many mourn in woe that moment past.

Now one day, seeing the venerable Koṭṭhita the Great, he spoke three stanzas proclaiming his excellence:[29]

[1006] Whoso serene and calm, dead to the world,
Can utter wisdom's runes with wit unswelled,
Unruffled, he doth shake off naughty things,
As they were forest-leaves by wind-god blown.

[1007] Whoso serene and calm, dead to the world,
Can utter wisdom's runes with wit unswelled,
Unruffled, he doth strip off naughty things,
As they were forest-leaves by wind-god blown.

[1008] Calm and serene, by vice unharassed; free
From all that hinders clarity of mind,
Lovely in virtue, of discerning wit,
He should End-maker be of suffering.

The following was said concerning the Vajjians who believed in Devadatta,[30] and approved of his doctrine:

[1009] Some[31] souls there be on whom none should rely,
Be they housefolk, or e'en among recluses.
[348] Such as have once been good and turned to bad,
And then from bad have veered to good again.

[1010] Desires of sense, ill-will, torpor and sloth
In the bhikkhu, distraction of the mind,
And doubt: - five cankers of the heart[32] are these.

[1011] Whoso can suffer both extremes of fate:
The favour and disfavour of the world,
The while he bides in sober earnestness,
Unwavering his concentrated mind: -

[1012] Him, musing ardent and unweariedly,
With intuition fine and delicate,
Zealous to slay the tendency to grasp: -
Him 'a good man' indeed should others call.

To draw yet other distinctions, instancing the Master and himself, he uttered these verses:

[1013] The mighty ocean, the extended earth,
The mountains, yea, the firmament[33] afford
No picture meet to show how excellent
Th' emancipation of our Master's mind.

[1014] The Elder Brother, very wise, intent,
Who after His example turns the Wheel,
Is like to earth, to water, and to fire,
In that he feels no fondness nor disgust.[34]

[1015] He hath the topmost place for wisdom now,
Mighty in intellect, a mighty sage;
Not dull is he though he seem dull of wit;[35]
Ever in blissful cool he wends his way.

[349] To show the completion of his life's task, he said:

[1016] The Master hath my fealty and love,
And all the Buddha's ordinance is done.
Low have I laid the heavy load I bore;
Cause for rebirth is found in me no more.[36]

And when he came to his utter passing away, he thus admonished the brethren assembled around him:

[1017] Press on with earnestness and win the goal!
This the commandment that I give to you.
Lo! now my going-out complete will be.
From all am I released and utterly.[37]


[1] See CCLXIII. Dhaminapāla's account of the legend is here somewhat condensed.

[2] Nālaka. Upatissa was his family name, Vanganta his father's name (Dhammapada Commentary, ii. 84, see above, CCXXXVIII.).

[3] Their close friendship is described in detail in the Dhammapada Commentary, i. 90 ff. ('Aggasāvaka-vatthu,' on verses 11, 12).

[4] Giraggasamajja. On samajja, see Dialogues, i. 7, n. 4.

[5] Fully described in Vinaya Texts, i. 144 ff.; hence I have greatly condensed the narrative here.

[6] Viz., that the Buddha explained all things causally.

[7] I cannot trace this particular exercise in the Nikāyas, but there are several that may have served such a purpose - e.g., in the Dhātu-Saŋyutta, ii. 143; also 248; iii. 227 ff.; Ang. Nik., iii. 245, 290.

[8] Or Sūkara. The name is not met with elsewhere. Cf. Dhammapada Commentary, i. 96.

[9] I.e., the 'Dighanakha Suttanta' (Majjh. Nik., i., No. 74). It ia called as above in the Dhammapada Commentary, loc. cit., and in Sumangala-Vilāsinī on Dīgha, ii., XIV., Ī 10.

[10] The Commentary paraphrases yathācārī as yato kāyādīhi saŋyato, saŋvuto hutvā carati, which is merely exegetical; -sato is for -santo.

[11] Ajjhattarato. This apparently curious term - lit., delighting in what is of one's self, or personal - occurs in a verse repeated four times in the Sutta-Pitaka: Digha Nik., ii. 107 ; Saŋy. Nik., v. 268; Dhammapada, verse 862; Udāna, vi. 1. In Dialogues, ii. 113, it is rendered 'with inward joy,' the Commentary only paraphrasing by niyaka, 'one's own' (Therīgātha, ver. 469). Here our Commentary paraphrases by 'delighting in the practice of meditative exercise.'

[12] The metre Here changes from a long irregular one to śloka.

[13] Paribbaje = vihareyya (Cy.). Quoted in Mil. ii. 850; Jāt. Cy., ii., 293.

[14] This is the first of the gāthās quoted in the Milinda as Sāriputta's (ii 280). Some of them are not traceable in the Canon. The Commentary explains: 'Of whom, so seated in his hut, the rain does not wet the knees.'

[15] Referring to the doctrine in Saŋy. Nik., iv. 207; Iti-vuttaka, Ī 58. The ethical point is self-mastery with regard to the three modes of feeling on occasion of sense. The usual reference to the third mode, neutral feeling, is 'hath looked on it as impermanent ' (aniccato). Here it is anattato. The Commentary has nāhosīti: yathābhūtāva-bodhe na attaniyābhinivesanaṃ ahosi.

[16] Lit.: By what in the world what may be? Quoted, but not ver batim, in Milinda, ii. 332. Dr. Oldenberg inclines to think anācāro may be more correct than anādaro, intractable (Theragāthā, p. 89, n.).

[17] The difficult word papañca. See Dr. Neumann's note at this passage and ours (Dialogues, ii. 812). The former renders it by Sonderhett, Vielheit, diversity, plurality. But when the danger in those is opposed to 'concentration,' 'selection,' 'simplicity,' etc., the word opposed to ekatta is, so I find, nānatta, not papañca. Papañca is defined as threefold: 'craving,' 'conceit,' and 'error' (diṭṭhi). In the Vibhanga, p. 390, papañcitāni are nine forms of speculation (diṭṭhi) abont future individual existence, a content shared by the terms maññitāni (conceits), phanditāni ('vapourings,' imaginings), sankhatāni (mental concoctions). Cf. my note JRAS, 1906, 246 f.

[18] Cf. XLII., CCXLIV.

[19] This is more fully related in Dhammapada Commentary ('Rādha-thera-vatthu'), ii. 104 ff., on verse 76. Rādha is probably the aged Thera of CXXVII., ordained by Sariputta.

[20] On this section of the first schismatics, see Vinaya Texts, ii. 847 ff. Cf. iii. 211; Dhammapada Commentary, ii. 109. The hill was near Sāvatthī.

[21] See above, p. 84, n. 5.

[22] Paṇidhi me na vijjati. See Sāriputta's story - his needing no intermediate studies.

[23] This quaintly told episode is in Udāna, iv. 4. The Vihāra is not as yet met with elsewhere. In that work the concluding three lines are said to have been spoken of him by the Buddha. Verses 998-1000 are ascribed also to Revata (CCXLIV.).

[24] He was in Fourth Jhāna (Commentary). But avitakka is reached as early as the second stage.

[25] Also in his brother's poem, = verse 652.

[26] = verse 606. These, again, come into Revata's verses.

[27] Standing in middle-life and looking at old age or youth (Com- mentary). In these four lines the śloka is exchanged for an irregular species of verse. Read ubhayena-m-idaṃ.

[28] Cf. verses 408, 053; Sisters, verse 5.

[29] Curiously enough the first is ascribed to Koṭṭhita himself. See II.

[30] On the career of Devadatta, first cousin to the Buddha, see Vinaya Texts, i. 228 f., 288 ff., especially 239 ff. Cf. Milinda, i. 162 ff. Sāriputta, who had previously sung his praises, was appointed to proclaim him a renegade, whose very virtues were untrustworthy.

[31] On ekatiyesu (Cy ekaccesu), see Trenckner, Pali Miscellany, p. 56

[32] These five 'Hindrances' are here classed as Kilesas, or kelusā (Bud. Psy., 310 ff.) - so also the (Br) Cy. = 'cittupakkilesā.'

[33] 'That which is divided into East, and so on' (Commentary).

[34] The Master was, deliberately and magnanimously, as equable with regard to things desirable and undesirable as were the elements, unconsciously, says the Commentary. The bhikkhu had to cultivate the earth-mind, water-mind, to the same end (Majjh. Nik., i. 423; Ang. Nik., iv. 374; cf. Jāt., iii. 247; Milinda, i. 258; ii. 308, 311).

[35] Cf. verse 501. 'Owing [to the simplicity of his wants.' Commentary, reading, for mahāmuni, mahamatī, and quoting the Buddha's eulogy of Sāriputta, Majjh., iii. 25.

[36] = verses 604, 792, 891, 918.

[37] Ascribed to his brother, Revata, when the latter also was dying (verse 658). Cf. the Buddha's last words, Dialogues, ii. 178.


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