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Personalities of the Buddhist Suttas


[197] At the top, Beggars, of those of my Beggars who explain in full that which was said in brief is Maha Kaccana.

Maha Kaccana

DPPN: Possibly author of the Kaccayanavyakarana, the oldest of the Pāḷi grammars extant (more likely it was the work of those who followed after him). He was born at Ujjeni in the family of the chaplain of King Candappajjota, and was called Kaccana both because of his golden color and because Kaccana was the name of his gotta [clan]. He studied the Vedas, and, on the death of his father, succeeded him as chaplain. With seven others he visited the Buddha, at the request of Candappajjota, to invite him to come to Ujjeni. Kaccana and his friends listened to the Buddha's sermon, and having attained arahantship, joined the order [DPPN does not cite the sutta in which this happens, but if it is true, it is an instance of both attaining arahantship without jhana and of a layman's attaining arahantship]. He then conveyed the king's invitation to the Buddha, who pointed out that it would now suffice if Kaccana himself returned to Ujjeni.

Kaccana accordingly set out for Ujjeni with his seven companions, accepting alms on the way at the house of a very poor girl of Telappanali, who later became Candappajjota's queen.

Arrived in Ujjeni, Kaccana lived in the royal park, where the king showed him all honor. He preached constantly to the people, and, attracted by his discourses, numerous persons joined the Order, so that the whole city was one blaze of orange robes.

From: Psalms 229: "One day many bhikkhus, having put aside their duties, and finding pleasure in worldly activities and in society, were leading desultory lives. The Thera thereupon admonished them in two verses, and in the next six admonished the king:

Let not a brother occupy himself
With busy works, let him keep clear of folk,
Nor strive [to copy nor emulate]
Who greedy seeks to taste life's feast entire,
Neglects the good that brings true happiness.
A treacherous bog it is, this patronage
Of bows and gifts and treats from wealthy folk.
'Tis like a fine dart bedded in the flesh,
For erring human hard to extricate.

(To the King)
Not evil are the actions of a man
Because of what another [saith or doth];
'Tis of himself he must from wrong abstain,
Of their own acts the offspring mortals be.
No speech of others makes a man a thief,
No speech of others makes a man a sage;
And what we know at heart we really are,
That do the gods who know our hearts know too.
People can never really understand
That we are here but for a little spell.
But they who grasp this truth indeed,
Suffer all strife and quarrels to abate.
The wise man is alive, and he alone,
Although his wealth be utterly destroyed;
And if the man of weaalth do wisdom lack,
For all his wealth he doth not truly live.

(To the King consulting him about a dream)
Things of all sorts by way of ear we hear;
Things of all sorts byway of eye we see;
And for the wise and strong it is not fit
All to neglect as things unseen, unheard.
Let him as seeing be as he were blind,
Let him as hearing be as he were deaf,
Let him, in wisdom versed, be as one dumb,
And let the man of strength be as the weak;
But let the thing of genuine good arise: --
Be that for him the nesting-place of thought.

Here is another version of the last lines of the poem. From The Questions of King Milinda, Translated from the Pāḷi by T. W. Rhys Davids, Part II, pp283

Let him with eyes be as one blind,
And he who hears be as the deaf,
He who can speak be as the dumb,
The man of strength as were he weak,
As each new object rises to his ken,
On the sweet couch of blest Nirvana's peace
Let him lie down and rest

Going strictly by the two translated versions (I do not have a Pāḷi version), I would render the meaning this way:

All kinds of things are seen by way of the eye and heard by way of the ear,
And it is not proper that the wise and strong neglect everything as though it were unseen or unheard,
Therefore let him see, but behave as though he were blind,
Hear, but behave as though he were deaf,
Though he were well versed in wise talk, let him behave as though unable to speak
Though he were strong, let him behave as though he were weak
But should such things as belong to the Goal [attha] arise
Let those things be where he lets his mind dwell.