Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses


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


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In this Buddha-age he took rebirth at Kapilavatthu, in the brahmin clan of the Vaccha's. He was born in the forest, his mother being taken with travail while walking in the forest which she had yearned to see. He became one of the future Buddha's playmates in the sand. And because he loved the woods, he was known as Woodland-Vaccha.[1] Later on, when he had entered the Order, it [18] was in the forest that he strove for and won arahantship. And it was in praise of the forest life that he uttered his psalm, replying to the brethren who asked him: 'What comfort can you get in the forest?' 'Delightful, my friends, are forest and mountain!'-

[13] Crags with the hue of heaven's blue clouds,
Where lies enbosomed many a shining tarn
Of crystal-clear, cool waters, and whose slopes
The 'herds of Indra'[2] cover and bedeck:
Those are the braes wherein my soul delights.


[1] As if the legend strove to link him closer to nature, the only two of his former lives mentioned in detail represent him as a tortoise or turtle, and as a dove. The stanza recurs, with others in a similar vein, in Kassapa's poem (CCXLIV.). Again, as with the two Puṇṇamāsa psalms, the Commentator takes no heed of the identity of name, nor of the substantial identity in story and verse. The verse is incorporated in the long poem (CCLXI.).

[2] Indagopaka-sañchannā 'covered by Indra's cowherds.' According to the Commentary (cf. Childers, 'a crimson beetle noticeable after rain'), these are coral-red insects (kimi), alluded to in connexion with recent rain, but said by some to be a red grass, or by others the kaṇikāra trees (Pterospermum acerifolium). To come into a highland or upland picture, these crimson insects must swarm in vast numbers. The cows of Indra - i.e., the clouds - would have filled the background far more easily. The Russians, however, Sir Charles Eliot informs me, call lady-birds 'God's little cows' (bozhya korovika); and on upper Alpine pastures in the late summer I have seen crimson (? Burnet) moths crowded on the heath. On the colour; cf. Vin., iii. 42.


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