Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses


(A Boy-Bhikkhu.)

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


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He was reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī, of a very poor woman. In her travail his mother fell into a long deep swoon, so that her kinsfolk said 'She is dead!' And they bore her to the cemetery, and prepared to cremate the body. But a spirit prevented the fire burning by a storm of wind and rain, so they went away. Then was the child born hale while the mother died. And the spirit, in human shape, took the infant and placed it in the watchman's house, nourishing it for a time with suitable food. After that the watchman adopted it, and the child grew up with his own son Suppiya (Ps. XXXII.). And because of his birth in the cemetery, he became known as Sopāka, 'the Waif.'[1] When he was seven years' old it came to pass that the Exalted One early in the morning spread out his Net of Insight to contemplate what folk might be brought in. And seeing what the net enclosed, [38] he went to the cemetery. The boy, impelled by his antecedents, approached the Master with a gladdened mind and saluted him. The Master taught him, so that he asked to leave the world, and when bidden to gain his father's consent, fetched the latter to the Master. The father saluted, and asked the Master to admit the boy. And the Master had him admitted, and assigned to him the study of fraternal love.[2] He, taking this exercise and dwelling in the cemetery, soon acquired the corresponding jhāna. And making that his base,[3] he fostered insight and realized arahantship. As arahant he showed in his verse to the other bhikkhus dwelling there the principle of the love exercises, bidding them make no difference between those who were to them friendly, indifferent, or hostile. For all alike their love should be one and the same in its nature, and should include all realms, all beings, at all ages:

[33] E'en as she would be very good
Towards her only child, her well-beloved son,
So too ye should be very good
Towards all creatures everywhere and everyone.[4]


[1] Cf. Sutta-Nipāta, verse 137.

[2] Cf. Dialogues, ii. 219. It is a pretty touch that the boy, who as a waif owed everything to fraternal love and pity, should have been set this study. Cf. Ps. I.

[3] Compendium, p. 62.

[4] This simile is better known in the form given it in the Sutta-Nipāta (verse 149) and the Khuddaka-pātha, bringing in the loving mother more explicitly. Here the language is so simple that it really lends probability to the Commentator's story of the boy-bhikkhu, who as a 'waif' had never known a mother. I have therefore rendered it as a child's attempt. 'Ye' is lit. 'one.'


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