Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses

Kumā's Son

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

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Reborn in this Buddha-age in the Avanti country,[1] at the town of Veḷukaṇḍa in the family of a housefather, he was called Nanda. But his mother's name was Kuma, whence he was known as Kuma's son. He entered the Order after hearing the venerable Sāriputta preach, and studied on the slope of the frontier hills; but it was only after he had gone to hear the Exalted One that he was able so to correct his exercises, as to realize arahantship. As arahant he saw that the other bhikkhus showed excess in bodily needs, and he admonished them in the doctrine, saying:

[36] O goodly are the things our ears now hear!
O goodly is the life we here may lead!
O good it is always to lack a house![2]
Now questioning on things of high import,
Now showing all due thanks and reverence:
Such is the calling of the true recluse,
Of him who owneth naught of anything.


[1] See Buddhist India, by Rhys Davids, p. 8 f. It is noteworthy that one of the principal lay-followers of the Buddha was a lady called the Veḷukaṇḍiyan or -kaṇṭikan, mother of Nanda. This, however, was probably Uttarā; she can scarcely be our Kumā, since she is represented as telling the chief Theras that her only son Nanda had been put to death as a boy by the rājas (rājāno), or oligarchs. Nanda was a common name, and it is possible, if we do not impatiently class all such references as purely legendary, that to call one Nanda Kumāputta was a convenient distinction among neighbours. It may, of course, have reference to bīna-marriage descent (Saṅy., ii. 236; Ang., i. 26, 88, 164; iii. 336; iv. 63; and cf. Dialogues, i. 193, § 5).

[2] An allusion to Sutta-Nipāta, verse 844. This is discussed in Saṅy., iii. 9 ff.; 'lacking a house' is symbolical of 'not being engrossed by objects and pleasures of sense.'


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