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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He was born in this Buddha-age at Kapilavatthu, as the son of the Exalted One's aunt, and named Tissa.[1] He left the world to follow the Exalted One, and dwelling in a woodland settlement, was proud because of his rank, being [44] irritable and captious in his conduct, so that he did not do his duties with zeal. Then the Master, surveying him one day with celestial vision from afar, while he was sleeping with open mouth at siesta, came over him above, shedding glory down upon him, and wakening him with these words:

[39] As one downsmitten by impending sword,
As one whose hair and turban are aflame,[2]
So let the Brother, mindful and alert,
Go forth, all worldly passions left behind.

When the Thera heard this, his heart was filled with anguish, and he abode intent on insight. Noting this, the Master taught him the 'Sutta of Thera Tissa,' which is in the Saɱyutta collection.'[3] At the close of it Tissa was established in arahantship. And to confess aññā and honour the Master, he uttered that same verse.


[1] I.e., son of Amatā (Amritā), sister of Suddhodana.

[2] On this metaphor, see Sisters, p. 172, verse 7. The Commentary has a note on various sword-wounds, but the moral is simply the need of instant action, whether to heal or to extinguish. See verse 1, 162 f.

[3] Saṅy., iii. 106. Tissa confesses to the brethren his mental sluggishness and distaste for religion. They bring him to the Master. The Homily, with catechism, is in keeping with the above. In the Dhammapada Comy, (i. 37) he is called Thulla-Tissa (Fat Tissa). Cf. Saṅy., i. 13.


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