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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Reborn in this Buddha age in the Sunāparanta country, at the port of Suppāraka,[1] in the family of a burgess, he was named Puṇṇa. Arrived at years of discretion, he went with a great caravan of merchandise to Sāvatthī, when the [71] Exalted One happened to be there. And he went to hear the Master at the Vihāra with the local lay-followers. There he believed, and left the world. And for a time he won favour among the teachers and preceptors by his skill in dialectic. Then one day he went to the Master, and asked for a lesson, so that he, hearing propositions pairwise, might therewith go to dwell in Sunāparanta. To him the Exalted One uttered a 'Lion's Roar' of a lesson, to wit: 'Now there are objects, Puṇṇa, cognizable by the eye, etc.'[2] So Puṇṇa departed, and studying concentration and insight, acquired the three forms of higher cognition.

When he won arahantship he won over many people to the faith, even 500 lay-brethren and as many lay-sisters.

And as he lay near final death he confessed aññā in this verse:

[70] Only virtue here is highest; but the wise man is supreme.
He who wisdom hath and virtue,
He 'mong men and gods is victor.[3]


[1] Cf. Mahāvaɱsa (Geiger's translation), 54, n 8.

[2] This is told in the Sutta on Puṇṇa's lesson (Majjh., iii. 267 ff.; Saṅy., iv. 60; also Divyāvadāna, 37-39). 'Pair-wise' in the text is yamaka. Judging by the context in the 'lesson,' compared with the method used throughout the book of the Yamakas (Abhidhamma-Piṭaka), this means that the thesis is stated, and is then followed by either its converse or other logically contrasted form.

[3] This forms a verse in Sīlavā's poem (CCXLI., verse 619). There is a greater simplicity in this stanza, about the diction and the ideas, as of a man who had spent his life giving simple teaching in ethics to rough rustic audiences, such, as one gathers, he would meet in Sunāparanta. The Master led him to expect rough treatment at their hands (Majjh., loc. cit.). The rhythm above almost parallels the Pali: Sīlam eva idha aggan, paññavā pana uttamo, etc.


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