PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN
Psalms of Two Verses
Translated from the Pali by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids.
Reborn in this Buddha-age in the family of a brahmin of Kosala, he was named Migasira after the constellation under which he obtained birth. And having acquired brahmin culture, he practised the skull-spell, so that, when he had muttered the spell and tapped with his nail on the skull, he would declare, 'This person is reborn in such a sphere,' even with respect to those who had been dead three years. Disliking domestic life, he became a Wanderer, and through his art won favour and respect. Coming to Sāvatthī and going before the Master, he declared his power, saying: 'I, master Gotama, can tell the destiny of dead persons.' 'How do you tell it?' He let a skull be brought, and, muttering his rune and tapping with his nail, he asserted purgatory or some other sphere to be the place of rebirth.
Then the Exalted One had the skull of a bhikkhu brought, who had attained complete outgoing (parinibbāna), and said: 'Tell now his destiny to whom this skull belonged!' Migasira muttered and tapped, but saw neither the beginning nor the end. Then the Master said: 'Art not able, Wanderer?' He replied, 'I must first make sure,' and turning the skull round never so much - for how should he know the goings of an arahant? - stood ashamed,  perspiring, dumb. 'Art tired, Wanderer?' 'Ay, I am tired; I cannot discern the destiny of this one. Do you make it known?' 'I know it, and more besides. He is gone to Nibbāna.' Then said the Wanderer: 'Give me this hidden lore!' 'Then do you take orders.' So Migasira was ordained, and was given exercises in calm. Well grounded in jhāna and abhiññā, he practised insight, and not long after won arahantship. He then confessed aññā thus:
 Since I went forth and entered on the Rule
Ordained by the Enlightened One Supreme,
Emancipated as I went, I rose
Transcending all these things of sense-desire.
 Deer's head = Capricorn.
 Nibbānaɱ gato so, the only Pali approximation to the frequent rendering, 'entered into Nirvāna,' I have yet met with.
 In the sense of chief, best (Commentary); a genitive absolute.