Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto II.
Psalms of Two Verses


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

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Reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī in poor circumstances, the only way he knew of to support himself was to go about, clad in rags, pan in hand, seeking for rice-grains[1] Hence he became known as Kappaṭa-kura - 'Rags-and-rice.' When grown up, he maintained himself by selling grass. Reaping this one day in the forest, he saw a Thera. Doing obeisance he sat down near him, and heard him teach the norm. Then be believed, and saying 'What to me is this wretched mode of life?' he entered the Order, bestowing his ragged cloth in a certain place. And when repugnance [to his new life] arose in him, he would go and look at the rags and feel unsettled. So doing, he seceded seven times from the Order. Then the bhikkhus told the Exalted One of this. And he one day, when Kappaṭa-kura, as bhikkhu, sat in the preaching-hall at the edge of the congregation dozing, admonished him in these verses:

[199] 'These,' saith he, 'are the rags of Rags-and-Rice!
Too heavy is the gear I'm wearing now.'
Full measure of the Norm hath he in shower
Ambrosial; and yet no step he takes
To practise contemplative discipline.

[200] O Kappaṭa, thou shouldst not sway and nod,
Nor make me cuff the word into thine ear.
Never a whit thou, Kappaṭa, hast learned,
Sleepily swaying 'midst the listeners here.[2]

Thus the Exalted One upbraided him strongly, as if He had pierced his very bones, as if a fierce elephant had gone down into his path. And he, greatly disturbed, established insight, and soon won arahantship. Thereupon he repeated the verses which had been the goad that sent him to the goal, so that they became his confession of aññā.


[1] Kura, occurring once as kūra in the Commentary ( = in Childers and in Böhtlingk and Roth, 'boiled rice'), is probably wild rice in some form or other. Cf. sukkha-kūra in the Sutta-Vibhanga of the Vinaya, edition Oldenberg, iv., Pāc. 38, 1.

[2] These verses remain not exactly the reverse of 'obscure sayings,' as Dr. Neumann calls them, even after the help of the legend. The Commentary, in both versions, is scarcely as lucid as usual; yet such explanation as it gives is, as ever, to show a situation of a simple and probable kind - the ragged loincloth, with its vagabond associations, supplying a Bohemian and pagan lure, making the more decorous yellow robes seem cumbrous, and the discipline irksome. The legend is a distinct addition to the 'human documents' of the Ordor's traditions.


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