Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto II.
Psalms of Two Verses
Part V


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

Public Domain



Reborn in this Buddha-age at Rājagaha, his mother was the daughter of a councillor. She having failed to gain her parents' consent to leave the world while yet a maiden, was married, and obtained her husband's consent to take Orders, not knowing at the time that she had conceived. When later the bhikkhunis saw her condition, they consulted Devadatta, who replied: 'She is no true nun!' They then consulted Him-of-the-Ten-Powers. He entrusted the matter to Thera Upāli, who convened certain residents at Sāvatthī, including the lay-patroness Visākhā, and in full [148] assembly, the king being present, pronounced the Sister to have been with child when she took orders. The Master approved his decision. So she brought forth her child at the Vihāra, a boy like a golden statue, end the king reared him, and brought him later on to the Master to join the Order. Because he joined as a youth,[1] and they would ask, when the Exalted One said, 'Send for Kassapa,' or 'Give this fruit or biscuit to Kassapa,' 'Which Kassapa?' and because of his royal rearing, he became known as Kumāra-Kassapa, even after he was grown to manhood.

Now whire he exercised himself for insight and learnt the Buddha-word, he dwelt in Dark Wood.[2] Then a deva, one who had with him done only the mountain-recluse's course, and having become a Non-Returner, had been reborn as a Great-Brahma in the Pure Abodes, determined to show Kumāra-Kassapa a method for attaining the Paths and Fruits. And he came into the Dark Wood, and showed him fifteen questions which only the Master could answer. So he asked them before the Exalted One and learnt them; whereupon having conceived insight,[3] he attained arahant-ehip.

Thereupon, having been ranked by the Master foremost among those who had the gift of varied and versatile discourse, he reviewed his career, and under the aspect of [149] extolling the virtues of the Jewel-Trinity, confessed his aññā:

[201] All hail the Buddhas, and all hail the Norms.[4]
Hail the blest System by our Master wrought,
Wherein he that doth hear may [be enrolled
And] come to realize a Norm like ours.

[202] Down countless ages have its members come,
Reborn now as this compound, now as that.
But this for them is now the very last,
The final confluence [of the factors five,'[5]]
In flux of rebirth and mortality.
Now come they never more again to be.


[1] In his twentieth year (Vinaya Texts, i. 229).

[2] At Sāvatthī. Three of the Sisters psalms are associated with it. On the technical expressions used in the next sentence, see Compendium, p. 91.

[3] An exceptional and curious phrase, borrowed from the terms of maternity: Vipassanaɱ gabbhaɱ gaṇhāpetvā - an echo, perhaps, of the description of his mother's ordeal described above. The story of the Thera is told also in the Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya, i. 24; in Jātaka, i. 148 ff.; and in the Commentary on the Dhammapada, iii. 144 ff. The questions arising from the deva's visit are in Majjh., i. 143, 'Vammīka-Sutta.' An interesting feature in the Commentary iB a reference made by its author, Dhammapāla, to the Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya. Where Dhammapāla, writes gehe, he adds: 'The Aṅguttaratthakathā says kulagehe '-as, indeed, it does. Hence it would seem that Buddhaghosa wrote before Dhammapāla.

[4] Cf. Majjh., ii. 98, where the apostrophe is in the singular number. The plural dhammā, as applied to Norm, is perhaps unique. Tho Commentary has - 'the Doctrine, together with the nine lokuttarā dhammā.' These are enumerated in the Paṭisambhidā (ii. 166) aa the seven groups given in Compendium, pp. 179-181 (a-g), plus the Paths and Fruits, and Nibbāna making ten.

[5] Samussayo. compound of the five khandhas, bodily and mental. Cf. p 80, n 2.


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