Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto III.
Psalms of three Verses


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

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Born at Kosambī in a councillors family before our Exalted One appeared, he was being bathed for his health in the Great-Yamunā River,[1] when a fish swallowed him [160] out of the nurse's hands. The fish was caught bv an angler and sold to the wife of a Benares councillor. When it was split open, the child through the might of his merit appeared unhurt. The wife cherished him as her son, and when she heard his story, asked him of his parents. The king decided they should have him in common, hence he was named Ba-kula ('two-families,' bi-kin).

After a prosperous life he heard the Master preach, and left the world at eighty years of age. For seven days he remained unenlightened, but as the eighth dawned he attained arahantship, together with thorough mastery of the letter and spirit of the doctrine.[2]

One day the Master, when assigning manifold eminence to his disciples, ranked Bākula foremost for good health.[3] Thereafter he, when about to pass away, confessed aññā in the midst of the Brethren thus:

[225] He who is fain to-morrow to perform
The things that he should yesterday have done,
Forfeit of happy opportunity,
He shall anon repent him fierily.[4]

[226] Let him but talk of that which should be done;
Let him not talk of what should not be done!
Of him who talketh much, but doeth not,
Wise men take stock, and rate him at his worth.[5]

[227] [161] O great, O wondrous is Nibbāna's bliss,
Revealed by Him, the Utterly Awake!
There comes no grief, no passion, haven sure,
Where ill and ailing perish evermore!


[1] The Jumna. Kosambī was near the confluence of the Jumna and Ganges (at Allahabad). Bākula's or Bakkula's story is given in the Aṅguttara-Nikāya Commentary and in the Singhalese Comy. of Milinda (ii. 10, n. 2). His legend tells of his having healed two Buddhas in former births. Morris's discussion of bakkula in another connection (JPTS, 1886, p. 95 ff.) explains the word as a proper name no better than does the mythical story.

[2] See Sisters, p. 17 n. The poem is repeated (CLXXXIV.).

[3] Ang. Nik., i. 26; there called Bakkula. Presumably his great age lent point to the distinction.

[4] Anutappati, lit., proceed to be hot about. Our metaphor is bite (remorse) or pricking (of conscience).

[5] Expanded from the two words parijānanti paṇḍitā, the wise understand The Commentary's expansion is 'they fixing [him] accurately know, do not esteem highly.'


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