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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Reborn in this Buddha-age at the gate of the city of Sāvatthī in a fisher's village, as the son of the headman of the 500 fishermen's families, he was called Yasoja. Come of age, he was one day fishing with the fishermen's sons in the River Aciravatī. And casting his net, he caught a great gold-coloured fish. They showed it to King Pasenadi, who said: 'The Exalted One will know the cause of the fish's colour.' And the Exalted One told them that the fish had, in Kassapa Buddha's time, been a wicked bhikkhu, who had since then suffered in purgatory; that his sisters were still there, but that his brother as Thera had perfected life; and then for their good he taught the Kappila Sutta.[1]

Thereupon Yasoja in deep emotion renounced the world, and his companions with him. Of his going with them to wait on the Exalted One at the Jeta-Vana, and of their dismissal because of the noise they made on arriving, the record stands in the Udāna.[2] Dismissed, and dwelling on the banks of the River Vaggumudā, Yasoja, like a highbred horse, his mettle stirred, strove and toiled till he acquired sixfold abhiññā. Thereafter the Exalted One sent for him. And he, from practising all the special austerities,[3] was emaciated and uncomely. Then the Exalted One commended his self-denial in this verse:

[243] Lo! here a man with frame so pale and worn;
Like knotted stems of cane his joints, and sharp
Th' emaciated network of his veins.
In food and drink austerely temperate,
His spirit neither crushed nor desolate.

[167] And Yasoja so commended, extolled the love of solitude, and taught doctrine thus:

[244] In the great forest, in the mighty woods,
Touched though I be by gadfly and by gnat,
I yet would roam, like warrior-elephant
In van of battle, mindful, vigilant.[4]

[245] Alone a man is even as Brahma.
And as the angels if he have one mate.
Like to a village is a group of three.
Like to a noisy crowd if more there be.


[1] I cannot identify this Sutta.

[2] Udāna, iii., § 8. In that work it is interesting, in view of the Thera's legend, that the Master, when rebuking Yasoja's followers, compares them to noisy fishermen.

[3] These were not the self-inflicted tortures of Indian ascetics, but the Dhutangas, all of which are given in the Milinda, ii., bk. vi.

[4] = XXXI.


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