Khuddaka Nikāya

[Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]




Canto IV.
Psalms of Four Verses


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

Public Domain



In the time of our Exalted One he took rebirth as the son of a nobleman's daughter, whose parents had committed her to the charge of a Wanderer, that she might learn other doctrines and usages. Sabhiya, when grown up, also became a Wanderer, and learning various recitations, became a great dialectician, and found none to equal him. Making his hermitage by the city gate, he gave lessons to the children of noblemen and others, and devised twenty questions, which he asked recluses and brahmins. In the narrative to the Sabhiya-Sutta it is handed down, that a Brahma god from the Pure Abodes devised the questions.[1] There, too, it is told how the Exalted One, when he came to Rājagaha, to the Bamboo Grove, so answered the questions, that Sabhiya believed on him, and entering the Order, established insight and won arahantship.

But after this it was in admonishing the bhikkhus who sided with the seceding Devadatta that he spoke these verses:

[275] People can never really understand That we are here but for a little spell.[2]
[178] But they who grasp this truth indeed,
Suffer all strife and quarrels to abate.

[276] And whereas they who cannot understand.
Deport themselves as they immortals were.
They who can really understand the Norm
Are as the hale amid a world diseased.[3]

[277] All flaccid action, all corrupted rites,
Suspicious conduct in religious life:
On all such work follows no high reward.

[278] He who among his fellow-brethren wins
No reverence is far from the good Norm,
As is the firmament far from the earth.


[1] See Sutta-Nipāta, verses 510-547. Of the verses here ascribed to Sabhiya, 275, 277 = Dhammapada, verses 6, 312, verse 6 being there, as in Vin. Texts, ii. 306 f., put into the mouth of the Buddha addressing the quarrelsome Kosambī bhikkhus.

[2] 'People': 'All except the wise.' Cy. Line 2: We walk constantly near to Death.' (Cy.) This reading is vindicated by the opposed: 'as they immortals were,' next verse.

[3] This line = Dhammapada, verso 198 (half the śloka). It is interesting to note that the Commentary on verse 6 of the Dhammapada is verbatim the same as that by Dhammapāla, while that on verse 312 is nearly so.


Copyright Statement