Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto V.
Psalms of Five Verses


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

Public Domain



Reborn in this Buddha-age in the family of a commoner of Magadha, and named Subhūta, his disposition to seek [191] escape caused him to quit domestic life and to join sectarian ascetics. Finding among them nothing genuine, and seeing the happiness enjoyed by Upatissa, Kolita, Sela[1] and others, after they had entered the Order, he believed in our doctrine and entered also. After winning the favour of his teachers and preceptors, he went into retreat with an exercise. And developing insight he won arahantship.

Thereupon he declared aññā by reviewing the suffering he had endured by self-mortification, and his subsequent happiness in jhāna, etc.:

[320] A man who yokes himself to things unfit,
Desiring[2] to accomplish work therein,
If seeking he doth not attain, his quest
Doth bear the intrinsic markings of mischance.

[321] If he surrender but one [vantage-point]
Of misery['s source] drawn out and overcome,
Like luckless throw of dice his state may be.
But if he throw all [he hath gained] away,
No better is he than a blinded man,
Who sees not if the road be smooth or rough.[3]

[322] Of him who talketh much, but doeth not,
Wise men take stock, and rate him at his worth.

[323] [192] Just as a beauteous flower of lovely hue
But lacking odour, so is uttered word
That barren proves, by action not made good.

[324] Just as a beauteous flower of lovely hue
And fragrant odour, so is uttered word
That fruitful proves, in action holding good.[4]


[1] Upatissa is Sāriputta, Kolita is Moggallāna. See CCLIX., CCLXIII., CCLIII. The two former were of his own country; Sela was from the country lying north of Magadha.

[2] According to the Commentary we are to read icchato as = icckante. Dr. Oldenberg supports this by parallels from Sisters, verse 240:

Who, ignorant (ajānato) to the ignorant, hath told thee this?'

for ajānanto (Saɱy., i. 11; Dīpavaɱsa, xxi., verse 2).

Aghāni. Agonies.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3] The metre of this one gāthā is very curious and irregular, nor can the Commentary throw much light on its original phraseology. It decides that aghataɱ stands for three aghāni's (miseries) - viz., greed, hate, and illusion. The Br. MS. makes no attempt to correct this term by references to value (aggha), as does the S. MS. Yet this gāthā fits in better with the legend than do the platitudes that follow ( = verse 226). It is the language of one who has sacrificed his all to win.

[4] = Dhammapada, verses 51, 52.


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