Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto VI.
Psalms of Six Verses

Kassapa of Uruvelā

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

Public Domain



Reborn in the day of our Exalted One as the firstborn, of three brothers in a brahmin family, they were all called by their family name Kassapa,[1] and they all learned the three Vedas. They had a following of five, three, and two hundred brahmin youths respectively. And finding no vital truth in their scriptures,[2] but only subjects of worldly interest,[3] they left the world and became ascetics. And they became named after the places where they dwelt as rishis, the eldest with his company going to dwell at Uruvelā. Many days after this came the great renunciation of our Bodhisat, the starting of the Norm-Wheel, the arahantship of the five Theras, the conversion of the fifty-three associates headed by Yasa, the sending forth of the sixty arahants, 'Go ye, bhikkhus, and wander ..., the conversion of the thirty wealthy friends, and the coming of the Master to Uruvelā. When he had there wrought many wonders, beginning with the taming of the Nāga, Kassapa was convinced and entered the Order, his brothers following his example. To them and their [207] 1,000 followers, the Master, seated on the crest of a rock on Gayā Head, uttered the discourse on Burning, establishing them all as arahants.

But Uruvelā-Kassapa reviewing his achievement, uttered lion-roar verses, attesting aññā:

[375] Beholding all the wondrous works achieved
By the high powers of glorious Gotama,
At first, natheless, myself I humbled not,
Being deceived by envy and by pride.

[376] But He, Driver of men, who knew my thought
And my intent, took me at length to task.
Thereby anguish befell me, I was seized
By thrill mysterious, hair-raising dread.

[377] And then the gifts that erst accrued to me[4] As famed ascetic poor and worthless seemed.
All these I thereupon esteemed as nought,
And in the Conqueror's Order was enrolled.

[378] Once well content with sacrifice, 'bove all
Concerned within these worlds once more to live
Now have I set myself to extirpate
All passion, all ill will, illusion too.

[379] How erst I lived I know; the heavenly eye,
Purview celestial, have I clarified;
Power supernormal, reading others' thought,
Hearing ineffable, have I achieved.

[380] And the great Quest for which I left the world,
Forsaking home, a homeless life to lead,
Even that quest, that high reward I've won,
For every fetter now is broken down.[5]


[1] See CCIII., CCIV. The incidents here outlined are told in Vinaya Texts, i. 119-139. This Kassapa is assigned chief rank among those bhikkhus who had great following (Ang., 25).

[2] Lit., in their own book, attano ganthe.

[3] Diṭṭhadhammikam eva atthaɱ.

[4] Lābha-sakkāra-sammiddhi. Cy.

[5] He enumerates sixfold abhiññā, or modes of higher knowledge, only calling the last 'destroying the (ten) fetters,' instead of the four intoxicants, the more usual formula (cf. p. 32, n. 1). The last two lines are identical with (CXXVIII.) verse 136; the four in verse 379 occur, slightly different, in Uppalavaṇṇā's gāthās (Sisters, verse 227). Verse 380 = 136.


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