Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto VII.
Psalms of Seven Verses


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

Public Domain



Reborn in this Buddha-age at Rājagaha, as the son of a certain brahmin, he was given a name according to or independent of family traditions, he having no distinctive marks[1] [and that name is forgotten]. But he became, when of age, an ascetic, making a hut for himself out of reed-stalks, which he had broken off, and from that time he was known as Sara-bhanga - reed-plucker. Now the Exalted One, looking over the world with the Awakened Eye, discerned in him the conditions of arahantship, and going to him taught him the Norm. And he, convicted and becoming a member, in due course won arahantship, continuing to live in his hut. This became decayed and crumbling, and people noticing it, said: 'Why, your reverence, do you not repair it?' The Thera, saying: 'The hut was made when I was doing ascetic practices; now I cannot do the like,' set forth the whole matter thus:

[487] Ay, reeds in handfuls once I plucked, and built
A hut wherein I sojourned; hence the name
'Reedpicker' given me by the common voice.

[488] But not to me doth it belong to-day
To pluck the reeds in handfuls as of yore,
Because of what the training doth prescribe,
Revealed to us by glorious GOTAMA.

[489] How wholly and entirely he did ail:-
That had Reedpicker never seen before.
This sorely ailing state he came to see
Through word of Him who is beyond the gods.

[490] The self-same Path by which VIPASSI went,
The Path of SIKHI and of VESSABHU,
And KASSAPA, e'en by that very Road Lo! now to us there cometh GOTAMA.

[491] [237] And all these seven Buddhas,[2] - they for whom
Craving was dead, and nought was grasped, and who
Stood planted on Abolishing of I11[3] -
They taught this Norm, ay, even such as they,
Who were themselves the body of the Norm,[4]

[492] In great compassion for us all, e'en these
Four Ariyan Truths: the Truth of I11; the Cause;
The Path; the End, th' abolishing, of I11,

[483] Whereby the endless tale of grief and pain
In life's great cycle cannot take its course;[5]
For when this body dies and life is spent,
No other rebirth cometh more - yea, free
Am I from birth, from evil utterly![6]


[1] See legend in CCXXXII., CCXXXIII.

[2] On the seven see Dialogues, i. 1 ff.

[3] Khayogadhā. Khaya - Nibbāna (Commentary).

[4] Dhammabhūtā - Norm, become dhammakāyā, paraphrases Dhammapāla, using the term so largely coming into favour in Mahāyānism.

[5] Nibbattate, paraphrased as (nirvattate) na pavattati, (no) uppajjati, i.e., through nirodha, Nibbāna.

The symbolism (hut = body) holds, but the reason for not rebuilting his hut would more likely have been the need to destroy plant life to do so.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[6] So the Commentary: sabbehi kilesehi, sabbehi bhavehi. The reader might well miss the point of this fine poem without the simple but illuminating legend, and imagine it was not becoming for a Thera to work with his hands, as Dr. Neumann's rendering seems to imply. The bhikkhus built 'huts' galore, made and mended their garments, etc. But Sarabhanga's point is that of those other two Hut-theras in LVI, LVII.: their 'one thing needful' is the non-renewal of the attabhāva-kutikā, as the Commentary calls it, the 'personal organism-hut,' and hence it is, that he so harps on the ending of ill - i.e., of rebirth. The state of his reed-hut is a trifling detail, useful only as a symbol. Poem and legend may have grown up out of the interpretation of the name. This occurs as that of a seer, not only in the Jātakas (iii. 454; v. 127 ff.), but also in the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana.


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