Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto XI.
Psalm of Eleven Verses


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

Public Domain

[Pali] [than]


Reborn in this Buddha-age at Sāvatthī in a family of very eminent brahmins, his mother died just prior to his birth, so that he was discovered unburnt upon the funeral pyre. For the life of a being in his last birth cannot perish ere he attain arahantship, even if he fell down Mount Sineru. At seven years of age, when he heard of his mother dying at his birth, he was thrilled, and said, 'I will leave the world.' So they brought him to Sāriputta. And he won arahantship even as his hair was being cut off. How he offered his life to brigands to save 8,000 bhikkhus is told in the Dhammapada Commentary.[1]

Now a certain layman, desiring to wait upon him, asked him to dwell in the neighbourhood, saying:

[597] What is the gain for thee, dear lad,[2] to dwell
During the rains within the distant woods,
Like Ujjuhāna, marshy, jungle-crowned?
Sweeter for thee Verambhā, Cave of Winds,
Since they who meditate must dwell apart.[3]

[267] Then the Thera, to show the charm of the forest and other things, replied:

[598] E'en as the wind of the monsoon blows up
And all around the cloud-wrack, in the rains,
[So in the forest lone, remote, arise]
The thoughts that with detachment harmonize,
And all my spirit whelm and overspread.[4]

[599] 'Twas the dun-feathered one,[5] in charnel-field
Going his rounds, that made to rise in me
Clear thought about this body, passion-purged.

[600] Moreover, he whom others need not guard,
He too who hath no others whom to guard: -
Even the bhikkhu, dwells in happy ease,
Regardless of what men desire and love.[6]

[601] Crags where clear waters lie, a rocky world,
Haunted by black-faced apes and timid deer,
Where 'neath bright blossoms run the silver streams: -
Those are the highlands of my heart's delight.[7]

[602] I've dwelt in forests and in mountain caves,
In rocky gorges and in haunts remote,
And where the creatures of the wild do roam;

[603] But never mine the quest, with ill-will fraught,
Ungentle and ignoble .[8] - 'Let us hunt,
Let's slay these creatures, let us work them ill!'

[268] [604] The Master hath my fealty and love,
And all the Buddha's bidding hath been done.
Low have I laid the heavy load I bore;[9]
Cause for rebirth is found in me no more.

[605] The Good for which I bade the world farewell,
And left the home a homeless life to lead,
That highest Good have I accomplishèd,
And every bond and fetter is destroyed.'[10]

[606] With thought of death I dally not, nor yet
Delight in living. I await the hour,
Like any hireling who hath done his task.

[607] With thought of death I dally not, nor yet
Delight in living. I await the hour
With mind discerning and with heedfulness.[11]


[1] Vol. ii, pp. 240-252: the story of Sankicca the novice, and how he converted the highwaymen, explaining the circumstances of Dhammapada, verse 110. With his birth, cf. Dabba, V., p. 10, n. 4.

[2] Tāta, speaking to the boy as if he were his father, says Dhammapāla. Kim, he adds, is for ko (attho).

[3] Ujjuhāna is said to have been either a hill covered with jungle and abounding in waters, or a bird that dwelt in thickets during the rains. Similarly, verambha is the monsoon wind, or a certain cave nearer the layman's home than the woods. I am of an open mind as to which was really meant.

[4] The Pali is here very terse. For abhikīranti (see Jāt., iii. 67) = ajjhottharanti. Cf. Ps. CXXXII., kīranti.

[5] I.e., the carrion crow, at home in the charnel-field, feeding on the dead. Apaṇḍaro, not-clear, not-bright, is paraphrased as kāḷavaṇṇo.

[6] See Jāt., i., No. 10.

[7] See CXIII., CCLXI.


[9] 'The load of the Khandhas' (Commentary) — i.e., he had removed the cause (taṇhā, see next line) of their future renewal. He now concludes his reply in terms of the question put to him, viz., of 'good,' or 'gain' (attha).

[10] = ver. 136; 380.

[11] See CLXVIII., CCLIX. (1002 f.); cf. Milinda, I 70. The hireling, working for another, takes no great joy in the completion of his work (Commentary). Cf. Laws of Manu (S.B.E. xxv.), p. 207


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