Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto XIII.
Psalm of Thirteen Verses


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

Public Domain



He got rebirth, in the lifetime of our Exalted One, at the city of Campā, in the family of a distinguished councillor. From the time when his birth was expected, his father's great wealth increased even more, and on his birthday the whole town kept festival. Now because of his generosity in a previous birth to a Silent Buddha, his body was as fine gold and most delicately soft, wherefore he was named Soṇa (golden). On the soles of his feet and the palms of bis hand grew fine down of golden colour, and he was reared in luxury, in three mansions suited to each of the three seasons.[1]

Now when our Master had attained omniscience and begun rolling the wheel of the Norm, and was staying at Rājagaha, King Bimbisāra sent for Soṇa. He, having arrived with a great company of fellow-townsmen, heard the Master teach the Norm, and, winning faith, obtained his parents' consent to enter the Order. He received a subject of study from the Master, but was unable to concentrate, owing to his maintaining intercourse with people while he stayed in Cool Wood. And he thought: 'My body is too delicately reared to arrive happily at happiness.[2] A [276] recluse's duties involve bodily fatigues.' So he disregarded the painful sores on his feet got from pacing up and down, and strove his utmost, but was unable to win. And he thought: 'I am not able to create[3] either path or fruit. Of what use is the religious life to me? I will go back to lower things and work merit.' Then the Master discerned, and saved him by the lesson on the Parable of the Lute,[4] showing him how to temper energy with calm. Thus corrected, he went to Vulture's Peak, and in due course won arahantship. Reflecting on his achievement, he thus declared his aññā:

[632] Who once in Anga's realm was passing rich,
A squire to Anga's king,[5] lo! he to-day
Is of fair wealth in spiritual things.
Yea, past all ill hath Soṇa won his way.

[633] Five cut thou off; Five leave behind, and Five beyond these cultivate!
He who the Fivefold Bond transcends - a Brother Flood-crossed is he called.[6]

[634] Seest thou a Brother with a rush-like mind,
[Stuck-up and empty],[7] trifler, keen to taste
External things? Never will he attain
Fulness of growth within the moral code,
In mental training, or in insight's grasp.[8]

[635] [277] For such neglect that which they have to do,
But what should not be done they bring to pass.
In these conceited, desultory minds
Grow [the rank weeds of] the intoxicants.

[636] In whom the constant governance of sense
Is well and earnestly begun, the things
That should be left undone they practise not;
Ever what should be done they bring to pass.
For them who live mindful and self-possessed,
The intoxicants wane utterly away.

[637] In the straight Path, the Path that is declared,
See that ye walk, nor turn to right or left.
Let each himself admonish and incite;
Let each himself unto Nibbāna bring!

[638] When overtaxed and strained my energies,
The Master - can the world reveal his peer? -
Made me the parable about the lute,
And thus the Man who Sees taught me the Norm.

[639] And I who heard his blessed word abide
Fain only and alway to do his will.[9]
Calm I evolved and practised, equipoise,[10]
That so to highest Good I might attain.
And now the Threefold Wisdom have I won,
And all the Buddha's ordinance is done.

[640] He who hath compassed yielding up the world.
And hath attained detachment of the mind,[11]
Who hath achieved conquest of enmity,
And grasping rooted out that bringeth birth,

[641] And death of craving hath attained and all
That doth bewilder and obscure the mind,
[278] And of sensations marked the genesis: -
His heart is set at perfect liberty.

[642] For such a Brother rightly freed, whose heart
Hath peace, there is no mounting up of deeds,
Nor yet remaineth aught for him to do.

[643] Like to a rock that is a monolith,[12]
And trembleth never in the windy blast,
So all the world of sights and tastes and sounds,
Odours and tangibles, yea, things desired,

[644] And undesirable can ne'er excite
A man like him. His mind stands firm, detached.
And of all that[13] he notes the passing hence.


[1] This episode and the following occur in Vinaya Texts, ii. 1 ff. Koḷivisa, his family name, distinguishes him from the other Soṇas (CLVII., CCVIII.).

[2] Cf. CLXX., verse 220.

[3] Nibbattetuɱ.

[4] Op. cit., p. 8, Ang. iii., 874 ff. He was to cultivate a just mean in effort, like a well-strung lute.

[5] Bimbisāra was therefore King of both Anga and Magadha. Cf. op. cit., 1, n. 2. On 'squire,' paddhagu, paṭagu, cf. Sutta Nipāta, verse 1094, 'comrade.'

[6] = XV. See note there.

[7] Unnaḷo is thus derived by Buddhists. Cf. s.v. Childers' Dictionary. The Commentary has the phrase there quoted: 'bearing aloft the reed of pride.' The etymology is probably exegetical only; but it expresses what the word means for a Buddhist - and that is all that matters here.

[8] The three trainings. Cf. my Buddhism, chap. viii.

[9] Cf. verse 561; Sisters, LIX. ff.

[10] The MSS. read here some samathaɱ, some samataɱ. The Cy. exploits both, and so does the translation.

[11] These lines, to the end, occur verbatim in Vinaya Texts, loc. cit. and in Aṅguttara iii., 378.

[12] Dhammapada, verse 81.

[13] Assa for Tassa. The Cy. paraphrases by ārammaṇadhammassa ... khaṇe bhijjanasabhāvaɱ.


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