Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto XV.
Psalms of Sixteen Verses


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

Public Domain

[Pali] [olen]


Reborn before our Exalted One, in the village of Dona-vatthu, not far from Kapilavatthu, in a very wealthy brahmin family, he came to be called by his family name, Koṇḍañña. When grown up he knew the three Vedas, and excelled in runes concerning marks.[1] Now when our Bodhisat was born, he was among the eight brahmins sent for to prognosticate. And though he was quite a novice, he saw the marks of the Great Man on the infant, and said: 'Verily this one will be a Buddha!' So he lived, awaiting the Great Being's renunciation. When this happened in the Bodhisat's twenty-ninth year, Koṇḍañña heard of it, and left the world with four other sons of mark-interpreting brahmins, Vappa[2] and others, and for six years dwelt at Uruvelā, near the Bodhisat, during the latter's great struggle. Then when the Bodhisat ceased to fast, they were disgusted, and went to Isipatana. There the Buddha followed them, and preached his Wheel sermon, whereby Koṇḍañña and myriads of Brahma angels won the fruition of the first path. And on the fifth day, through the sermon on 'No Sign of any Soul,' Koṇḍañña realized arahantship. Him the Master, later on, in conclave at the great Jeta Grove Vihāra, ranked chief among those bhikkhus who were of long standing in the Order.[3] And on one occasion Koṇḍañña's sermon on the Four Truths - a discourse bearing the impress of the three signs, dealing with non-substantiality, varied by divers methods, based on Nibbāna, and delivered with the Buddha's own fluency - so impressed Sakka the god that he uttered this verse:

[673] Hearing thy doctrine's mighty properties,
Lo! I thereby am more than satisfied.
Most passionless and pure the Norm thus taught,
From every form of grasping wholly free.[4]

On another occasion the Thera, seeing how the minds of certain worldlings were mastered by wrong ideas, delivered himself on this wise:

[674] Many the motley pictures in the world,
Enjoyed within this earth's circumference,
Inciting, I do note, man's purposes,
Fair-seeming hopes, and linked with fierce desire.

[675] As dust by wind upchurned the rain-cloud lays,
So are those purposes composed and quenched,
When he by wisdom doth discern and see.

[676] When he by wisdom doth discern and see:
'Impermanent is everything in life,'
Then he at all this suffering feels disgust.
Lo! herein lies the way to purity.

[286][677] When he by wisdom doth discern and see,
That 'Everything in life is bound to Ill'[5]
Then he at all this suffering feels disgust.
Lo! herein lies the way to purity.

[678] That 'Everything in life is Void of Soul,'
Then he at all this suffering feels disgust.
Lo! herein lies the way to purity.

Thereupon he showed that he had himself attained this insight, confessing aññā, and saying:

[679] Brother Koṇḍañña, wakened by the Wake: -
Lo! he hath passed with vigour out and on;
Sloughed off hath he the dyings and the births,
Wholly accomplishing the life sublime.

[680] And be it 'flood' or 'snare' or 'stumbling-stone,'
Or be it 'mountain' hard to rive in twain,[6]
The net, the stumbling-stone I've hacked away,
And cloven is the rock so hard to break,
And crossed the flood. Rapt in ecstatic thought
I dwell, from bondage unto evil freed.

Now one day the Thera rebuked a bhikkhu, who had fallen into bad habits through unworthy friendships, and admonished him, saying:

[681] A bhikkhu of distraught, unsteady mind,
Who doth associate with vicious friends,
In the great flood [of constant living] falls
Headlong and drowning sinks beneath its waves.

[682] But who, with concentrated, steady mind,
Discreet and self-restrained in heart and sense,
Doth wisely join himself to virtuous friends,
His it may be to put an end to Ill.

[287][683] Lo! here[7] a man with worn and pallid frame;
Like knotted stems of cane his joints, and sharp
Th' emaciated network of his veins;
In food and drink austerely temperate,
His spirit neither crushed nor desolate.

[684] In the great forest, in the mighty woods,
Touched though I be by gadfly and by gnat,
I yet would roam, like warrior-elephant,
In van of battle, mindful, vigilant.

[685] With thought[8] of death I dally not, nor yet
Delight in living. I await the hour
Like any hireling who hath done his task.

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

[687] 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,
Cause for rebirth is found in me no more.

Cenobite. (Coenobite) Gk. koinobion. Community life, convent, f. koinos common + bios life. A member of a monastic community.
— OED Shorter

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[688] The Good[9] for which I bade the world farewell,
And left the home to lead the homeless life,
That highest Good have I accomplished.
What need have I as cenobite to dwell?


[1] Dialogues, i. 17, n. 2. On the prophecy, see a fuller version in Buddhist Birth Stories, p. 72 f.

[2] See above, LXI.

[3] Ang., i. 26. For the Buddha's sermon, see Vinaya Texts, i. 100 f. [Ed.: see also the various translations of SN 3.22.59, and for Warren's translation of the Vinaya version: Buddhism in Translations, page 146]

[4] Anupādāya, paraphrased by agahetvā vimuttisādhanavasena pavattattā.

[5] Here repeat the two preceding lines. Cf. Dhammapada, verses 277-279.

[6] All metaphors from the Suttas - e.g., Dīgha Nik., iii. 230; Saṅy. Nik., i. 105 f.; i. 27; Majjh. Nik., iii. 130.

[7] = CLXXVIII. This to enjoin the hermit-life on the erring one (Commentary).

[8] = verses 606 f., 654 f.; 604 and 655.

[9] Cf. verse 605. The Commentary adds that he went and dwelt twenty-two years at the Chaddanta Lake before he passed away, only visiting the Buddha shortly before that event to announce his assurance of it.


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