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 in this Buddha-age at Kapilavatthu in a brahmin family, he saw the power and majesty of the Buddha when [288] he visited his family, believed in him, entered the Order, and in due course became an arahant. Now there are these three Theras named Udāyin: the minister's son, Kāḷudāyin, recorded above,[1] this brahmin, and Udāyin the Great.[2] This one, when the Sutta of the Elephant Parable had been taught on the occasion when Seta, King Pasenadi's elephant, was publicly admired,[3] was stirred to enthusiasm at thought of the Buddha, and thinking: 'These people admire a mere animal. Come now, I will proclaim the virtues of that great and wondrous Elephant, the Buddha!' he uttered these verses:

[689] Buddha the Wake, the son of man,
Self-tamed, by inward vision rapt,
Bearing himself by ways sublime,
Glad in tranquillity of heart;

[690] To whom men honour pay as one
Who hath transcended all we know;[4]
To whom gods also honour yield:-
So I, an arahant, have heard-

[691] From jungle to Nibbāna come,[5]
With every fetter left behind,
Glad in renouncing worldly joys,
Extracted like fine gold from ore,

[692] Like elephant superb is he,
On wooded heights in Himalay:-
Lo, him behold! Nāga Superb-
[289] For, sure, of all we 'Nāga' name,
(Serpent or elephant or man)
Supremely true that name for him -

[693] This Nāga will I praise to you,
For he 'no sin' — na āgun — doth.[6]
Mercifulness, sobriety:[7]
These be two of the Naga's feet;

[694] Intelligence and mindfulness:
Other two feet of this Elephant.
The Nāga's trunk is confidence;
His white tusks, equanimity;

[695] His throat awareness,[8] and his head
Is insight; testing touch of trunk
Is weighing wisely good and bad;
Shrine of the Norm his viscera;
Detachment is the tail of him.

[696] So musing rapt, and breathing bliss,[9]
Composed in body and in mind,
Composed, this Nāga, when he walks,
Composed, this Nāga, when he stands,

[697] Composed, this Nāga, lying down,
And eke composed while he sits;
Self-governed whatsoe'er he doth:
This is the Nāga's perfect way.

[698] Blameless in all that he enjoys,
Enjoying naught that calls for blame,
Hath he but gotten food and gear,
From store laid up he doth refrain.

[290] [699] Whether the tie be coarse or fine,
Bonds of all kinds he knaps in twain;
He goeth wheresoe'er he will,
Nor careth wheresoe'er he goes.

[700] As lotus born within a lake,
By water nowise is defiled,
But groweth fragrant, beautiful,

[701] So is the Buddha in this world,
Born in the world and dwelling there,
But by the world nowise defiled,
E'en as the lily by the lake.

[702] A mighty fire that's spent itself,
And hath no fuel dieth down,
And of the smouldering ashes men
Do say 'That fire is now extinct.'[10]

[703] Lo! here's a parable the wise
Have taught to make their meaning known.
Great Nāgas, they will understand
The Nāga, by that Nāga taught:

[704] With passion gone, and hatred gone,
And dullness gone, sane and immune,
This Nāga, yielding up his life,
Will clean 'go out,' sane and immune.



[2] It is not easy to elicit from the canonical episodes mentioning āyasmā Udāyī,' which is the last named. Such a personage frequently appears, getting into trouble in the Vinaya, conversing with the Buddha and apostles in the Suttas, but never called 'Great,' or doing anything to merit the title. Conceivably he lived nearer the Commentator's time.

[3] See Ang. Nik., iii. 345 f., where the psalm is also given. Translated by E. Hardy, Buddha, 1903, p. 51.

[4] Dhammā — i.e., things as cognizable.

[5] Vanā nib-bānam āgataɱ; the word-play cannot be reproduced. See Compendium, p. 168.

[6] Nāga, whatever its real, not (as here) exegetical, derivation, meant a fairy, daimôn, or mysterious being. The serpent was as mysterious for the Indian as for Cretan and Greek. So was the elephant. So was the saint. The bracketed line is from the Commentary. Cf. Sutta-Nipāta, verse 522.

[7] On sobriety (soraccaɱ Commentary = sīlaɱ), see Bud. Psy., p. 849. The other two feet are, in Ang. Nik., called 'austerity' (tapo) and 'holy life.'

[8] Sati, 'mindfulness,' above, is also sati.

[9] Lit., 'delighting in inhaling,' a word meaning also comfort - namely, of Nibbāna (Commentary).

[10] Nibbuto.


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