Khuddaka Nikāya

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Canto XVI.
Psalms of Twenty Verses




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

Public Domain


Reborn in this Buddha-age as the sister's son of the Thera Sankicca,[1] he left the world under his uncle's tuition, and while only a novice, won arahantship. And dwelling in the bliss of fruition, he wished for full ordination, and went home to ask his mother's leave. Now as he went, he fell in with highwaymen on the look-out for an offering to their deity, and they seized on him as a suitable sacrifice. He, thus assailed, stood undaunted and without blenching. Then the robber-chief was amazed, and commended him, saying:

[705] Of all the lot whom we, for god[2] or pelf,
Have smitten in our time, there's not been one
But hath shown fear, trembled and clamoured sore.

[706] But thou, who'rt not affrighted, nay, whose face
Shows brighter bloom,[3] why dost thou not lament.
When such a fearsome peril threatens thee?



[707] No misery of mind, O chief, is there
For him who hath no wants. All fear have I
Transcended, since the Fetters were destroyed.

[708] By death of that which leadeth to rebirth,[4]
The truths are seen e'en as they really are,
And hence in death there lies no fear for me,
Tis as a laying down the load I bore.

[709] Well have I lived the holy life, and well
Made progress in the Ariyan Path; no fear
There lies in death, who puts an end to ills.[5]

[710] Void of delight the forms of birth appear,[6]
Like drinking poison one has thrown away.

[711] He who hath passed beyond, from grasping free,
Whose task is done, sane and immune, is glad,
Not sorry, when the term of lives is reached,
As one who from the slaughter-house escapes.

[712] He who the ideal order[7] hath attained,
All the world over seeking nought to own,
As one who from a burning house escapes,
When death is drawing nigh he grieveth not.

[713] All things soever which have come to be,
And all rebirth wherever it is got,
Nowhere therein is personal design: -[8]
So hath the mighty Sage declared to us.

[714] [293] And he who knows that things are even so,
As by the Buddha it is taught, no more
Would he take hold of any form of birth
Than he would grasp a red-hot iron ball.

[715] Comes not to me the thought: ''Tis I have been,'
Nor comes the thought: 'What shall I next become?'
Thoughts, deeds and words are no persisting [soul],
Therefore what ground for lamentations here?[9]

[716] To him who seeth, as it really is,
The pure and simple[10] causal rise of things,
The pure and simple sequence of our acts: -
To such an one can come no fear, O chief.

[717] That all this world is like the forest grass
And brushwood [no man's property] when one
By wisdom seeth this, finds naught that's 'Mine,'
Thinking: ''tis not for me,' he grieveth not.[11]

[718] This body irketh me; no seeker I
To live. This mortal frame will broken be,
And ne'er another from it be reborn.

[719] Your business with my body, come, that do
E'en as ye will; and not on that account
Will hatred or affection rise in me.

[720] The young men marvelled at his words, and thrilled
With awe, casting away their knives they said:

[721] What are your honour's practices,[12] or who
Is teacher to you? Of whose Ordinance
A member, have you gained this grieflessness?


[722] My teacher is the Conqueror knowing all
And seeing all, the Master infinite
In pity, all the world's Physician, He.

[723] [294] And He it is by whom these, truths are taught,
Norm to Nibbāna leading, unsurpassed.
Within His Rule I've won this grieflessness.

[724] Now when the robbers heard the well-spoke utterance of the sage,
They laid aside their knives, their arms, and some forsook that trade,
And some besought that they might leave the world for holy life.

[725] They leaving thus, within the Buddha's welcome Rule[13] grew wise,
The seven Factors practising and eke the Forces five,
Trained in the Powers, with hearts elate, happy they reached the Goal.


[1] See CCXL.

[2] Lit., 'for sacrifice.'

[3] Adhimutta was a young novice.

[4] Bhavanetti - i.e., taṇhā.

[5] Lit., diseases. Cf. Tennyson's Elaine:

'And sweet is death who puts an end to pain.'

[6] That 'life is not worth living,' which is Dr. Neumann's rendering, seems to me scarcely sound Buddhism. Life can yield arahantship - the thing supremely worth having, the crown of all previous upward effort. 'Rebecomings are unsatisfying'; 'nirassādā bhavā' is the literal rendering of the text. We need to leave our own 'saws' behind in getting at the Buddhist standpoint.

[7] Dhammataɱ uttamaɱ - i.e., 'the nature of the Norm; in, and because of, completed arahantship' (Commentary).

[8] Nā-issaraɱ - lit., that which has no lord or ruler; issāra is used for a personal creator.

[9] Lit., 'will pass away.' 'Soul' is supplied from the Commentary.

[10] Suddhaɱ, pure, unmixed - i.e., with attā; phenomenal process only: dhammamattappavatti (Commentary).

[11] = Sutta-Nipāta, verse 951.

[12] Tapas: religious austerities or magic (Commentary).

[13] Lit., the rule of the Welcome (su-gata), a title often used for the Buddha. For Factors, Forces, and Powers, see Compendium, p. 180, called factors, powers, faculties, respectively. 'Reached the Goal' — lit., 'touched (attained) the state of Nibbāna, the unconditioned.' The Commentary adds that the youthful saint went imperturbably on his way, obtained his mother's consent to enter the Order, and was ordained by his uncle. On verse 722 Dhammapāla refers to his own Commentary on the Iti-vuttaka.


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