II. Nidāna Vagga
I. Paṭhama Vagga
The Book of the Kindred Sayings
II. The Book Called the Nidāna-Vagga
Containing Kindred sayings on Cause
and Other Subjects
15. Kindred Sayings on the Incalculable Beginning
Grass and Brushwood
Originally Published by
The Pali Text Society
The Exalted One was once staying at Sāvatthi
in Jeta Grove, the Anāthapiṇḍika Park.
"Lord" they made response.
[bodh][olds] If a man, brethren, were to prune out
the grasses, sticks, boughs and twigs in this India
and collecting them together,
should make a pile
laying them in a stack of squares
saying for each:
'This is my mother;
this is my mother's mother.'
Brethren, the grasses, sticks, boughs, twigs in this India
would be used up, ended
or ever the mothers of that man's mother
were come to an end.
Incalculable is the beginning, brethren, of this faring on.
The earliest point is not revealed
of the faring on, running on,
of beings cloaked in ignorance,
tied to craving.
 Pubba-koṭi. Or past, or former extreme. B. paraphrases: — The first boundary is not seen, the beginning of which is the first point. Nor is the last extreme revealed. Just in the middle beings are passing on.
 Lit.: of beings running on, faring on.
 Sabba-sankhāresu. Usually explained as all that has arisen from conditions. But I doubt whether this more philosophical import was any more present to the mind of the Sutta editors than it is to-day to any Buddhist, when on the occasion of a death, he utters the usual exclamation Aniccā vata saṅkhāra!