Apadana commentary (Atthakatha)

by U Lu Pe Win | 216,848 words

This is the English translation of the commentary on the Apadana (Atthakatha), also known as the Visuddhajana-Vilasini. The Buddhist stories known as apadanas refer to biographies of Buddhas, Buddhist monks and nuns. They are found in the Pali Canon (Khuddaka Nikaya), which is the primary canon of Theravada Buddhism. Alternative titles: Visuddhaja...

Commentary on the stanza on contact (samsagga)

92. What is the origin of such a stanza that begins: Samsaggajātassa, to one who has become clung together? This silent bodhisatta also, performing the duties of a monk, in the selfsame manner as before, for twenty thousand years, in the dispensation of Buddha Kassapa, did mental exercise by kasiṇa practice, brought about the attainment of the first jhāna, determined the name and form (nāmarūpa), made the mastering of characteristics (lakkhaṇa), but not arriving at the right path of noble arahats, was reborn in the world of brahmās. Passing away thence, he sprang up in the womb of the chief queen of the king of Benares, and growing up in the same manner as before, beginning from such time as he knew the distinction thus: “This is female woman, this is male man,” he was never in his joyful elements in the hands of women over that knowledge of his. He did not relish even to the extent of their bathing him, dressing him and toiletting as well as adorning him. Men only nursed him. At the time of milk-feeding, wet nurses dressed themselves up in close bodice, fed him milk in the guise of men. He cried on smelling the smell of women and hearing the voice of women. Through he had attained the age of intelligence, he did not desire to see women. Therefore people knew him well as Aniṭṭhigandha, (No female smell) only.

When he grew up to sixteen years of age, the king, saying to himself: “I shall continue establishing the family lineage”, brought suitable maidens for him from different families and ordered a certain minister: “You should bemuse the young prince.” The minister, being desirous of bemusing him by means of a trick, had a screen wall thrown round not far from him and caused the dancing damsels to display their art of dancing music. The young prince heard the sound of song and playing of music and asked “Whose sound is this?”

The minister replied: “Your Highness! This sound is the one of your dancing damsels. To people who possess merit there are such dancing damsels as these. Your Highness! Please bemuse yourself, you are of great merit.”

The young prince had the minister beaten with a stick and dragged away. The minister informed the matter to the king. The king went with the mother of the prince, made him apologise and again gave orders to the minister. The young prince, being extremely oppressed by them, gave best quality gold and ordered the goldsmiths thus: “You should make a good statue of a maiden”.

They made a likeness of a lady well decked with all kinds of adornments resembling the creation made by Bissakamma(Skr. Vishwakarma), the divine architect and sculptor, and showed the same to the prince. The prince saw the gold figure, shook his head with astonishment, and sent it to his parents with these words: “If I were to obtain such a young lady as this one, I shall take her.”

The parents, saying to themselves thus: “Our son is of great merit; surely there must have been born in the world some girl who had done good deed together with him,” had that gold figure mounted on a chariot and placed it in charge of the ministers saying thus: “Go and seek such a young lady like this”.

The ministers took it and wandering about all over the sixteen countries (janapada), went to this and that village, placed the gold figure like a divine lady at water-fetching places and so on, very often as and where crowds of people were seen, having honoured it with several kinds of flowers, garments and ornaments, fastened a screen and stood at a suitable spot, with the idea: “Should there be anyone by whom such a beauty has been seen before, he will himself raise the talk.” By this means, setting aside the kingdom of Madda, they traversed all the countries (janapada), and dismissing Madda as a minor kingdom, they proceeded without first going there.

92.1 Thereafter, this idea occurred to them: “Now, we should go to the kingdom of Madda also; let not our king send us out again when we return to and make our re-entry into Benares”, and went to the city of Sāgala in the kingdom of Madda. In the city of Sāgala, the king was Maddava, by name. His daughter, sixteen years of age, was extremely beautiful. Her slaves of beauty went down to the bathing ghat for purposes of bathing and bringing water. There, they saw that gold figure placed by the ministers and went near the same saying: “Having sent us out for water our king's daughter came by herself only.” Having seen the gold figure closely, they said again thus: “This is not our lady; our lady is more beautiful than this”. The ministers heard them say it, approached the king and asked for the princess in an appropriate manner. The king, on his part, gave his daughter. They sent this message to the king of Benares: “Your Majesty! A young princess has been procured; are you coming yourselves, or else are we ourselves to bring her?” The king sent in reply this instruction: “While I come, there might be pillage and plunder in suburban area (janapada), you yourselves bring her”.

92.2. The ministers took the princess, left the city, and sent this message to the prince: “A princess resembling the gold figure has been procured.” As soon as he heard the news, the prince became overwhelmed with lust (rāga), and became diminished from the first jhāna. He sent a series of messengers one after another with this message: “Bring her quickly;bring her quickly.” They arrived at Benares by staying everywhere on the way one single night only, stationed themselves outside the city, and sent this message to the king: “Should we enter the city now, today, or not?” The kind said: “The young lady is brought from the most excellent family, having done auspicious deeds, we shall let her enter the royal city with high honour; for the time being, lead her to the royal garden.” They did accordingly. She, being an extremely delicate princess and oppressed by the jolting of her transport, became like a fading flower due to the attack of wind disease, over her fatigue of the journey, and died during the night. The ministers bewailed themselves saying: “We have fallen from being honoured.” The king as well as the citizens wept saying: “Our family lineage has been ruined.” There arose an uproar all over the city. Great anxiety arose to the young prince as soon as he heard the sad news.

92.3. Thereafter, the young prince started digging out the root of his anxiety. He thought thus: “This anxiety, is not of the one who is not born; it is, however, of the one who is born. Therefore, because of birth, there is anxiety; because of what, however, is birth?” He concluded: “Because of existence (bhava), there is birth.” In this way, making purposeful proper attention by the power of previous meditative development, he came to see the dependent origination, (paṭiccasamuppāda), in its regular and reverse orders and again, mentally investigating the aggregate of actions suitable also in the natural order, he realised silent buddhahood even while being seated there. The ministers—seeing him seated with tranquil mind and calmly controlled faculties, happy with the bliss of the right path and its fruition—made their prostrated adorations, and said thus: “Your Majesty! Please do not be anxious, Jambudīpa is large; we shall bring another young lady better than that.” The prince replied: “I am not anxious. I am a silent buddha without any anxiety.” Except the commentary on the stanza, the entire sequence of events beyond here is identical to the previous stanza.

92.4. As regards the commentary on the stanza it should be understood in this way:- Samsagga jātassa means the risen connection. There exist there five kinds of connection by way of seeing, hearing, bodily enticing, living together with and contact. There, having seen each other the lust (rāga), that has arisen by way of the process (vīthi) of eye-consciousness is known as dassanasamsagga (sight contact). The example there is, having seen a young bhikkhu, reciter of long discourses (dīgha), resident of Kalyāṇa monastery, going about for collecting almsfood at the village of Kāladīghavāpi, in the island of Sīhaḷa (Ceylon) a householder's daughter, fell in love with him and not getting him by any means whatsoever, died, and also that very young man who died of broken heart after having seen her torn piece of undergarment, saying: “I did not get cohabitation together with a woman who wore such a garment.”

92.5. Having heard about such attainments as beauty and so on, being told, however, by other people or by oneself, as well as sound of laughing, talking and singing, the arisen lust (rāga), by way of the process (vīthi) of ear-consciousness, is known as hearing contact. The example there also is:- the young Tissa, resident of a cave with five door-bolts who arrived at destruction having diminished from distinction due to lust (rāga) for sensual pleasures (kāma), while going in the sky, when he heard the sound of singing with high voice by the daughter of the goldsmith, resident of hill-village (sīrigāma), together with five young girls, who went to a lotus lake, bathed and wore garlands on their heads.

92.6. The lust (rāga), which, however, arises by the mutual touching of limbs is known as Kāyasamsagga (bodily contact). The example here is Dhamma-speaking young bhikkhu and the king's daughter. It is said in the mahāvihāra, a young monk preaches dhamma. There a big mass of people came. The king also, together with his queen and his daughter, went there. Subsequently, because of his handsomeness and sweet voice, there arose violent ailment to the king's daughter as well as to that young monk. Having seen it, the king understood the matter, and had a screen wall set up all round. They touched one another and embraced mutually. Again on having a look at them after removing the screen, they saw both of them dead.

92.7. The lust (rāga), which arises by way of mutual conversation, and enticement, however, is known as samullāpana samsagga (self-enticing contact). The lust (rāga) which arises when enjoyment of food is made by bhikkhus together with bhikkhuṇīs is known as sambhogasamsagga (food enjoyment contact). The example, in these two cases also, is the bhikkhu and bhikkhunī, who have merited expulsion from the order, (pārājika). It is said that King Duṭṭhagāmaṇi Abhaya, made ready a great charity in the festival of the great monastery of Maricavaṭṭi and entertained the clergy of both sexes. There, when hot rice-gruel was offered, a young female novice of the clergy gave an ivory bangle to a young male novice of the clergy and made an enticement. Both of them also got themselves ordained as a bhikkhu and bhikkhunī, became sixty years old, and as they went to the other bank of the river, got back their previous perception due to mutual enticement, became arousingly affectionate then and there, transgressed the basic discipline and became deserving of expulsion from the Order (pārājika). In this way, bhavati , there occurred affection to one to whom contact has arisen by one or other of the five kinds of contact. As a consequence of the previous lust, there arises strong lust (rāga). Consequently, Snehanvayaṃ dukkhaṃ idaṃ pahoti, following after that self-same affection, this misery, in this present existence as well as in the next existence happen, occur and arise.

92.8. Other scholars say: “Contact (samsagga), is relaxation of mind on sense-object (ārammaṇa). Consequent upon that is affection; the misery of affection is this.” Having recited this half stanza as regards the variety in meaning for interpretation, in this way, that silent buddha said: “There occurs such misery as anxiety and so on, because of following such an affection as this; digging up the root of misery (dukkha), consequent upon following that selfsame affection, I have achieved the silent buddhahood.”

92.9. When said thus, those ministers asked thus: “Venerable Sir! What are we to do now?” Thereupon, he said: “Whoever, either you or anyone were desirous of escape from this misery (dukkha), he should wander alone like the horn of a rhinoceros, seeing all the disadvantages also that arise from affection, ādīnavam snebajam pekkhamāno, eko care khaggavisāṇakappo.” Here also, such statement as: “This misery (dukkha), occurs consequent on following after affection” was also made. With reference to that even, this statement was made thus: “Seeing the disadvantage arising out of affection”, thus it should be understood. In other words, on account of the aforesaid contact, there arises affection to one in whom contact happens. There occurs this misery (dukkha), the aftermath of affection. Seeing the disadvantage produced by affection, according to the truth, I have made my achievement. Having linked up in this way, the fourth line of the stanza was stated by way of affection in the self-same manner previously stated; thus it should be understood. After that, everything is simply similar to what has been said by means of the previous stanza.

The commentary on the stanza on contact is ended

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