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 poem on friends (mittā) and men of good hearts (suhajjā)

93. What is the origin of the stanza beginning with “mitte suhajje”? This silent bodhisatta arose in the self-same manner as narrated by the previous stanza, brought about the first jhāna while reigning over Benares, investigated, saying “Which is more excellent? The monk's life or sovereignty?”, handed over his sovereignty to his ministers and carried out the duties (dhamma) of a monk. Although the king ordered them: “Perform your administrative duties with righteousness and equity”, they took bribes and administered unrighteous. As they were causing the lawful owners to lose after taking bribes, on one occasion, they made a certain royal acquaintance lose. That man went into the presence of the king along with royal cooks and informed the king of everything. The next day, the king went himself to the court where legal decisions were made. Thereupon, the big crowd of people making a great noise saying: “Your Majesty! The ministers made owners lose their ownership,” behaved as if they were going to fight a big battle. Then the king rose up from the place of legal decisions, went up the palace, sat himself down to fix his mind on meditative attainment, (samāpatti), was not able to do so, being of distracted mind due to that noisy sound. He said to himself: “What use is sovereignty for me; the life (dhamma), of a monk is excellent,” abandoned the bliss of sovereignty, again roused up in his mind his meditative attainment, (samāpatti), gained spiritual insight in the self-same manner as stated before, and realised silent buddhahood. When he too was asked about his mental exercise (kammaṭṭhāna) he recited this poem.

93.1. There, it is mittā (friend) by way of leading to loving-kindness. It is suhajjā (by being of good heart). Some scholars opine that those are friends (mittā) only, because of the fact that they wish benefit absolutely but not good-hearted people (suhajjā). According to some scholars, in such matters as going, coming, standing, sitting and self-enticing and so on, because of becoming happy at heart, they are just good-hearted people (suhajjā), not friends (mittā). Some other scholars opine that by way of both, they are not only people of dear heart (suhajjā), but friends (mittā), also. They are of two kinds: householders and homeless. Householders, there, are of three varieties: a helpful benefactor, and equal in happiness and in distress a sympathiser. Homeless are only those who show what is profitable especially. They are endowed with four factors (aṅga).

Just as to say:-

“O young householder! Indeed, a helpful (upakāra), good-hearted friend should be understood by means of four factors (ṭhāna). He looks after you when you are forgetful (pamattam), he looks after your property when you are forgetful; he is a refuge to you when you are afraid; when donations should be made he grants wealth, doubling the required amount.”

So too:-

“O young householder! Indeed, an equal in your prosperity and adversity, a friend of good heart, should be understood by means of four factors: He tells you his secrets; he hides your secrets; he does not forsake you when you are in peril (āpada); for your welfare he risks his life.”

So too:-

“O young householder! Indeed, a sympathetic friend of good heart should be known by means of four factors: he does not rejoice for your absence; he rejoices for your presence, he prevents disparagement being spoken against you; he encourages praise being said about you.”

So too:-

“O young householder! Indeed, the speaker of your welfare, friend of good heart should be known by means of four factors: He prohibits you from doing evil; he encourages you to do good; he lets you hear what you have not heard; he shows you the way to heaven”.

93.2. Here, among them, householders are meant; from the point of view of circumstance all even are connected. Mitte suhajje anukampamāno is to be interpreted as: they being sympathetic with, (their friends), are desirous of bringing in bliss for them and take away distress (dukkha), from them.

93.3. The expression: hāpeti attham should be understood thus:- Welfare (attha), is of three kinds, by way of welfare of the present existence, welfare of the next existence and absolute welfare; so also, welfare is of three varieties, by way of welfare of oneself, welfare of others and welfare of both; make to forsake (hāpeti), cause to ruin in two ways also: by destroying whatever has been gained and by making non-getting to arise. The expression paṭibaddhacitta is to be interpreted thus:- Saying: “Without this one, I do not live; this one is my course; this one is my final end (parāyana)”; even placing oneself in this way at a low place, it is (paṭibaddhacitta), one's heart bound in love. It is said to be one's heart bound in love, (paṭibaddhacitta), even if you place yourself on a higher place in this way; “These people would not be alive without me; I am their course; I am their final end (parāyana)”. Here, however, the word (paṭibaddhacitta), enamoured, is thus meant. Etam bhayam (this danger) means this danger of abandonment of welfare. Thus is said in connection with diminution of gaining jhāna. By Santhava is meant the kinds of association (santhava), by way of craving desire (gaṇhā), wrong view (diṭṭhi), and friend. Craving desire (taṇhā) there is of a hundred and eight varieties and association with craving desire;wrong view (diṭṭhi) is of sixty-two kinds, association with wrong views; on account of one's heart being bound, there is, sympathy with friends, association with friends. In them, that is the meaning here. on that account, indeed, is diminution of his jhāna attainments. That is why the silent buddha said: “Seeing this danger in companionship (santhave), I have achieved it.” The rest resembles whatever has been said.

The commentary on the poem on friends and men of good hearts has ended.

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