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 the four directions (catuddisā)

98. What is the origin of the stanza beginning with sātuddiso? it is said that formerly, during the dispensation of the Glorious one Kassapa, five silent bodhisattas renounced the world, became recluses, fulfilled the duty of going and coming back for twenty thousand years and were reborn in the divine world. Passing away thence, the eldest of them became the king of Benares; the rest became ordinary kings. Those four also, learnt to do mental exercise (kammaṭṭhāna), abdicated their kingship, renounced the world, became recluses, in due course became silent buddhas, lived in the Nandamūla cave, one day woke up from their trance, (samāpatti), reflected over their own deeds and their associate also, in the selfsame manner already stated in the stanza regarding bamboo shoot, came to know of the king of Benares, and sought an opportunity to show him a sense-object for contemplation by some means or another. That king, on the other hand, became uneasy thrice that night; being afraid, he made a cry of distress; he ran about on the large surface of his courtyard. When asked, however, by his private chaplain (purohita), who woke up even early in the morning, as to whether he had slept well, the king informed him the whole of that incident saying: “Teacher! Whence is my happiness?” The private chaplain (purohita), also, thought to himself: “It is not possible to cure this ailment with such medical treatment as action of emetic or this and that medicine, etc., to me, however, there has arisen a chance of eating something solid (i.e. making money)”, made his monarch all the more frightened with such suggestion as by saying: “O Great king! This is a foreboding omen for such an event as diminution of sovereignty, danger to your majesty's life and so on”, made his monarch take upon himself the performance of sacred sacrifice saying: “For the cure of that disease a sacred sacrifice should be made giving charitable offering of such quantity as so many elephants, so many horses, chariots and so on as well as glittering gold”.

98.1. Thereupon, the silent buddhas saw many a thousand living creatures being brought together for the purpose of being sacrificed, said to themselves: “When this act is done, the king will become difficult to be made enlightened; Come! let us go to him previously even beforehand and see him, went over in the manner stated in the stanza beginning with bamboo sprout, (vamsakkaḷīra)”, and in going about for collecting alms-food, they went in a single file in the precincts of the palace. The king, who was standing at the lion-cage-like window and looking out at his royal courtyard, caught sight of the silent buddhas. With the very sight of them there arose in his heart, royal affection for them. Subsequently, the king sent for the silent buddhas, requested them to sit down on the seats prepared for them in the open air, provided meals to them, respectfully, and when they had eaten their meals, the king asked: “Who are you?” They replied: “O Great king! We are Four Directions, by name.” The king enquired: “Venerable Sirs! what is the meaning of this name: (Catuddisā) four directions?” They answered: “O great king! In the four directions, there is neither danger nor mental terror to us”. The king asked: “Why is it that to you there occurs no danger?” They answered: “O great king! We develop lovingkindness; we tried to be merciful; we endeavour to become glad over the fortunes of others; we exercise equanimity. On account of that, there is no danger to us”. Having said so, they rose from their seats and went off to their dwelling abode.

98.2. Thereafter, the king thought: “These monks said: ‘Danger does not occur by means of such developments as loving-kindness and so on’; brahmins, however, praise the killing of many a thousand living creatures; whose saying, indeed, is true?” Then this idea occurred to the king: “Monks wash their impurities with purity; the brahmins, however, wash the impure with impurity. Indeed, it is not, however, possible to wash clean the impure with impurity; the saying of the renounced recluses only is true”. The king developed the four noble lives (brahmavihāra) also, beginning with loving-kindness in such a manner as: “May all living beings be happy” and so on, and passed orders to the ministers with his mind of pervading welfare thus:- “Release all living creatures; let them drink cool drinking-water; let them eat green grass; let cool breeze blow towards them.” The ministers did accordingly.

98.3. Subsequently, the king said to himself: “I escape from evil action on account of the words of good friends”, gained spiritual insight while still seated there and visualise the silent buddhahood. When told by the ministers at meal time “Time, O great king! Please eat your meal”, he replied: “I am not king”. having said everything in the same manner as before, he recited this stanza of joyous utterance.

98.4. Cātuddiso (one of four directions) here connotes according as one who lives in the four directions; one is a person of four directions thus: “One, to whom there are four directions permeated with the noble living (brahmavihāra), well-developed, in such a manner as: ‘one lives pervading one direction’, and so on.” One is an appatigha, devoid of malice, thus: “He does not injure with danger, living creatures or aggregates (saṅkhāra) of beings anywhere in those four directions” Santussamāno, being contented, one becomes contented by way of being contended of twelve kinds. itaritarena, with one or the other, on account of high or low cause. Parissayānam sahitā achambhī (not getting trembled over the endurance of trouble) connotes:- here, parissayam is either body and mind are made to diminish or their attainments are lessened; alternatively, dangers (parissayā) constitute leaning on or supported by them as its cause; this is the terminology for such physical and mental misfortunes as lion danger, tiger danger and so on externally and desire for sensual pleasures and so on internally; patiently forbearing those troubles and enduring with such deeds as exertion and so on; thus, is endurance of troubles. not being trembled because of the elimination of danger by being stiff and steady. What is it that has been said: Just as those four monks; thus, by whatsoever cause one becomes contented here, having been established in contentment on the basic place of right practice for achievement, he become one of four directions by such development (bhāvanā) as loving-kindness and so on, on living creatures and actions, he becomes also free from malice because of the absence of destructive danger. he, being on of the four directions, is one who endures the aforesaid varieties of troubles; being free from malice he is unshaken also; thus, having seen the virtue of practice for achievement in this way, I have achieved silent buddhahood after proceeding with that practice. In other words; having come to know thus: “Being contented like those monks, by means of the aforesaid manner whatsoever, one becomes a person of four directions”, aspiring for the condition of being one of four directions, I proceeded wisely with that practice and have made this achievement. Therefore, any other person also, aspiring for the place like this, having become unshaken, being without malice, enduring troubles of one of four directions, should wander alone like the horn of a rhinoceros. The rest is in the manner as said already.

The Commentary on the stanza beginning with catuddisa has finished.

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