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 Biography of Nanda thera

Stanzas, starting with Padumuttarassa Bhagavato constitute the biography of the venerable thera Nanda. This One also, having done devoted deeds of service towards former Buddhas, accumulating meritorious deeds conducive towards escape from the rounds of repeated rebirths (vaṭṭa), was reborn in a certain family, in the city of Hamsavatī at the time of the Glorious One Padumuttara. When he had come to the age of intelligence, he was listening to the preaching of the truth, (dhamma), in the presence of the Glorious one, when he saw the Master placing a certain bhikkhu in the topmost ranking position among those, where doors of senses (or controlling faculties) were well-guarded; wishing for that ranking position by himself he promoted a great charitable offering, comprising abundant gifts of honour to the Glorious One as well as to His clergy of monks and made his self-resolution thus:- "Venerable Sir! I would become such a disciple as this of a Buddha like unto you in future".

Beginning from that time onwards, he, wandering round his repeated rebirths among divine and human beings, became born as a big tortoise in a river named Dhammatāya, at the time of the Glorious One Atthadassī; the tortoise met one day, the Master who was standing on the shore to cross the river, and because it was desirous of sending the Glorious One across by itself, lay itself down at the base of Buddha's feet. The Master came to know about its intention and mounted its back. The tortoise became glad and delighted, cut across the stream with speed and sent Him to the further shore much quicker than normally. Saying words of thanks to the tortoise, the Glorious One preached about future prosperity and took His departure.

On account of that meritorious deed, the tortoise wandering round his rounds of repeated rebirths only in excellent existences, was reborn in the womb of mahāpajāpati Gotamā, the chief queen of the great king Suddhodana, in the city of kapilavatthu;at the time of the appearance of this Buddha. On his naming day, they named him even as "Nanda", since he was born gladdening the congregation of relatives. At the time of his coming of age, the Glorious One, as He kept turning the excellent wheel of dhamma, making the world-uplift, in due course, went to Kapilavatthu, preached the birth-story of Vessantara as a sequel to the story of shower of lotusrain (pokkharavassa), entered for alms-food on the second day, made His father established in the fruition of the first stage of sanctification or stream-winning (sotāpatti) by means of the stanza starting with: "Uttiṭṭhe nappamajjeyya (one should stand up, one should not be negligent)", went to the living apartments of the palace, made Mahapajāpati Gotamī became established in the fruition of the first stage and made the monarch become established in the fruition of the second stage of sanctification (sakadāgāmi), and on the third day, He entered for alms-food, when the coronation, ceremonial entry of the royal residence and marriage ceremony of prince nanda were being celebrated. The Master gave His bowl into the hand of prince Nanda, recited blessings (maṅgala), and proceeded towards His monastery without taking back His bowl. Buddha made nanda prince, who came with Him to the monastery holding His bowl, a monk against the latter' wish, came to know that because of being made monk in that manner, the prince was oppressed by displeasure, and dispelled that displeasure of his by means of an artifice. The prince, reflecting wisely, established himself in spiritual insight (vipassanā), attained arahatship not long afterwards even. The next day, the thera approached the Glorious One and said thus:- "Venerable Sir! I release the Glorious One from this promise by which the Glorious One sponsored for me to properly obtain five hundred dove-footed divine-damsels." The Glorious one said in response thus:- "O Nanda! Since your mind has become free from cankers (āsava), unattached, by then I am released from this promise". Then the Glorious one, having come to know the state of his doors of senses (or controlling faculties) being distinguishedly well-guarded, placed him at the topmost position, because of his doors of senses (or controlling faculties) being well-guarded by pronouncing thus:- "O Bhikkhus! Among my disciples, bhikkhus whose doors of senses (or controlling faculties) are well-guarded this One is the chief, namely, this nanda", in order to publicise this quality. The thera, indeed saying to himself, thus: "I arrived at this chaos depending upon lack of self-control of senses, I shall properly keep it under my control", aroused his energy, provoked abundant sense of shame and fear from sin and because of having done devoted deeds of service there also reached the zenith of perfection in the control of his senses (or controlling faculties).

27. Having thus attained the topmost position (atadgga) he remembered his own former deeds, became delighted and spoke a stanza, starting with Padumuttarassa Bhagavato, in order to make manifest the deeds done by him previously. Vattham khomam mayā dinnam (the khoma garment offered by me) cloth produced in khoma kingdom; (absolutely) delicate cloth was offered by me with my pleasantly pious heart and abundantly respectful mind toward the Glorious One; thus, is the meaning. Sayambhussa (to the Self-dependent) to One who became by Himself only, born in the birth of noble (ariya); mahesino (of the Great Sage) He seeks and goes in search of great aggregating mass of moral precepts, concentration, wisdom, emancipation, and insight of knowledge of emancipation; thus, He is Mahesī, Great Sage;Khoma cloth was offered by me for the purpose of making robe for Mahesī Sayambhū, thus, is the connection.

28. Tam me Buddho viyākāsi, Buddha prophesied it for me; here tam is a word of ellipsis in the meaning of ownership; Buddha preached making manifest the fruition of charitable offering of mine, who was the donor of that piece of cloth; thus, is the meaning. Jalajuttamanāmako (named Jalaja-uttama) the most excellent aquatic product, named Padumuttara, the most superior lotus; the reading is;- "Jalaruttamanāyako", also; to Him who was the main and most excellent leader of shining divine beings and brahmā; thus, is the meaning. iminā vatthadānena (because of this offering of cloth) as a result of this offering of cloth;hemavaṇṇo (gold colour) your will become golden in complexion in future.

29. Dve sampattim anubhotvā (having enjoyed two kinds of prosperity) having experienced two kinds of prosperity reckoned as divine and human; Kusalamūlehi codito (urged by foundations of merit) being urged and sent by shares of merit and details of good deeds; as if sent by saying: "By means of this merit, you should be born in the family of the Master"; thus, is the meaning. Buddha prophesied thus: "You will become the youngest brother of Gotama, the Glorious One; thus, is the connection.

30. Rāgaratto sukhasīlo (stained by lust and used to comfort) stained by and clung to desires of depravity, being by nature of enjoying physical and mental comfort; kāmesu gedhamāyuto (harnessed with craving for pleasure) yoked and harnessed with craving (taṇhā) reckoned as eager desire (gedha) for material pleasures of senses; thus, is the meaning. Buddhena codito santo, tadā tvam, at that time, you being urged by Buddha, since you were greedy over sensual pleasures;tadā (then) therefore, you being urged by Gotama Buddha, your own brother and egged on to renounce for becoming a monk, you will become a monk in His presence; thus, is the connection.

31. Pabbajitvāna tvam tattha (having become a monk there) you would become a monk in that dispensation of Gotama, the Glorious One; kusalamūlena (with the root of good deeds) with the structure of merit which had become (deeply) rooted; codito (incited) harnessed with developing meditation (bhāvanā); sabbāsave (all cankers) the entire flow of passions; pariññāva (having known all-round), having known and forsaken; nibbāvissasi (you will get your fires blown out) be healthy and free from pain (dukkha) you will make yourself attain the invisible; you will go to the state without designation (or state of non-manifestation, paṇṇatika); thus, is the meaning.

32. Satakappasahassamhi, in the period of a hundred thousand aeons, there were four world-kings named Ceḷa formerly in the hundred thousandth aeon (kappa) counting from this aeon (kappa); thus, is the meaning. Saṭṭhikappasahassāni, sixtythousand aeons, there were in four births, four people who became world kings named Upacela, under one single aeon (Kappa), having gone beyond a thousand as well as sixty aeons (kappa); thus, is the meaning.

33. Pañcakappasahassamhi, in the five thousand aeons, catudīpamhi issarā (reigning sovereigns in the four islands) four people who were world-kings named Cela, endowed and replete with seven;gems became separately the main reigning sovereigns in the four islands, reckoned as Jambudīpa, the Eugenia-tree island, Aparagoyānas, another cow-conveyance island, Uttara-kuru, the north Kuru island and Pubbavideha, the east Videha island; thus, is the meaning. The rest is but in the manner as has been said.

The Commentary on the Biography of the Thera Nanda has ended.

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