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 the thera Sopāka

Stanzas, starting with Pabbhāram sodhayantassa, constitute the biography of the venerable Sopāka. 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) in this and that existence, was reborn as the son of a certain estate owner at the time of the Glorious One Siddhattha. One day, he met the Master and offered Him many fruits. Out of compassion for him, the glorious One ate them. He was exceedingly pleased and pious over the master as well as the clergy of monks, arranged the meal-offering by drawing lot, and offered mink-rice, as long as he lived, to three bhikkhus by way of dedication to the clergy (samgha). Due to those acts of merit, he enjoyed prosperity among divine and human-beings; now and then and on one occasion, was reborn in the womb of a human-being, and offered milk-meal to a silent-buddha.

Thus, having done meritorious deeds in this and that existence, evolved himself round good courses of birth-journey only (sugati), and took conception in the womb of a certain povertystricken lady at Sāvatthi, in consequence to his previous deed, at the time of the appearance of this Buddha. She bore him round in her womb for ten months, and when the pregnancy became all-round mature, not being able to give birth to him at the due time of delivery, lay herself down as if dead for a long time in a state of coma (or arriving at unconsciousness). her relatives, being under the impression that she was dead, led her to the cemetery, mounted her on a funeral pile, but took their departure without setting fire because she rose up with symptoms of delivery due to the power of divinities. the child came out of his mother's womb in good health (or free from ailment) due to divine power because of the fact that his was the final existence. The mother however died. Divine beings came near the child in the guise of human-beings took hold of the child, placed him in the house of the grave-yard guardian and nourished him with suitable nourishment for a few days. Subsequent upon that, the cemetery care-taker made the child his own and let him grow up. Growing up in that manner, he wandered about playing together with a boy, named Suppiya, the son of that cemetery care-taker. Because he was born and brought up in the grave-yard he was known by the name of cemetery-child, Sopāka.

Then one day, the Glorious One saw him, who was seven years old, come into the net of His knowledge as He spread the same early in the morning in looking out for such relatives as could be led out of samsāra and went to the site of the cemetery. Being prompted by previous causes, the boy became pleasingly pious, approached the master, and stood by, having paid homage to Him. The master preached the truth (dhamma) to him. He listened to the truth (dhamma), begged for monkhood, and on being asked whether his father approved of it, brought his father to the Master's presence. His father paid homage to the Master and gave his consent saying: "Venerable Sir! Please make this boy a monk". Having made him a monk, the Glorious One got him engaged in the development of loving kindness. He took for his mental exercise (kammaṭṭhāna), of loving kindness, lived in the cemetery, made the jhāna of loving kindness as his basis, developed spiritual insight (vipassanā), and visualised arahatship not long afterwards even. having become an arahat also, he uttered a stanza starting with "Yathāpi ekaputtasmim in order to show the proper procedure in the development d(bhāvanā) of loving kindness to other bhikkhus who practised the austerity of cemetery (aosānika). This is what has been said:- "Just as the mother and the father would be meritorious and surely seek the welfare of the only loving and endearing son, in the same way, you should be meritorious to become sure seekers of welfare in all directions, beginning with such diversities as the east and so on, or in all existences beginning with such varieties of sensual existences and so on, or in all creatures beginning with such sorts as young and so on, even every one with unclothed body, without demarcating such a boundary as: "Friend, neutral and foe, but developed a single essence of loving kindness everywhere, by way of obviating the demarcation of boundary. Having, however, uttered this stanza, he gave his advice thus:- "If you, who are venerables, would developed loving kindness in this way, you are sure to become sharers of (or gainers of) those eleven kinds of resultant benefits which had been spoken of by the Glorious One.

112. Having thus attained and achieved fruition, he reflected upon his own meritorious deeds done by him, became delighted in mind, and uttered this stanza starting with Pabbhāram sodhayantassa, in order to show the deeds done by him previously. There, pabbhāram (slope), is the secluded spot of a stony (or rocky) hill. he built a brick-wall, appropriate for a monk, at it, fixed a door-leaf and offered it to the bhikkhus, for their residence: bearing (bharo) in a manner, to be wished for; thus, it is pabbhāra (slope). Āgacchi (came) the glorious One, siddhattha by name, came to my presence while I was cleaning that slope.

113. Buddham upagatam disvā (having seen Buddha who had come near) seeing Buddha having thus come to my presence, tādino (of such a One), to Him who was replete with such and such qualities, because of being unshaken amidst desirables and undesirables; lokajeṭṭhassa (of the eldest in the world) of Buddha; santharam (spread) such a spread as grass, leaves and so on, wooden-spread; paññāpetvā (caused to be prepared) caused to be finished; pupphāsanam (flower-seat) i offered a seat made of flowers.

114. Pupphāsane nisīditvā (having sat down on the flower-seat) the Glorious One Siddhatha, the leader of the world sat down on that prepared flower-seat; mamañca gatimaññāya (having known my destiny also) knowing and being aware of my course of journey in future, the place where I would spring up; aniccatam (impermanence) the condition of being not constant, udāhari (brought up) spoke.

115. Aniccā vata saṅkhārā (conditioned things are, indeed, impermanent) indeed, surely, samkhāra (conditioned things), having gone together with causes (paccaya), being acted upon, all become deeds along with causes (sapaccaya-dhamma) because of the meaning of absence, are impermanent; uppādavayadhammino (are subject to springing up and disappearance) having arisen they have the nature of destruction;uppajjitvā (having arisen) these conditioned phenomena (saṅkhāra) having made themselves manifest, nirujjhanti (cease) get destroyed; thus, is the meaning. Tesam vūpasamo sukho (their tranquilisation is bliss) coming to calmness of those saṅkhāras in particular is happiness; the very nibbāna even, the maker of their calmness is certainly happiness; thus, is the meaning.

116. idamvatvāna sabbaññu (the Omniscient Buddha having spoken this) the Glorious One, the knower of all truths (dhamma), the eldest of the world, the well-developed among men, the big-bull man, the vatvāna (having spoken) having preached this preaching of truth (dhamma) properly connected with impermanence, ambare (in the sky) like unto the the sky nabham (atmosphere) went up the sky; thus, is the connection.

117. Sakam diṭṭhim, one's own views, jahitvāna (forsaken) having discarded the forbearingly delightful intention gained by himself, bhāvayāniccasaññā'ham (I become one with the developing of the perception of impermanence) I developed, made to increase and made myself mindful of the perception that occurred as impermanent in impermanence; tattha kālam kato aham (I died there) in those three births there, from that birth (or existence). I died and passed away.

118. Dve sampatti anubhotvā (having experienced two kinds of prosperity) having enjoyed two kinds of bliss reckoned as the human prosperity and divine bliss; sukkamulena codito (urged by the light basis) urged and instigated by the root of former meritorious deeds (or the meritorious deeds that had become the foundation) pacchime bhave sampatte (when the last existence had well-arrived) when the all-round end of existence had arrived at a good arrival; sapākayon'upāgami (I approached my own consequential womb) I went towards the womb matured by myself, the meal cooked by myself; I was reborn in the family of that grave-digger (caṇḍāla) which constituted the meal cooked by myself; the meal of whose family which should not be eaten by others; thus, is the meaning. In other words, sā is said to be a dog; I was born in the family of a grave-digger (Caṇḍāla) who had to eat meals severed (or dug up) (occhiṭṭha) by dogs; thus, is the meaning. The rest is but clear in meaning.

The Commentary on the biography of the thera Sopāka, has ended.

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