The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes great renunciation which is Chapter XIV of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter XIV - The great renunciation

The Exalted One, fully enlightened and having attained the end he had set out to achieve, was staying at Śrāvastī[1] and teaching devas and men. Giving a detailed account of the event he thus addressed his monks.

I was delicately,[2] most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up my Śākyan father caused to be built for me three palaces, for the cold, the warm and the rainy seasons, where I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father caused to be constructed in those palaces gabled upper rooms, plastered inside and outside, free from draught, with close-bolted doors[3] and well-fitting casements, fumigated with incense and embroidered with strips and braids of coloured cloth and with festoons of flowers, where I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father caused to be made in those upper rooms couches of gold, silver and precious stones, spread with sixteen fleecy covers,[4] white blankets.[5] counterpanes of many colours,[6] woollen coverlets embroidered with flowers,[7] with crimson and red pillows at either end, and with white rugs, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately (116) brought up, my Śākyan father caused awnings to be made over these couches to ward off dust and light, so that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with various kinds of ointment, namely of aloe, sandalwood, black gum and the tamāla leaf, so that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father had made for me various kinds of garments, namely, of fine Benares cotton and of fine wool, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was thus being delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with various garlands, namely, of the flowers of the atimuktaka,[8] the campaka[9], the vārṣika[10] the vātuṣkārin,[11] the blue water lily,[12] the donā,[13] flowers culled by devas,[14] that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with a varied diet, namely rice from which the black grain had been sifted[15] and curry of various flavours, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father presented me immediately after I had eaten[16] with the chaplet appropriate to a universal king, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with the means of enjoying the five varieties of sensual pleasures,[17] namely dance, song, music,[18] orchestra[19] and women, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with various means of conveyance, elephants, horses, boats and palanquins, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. (117) And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father provided me with numerous riding-rugs, namely, of lion skin, tiger skin, leopard skin and white wool, and merrily flapping flags, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father had a sunshade held over me when I went abroad lest the heat, dust or light torment me, and so that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father caused to be made for me gardens, each facing one of the four points of the compass, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myelf.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father caused to be made in those gardens, each facing a point of the compass, a lotus-pool covered with blue and white lotuses and white water-lilies, that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, my Śākyan father caused to be built in those gardens, each facing a point of the compass, high, great, and lofty palaces that I might divert, enjoy and amuse myself.

I was delicately, most delicately brought up, monks. And while I was being thus delicately brought up, this thought occurred to me: “Now this life at home is too full of hindrances.[20] The way of religious life is in the open air.[21] It is not possible for one living at home to live the holy life that is utterly bright,[22] blameless, pure and clean. Let me then, now go away from home into the homeless state.”

Then, monks, against the wishes of my sobbing and weeping parents, I left my sumptuous[23] home and the universal king-ship that was in my hands.[24] And, now, being a wanderer from home into the homeless state, I withdrew towards the city of Veśālī[25] and reached it.

(118) Now at that time in the great city of Veśālī there dwelt Ārāḍa Kālāma,[26] who was honoured, revered, respected, worshipped and praised by three hundred disciples. To his Jain disciples[27] he preached as his doctrine the dogma of what is to be doubted.[28] He exhorted them thus: “See, see; renounce, renounce.” And his disciples responded, “We see, we see; we renounce, we renounce, we and the others.”

Then, monks, the thought occurred to me: “What now if I were to practise the holy life as a disciple of Ārāḍa[29]?” So I went to Ārāḍa Kālāma and said to him, “I would wish to lead the holy life as a disciple of the venerable Ārāḍa.”

When I had thus spoken, Ārāḍa Kālāma replied, “Do so, O Gotama. Such is this doctrine and rule,[30] that, should a young noble practise the holy life in faith, he would attain to states of virtue.”

This thought came to me, monks: “I, too, have will, strength, and energy. Let me then set out to win and realise this dharma.” And by abiding solitary, diligent, earnest, resolute and secluded[31] I was not long in understanding and realising this dharma.

Then, monks, I went to Ārāḍa Kālāma and said to him, “Is the dharma understood, realised, preached and prescribed by the venerable Ārāḍa just this?” And Ārāḍa replied, “Even so, Gotama, just this is the dharma which I have understood, realised, preached and prescribed.”

When he had thus spoken I replied to Ārāḍa Kālāma and said, “Then, O Ārāḍa, I, too, have understood and realised this dharma.”

Then, monks, Ārāḍa Kālāma said to me, “Therefore, O Gotama, (119) the dharma that I know, the worthy Gotama knows, and the dharma that the worthy Gotama knows I, too, know. Let us then both jointly superintend this seminar.” And thus, monks, would Ārāḍa Kālāma show me the highest honour and commendation. For, seeing that I held such a belief, he would put me on the same footing[32] as himself.

But, monks, this dharma of Ārāḍa does not issue for him who practises in the utter waning of ill. So I said “Let me then seek farther.” And so, monks, in this frame of mind, I set out for the city of Rājagṛha, reached it and stayed there.

Now at that time in Rājagṛha there dwelt Udraka Rāmaputra,[33] who was honoured, revered, respected and worshipped by seven hundred disciples. He preached to his Jain disciples as his doctrine the dogma concerning the sphere of what is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness.[34] He exhorted his disciples thus, “See, see; renounce, renounce.” And his disciples responded, “We see, we see; we renounce, we renounce, we and the others.”

Then, monks, the thought occurred to me: “What now if I were to practise the holy life as a disciple of Udraka Rāmaputra?” So, monks, I went to Udraka Rāmaputra and said to him, “O Udraka, I would wish to live the holy life as your disciple. Will the worthy Udraka allow me?” When I had thus spoken, Udraka replied, “Then live here, O Gotama, dwell here, O Gotama. Such is this doctrine and rule of mine that, should a young noble (120) practise the holy life in faith, he would attain to states of virtue.”

Then, monks, the thought occurred to me, “I, too, have will, strength, and energy. Let me then abide solitary, diligent, earnest, resolute and secluded in order to attain and realise this dharma.” And so, monks, by abiding solitary, diligent, earnest, resolute and secluded in order to attain and realise this dharma, I was not long in understanding and realising it.

Then, monks, I went to Udraka Rāmaputra and said to him, “Is the dharma understood, realised, preached and prescribed by the worthy Rāma just this, namely, the sphere of what is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness?”

When I had thus spoken, monks, Udraka Rāmaputra replied, “Even so, O Gotama, the dharma understood, realised and prescribed by the worthy Rāma is just this, namely, the sphere of what is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness.’ So, monks, I said to Udraka Rāmaputra, “Then, O Uddaka,[35] I, too, have understood and realised this dharma.” Then, monks, Uddaka Rāmaputra said, “Therefore, O Gotama, the dharma that the worthy Rāma knows the worthy Gotama knows, too. So now let the worthy Gotama also take charge of this seminar.” In this way, monks, would Udraka Rāmaputra show me the highest honour and commendation, for, finding that I held such a belief, he would make me a teacher on an equal footing with him himself.

But, then, monks, the thought occurred to me: “This dharma of Rāma’s does not issue for him who practises it in the utter waning of ill. Let me then seek farther.”

And, monks, being disinclined to that belief I set out for the city of Gayā,[36] reached it, and stayed there.

(121) While I stayed on Mount Gayāśīrṣa[37] there were revealed to me the three similitudes,[38] which I had not heard of in former lives, which, indeed, had never been heard of, which were unknown to me, and were, indeed, unknown before. What were the three?

All the worthy recluses and brāhmans who live with their bodies and minds not withdrawn from the pleasures of sense, and whose thoughts of these, their fondness for them, their feverish longing for them and their attachment to them have not been subdued, though they undergo unpleasant, cruel, bitter, and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, are yet incapable of the state of “further men,”[39] of knowledge, insight and enlightenment. Just as if a man needing a fire, looking for it, searching for it, should go and, standing in water, should rub with a damp fire-drill a wet piece of wood full of sap.[40] He could not kindle a spark nor produce a flame. In just the same way, though these worthy recluses and brāhmans undergo unpleasant, cruel, bitter and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, they are incapable of the state of “further men”, of knowledge, insight and enlightenment.

Thus then, monks, there was revealed to me while staying on Mount Gayāśīrṣa the first similitude, which I had not heard of in former lives, which, indeed, had never been heard of, which was unknown to me, and was, indeed unknown before.

The thought came to me, monks, that all the worthy recluses and brāhmans who live with their bodies withdrawn from the pleasures of sense, but not so their minds, and whose thoughts of them, their fondness for them, their feverish longing for them and their attachment to them have not been subdued, though they (122) undergo unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, are yet incapable of the state of “further-men,” of knowledge, insight and enlightenment. Just as if a man needing a fire, looking for it, searching for it, should go and, though standing on dry ground, rub a wet and sappy piece of wood[41] with a damp fire-drill. He could not kindle a spark nor produce a flame. In the same way all those recluses and brāhmans who live with their bodies withdrawn from sensual pleasures, but not so their minds, and whose thoughts of them, their fondness for them, their feverish longing for them and their attachment have not been subdued, though they undergo unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, are incapable of the state of “further men,” of knowledge, insight and enlightenment.

This then, was the second similitude which was revealed to me when I stayed on Mount Gayāśīrṣa, which I had not heard of in former lives, which, indeed, had not been heard of before, which was unknown to me, and was, indeed, not known before.

The thought came to me, monks, that all the worthy recluses and brāhmans who live with both body and mind withdrawn from sensual pleasures, and whose thoughts of them, their fondness for them, their feverish longing for them and their attachment to them have been subdued, and who have undergone unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, are capable of the state of “further men,” of knowledge, insight and enlightenment. Just as if a man needing a fire, looking for it, (123) searching for it, should go and, standing on dry ground, rub a dry fire-drill on a dry sapless piece of wood. He would be able to kindle a spark and produce a flame. It is just so in the case of those worthy recluses and brāhmans who live with both bodies and minds withdrawn from sensual pleasures, and whose thoughts of them, their fondness for them, their feverish longing for them and their attachment to them have been subdued. Though they undergo unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, they are capable of the state of “further men,” of knowledge, insight and enlightenment.

These then, monks, were the three similitudes which were revealed to me when I stayed on Mount Gayāśīrṣa, which I had not heard of in former lives, which, indeed, had not been heard of before, which were unknown to me and were, indeed, not known before.

The thought came to me, monks, “I shall live with both body and mind withdrawn from sensual pleasures, and with my thoughts of them, my fondness for them, my feverish longing for them and my attachment to them subdued. Although I undergo unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which torment my soul and my body, I shall be capable of the state of “further men,” of knowledge, insight and enlightenment.”

Then, monks, with this in view, I withdrew towards Uruvilvā,[42] the village of Senāpati,[43] and reached it. There I saw woods that were delightful, lovely, secluded,[44] sequestered, remote from turmoil, remote from men, and growing in seclusion amid charming lakes. Round about were herdsmen’s villages, not too far away nor yet too near, but accessible; a level tract and the river Nairañjanā[45] with its pure water flowing still and clear between beautiful banks.

When I saw all this my mind became exceedingly calm, and I said to myself, “I have had enough of faith,[46] (124) as I am a young noble who has wandered forth to strive.[47] Let me then, here and now, do some striving of my own.”

So, monks, I restrained and curbed body and mind with thought. And as I thus restrained and curbed body and mind with thought, perspiration poured out of my armpits[48] and fell hot and steaming to the ground. From my face and my brow the perspiration poured out and fell hot and steaming to the ground. Just as, monks, when a strong man has seized a weaker man by the neck and restrains and curbs him, so, monks, as I restrained body and mind with thought, the perspiration poured out from my armpits, face and brow and fell hot and steaming to the ground.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “Let me now practise the breath-holding meditation.[49]” So, monks, I stopped breathing in and out through the mouth and nostrils. And when I thus stopped breathing in and out through the mouth and nostrils, a loud and great roar rushed within both my ears. Just as when a smith’s forge is blown a loud and great roar is set up, so, monks, when I stopped breathing in and out through mouth and nostrils, there rushed through both my ears a loud and great roar.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “Let me now practise the ‘breath-holding meditation’ to a still greater degree.” So, monks, I stopped breathing in and out through mouth, nostrils, and both ears. (125) And when I had thus stopped breathing in and out through mouth, nostrils and both ears, winds beat upon and passed through my skull. Just as, monks, when a butcher or his apprentice with a sharp hatchet rends, splits open, cleaves, pierces and penetrates a cow’s skull, in just the same way, monks, when I had stopped breathing in and out through my mouth, nostrils and both ears, winds beat upon and wracked[50] my skull.

Then, monks, I said to myself,[51] “There are people here who, prescribing what is pure, make their meals of jujube fruit and of jujube bark; they drink water in which jujube has been boiled and subsist on these and various other confections of jujube. Let me now, then, take one single jujube fruit[52] for my meal.” So, monks, I took one single jujube fruit for my meal. Then this body of mine became exceedingly lean. Like the joints of creeping plants[53] did my limbs become. My buttocks[54] became like a goat’s or a buffalo’s hoof. Just as in a tumble-down stable the rafters within[55] on both sides are uncovered[56] and stand revealed and disclosed, so did my gaunt ribs stand out revealed and disclosed. Like the plaits in a braid of hair[57] curving this way and that were my spinal vertebrae, (126) curving this way and that. Just as in the last month of summer the stars reflected far down, deep in the water of a well appear dim to the sight, so my eyes, buried far down deep in their sockets, could only with difficulty be seen. Just as an autumnal gourd plucked when unripe becomes withered, shrivelled and shrunk, so did my scalp become withered, shrivelled and shrunk. I would try, monks, to grasp the front of my body, but it would be my backbone that I held in my grasp. I would try, monks, to stand erect, and immediately I would tumble forwards in a heap. Then, monks, having after vain endeavour[58] stood up well and properly, I would chafe my rib-like limbs with my hands. But then the hairs on my body, rotten at the roots, fell off.[59]

All this became known[60] in the provinces and hamlets, and women and men talked about it, now saying that the recluse Gotama was black, now that he was dark brown, and now that he had the sallow colour of a madgura.[61] So ruined by my austere abstinence was the wonted bright and pure complexion of my body.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “There are some worthy recluses[62] and brāhmans who prescribe purity on a diet of rice. They feed on rice and ground rice, drink rice-gruel, and in short subsist on various kinds of rice concoctions. Let me now then make my meal one single grain of rice.”

And, monks, while I thus fed myself on one single grain of rice, this body of mine became exceedingly lean. Like the joints of creeping plants[63] did my limbs, great and small, become. Just as (127) in a tumble-down stable the rafters within on both sides are uncovered and stand revealed and disclosed, so did my gaunt ribs within stand revealed and disclosed. The sides of my bust became extremely hard, like a goat’s or a buffalo’s hoof. Like the plaits in a braid of hair, curving this way and that, were my spinal vertebrae. Just as in the last month of summer the stars reflected far down deep in the water of a well appear dim to the sight, so my eyes, buried far down deep in their sockets, could only with difficulty be seen. Just as an autumnal gourd plucked when unripe becomes withered, shrivelled and shrunk, so did my scalp become withered, shrivelled and shrunk. I would try, monks, to grasp the front part of my body, but it would be my backbone that I held in my grasp. I would try, monks, to stand erect, and immediately I would tumble forwards in a heap. Then, monks, having after vain endeavour stood up well and properly, I would chafe my rib-like limbs with my hand. But then the hairs on my body, rotten at the roots, fell off.

Now all this became known[64] in the herdsmen’s villages around, and women and men talked about it, now saying that the recluse Gotama was black, now that he was dark-brown, and now that he had the sallow colour of a madgura. So ruined by my austere abstinence was the wonted bright and pure complexion of my body.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “There are some worthy recluses and brāhmans (128) who prescribe purity on a diet of sesamum. They eat sesamum and ground sesamum, drink water in which ground sesamum has been boiled, and, in short, subsist on various preparations of sesamum. Let me now, then, make my diet one single sesamum seed.”

Then, monks, while I lived on one single sesamum seed this body of mine became exceedingly lean. Like the black and shrivelled joints of creeping plants did my limbs, great and small, become. My jaw became like a goat’s or a buffalo’s hoof. Just as in a tumble-down stable the rafters within on both sides are uncovered and stand revealed and disclosed, so did my gaunt ribs within stand revealed and disclosed. Like the plaits in a braid of hair, curving this way and that, were my spinal vertebrae. Just as in the last month of summer the stars reflected far down deep in the water of a well appear dim to the sight, so my eyes, buried far down deep in their sockets, could only with difficulty be seen. Just as an autumnal gourd plucked when unripe becomes withered, shrivelled and shrunk, so did my scalp become withered, shrivelled and shrunk. I would try, monks, to grasp the front part of my body, but it would be my backbone that I held in my grasp. I would try, monks, to stand erect, and immediately I would fall forwards in a heap. Then, monks, having after vain endeavour stood up well and properly, I would chafe my rib-like limbs with my hand. But then the hairs on my body, rotten at the roots, fell off.

(129) Now all this became known[65] in the herdsmen’s villages around, and women and men talked about it, now saying that the recluse Gotama was black, now that he was dark-brown and now that he had the sallow colour of a madgura. So ruined by my austere abstinence was the wonted bright and pure complexion of my body.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “There are some worthy recluses and brāhmans who prescribe purity by means of complete abstinence from food. Let me now, then, practise complete abstinence from food.”

And then, monks, as I practised complete abstinence from food this body of mine became exceedingly lean. My limbs, great and small, became like the joints of creeping plants.[66] My jaw became like a goat’s or a buffalo’s hoof. Just as in a tumble-down stable the rafters within on both sides are uncovered and stand revealed and disclosed, so did my gaunt ribs within stand revealed and disclosed. Like the plaits in a braid of hair, curving this way and that, were my spinal vertebrae. Just as in the last month of summer the stars reflected far down deep in the water of a well appear dim to the sight, so my eyes buried far down deep in their sockets could only with difficulty be seen. Just as an autumnal gourd plucked when unripe becomes withered, shrivelled and shrunk, so did my scalp become withered, shrivelled and shrunk. I would try, monks, to grasp the front part of my body but it would be my back-bone that I held in my grasp. (130) I would try, monks, to stand erect, and immediately I fell forwards in a heap. And when, after vain endeavour, I did stand erect well and properly, I would chafe my rib-like limbs with my hand. But then, monks, the hairs on my body, rotten at the roots, fell off.

Now all this became known [67] in the herdsmen’s villages around, and women and men talked about it, now saying that the recluse Gotama was black, now that he was dark-brown, and now that he had the sallow colour of a madgura. So ruined by my austere abstinence was the wonted bright and pure complexion of my body.

Then, monks, I said to myself, “Those worthy recluses and brāhmans who undergo unpleasant, bitter, cruel, and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies do so to gain perfection, but in no wise do they attain it. Those worthy recluses and brāhmans who have in the past undergone, as well as those who now undergo, unpleasant, bitter, cruel and severe feelings which assail their souls and their bodies, have done so, and do so, to gain perfection, but in no wise have they attained it.

“Neither I, also, with all this practice of austerities am aware of the state of “further men,” which enables one to realise the distinct achievement[68] of truly Āryan knowledge and insight. This is not the way to enlightenment. But I remember how, long since, before I had gone forth to the religious life, I was seated cross-legged on the ground in my Śākyan father’s garden in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree. There I entered and abode in the first meditation[69], which is aloof from sensual desires and from sinful and wicked states of mind, is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, is born of solitude and is full of zest and ease. Could this, I wondered, be the way to enlightenment?”

And, monks, while I was thus indulging that memory,[70] there came to me as a result the conviction that this was the way to enlightenment. But this way could not be won when the body was emaciated, weak, distressed and fasting. So I said to myself, “Let me now, then (131) take a hearty meal [of boiled rice and junket”][71].

[At that time some devas were[72]] on a visit[73] to me [and they said] “You can live in full consciousness in spite of this hard striving,[74] for we shall make you absorb divine strength throúgh the pores of your hair.”

Then, monks, I said to myself, “Now I have at all times approved of complete abstention from food, and women and men in the herdsmen’s villages around take it that the recluse Gotama is an abstainer. And yet these devas, although themselves intent upon and devoted to austerity,[75] would infuse divine strength in me through the pores of my hair.” Thus I would be guilty of a deliberate falsehood. And as, monks, I abhor deliberate falsehood, I decided that I would avoid it, loathing it as I did, and that I would rebuff those devas, and take a hearty meal of what I liked.

And so, monks, I made a meal of soup of beans, pulse,[76] and peas. Then, after I had gradually won back power and strength of body, I received sweet milk-rice from Sujātā,[77] the daughter of a village overseer, and at night, towards daybreak,[78] I made my way to the river Nairañjanā. When I had cooled my limbs in the river Nairañjanā I went to Svastika Yāvasika.[79] I begged of him a handful of grass, and

then made my way to the bodhi tree. In front of the bodhi tree I made a couch with some straw on the top, and then walked round the bodhi tree three times, keeping it to my right. Then I sat down cross-legged, facing the east, holding my body upright before it,[80] and set up mindfulness in front of me.[81]

Thus, monks, I entered and abode in the first meditation, which is aloof from sensual pleasures and from sinful and wicked states of mind, is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, is born of solitude, and is full of zest and ease. Through the suppression of applied and sustained thought, through inward tranquillity, and through fixing my mind on one point, I entered and abode in the second meditation, which is free of applied and (132) sustained thought, is born of concentration and is full of zest and ease. Becoming indifferent to the passion of zest I abode mindful and self-possessed, experiencing in my body that ease of which the Āryans say, “He that is indifferent and mindful dwells at ease.” Thus I entered and abode in the third meditation. Putting away ease, putting away ill, routing the feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction which I was wont to fed, I entered and abode in the fourth meditation, which is utter purity of equanimity and mindfulness and is aloof from ease and ill.

Then, monks, with heart thus composed [purified, cleansed,[82] without blemish, rid of the lusts, supple, ready to act, firm and unperturbed, I, in the first watch of the night turned and applied my mind to the acquirement of the sight of the deva-eye].[83] With my deva eye, clear-sighted beyond the range of human vision, I beheld beings passing away and coming to birth again, beings fair and foul, beings fortunate and unfortunate, beings high and low. I recognised how beings fared in accordance with their karma. Here were beings who had been addicted to evil conduct in deed, who scoffed at the Āryans and held wrong beliefs. And in retribution of the karma of wrong belief, for that cause and reason, they were, after separation from the body at death, reborn in the hells, in states of woe, misery and desolation. Here, again, were beings given to good conduct in deed and in thought, who were not scoffers of the Āryans, and who held right beliefs. And these, according to the karma of right belief, for that cause and reason, were, after separation from the body at death, reborn in a state of bliss in heaven among the devas.

Then, monks, with heart thus composed, purified, cleansed, without blemish, rid of the lusts, supple, ready to act, firm and unperturbed, I, in the middle watch of the night, turned and applied my mind to the knowledge and discernment of recollecting my former lives. I called to mind my various lives in the past, for example, one birth, two births, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty (133), forty, fifty, hundred and a thousand; I called to mind many a kalpa of the world’s evolution,[84] many a kalpa of its dissolution,[85] and many a kalpa of both evolution and dissolution. There, such and such was my name, such and such my clan, my family, my diet, the term of my life, and the joys and sorrows I experienced. Then from that life I passed away, and was reborn in such and such a place. Thence passing away I was reborn in this world. Thus did I recall to mind my various lives in the past in all their details and features.

Then, monks, with heart thus composed, purified, cleansed, without blemish, rid of the lusts, supple, ready to act, firm and unperturbed, I, in the last watch of the night, towards break of day in the flush of dawn,[86] awoke by insight that came in a flash of thought, to all that an elephant-man,[87] a lion-man, a bull-man, a terrible man, a sterling man, a lotus of a man, a white lotus of a man, a true man, a superman, a peerless driver of tameable men, a man of right conduct, a mindful man, an intelligent man, a steadfast man, a man of light, has always and everywhere to know, attain and, perfectly comprehend, namely, the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.

Thus did the Exalted One speak, and the enraptured monks rejoiced at what he had said.

Footnotes and references:

1.

See Vol. I, p. 5, n. 5.

2.

Sukumāra, see p. 106, n. 1.

3.

Reading nivātāni āsparṣārgaḍāni for vātāsparṣārgaḍāni of the text. Two MSS. have the reading vātāni, and the prefix ni- has probably dropped by haplography, the preceding word ending in -ni. For the second word cf. Pali phassitaggaṭa, A. 1. 101 and M. 1. 76.

4.

Goṇika, BSk. = Pali goṇaka, “a woollen cover with long fleece.”

5.

Reading paṭikāstaraṇāṃ for pattikā° of the text, cf. D. 1. 7.

6.

Citrāstaraṇāṃ, cf. Pali cittdkā, D. 1. 7. Perhaps we ought to read citrakā, as the analogy of the other terms would seem to require a substantive as first part of the compound.

7.

Reading paṭalikā for phalika (“crystal”!) of the text. Cf. D. I. 7. Miss I. B. Horner has supplied the translator with the following Pali references to these blankets, etc., V. 1. 192, 2. 163; M. 1. 76; A. 1. 180, 3. 50, 4. 94, 231, 394.

8.

See above, p. 105, n. 1.

9.

See above, p. 17, n. 3.

10.

See above, p. 105, n. 2.

11.

An unknown flower, also mentioned in Vol. I, p. 249 (text).

12.

Indīvara, Nymphaea stellata, or Cassia fistula.

13.

Damanaka = damana, Artemisia Indica, commonly called donā.

14.

? Devopasaṃhitā. See also in Vol. I, p. 249 (text).

15.

Reading vicitakālaka for vicitra° of the text.

16.

Bhuktāvisya, formed after Pali bhuttāvissa, gen. and dat. of bhuttāvin.

17.

Or “the five strands of sensual pleasures,” pañca kāmaguṇā, i.e. the pleasures derived through each of the five sensory organs. But the pleasures here enumerated are not obviously correlated to each of the five.

18.

Vāditam, “instrumental music”.

19.

Tūryaṃ, a general term for musical instruments (Pali turiya, usually referred to as being of five kinds, See P.E.D. and Vol, I, p, 135, n, 2.)

20.

Or “confined” sambādha, cf. Pali id.

21.

Abhyavakāśaṃ pravrajyā, cf. Pali abbhokāso pabbajjā, D. I. 62, etc. Dial. translates “Free as the air is the life of him who has renounced all wordly things.”

22.

Reading śaṅkhalikhita “polished like a mother-of-pearl,” for saṃlikhita; cf. Pali śaṅkhalikhita in the same sense, e.g. A. 5. 204. Saṃlikhita would more naturally be the adjectival form corresponding to Pali sallekha, “austere penance.” But the sense of “bright” is required here.

23.

Alūha, see note 1, p. 63 above.

24.

Reading hastatvaṃ (= Pali hatthattha) for hastoktam of the text. See above p. 66 for a similar emendation of hastokta, a word which Senart confesses is inexplicable to him. We could, perhaps, render, “my power and my universal kingship,”

25.

See Vol. I, p. 208, n. 2.

26.

Pali Āḷāra Kālāma. See D.P.N. for references.

27.

Jinaśrāvakā, though the usual BSk. term for a Jain was nirgrantha (Pali nigaṇṭha).

28.

Āśaṅkitavyasahavratāyai dharmaṃ deśayati. Sahavratā in this sense seems to be found only here and immediately below in the definition of Udraka Rāmaputra’s teaching. From its adjectival meaning of “having or keeping in common a vow or promise” it may be assumed that it means “communal devotion,” hence “belief of a sect or school,” or “dogma.” At M. I.164 Ārāḍa says that the final aim of his teaching is to realise “the sphere of nothingness” ākiñcaññāyatana. The same theory of Ārāḍa’s is also mentioned in Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita, xii. 63. In neither of the two latter works is there any allusion to “a dogma of what is to be doubted (or feared).” The doctrine of Gotama’s second teacher Udraka Rāmaputra is identical in all three texts. But there does not seem to be any MS. justification for emending āśaṅkitavya into ākiñcanyāyatana, and so bring the Mhvu. into line with the other two texts as regards the teaching of Ārāḍa also.

29.

Literally “in or under Ārāḍa,” Ārāḍe.

30.

Dharma and Vinaya.

31.

Vyapakṛṣṭa, BSk., cf. Pali vūpakaṭṭha which may be “a retranslation of it.” (see P.E.D.).

32.

Literally, “in impartiality,” samānārthatāye. M. I.165 expresses it thus, attano samasamaṃ.

33.

Pali Uddaka Rāmaputta. See D.P.N. for references.

34.

Naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatanasahavratāyai dharmaṃ deśayai. For sahavratā, see note above, p. 114.

35.

So spelt here.

36.

A town on the road between the bodhi-tree and Benares.

37.

A hill near Gayā.

38.

Upamā. Cf. M. I. 241. It is not correct, as some translators from Pali have done, to render this word by “allegory.”

39.

The translator owes this rendering of uttarimanuṣyadharma to Miss I. B. Homer. See the Index to her Book of the Discipline, Vol. I, under Further. Cf. V. 3. 91, where there is a definition of uttarimanussadhamma.

40.

Reading, as Senart suggests, ārdraṃ kāṣṭhaṃ sasnehaṃ, acc, for ārdre, etc.

41.

Reading ārdraṃ kāṣṭhaṃ, etc., as above p. 121.

42.

Uruvelā in Pali, a locality on the banks of the Nerañjanā, in the neighbourhood of the bodhi tree at Buddhagayā.

43.

Senāpatigrāma. In Pali it is Senānīnigāma “the township of Senānī, the father of Sujātā (see p. 126); the place is also called Senāpatigrāma in Lal. Vist. 311 (248).

44.

Prānta, “edge,” “margin,” “verge,” in Pali (= panta) means “distant,” “remote,” etc. P.E.D. cites Mhvu. 3. 200.

45.

See Vol. I, p. 5, n. 1. The Pali name was Nerañjarā.

46.

I.e. in the doctrines of other teachers such as Ārāḍa and Udraka.

47.

Prahāṇa, BSk., with the same meaning as Pali padhāna (< pra-dhā), but regarded as being from pra-hṛ, for immediately following it is cognate accusative with praharati, in the phrase equivalent co Pali padhānaṃ padahati.

48.

Kacchā, Pali = Sk. kakṣā.

49.

Āsphānaka (sc. dhyāna), in Pali jhāna appānaka (cf. M. i. 242). The P.E.D. spells the Pali appāṇaka, which it derives from a-prāṇa-ka “breathless” but in view of the BSk. form it questions whether the Pali form should not be taken rather as being for a-prāṇaka.

50.

Samūhensu which Senart takes as being from sam-ūh—“to bring together,” “se réunir,” “se précipiter en foule.” This, however, does not give good sense here. The verb is rather to be emended into samūhanensu and analysed into samūhanati = Pali for ud-han “distort,” “shake up,” which is the verb in the corresponding context in M. I. 243.

51.

Cf. M. I. 80 and 246.

52.

Kolakamadvitīyaṃ—“a jujube without a second one.”

53.

Kālaparvāṇi. Kāla here must stand for kālavallī “a kind of creeper” [Vism. 36, 183). On pp. 126 and 129, in the same simile, aśītakaparvāṇi and aśītaparvāṇi, respectively, are used; aśīta(ka) being the name of a creeper (Pali āsītika). The corresponding Pali simile (M. 1. 80, 245) reads āsītikapabbāni vā kālāpabbāni vā, which MA. (i.e. Papañcasūdanī, 2.49) explains thus: yathā āsītika valliyā va kāḷavalliyā vā, i.e. like the āsītika creeper and the kāla creeper. Lord Chalmers (Further Dial. 1. 56), therefore, gives expression to more than is explicitly stated in the text, when he translates “like the knotted joints of withered creepers.” On p. 231 of our text the Bodhisattva’s limbs are compared to the kālāśitaka, where the names of the two creepers seem to form a compound denoting one. Cf. Lal. Vist. 319, 321 kālāśitaka.

54.

Senart reads parśukā, “ribs,” but describes his reading as “une correction assez désesperée.” Read rather āniśadaṃ which may be supplied from the anuśīdana of one MS. M. 1. 80 has āniśadaṃ.

55.

Gopānasīye antarāṇi. If this reading is correct the words can only mean “what is within the rafter,” but the point is that the rafters themselves were, like the ribs, visible. On p. 127 we have gopānasīantarāṇi, but, perhaps, the best reading would be gopānasīyo antarāṇi, with the two words in apposition, “the rafters, the things within.”

56.

Vivaṭa. Cf. Pali vivaṭa = vivṛta, “uncovered.” The regular Sanskrit vivṛta is used in the same sentence of the uncovered, “tumble-down” stable, but in the repetitive passages on pp. 127, 128, and 129 the form used is vivaṭa. On p. 125 the condition of the ribs is described by vibaddha, translated “gaunt.” In the other passages the state of the rafters, stable, and ribs is described indifferently by vivaṭa, but “gaunt” is retained throughout in translating to describe the last.

57.

Vaṭṭanavenī. The corresponding Pali (M. I. 80) has vaṭṭanā-vaḷī. Vaṭṭanā is found only in this compound, which means “a line or chain of balls.” But the Pali form is uncertain wherever it is found. (See P.E.D. for references.) Perhaps the Mhvu. form is here the more correct, vaṭṭana (= vṛttana) being simply “turning” and defined by unnatāvanatā “up and down,” “this way and that.”

58.

Abhisaṃskāreṇa.

59.

Śīryensu, pass, of sṛī.

60.

Text jitaṃ.? sic for jñātaṃ. On page 127 a variant reading is jinaṃ (!).

61.

“A species of fish,” “a kind of sheat-fish.” The corresponding term in M. I. 246 is mangura which may be a form of mangula, “sallow.” (See P.E.D.) Lord Chalmers translates “dusky like a fish.”

62.

Cf. M. I. 80.

63.

See p. 121 n. 4.

64.

Jitam, again! See p. 122, n. 4.

65.

Jitaṃ again! See note above p. 122, n. 4.

66.

See p. 121, n 4.

67.

Jitaṃ again! See note above p. 122.

68.

Viśeṣādhigama, Pali visesādhigama.

69.

Dhyāna, Pali jhāna, see Vol. I, p. 183.f, and notes there, especially on the minor differences between the Mhvu. and Pali descriptions.

70.

The text, as printed, reads, tasya me bhikṣavo vasato tadanusāri vijñānaṃ. Senart can make no sense out of vasato; but the whole phrase should, probably, be amended on the analogy of the corresponding Pali phrase at M. I.246, tassa mayham satānusāri. Read, therefore, tasya me bhikṣavo eva smṛtasya tadanusāri vijñānaṃ, “while I was thus mindful the knowledge followed.” It is easy to see how vasato could arise from an original eva satassa (Pali for smṛtasya).

71.

Lacuna in text, but odanakulmāṣa supplied after M. I. 247, odanakummāsaṃ.

72.

Lacuna in text, but devatā honti evaṃāhaṃsu can be supplied from the text below.

73.

Praticāra, Pali paṭicāra, but, Senart prints with a (?).

74.

Lūha “coarse,” “hard,” austere, etc., + prahāna = Pali padhāna. See note above, p. 63.

75.

Lūhādhimuktā lūhabhiprasannā.

76.

Kulaccha = kulattha. Senart compares icchatva for itthatva in Vol. I, p. 53 (text).

77.

In the Pali texts the daughter of Senānī, a landowner of the village of Senāni, near Uruvelā. In the Pali tradition (J. 1. 68. f.) she is said to have brought the offering to Gotama under the impression that he was the god of the banyan-tree, to whom she had vowed a meal of rice-milk in return for the birth of a son.

78.

Nāganandīkālasamaya. Although difficult to explain, nāganandī as epithet of night must mean something similar to nandīmukhī (Pali id.), which we have already met with in Vol. I, p. 229 (text), and which occurs again below pp. 133, 264 (text).

79.

The Sotthiya of J. 1. 70. See D.P.N. for further references.

80.

Purimaṃ kāyam praṇidhāya, i.e. before (purimam) the tree.

81.

Pratimukhāṃ smṛtiṃupasthāpayitvā = Pali parimuhhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā. See e.g. 5. 1. 170; M. 3. 89; Manual of a Mystic, I, and Vbh. 252. The last says that the phrase means putting mindfulness (sati) either at the tip of the nose or in the image of the mouth (nāsīkāgge vā mukhanimitte vā), and Miss I. B. Horner, in a note to the translator, suggests that it means squinting slightly with the eyes turned towards the tip of the nose, which would restrict the field of vision.

82.

The passage in brackets represents a lacuna in the text, but the translation is supplied from the repetition below, and parallel passages elsewhere.

83.

See Vol. I, pp. 125, 201 n.

84.

Saṃvartakalpa. See Vol. I, p. 43, n. 2.

85.

Vivartakalpa. Ibid.

86.

Nandīmukhāyām rajanyām. See Vol. I, p. 185, n. 1, and above p. 126, n. 8.

87.

For these expressions see Vol. I, p. 185, n. 2.