The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes story of rahula which is Chapter XXIII 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 XXIII - The story of Rāhula

When the Exalted One, standing in the air at a man’s height, had performed his various miracles of double appearance,[1] when Rāhu, Vemacitrin and Mucilinda, lords of the Asuras, and sixty nayutas of other Asuras had had revealed to them[2] the supreme perfect enlightenment, and when many thousand koṭis of beings had been established[3] in the noble dharma and had realised for themselves the fruit of winning the stream, and when the true unchangeable method of the Master’s teaching had been seen, then King Śuddhodana rose up from his seat and, holding out his joined hands to the Exalted One, bowed before him and made this solemn utterance. “My son,” said he, “great gain have I well won in that I have such a son as you, the best of bipeds, endowed with all good qualities. Not in vain, my son, but fruitful was your going forth when you renounced the sovereignty of this great kingdom of a universal ruler, and left your kith and kin behind. Not in vain, my son, but fruitful have been the six years you spent in austerities. Yea, not in vain, my son, but fruitful has been your attainment of enlightenment. Not in vain, my son, but fruitful has been the dharma revealed by you. For your like is not to be found in the world of men and devas, of Māra, of Brahmā, of recluses, of brāhmans, or of wanderers, or among the generation of devas, men and Asuras. Not in vain either, my son, but fruitful has been my own life (255), since in my realm such a son has been born, who is incomparable in the whole world, supreme of devas and of men. Well were it now, my son, that, benevolent to the whole world as you are and compassionate, bestowing your compassion on it, you should bestow your compassion on me, too, by eating at the royal palace as long as you intend to stay in Kapilavastu.” And the Exalted One silently intimated his consent.

When he perceived the Exalted One’s silent consent, King Śuddhodana was elated, glad and joyful. He bowed at the Exalted One’s feet, saluted him three times from the rights held out his joined hands towards the company of disciples, and then departed.

Then King Śuddhodana, when the night was past, prepared a plentiful supply of solid and soft food. He had the city of Kapilavastu sprinkled and swept, and cleared of dust, stones, gravel and pebbles. He had it strewn with garlands of flowers, scented with pots of perfumes, draped in bright cloth, covered with a canopy and hung with festoons of strips of cloth. All along the way from the Banyan Grove to Kapilavastu he stationed dancers, mimes, athletes, wrestlers, tambourine players, tam-tam players,[4] players on the fife, flute and dvistvala,[5] clowns,[6] acrobats,[7] reciters, minstrels, and performers on the pañcavātuka,[8] so that the Exalted One’s entry into the city should be made in great regal majesty and splendour.

Then on the next day,[9] neither too early nor too late, the Exalted One took a Māgadhan breakfast[10] and dressed and clothed himself. Escorted and attended by his company of disciples, with Śāriputra on his right, Maudgalyāyana on the left, and the monk Ānanda behind, he with them moved on in successive ranks each double the preceding one.[11] The progress of exalted Buddhas is like that of a flight of swans.[12]

Now there are certain things which inevitably happen when Buddhas enter a city.[13] (256) When the Exalted One enters a city, horses neigh, elephants trumpet, peacocks dance, cuckoos call,[14] musical instruments sound without anyone playing them, and jewels rattle in their caskets. At that moment the blind recover their sight, the deaf their hearing, and the insane their reason. The poisoned become rid of poison. The unbelieving and those slow of faith now become convinced.[15]

Thus then did the Exalted One enter the city, and no sooner had he planted the soles of his feet in the gateway of the city of Kapilavastu than the great earth shook, trembled, quaked and quivered in six ways. It rose up in the east and sank down in the west; it rose up in the west and sank down in the east; it rose up in the south and sank down in the north; it rose up in the north and sank down in the south.[16]

And after the Exalted One had entered the city of Kapilavastu, he in due course came to his father’s house. The Śākyans of Kapilavastu then called the Śākyans together and issued a proclamation saying, “Friends, no one is to tell Rāhula that he is the son of the Exalted One. He who will do so will pay the penalty of death.”

Now the Exalted One took all his meals at the royal palace. But then Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī appealed to King Śuddho-dana, saying, “Your majesty, if it is agreeable to you, let the Exalted One eat at my house.” And the king replied, “Gautamī, let it be so.”[17]

Then Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī went to the Exalted One, bowed her head at his feet, (257) held out her joined hands to him, and said, “Let the Exalted One consent to eat tomorrow at my house.” The Exalted One silently intimated his consent.

Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī, on perceiving the silent consent of the Exalted One, when the night was past prepared a plentiful supply of solid and soft food. She had her house sprinkled and swept, hung with festoons of fine cloth, strewn with heaps of flowers and made fragrant with incense. She assigned a very costly seat for the Exalted One and seats according to their rank[18] for the company of his monks.

Then the Exalted One dressed betimes, took his bowl and robe, and, attended by the company of his monks, came to the house of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī. The Exalted One sat down on the seat assigned to him as the company of monks sat on theirs.[19] And Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī with her own hands regaled and served with plentiful solid and soft food first the Buddha and then the company of his monks. When the Exalted One had finished eating, washed his hands and put away his bowl, and the company of monks had done likewise, he gave Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī and the women of the court a graduated discourse on dharma.[20]

Now this is what the graduated discourse of exalted Buddhas is, namely, a discourse on charity, a discourse on morality, a discourse on heaven, a discourse on merit and a discourse on the fruition of merit.[21] Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī believed with a trusting heart, and then the Exalted One revealed to her the four Āryan truths of ill, the arising of ill, the cessation of ill, and the Way leading to the cessation of ill.[22] And while she sat there on her seat, Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī won a clear dharma-insight, pure and unsullied, into things.

Then the shadow of the Exalted One happened to fall on Rāhula. And all the hair on Rāhula’s body bristled, all his limbs perspired, and his whole frame thrilled.

Sitting down in the Exalted One’s shadow, (258) Rāhula regarded him with steady gaze.

Rāhula then asked his mother, “Where is my father gone, mother?” Yaśodharā replied, “My son, he has gone to the south country.” Rāhula said, “What has he gone to the south country for?” Yaśodharā replied, “He has gone there to trade.” Rāhula said, “But why does not my father send me a nice present?” Yaśodharā replied, “The way is stopped by the nobles. When it is possible for him to come,[23] he will come himself.”

Rāhula then asked, “Mother, can this recluse be any relation of mine. For never has any one affected me[24] as this recluse has. It seems to me that he has taken possession of my whole heart. It cannot be without some cause that at the mere sight of this recluse such love is aroused[25] in me as is aroused by the sight of no other Śākyan. I therefore think that he is my father.” But Yaśodharā replied, “My son, he is not your father.” Rāhula, however, wistfully appealed to his mother,[26] saying “Mother, I insist that you tell me[27] who this recluse of mine is.”

Yaśodharā’s heart was troubled because of her love and affection, and she considered how she should deal with him. “Now if I tell him,” she thought, “the penalty for so doing is death. But then, if I do not tell him, it is my own son who will be deceived. Come what may,[28] I will tell him. I would rather that the Śākyans stab and hack me limb by limb with a sharp knife than that I should not tell my own son, the noble Rāhula. I would rather that the Śākyans cut my body into strips[29] with a sharp knife than that I should not tell my own son, the noble Rāhula. I would rather that the Śākyans cut my body up with a sharp knife into pieces the size of a penny or a farthing,[30](259) than that I should not tell my own son, the noble Rāhula. I would rather that the Śākyans cut up my body into a hundred pieces than that I should not tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.”

When[31] Rāhula saw the Lion-man, the Sugata, come attended by his noble throng, he regarded him with steady and concentrated[32] gaze.

After glancing at his mother, Rāhula, with his joyful and jet-black eyes like those[33] of an elephant or a partridge, regarded the Sugata.

When he had seen the Lion-man, the perfect Buddha, sitting down surrounded by the goodly throng, he drew near to him like a suckling calf.[34]

And as the joyful prince sat down in the shadow of the Sugata, he said to his mother, “Pleasant is the shadow of this recluse.[35]

“Many Śākyan princes have I seen who have travelled in all parts and return laden with loads of jewels. But they did not gladden my heart.

“But when I saw this yellow-garbed recluse my body was immediately thrilled. And it was thrilled also when I heard his sweet words.

“As I beheld him, with his tender and web-like[36] hands, gracious and lovely throughout, I rejoiced, for verily he is a sublime sight.

“I was glad when from a distance I saw him coming in his golden beauty. And when he went away again I was grieved at his absence.

“Not without cause is it that, when I see one who is unknown to me, (260) my mind becomes exceeding glad at the mere sight.

“I can but think that that recluse was my father or my brother, or someone else among my kin, for so was my body thrilled.

“Tell me, mother, if you have seen or heard of him before, why he so greatly gladdens my heart.”

When she had heard her son speaking so, Rāhula’s mother with a passionate sigh spoke and said, “My heart is aflame, for he pleads with such gentle words. I cannot but tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.

“I would rather they stab my body with a well-whetted knife, than that I should forbear to tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.

“I would rather that the Śākyans tear my body in strips, than that I should forbear to tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.

“I would rather they cut up my body into pieces the size of a penny or a farthing, than that I should forbear to tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.

“I would rather that the Śākyans cut up my body into a hundred pieces, than that I should forbear to tell my own son, the noble Rāhula.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, like the flowering karṇikāra[37] golden and lovely, is your father.

(261) “He between whose eyebrows is a tuft growing to the right like the spirals of a shell, he, my son, is your father. It is from him this radiance springs.

“He, my son, whom, you see yonder in golden beauty, with the fragrance of good works[38] diffusing a scent like that of the dark sandal-wood tree, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, standing fixed in the four meditations,[39] like Himalaya the monarch of mountains, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, rising up amid his noble company like a golden elephant, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, like a fanged and powerful lion surveying all around him, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, attended by his noble company, like a bull among the herd, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, lighting up the world with his radiance like the moon when it is full, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, like the rising sun bringing light to the dark places, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, escorted by hosts of devas, like Śakra their king, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty, uttering a wondrous sound like Brahmā in his heaven, is your father.

“He, my son, whom you see yonder in golden beauty (262) like the flowering sell tree, his body resplendent with the thirty-two marks of excellence, is your father.

“He, my son, is your father, who left his fair city and you and me, and went forth heedless of his kith and kin.

“He, my son, is your father, who went away riding on Kaṇṭhaka’s back, leaving[40] us all comfortably asleep in our beds.

“The devas opened the gate for him, the Saviour of the world, and stilled the noise that no one might hear it.

“Then when he sojourned in the land of the Mallas,[41] he spoke to Chandaka, saying, ‘Take this lock of hair and bear it to Śuddhodana.

“‘Give my jewels and Kaṇṭhaka to the king and greet my mother and him for me.

“‘I go the way there is no turning back, but when I have reached the goal, I’ll come again. Free from grief through laying down the burden[42], I will become a field of merit in the world.

“‘Free from grief through laying down the burden, having reached the goal and overcome the lusts, in mercy I’ll come to my people in Kapilavastu’.”

Then when Rāhula heard from his mother that this was his father, he clung to a corner of the Exalted One’s robe and said, “Mother, if he is my father, I will go forth from home to the homeless state and follow the way of my father.”

As soon as Rāhula had taken hold of the corner of the Exalted One’s robe, all the women of the court cried out. And King Śuddhodana (263) heard that cry, and hearing it was terrified. He asked, “What is that dreadful noise, which is like the cry of the great crowd when Sarvārthasiddha left home?” Some people told him, saying, “Your majesty, Prince Rāhula clung to the robe of the Exalted One and said that he would go forth.” Now when King Śuddhodana sighed the whole royal family sighed; when he wept,[43] then the whole body of Śākyans wept. And so both within and without all was lamentation.

When King Śuddhodana had done with weeping, he wiped his tears, went to the Exalted One, bowed at his feet, arranged his robe over one shoulder, knelt with his right knee on the ground, held out his joined hands, and said to him, “It is enough that the Exalted One should have renounced his great universal sovereignty and left his family[44] and gone forth from home. Well would it be, therefore, if the Exalted One should order Prince Rāhula not to go forth so that this royal family be not made extinct.”

The Exalted One replied, “Your majesty, this being is in his last existence; he has done his task, and he retains the impressions of his lives[45] under other Buddhas. It is impossible that he should live with a wife at home.[46] He must be completely emancipated from these skandhas.[47]

King Śuddhodana believed with a serene faith, and he said to the Exalted One, “Since the time that the Exalted One left home none of us has been able to render the proper service to Rāhula, to take his horoscope,[48] to braid his hair, and provide him with earrings.[49] Lord, if Rāhula must needs go forth to the religious life, then it were well that the Exalted One come in seven days. On the seventh day he will be ready to leave home. For by that time his horoscope will have been taken, his lock of hair braided, and his earrings arranged. Then he can go forth.”

(264) Then the Exalted One said to Rāhula, “Go back, Rāhula, and do as your grandfather bids you.” So Rāhula let go his hold of the comer of the Exalted One’s robe. Yaśodharā took him by the hand and led him into the inner apartment. There she sat down with Rāhula in her lap and said to him, “Rāhula, my son, do not go forth to the religious life. What you have in mind, my son, is hard to achieve.[50] Here in the royal palace you have fine garments of Benares cloth to wear. You have magnificent beds to lie on, and delicate food to eat. But Rāhula, my son, when you have gone forth, you will have to lie on a spreading of straw on the ground. Your seat will be at the foot of a tree; you will have to go begging for alms among the low caste Caṇḍālas and Pukkasas; you will have to look at the snorting mouths of angry men, and eat cast-off morsels of food. You will have to collect[51] the discarded rags of a slave-girl[52] from the cemetery,[53] and you will have to dwell in forest tracts. There you will hear dreadful noises, such as the cries of lions, tigers and jackals. But you, Rāhula, my son, grew up in the royal palace delicately nurtured[54] and used to comfort. You, Rāhula, my son, were bathed while listening to the sweet strains of lute and fife and cymbal. How will you have any joy? Surely, you will overcome[55] this delusion. It were well for you, Rāhula, my son, to divert and amuse yourself with the five strands of sensual pleasures here in the inner apartment. Why should we have another one going forth?”

Rāhula answered and said, “Mother, did not my father grow up in a great king’s court?” Yaśodharā replied, “Even so.” Rāhula said, “Whosoever speaks the truth will say that he was delicately, most delicately brought up. And yet does not he who is my father (265) now lie on a bed of straw on the ground, arrange his seat at the foot of a tree, go begging for alms from house to house, eat cast off morsels, and dwell in a forest tract? And was he not delicately brought up like me and used to comfort? What he has attained, shall I, too, not attain? I, too, mother, will give up the pleasures of sense, go forth from home into the homeless state, and inevitably I will attain nirvana. And, mother, if there be anyone here who is resolute and mindful, consider me to-be so, too, in that I am going forth and following in the way of my father.”

Yaśodharā said, “My son, is it inevitable that you go-forth?” Rāhula replied, “It is quite inevitable.” Yaśodharā said, “Is there no escape?” Rāhula replied, “There is not.” Yaśodharā said, “Will you forsake me, your grandfather[56] and your kith and kin?” Rāhula replied, “I certainly will.” Yaśodharā said, “Listen, my son. If it is, as you say, inevitable that you go forth from home to the homeless state, you must live with the doors of your six senses well closed and guarded. You must know the proper measure in eating. You must always apply yourself to vigilance and endeavour. You must be strenuous. You must abide in the observation of the proper way of standing, walking and sitting down.[57] And, my son, you must abstain from flesh. You must not transgress the code of morals ordained by the Buddha. You must, my son, bear fully in mind the code of morals ordained by the Exalted One. You must, my son, follow accordingly by reason of what life is.[58] To gain the nirvana you have not yet won you must, my son, have good self-control. And why? Women will come, my son, who are venerable,[59] gracious and beautiful to make obeisance to the Exalted One, and these, my son, you must regard as you would your mother.[60] Women will come, my son, who are young, gracious, beautiful and bedecked with jewels. But for these, my son, you must not have any desire (266), and on such occasions you must abide having an insight into what is ill and what is transient. If, Rāhula, my son, you can turn your heart away from going forth, then do so as a favour to me.”

Then orders were issued by King Śuddhodana in the city of Kapilavastu. “Gather all the perfumes,” said he, “and garlands, flowers and aromatic powders that are to be found around the city of Kapilavastu within a distance of twelve yojanas. Assemble all the dancers, actors, athletes, wrestlers and tambourine-players.

The desires of devas are fulfilled by the thought of their minds; those of kings by the word of command; those of rich men are fulfilled without delay, and those of poor men by their own exertions.[61]

As soon as the king had spoken, the city was decorated, cleaned, swept clear of gravel and pebbles, fumigated by pots of incense, hung with festoons of fine cloth, draped in bright cloth, overhung with a canopy, and strewn with heaps of flowers.

. . .[62]

Why do women in the prime of youth and adorned with varied garlands stand in their many thousands at the crossroads?

Young women are there in the inner chamber of the palace...[63] hurriedly running like fawns to the windows.[64]

For Rāhula the son of the Buddha, the offspring of Śuddho-dana, is abandoning his kingdom as the Exalted One did, and going forth to the religious life.[65]

(267) The drum is beaten, the lutes are played, giving forth their sweet notes. Tabours are beaten, and ere long the young prince will come out.

Seven-stringed lutes sweetly resound as they are played with the bow...[66] ’ere long the young prince will come out.

There is a splendid, merrily rattling chariot, draped in skins of leopards and antelopes. Eagerly the young prince mounts it and leaves his home.

There are cries of loving farewells and thousands of handclaps[67] resound in front of Rāhula, whose glory is deathless, as he leaves home.

The Śākyans,[68] with radiant crests and clothed in mantles of wool,[69] and riding on stately elephants follow the young prince as he goes away.

With radiant crests, clothed in mantles of wool, and speaking eloquently and sweetly, they follow the young prince as he goes away.

Soon, the king’s women are distressed, and their eyes fill with tears when they see the gathered chariots, horses and carriages stretching over a yojana[70] as though in a display of splendour.[71]

He whose eyes are like the elephant’s or the partridge’s now has reached the city gate escorted by the comely beautiful women, as Indra is escorted by his devas.[72]

He comes to the Banyan Grove, to his father, the Supreme of men, the Guide, the Lion-man, whose beauty is golden.

(268) Having won glory he bows before him whose glory is supreme. And the Valiant Man, with his gentle webbed fingers, strokes the head of his noble son, and says, “My good Rāhula, surely your concern for self-control[73] will bear fruit, for that you have abandoned material form with its pitifulness.[74] This will be your last existence, soon you will attain nirvana.”

Then the Exalted One spoke to the venerable Śāriputra, saying, “Ordain Rāhula, and let him share your hut with you.” The elder asked the Exalted One, “How, Lord, shall I ordain him?” The Exalted One replied, “O Śāriputra, with the ordination of one who is a young man[75] into the Āryan dharma and discipline. He is to say,[76] ‘I, Rāhula, am coming to the refuge of the Buddha, to the refuge of the dharma, to the refuge of the Saṅgha.’ Secondly, he is to say, ‘I am Rāhula. The Buddha and none other is my refuge. The dharma and nothing else is my refuge. The Saṅgha and nothing else is my refuge. As long as I live, I, Rāhula, will abstain from murder, theft, from wrong sensual behaviour, from falsehood, and from the state of indolence induced by indulgence in toddy and spirits. Establish me as a lay devotee[77] on the basis of these five moral precepts.[78] I, Rāhula, will follow into the religious life the exalted Buddha who has gone forth to the religious life.’ A second time he is to say, ‘I, Rāhula, will follow into the religious life the Buddha who has gone forth to the religious life.’ A third time he is to say, ‘I, Rāhula, will follow into the religious life the Buddha who has gone forth to the religious life. I, Rāhula, as long as I live, will observe the novice’s[79] rule of abstention from murder and so on as far as the rule against accepting silver and gold.[80]’ For these are the ten moral precepts.

“Then the elder will cut Rāhula’s hair and ordain him. Śāriputra (269) will take him by his right hand and Maudgalyāyana by the left and lead him to his bed of straw.[81]

Thus did the Exalted One direct it should be done.

The Daśabala[82] spoke to the pair of disciples that had won fame and glory in heaven and earth, the chapter[83] of well trained disciples, abounding in wisdom, who had done their tasks.[84]

“Inasmuch as he will acquire keen faculties, let the young Rāhula be ordained into this dharma: let him be a follower[85] of mine.”

Then Śāriputra,[86] with his knowledge of right times, said to the Guide of the world, “How shall I ordain the noble Rāhula, the Conqueror’s own flesh and blood?[87]

The Guide, taking pity on the world, pronounced in a voice like Brahma’s that it should be the ordination into the Āryan dharma and discipline of one who is young.

“Let Maudgalyāyana,” said he, “take Rāhula by the left hand and Upatiṣya[88] take him by the right. Then let them ordain him and lead him to his bed of straw.”

He who takes from off his body the bracelets and the thread of gold[89] will no longer live tormented by ill: those tormented will remind themselves of the Daśabala.[90]

His mother then took into her lap her son whose wide dark eyes were like the elephant’s or the partridge’s, and spoke to him in these verses.[91]

“You wear the finest of garments,” said she, “your body is scented with ointment and rouge. Difficult will a wanderer’s life be for you who have been used to such exceeding great comfort.

“Men like these[92] must needs be glad when they have dug pieces of rags from the dung-heap,[93] (270) You, my Rāhula, must needs eat the cast-off food of a slave.

“You now have anklets of gold...[94] You are glittering[95] like burnished gold. Your kinsmen rejoice in you.

“What have you, my son, to do with the forest, you who have listened to the sweet and charming strains of the lute. . .[96] and nakula[97]?

“Will you not believe what I say?,...[98] Come, my son, give it up. Turn your face therefrom. It is not easy to win that immovable state.”

Rāhula replied:

“Mother if there be any of quick understanding,[99] count me among them. For I, too, will crush the lusts and go along my father’s way.”

The barber then sharpened his razor, and Rāhula, bearing in mind the Best of bipeds deliberately[100] gave up his bejewelled lock of hair.

And seeing him thus deliberately devoted to the Daśabala’s teaching (his father said to him) “My son, quickly attain the blissful and calm nirvana.

“Quickly attain those states which are beyond birth and old age.” Thus did he speak to Rāhula.

(271) When she had taken them in her lap, his mother stroked the well-combed tresses[101] which (had grown) in dark rows on his golden neck.

Then Yaśodharā’s eyes welled with tears when she saw her noble son Rāhula bereft of his hair through his eagerness for the dharma.

And Maudgalyāyana and Upatiṣya ordained the young Rāhula who was thus rid of the householder’s marks, and was the colour of coral[102] and clad in yellow robes.

When he had been ordained, the son of him who bore the thirty-two marks of excellence lived with the elder Upatiṣya, eager to be trained.

Thus does it behove you who have gone forth in faith, to live without regret for the strands of sensual pleasures and I with your heart untainted.

Rāhula lived on gruel of fine[103] and pure rice flavoured with curry and condiments, and went round the Śākyan families for alms.

With head and heart make obeisance to this son of the Buddha, named Rāhula, who has rent the veil of darkness and rid himself of all the āśravas.

After the Exalted One had eaten with the women of the court,[104] Yaśodharā, Rāhula’s mother, in order to do honour to these excellent women, on the next day raised her joined hands to the Exalted One and invited him to a repast on the morrow. When she perceived the Exalted One’s silent consent, she was thrilled, pleased and happy.

And when the night was over (272) she had an exceeding plentiful supply of solid and soft food prepared together with a large number of most exquisite sweetmeats remarkable for colour, smell, and taste. At the same time[105] she had her house sprinkled and swept, draped with festoons of fine cloth, strewn with heaps of flowers, and overhung with a canopy.[106] A sumptuous couch was laid out for the Exalted One, and couches befitting their rank[107] for his company of monks.

Then the Exalted One dressed betimes, took his bowl and robe, and accompanied by his company of monks, entered the women’s apartment. And Yaśodharā, Rāhula’s mother, having arrayed herself in bright raiment and jewels, served[108] the Exalted One and sought to entice him with sweetmeats to stay and live at home. But he would not change his mind.

When the Exalted One had finished eating, washed his hands and put away his bowl, and his company of monks had done likewise, King Śuddhodana, Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī, Yaśodharā, Rāhula’s mother, and her attendants, were instructed, roused, gladdened and thrilled by the Exalted One with a discourse on dharma. And when he had done so,[109] he rose up from his seat and departed.

The monks said to the Exalted One, “Behold, Lord, how Yaśodharā, arrayed in all her finery and adornment, served the Exalted One with sweetmeats and sought to entice him but he would not change his mind.” The Exalted One replied, “Monks, that was not the first time that she did so. There was another occasion also.”

Here the Ekaśṛṅga-Jātaka[110] is to be repeated.

Footnotes and references:


See p. 115.


Vyākaritvā. Active participle for passive, with the retained secondary accusative bodhim, much like the retained accusative with passive “verbs, of teaching” in Latin, etc.


Pratiṣṭhāpayitvā. Active for passive again.


Kumbhathūṇika. See p. 111, n. 4.


See p. 111, n. 6.


Śobhika. Śee p. 111, n. 2.


? Kheluka.


See p. 111, n. 8.


Aparejjukāto. See vol. 2, p. 407, n. 1.


Literally, “the breakfast being Māgadhan,” Māgadhake prātarāśe. Practically the same expression occurs at 1, p. 307 (text) and was there translated “having breakfasted at Magadha,” in spite of the geographical and linguistic difficulties of such an interpretation. It is now suggested that the allusion is to some unknown kind of breakfast traditional in Magadha. Alternatively, the adjective Māgadhaka may denote an article of food especially common in Magadha. Unfortunately, the only such article known is garlic, lasuṇa, which is thus defined at V. 4. 259, lasuṇaṃ nāma māgadhakaṃ vuccati. And the Buddhists were forbidden to eat garlic.


This is an attempt to render the obscure dvayoparājikam. It is tentatively suggested that this compound can be analysed into dvaya-upa-rājikam, “successive rank (increased by) twice.” This suggestion would seem to be borne out by the circumstance explained in the following note.


Cf. vol. 1, p. 307 (text; translation, p. 256), where it said that four go in front, eight immediately behind them, and so on to the sixty-four bringing up the rear.


Literally “it is the dharmatā of Buddhas on entering a city.”


Tuṇatuṇāyati, on onomatopoeic verb.


Pratisaṃvidita. This word, if correctly restored, must have such a sense here, although in the only instance of the use of its Pali equivalent cited in P.E.D. it has the straightforward sense of “known”, “recognised”. But to say that the unbelieving were known is irrelevant to the context. On the analogy of what happened to the blind and the others, we expect to be told that in effect the unbelieving were made believers. It would seem, indeed, as though the right reading here is the causal form pratisaṃvedita, “were made to experience or to know,” or, alternatively, the finite verb pratisaṃvedayanti, “felt,” “perceived” (sc. the truth). Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) translates, “possessed of special knowledge.”


The fifth and sixth motions, namely of the middle regions and the extremities, are omitted. See vol. 1, p. 34.


Literally, “do so,” evaṃ karohi.


Literally, “according to what belonged or fitted,” yathopakam. Upaka has in both BSk. and Pali the variant form upaga, and this may be the radical form, as is suggested by Miss I. B. Horner in a communication. She cites V. 2.162 where monks are assigned their seats, etc., yathāvuḍḍham, “according to seniority,” but at V. 2.274, after eight nuns are thus seated yathāvuḍḍham, the rest are seated in the order of their coming, yathāgatikam. Yathā-upaka (=upaga) may, therefore, simply mean that the monks took their seats in the order (yathā) they came in (upagacchanti).


Reading yathāsane for yathāsanam. Perhaps the text is due to the corruption of an original yathāsane sānam (gen. pl. of 3rd pers. pronoun).


Anupūrvīyadharmadeśanā. This corresponds to the Pali expression anupubbikathā.


In Pali texts the topics are four, charity, morality, heaven, and the Path. See P.E.D. for references. The Mhvu. discourses on merit and the fruition of merit are additional to the Pali formula.


The text has mārga, “way”, only, but the usual qualification duḥkhanirodhagāmin is obviously implied.


Āgacchyati, impersonal passive, “cum veniri potest.”


“Fallen on my mind,” mano nipatati.


The text has no verb. Senart tentatively suggests utpāditam.


Reading mātaraṃ utkaṇṭhito (or utkaṇṭhayā) yācati. Senart’s text is mātrikaruṇakaṇṭhikāya yācati, which he renders “avec un embrassement atten-drissant pour une mère.” This, as he admits, involves giving kaṇṭhikā an arbitrary meaning just to suit the context. Edgerton (B.H.S.D. s.v. kaṇṭhikā). however, agrees with Senart, though it is the only instance adduced of kaṇṭhikā = “embrace”.


Literally “very much against your will tell me,” atyavaśyam me ācikṣāhi.


Jāne kim bhavatu.


Properly “into strips of leather or skin (flesh),” vaddhapaṭṭikāyam. According to Edgerton (B.H.S.D.), vaddha is MIndic for Sk. vadra or vardhra.


These terms are not actually equivalent respectively to the text kahāpaṇa (Pali, id., Sk. kārṣāpaṇa, a copper coin weighing 5/6ths of a penny) and māsika (Pali māsaka, lit. a small bean, and hence a small coin of very low value). But they are appropriate to the sense. There is an allusion here to the method of torture called kahāpaṇaka in Pali.


A metrical version of the same story.


Or “deliberate,” abhimana “having the mind on,” BSk. and Pali.


Nayanāṃ should surely be changed to nayanehi. The accusative is inexplicable.


I.e., as a suckling calf, vatsa kṣīrapaka, approaches its mother.


Cf. V. 1.82 where Rāhula addresses Gotama with the words, sukhā te samaṇa chāyā.


See vol. 2, p. 264, n. 2.


Pterospermum acerifolium or Cassia fistula.


Śilagandha. Cf. Dh. 55; Vism. 58.


As Senart remarks, the uninflected dhyāna catvāri for caturṣu dhyāneṣu is a barbarism remarkable even in the Mhvu., and so is the nominative case of the substantives, Himavān, etc., in the similes in this and the following verses.


Avahāya is to be supplied from the preceding stanza.


See vol. 1, p. 29.


Sc. of existence.


Prarunda. See vol. 2, p. 207, n. 1. VA. 1010 says that Suddhodana was concerned because, if Rāhula, following Gotama and Nanda, his half-brother, left home, there would be none to succeed to the throne. See I. B. Horner: Bk. of Disc. 4, p. 104, n. 5.


Lacuna in text, but, as Senart suggests, jñātivargam is probably the word to be supplied.


Vāsitavāsana. See p. 175, n. 1.




See vol. 1, p. 58, n. 3.


Jātakarma, Pali jātakamma, i.e., the karma involved in the particular day oí his birth; explained at PvA. 190 as rakkhatta-yogaṃ uggaṇhati.


Kuṇḍalavardhana, “the arrangement (?fixing) of earrings.” Possibly, however, vardhama is here used in the same way as Pali vaḍḍhana in the sense of vaḍḍhamāna at Mhvs. 23, 33 to designate “a (pair of) specially costly garments,” P.E.D. The translation would then be “(provide him) with earrings and special garments.” But there is no evidence for a ceremonial occasion of this nature to support either interpretation. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) suggests “cutting locks (curls, kuṇḍalaka) of hair.”


Durabhisambhuṇa. Abhisambhuṇa is a participial adjective of the verb abhisambhuṇati, BŚk. and Pali, equivalent in sense to abhisambhavati. In a note on vol. 1, p. 406, Senart approves Childers’s derivation of this verb from the root bhṛ of the Dhātupaṭhā. It is of frequent occurrence in our text, e.g., 1.46, 230, 240; 3. 334. On p. 264 (text) we have sambhuṇati in the same sense. See also Edgerton, B.H.S.D.


Sāhartavyā. Cf. abhisāhṛta, p. 213, n. 1.


Reading kumbhadāśiye for -vāsīye. So Senart.


Śmaśānā, abl. sg., for śmaśānāt.


Sukumāra. See vol. 2, p. 106, n. 1.


Sambhuṇati. See p. 252, n. 3.


Āryyaka, for the usual BSk. ayyaka. See vol. 2, p. 379, n. 3; also vol. 3, p. 264 (text). This form, if correctly restored here, is a hybrid one, consisting as to the first part of the original Sk. ārya, and as to the second of the BSk. (and Pali) modified form ayyaka, diminutive of ayya, which is contracted from ariya (or metathesised ayira), the diaeretic form of ārya. See P.E.D. B.H.S.D. cites the fern, āryakā, “grandmother”.


Three of the īryāpathas. See vol. 1, p. 18, n. 5.


Jīvitahetor. This seems a more appropriate rendering than “for the sake of life”, which would be a strange sentiment for a Buddhist.


Mahallika. See vol. 2, p. 6o, n. 7.


Literally,” in the case of these you should call up the mother-mind,” teṣām (for tāsām) mātṛsaṃjñā upasthāpayitavyā. For the thought compare S. 4. 110-1, where it is said that the reason why young monks do not dally with sense-pleasures is that they obey the injunction: “in the case of those who are just mothers, sisters, daughters, call up the mother-mind, sister-mind, daughter-mind” (i.e., as the Com. says, regard all women-folk as you would your own mother, sister, daughter). The translator owes this reference to Miss I. B. Horner.


For this couplet, which occurs several times in our text, see vol. 1, p. 213, n. 1.


The story is here continued in verse, for the beginning of which Senart leaves a lacuna because of the impossibility of restoring a coherent text. The MSS. suffice to show that the passage omitted consisted of a question inspired by the sight of the preparations ordered by the king to celebrate the seventh day, the day of Rāhula’s leaving home.




Olokanakā nidhāvanti.


A lacuna in the second pāda makes the translation uncertain. It seems necessary, too, to read va (= eva) -avahāya for cavahāya. One MS. has cāvahāya.




Reading, as Senart suggests, pāṇighāta for pāṇighaṭa.


Text has te “these”, only.


Aṃśukaśikharījātā śaṭakakambalakanivastā. But Senart in his notes queries whether the meaning is that the Śākyans when so dressed resembled mountains (śikhara) of clothes!


Literally “a gathered yojana of,” yojanam samācitam.


Śiriye viya or, perhaps, “like those of the goddess Śirī.” But the restoration of the text is probably incorrect.


Maruhi, a term especially appropriate here; for maru is really a vocalic form of marut, and the Marutas were the companions of Indra.






Apparently the same as the ordination of a novice. Cf. V. 1.82.


Bhaṇāti, for bhaṇati, the ending -āti having apparently a modal force. See Senart’s note at 1. p. 499. Now add Edgerton, Gram. § 27. 4.




Pañca śikṣāpadāni. See vol. 1, p. 168, n. 1.


Śrāmaṇera, Pali sāmaṇera. Divy. 153 has śramaṇeraka.


I.e., he is to express his adherence to the ten śikṣāpadāni.


It is not quite clear whether this sentence is part of the Buddha’s instructions or whether it is a statement of fact. The only finite verb in the sentence is upaviśensu. In the translation this aorist has been taken as equivalent to the optative, “Let them lead to.” It may equally well be aorist in force. Then the translation should be, “the elder cut Rāhula’s hair... and led him to his bed of straw.”


A metrical version, from another source, of the scene between Rāhula and his mother, is introduced here. Note the use of “Daśabala”, and cf. p. 230, n. 2. The verses do not seem to be in the right order. This scene should naturally, and as it does in the prose, precede Rāhula’s ordination, instead of following it as it does here.


Gaṇa is here obviously used in the sense of varga (vagga), as Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana were acting with the recognised authority of a chapter of monks, which could consist of two, three or ten monks. See V. 1.58, and cf. vol. 1, p. 3.


The text has karakandikaro, apparently an adjective agreeing with Daśabala. But this word, as Senart admits, is utterly inexplicable. The translation has been made on the tentative assumption that the right reading, or at least a plausible one, is karaṇīyakatam (in agreement with yugam ‘pair’). Cf. Pali katakaraṇīya, “One who has done what is to be done,” a phrase indicating the attainment of Arahantship. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) “can do nothing with the word.”




Called by the synonym Śārisuta here.


Literally, “born of his flesh.”


The personal name of Śāriputra.


I.e., the sacred cord of the Hindu.


Senart considers that this stanza is misplaced, and says that it would more appropriately form part of Yaśodharā’s appeal to Rāhula to abandon his project. To support this suggestion Senart says that oharati “take off” is undoubtedly a mistake for olagati, “to hang on to.” But such a change would seem to be inconsistent with the sentiment of the second line, where the words arttā smaranti daśabalasya clearly imply the freedom from ills that comes from thinking of or believing in the Buddha. With oharati retained the first line then describes the outward sign of conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism. The stanza is therefore retained unchanged, and may be regarded either as a remark of the narrator in passing or as part of the words spoken by the Buddha to his two disciples.


As has already been remarked, we should expect this expostulation of the mother to come before, not after, Rāhula’s ordination.


Tāyin = tādin. See vol. 2, p. 318, n. 2. The allusion, of course, is to the wanderers or ascetics.


Varca; BSk. vaccaḥ. Pali vacca. (P.E.D.)


Senart leaves a lacuna here, it being impossible to conjecture a restoration from the MS. narorimabilikho, narorishahilikhā.


Literally “speckled”, sabala, which takes a variety of forms in our text: śavala, sabala and śabala.


Lacuna; the ca hite ca of the MSS. evidently conceal the name of some musical instrument. Could it be candisaka? See vol. 2, p. 153, where, however, the word is doubtful.


See vol. 2, p. 154, n. 6.




Udghaṭitajña, Pali ugghaṭitaññu. See P.E.D. for references. B.H.S.D., “understanding by a condensed statement.”


Abhimana. See p. 248, n. 3.


The text has the inexplicable śirasijasallekhām, which Senart suggests should be amended into śirasijñāṃ (sc. keśām) sallikhya. This, however, as Senart remarks, involves assigning the doubtful meaning of “to comb” to saṃlikhati. There is, besides, the difficulty of construing the indeclinable participle sallikhya, for we should expect the past participle passive sallikhitām. Above all, there is an anacoluthon involved in this interpretation, mātāsya forms with grahetvāna a “genitive absolute,” while the subject of the main verb is itself the nominative mātā, understood. Still, the general sense of the whole sentence remains clear.


? Vidrumarakta, which, Senart says, must be substituted for drumarakta, “coloured like a tree,” of the text.


Śālina, of doubtful etymology; either from śāli “rice,” or from śālā, “hall.” See Edgerton, B.H.S.D.


I.e., at the invitation of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī.


The text repeats tasyaiva rātryātyayena.


Not quite apposite here, but inadvertently applied from the stereo typed description of a road when prepared for the Buddha’s progress.


Yatha-upakam. See p. 246, n. 1.


Pariviśati for pariviṣ (viveṣ, veṣa), Pali parivisati.


The text has the active participles corresponding to the passive participles of the preceding sentence of the translation. The latter do not appear in the text as they are lost in a lacuna, but the context makes it easy to supply them.


See p. 139ff.

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