by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X
This page describes story of sharabhanga which is Chapter XXXIV 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..
In Hastināpura there was a king named Arjuna, who, when he saw some good men, put questions to them, saying, “He who can reply satisfactorily will be allowed to go free with his life in safety. But he who cannot satisfy King Arjuna with his answer to the question will be slain with the sword by the king’s own hand.”
Now there had come to Hastināpura from the Himalayas a seer named Gautama. He had won the five super-knowledges, achieved the four meditations, had great magic and power, and was rid of the passion for sensual pleasures. When this seer was asked a question by King Arjuna he answered it correctly. But the king did not understand the answer, and with his own hand he slew the gifted seer Gautama with a sword.
Among the Kaliṅgas there was a city named Dantapura A king named Nārīkela ruled there, and he was wicked, ill-favoured, fierce, cruel, and violent. He would invite recluses and brahmans to his house and there have them devoured by dogs, and he would laugh as they were being eaten. But he also was burnt with fire and was reborn in a great hell, where he was eaten day and night by black dogs.
In the city of Kampilla there ruled a king named Brahmadatta. This king Brahmadatta had a hundred sons who were young princes. His household priest also had a son named Yajñadatta, who was a young brahman priest.
Now a teacher of archery from the southern country heard that in the city of Kampilla, King Brahmadatta (362) had a hundred young princes. “I will go there,” said he, “to the city of Kampilla, and teach the hundred princes the art of archery. Thus I shall make a living.” So he came to the city of Kampilla and attached himself to the household priest, by whom he was brought to King Brahmadatta. The king said to him, “Train my hundred young princes in the skill of archery, and I will give you abundant wealth.”
Thus the teacher of archery taught the skill of archery. And Yajñadatta, the priest’s son, also learnt the art along with the princes. They were trained in the whole art, but Yajñadatta distinguished himself in it above all the others.
When they had completed their training they gave an exhibition to the public in the presence of the king and his court. The hundred princes shot their arrows at Yajñadatta, but he with his sabre cut down all the arrows aimed at him before they reached his body. All the king’s company marvelled at Yajñadatta. Thus did he get his name of Śarabhaṅga.
To the north of Benares, on the slopes of the Himalayas, there was a hermitage named Sāhañjanī. It was well-supplied with roots, leaves, flowers and fruits and had good crops of kodrava, śyāmaka, hemp, rice, vegetables and lily-roots. It was made pleasant by several thousands of trees which were laden with flowers and fruits, and it was well provided with water for drinking. There dwelt a seer named Kāśyapa with a company of five hundred, all of whom had won the five super-knowledges, achieved the four meditations and had great magic and power.
Śarabhaṅga, the priest’s son, went to the hermitage Sāhañjanī and took up the religious life of a seer under the seer Kāśyapa. By living in assiduous devotion to the practice of vigilance, in endeavour, effort and exertion he attained to the four meditations and realised the five super-knowledges. Master of the four meditations and possessor of the five superknowledges Śarabhaṅga, too, became a seer of great magic and power. He became known and renowned among men and devas as a young man living the brahma-life, devoted to severe austerity, and as a great Nāga.
The seer Kāśyapa had a pupil named Vatsa, who lived in a hermitage on the banks of the Ganges, on the slopes of the Himalayas, with a company of five hundred all of whom possessed the five super-knowledges, were masters of the four meditations, were rid of the passion for sensual pleasures, lived on what they could glean, and were of great power.
Now Vatsa the seer became ill with flatulence. Unable to endure the cold of the Himalayas he went to the southern country, to a city called Govardhana. There a king named Daṇḍakin was ruling. He was unjust, a king of unrighteousness. He had gone wrong in his beliefs, was greedy for worldly pleasures, foolish, perverse in his views, disrespectful of mother and father, unkind to recluse and brahman, cruel, merciless and violent. When he saw Vatsa the seer he had him trampled in the mud, innocent, harmless and inoffensive though he was.
The chief counsellor of that kingdom was named Vighuṣṭa. He quickly dug out the seer alive from the heap of mud. He then fell at his feet and craved his forgiveness. “Lord,” said he, “I do not approve of the violence committed by the king. May your reverence be pleased to pardon me.” The seer replied, “Counsellor, leave the kingdom at once. In seven days I shall be dead, and when I am dead there will be in this kingdom a great and terrible calamity.” And when he had heard this from Vatsa the seer, the counsellor, with his sons and wife, his retinue and his relatives, left the kingdom of King Daṇḍakin and went to another kingdom.
When the seventh night was past, Vatsa the seer died. Immediately on his death there was a great commotion among the demons, who on that night reduced the city and kingdom to ashes.
Kāśyapa the seer was performing a sacrifice between the Ganges and the Jumna. Thither there flocked ninety-eight thousand ascetics (364) all possessing the five super-knowledges, masters of the four meditations, and having great magic and power.
In the country of the Kaliṅgas was a city named Dantapura, where there was a king named Uggata. When he saw the terrible and frightful calamity which had overcome those cruel kings he went to Sañjayantī to visit the seers. In Sañjayantī the king was named Bhīmaratha. He, too, was stirred by the sight of the destruction of those kings, and he asked the king of the Kaliṅgas, “Whither are you going?” The latter replied “I am going to visit the seers.”
In Hastināpura there reigned a king named Aṣṭamaka. And he, too, terrified and perturbed on seeing the dreadful calamity which had befallen those four cruel kings, set out to visit the seers. Śakra, lord of the devas, also, on seeing the calamity which had befallen those unjust, unrighteous, heretical, merciless, cruel and violent kings, came in the great pomp of devas to visit the seers.
On the slopes of the Himalayas there were five hundred seers who lived on roots and fruits, were content with what they could glean, were ascetic, pure though poor, well-controlled, sternly austere, and sublime.
One seer was there who was styled Vatsa. He became ill with flatulence and, unable to endure the cold of the Himalayas, he left the forest and went down to the king’s city.
But the king had a chief counsellor in his state, named Vighuṣṭa, and he raised up the seer and said to him, “This pleases me not. So deign to forgive me, O holy man.”
Vatsa the seer replied to the counsellor, “Go hence, lest evil fortune be yours. For when seven nights are past a fearful calamity will befall.";
When the seer was dead, there was a great commotion among the demons, and in a single night they reduced to ashes that king’s realm, his wealth and his might.
Then did the ascetic Śarabhaṅga speak to the assembled seers, “Not seemly was this thing which Daṇḍakin did. Let us go and do honour to Vatsa.”
And so in gladness and excitement the three lords of men came into the presence of the seers, (366) in fine array, wearing ornaments and earrings, and carrying swords inlaid with pearl and beryl.
The seers said to them:
O king, tell the seer who you are, and how do they know you in the world of men.
The kings replied:
We are Aṣṭamaka and King Bhīmaratha and this is Udgata the king of Kaliṅga. We have come hither to visit seers who are well-controlled, wishful to ask a question of them.
The seers asked Indra as he stood in the air:
(367) The seers said:
Ye seers who’re here assembled, your fame we've heard from far. To you, O seers who’re well-controlled, we have come to bow before you, O masters, with trusting hearts. He is in all the world the best of men.
The seer said:
Yea, the odour of seers who are far advanced is wafted abroad, blown about by the wind, but it is sweet and pleasant, and is not disagreeable to me.
The seers said:
This seer, the noble Śarabhaṅga, is well-trained and free from lust, (368), an enlightened teacher and well-disciplined, let him then answer the questions.
[Anuśiṣya said to Śarabhaṅga]:
Now I give you leave to ask whatever question it is in your heart to ask. So do you speak, and I will answer your questions. For I have true knowledge of this world and the next.
The king then asked:
With regard to those who have been and gone, Daṇḍakin, Nālikera, Arjuna and king Kalabha, tell me the bourne of those men of wicked deeds. Where were they reborn for that they had done harm to seers?
With regard to those who have been and gone, Daṇḍakin, Nālikera, Arjuna and King Kalabha, understand what the bourne of these men of wicked deeds was, (369) and where the violators of seers were reborn.
And as for Nālikera who violated the self-controlled religious men after inviting them to eat and drink with him, in the other world dogs attack him and devour him as he lies writhing on the ground.
Kalabha who mutilated that religious man, the seer Kṣāntivādin, the harmless recluse, fell into Avīci, the fiery, scorching, terrible hell.
He who has heard of hells like these and seen whole kingdoms stricken down will deal justly with recluse and brahman, and acting thus he will gain the heavenly place.
The kings said:
You have answered what I asked you. Now I ask you another question and do you reply to it.
(370) What, I ask you, can a man kill without feeling remorse? What do seers recommend that men should put away?
One may kill anger and never repent it. Seers recommend that one should put away jealousy. One should bear with rude speech no matter who utters it. Good men say that this power of forbearance is hard to overcome.
The kings said:
Men bear with the speech of a superior because of fear, and with the speech of an equal to avoid a quarrel. But when a man bears with the speech of an inferior, good men say that this is forbearance at its strongest.
And how can you be sure about a man who is outwardly well-behaved that he is a superior, an equal or an inferior? Good men may present a rough exterior. (371) Therefore one should bear with the speech of all and sundry.
The kings said:
We are gratified at your well-spoken reply. Now I ask you another question and do you tell me the answer. What kind of man do you call a moral man? What kind of man do you call a wise man? What kind of man do you call a good man? What kind of man is it whom fortune never deserts?
Whoso is self-controlled in act and word and thought, does no wickedness, nor does unkindness to anyone in the world, such a man do I call a moral man.
The man who is grateful, and mindful of benefits done him, who is a good friend, is steadfast in devotion, (372) and in adversity honourably does his duty, such a man do I call a good man.
Whoso is endued with these three qualities, is cheerful, gracious, kindly of speech, respectful, reverential and modest, good fortune never deserts such a man.
The kings said:
We are gratified at your well-spoken reply. I now ask you another question, and do you tell me the answer. Of morality, wisdom, good fortune and gratitude, which do good men say is the best?
Good men say wisdom is the best by far, just as the moon is best among the stars. Morality, good fortune, gratitude are but wisdom’s fair handmaids.
The kings said:
We are gratified at your well-spoken reply. I now ask you another question, and do you tell me the answer. Through what behaviour, what pursuit, what conduct does a mortal man become wise?
(373) Śarabhaṅga replied:
The wise man perceives the truth concerning the pleasures of the senses, that they are ill, impermanent and liable to change. Perceiving this he shuns desire as one of the things of terror, one of the things that is like to destroy him.
Thus freed from passion, all hatred quite removed, he will diligently promote the growth of love, and living thus with loving heart, kindly and compassionate, he will pass on to the heavenly place.
Such were the verses recited by the good man by way of giving his eloquent replies. Whoso will live in perfect accordance with these, will escape beyond the range of the King of Death.
Brahmā, Indra and the Three-and-Thirty devas were delighted at these eloquent words. The glorious beings were greatly stirred, and taking reverential leave repaired in ecstasy to the city of the devas.
Of great profit thus was the coming of Aṣṭamaka, Bhīmaratha (374) and Udgata the king of Kaliṅga. For to them all there came a riddance from the passion for sensual pleasures.
The kings said:
Even so, O knower of other men’s hearts, we one and all have won riddance of the passion for pleasures of sense.
I will be gracious and grant you this, inasmuch as you all have won riddance of the passion for pleasures of sense. Let boundless joy pervade you so that thus you may attain unto my state.
The kings said:
We will do all that you enjoin, whatever that you of your great wisdom tell us. Boundless joy shall pervade us that so we may attain unto your state.
Great honour has now been paid to Vatsa the seer. So depart, ye holy seers. Delight in meditation and abide in your retreats—this is the greatest wealth of him who has left the world.
(375) Thus did the Exalted One, the Master, calling to mind a former abode and a former life, relate this jātaka to his monks.
“When of yore I lived in one of my existences which have neither beginning nor end, Anāthapiṇḍika was Śakra Śacīpati, the lord of devas, Ānanda was the king of Kaliṅga, and Śāriputra was Aṣṭaka. The powerful Maudgalyāyana was Bhīmaratha, and I was Śarabhaṅga. Thus understand this jātaka.
Then, too, did I preach the dharma to a congregation of devas and men, just as I have now done also.
Here ends the Jātaka of Śarabhaṅga.
Footnotes and references:
See Vol. 2, p. 91, n. 2. This note is incorrect in implying that this city is indentical with the Hastināpura of the Mahābhārata.
Identical with Arjuna Kārtavīrya of Sanskrit epic. See B.H.S.D. and D.P.N.
Literally “please or convince the heart,” cittamārādhayitum.
Or “easily”, reading aviṣamam for saviṣatnam “with difficulty,” of the text. The emendation seems suggested by the reading asaṃviṣe of one MS.
Sc. like Kalabha of the preceding tale.
Pali Sattisūla, apparently only mentioned in this story.
See Vol. 1, p. 140, n. 3.
Khādyantehi, act. pres. part.
See Vol. 1, p. 235, n. 4.
Allīna. See Vol. 2, p. 45, n. 1, and B.H.S.D.
Allāpita, ibid., p. 419, n. 1, and B.H.S.D.
I.e., “cutter of arrows”.
See Vol. 2, p. 200, n. 2.
Ibid., n. 5.
Ibid., n. 6.
Prāsādika. This word was left untranslated in Vol. 2, p. 200 (= 210, text). Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) now tentatively explains the word with reference to Sk. prasātika (cf. Vol. 2, p. 58, n. 10) and the Lex.prasādhikā, “a kind of rice”, Pali pasādiyā (J. 6.530), which the Com. says is the kind of rice called saṃsādiyā (= “when it has fallen on the ground”) and Sk. prāśātika (ApŚ, 4.3.8.), but he does not give a more precise definition than that of “some edible plant, vegetable or grain”.
An honorific term, applied also to the Buddha and to Arhans.
Pali Assaka, one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas mentioned in the Aṅguttara Nikāya (A. 1.213; 4.252, 256, 260).
Pali Kisavaccha or Vacchakisa.
In J. 5.134 and elsewhere his city is called Kumbhavatī.
Ākramāpita, caus. of ākramati. See B.H.S.D.
Replaced in J. by an unnamed commander-in-chief, senāpati. But the details of the story generally vary considerably in the two texts.
Saṃnipatitāvo. For the ending -āvo see p. 355, n. 4.
Udgata, below, Uggata in Pali.
So in J.
In J. they go to visit one seer only, viz., Śarabhaṅga.
So in J.
A metrical version of the tale.
Literally “were seen”, paśyensuḥ. But Edgerton (Gram. p. 220 and §37.26) does not list this particular occurrence of this form among the inflexional forms derived from paśyati.
Śuddhalūkhā, interpreted here as a dvandva or copulative compound. Lūkha (also lūha) is Sk. rūkṣa, Pali lūkha, “coarse” poor”, especially applied to food and clothing, but also used in a mental or moral sense. On the analogy of lūkha in the expression lūkhādhimuktikā at 2.313 (text), where he assumes it is a substantive meaning “evil”, Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) renders śuddhalūkhā “purified from evil”, but adds in parenthesis “does it really refer to their diet? improbably, but they are mūlaphalāhārā in the preceding line; possibly then, ‘of pure and coarse food’. But lūkhādhimuktikā can well be rendered “being of gross disposition” (see vol. 2, p. 293). As the variant form lūha can mean “poor” of bodily condition (see B.H.S.D.), there seems to be every justification for transferring the application of lūkha here from the “coarse” or “poor” food to the men who lived on it.
Literally “named Vatsa after his clan”, Vatsagotra. Cf. Vacchagotta, the name of several persons in the Pah texts. See D.P.N.
There is a lacuna before niviṣṭa “intent on” (lit. entered on), but the context clearly requires some word of this meaning.
Literally, “having a perverse reasoning”, viparītasaṃkhya.
Saptarātrīyena ito’tyayena. The inflexion of the first word is strange, to say the least. It looks like an instr. (? abs.), but atyayena is generally construed with the gen. of the expression of time. Edgerton (Gram. § 10. 202) is, therefore, probably correct in reading instead saptāna rātrīṇa, gen. pl., and he adduces other BSk. examples of “i” stems with this inflexion.
There is a lacuna here, the régime of samāgatā ṛṣayo being lost, but the context allows them to be taken in effect as the object of abravīt “said”. As in the prose version, here again it is not made clear who these several seers were or how they came to be assembled.
The subject of this inquiry is alluded to as though it had already been mentioned, which is not the case in our text. In J. 5. 135, the question which exercised the minds of the kings was the destiny of the cruel kings who had ill-treated the seers.
Sc. Śarabhaṅga, the chief of them.
Ti = te acc. sg. of 2nd. pers. pron. See Edgerton, Gram., § 20. 16.
Mi = me. Ci. preceding note and reference.
Reading the nom., devo mahānubhāvaḥ, for the voc.
Śakro āha. This must be supplied, since this stanza can only be assigned to Śakra, as the parallel one is in J. 5.138. The plural forms misled Senart to assign it to the kings.
Literally “from far you have been heard by (of) us”, dūrā śrutā mo, where mo is gen. pl. of 1st pers. pron. Cf. Edgerton, Gram. § 20. 58.
Reading āryā for ārya which Senart has printed as first element of the compound āryaprasannacittā, where, however, it is inconstruable.
Ayam, referring presumably to Śarabhaṅga. But ayam is suspect as Śakra here, as in J., has been praising all the seers in general. There has been no allusion as yet, in the metrical version, that is, to Śarabhaṅga, their master.
Anusissa according to J. 5. 138.
Literally “been made to become for long”, cirabhāvitānām. J. has ciradakkhitānam, which J. trans. (5. 74), paraphrases “aged”! With ṛṣiṇām gandhas, “the odour of seers”, Miss I. B. Horner, in a letter, compares the Pali expressions isivāta (Miln. 19; J. 3.142) and sataṃ gandho (Dh. 54).
Erita. “Pali id. to ereti, Sk. īrita to īrayati, which takes the preverb ā only in the Veda, and no erita ppp. seems recorded even there” (B.H.S.D.).
Literally “sit down”, niṣīda, but this verb sounds strange following a command to go away, and the reading is, therefore, doubtful. J. 5.138 reads ito parakkamma sahassanetta, “Go away hence, O thousand-eyed one.”
In J. 5. 139 Śakra’s reply contains six pādas, and there are in the MSS. of the Mhvu. some isolated words which indicate that originally there were six here also.
In J. 5. 140 the seers recite this stanza in reply to two stanzas of Anusissa in the first of which he informs them that Śakra is present, and in the second asks them who is competent to reply to his questions. The Mhvu., however, has transferred the first stanza to an earlier part of the narrative (see p. 367, text).
Reading ācāryo buddho for ācārya buddho. J. 5.140 has ācariyaputto, “teacher’s son”, a way of saying “a teacher born and bred”.
Supplied from the prose of J. 5.140, where the seers prevail upon Anusissa (= Sk. Anuśiṣya) to approach Śarabhaṅga and ask him to answer the questions. Senart, however, prints ṛṣayo āhansuḥ in brackets, thus assigning the stanza to the seers.
A conventional term of address, especially to a seer, see vol. 1, p. 32, n. 2.
There seems little doubt that the Mhvu. text here is corrupt. It reads Eṣo hi dharmo manujehi paṇḍite yaṃ vṛkṣamākāṅkṣati tasya bhāro. Senart renders this, “car tel est le privilège du sage parmi les hommes: il çorte à son choix les fruits de tout arbre, c’est à dire, tu es prêt d’avance à re-soudre n’importe quelle question”. He comments on this, “c’est une façon de dire bien contournée.” It is worse than that. Not only do the words dharmo paṇḍite form a strange expression for “the privilege of a seer,” but the use of bhāro in the sense of “fruit” is unusual and forced. The two pādas become intelligible if we emend vṛksamākāṅkṣati into vṛddham (or vuddhatn) āgacchati as in the corresponding Pali (J. 5. 140). It then only remains to read paṇḍita, voc. sg. for the loc. paṇḍite to reach the rendering given above.
In J. 5.141, it is Sakka who first puts his questions, later giving way to the kings to ask theirs.
Yathā abhūd? “as to how he (and the rest) was (and is no more).” Cf. J. 5.143 yathā ahū, explained by the Com. as yo nāma ahosi.
Samucchraya. See vol. 1, p. 134, n. 1.
Reading sphuliṅgajātā, for -jālā which would give “nets of embers.”
Called Gautama simply in the prose version.
Literally “you have overcome”, abhibhavesi. But Senart rightly doubts the correctness of the reading.
So, for su = svid, interrogative particle. According to Senart the form so corresponds to the metrically lengthened sū of the parallel Pali verse, J. 5.141. Cf. B.H.S.D. It may be added here that in J. this and the following questions are asked by Sakka (Śakra).
The Mhvu. does not contain the question to which these last two sentences form the answer. For the question see J. 5.141.
The clan name of Śarabhaṅga.
There is a difficult word here, catuchannarūpam. Senart believes that his reading is supported by the Com. on the corresponding Pali catumaṭṭharūpam (J. 5. 142) which explains it, catūhi iriyāpathehi paṭicchannasabhāvam.
Vīra (m) = Pali vera, Sk. vaira (B.H.S.D.).
Vopasamati, “MIndic for Sk. *vy-upa-śam” (B.H.S.D.). J. 5.143 has here ūpasamati—vūpasamati.
Again it is Sakka, not the kings, who in J. 5.146 asks this question.
Anumodayāmo, if it is to stand, is causal in middle or passive sense.
The text here has throughout katividham “how many kinds of?” The sense is obviously “what kind of?” and the corresponding Pali (J. 5.146) has accordingly kathaṃvidham. But Senart says that the MS. reading is too certain to admit of emendation.
Or “set out to”, prayāti.
Or ‘temporal’, kālāgata. J. 5.146 is very different here. It has kālābhataṃ (v.l. gatam) atthapadam riñcati “prompt with good word in season to advise” (J. trans.).
The text here has a lacuna representing the first element of a compound ending in vidham. The apparatus affords no clue to restoration and the corresponding pāda in J. is entirely different.
Posa, Pali id., “contraction of purisa for * pūrṣa > * pussa > * possa > posa. So Geiger. P. Gr.” (P.E.D.). But Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) says that “Geiger’s theory is not compelling.”
Anumodayāma. See p. 368, n. 2.
Prajñopaka, literally “associates of wisdom”. Upaka, variant upaga “pertaining to”, here probably used, as B.H.S.D. suggests, by analogy with kulopaka, said of a monk “belonging to a certain family”.
Reading mṛtyo, corresponding to Pali macco of J. 5.148 for the text manye, “methinks”, etc., which is out of place in a question, though less so in the reply on the next page. But in both places the correction mṛtyo is called for, especially as a nominative subject to bhoti is required.
Reading nipuṇā bahuśrutā, etc. pl. acc., for the nom. sg. of the text.
Ogrāhaka “Prob. false Sktization of Pali uggāhaka” (B.H.S.D.).
Suvinītadoṣa. It is strange to find suvinīta in this connexion, for it is usually applied to the development of, or training in, good qualities. It is hardly appropriate to interpret the expression as meaning “with his hatred in good control”. The text implies its complete destruction. J. 5.148 has pavineyya dosam, “he will expel sin.”
In J. 5.151 these verses are recited by the Master himself to sum up the teaching of the Jātaka, just before he identifies the birth.
Vegajātā, which Senart says should replace vedajātā in the corresponding verse in J. 5.151.
In J. (5.149), this stanza is spoken by the Great Being (Bodhisattva) i.e. Śarabhaṅga, and comes before the summing up by the Master.
Literally “make opportunity”, okāsaṃ karohi. Here and in the next stanza okāsam is Senart’s emendation, influenced by okāsam of J. 5.150, for ekāṃsam of the MSS. Edgerton, however, in B.H.S.D. (s.v. ekāṃsa) is of opinion that the latter word should stand, and should even be regarded as the right and original word of J. also. The sense, then is “make absolute assurance that we may attain, etc.” But it is a debatable point whether this gives a sense more appropriate to the context.
Abhisambhuṇati. See vol. I, p. 35, n. 3. Cf. B.H.S.D.
Literally “fill your body with”, pharati kāyam. Pharati = Pali id., Sk. sphurati, spharati.
These words have to be supplied, for the following verses are obviously spoken by Śarabhaṅga.
See vol. 1, p. 90, n. 5. Cf. B.H.S.D., where Edgerton says the BSk. form is probably hyper-Sk. for aṇavayagga, one of two AMg. forms of the word. He also refers to D. Andersen and H. Smith)">C.P.D. for other theories of the etymology.
Aṣṭamaka in the story.