Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Buddhist Writings
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
   Buddhist Writings.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
I. The Buddha
 
The Story of Sumedha
 
Translated from the Introduction to the Jtaka (i. 31)
 
 
A HUNDRED 1 thousand cycles vast
And four immensities ago,
There was a town named Amara,
A place of beauty and delights.
It had the noises ten complete 2        5
And food and drink abundantly.
 
The noise of elephant and horse,
Of conch-shell, drum, and chariot,
And invitations to partake—
“Eat ye, and drink!”—resounded loud.        10
 
A town complete in all its parts,
Where every industry was found,
And eke the seven precious gems, 3
And foreigners from many lands.
A prosperous city of the gods,        15
Full of good works and holy men.
 
Within this town of Amara
Sumedha lived, of Brahman caste,
Who many tens of millions had,
And grain and treasure in full store.        20
 
A student he, and wise in spells,
A master of the Vedas three.
He fortunes told, tradition knew,
And every duty of his caste.
 
In secret then I sat me down,        25
And thus to ponder I began:
“What misery to be born again!
And have the flesh dissolve at death!
 
“Subject to birth, old age, disease,
Extinction will I seek to find,        30
Where no decay is ever known,
Nor death, but all security.
 
“What if I now should rid me of
This body foul, this charnel-house,
And go my way without a care,        35
Or least regret for things behind!
 
“There is, there must be, an escape!
Impossible there should not be!
I’ll make the search and find the way,
Which from existence shall release!        40
 
“Even as, although there misery is,
Yet happiness is also found;
So, though indeed existence is,
A non-existence should be sought.
 
“Even as, although there may be heat,        45
Yet grateful cold is also found;
So, though the threefold fire 4 exists,
Likewise Nirvana should be sought.
 
“Even as, although there evil is,
That which is good is also found;        50
So, though ’tis true that birth exists,
That which is not birth should be sought.
 
“Even as a man befouled with dung,
Seeing a brimming lake at hand,
And nathless bathing not therein,        55
Were senseless should he chide the lake;
 
“So, when Nirvana’s lake exists
To wash away corruption’s stain,
Should I not seek to bathe therein,
I might not then Nirvana chide.        60
 
“Even as a man hemmed in by foes,
Seeing a certain safe escape,
And nathless seeking not to flee,
Might not the blameless pathway chide;
 
“So, when my passions hem me in,        65
And yet a way to bliss exists,
Should I not seek to follow it,
That way of bliss I might not chide.
 
“Even as a man who, sore diseased,
When a physician may be had,        70
Should fail to send to have him come,
Might the physician then not chide;
 
“So, when diseased with passion, sore
Oppressed, I seek the master not
Whose ghostly counsel me might cure,        75
The blame should not on him be laid.
 
“Even as a man might rid him of
A horrid corpse bound to his neck,
And then upon his way proceed,
Joyous, and free, and unconstrained;        80
 
“So must I likewise rid me of
This body foul, this charnel-house,
And go my way without a care,
Or least regret for things behind.
 
“As men and women rid them of        85
Their dung upon the refuse heap,
And go their ways without a care,
Or least regret for what they leave;
 
“So will I likewise rid me of
This body foul, this charnel-house,        90
And go my way as if I had
Cast out my filth into the draught.
 
“Even as the owners leave and quit
A worn-out, shattered, leaky ship,
And go their ways without a care,        95
Or least regret for what they leave;
 
“So will I likewise rid me of
This nine-holed 5 ever-trickling frame,
And go my way, as owners do,
Who ship disrupted leave behind.        100
 
“Even as a man who treasure bears,
And finds him in a robber-gang,
Will quickly flee and rid him of
The robbers, lest they steal his gold;
 
“So, to a mighty robber might        105
Be likened well this body’s frame.
I’ll cast it off and go my way,
Lest of my welfare I be robbed.”
 
Thus thinking, I on rich and poor
All that I had in alms bestowed;        110
Hundreds of millions spent I then,
And made to Himavant 6 my way.
 
Not far away from Himavant,
There was a hill named Dhammaka,
And here I made and patterned well        115
A hermitage and hut of leaves.
 
A walking-place I then laid out,
Exempted from the five defects, 7
And having all the virtues eight; 8
And there I gained the Six High Powers.        120
 
Then ceased I cloaks of cloth to wear,
For cloaks possess the nine defects, 9
And girded on a barken dress,
Which is with virtues twelve endued. 10
 
My hut of leaves I then forsook,        125
So crowded with the eight defects, 11
And at the foot of trees I lived,
For such abodes have virtues ten. 12
 
No sown and cultivated grain
Allowed I then to be my food;        130
But all the many benefits
Of wild-fruit fare I made my own.
 
And strenuous effort made I there,
The while I sat, or stood, or walked,
And ere seven days had passed away,        135
I had attained the Powers High.
 
When I had thus success attained,
And made me master of the Law,
A Conqueror, Lord of All the World,
Was born, by name Dpamkara.        140
 
What time he was conceived, was born,
What time he Buddhaship attained,
When first he preached,—the Signs 13 appeared,
I saw them not, deep sunk in trance.
 
Then, in the distant border-land,        145
Invited they this Being Great,
And every one, with joyful heart,
The pathway for his coming cleared.
 
Now so it happened at this time,
That I my hermitage had left,        150
And, barken garments rustling loud,
Was passing o’er them through the air.
 
Then saw I every one alert,
Well-pleased, delighted, overjoyed;
And, coming downward from the sky,        155
The multitude I straightway asked:
 
“Well-pleased, delighted, overjoyed,
And all alert is every one;
For whom is being cleared the way,
The path, the track to travel on?”        160
 
When thus I asked, response was made:
“A mighty Buddha has appeared,
A Conqueror, Lord of All the World,
Whose name is called Dpamkara.
For him is being cleared the way,        165
The path, the track to travel on.”
 
This word, “The Buddha,” when I heard,
Joy sprang up straightway in my heart;
“A Buddha! Buddha!” cried I then,
And published my heart’s content.        170
 
And standing there I pondered deep,
By joyous agitation seized:
“Here will I now some good seed sow,
Nor let this fitting season slip.”
 
“For a Buddha do ye clear the road?        175
Then, pray, grant also me a place!
I, too, will help to clear the way,
The path, the track to travel on.”
 
And so they granted also me
A portion of the path to clear,        180
And I gan clear, while still my heart
Said “Buddha! Buddha!” o’er and o’er.
 
But ere my part was yet complete,
Dpamkara, the Mighty Sage,
The Conqueror, came that way along,        185
Thronged by four hundred thousand saints,
Without depravity or spot,
And having each the Six High Powers.
 
The people then their greetings gave,
And many kettle-drums were beat,        190
And men and gods, in joyous mood,
Loud shouted their applauding cries.
 
Then men and gods together met,
And saw each other face to face;
And all with joinèd hands upraised        195
Followed The Buddha and his train.
 
The gods, with instruments divine,
The men, with those of human make,
Triumphant music played, the while
They followed in The Buddha’s train.        200
 
Celestial beings from on high
Threw broadcast over all the earth
The Erythrina flowers of heaven,
The lotus and the coral-flower.
 
And men abiding on the ground        205
On every side flung up in air
Champakas, salalas, npas,
Ngas, punngas, ketakas.
 
Then loosened I my matted hair,
And, spreading out upon the mud        210
My dress of bark and cloak of skin,
I laid me down upon my face.
 
“Let now on me The Buddha tread,
With the disciples of his train;
Can I but keep him from the mire,        215
To me great merit shall accrue.”
 
While thus I lay upon the ground,
Arose within me many thoughts:
“To-day, if such were my desire,
I my corruptions might consume.        220
 
“But why thus in an unknown guise
Should I the Doctrine’s fruit secure?
Omniscience first will I achieve,
And be a Buddha in the world.
 
“Or why should I, a valorous man,        225
The ocean seek to cross alone?
Omniscience first will I achieve,
And men and gods convey across.
 
“Since now I make this earnest wish,
In presence of this Best of Men,        230
Omniscience sometime I’ll achieve,
And multitudes convey across.
 
“I’ll rebirth’s circling stream arrest,
Destroy existence’s three modes;
I’ll climb the sides of Doctrine’s ship,        235
And men and gods convey across.
 
“A human being, male of sex,
Who saintship gains, a Teacher meets,
As hermit lives, and virtue loves,
Nor lacks resolve, nor fiery zeal,        240
Can by these eight conditions joined,
Make his most earnest wish succeed.”
 
Dpamkara, Who Knew All Worlds,
Recipient of Offerings,
Came to a halt my pillow near,        245
And thus addressed the multitudes:
 
“Behold ye now this monk austere,
His matted locks, his penance fierce!
Lo! he, unnumbered cycles hence,
A Buddha in the world shall be.        250
 
“From the fair town called Kapila
His Great Retirement shall be made.
Then, when his Struggle fierce is o’er,
His stern austerities performed,—
 
“He shall in quiet sit him down        255
Beneath the Ajapla-tree;
There pottage made of rice receive,
And seek the stream Nerañjar.
 
“This pottage shall The Conqueror eat,
Beside the stream Nerañjar,        260
And thence by road triumphal go
To where the Tree of Wisdom stands.
 
“Then shall the Peerless, Glorious One
Walk to the right, round Wisdom’s Throne,
And there The Buddhaship achieve,        265
While sitting at the fig-tree’s root.
 
“The mother that shall bring him forth,
Shall My callèd be by name;
Suddhodana his father’s name;
His own name shall be Gotama.        270
 
“Kolita, Upatissa too,—
These shall his Chief Disciples be;
Both undepraved, both passion-free,
And tranquil and serene of mind.
 
“Ananda shall be servitor        275
And on The Conqueror attend;
Khem and Uppalavann
Shall female Chief Disciples be,
 
“Both undepraved, both passion-free,
And tranquil and serene of mind.        280
The Bo-tree of this Blessed One
Shall be the tree Assattha called.”
 
Thus spake Th’ Unequalled, Mighty Sage;
And all, when they had heard his speech,
Both men and gods rejoiced, and said:        285
“Behold a Buddha-scion here!”
 
Now shouts were heard on every side,
The people clapped their arms and laughed.
Ten thousand worlds of men and gods
Paid me their homage then and said:        290
 
“If of our Lord Dpamkara
The Doctrine now we fail to grasp,
We yet shall stand in time to come
Before this other face to face.
 
“Even as, when men a river cross,        295
And miss th’ opposing landing-place,
A lower landing-place they find,
And there the river-bank ascend;
 
“Even so, we all, if we let slip
The present Conqueror that we have,        300
Yet still shall stand in time to come
Before this other, face to face.”
 
Dpamkara, Who All Worlds Knew,
Recipient of Offerings,
My future having prophesied,        305
His right foot raised and went his way.
 
And all who were this Conqueror’s sons,
Walked to the right around me then;
And serpents, men, and demigods,
Saluting me, departed thence.        310
 
Now when The Leader of the World
Had passed from sight with all his train,
My mind with rapturous transport filled,
I raised me up from where I lay.
 
Then overjoyed with joy was I,        315
Delighted with a keen delight;
And thus with pleasure saturate
I sat me down with legs across.
 
And while cross-leggèd there I sat,
I thus reflected to myself:        320
“Behold! in trance am I adept,
And all the Powers High are mine.
 
“Nowhere throughout a thousand worlds
Are any seers to equal me;
Unequalled in the magic gifts        325
Have I this height of bliss attained.”
 
Now while I sat with legs across,
The dwellers of ten thousand worlds
Rolled forth a glad and mighty shout: 14
“Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!        330
 
“The presages that erst were seen,
When Future Buddhas sat cross-legged,
These presages are seen to-day—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“All cold is everywhere dispelled,        335
And mitigated is the heat;
These presages are seen to-day—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“The system of ten thousand worlds
Is hushed to quiet and to peace;        340
These presages are seen to-day—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“The mighty winds then cease to blow,
Nor do the rivers onward glide;
These presages are seen to-day—        345
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“All plants, be they of land or stream,
Do straightway put their blossoms forth;
Even so to-day they all have bloomed—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!        350
 
“And every tree, and every vine,
Is straightway laden down with fruit;
Even so to-day they’re laden down—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“In sky and earth doth straightway then        355
Full many a radiant gem appear;
Even so to-day they shine afar—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then straightway music’s heard to play
’Mongst men on earth and gods in heaven;        360
So all to-day in music join—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“There falleth straightway down from heaven
A rain of many-colored flowers;
Even so to-day these flowers are seen—        365
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“The mighty ocean heaves and roars,
And all the worlds ten thousand quake;
Even so is now this tumult heard—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!        370
 
“Straightway throughout the whole of hell
The fires ten thousand all die out:
Even so to-day have all expired—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Unclouded then the sun shines forth,        375
And all the stars appear to view;
Even so to-day do they appear—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Straightway, although no rain hath fallen,
Burst springs of water from the earth;        380
Even so to-day they gush in streams—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“And bright then shine the starry hosts
And constellations in the sky;
The moon in Libra now doth stand—        385
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“All beasts that lurk in holes and clefts,
Then get them forth from out their lairs;
Even so to-day they’ve left their dens—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!        390
 
“Straightway content is all the world,
And no unhappiness is known;
Even so to-day are all content—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then every sickness vanishes,        395
And hunger likewise disappears;
These presages are seen to-day—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then lust doth dwindle and grow weak,
And hate, infatuation too;        400
Even so to-day they disappear—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then fear and danger are unknown;
All we are freed from them to-day;
And by this token we perceive—        405
‘Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!’
 
“No dust upwhirleth towards the sky;
Even so to-day this thing is seen;
And by this token we perceive—
‘Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!’        410
 
“All noisome odors drift away,
And heavenly fragrance fills the air;
Even so the winds now sweetness waft—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then all the gods appear to view,        415
Save those that hold the formless realm;
Even so to-day these all are seen—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Then clearly seen are all the hells,
However many be their tale;        420
Even so to-day may all be seen—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Through walls, and doors, and mountain-rocks,
One finds an easy passage then;
Even so to-day they yield like air—        425
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!
 
“Existence then forbears its round
Of death and rebirth for a time;
Even so to-day this thing is seen—
Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!        430
 
“Do thou a strenuous effort make!
Do not turn back! Go on! Advance!
Most certainly we know this thing:
‘Surely a Buddha thou shalt be!’”
 
When I had heard The Buddha’s speech,        435
And what the worlds ten thousand said,
Well-pleased, delighted, overjoyed,
I thus reflected to myself:
 
“The Buddhas never liars are;
A Conqueror’s word ne’er yet was vain;        440
Nothing but truth The Buddhas speak—
Surely a Buddha I shall be!
 
“As clods thrown upward in the air
Fall surely back upon the earth,
So what the glorious Buddhas speak        445
Is sure and steadfast to the end.
Nothing but truth The Buddhas speak—
Surely a Buddha I shall be!
 
“As also for each living thing
The approach of death is ever sure,        450
So what the glorious Buddhas speak
Is sure and steadfast to the end.
Nothing but truth The Buddhas speak—
Surely a Buddha I shall be!
 
“As at the waning of the night        455
The rising of the sun is sure,
So what the glorious Buddhas speak
Is sure and steadfast to the end.
Nothing but truth, etc.
 
“As, when he issues from his den,        460
The roaring of the lion’s sure,
So what the glorious Buddhas speak
Is sure and steadfast to the end.
Nothing but truth, etc.
 
“As when a female has conceived,        465
Her bringing forth of young is sure,
So what the glorious Buddhas speak
Is sure and steadfast to the end.
Nothing but truth The Buddhas speak—
Surely a Buddha I shall be!        470
 
“Come now! I’ll search that I may find
Conditions which a Buddha make—
Above, below, to all ten 15 points,
Where’er conditions hold their sway.”
 
And then I searched, and saw the First        475
Perfection, which consists in Alms,
That highroad great whereon of old
The former seers had ever walked.
 
“Come now! This one as first adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        480
Acquire perfection in thine Alms,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“As when a jar is brimming full,
And some one overturneth it,
The jar its water all gives forth,        485
And nothing for itself keeps back;
 
“So, when a suppliant thou dost see,
Of mean, or high, or middling rank,
Give all in Alms, in nothing stint,
E’en as the overturnèd jar.        490
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make:
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
Perfection Second then I sought,        495
And lo! the Precepts came to view,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! as second this adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        500
The Precepts to perfection keep,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“As when a Yak cow’s flowing tail
Is firmly caught by bush or thorn,
She thereupon awaits her death,        505
But will not tear and mar her tail;
 
“So likewise thou in stages four,
Observe and keep the Precepts whole,
On all occasions guard them well,
As ever Yak cow does her tail.        510
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then Perfection Third I sought,        515
Which is Renunciation called,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as third adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        520
Renounce, and in perfection grow,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“Even as a man who long has dwelt
In prison, suffering miserably,
No liking for the place conceives,        525
But only longeth for release;
 
“So likewise thou must every mode
Of being as a prisoner view—
Renunciation be thy aim;
Thus from existence free thyself.        530
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Fourth        535
Perfection, which is Wisdom called,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as fourth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        540
Wisdom to its perfection bring,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“Just as a priest, when on his rounds,
Nor low, nor high, nor middling folk
Doth shun, but begs of every one,        545
And so his daily food receives;
 
“So to the learned ay resort,
And seek thy Wisdom to increase;
And when this Fourth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        550
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Fifth        555
Perfection, which is Courage called,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as fifth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        560
In Courage perfect strive to be,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“Just as the lion, king of beasts,
In crouching, walking, standing still,
With courage ever is instinct,        565
And watchful always, and alert;
 
“So thou in each repeated birth,
Courageous energy display;
And when this Fifth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        570
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Sixth        575
Perfection, which is Patience called,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as sixth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        580
And if thou keep an even mood,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.
 
“Just as the earth, whate’er is thrown
Upon her, whether sweet or foul,
All things endures, and never shows        585
Repugnance, nor complacency;
 
“E’en so, or honor thou, or scorn,
Of men, with patient mood must bear;
And when this Sixth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        590
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Seventh        595
Perfection, which is that of Truth,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as seventh adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        600
If thou art ne’er of double speech,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.
 
“Just as the morning star on high
Its balanced course doth ever keep,
And through all seasons, times, and years,        605
Doth never from its pathway swerve;
 
“So likewise thou in all thy speech
Swerve never from the path of truth;
And when this Seventh Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        610
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Eighth        615
Perfection, Resolution called,
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as eighth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        620
And when thou art immovable,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.
 
“Just as a rocky mountain-peak,
Unmovèd stands, firm-stablishèd,
Unshaken by the boisterous gales,        625
And always in its place abides;
 
“So likewise thou must ever be
In Resolution firm intrenched;
And when this Eighth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        630
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Ninth        635
Perfection, which is called Good-will;
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as ninth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        640
Unequalled be in thy Good-will,
If thou to Wisdom wouldst attain.
 
“As water cleanseth all alike,
The righteous and the wicked, too,
From dust and dirt of every kind,        645
And with refreshing coolness fills;
 
“So likewise thou both friend and foe,
Alike with thy Good-will refresh,
And when this Ninth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        650
 
“But now there must be more than these
Conditions which a Buddha make;
Still others will I seek to find
That shall in Buddhaship mature.”
 
And then I sought and found the Tenth        655
Perfection, called Indifference;
Which mighty seers of former times
Had practised and had follow’d.
 
“Come now! this one as tenth adopt,
And practise it determinedly;        660
And when thou art of equal poise,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.
 
“Just as the earth, whate’er is thrown
Upon her, whether sweet or foul,
Indifferent is to all alike,        665
Nor hatred shows, nor amity;
 
“So likewise thou in good or ill,
Must even-balanced ever be;
And when this Tenth Perfection’s gained,
A Buddha’s Wisdom shall be thine.        670
 
“But earth no more conditions hath
That in The Buddhaship mature;
Beyond these are there none to seek;
So practise these determinedly.”
 
Now pondering these conditions ten,        675
Their nature, essence, character,—
Such fiery vigor had they all,
That all the worlds ten thousand quaked.
 
Then shook and creaked the wide, wide earth,
As doth the sugar-mill at work;        680
Then quaked the ground, as doth the wheel
Of oil-mills when they’re made to turn.
 
Th’ entire assemblage that was there,
And followed in The Buddha’s train,
Trembled and shook in great alarm,        685
And fell astonied to the ground.
 
And many thousand waterpots,
And many hundred earthen jars,
Were one upon another dashed,
And crushed and pounded into dust.        690
 
Excited, trembling, terrified,
Confused, and sore oppressed in mind,
The multitudes together came,
And to Dpamkara approached.
 
“Oh, tell us what these signs portend.        695
Will good or ill betide the world?
Lo! terror seizes hold on all.
Dispel our fears, All-Seeing One!”
 
The Great Sage, then, Dpamkara,
Allayed and pacified their fears:—        700
“Be comforted; and fear ye not
For that the world doth quake and shake.
 
“Of whom to-day I made proclaim—
‘A glorious Buddha shall he be,’—
He now conditions pondereth,        705
Which former Consquerors fulfilled.
 
“’Tis while on these he is intent,
As basis for The Buddhaship,
The ground in worlds ten thousand shakes,
In all the realms of gods and men.”        710
 
When thus they’d heard The Buddha speak,
Their anxious minds received relief;
And all then drawing near to me,
Again they did me reverence.
 
Thus on the road to Buddhaship,        715
And firm determined in my mind,
I raised me up from off my seat,
And reverenced Dpamkara.
 
Then as I raised me from my seat,
Both gods and men in unison        720
Sweet flowers of heaven and flowers of earth
Profusely sprinkled on my head.
 
And gods and men in unison
Their great delight proclaimed aloud:—
“A mighty prayer thou now hast made;        725
Succeed according to thy wish!
 
“From all misfortunes be thou free,
Let every sickness disappear!
Mayst thou no hindrance ever know,
And highest Wisdom soon achieve!        730
 
“As, when the time of spring has come,
The trees put forth their buds and flowers,
Likewise dost thou, O Hero Great,
With knowledge of a Buddha bloom.
 
“As all they who have Buddhas been,        735
The Ten Perfections have fulfilled,
Likewise do thou, O Hero Great,
The Ten Perfections strive to gain.
 
“As all they who have Buddhas been,
On Wisdom’s Throne their insight gained,        740
Likewise do thou, O Hero Great,
On Conqueror’s Throne thy insight gain.
 
“As all they who have Buddhas been,
Have made the Doctrine’s Wheel to roll,
Likewise do thou, O Hero Great,        745
Make Doctrine’s Wheel to roll once more.
 
“As on the mid-day of the month
The moon in full perfection shines,
Likewise do thou, with perfect mind,
Shine brightly in ten thousand worlds.        750
 
“As when the sun, by Rhu freed,
Shines forth exceeding bright and clear,
So thou, when freed from ties of earth,
Shine forth in bright magnificence.
 
“Just as the rivers of all lands        755
Into the ocean find their way,
May gods and men from every world
Approach and find their way to thee.”
 
Thus praised they me with glad acclaim;
And I, beginning to fulfil        760
The ten conditions of my quest,
Re-entered then into the wood.
END OF THE STORY OF SUMEDHA.
 
Note 1. This entire story is related by The Buddha to his disciples, and describes how, in his long-ago existence as the Brahman Sumedha, he first resolved to strive for the Buddhaship. In stanzas 4–5 he speaks of himself, that is, of Sumedha, in the third person, but elsewhere in the first. [back]
Note 2. Only six of the ten noises indicative of a flourishing town are here mentioned. For the complete list, see The Death of The Buddha. [back]
Note 3. Probably gold, silver, pearls, gems (such as sapphire and ruby), cat’s-eye, diamond, and coral. [back]
Note 4. Lust, hatred and infatuation. [back]
Note 5. The two eyes, ears, and so forth. [back]
Note 6. The Himalaya mountains. [back]
Note 7. Native gloss: Jtaka, vol. i., p. 7, 1. 14: Exempted from the five defects: The following are the five defects in a walking-place: hardness and unevenness; trees in the midst; dense underbrush; excessive narrowness; excessive width. [back]
Note 8. Ibidem, 1. 30. And having all the virtues eight: Having the eight advantages for a monk. The following are the eight advantages for a monk: it admits of no storing-up of treasure or grain; it favors only a blameless alms-seeking; there one can eat his alms in peace and quiet, there no annoyance is experienced from the reigning families when they oppress the kingdom with their levies of the precious metals or of leaden money; no passionate desire arises for furniture and implements; there is no fear of being plundered by robbers; no intimacies are formed with kings and courtiers; and one is not shut in in any of the four directions. [back]
Note 9. Native gloss: Jtaka, vol. i., p. 8, 1. 27: For cloaks possess the nine defects: … For one who retires from the world and takes up the life of an anchorite, there are nine defects inherent in garments of cloth. The great cost is one defect; the fact that it is got by dependence on others is another; the fact that it is easily soiled by use is another, for when it has been soiled it must be washed and dyed; the fact that when it is much worn it must needs be patched and mended is another; the difficulty of obtaining a new one when needed is another; its acceptableness to one’s enemies is another, for it must needs be guarded lest the enemy take it; the danger that it may be worn for ornament is another; the temptation it affords to load one’s self down with it in travelling is another. [back]
Note 10. The bast, or inner bark of certain trees, was much used in India as cloth, to which indeed it bears a striking resemblance.—Native gloss: Jtaka, vol. i., p. 9, 1. 2: Which is with virtues twelve endued: Possessing twelve advantages. For there are twelve advantages in a dress of bark. It is cheap, good, and suitable; this is one advantage. You can make it yourself; this is a second. It gets dirty but slowly by use, and hence time is not wasted in washing it; this is a third. It never needs sewing, even when much used and worn; this is a fourth. But when a new one is needed, it can be made with ease; this is a fifth. Its suitableness for an anchorite who has retired from the world is a sixth. That it is of no use to one’s enemies is a seventh. That it cannot be worn for ornament is an eighth. Its lightness is a ninth. Its conducing to moderation in dress is a tenth. The irreproachableness and blamelessness of searching for bark is an eleventh. And the unimportance of its loss is a twelfth. [back]
Note 11. Native gloss: Jtaka, vol. i., p. 9, 1. II: My hut of leaves I then forsook, So crowded with the eight defects: … (L. 36) For there are eight evils connected with the use of a leaf-hut. The great labor involved in searching for materials and in the putting of them together is one evil. The constant care necessary to replace the grass, leaves, and bits of clay that fall down is a second. Houses may do for old men, but no concentration of mind is possible when one’s meditation is liable to be interrupted; thus the liability to interruption is a third. The protection afforded against heat and cold renders the body delicate, and this is a fourth. In a house all sorts of evil deeds are possible; thus the cover it affords for disgraceful practices is a fifth. The taking possession, saying, “This is mine,” is a sixth. To have a house is like having a companion; this is a seventh. And the sharing of it with many others, as for instance with lice, bugs, and house-lizards, is an eighth. [back]
Note 12. Ibidem, p. 10, 1. 9: And at the foot of trees I lived, For such abodes have virtues ten: … The following are the ten virtues. The smallness of the undertaking is one virtue, for all that is necessary is simply to go to the tree. The small amount of care it requires is a second; for, whether swept or unswept, it is suitable for use. The freedom from interruption is a third. It affords no unswept, it is suitable for use. The freedom from interruption is a third. It affords no cover for disgraceful practices; wickedness there would be too public; thus the fact that it affords no cover for disgraceful practices is a fourth. It is like living under the open sky, for there is no feeling that the body is confined; thus the non-confinement of the body is a fifth. There is no taking possession; this is a sixth. The abandonment of all longings for household life is a seventh. When a house is shared with others, some one is liable to say, “I will look after this house myself. Begone!” Thus the freedom from eviction is an eighth. The happy contentment experienced by the occupant is a ninth. The little concern one need feel about lodgings, seeing that a man can find a tree no matter where he may be stopping,—this is a tenth. [back]
Note 13. Translated from the prose of the Jtaka, vol. i., p. 10, last line but one: At his [Dïpamkara’s] conception, birth, attainment of Buddhaship, and when he caused the Wheel of Doctrine to roll, the entire system of ten thousand worlds trembled, quivered, and shook, and roared with a mighty roar; also the Thirty-Two Prognostics appeared. [back]
Note 14. There have been many beings who, like Sumedha here, were to become Buddhas, and who were therefore called Bodhi-sattas or “Future Buddhas.” The certainty of their ultimate “Illumination,” or Buddhaship, was always foretokened by certain presages. The “dwellers of ten thousand worlds” describe in the following stanzas what these presages were, declare that they are reappearing now, and announce to Sumedha their prophetic inference that he will attain Buddhaship. [back]
Note 15. The four cardinal points of the compass, the four intermediate points, the zenith and nadir. [back]
 

CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors