11 – Jarà Vagga

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Chapter 11

Old Age
(Text and Translation by Ven. Nàrada)

 

1. Ko nu hàso kimànando Þ
nicca§ pajjalite sati
Andhakàrena onaddhà Þ
padãpa§ na gavessatha 146.

 

SEEK THE LIGHT

1. What is laughter, what is joy, when the world is ever burning? 1 Shrouded by darkness, would you not seek the light? 146.

Story

    Visàkhà, the chief lay benefactress of the Buddha, once visited Him, accompanied by some women who, without her knowledge, had become drunk. In their drunken state they discourteously danced and sang before the Buddha. By His psychic powers the Buddha created a darkness which brought them to their senses. The Buddha then uttered this verse.


 

2. Passa cittakata§ bimba§ Þ
arukàya§ samussita§
âtura§ bahusaïkappa§ Þ
yassa natthi dhuva§ ñhiti. 147.

 

FOUL IS THIS GAILY DECKED BODY

2. Behold this beautiful body, a mass of sores, a heaped-up (lump), diseased, much thought of, in which nothing lasts, nothing persists. 2 147.

Story

    A young monk fell in love with Sirimà, a beautiful courtesan. Unexpectedly she died. Even when the King ordered the people to have a look at her corpse nobody cared to look at it. Showing the decaying and worm-infested body to the monks, the Buddha spoke on the loathsomeness of the body.


 

3. Parijiõõam ida§ råpa§ Þ
roganióóha§ pabhaïgura§
Bhijjati påtisandeho Þ
maraõanta§ hi jãvita§. 148.

 

LIFE ENDS IN DEATH

3. Thoroughly worn out is this body, a nest of diseases, perishable. This putrid mass breaks up. Truly, life ends in death. 148.

Story

    Seeing an old nun stumble and fall, the Buddha spoke on the fleeting nature of life.


 

4. Yànimàni apatthàni Þ
alàpån’ eva sàrade
Kàpotakàni aññhãni Þ
tàni disvàna kà rati 149.

 

WHAT DELIGHT IN SEEING WHITE BONES?

4. Like gourds cast away in autumn are these dove-hued bones. What pleasure is there in looking at them? 149.

Story

    Many monks went to a cemetery to meditate. Lust arose in them while meditating on fresh corpses. Thereupon the Buddha uttered this verse in admonition.


 

5. Aññhãna§ nagara§ kata§ Þ
ma§salohitalepana§
Yattha jarà ca maccå ca Þ
màno makkho ca ohito. 150.

 

THIS BODY IS COMPOSED OF FLESH AND BLOOD

5. Of bones is (this) city made, plastered with flesh and blood. Herein are stored decay, death, conceit, and detraction. 150.

Story

    A beautiful woman became a nun but lacked faith. Fearing that the Buddha would speak depreciatingly of her beauty, she would not visit the Buddha. One day when she came to the preaching hall with the others, the Buddha conjured the vision of a beautiful woman fanning Him. The Buddha then caused the vision to change gradually, reflecting the ravages wrought by old age and death. The Truth dawned upon the woman. Thereupon the Buddha uttered this verse.


 

6. Jãranti ve ràjarathà sucittà Þ
atho sarãram pi jara§ upeti.
Sata§ ca dhammo na jara§ upeti Þ
santo have sabbhi pavedayanti. 151.

 

RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT WEAR AWAY

6. Even ornamented royal chariots wear out. So too the body reaches old age. But the Dhamma 3 of the Good grows not old. Thus do the Good reveal it among the Good. 4 151.

Story

    Queen Mallikà was a pious woman. After her death when the Buddha visited the palace the King wished to know her place of rebirth. The Buddha revealed where she was reborn, and inspecting the royal chariots, He uttered this verse.


 

7. Appassutƒya§ puriso Þ
balivaddo’ va jãrati
Ma§sàni tassa vaóóhanti Þ
pa¤¤à tassa na vaóóhati. 152.

 

ONE WITH LITTLE LEARNING LACKS WISDOM

7. The man of little learning grows old like the ox. His muscles grow; his wisdom grows not. 152.

Story

    A monk always used to utter inappropriate things. Concerning him the Buddha uttered this verse.


 

8. Anekajàti sa§sàra§ Þ
sandhàvissa§ anibbisa§
Gahakàraka§ gavesanto: Þ
dukkhà jàti punappuna§. 153.
9. Gahakàraka diññho’ si Þ
puna geha§ na kàhasi:
Sabbà te phàsukà bhaggà Þ
gahakåña§ visaïkhita§
Visaïkhàragata§ citta§ Þ
taõhàna§ khayam ajjhagà. 154.

 

CRAVING IS THE BUILDER OF THIS HOUSE

8. Through many a birth I wandered in sa§sàra, 5 seeking, but not finding, the builder of the house. Sorrowful is it to be born again and again. 153.

9. O house-builder! Thou art seen. Thou shalt build no house again. All thy rafters are broken. Thy ridge-pole is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving. 154.

Story

    Immediately after Enlightenment the Buddha uttered this paean of joy.


 

10. Acaritvà brahmacariya§ Þ
aladdhà yobbane dhana§
Jiõõako¤cà’va jhàyanti Þ
khãõamacche’ va pallale. 155.
11. Acaritvà brahmacariya§ Þ
aladdhà yobbane dhana§
Senti càpàtikhittà’va Þ
puràõàni anutthuna§. 156.

 

THEY REPENT WHO DO NOT PROGRESS MATERIALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

10. They who have not led the Holy Life, who in youth have not acquired wealth, pine away like old herons at a pond without fish. 155.

11. They who have not led the Holy Life; who in youth have not acquired wealth, lie like worn-out bows, sighing after the past. 156.

Story

    A millionaire’s son, owing to bad company, squandered all his wealth and was reduced to penury. Concerning his sad plight the Buddha uttered these verses.


End Notes

1 This world is perpetually consumed with the flames of passions. It is completely surrounded by the veil of ignorance. Being placed in such a world, the wise should try to seek the light of wisdom.

2 As good and pleasant.

3 The nine supramundane states are the four Paths, the four Fruits and Nibbàna.

4 Such as the Buddhas.

5 These two verses, the first paean of joy (udàna) uttered by the Buddha immediately after His Enlightenment, are not found elsewhere. As the Venerable Ananda heard them from the lips of the Buddha they have been inserted here.

Here the Buddha admits his past wanderings in existence which entails suffering, a fact which evidently proves the belief in rebirth. He was compelled to wander and consequently to suffer, as long as be could not discover the architect who built this house, the body. In His final birth He discovered by His own intuitive wisdom the elusive architect dwelling not outside but within the recesses of His own heart. The architect was Craving or Attachment (taõhà), a self-created force a mental element latent in all. The discovery of the architect is the eradication of craving by attaining Arahantship which, in this utterance, is alluded to as the end of craving.

The rafters of this self-created house are the defilements (kilesa). The ridge-pole that supports the rafters is ignorance (avijjà), the root cause of all defilements. The shattering of the ridge-pole of ignorance by wisdom results in the complete demolition of the house. The ridge-pole and the rafters are the material with which the architect builds this undesired house. With their destruction the architect is deprived of the wherewithal to rebuild the house which is not wanted. With the demolition of the house the mind attains the unconditioned which is Nibbàna.

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