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16 - Piyavaggo


Apply Oneself to the Holy Life

“Applying oneself to what should be avoided,
not applying oneself to what should be pursued,
and giving up the quest,
one who pursues affection envies those who exert themselves.”

Give Up Affection

“Consort not with the loved, never with the unloved;
not seeing the loved and seeing the unloved are both painful.”

Hold Nothing Dear

“Hold nothing dear, for separation from the loved is bad;
bonds do not fetter those for whom loved and unloved don’t exist.”

Three Who Went Forth

A youth, beloved by his parents, entered the Saṅgha without their approval. Later, the parents also entered the Saṅgha. Yet they could not live separated from one another, and could not give up their affection. Hearing their story, the Buddha uttered these verses.

From Endearment Springs Grief

“From endearment springs grief, from endearment springs fear;
for him who is wholly free from endearment there is no grief, whence fear?”

A Father’s Grief

A father was grieving over the death of his son. Seeing that he was ready to attain Stream-winning, the Buddha visited him and consoled him, reciting the above verse.

From Affection Springs Grief

“From affection springs grief, from affection springs fear;
for him who is wholly free from affection there is no grief, whence fear?”

Visākhā’s Grand-daughter

Visākhā lost a beloved grand-daughter. When she visited the monastery the Buddha asked her how many people lived in Sāvatthi, and how many died every day, to remind her how death is inevitable. Then he recited the above verse.

From Passion Springs Grief

“From passion springs grief, from passion springs fear;
for him who is wholly free from passion there is no grief, much less fear.”

The Licchavī Princes

While walking for alms one day, the Buddha told the monks to look ¹ at some Licchavī princes who were on their way to the pleasure gardens dressed in their best clothes to enjoy themselves for the day with a prostitute. The Buddha compared them to the devas of Tāvatiṃsa. The princes becoming jealous and started fighting over the prostitute, and many of them were killed. After the meal, the monks returned and saw the dead Licchavī princes being carried away on stretchers. The Buddha spoke on the evil consequences of sexual pleasures, reciting the above verse.

  1. While walking for alms, monks should keep their eyes downcast —“Okkhittacakkhu antaraghare gamissāmīti sikkhā karaṇīyā”ti — looking at the ground a few paces ahead. The Buddha knew what would happen, so he told the monks to look, to highlight the dangers of sensual pleasures.

From Lust Springs Grief

“From lust springs grief, from lust springs fear;
for him who is wholly free from lust there is no grief, whence fear?”

Anitthigandha Kumāra’s Grief

A deity passed away from the Brahma realm and was reborn as the son of a millionaire in Sāvatthi. From birth he had a strong aversion to women and cried whenever they picked him up. As he grew up, his parents wanted to arrange a marriage for him, but he wasn’t interested. They persisted, so he summoned goldsmiths and had them create an image of a beautiful young woman in gold. He told his parents that if they could find a woman looking like that he would agree to marry. They gave the golden image to Brahmins, sending them on a mission to find such a woman. They located a beautiful sixteen year old girl at Sāgala in the kingdom of Madda who looked just like the image. They sent news that they had located a girl even more beautiful than the image, and made arrangements for the marriage.

The millionaire’s son, hearing the news, became full of desire thinking about the prospect of meeting his beautiful young bride, whom he had not yet seen. As she was being brought to be given in marriage to the prince, she died on the long journey, as she was so delicate. On hearing this news, the youth was overcome with grief, and became depressed. Knowing that the youth was ready to attain Stream-winning, the Buddha came to his house for alms, and consoled him by uttering the above verse.

From Craving Springs Grief

“From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear;
for him who is wholly free from craving there is no grief, whence fear?”

A Certain Brahmin’s Loss

Knowing that a certain Brahmin would soon be ready to attain Stream-winning, the Buddha visited the field that he was clearing and asked him what he was doing. The Brahmin replied that he was clearing the field. The Buddha did likewise on successive days, and on being asked what he was doing, the Brahmin replied that he was ploughing the field, planting the seed, clearing the weeds, etc. The Brahmin told the Buddha that he would share the harvest with him if the crop prospered. In due course the crop prospered, and the Brahmin made arrangements for it to be harvested the following day. However, a sudden storm destroyed the crop. The Brahmin became depressed because he would not be able to fulfil his promise. The Buddha consoled him, uttering the above verse about the disadvantages of craving.

The Virtuous Are Dear to All

“Whoever is perfect in virtue and insight, established in the Dhamma,
has realised the Truths, and fulfilled his duties — people hold him dear.”

Five Hundred Youths Offer Cakes

On a festival day, while the Buddha was walking for alms in Rājagaha with eighty great elders and five hundred monks, some youths carrying cakes paid homage to the Buddha, but did not invite even a single monk to accept a cake. However, when they saw the Elder Kassapa coming along behind, they took an instant liking to him, paid homage to him, and offered him some cakes. The Elder advised them to offer some to the Buddha and the Saṅgha, who were then sitting nearby. Some monks were annoyed that the youths had shown favouritism to the Elder Kassapa, and not the Buddha. The Buddha said that the Elder Kassapa was dear even to the gods and uttered the above verse.

The Unattached Are Bound Upstream

“He who has cultivated a wish for the ineffable (nibbāna),
he whose mind is thrilled (with the three Fruits),
he whose mind is not bound by material pleasures,
such a person is called ‘Bound-upstream.’”

The Non-Returner Elder

Some pupils asked their preceptor, who had attained Non-returning, whether he had attained any stage of the Path. The preceptor did not reply, thinking to wait until he attained Arahantship. Before he could attain Arahantship he died and was reborn in the Pure Abodes (Suddhāvāsa).¹ The pupils went to the Buddha weeping. The Buddha remarked that death was inevitable. They replied that they were sad as the preceptor had died without answering their question. The Buddha told them their preceptor’s attainment and uttered the above verse.

  1. Where non-returners dwell until they attain Arahantship.

Merit Welcomes the Doers of Good

“A man long absent and returned safe from afar,
his kinsmen, friends, and well-wishers welcome on his arrival.”

“Likewise, good deeds will welcome the doer of good who has left this world for the next,
as kinsmen welcome a dear relative on his return.”

Nandiya’s Story

A devout and wealthy young man of Benares performed many good deeds. When his parents died they left him great wealth. He had a four-roomed hall erected for the Saṅgha in the monastery at Isipatana. As he was pouring the libation water to dedicate the building, a palace full of celestial nymphs arose in Tāvatiṃsa. The Elder Moggallāna asked the deities for whom the palace had arisen. They told him that it was for the devotee Nandiya who had just donated a hall to the Saṅgha. The Elder asked the Buddha to confirm this, and the Buddha uttered the above verses, commenting on Nandiya’s good deeds and his future destiny.