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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Milindapanha >> Book VII: The Similes - Opammakatha Panha Chapter 1


Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids


1. THE ASS.

2. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the harsh-voiced ass which you say he ought to take, which is that?'

'Just, O king, as the ass, wheresoever he may lie down--whether on a dust heap, or in the open space where four roads meet, or three , or at the entrance to a village, or on a heap of straw----nowhere is he given to resting long; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort , wheresoever he may spread out his mat for repose--whether on strewed grass, or leaves, or on a bed of thorns, or on the bare earth--nowhere should he be given to sloth. This is the one quality of the ass he ought to have. For this has been said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:

Sleeping on pillows of chaff, my disciples, O brethren, Keep themselves earnest and ardent in strenuous fight ."


'And this too, O king, was said by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"If it but raineth not knee-deep on him When sitting in high meditations plunged-- What cares the man on Arahatship intent for ease !"

2. THE COCK.

3. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those five qualities of the cock which you say he ought to take, what are they?'

'Just, O king, as a cock goes early and betimes to roost; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, early and betimes sweep out the open space around the Dâgaba, and having got ready the drinking-water for the day's use, and dressed himself , and taken his bath, he should bow

down in reverence before the Dâgaba, and then pay visits to the senior Bhikshus, and, on his return, enter in due time into the chamber of solitude. This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the cock he ought to have.

4. 'And again, O king, as a cock rises early and betimes; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, rise early and betimes to sweep out the open space around the Dâgaba, and get ready the drinking-water for the day's use, and dress himself, and pay his daily reverence to the Dâgaba, and enter into the chamber of solitude. This, O king, is the second of the qualities of the cock he ought to have.

5. 'And again, O king, as the cock is unremitting in scratching the earth to pick up what he can find to eat; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, practise continual self-examination and circumspection in taking any nourishment he may find to eat, reminding himself: "I eat this, seeking not after pleasure, nor after excitement, nor after beauty of body, nor after elegance of form, but merely for the preservation of my body, to keep myself alive, as a means of appeasing the pain of hunger, and of assisting me in the practice of the higher life. Thus shall I put an end to all former sorrow, and give no cause for future sorrow to arise; therein shall I be free from blame, and dwell at ease." This, O king, is the third of the qualities of the cock he ought to have. For it has been said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:

"Like child's flesh in the desert wild, Or smearing grease upon the wheel, Solely to keep himself alive, Does he, when feeling faint, take food ."

6. 'And again, O king, as the cock, though it has eyes, is blind by night; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, though he is not blind, be as one blind. Whether in the woods, or on his daily walk for alms in search of food, blind should he be and deaf and dumb to all delights of form, or sound, or taste, or smell, or touch, should not make them the objects of his thought, should pay no special, detailed, attention to them . This, O king, is the fourth of the qualities of the cock he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Mahâ Kakkâyana, the Elder:

"Let him with eyes be as one blind, And he who hears be as the deaf, He who can speak be as the dumb, The man of strength as were he weak. As each new object rises to his ken, On the sweet couch of blest Nirvâna's peace Let him lie down and rest ."

7. 'And again, O king, as the cock, even though persecuted with clods and sticks and clubs and cudgels, will not desert his home; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort,--whether he be engaged in robemaking or in building-work, or in any of his daily duties, or in teaching, or in receiving instruction --never give up his presence of mind. For that, O king--his presence of mind--is the home in which he dwells. This, O king, is the fifth of the qualities of the cock he ought to have. [368] And this, O king, has been said by the Blessed One, the god over all gods :

"And which, O Bhikshus, is the Bhikshu's resort, the realm which is his own by right?--it is this, the four modes of being mindful and thoughtful ."

'And this too, O king, has been said by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"The elephant distinguishes good food From bad, he knows what gives him sustenance, And even when asleep he guards his trunk -- So let each Buddha's son, earnest in zeal, Never do violence to the Conqueror's word, Nor injury to his self-possession, best of gifts ."'

3. THE SQUIRREL.

8. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the squirrel which you say he ought to take, which is that?'

'Just as the squirrel, O king, when an enemy falls upon him, beats his tail on the ground till it swells, and then with his own tail as a cudgel drives off the foe; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when his enemy, sin, falls upon him, beat the cudgel of his self-possession till it swells, and then by the cudgel of self-possession drive all evil inclinations off. This, O king, is the one quality of the squirrel which he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Kulla Panthaka, the Elder:

"When sins, those fell destroyers of the gains Gained by the life of recluse, fall on us, They should be slain, again and yet again, By resolute self-possession as a club ."'


4. THE PANTHER (FEMALE) .

9. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the female of the panther which you say he ought to take, which is that?'

'Just, O king, as the female of the panther conceives only once, and does not resort again and again to the male ; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort,--seeing how future conceptions and births involve a period of gestation and a fall from each state as it is reached, and dissolution and death and destruction, seeing the horrors of transmigration and of rebirths in evil states, the annoyance of them, the torment of them,--he should stedfastly resolve never to enter upon any future life. This, O king, is the one quality of the female panther which he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the Sutta Nipâta, in the Sutta of Dhaniya the cowherd:

"Like a strong bull who's burst the bonds that bound him, Or elephant who's forced his way through jungle, Thus shall I never more enter the womb-- And now, if it so please you, god, rain on !"'

5. THE PANTHER (MALE).

10. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of the panther which you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the panther, lying in ambush in wild places, behind a thicket of long grass or brushwood, or among the rocks, catches the deer; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, resort to solitary places in the woods, at the foot of a tree, on mountain heights, in caves and grottoes, in cemeteries, in forests, under the open sky, on beds of straw, in quiet, noiseless spots, free from strong winds, and hid from the haunts of men. For the strenuous Bhikshu, O king, earnest in effort, who frequents such solitudes, will soon become master of the six forms of transcendent insight. This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the panther he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Elders who collected the scriptures:

"As the panther by lying in ambush catches the deer, So the sons of the Buddha, with insight and earnestness armed, By resorting to solitudes gain that Fruit which is best ."

11. 'And again, O king, as the panther, whatever may be the beast he has killed, will never eat it if it has fallen on the left side; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, not partake of any food that has been procured by gifts of bamboos, or palms' leaves, or flowers, or fruits, or baths , or chunam, or tooth-sticks, or water for washing; or by flattery, or by gaining the laity over by sugared

words (literally by pea-soup-talk), suppressing the truth and suggesting the false , or by petting their children , or by taking messages as he walks from house to house , or by doctoring them, or by acting as a go-between, or as a messenger on matters of business or ceremony , or by exchanging with them things he has received as alms, or by giving back again to them as bribes robes or food once given to him , or by giving them hints as to lucky sites, or lucky days, or lucky signs (on their children's bodies at birth), or by any other of those wrong modes of obtaining a livelihood that have been condemned by the Buddha --no food so procured should he eat, as the panther will not eat any prey that has fallen on its left side. This is the second of the qualities of the panther he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"This food, so sweet, has been procured Through intimation given by speech. Were I, then, to partake thereof, My mode of livelihood would be blamed.

Now though by hunger dire oppressed My stomach seem to rise, to go, Ne'er will I break my rule of life, Not though my life I sacrifice ."'

6. THE TORTOISE.

12. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those five qualities of the tortoise which you say he ought to take, what are they? '

'Just, O king, as the tortoise, which is a water animal, keeps to the water; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, let his heart go out over the whole wide world with pity and with love--mighty, abounding, beyond measure, free from every feeling of hatred or of malice--towards all creatures that have life . This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the tortoise he ought to have.

13. 'And again, O king, just as the tortoise, when, as he swims on the water and raises his head, he catches sight of any one, that moment sinks, and dives into the depths, lest they should see him again; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when evil inclinations fall upon him, sink into the waters of meditation, dive down into the deeps thereof, lest those evil inclinations should catch sight of him again. This, O king, is the

second of the qualities of the tortoise he ought to have.

14. 'And again, O king, just as the tortoise gets up out of the water, and suns himself; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when he rouses himself (withdraws his mind) out of meditation,--whether taken sitting, or lying down, or standing, or walking up and down,--sun his mind in the Great Struggle against evil dispositions. This, O king, is the third of the qualities of the tortoise he ought to have.

15. 'And again, O king, just as the tortoise, digging a hole in the ground, dwells alone; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, giving up worldly gain and honour and praise, take up his abode alone, plunging into the solitudes of empty lonely places in the groves and woods and hills, in caves and grottoes, noiseless and quiet. This, O king, is the fourth of the qualities of the tortoise he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Upasena, the Elder, of the sons of the Vangantas:

"Lonely and quiet places, haunts Of the deer, and of wild beasts, Should the Bhikshu seek as his abode, For solitude's sweet sake ."

16. 'And again, O king, as the tortoise, when on his rounds he sees any one, draws in at once all his head and limbs into his shell, and hiding them there, keeps still in silence to save himself; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, wheresoever forms, or sounds, or odours, or tastes,

or feelings strike upon him, shut to the gate of self-restraint at the six doors of his senses, cover up his mind in self-control, and continue constant in mindfulness and thoughtfulness to save his Samanaship. This, O king, is the fifth of the qualities of the tortoise he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the most excellent Samyutta Nikâya, in the Sutta of the parable of the tortoise:

"As the tortoise withdraws his limbs in his shell, Let the Bhikshu bury the thoughts of his mind, Himself Independent, injuring none, Set free himself, speaking evil of none ."'

7. THE BAMBOO.

17. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the bamboo which you say he ought to take, which is it?,

'Just, O king, as the bamboo, whithersoever the gale blows, to that quarter does it bend accordingly, pursuing no other way of its own; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, conduct himself in accordance with the ninefold teaching of the Master, the word of the Buddha, the Blessed One, and stedfastly keeping to all things lawful and blameless, he should seek after the qualities of the Samanaship itself. This, O king, is the one quality of the bamboo he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Râhula, the Elder:

"In accord alway with Buddha's ninefold word And stedfast in all lawful, blameless acts, I have passed beyond rebirth in evil states ."'

8. THE BOW.

18. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the bow which you say he ought to have, which is it?'

'Just, O king, as a well-made and balanced bow bends equally from end to end, and does not resist stiffly, like a post; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, bend easily in accord with all his brethren--whether elders, juniors, of medium seniority, or of like standing with himself--and not repel them. This, O king, is the one quality of the bow he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the Vidhura Punnaka Gâtaka:

"Let the wise bend as the bow, yield as the reed, Not be contrary. He shall dwell in the home of kings ."'

9. THE CROW.

19. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of the crow that you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the crow goes about full of apprehension and suspicion, always on watch and guard; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, go about full of apprehension and suspicion, always on watch and guard,

in full self-possession, with his senses under control. This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the crow he ought to have.

20. 'And again, O king, as the crow, whatever food he catches sight of, eats it, sharing with his kind; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, never omit to share with virtuous co-religionists, and that without distinction of person or deliberation as to quantity , whatever lawful gifts he may have lawfully received, down even to the contents of his begging-bowl. This, O king, is the second of the qualities of the crow he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"Whate'er they may present to me, austere in life, All that, just as it comes, do I divide With all, and I myself then take my food ."'

10. THE MONKEY.

21. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of the monkey which you say he ought to have, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the monkey, when about to take up his abode does so in some such place as a mighty tree, in a lonely place covered all over with branches, a sure place of refuge; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, choose as the teacher under whom to live a man modest, amiable, righteous, of beauty of character, learned in tradition and in the scriptures, lovable, venerable, worthy of

reverence, a speaker of profitable things, meek, clever in admonition, in instruction, and in education, able to arouse, to incite, to gladden --such a friend should he choose as teacher. This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the monkey he ought to have.

22. 'And again, O king, as the monkey wanders about, and stands and sits, always on trees, and, if he goes to sleep, spends the night on them; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, stand and walk up and down thinking, and lie down, and sleep, in the forest, and there enjoy the sense of self-possession. This, O king, is the second of the qualities of the monkey he ought to have. For it has been said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"Walking, or standing, sitting, lying down, 'Tis in the forest that the Bhikshu shines. To dwell in wildernesses far remote Has been exalted by the Buddhas all ."'

Here ends the First Chapter .

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