V : The To-the-Far-Shore Chapter (Pārāyana Vagga)
From the delightful city of the Kosalans,
a brahman [Bāvarī]
who had mastered mantras,
aspiring to nothingness,1
went to the Southern country.
He, in the land of Assaka,
the neighborhood of Muḷaka,
on the bank of the Godhāvarī,
lived on gleanings & fruits.
Close by was a large village.
And with the income from that village
he performed a great sacrifice.
Having sacrificed the great sacrifice,
he returned again to his ashram.
As soon as he had entered there,
another brahman came along:
On arrival, he asked Bāvarī
for five hundred [pieces of money].
Bāvarī, on seeing him, invited him to sit down,
asked after what is pleasant & skillful,
and said these words:
“Whatever of mine
that could be given away,
I have disposed of entirely.
Forgive me, brahman,
I don’t have five hundred.”
“If you don’t hand over
to me when I ask,
within seven days,
may your head split
into seven pieces.”
Dissembling, the imposter
Hearing his words,
Bāvarī was distressed.
He wasted away, taking no food,
afflicted with the arrow of grief,
and, with his mind this way,
his heart found no delight in jhāna.
Seeing him nervous & distressed,
a devatā wishing his welfare,
and said these words:
“That imposter, wanting money,
doesn’t discern heads;
has no knowledge of heads
or the splitting of heads.”
“You, sir, surely know.
Explain to me when asked:
heads & the splitting of heads.
I will listen to your words.”
“I too don’t know that.
I don’t have that knowledge.
Heads & the splitting of heads:
That is surely the insight of Victors.”
“Then who knows surely
in this circle of the earth,
heads & the splitting of heads?
Explain that to me, devatā.”
“Gone forth from the city of Kapilavatthu,
the chief of the world,
a descendant of King Okkāka,
a Sakyan-son, a bringer of light:
He, brahman, is Rightly Self-Awakened,
gone to the far shore of all
attainer of all
direct knowledges & strengths,
one with an Eye that sees all
attainer of the end of all
released in the ending of acquisitions.
He, the One with Eyes,
teaches the Dhamma.
Going to him, you ask him.
He will answer you.”
Hearing the word “Self-Awakened,”
Bāvarī was exultant.
His grief subsided,
and he gained abundant rapture.
So Bāvarī, gratified, exultant,
excited, asked the devatā:
“In which village or town,
or in which country
is the protector of the world?
Going where can we pay homage
to the Self-Awakened One,
supreme among two-footed beings?”
“In Sāvatthī, the Kosalan city,
is the Victor of vast discernment,
of foremost deep intelligence.
He, a matchless Sakyan-son,
effluent-free, a bull among men,
is an expert in the splitting of heads.”
Then Bāvarī addressed his students,
brahmans who had mastered the mantras,
“Come, students, I will explain.
Listen to my words.
He whose appearance in the world
is hard often to gain,
has today arisen in the world,
renowned as Self-Awakened.
Going quickly to Sāvatthī,
see the one supreme
among two-footed beings.”
“But how, brahman, on seeing him,
will we know for sure
that he’s the One Self-Awakened?
Tell us, who don’t know,
how we will know him.”
“There have come down in the mantras
the marks of a Great Man.
Thirty-two are described in all,
step by step.
One in whose body
are the marks of a Great Man
has two destinations.
There isn’t a third.
If he dwells in a home,
he will conquer this world
—without rod, without sword,
but with righteousness—
he will rule.
But if he goes forth
from home into homelessness,
with his roof opened up,2
he will be Self-Awakened,
a worthy one unexcelled.
Ask just in your heart
about my caste & clan,
mantras, other students,
and about heads
& the splitting of heads.
If he is awakened,
seeing without obstruction,
he will answer in speech
the questions asked in your heart.”
Having heard Bāvarī’s words,
sixteen brahman students—
Puṇṇaka & Mettagū,
Dhotaka & Upasīva,
Nanda & Hemaka,
Todeyya & Kappa,
the wise Jatukaṇṇin,
Bhadrāvudha & Udaya,
Posāla the brahman,
Mogharāja the intelligent,
and Piṅgiya the great seer—
all with their own groups,
famed in all
endowed with jhāna,
delighting in jhāna,
perfume with perfumes3
from previous lives,
having bowed down to Bāvarī
and performed circumambulation,
left, setting out for the North,
wearing coiled hair & deer-skins:
first to the establishment of Muḷaka,
then to Māhissatī, Ujjenī, Gonaddhā,
to Kosambī & Sāketa,
to Sāvatthī, the supreme city,
to Setabya, Kapilavatthu,
the city of Kusinārā,
to Pāva, Bhoganagara,
to Vesālī, the city of the Magadhans,
and then to the Pāsāṇaka shrine,
refreshing & lovely.
Like a thirsty man for cool water,
like a merchant for a great profit,
like one burning from heat
quickly they climbed the mountain.
And at that time, the Blessed One,
surrounded by the Saṅgha of monks,
was teaching the monks the Dhamma,
like a lion roaring in the forest.
Ajita saw the Self-Awakened One,
like the sun with radiance in beams,4
like the moon come to fullness
on the fifteenth day.
Then, seeing the marks
complete in his body,
he stood to one side, overjoyed,
and in his heart asked the questions:
“Speak concerning his birth,
speak of his clan & marks,
speak of his perfection in the mantras,
and how many brahmans
does he teach?”
“His age is one hundred & twenty,
and by clan, he is a Bāvarī.
Three are the marks in his body,
three the Vedas he’s mastered.
In the marks & oral traditions,
etymologies & rituals,
he teaches five hundred.
In his own doctrine
he has reached perfection.”
“Proclaim them in detail—
O man supreme,
cutter of craving,
don’t leave us in doubt.”
“He can hide his face with his tongue,
he has a tuft of hair between his brows,
his male organ is in a sheath:
Know this, young brahman.”
Not hearing anything asked,
but hearing the questions answered,
all the people, excited,
with hands palm-to-palm over their hearts,
“What deva or Brahmā,
or Inda Sujampati5
asked those questions in his heart?
To whom did he [the Buddha] reply?”
“Bāvarī asked about heads
and the splitting of heads.
Explain that, Blessed One.
Subdue our doubt, seer.”
“Know the head to be ignorance,
and the splitting of the head, knowledge
connected with conviction,
desire, & persistence.”
Then, with great joy,
the young brahman,
putting himself in order,
arranging his deer-skin over one shoulder,
fell with his head at the Blessed One’s feet:
“Master, One with Eyes,
Bāvarī the brahman,
together with his students, dear sir—
exultant in mind, happy at heart—
venerate your feet.”
“May he be happy,
Bāvarī the brahman,
together with his students.
And may you, too, be happy,
and live a long time.
and all of yours:
Ask, now that I’ve given leave,
whatever you wish in your heart.”
Given leave by the Self-Awakened One,
having sat to one side, hands palm-to-palm
over his heart,
Ajita there addressed the first question
to the Tathāgata.
1. Reading ākiñcāññaṁ with the Thai text of Nd II and of SnA. The Thai text of the prologue here reads āciññaṁ, “practice, custom.” According to SnA, “nothingness” here means freedom from care. However, it might also mean the meditative state of the dimension of nothingness, and the post-mortem deva realm corresponding to that attainment. This would fit in with the fact that, in the following dialogues, two of his students—Upasīva and Posāla—appear to be familiar with this dimension in their meditation, and quiz the Buddha as to what to do after having attained it.
2. See Sn 2:13, note 3.
3. “Perfume” (vāsanā) here means traces of good qualities.
4. Following GD in interpreting vīta- here as meaning “straight.”
5. “Lord of the Well-born,” an epithet for Sakka, king of the devas of the Thirty-three.