Thig 12  Puṇṇikā & the Brahman

Puṇṇikā:

I’m a water-carrier, cold,

always going down to the water

from fear of my mistresses’ beatings,

harassed by their anger & words.

But you, brahman,

what do you fear

that you’re always going down to the water

with shivering limbs, feeling great cold?

The Brahman:

Puṇṇikā, surely you know.

You’re asking one doing skillful kamma

& warding off evil.

Whoever, young or old, does evil kamma

is, through water ablution,

from evil kamma set free.

Puṇṇikā:

Who taught you this

—the ignorant to the ignorant—

‘One, through water ablution,

is from evil kamma set free’?

In that case, they’d all go to heaven:

all the frogs, turtles,

serpents,1 crocodiles,

& anything else that lives in the water.

Sheep-butchers, pork-butchers,

fishermen, trappers,

thieves, executioners,

& any other evil doers,

would, through water ablution,

be from evil kamma set free.

If these rivers could carry off

the evil kamma you’ve done in the past,

they’d carry off your merit as well,

and then you’d be

completely deprived.

Whatever it is that you fear,

that you’re always going down to the water,

don’t do it.

Don’t let the cold hurt your skin.”

The Brahman:

I’ve been following the miserable path, good lady,

and now you’ve brought me

back to the noble.

I give you this robe for water-ablution.

Puṇṇikā:

Let the robe be yours. I don’t need it.

If you’re afraid of pain,

if you dislike pain,

then don’t do any evil kamma,

in open, in secret.

But if you do or will do

any evil kamma,

you’ll gain no freedom from pain,

even if you fly up & hurry away.

If you’re afraid of pain,

if you dislike pain,

go to the Awakened One for refuge,

go to the Dhamma & Saṅgha.

Take on the precepts:

That will lead to your liberation.2

The Brahman:

I go to the Awakened One for refuge;

I go to the Dhamma & Saṅgha.

I take on the precepts:

That will lead to my liberation.3

* * *

Before, I was a kinsman to Brahmā;

now, truly a brahman.

I’m a three-knowledge man & safe,

consummate in knowledge,

washed clean.

Notes

1. Reading nāgā with the Thai, Burmese, and PTS editions. The Sinhalese edition has nakkā, another word for crocodile.

2. Reading mokkhāya with the Thai edition. The other editions have atthāya, benefit.

3. This stanza is missing in the Thai edition.