View Full Version : Chapter XI. Old Age

June 24th, 2008, 01:39 AM


146. How is there laughter, how is there joy, as this world is always burning? Why do you not seek a light, ye who are surrounded by darkness?

147. Look at this dressed-up lump, covered with wounds, joined together, sickly, full of many thoughts, which has no strength, no hold!

148. This body is wasted, full of sickness, and frail; this heap of corruption breaks to pieces, life indeed ends in death.

[148. Dr. Fausböll informs me that Childers proposed the emendation maranantam hi gîvitam. The following extract from a letter, addressed by Childers to Dr. Fausböll, will be read with interest:--'As regards Dhp. v. 148, I have no doubt whatever. I quite agree with you that the idea (mors est vita ejus) is a profound and noble one, but the question is, Is the idea there? I think not. Maranam tamhi gîvitam is not Pâli, I mean not a Pâli construction, and years ago even it grated on my ear as a harsh phrase. The reading of your MSS. of the texts is nothing; your MSS. of Dhammapada are very bad ones, and it is merely the vicious Sinhalese spelling of bad MSS., like kammamtam for kammantam. But the comment sets the question at rest at once, for it explains maranantam by maranapariyosânam, which is exactly the same. I see there is one serious difficulty left, that all your MSS. seem to have tamhi, and not tam hi; but are you sure it is so? There was a Dhammapada in the India Office Library, and I had a great hunt for it a few days ago, but to my deep disappointment it is missing. I do not agree with you that the sentence "All Life is bounded by Death," is trivial: it is a truism, but half the noblest passages in poetry are truisms, and unless I greatly mistake, this very passage will be found in many other literatures.'

Dr. Fausböll adds:--

'I have still the same doubt as before, because of all my MSS. reading maranam tamhi. I do not know the readings of the London MSS. The explanation of the commentary does not settle the question, as it may as well be considered an explanation of my reading as of the reading which Childers proposed.--V. FAUSBÖLL.']

149. Those white bones, like gourds thrown away in the autumn, what pleasure is there in looking at them?

150. After a stronghold has been made of the bones, it is covered with flesh and blood, and there dwell in it old age and death, pride and deceit.

151. The brilliant chariots of kings are destroyed, the body also approaches destruction, but the virtue of good people never approaches destruction,--thus do the good say to the good.

152. A man who has learnt little, grows old like an ox; his flesh grows, but his knowledge does not grow.

153., 154. Looking for the maker of this tabernacle, I shall have to run through a course of many births, so long as I do not find (him); and painful is birth again and again. But now, maker of the tabernacle, thou hast been seen; thou shalt not make up

[149. In the Rudrâyanâvadâna of the Divyâvadâna this verse appears as,
Yânîmâny apariddhâni vikshiptâni diso disah,
Kapotavarnâny asthîni tâni drishtvaiha kâ ratih.
See Schiefner, Mél. Asiat. VIII, p. 589; Gâtaka, vol. i. p. 322.

150. The expression mamsalohitalepanam is curiously like the expression used in Manu VI, 76, mâmsasonitalepanam, and in several passages of the Mahâbhârata, XII, 12462, 12053, as pointed out by Dr. Fausböll.

153, 154. These two verses are famous among Buddhists, for they are the words which the founder of Buddhism is supposed to have uttered at the moment he attained to Buddhahood. (See Spence Hardy, Manual; p. 180.) According to the Lalita-vistara, however, the words uttered on that solemn occasion were those quoted in the note to verse 39 (http://sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1005.htm#pp_39). In the commentary on the Brahmagâla this verse is called the first speech of Buddha, his last speech being the words in the Mabâparinibbâna-sutta, 'Life is subject to age; strive in earnest.' The words used in the Mahâparinibbâna-sutta, Chap. IV, 2, Katunnam dhammânam ananubodhâ appativedhâ evam idam dîgham addhânam sandhâvitam samsâritam mamañ k' eva tumhâkañ ka, answer to the anticipation expressed in our verse.

The exact rendering of this verse has been much discussed, chiefly by Mr. D'Alwis in the Attanugaluvansa, p. cxxviii, and again in his Buddhist Nirvâna, p. 78; also by Childers, Notes on Dhammapada, p. 4, and in his Dictionary. Gogerly translated: 'Through various transmigrations I must travel, if I do not discover the builder whom I seek.' Spence Hardy: 'Through many different births I have run (to me not having found), seeking the architect of the desire-resembling house.' Fausböll: 'Multiplices generationis revolutiones percurreram, non inveniens, domus (corporis) fabricatorem quaerens.' And again (p. 322): 'Multarum generationum revolutio mihi subeunda esset, nisi invenissem domus fabricatorem.' Childers: 'I have run through the revolution of countless births, seeking the architect of this dwelling and finding him not.' D'Alwis: 'Through transmigrations of numerous births have I run, not discovering, (though) seeking the house-builder.' All depends on how we take sandhavissam, which Fausböll takes as a conditional, Childers, following Trenckner, as an aorist, because the sense imperatively requires an aorist. In either case, the dropping of the augment and the doubling of the s are, however, irregular. Sandhavissam is the regular form of the future, and as such I translate it, qualifying, however, the future, by the participle present anibbisan, i.e. not finding, and taking it in the sense of, if or so long as I do not find the true cause of existence. I had formerly translated anibbisan, as not resting (anirvisan), but the commentator seems to authorise the meaning of not finding (avindanto, alabhanto), and in that case all the material difficulties of the verse seem to me to disappear.

'The maker of the tabernacle' is explained as a poetical expression for the cause of new births, at least according to the views of Buddha's followers, whatever his own views may have been. Buddha had conquered Mâra, the representative of worldly temptations, the father of worldly desires, and as desires (tamhâ) are, by means of upâdâna and bhava, the cause of gâti, or 'birth,' the destruction of desires and the conquest of Mâra are nearly the same thing, though expressed differently in the philosophical and legendary language of the Buddhists. Tamhâ, 'thirst' or 'desire,' is mentioned as serving in the army of Mâra. (Lotus, p. 443.)] this tabernacle again. All thy rafters are broken, thy ridge-pole is sundered; the mind, approaching the Eternal (visankhâra, nirvâna), has attained to the extinction of all desires.

155. Men who have not observed proper discipline, and have not gained treasure in their youth, perish like old herons in a lake without fish.

156. Men who have not observed proper discipline, and have not gained treasure in their youth, lie, like broken bows, sighing after the past.

[155. On ghâyanti, i.e. kshâyanti, see Dr. Bollensen's learned remarks, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl. Gesellschaft, XVIII, 834, and Boehtlingk-Roth, s.v. kshâ.]