[546. {549.}1 Vanavacchcha2]

In this [present] lucky aeon
Brahmā’s Kinsman, Greatly Famed One,
known by the name of Kassapa,3
Best Debater,4 [Buddha,] arose. (1) [6273]

Then I, after having gone forth
in the Buddha’s dispensation,
wandering in the holy life5
as long as [I] lived, fell from there.6 (2) [6274]

Due to that karma done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (3) [6275]

Fallen from there, in a forest,
I was [then born as] a pigeon.7
A Buddhist monk8 [was] living there,
always delighting in trances,9
loving-hearted, compassionate,
with a face always greatly pleased,10
even-minded, a great hero,
learned in the [four] boundless [states].11 (4-5) [6276-6277]

In not a long time I trusted
that follower of the Buddha,12
whose thoughts were without obstructions,
friendly toward all living beings. (6) [6278]

Then whenever [I] approached13 him,
every day he preached the Dhamma,
and gave [a little of his] food
to me, seated before [his] feet. (7) [6279]

After living [like that] back then,
with great love for the Victor’s son,
having died14 I went15 to heaven,
like home [after] being abroad.16 (8) [6280]

Fallen from heaven I’m reborn
as human due to good karma.
Throwing away [life in] the house,
I [then] went forth repeatedly.17 (9) [6281]

As monk, ascetic [or] brahmin,
I was thus one who had gone forth,
becoming a forest-dweller
[in] various hundreds [of lives]. (10) [6282]

And now in [my] final rebirth,
a brahmin [named] Vacchchagotta
in lovely Kapilavastu,
I set forth along with [my] wife.18 (11) [6283]

My mother’s pregnancy craving
[when she was] close to giving birth,
resolved [her] to live in the woods,
when [I] had come out of [her] womb. (12) [6284]

[My] mother then gave birth to me
within a beautiful forest.
As I departed from her womb,
they swaddled me in saffron [cloth].19 (13) [6285]

After that Prince Siddhartha was
born, Banner of the Śākyan Clan.20
I became his beloved friend,
held in confidence and honored. (14) [6286]

When Beings’ Hardwood21 departed,
renouncing [all of his] vast fame,
after having gone forth as well,
I went to the Himalayas. (15) [6287]

Seeing respected Kassapa,
preacher of rigor, in the woods,22
hearing the Victor’d arisen,
I approached the Coachman of Men.23 (16) [6288]

He [then] preached the Dhamma to me,
with all of the meanings explained.
Then, going forth [under Buddha,]
I went to the forest again. (17) [6289]

Zealously living there I [then]
learned24 the six special knowledges.
O! I have obtained a good gain,
being pitied by [my] good friend. (18) [6290]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (19) [6291]

Being in Best Buddha’s presence
was a very good thing for me.
The three knowledges are attained;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (20) [6292]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (21) [6293]

Thus indeed Venerable Vanavacchcha Thera spoke these verses.

The legend of Vanavacchcha Thera is finished.

  1. Apadāna numbers provided in {fancy brackets} correspond to the BJTS edition, which contains more individual poems than does the PTS edition dictating the main numbering of this translation.

  2. “Forest Vacchcha,” a historical monk (and one of many from the Vacchcha clan). See DPPN II: 828

  3. One BJTS alt. reads gottena, “by lineage”

  4. vadataŋ varo

  5. or “in celibacy”: reading bhramacchariyaṃ with BJTS (PTS alt. brahmacchārī, “being celibate”) for PTS brahmaccheraŋ (“brahmā-[]?)

  6. or “died,” “passed away”

  7. or dove, kapoto, BJTS Sinh. gloss paraviyak

  8. bhikkhu

  9. jhānarato sadā

  10. pamuditānano. The Pāli is unambiguous and neither edition provides alt. readings, but one would expect a reading involving muditā (“sympathetic joy” or “joy in the joy of others,” the third of the four “boundless states”) given the reference to them in the final foot, and given that the other three are clearly designated here. Perhaps “always having a greatly pleased face” is to be taken as indicative of being characterized by sympathetic joy (muditā).

  11. also known as brahmavihāras: love, pity or compassion, sympathetic joy and even-mindedness or equanimity. I follow BJTS Sinh. gloss in understanding “boundless” (appamaññāsu kovido) in this way, and in construing v. [6277] as a continuation of [6276].

  12. vissattho nacchirenāsiṃ tasmiṃ sugatasāvake, lit., “I was trusting in [that] follower of the Well-Gone-One” (reading °āsiṃ with BJTS for PTS asmiŋ, “in that”)

  13. lit., “having approached”

  14. lit., “fallen from there”

  15. gato, lit., “am gone”

  16. BJTS reads pavāsā for PTS (and BJTS alt.) pavāso; accepting that reading, and taking it as an ablative, “after” would not require the square brackets

  17. bahuso. BJTS reads lahuso (“quickly”). Especially given the following verse, I see no reason to change, and indeed prefer the PTS reading

  18. reading vacchchagotta dvijo tassa jāyāya for PTS Vacchchagotto ti Jotissa jāyāya (“‘Vacchchagotta’ with [my] wife [named] Jotissa”)

  19. kāsāyena, or more specifically, “in a saffron [monk’s robe]”. Saffron robes (whose origin is in the turmeric-soaked shrouds of ancient Indian corpses) were and are used by renouncers of various stripes, though for Buddhist hearers the word certainly invokes (and means) a specifically Buddhist monk’s robe.

  20. śākyakuladdhajo

  21. reading sattasāre hi nikkhante (loc. abs. construction) with BJTS (and PTS alt , reading °sāre hi for sārebhi, sic) for PTS sārehi nikkhanto (“departed with hardwoods”)

  22. lit., “in a haunt in the woods”

  23. narasrathiŋ

  24. apassayin, or “saw” “realized”