sent on his way the weeping tear-faced Chanda,
being interested in nothing,
a chanda (or
partiality) for the forest,
All Things Realized,
the place by his physical presence,
that ashram like a siddha, a realized man.
the son of a king, moving like a lion-king,
like a forest creature that arena of forest creatures;
the majesty of his physical person,
bereft of the tokens of majesty,
stole the eyes of all the ashram-dwellers –
standing in precisely that manner,
in their curiosity, with yoke in hand,
the wheel-bearers, with wives in tow;
beheld him the equal of Indra, and did not move,
beasts of burden with their heads half bowed.
had gone out for fuel to feed the sacred fire,
returned holding in their hands
flowers, and kuśa grass,
men of formed minds
whom ascetic practice was paramount,
to see him. They did not go towards their huts.
with rapture also, the peacocks let loose their cries,
if they had seen a dark raincloud rising up;
letting grass fall as they turned to face him,
deer stood still, along with the deer-imitators,
only their eyes moving.
him, the lamp of the Ikṣvāku tribe,
like the rising sun,
cows that were milked for offerings,
they had already been milked,
overjoyed, and flowed forth again.
this be the eighth of the good gods,
one of the two charioteers,
like this went up on high,
of the bewilderment of the sages there, at seeing him.
like the physical double of Indra, bull of gods,
the glory of all that moves and is still in the world,
lit up the whole forest –
if the Sun himself had dropped by.
being honoured and invited, with due courtesy,
in return, to the upholders of a dharma, paid his respects
a voice like rain clouds full of rain.
the ashram that was filled in this manner
pious people having designs upon heaven,
being desirous of release, steadily walked,
the various ascetic practices.
the moon-like man of soma-mildness,
he had observed there, in that forest of ascetic severity,
ascetic contortions of ascetics steeped in severity,
as follows, wanting to know the truth of it,
one of the ascetics who was walking along with him:
today is my first visit to an ashram
I do not understand this method of dharma;
kind sir, please tell me –
are all possessed of what intention, directed towards what.”
so the twice-born man,
explorer of the pleasure of painful practice,
to the bull of the Śākyas,
steps were the steps of a bull –
spoke to him, in steps,
the varieties of painful practice
about the fruit of painful practice.
food – food that grows in the presence of water –
and water and fruits and roots:
according to tradition, is the fare of sages.
in their painful practices there are alternative approaches,
who are different live by gleaning crumbs
movers in emptiness, or birds –
graze on leaves of grass
together with sitters in coils, or snakes,
if they were ant-hills – subsist on thin air.
who are different
live by what is ground out through
effort on a stone;
are sustained by breaking food down with their own teeth;
again, who are different,
having done the cooking for
what is for them to do, if anything is left over.
their matted coils of hair dripping with water,
pour butter into the fire, with mantras.
like fishes, go deep into the water
there they abide,
bodies scratching the surface of the tortoise.
painful practices such as these, accumulated over time,
arrive, via superior practices, at heaven,
via lowlier ones at the world of human beings.
an arduous path they come to inhabit ease;
suffering, they say, is the starting point of dharma.”
son of a chief among two-footed beings,
to words like these, and more,
that man steeped in painful practice
he failed to see the truth of it, and was not satisfied.
he said to himself:
in its various forms has suffering at its core;
the same time, ascetic practice has heaven as its chief reward;
yet every world is subject to change –
this toil in ashrams, for so very little!
who abandon prestige, connections, and objects,
observe restrictions for the sake of heaven,
when parted from there, are destined to go
into greater bondage.
he who, by the bodily travails called ascetic practice,
advancement for the sake of desire
failing to attend to the faults that fuel saṁsāra –
by the means of suffering pursues nothing but suffering.
people are ever afraid of dying,
actively they strive for re-birth,
just in their doing, their death is assured –
there, where they are drowning, in fear itself.
individuals go through grim exhaustion
for an end in
suffer the ascetic grind for an end in heaven –
happiness as its end but failing to accomplish its end,
sinks into end-less disappointment.
to be blamed, certainly, is this effort
casting aside the inferior, aims for distinction;
the work wise men should do, exerting themselves as one,
that work wherein nothing further needs doing.
causing the body pain, in contrast, is the dharma here,
body being happy constitutes the opposite of dharma.
yet by dharma the body obtains happiness in future?
those grounds, the dharma here results in the opposite of dharma.
the body, by the mind's command,
carries on or stops its doing,
what is appropriate is taming of the mind.
the thinking mind, the body is like a wooden log.
the good is to be got through purity of food,
follows that there is good in even the creatures of the forest;
also there are human beings who,
the reaping of fruits, subsist as outsiders –
beings who, because of contravening destiny,
turned away from wealth.
if the cause of good is the ability to handle hardship,
is not the same ability to be practised with regard to happiness?
else, if being able to handle happiness is not the standard,
how can ability to handle hardship be the standard?
again who, with a view to purifying their karma,
sprinkle on themselves water which they feel to be sacred,
only, in so doing, pleasing their own heart,
wrong will never be washed away by waters.
water has been touched by people steeped in good –
is sacred bathing water, if such on earth is sought.
virtues, yes, I do see as a sacred ford.
water, without doubt, is water.”
employing many and various forms of reasoning, did he speak,
the Brilliant One set behind the Western Mountain.
he went where the trees,
by smoke from burnt offerings, were turning gray;
practising of pain there having ceased, he went into the forest...
the flaring forest,
the sacrificial flame was passed from fire to blazing fire;
the bespattered forest,
with seers performing their bathing rites;
the cooing forest,
shrines to gods resounded with muttered prayers;
the forest which was like a hive of dharma,
busy with doing.
several nights, resembling the night-making moon,
dwelt there, investigating ascetic practices;
having embraced asceticism in the round
come to his own conclusion about it,
made to depart from that field of asceticism.
the ashram-dwellers followed him,
minds directed on his beauty and dignity –
great seers following the dharma, when,
a land being overrun by uncivil people,
dharma is retreating.
those men whose capital was painful practice
saw, in matted locks, strips of bark, and flapping rags;
seeing, and yet feeling towards their austerities a fond respect,
remained there standing,
the foot of an auspicious and splendid tree.
so the ashram-dwellers stepped near
stood surrounding that most excellent human being,
the most mature among them, being full of respect,
in a soft voice these gentle words:
your coming the ashram seemed to become full,
your going, it seems to become empty;
my son, you should desist from leaving
[place of painful exertion] –
the cherished life-force [not leaving]
body of a man who is fighting for his life.
near to us,
by brahmin seers, king-seers, and god-seers,
a holy Himālayan mountain
whose closeness are augmented
very investments of painful effort
people whose capital is painful effort.
around us, likewise, are holy bathing places,
are akin to stairways to heaven;
are frequented by seers whose essence of themselves is dharma,
by seers possessed of themselves –
divine seers and by seers who are protectors of men.
going further, from here,
direction is northward
deserves to be cultivated,
the sake of distinction in dharma;
ill befits a wise man to take, contrarily,
one step that might lead southward.
else, in this forest of painful practice,
have seen one who neglects rites;
you have seen one who is not pure,
who, in a commingled dharma, has fallen;
is in you no desire to dwell –
say as much,
and be pleased to stay!
these want as their companion in ascetic practice
who resemble a repository of ascetic practice
abiding with you, the equal of Indra,
be a means of lifting up even Bṛhas-pati,
Lord of Spiritual Growth.' ”
he, in the midst of the ascetics,
thus addressed by the first ascetic,
the first in perspicacity,
he had vowed to end the bhava which is becoming,
the bhāva of his own real inner feelings and
tend in their core towards uprightness,
who are, in their willing hospitality, like family,
have had shown towards me such manifestations of sincerity
filled me with great joy, and has opened for me a way.
these emollient words of yours,
seep through to the heart,
am as if smeared all over;
the enjoyment a beginner feels,
newly laying hands on dharma,
now pulsing through me all over again.
leave you all like this,
devoted to all you do and so hospitable,
leave you who have shown me such excessive kindness –
pains me that I will leave you like this and depart,
as it pained me to leave my kith and kin.
this dharma of yours aims at heaven,
my desire is for no more becoming;
is why I do not wish to dwell in this wood:
a non-doing dharma is different from doing.
it is neither displeasure in me nor wrong conduct by another
causes me to walk away from this wood;
standing firm in a dharma adapted to the first age of the world,
of you bear the semblance of great sages.”
having listened to the prince's speech,
was both friendly and full of real meaning,
gracious and yet strong and proud,
ascetics held him in especially high regard.
up spoke one twice-born individual there,
practice was to lay in ashes;
in bark strips and wearing his hair in a top-knot,
eyes dark red, his nose long and thin,
in one hand a bowl-shaped container,
said these words:
man of understanding! High indeed is the purpose
one who, young as you are, has seen the faults in rebirth;
the man who,
properly thought about heaven and about ending rebirth,
minded towards ending rebirth – he is the man!
by various acts of devotion, austerities, and restrictions,
who are coloured by desire's red taint,
to go to heaven;
having battled with red desire as if with an enemy,
who are animated by the true essence,
to arrive at liberation.
if this is your settled purpose,
quickly to the region of the Vindhya Hills;
lives the sage Arāḍa,
has gained insight into the ultimate good.
him you will hear the method of the tattvas, 'the
will follow it as far as you like;
since this mind of yours is such
will, I am sure, progress on,
shaking off the buddhi, or 'faculty of mental
even that sage.
beneath a straight and high nose,
lengthened and widened eyes,
its lower lip the colour of copper,
its large teeth, sharp and white,
mouth, with its thin red tongue,
drink up the whole ocean of what is to be known.
in view of this unfathomable depth which you have,
light of this brilliance, and judging by these signs,
will realize on earth that seat of a teacher
was obtained not even by seers of the first age.”
well,” said the son of a protector of men;
bidding a glad farewell to that group of seers, he went out.
their part, having duly seen him off,
ashram-dwellers entered anew the woods of painful practice.
7th canto, titled Entering the Woods of Painful Practice, in an epic
tale of awakened action.