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12.1

Then to the vihāra of a sage

whose recreation ground was peace


The moon of the Ikṣvākus betook himself –


To the ashram of Arāḍa he went,


As if filling it with his shining form.


12.2

Seen from afar


By that distant kinsman of Kālāma


And greeted immediately

with a welcome that resounded up on high,


He drew near.


12.3

After each had asked, as was the rule,


After the other's good health,


On two spotless wooden seats,


At a clean place, the two of them sat.


12.4

That son of a protector of men, sitting!


The best of sages sang his praises,


Eyes with admiration opened wide,


As if drinking him in: 


12.5

It is clear to me, O moony man of soma,


How you have come forth from a palace,


Cutting the snare of affection


Like a wild elephant breaking free of a fetter.


12.6

Altogether steadfast,


And wise, is your mind;


In that you have come here abandoning royal power


As if it were a creeper bearing poison fruit.


12.7

No wonder is it that, in their old age,


Lords of the earth have gone to the forest,


Handing to their offspring royal power,


Like what's left of a used garland.


12.8

This I deem a wonder:


That you in the flush of youth


Have come here

– without ever taking the reins of royal power –


Living in the thick of sense-objects.


12.9

To investigate this dharma, therefore,


You are a supremely fit person.


Climbing aboard the raft of knowing,


May you swiftly cross over the foaming sea of suffering.


12.10

Although the teaching [as a rule]

is elucidated after some time,


When the student has been investigated,


From the depth of your sincerity, 

and the strength of your resolve,


There is no need for me to examine you.”


12.11

As Arāḍa said these words,


That bull among men,

investigating his words,


Was highly delighted


And in response, emphatically, up he spoke:


12.12

Though untainted by emotion,


You show this extreme good grace,


Because of which, although I have yet to realize the aim,


I feel like I am just realizing the aim here and now.


12.13

For, as one who wishes to see esteems a light,


As one who wishes to travel esteems a guide,


I esteem your way of seeing –


As, again, one who wishes to cross esteems a boat.


12.14

So please explain it,


If you deem it apt to be explained,


So that, from ageing, dying and disease,


This being may be released.”


12.15

Arāḍa, thus spurred


By the prince's very great sincerity,


Related in brief


The purport of his own teaching.


12.16

Let this be learned, O best of listeners,


As our ultimate purpose:


How saṁsāra comes into being,


And how it ceases to be.


12.17

Prakṛti, the Primary Matter, and Vikāra, its Transformation,


Birth, death, and old age:


All that is called Sattva, Being.


May you, O one whose being is steadfast, comprehend it!


12.18

But what therein is called Prakṛti, the Primary Matter,


Know, O knower of what is primary!


As the five elements, self-consciousness,


The intelligent, and Avyaktam, the Not Manifest.


12.19

See as Vikāra, Transformation,


The sense-objects and the senses,


The hands and feet, the [organ of] speech,


The anus and reproductive organs – equally the mind.


12.20

Because it knows this field,


The conscious is called Kṣetra-jña, 'Knower of the Field.'


At the same time, those who contemplate the ātman, the self,


Speak of the self as the knower of the field.


12.21

Kapila, the one studied by students,


Is known here as Pratibuddhi, the Awake;


Whereas Prajāpati, the one endowed with progeny, 


Is called here Apratibuddha, the Not Awake.


12.22

What is born, what grows old,


What is bound, what dies:


That is to be known as Vyaktam, the Manifest;


Otherwise it is Avyaktam, the Not Manifest.


12.23

Ignorance, karma, and thirsting


Are to be known as the causes of saṁsāra;


A creature set in these three ways


Fails to transcend the aforementioned Sattva, Being –


12.24

[It fails] because of wrong grounding,

because of 'I-doing' self-consciousness,


Because of blurring of sight,

because of blurring of boundaries,


Because of lack of discrimination and wrong means,


Because of attachment,

and because of pulling down.


12.25

Among those, 'wrong grounding'


Keeps setting movement in the wrong direction –


It causes to be done wrongly what is to be done;


And causes to be thought wrongly what has to be thought.


12.26

I speak, I know,


I go, I stand firm –


It is thus that here, O unselfconscious one!,


The self-consciousness of 'I-doing' carries on.


12.27

But what sees not blurred things


As coalesced into one mass,


Like a ball of mud,

O one who is free of blur!


 Here that is called blurring of sight.


12.28

'What I am is just this –


This mind, this intelligence, this occupation.


Again, what this present group is, I am.'


That is blurring of boundaries.


12.29

What knows no distinction,

O knower of distinctions!


Between the Awake and the Not Awake,


Or among the constituent parts of the Primary Matter,


Is known as 'lack of discrimination.'


12.30

Calling out namas, 'Homage!,'

calling out vaṣat,  'Into the flame!,'


Sacrificial pre-sprinkling,

over-sprinkling, and the rest,


Are declared by the wise,


O knower of means!,

to be wrong means.


12.31

That by which the dull-witted,


Using mind, voice, intent and actions,


Are tied fast to objects,

O one who is free of over-attachment! –


That is known as over-attachment.


12.32

The suffering of 'This is mine,' 'I belong to this,'


The suffering which one invents –


Know, as that suffering, the pulling down


By which one is flung back into saṁsāra.


12.33

Thus does the wise one, then, targeting ignorance,


Think of ignorance as fivefold:


As obscuration, as delusion, as the Big Delusion,


And as the two kinds of darkness.


12.34

Among these, know obscuration to be sloth,


And delusion to be dying and being born;


But the Big Delusion, O undeluded one! –


Understand to mean Love.


12.35

And since in Love


Even mighty beings swoon,


Therefore, O man of mighty arm!,


It is known as the Big Delusion.


12.36

With the word 'darkness,'

O one without anger!


They refer to anger.


And depression,

O irrepressible one!


They call 'blind darkness.'


12.37

The immature person who is possessed


Of this fivefold ignorance


Into saṁsāra, where suffering prevails,


In birth after birth is swept.


12.38

'The seer, the hearer, the thinker,


And the very act of doing of what is to be done –


All that is I.'

Having fallen into such thoughts,


Around and round he goes in saṁsāra.


12.39

Thus, O perspicacious one!,

in the presence of these causes


The stream of births starts flowing.


In the absence of causes, there is no effect,


As you are to investigate.


12.40

In that absence, O desirer of release!,


A right-minded man may know the four:


The Awake and the Not Awake;


The Manifest and the Not Manifest.


12.41

For having properly fathomed this four,


The knower of the field


Abandons the rushing torrent of births and deaths


And realizes the undying step.


12.42

For this purpose brahmins here on earth,


Giving voice to the highest brahma,


Practise here and now brahma-practice,


And cause brahmins to dwell in it.”


12.43

The prince, having listened


To these words of that sage,


Asked about the means;


And about the step, yes, which represents the end.


12.44

How is this brahma-practice to be practised?


And to what lengths? And where?


Again, what is the end-point of this dharma?


Will you please explain in detail.”


12.45

And so Arāḍa, by the book,


Succinctly, making his meaning plain,


Tried again, in a different way,


To explain to him that same dharma.


12.46

First, having left home


And adopted the beggar's emblem,


Having taken to the way of integrity

which is riveted with acts done well,


The one in question carries on.


12.47

Staying close to the deepest contentment


With whatever, from wherever,


He abides in seclusion,


Free from dichotomies, 

a knower of the teaching, a man of action.


12.48

He sees, on these grounds,

how horror arises out of redness


But the highest happiness out of its absence,


And he mobilizes himself – curbing the senses –


In the direction of quieting of the mind.


12.49

Then he arrives at a stage secluded from desires,


And also from things like malice;


He reaches the stage born of seclusion –


The first dhyāna, in which there is thinking.


12.50

Experiencing this state of meditative ease,


While thinking various things

 this but also that –


The immature person is carried away


By enjoyment of the new-found happiness.


12.51

Via tranquillity of this order,


Which is the renouncing of loves and of hates,


At a brahma-world this youngster arrives –


If, by feeling fully satisfied, he is taken in.


12.52

The wise one, in contrast, knowing thoughts


To cause agitation of the mind,


Arrives at a stage divorced from that,


A dhyāna containing its own joy and ease.


12.53

If, carried away by this joy,


He sees no higher distinction,


He occupies a resplendent station


Among Ābhāsvara deities, the Shining Gods.


12.54

The one, in contrast, who separates his mind


From this joy and ease,


Obtains the third dhyāna –


Which has the ease without the joy.


12.55

He who, immersed in this ease,


Has no will to higher distinction,


Experiences ease as one with Śubha-kṛtsna deities,


The Gods of Resplendent Wholeness.


12.56

Only the one who, sitting in the presence of such ease,


Is not enamoured of it but is indifferent,


Reaches the fourth dhyāna


Beyond ease and suffering.


12.57

Some settle for that stage


Thinking it, in their conceit, to be liberation –


Because of the giving up of ease and suffering


And because of the inactivity of the mind.


12.58

Whereas, truly, the fruit of this act of meditating,


Like the abundant fruit of the Bṛhat-phala deities,

the Gods of Fat Profit,


Is immensely long-lasting,


Say those who investigate the vast real wisdom.


12.59

The man of wisdom,
giving up the balancing act of that samādhi,


Having seen the faults of people possessed of bodies,


Rises to the challenge which is the act of knowing –


He rises up, in the direction of bodily extinction.


12.60

Having thus let go of that meditation,


And with his mind set on higher distinction,


The one who really understands what is real

 like he lost interest in desires –


Loses interest in form.


12.61

Of spaces which are openings in his body,


First he forms a picture;


Then in solid masses also


He affirms space.


12.62

The self that permeates space


Another one who is wise, in contrast,

condenses into the centre


And, seeing even that as unbounded,


Thereby attains distinction.


12.63

But one who is different,

being conversant with the Supreme Self

 or being skilful in regard to his own self –


Having got rid of the self with the self

 having dropped off the self, using the self –


Realizing that there is nothing there,


Is known as a man of being without anything.


12.64

Thus, like the stalk from a sheath of muñja grass,


Like a big bird from its cage,


The Knower of the Field, escaped from the body,


Is said to be liberated.


12.65

This is that supreme Brahma,


Beyond emblematic representation, constant, imperishable,


Which those who know the truth, learned brahmins,


Call 'Liberation.'


12.66

Thus the means, and the liberation,


I have revealed to you;


If you have understood it, and if it pleases you,


Undertake it properly.


12.67

For Jaigīṣavya, 'Son of Ambition,' and Janaka, 'The Begetter',


As well as Vṛddha Parāśara, 'The Old Crusher,'


By realizing this path in their sitting,


Were liberated

 as were other liberation-seekers, being different.”


12.68

But he [the bodhisattva],

having taken in these words of the other,


And reflected on them this way and that,


Being possessed of the power of previous causes,


Spoke up in reply:


12.69

I have listened to this wisdom of yours,


Which grows more subtle stage by stage,

and more wholesome,


But insofar as the Knower of the Field is not abandoned,


I see this wisdom as short of the ultimate.


12.70

For, I consider 'the Knower of the Field,'

Even freed from 'the Transformed and the Primary,'


To be engendering in nature


And to be, in its very nature, a seed.


12.71

For even if the pure self, 'the soul,'


Is declared to have been released,


Once again, as long as the grounds exist,


It will become not released.


12.72

Just as, in the absence of season, soil and water,


A seed does not grow,


But does rise up when those various grounds are present,


So also, as I see it, does 'the soul.'


12.73

And as for liberation being brought about


Through letting go of karma, ignorance and thirsting,


There is no complete abandonment of them


So long as the soul persists.


12.74

By deeper and deeper abandoning of these three,


Higher distinction is obtained,


But where the soul prevails,


There – subtly – these three are.


12.75

And yet, because of the subtlety of the faults,


Because of the inactivity of the mind,


And because of the length of a lifetime,


Liberation is posited.


12.76

As for this abandonment of the self-consciousness of 'I-doing'


Which, again, is posited –


So long as the soul persists


There has been no abandonment of 'I-doing.'


12.77

Again, when not freed from intellectual efforts like enumeration,


This [abandonment] does not become free of defining features;


Therefore, in the absence of freedom from defining features,


There is said to be no freedom in it.


12.78

For between things defined by features 
and the defining features


There is no gap –


Bereft of form and heat,


No fire, for example, is realized.


12.79

Prior to the body, no owner of a body can exist;


Prior to defining features, likewise,

nothing defined by features can exist.


On this basis does the possessor of a body,

having been free from the beginning,


Become bound again.


12.80

Again, a disembodied knower of the field


Must be either a knower or else unknowing.


If he is a knower, something remains that he should know,


And in something remaining that he should know,

he is not liberated.


12.81

Or else, if it's your conclusion that he is unknowing,


Then what is the point of inventing a soul?


For even without a soul, not knowing is well established,

For even without a soul, the act of knowing is accomplished,

For when the self is truly absent, realization is realized,


As in the case of a log or a wall.


12.82

But since abandonment that goes further and further back,


Is known, according to tradition, to be excellent,


Therefore I suppose that from abandoning all


Follows complete accomplishment of the task.”


12.83

Thus, having understood the dharma of Arāḍa,


He was not satisfied.


Knowing it to be incomplete,


Back he went from there.


12.84

So, desiring to learn of deeper distinction,


He went to the ashram of Udraka.


And his doctrine,

which was grounded in the notion of a soul,


He also did not accept.


12.85

For, knowing the fault 
in the duality of consciousness and unconsciousness,


The sage Udraka had glimpsed,


Beyond being without anything,


The [single] realm made up of consciousness and unconsciousness.


12.86

Since, again, there are subtle dual underpinnings


In consciousness and in unconsciousness,

[Udraka understood] that beyond that duality


There was neither the unconscious nor consciousness,


On which grounds, being there, one was free of aspiring.


12.87

Again, because the mind, being right there,


Stood still, not wandering elsewhere,


Therefore in that state

 that subtle, not intellectual, state of the mind –


There was neither unconsciousness nor consciousness.


12.88

But since, again, even having reached that state,


[The mind] returns to the jostling world,


Therefore, desiring to reach the ultimate,


The bodhisattva left Udraka.


12.89

Thus having abandoned the ashram of that sage,


Seeking better, with determination,


He betook himself to the hermitage of the royal seer Gaya –


To the ashram known as Nagarī.


12.90

And so, on a pure bank of the Nairaṇjanā,


He whose heroic endeavour was pure


Took up his dwelling


As a sage who delighted in a solitary vihāra 

      a lonely practice-place,

     and the pleasure ground of devotion to a single end.


12.91

Then he saw the five who had retreated there before him,


Raised up by their dominion over the five senses


As they upheld their vows of ascetic practice –


He saw the five ascetic mendicants.


12.92

Those bhikṣus saw him there


And, desiring liberation, came up to him


As sensory objects answer to the capable one


Whose material riches, and freedom from disease, are earned on merit.


12.93 

He was greatly honoured by those five humble followers.


While, being obedient, because of training, they deferred to him,


Abiding as disciples under his dominion,


Like the restless senses deferring to the mind,


12.94 

He intuited that here might be a means to end death and birth –


On which grounds, then,


He undertook harsh austerities,


Going without food.


12.95

Doing many kinds of fasting


That were difficult for a man to do,


For six years, in the quest for peace,


He wasted himself away.


12.96

At mealtimes,


With jujube fruits, sesame seeds,

and grains of rice, one by one,


In his quest for the far end of saṁsāra,

where there is no end to ends,


He kept himself alive.


12.97

Whatever was taken out of his body


By that ascetic practice,


Was made up for


By his amazing energy.


12.98

Pared down as he was,

yet with his glory and majesty unimpaired,


He gladdened other eyes,


As the hairy moon-lilies are gladdened,


At the beginning of the bright fortnight,

by the autumn moon.


12.99

Reduced to skin and bone,


With no reserves remaining of fat or flesh or blood,


Diminished, and yet undiminished in his inner depths,


Like the sea, he sparkled.


12.100

And so the sage


Whose body was evidently being tormented,

to no avail, by pernicious austerities,


Formed – while being wary of becoming –


The following resolve, in his longing for buddhahood.


12.101

This dharma is good neither for detachment,


Nor for awakening, nor for liberation.


What I realized back then, at the foot of the rose-apple tree –


That is a sure method.


12.102

But that cannot be realized by one who is weak.”


Thus did he reflect.


Still more, with a view to increasing his bodily strength,


On this did he meditate further:


12.103

"Worn out by hunger, thirst and fatigue,


With a mind that, from fatigue, is not well in itself,


How can one obtain the result 

which is to be realized by the mind –


When one is not contented?


12.104

Contentment is properly obtained


Through keeping the senses constantly appeased;


By full appeasement of the senses,


Wellness of the mind is realized.


12.105

In one whose mind is well and tranquil,


Samādhi, balanced stillness, sets in.


In one whose mind is possessed of samādhi,


Dhyāna, meditative practice, progresses.


12.106

Through meditation's progress

are obtained dharmas, timeless teachings,


By which is realized the deathless –


That hard-won, quieted, unaging,


Ultimate immortal step.”


12.107

Having therefore decided

that eating food is the foundation


Of this means to an end,


He, the firm and constant one,

whose resolve was beyond measure,


Resolving to take food...


12.108

 had got out of the water –

Having bathed, he climbed up the bank of the Nairañjanā,


Ascending, in his wizened state, gradually,


While, lowering the tips of their branches in devotion,


The trees on the shore lent him a hand.


12.109

Just then a dairy farmer's daughter,


Impelled by the gods, came by,


With joy swelling up in her heart –


There came Nanda-balā, 'Power of Joy.'


12.110

She wore a dark-blue shawl,


And her arms were all lit up with white shells,


So that she seemed like the Yamunā, best of rivers,


When its dark-blue waters are wreathed with foam.


12.111

She with a gladness bolstered by trust,


With the lotuses of her eyes beaming,


Bowed her head respectfully to him


And made him accept milk rice.


12.112

He caused her, by eating that food,


To attain the fruit of her birth,


And he became capable of attainment of awakening,


His six senses now being fully appeased.


12.113

His physical body having realized fullness,


Along with the glory of his person,


The sage, as one, bore the radiant charm

and the deep, constant calm


Of the moon and the ocean.


12.114

Knowing that he had turned back,


The five bhikṣus left him


Like the five elements melting away


When a thinking self has been set free.


12.115

And so with resolve as his companion,


To where the earth was covered with fresh green grass,


To the foot of a fig-tree

 an aśvattha, 'under which horses stand,' –

he went,


Setting his heart firmly in the direction of awakening.


12.116

Just then the snake with the spirit of an elephant-king


Was awakened by the peerless sound of the sage's feet; 


Realizing that the great sage was set on awakening,


The black cobra Kāla, 

most excellent of serpents, sang the sage's praises:


12.117

As surely as the earth, O sage!,

pressed down under your footsteps,


Rolls like thunder,


And as surely as the light of you

shines forth like the sun,


You today will enjoy the longed-for fruit.


12.118

As surely as flocks of blue jays wheeling through the sky


Keep you, O lotus-eyed one!, on their right wing,


And as surely as in the sky gentle breezes blow,


You today will be an awakened one, a buddha.”


12.119

Then, his praises having been sung by the best of serpents,


The sage accepted from a grass-cutter some pristine grass,


And making a vow in the direction of awakening, he sat


At the foot of the great tree,

placing himself in the compass of the great pristine tree.


12.120

Then the supreme, unshakeable cross-legged posture –

In which sleeping serpents' coils are rolled into a ball – he took up, 

As if to say, "I shall not break this sitting posture on the earth

Until I have done completely what is to be done."


12.121

Then the denizens of heaven felt unequalled joy;


No sound did any beast make, nor any bird;


No forest tree creaked, though buffeted by the wind – 


When the Glorious One took his sitting posture, resolute to the core.



The 12th canto, titled Seeing / Arāḍa, in an epic tale of awakened action.











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