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athāvatīryāśva-ratha-dvipebhyaḥ śākyā yathā-sva-rddhi-gṛhīta-veṣāḥ /

Then the Śākyas, each clothed in accordance with his wealth and accomplishments, got down from their horses, chariots, and elephants,

mahāpaṇebhyo vyavahāriṇaś-ca mahāmunau bhakti-vaśāt praṇemuḥ // 5.1 //

And the traders came out of their big shops: by dint of their devotion, they bowed down before the great Sage.


ke-cit praṇamyānuyayur-muhūrtaṃ ke-cit praṇamyārtha-vaśena jagmuḥ /

Some bowed and then followed for a while; some bowed and went, being compelled to work.

ke-cit svayaivāyatane tu tasthuḥ kṛtvāñjalīn vīkṣaṇa-tat-parākṣāḥ // 5.2 //

But some remained still at their own sitting-places, their hands joined and eyes observing him in the distance.


buddhas-tatas-tatra narendra-mārge sroto mahad-bhaktimato janasya /

The Buddha then, and there, on the royal road, struggled on

jagāma duḥkhena vigāhamāno jalāgame srota ivāpagāyāḥ // 5.3 //

Into the gushing throng of the greatly devoted, as if entering the torrent of a river in the rains.


atho mahadbhiḥ pathi saṃpatadbhiḥ saṃpūjyamānāya tathāgatāya /

And so, with the great and the good rapidly converging on the road, to honour the Tathāgata,

kartuṃ praṇāmaṃ na śaśāka nandas-tenābhireme tu guror-mahimnā // 5.4 //

Nanda was unable to make a bow; but still he could delight in the Guru's greatness.


svaṃ cāvasaṅgaṃ pathi nirmumukṣur-bhaktiṃ janasyānya-mateś-ca rakṣan /

Wishing to shake off adherents1 to him on the road, while tending the devotion of people who were differently minded,2

nandaṃ ca gehābhimukhaṃ jighṛkṣan mārgaṃ tato 'nyaṃ sugataḥ prapede // 5.5 //

And wishing to take Nanda in hand, who was turning for home, the One Gone Well therefore took a different3 path.


tato viviktaṃ ca vivikta-cetāḥ sanmārga-vin mārgam-abhipratasthe /

He of the solitary and separate mind, a knower of the true path, took a solitary and separate path;

gatvāgrataś-cāgryatamāya tasmai nāndī-vimuktāya nanāma nandaḥ // 5.6 //

And Nanda whose name was Joy, going out in front, could bow to him, the One gone beyond joy, who was furthest out in front.


śanair-vrajann-eva sa gauraveṇa paṭāvṛtāṃso vinatārdha-kāyaḥ /

Walking forward meekly, with respectful seriousness, with cloak over one shoulder, body half-stooped,

adho-nibaddhāñjalir-ūrdhva-netraḥ sagadgadaṃ vākyam-idaṃ babhāṣe // 5.7 //

Hands held down and eyes raised up, Nanda stuttered these words:


prāsāda-saṃstho bhagavantam-antaḥ-praviṣṭam-aśrauṣam-anugrahāya /

"While I was in the palace penthouse, Glorious One, I learned that you came in for our benefit;

atas-tvarāvān-aham-abhyupeto gṛhasya kakṣyā-mahato 'bhyasūyan // 5.8 //

And so I have come in a hurry, indignant with the many members of the palace household.


tat-sādhu sādhu-priya mat-priyārtham tatrāstu bhikṣūttama bhaikṣa-kālaḥ /

Therefore, rightly, O Favourer of the Righteous, and as a favour to me, be there [at the palace], O Supreme Seeker of Alms, at the time for eating alms,

asau hi madhyaṃ nabhaso yiyāsuḥ kālaṃ pratismārayatīva sūryaḥ // 5.9 //

For the sun is about to reach the middle of the sky, as if to remind us of the time."


ity-evam-uktaḥ praṇatena tena snehābhimānonmukha-locanena /

Thus addressed by the bowing Nanda, whose expectant eyes looked up with tender affection,

tādṛṅ nimittaṃ sugataś-cakāra nāhāra-kṛtyaṃ sa yathā viveda // 5.10 //

The One Gone Well made a sign such that Nanda knew he would not be taking a meal.


tataḥ sa kṛtvā munaye praṇāmaṃ gṛha-prayāṇāya matiṃ cakāra /

Then, having made his bow to the Sage, he made up his mind to head home;

anugrahārthaṃ sugatas-tu tasmai pātraṃ dadau puṣkara-pattra-netraḥ // 5.11 //

But, as a favour, the One Gone Well, with lotus petal eyes, handed him his bowl.


tataḥ sa loke dadataḥ phalārthaṃ pātrasya tasyāpratimasya pātram /

The Incomparable Vessel was offering his own vessel, to reap a fruit in the human world,

jagrāha cāpa-grahaṇa-kṣamābhyāṃ padmopamābhyāṃ prayataḥ karābhyām // 5.12 //

And so Nanda, outstretched, held the bowl with lotus-like hands, which were better suited to the holding of a bow.


parāṅmukhas-tv-anya-manaskam-ārād vijñāya nandaḥ sugataṃ gatāstham /

But as soon as he sensed that the mind of the One Gone Well had gone elsewhere and was not on him, Nanda backtracked;

hasta-stha-pātro 'pi gṛhaṃ yiyāsuḥ sasāra mārgān-munim-īkṣamāṇaḥ // 5.13 //

Wanting, even with the bowl in his hands, to go home, he sidled away from the path -- while keeping his eye on the Sage.


bhāryānurāgeṇa yadā gṛhaṃ sa pātraṃ gṛhītvāpi yiyāsur-eva /

Then, at the moment that he in his yearning for his wife, despite holding the bowl, was about to head for home,

vimohayām-āsa munis-tatas-taṃ rathyā-mukhasyāvaraṇena tasya // 5.14 //

Just then the Sage bamboozled him, by blocking his entrance to the highway.


nirmokṣa-bījaṃ hi dadarśa tasya jñānaṃ mṛdu kleśa-rajaś-ca tīvram /

For he saw that in Nanda the seed of liberation, which is wisdom, was tenuous; while the fog of the afflictions was terribly thick;

kleśānukūlaṃ viṣayātmakaṃ ca nandaṃ yatas-taṃ munir-ācakarṣa // 5.15 //

And since he was susceptible to the afflictions and sensual by nature, therefore the Sage reined him in.


saṃkleśa-pakṣo dvividhaś-ca dṛṣṭas-tathā dvikalpo vyavadāna-pakṣaḥ /

There are understood to be two aspects to defilement; correspondingly, there are two approaches to purification:

ātmāśrayo hetu-balādhikasya bāhyāśrayaḥ pratyaya-gauravasya // 5.16 //

In one with stronger motivation from within, there is self-reliance; in one who assigns weight to conditions, there is outer-dependence.


ayatnato hetu-balādhikas-tu nirmucyate ghaṭṭita-mātra eva /

The one who is more strongly self-motivated loosens ties without even trying, on receipt of the slightest stimulus;

yatnena tu pratyaya-neya-buddhir-vimokṣam-āpnoti parāśrayeṇa // 5.17 //

Whereas the one whose mind is led by circumstances struggles to find freedom, because of his dependence on others.


nandaḥ sa ca pratyaya-neya-cetā yaṃ śiśriye tan-maya-tām avāpa /

And Nanda, whose mind was led by circumstances, became absorbed into whomever he depended on;

yasmād-imaṃ tatra cakāra yatnaṃ taṃ sneha-paṅkān munir ujjihīrṣan // 5.18 //

The Sage, therefore, made this effort in his case, wishing to lift him out of the mire of love.


nandas-tu duḥkhena viceṣṭamānaḥ śanair-agatyā gurum-anvagacchat /

But Nanda followed the Guru meekly and helplessly, squirming with discomfort,

bhāryā-mukhaṃ vīkṣaṇa-lola-netraṃ vicintayann-ārdra-viśeṣakaṃ tat // 5.19 //

As he thought of his wife's face, her eyes looking out restlessly, and the painted marks still moist.


tato munis-taṃ priya-mālya-hāraṃ vasanta-māsena kṛtābhihāram /

And so the Sage led him, lover of garlands of pearls and flowers, whom the month of Spring, Love's friend, had appropriated,

nināya bhagna-pramadā-vihāraṃ vidyā-vihārābhimataṃ vihāram // 5.20 //

To a playground where women were a broken amusement -- to the vihāra,4 beloved as a pleasure-ground of learning.


dīnaṃ mahā-kāruṇikas-tatas-taṃ dṛṣṭvā muhūrtaṁ karuṇāyamānaḥ /

Then the Greatly Compassionate One, watching him in his moment of misery and pitying him,

kareṇa cakrāṅka-talena mūrdhni pasparśa caivedam-uvāca cainam // 5.21 //

Put a hand, with wheel-marked palm, on his head and spoke to him thus:


yāvan-na hiṃsraḥ samupaiti kālaḥ śamāya tāvat kuru saumya buddhim /

"While murderous Time has yet to come calling, set your mind, my friend, in the direction of peace.

sarvāvavasthāsu hi vartamānaḥ sarvābhisāreṇa nihanti mṛtyuḥ // 5.22 //

For operating in all situations, using all manner of attacks, Death kills.


sādhāraṇāt svapna-nibhād-asārāl-lolaṃ manaḥ kāmasukhān-niyaccha /

Restrain the restless mind from sensual pleasures, which are common, dream-like, and insubstantial;

havyair-ivāgneḥ pavaneritasya lokasya kāmair-na hi tṛptir-asti // 5.23 //

For no more than a wind-fanned fire is sated by offerings are men satisfied by pleasures.


śraddhā-dhanaṃ śreṣṭhatamaṃ dhanebhyaḥ prajñā-rasas-tṛpti-karo rasebhyaḥ /

Most excellent among gifts is the gift of confidence. Most satisfying of tastes is the taste of real wisdom.

pradhānam-adhyātma-sukhaṃ sukhebhyo 'vidyā-ratir-duḥkhatamā ratibhyaḥ // 5.24 //

Foremost among comforts is being comfortable in oneself. The bliss of ignorance is the sorriest bliss.5


hitasya vaktā pravaraḥ suhṛdbhyo dharmāya khedo guṇavān śramebhyaḥ /

The kindest-hearted friend is he who tells one what is truly salutary. The most meritorious effort is to exhaust oneself in pursuit of the truth.

jñānāya kṛtyaṃ paramaṃ kriyābhyaḥ kim-indriyāṇām-upagamya dāsyam // 5.25 //

Supreme among labours is to work towards true understanding. Why would one enter into service of the senses?


tan-niścitaṃ bhī-klama-śug-viyuktaṃ pareṣv-anāyattam-ahāryam-anyaiḥ /

Select then that which is conclusive, which is beyond fear, fatigue and sorrow, and which is neither dependent on others nor removable by others:

nityaṃ śivaṃ śānti-sukhaṃ vṛṇīṣva kim-indriyārthārtham-anartham-ūḍhvā // 5.26 //

Select the lasting and benign happiness of extinction. What is the point of enduring disappointment, by making an object of sense-objects?


jarā-samā nāsty-amṛjā prajānāṃ vyādheḥ samo nāsti jagaty-anarthaḥ /

Nothing takes away people's beauty like aging, there is no misfortune in the world like sickness,

mṛtyoḥ samaṃ nāsti bhayaṃ pṛthivyām-etat-trayaṃ khalv-avaśena sevyam // 5.27 //

And no terror on earth like death. Yet these three, inevitably, shall be obeyed.


snehena kaś-cin-na samo 'sti pāśaḥ sroto na tṛṣṇā-samam-asti hāri /

There is no fetter like love, no torrent that carries one away like thirst,

rāgāgninā nāsti samas-tathāgnis-tac-cet trayaṃ nāsti sukhaṃ ca te 'sti // 5.28 //

And likewise no fire like the fire of passion. If not for these three, happiness would be yours.


avaśya-bhāvī priya-viprayogas-tasmāc-ca śoko niyataṃ niṣevyaḥ /

Separation from loved ones is inevitable, on which account grief is bound to be experienced.

śokena conmādam-upeyivāṃso rājarṣayo 'nye 'py-avaśā viceluḥ // 5.29 //

And it is through grief that other seers who were princes have gone mad and fallen helplessly apart.


prajñā-mayaṃ varma badhāna tasmān-no kṣānti-nighnasya hi śoka-bāṇāḥ /

So bind on the armour whose fabric is wisdom, for the arrows of grief are as naught to one steeped in patience;

mahac-ca dagdhuṃ bhava-kakṣa-jālaṃ saṃdhukṣayālpāgnim-ivātmatejaḥ // 5.30 //

And kindle the fire of your own energy to burn up the great tangled web of becoming, just as you would kindle a small fire to burn up undergrowth collected into a great heap.


yathauṣadhair-hasta-gataiḥ savidyo na daśyate kaś-cana pannagena /

Just as a man concerned with science, herbs in hand, is not bitten by any snake,

tathānapekṣo jita-loka-moho na daśyate śoka-bhujaṃgamena // 5.31 //

So a man without concern, having overcome the folly of the world, is not bitten by the snake of grief.


āsthāya yogaṃ parigamya tattvaṃ na trāsam-āgacchati mṛtyu-kāle /

Staying with practice and fully committed to what is, at the hour of death he is not afraid --

ābaddha-varmā sudhanuḥ kṛtāstro jigīṣayā śūra ivāhava-sthaḥ // 5.32 //

Like a warrior-hero standing in battle, clad in armour, and equipped with a good bow, with skill in archery, and with the will to win."


ity-evam-uktaḥ sa tathāgatena sarveṣu bhūteṣv-anukampakena /

Addressed thus by the One Thus Come, the Tathāgata, in his compassion for all living beings,

dhṛṣṭaṃ girāntarhṛdayena sīdaṃs-tatheti nandaḥ sugataṃ babhāṣe // 5.33 //

Nanda while sinking inside said boldly to the Sugata, the One Well Gone: "So be it!"


atha pramādāc-ca tam-ujjihīrṣan matvāgamasyaiva ca pātra-bhūtam /

And so wishing to lift him up out of heedlessness, and deeming him to be a vessel worthy of the living tradition,

pravrājayānanda śamāya nandam-ity-abravīn-maitra-manā maharṣiḥ // 5.34 //

The Great Seer, with kindness in his heart, said: "Ānanda!6 Let Nanda go forth towards tranquillity."


nandaṃ tato 'ntarmanasā rudantam-ehīti vaideha-munir-jagāda /

Then the sage of Videha7 said to Nanda, who was weeping inside: "Come!"

śanais-tatas-taṃ samupetya nando na pravrajiṣyāmy-aham-ity-uvāca // 5.35 //

At this Nanda approached him meekly and said "I won't go forth."


śrutvātha nandasya manīṣitaṃ tad buddhāya vaideha-muniḥ śaśaṃsa /

On hearing Nanda's idea, the Videha sage related it to the Buddha;

saṃśrutya tasmād-api tasya bhāvaṃ mahā-munir-nandam-uvāca bhūyaḥ // 5.36 //

And so, after hearing from him also as to Nanda's actual state, the Great Sage spoke to Nanda again:


mayy-agraje pravrajite 'jitātmane bhrātṛṣv-anupravrajiteṣu cāsmān /

"O you who have yet to conquer yourself! Given that I, your elder brother, have gone forth, and your cousins have gone forth after me,

jñātīṃś-ca dṛṣṭvā vratino gṛha-sthān saṃvinna-vit te 'sti na vāsti cetaḥ // 5.37 //

And seeing that our relatives who remain at home are committed to practice, are you minded to be conscious of consciousness, or are you not?


rājarṣayas-te viditā na nūnaṃ vanāni ye śiśriyire hasantaḥ /

Evidently the royal seers are unbeknown to you who retreated smiling into the forests;

niṣṭhīvya kāmān-upaśānti-kāmāḥ kāmeṣu naivaṃ kṛpaṇeṣu saktāḥ // 5.38 //

Having spat out desires, they were desirous of tranquillity and thus not stuck in lower order desires.


bhūyaḥ samālokya gṛheṣu doṣān niśāmya tat-tyāga-kṛtaṃ ca śarma /

Again, you have experienced the drawbacks of family life and you have observed the relief to be had from leaving it,

naivāsti moktuṃ matir-ālayaṃ te deśaṃ mumūrṣor-iva sopasargam // 5.39 //

And yet you, like a man in a disaster area who is resigned to his death, have no intention of giving up and leaving house and home.


saṃsāra-kāntāra-parāyaṇasya śive kathaṃ te pathi nārurukṣā /

How can you be so devoted to the wasteland of saṁsāra and so devoid of desire to take the auspicious path

āropyamāṇasya tam-eva mārgaṃ bhraṣṭasya sārthād-iva sārthikasya // 5.40 //

When -- like a desert trader who drops out from a caravan -- you have been set on that very path?


yaḥ sarvato veśmani dahyamāne śayīta mohān-na tato vyapeyāt /

One who in a house burning on all sides, instead of getting out of there, would lie down in his folly to sleep,

kālāgninā vyādhi-jarā-śikhena loke pradīpe sa bhavet pramattaḥ // 5.41 //

Only he might be heedless, in a world burning in the fire of Time, with its flames of sickness and aging.


praṇīyamānaś-ca yathā vadhāya matto hasec-ca pralapec-ca vadhyaḥ /

Again, like the condemned man being led, drunkenly laughing and babbling, to the stake,

mṛtyau tathā tiṣṭhati pāśa-haste śocyaḥ pramādyan viparīta-cetāḥ // 5.42 //

Equally to be lamented is one whose mind is upside-down, cavorting while Death stands by, with noose in hand.


yadā narendrāś-ca kuṭumbinaś-ca vihāya bandhūṃś-ca parigrahāṃś-ca /

When kings and humble householders, leaving relations and possessions behind,

yayuś-ca yāsyanti ca yānti caiva priyeṣv-anityeṣu kuto 'nurodhaḥ // 5.43 //

Have gone forth, will go forth, and even now are going forth, what is the point of pandering to fleeting fondnesses?


kiṁ-cin-na paśyāmi ratasya yatra tad-anya-bhāvena bhaven-na duḥkham /

I do not see any pleasure which might not, by turning into something else, become pain.

tasmāt kva-cin-na kṣamate prasaktir-yadi kṣamas-tad-vigamān-na śokaḥ // 5.44 //

Therefore no attachment bears scrutiny -- unless the grief is bearable that arises from the absence of its object.


tat-saumya lolaṃ parigamya lokaṃ māyopamaṃ citram-ivendrajālam /

So, my friend, knowing the human world to be fickle, a net of Indra, a web of fictions, like a gaudy magic show,

priyābhidhānaṃ tyaja mohajālaṃ chettuṃ matis-te yadi duḥkhajālam // 5.45 //

Abandon the net of delusion you call 'my love,' if you are minded to cut the net of suffering.


varaṃ hitodarkam-āniṣṭam-annaṃ na svādu yat syād-ahitānubaddham /

Unfancied food that does one good is better than tasty food that may do harm:

yasmād-ahaṃ tvā viniyojayāmi śive śucau vartmani vipriye 'pi // 5.46 //

On that basis I commend you to a course which, though unpalatable, is wholesome and honest.


bālasya dhātrī vinigṛhya loṣṭaṃ yathoddharatyāsya-puṭa-praviṣṭam /

Just as a nurse keeps firm hold of an infant while taking out soil it has put in its mouth,

tathojjihīrṣuḥ khalu rāga-śalyaṃ tat-tvām-avocaṃ paruṣaṃ hitāya // 5.47 //

So, wishing to draw out the dart of passion, have I spoken to you sharply for your own good.


aniṣṭam-apy-auṣadham-āturāya dadāti vaidyaś-ca yathā nigṛhya /

And just as a doctor restrains a patient then gives him bitter medicine;

tadvan-mayoktaṃ pratikūlam-etat-tubhyaṃ hitodarkam-anugrahāya // 5.48 //

So have I given you, in order to help you, this disagreeable advice with beneficial effect.


tad-yāvad-eva kṣaṇa-saṃnipāto na mṛtyur-āgacchati yāvad-eva /

Therefore, while you are meeting the present moment, while death has yet to come,

yāvad-vayo yoga-vidhau samarthaṃ buddhiṃ kuru śreyasi tāvad-eva // 5.49 //

So long as you have the energy for practice, decide on better."


ity-evam-uktaḥ sa vināyakena hitaiṣiṇā kāruṇikena nandaḥ /

Addressed thus by his benevolent and compassionate guide,

kartāsmi sarvaṃ bhagavan vacas-te tathā yathā-jñāpayasīty-uvāca // 5.50 //

Nanda said, "I shall do, Glorious One, all that you say, just as you teach it."


ādāya vaideha-munis-tatas-taṃ nināya saṃśliṣya viceṣṭamānam /

At this the sage of Videha reclaimed him, and held him close as he led him off writhing,

vyayojayac-cāśru-pariplutākṣaṃ keśa-śriyaṃ chatra-nibhasya mūrdhnaḥ // 5.51 //

And then, while Nanda's eyes welled with tears, he separated the crowning glory of his hair from the royal umbrella of his head.


atho nataṃ tasya mukhaṃ sabāṣpaṃ pravāsyamāneṣu śiro-ruheṣu /

As his hair was thus being banished, his tearful downcast face

vakrāgra-nālaṃ nalinaṃ taḍāge varṣodaka-klinnam-ivābabhāse // 5.52 //

Resembled a rain-sodden lotus in a pond with the top of its stalk sagging down.


nandas-tatas-taru-kaṣāya-virakta-vāsāś-cintāvaśo nava-gṛhīta iva dvipendraḥ /

Thence, in drab garb with the dull yellow-red colour of tree bark, and despondent as a newly-captured elephant,

pūrṇaḥ śaśī bahula-pakṣa-gataḥ kṣapānte bālātapena pariṣikta ivāvabhāse // 5.53 //

Nanda resembled a waning full moon at night's end, sprinkled by the powdery rays of the early morning sun.


saundaranande mahā-kāvye nanda-pravrājano nāma pañcama sargaḥ //5//

The 5th canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled "Nanda Is Caused to Go Forth."






1 Or adherence – the original is singular.

2 Anya-mateḥ on the surface means heretical, non-Buddhist, skeptical, disbelieving, in a perjorative sense, but Aśvaghoṣa's real intention may be that the Buddha discouraged blind belief and valued the efforts of individuals to think his teaching out for themselves.

3 For futher examples of this use of anya, which means not only “other” or “different” but also “odd, individual, singular, alternative, unconventional,” see especially Canto 10.

4 Vihāra, which means walking for pleasure or amusement, and hence a place of recreation or pleasure-ground was the name given to a hall where monks met or walked about. It came to mean the grounds of a monastery or temple.

5 Alternative reading: “delight in [intellectual] knowledge is the sorriest delight.” If 'vidya is read, with the silent prefix a-, then the sentence means that ignorance is the sorriest bliss. With the silent prefix, the sentence means that [intellectual] knowledge is the sorriest bliss. The ambiguity may well be intentional.

6 The bhikṣu Ānanda, a cousin of the Buddha and Nanda, is the protagonist of Canto 11, in which he guides Nanda to understand the folly of aspiring to heavenly bliss, which can only ever be temporary.

7 The sage of Videha is an epithet of Ānanda. Videha corresponds to the area north of the Ganges which is now known as Tirhut, in the state of Bihar (Land of Vihāras).






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