Theragāthā 21.1
The Verses of Arahant Vaṅgīsa (1220-1291)

The Arahant Vaṇgīsa was a great poet.

1220. Even when I have become a monk in the Buddha’s path, having abandoned the home life, still these inferior, unwholesome thoughts chase after me.

1221. Even if a well-trained army of a thousand great archers with a thousand arrows surrounded and shot me, still I would not run away. I won’t surrender.

1222. But even if more women than that were to come, they wouldn’t be able to tempt me. I am well established in the Dhamma.

1223. I learned this path of Nibbāna from the Buddha, who was born in the clan of the sun. My mind is always firm in that path.

1224. Hey Māra! While I am treading that path, you come to trouble me. But see what I will do to you. Without giving any opportunity for you to see my way, I will one day die.

1225. If someone abandons the dislike of meditation, abandons the liking of sensual thoughts, abandons inferior thoughts and doesn’t generate craving at all, he is liberated from craving. He who is freed from craving is called a monk.

1226. In the sky, on the earth and in this entire world, whatever is made of the four great elements is impermanent and is decaying. Liberated ones have realized that truth.

1227. But people with defilements are deluded by forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tangibles. If someone lives without defilements, devoid of desire for those things and unattached to them, he is called the sage.

1228. Ordinary people have got caught up in the wrong teachings. Having been entangled in sixty-eight wrong views, they argue. But without getting entangled in any of those wrong views, and entirely freed from them, if one doesn’t talk about unnecessary things, one is called a monk.

1229. This wise monk has had a still mind for a long time, not deceitful, prudent, rid of craving and attained to the Supreme peace of Nibbāna. This sage awaits his time to attain final extinguishing at passing away.

1230. Gotama, abandon conceit and the path to conceit completely. If you are infatuated with the path to conceit, you will regret it for a long time.

1231. Saying bad things about others covers up their good qualities. Conceit strikes people down. By these things, people fall into hell and grieve there for a long time.

1232. Having followed the path of Nibbāna and practiced a proper training, the monk who attained victory never grieves. He experiences fame and happiness. Wise people call him the one who sees the Dhamma having attained to the truth.

1233. Therefore, eradicate the spikes of defilements. Practice energetically. Abandon the hindrances. Attain to purity. Abandon all conceit. Achieve the calmness of the mind. Achieve true knowledge and put an end to this suffering.

1234. Oh, Gotama (speaking to Ānanda Bhante), my mind is burnt with desire for sensual pleasures. My mind is on fire all around. Oh, with compassion teach me a way to extinguish this fire of lust.

1235. [Ānanda Bhante:] Certainly, you have been deluded by distorted perception. That is why your mind is on fire. Immediately abandon the sign of attractiveness which arouses lust.

1236. Understand all formations as things belonging to others, as pain, and not as self. Immediately extinguish the great fire of lust. May you not burn in the fire of lust again!

1237. With a unified and a perfectly still mind, develop the meditation on unattractiveness. Establish mindfulness on the contemplation of the body. Live with a mind disenchanted with the world.

1238. Develop the insight meditation which is devoid of signs of defilements. Cast out the conceit deeply rooted in the mind. By the full understanding of conceit, live calmly.

1239. [Vaṅgīsa Bhante:] Indeed one should speak such words that don’t harm oneself and others. Such words are truly called well spoken words.

1240. One should speak only pleasant words. Everyone welcomes such words. Avoiding evil words, one should speak agreeable words.

1241. Absolutely, truth is the immortal word. Truth is the eternal law. Therefore, superior people are firm in truth, meaning, and Dhamma when they speak.

1242. Whatever word that demolishes fear, leads up to Nibbāna, and puts an end to suffering, was spoken by the Buddha. That is the best of all words in the world.

1243. Arahant Sāriputta’s wisdom is very deep. It is amazingly profound. He is very skilled in teaching how to distinguish between the right and wrong path. Arahant Sāriputta teaches the Dhamma to monks using that great wisdom.

1244. He can preach the Dhamma in brief and at length. He can preach elaborately. His voice is sweet like the sound of the myna bird. When he is preaching, his profundity becomes more and more evident.

1245. Everyone hears his sweet and lovely words. Monks like to listen to those delightful words that are very pleasant to hear. Monks give ear with joyful and happy minds.

1246. Today is a full moon. Five hundred liberated monks have assembled together to perform the pure recitation of virtues. These monks have destroyed the fetters of existence and rebirth and have been liberated from suffering. All these monks are Great Seers.

1247–48. Just as a wheel-turning universal king surrounded by his ministers goes all around this earth bounded by the oceans, even so, the unsurpassed Supreme Teacher wanders surrounded by his disciples, possessed of the Triple Knowledge, who have won the battle defeating the army of Māra.

1249–50. All these liberated monks are sons of the Blessed One. There is no weakness in them at all. The destroyer of the dart of craving, the Buddha, who was born to the clan of the sun, is surrounded by more than a thousand of these monks. The Buddha taught us about the undefiled Nibbāna where there is no fear from any direction.

1251. The monks listen to the pure Dhamma taught by the fully enlightened Buddha. In the midst of the community of monks, the sight of the Supreme Buddha is extremely astonishing.

1252. The Buddha is the seventh Seer among Great Seers. The Blessed One is called “Nāga.” The Buddha makes the rain of Dhamma fall upon the disciples, just like a heavy rain storm.

1253. Getting up from the daytime resting place, I have come here desiring to see the Great Teacher. Great hero, your sacred feet are being worshiped by your disciple Vaṅgīsa.

1254. Look at the Great Teacher. The Buddha closed Māra’s devious path entirely, broke up the spikes of defilements, and now wanders freely. The Buddha teaches the Dhamma analytically and releases these beings from all bonds and defilements.

1255. The Buddha taught this path of Nibbāna solely to cross the flood of defilements. When that path was explained in various ways, monks were firmly established in the unstirred Nibbāna.

1256. The Dhamma realized by the Buddha overcomes everything and brings the light of Dhamma. The Blessed One taught that Supreme Dhamma to the group of five monks for the first time.

1257. When such a well taught Dhamma is available, and knowing it, why wouldn’t someone take the practice seriously? Therefore, always pay homage to the Blessed One and practice the path of the Buddha diligently.

1258. With strong energy, in the generation of Buddhas, the Arahant Koṇḍañña always lives experiencing the happiness of seclusion.

1259. Whatever fruit is to be obtained by a disciple following the Great Teacher’s instruction respectfully, that fruit was obtained by all the diligent disciples.

1260. Arahant Koṇḍañña is mighty. He attained the Triple Knowledge. He is skilled in reading others’ minds. He is the heir of the Buddha. Arahant Koṇḍañña worships the sacred feet of his Great Teacher.

1261. Those disciples with Triple Knowledge live having left Māra behind. When the Buddha, who crossed over suffering, stays upon the flat surface of the Isigili rocky mountain, the Great Teacher is surrounded by the disciples.

1262. Arahant Moggallāna’s psychic power is incredible. He has a taint-free, liberated mind. Arahant Moggallāna can read the minds of monks with his mind.

1263. In this way, these liberated ones possess many various skills. The Gotama Buddha, who is possessed of all good virtues, is surrounded by such skilled monks.

1264. The shining moon in the cloudless sky is delightful. The spotless sun also shines brilliantly. The Great Sage, Aṅgīrasa, is exactly the same. You outshine the whole world by your fame.

1265. Formerly, I was a skilled poet. I was intoxicated by my skill. I used to wander from village to village and from city to city. One day, I saw the fully enlightened Buddha who had crossed over everything.

1266. The Great Sage, the Buddha, who crossed over all suffering, taught me the Dhamma. My mind was so pleased with that Dhamma. Indeed, it is for our wellbeing that we were gifted with this Triple Gem.

1267. I learned the words of the Buddha very well. I studied the aggregates, the elements, and the sense bases. I became a monk in the Buddha’s path.

1268. Many men and women follow the Buddha’s path. Truly, Tathāgatas appear in the world for the wellbeing of many.

1269. The monks and nuns entered the path of Nibbāna and attained Nibbāna. Truly, the Buddha attained enlightenment for our wellbeing.

1270. The Buddha, the one with eyes of Dhamma, who was born in the clan of the sun, taught these Four Noble Truths out of compassion for all beings.

1271. Suffering is a Noble Truth. The arising of suffering is a Noble Truth. The overcoming of suffering is a Noble Truth. The Noble Eightfold Path leading to the extinguishing of suffering is also a Noble Truth.

1272. Thus, these Four Noble Truths have been taught in this Dhamma. I also have seen them just as they are. I have obtained the ultimate goal. The Buddha’s path has been fully followed by me.

1273. My entering into the Buddha’s path is truly a blessing. It was in the presence of the Buddha that I learned this well expounded Dhamma. I too realized that Great Dhamma.

1274. I have obtained the perfection of profound knowledges. I have purified my divine ear. I have achieved the Triple Knowledge. I developed psychic powers. I am skilled in reading others’ minds.

1275. You are my Great Teacher who has perfect wisdom, who cuts off all uncertainties and doubt in this life. I ask you respectfully about my preceptor. That monk’s virtues were well known; he had an extinguished mind; he passed away at the Aggālava Monastery.

1276. His name is Nigrodhakappa. It was the Blessed One who gave that name to that noble monk. That monk always followed the path putting forth energy. Seeing the profound Dhamma, longing for Supreme Nibbāna, that monk lived worshiping the Buddha.

1277. Great Sage of the Sākyans, the sage who sees everything, we all wish to know about that monk. Our ears are ready to hear. You are indeed our Great Teacher, our unsurpassed Great Sage.

1278. The Sage who sees everything, you are sitting in the midst of monks like the god Sakka, surrounded by gods. Sage of great wisdom, tell us about that monk and dispel our doubt. Did that monk attain final extinguishing at passing away?

1279. Ignorance is what makes the whole world deluded. Those ties of defilements, bases of doubts that go along with ignorance, none of them are found in the Tathāgata. Indeed, you are called the Supreme Eye of all beings.

1280. The Buddha dispersed all defilements as the blowing wind disperses a mass of rainy clouds. If the Buddha hadn’t done that, the whole world would have been enveloped in darkness, and people who shine in wisdom would never be found in the world.

1281. Wise sages are the great beings who illuminate this world. My great hero, the Buddha, I think that you are such a being. We have come to the Greatest Sage who sees reality and who knows reality. Oh Blessed One, sitting in the midst of monks, reveal the Nigirodhakappa Bhante’s life to us.

1282. True meaning is released from that sweet voice. Words are sent forth in a beautiful way. Teach us the Dhamma in a sweet tone, tell us with beautiful words in a sweet tone, like a goose stretching out its neck. We all will listen with upright hearts.

1283. The Buddha eliminated the round of birth and death completely and achieved purification by cleansing all evil. I shall make the Buddha speak about the sweet Dhamma. The Buddhas don’t act according to mind’s desires as ordinary people do. The Buddhas always act with wise consideration.

1284. The Buddha teaches the Dhamma in a very clear way. The Buddha has perfect wisdom. We accept all the virtues of the Buddha. Worshiping with joined palms, we tell you, “Oh the Great Teacher of great wisdom, please, give us knowledge.”

1285. Great hero, with perfect wisdom, Great Sage with perfect realization, release us from delusion! We too like to listen to the Dhamma as one longs for water when burned by heat in the summer. Make the rain of Dhamma fall on us!

1286. Surely our Nigrodhakappa Bhante lived the holy monk-life expecting the ultimate noble goal. Did he achieve the goal? Did he attain final extinguishing at passing away? Or did he die with defilements? We wish to know about that.

1287. [The Blessed One:] In this world formed by mentality and materiality, for a long time his mind was stuck in the rapid flood of Māra. He cut off craving for the whole world. He passed beyond the round of birth and death forever (so spoke the Blessed One, the one with the best types of knowledge.)

1288. [Vaṅgīsa Bhante:] Supreme Seer, hearing your voice I am pleased. Whatever I asked from the Blessed One was never in vain. The True Brāhmin never deceived me.

1289. That monk is also a disciple of the Buddha who acted as he spoke. Using wisdom, he cut the deceitful net of Māra.

1290. The Blessed One discovered everything about Nigrodhakappa Bhante. Kappa Bhante has truly crossed over the realm of Māra, which is very hard to cross.

1291. Best of humans, best of gods, I pay homage to you, the Great Buddha. I also pay homage to the great elephant, the great hero, Arahant Nigrodhakappa, who was born from your heart; he is truly your son.

These verses were said by Arahant Vaṅgīsa.

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Theragāthā 21.1: The Verses of Arahant Vaṅgīsa (1220-1291)

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