Thag 21
translated from the Pali by
John D. Ireland
Alternate translation: Hecker/Khema (excerpt)

I. Departed (Nikkhantam)

1209. Alas! Now that I have departed from home to the homeless state, these reckless thoughts from the Dark One[1] come upon me.

1210. Mighty warriors, great archers, trained, steady bowmen, one thousand fearless men, might surround me on all sides.

1211. Even if more women than these will come,[2] they will not cause me to waver, for I am firmly established in the teaching.

1212. In his presence I heard from the Awakened One, the Kinsman of the Sun, of this path leading to nibbana; it is there that my mind is attached.

1213. Evil One, while I am living thus, if you assail me, so shall I act, O Death, that you will not see my path.

II. Disliking (Aratim)

1214. Entirely giving up disliking and liking, and the thinking associated with the life of a householder, one should not have craving for anything. He indeed is a monk who is wholly without craving.

1215. Whatever there is here of form, inhabiting the earth and the sky, immersed in the world,[3] all is impermanent and decaying. So understanding, the wise live their lives.[4]

1216. Regarding objects of attachment, people are greedy for what is to be seen and heard and touched and otherwise experienced.[5] Being unmoved, dispel desire for them, for they call him a sage who does not cling to them.

1217. Then, caught in the sixty,[6] full of (speculative) thoughts, because of being outsiders,[7] they are established in wrong teaching. But one who is a monk would not take up a sectarian viewpoint, much less seize upon what is bad.

1218. Intelligent, for a long time composed (of mind), not deceitful, wise, not envious, the sage has experienced the peaceful state, depending on which, attained to quenching, he awaits his time.[8]

III. Despising the Well-behaved (Pesala-atimaññana)

1219. Abandon conceit, Gotama,[9] get rid of the way of conceit completely. Because of being infatuated by the way of conceit, for a long time you have been remorseful.

1220. Soiled by contempt (for others), destroyed by conceit, people fall into hell. Persons destroyed by conceit grieve for a long time upon being reborn in hell.

1221. A monk never grieves who is a knower of the path,[10] one who has practiced it properly. He experiences fame and happiness; truthfully they call him "a seer of Dhamma."

1222. Therefore be without barrenness[11] here ( in this world), energetic, purified by abandoning the hindrances. Having completely abandoned conceit, be an ender (of suffering) through knowledge and become one who dwells at peace.

IV. Ananda


1223. "I burn with sensual desire, my mind is enflamed (with passion). Out of pity please tell me, Gotama,[13] the effective extinguishing of it."


1224. "Your mind is enflamed because of distorted perception. Shun the aspect of beauty associated with passion. (A)

1224B. "See constructions[14] as other, as painful, not as self, (and thus) extinguish strong passion; do not burn again and again. (B)[15]

1225. "Devote the mind, one-pointed and well-composed, to the contemplation of foulness.[16] Let mindfulness be directed towards the body and be full of disenchantment for it.

1226. "Contemplate the signless[17] and cast out the underlying tendency to conceit. Then by the penetration of conceit you will go about at peace."

V. Well-spoken (Subhasita)

1227. One should speak only that word by which one would not torment oneself nor harm others. That word is indeed well spoken.

1228. One should speak only pleasant words, words which are acceptable (to others). What one speaks without bringing evils to others is pleasant.

1229. Truth is indeed the undying word; this is an ancient verity. Upon truth, the good say, the goal and the teaching are founded.[19]

1230. The sure word the Awakened One speaks for the attainment of nibbana, for making an end of suffering, is truly the best of words.

VI. Sariputta

1231. Of profound wisdom, intelligent, skilled in knowledge of the right and wrong path, Sariputta of great wisdom teaches Dhamma to the monks.

1232. He teaches in brief, he speaks with detailed explanation, his voice is (pleasing) like that of the mynah bird; he demonstrates readiness of speech.[20]

1233. Listening to his sweet utterance[21] while he is teaching with a voice that is captivating, pleasing, and lovely, the monks give ear, with minds elated and joyful.

VII. The Invitation Ceremony (Pavarana)

1234. Today on the fifteenth (of the fortnight)[23] five hundred monks have gathered for the ceremony of purification, cutters of fetters and bonds, untroubled, seers finished with renewed existence.

1235-36. As a wheel-turning monarch, surrounded by his ministers, tours all around this ocean-girt earth, so do the disciples with the threefold knowledge, who have left death behind, attend upon the victor in battle, the unsurpassed caravan leader.

1237. All are the Fortunate One's sons; there is no chaff found here. I pay homage to the destroyer of the dart of craving, the Kinsman of the Sun.

VIII. More than a Thousand (Parosahassam)

1238. More than a thousand monks attend upon the Happy One as he is teaching the stainless Dhamma concerning nibbana, where no fear can come from any quarter.

1239. They hear the taintless Dhamma taught by the Fully Awakened One. The Awakened One is truly resplendent as he is revered by the community of monks.

1240. You are called a naga,[24] Fortunate One; of seers, you are the best of seers.[25] Like a great rain-cloud, you rain down upon the disciples.

1241. Leaving his daytime abode, wishing to see the Teacher, your disciple Vangisa pays homage at your feet, Great Hero.

IX. Overcoming (Abhibhuyya)

1242. Overcoming the devious ways and range of Mara, he walks (free), having broken up the things that make for barrenness of mind.[27] See him producing release from bonds, unattached, separating (the Teaching) into its constituent parts.[28]

1243. He has shown the path in a variety of ways with the aim of guiding us across the flood. Since the undying has been shown (to them), the Dhamma-seers (are those who) stand immovable.

1244. The light-maker, having penetrated (the Dhamma), saw the overcoming of all standpoints.[29] Having understood and experienced it, he taught the topmost (Dhamma-teaching) to the five.[30]

1245. When the Dhamma has been thus well taught, what indolence could there be in those who know the Dhamma? Therefore, vigilant and ever revering, one should follow the training in the Fortunate One's dispensation.

X. Kondañña

1246. The Elder Kondañña, strong in energy, who was enlightened after the Awakened One,[31] is repeatedly the obtainer of pleasurable abidings and seclusions.[32]

1247. Whatever is to be attained by a disciple who does the instruction of the Teacher, all that has been attained by him, vigilant and disciplined.

1248. Having great power and the threefold knowledge, skilled in knowing the thoughts of others, Kondañña, the Awakened One's heir, pays homage at the Teacher's feet.

XI. Moggallana

1249. Disciples, possessors of the threefold knowledge who have left death behind, attend upon the sage seated on the mountain side, who has gone to the far shore beyond suffering.

1250. Moggallana, of great supernormal powers, encompasses (their minds) with his mind, seeking their minds, completely freed, without attachments.[33]

1251. Thus do they attend upon Gotama endowed with so many virtuous qualities, the sage possessed of all the attributes and gone to the far shore beyond suffering.

XII. Gaggara

1252. As the moon shines in the sky free from clouds, as also the spotless sun, even so, Resplendent One, Great Sage, do you outshine the whole world with your fame.

XIV. Vangisa (2)

1253. Intoxicated with skill in the poetic art, formerly we wandered from village to village, from town to town. Then we saw the Awakened One gone to the far shore beyond all (worldly conditioned) phenomena.

1254. The sage gone to the far shore beyond suffering taught me the Dhamma. On hearing the Dhamma we gained confidence in him; faith arose in us.

1255. Having heard his word and learnt of the aggregates, bases, and elements, I went forth into homelessness.

1256. Indeed Tathagatas appear for the good of the many men and women who practice their teaching.

1257. Indeed the sage attained enlightenment for the good of those monks and nuns who see the course to be undergone.[34]

1258. Well taught are the Four Noble Truths by the Seeing One, the Awakened One, the Kinsman of the Sun, out of compassion for living beings.

1259. Suffering, the origin of suffering, the overcoming of suffering, and the noble eightfold path leading to the allaying of suffering.

1260. Thus these things, thus spoken of, have been seen by me as they really are. The true goal has been reached by me; the Awakened One's instruction has been done.

1261. It was good indeed for me, my coming into the presence of the Awakened One. Among things shared out I obtained the best.

1262. I have attained the perfection of the direct knowledges, I have purified the element of hearing, I have the threefold knowledge and obtained supernormal powers and am skilled in knowing the minds of others.

XV. Nigrodhakappa

1263. "I ask the teacher of superior wisdom, one who in this very life is the cutter-off of doubts: The monk, well known and famous, who has died at Agga.lava, was he completely quenched in mind?

1264. "Nigrodhakappa was the name given to that brahmin by you, Fortunate One. Looking for release, strenuously energetic, he went about revering you, O seer of the secure state (i.e., nibbana).

1265. "Sakka, All-seeing One, we all wish to know concerning that disciple. Our ears are ready to hear. You are the teacher, you are unsurpassed.

1266. "Sever our doubt. Tell me this, you of extensive wisdom, that he experienced quenching. Speak in our very midst, All-seeing One, like the thousand-eyed Sakka in the midst of the gods.

1267. "Whatever bonds exist here (in the world), ways of delusion, on the side of ignorance, bases for doubt, they no longer exist on reaching the Tathagata, for that vision of his is supreme among men.

1268. "If no man were ever to disperse the defilements as the wind disperses a mass of clouds, the whole world, enveloped, would surely be darkness, and even illustrious men would not shine forth.

1269. "But the wise are light-makers. O Wise One, I think you are just such a one. We have come upon him who knows and is gifted with insight. Make evident to us, within the companies (of disciples), the fate of Kappa.

1270. "Quickly enunciate your beautiful utterance, O beautiful one! Like a goose stretching forth (its neck), honk gently with your melodious and well-modulated voice; we are all listening to you attentively.

1271. "Pressing the one who has completely abandoned birth and death, I shall urge the purified one to speak Dhamma. For among outsiders there is no acting as they wish, but among Tathagatas there is acting with discretion.[35]

1272. "This full explanation of yours, (coming from) one with upright wisdom, is well learnt. This last salutation is proferred. You of superior wisdom, knowing (Kappa's fate), do not keep us in ignorance.

1273. "Having known the noble Dhamma in its full extent, you of superior energy, knowing (Kappa's fate), do not keep us in ignorance. I long for your word as one overcome by heat in the hot season longs for water. Rain down on our ears.[36]

1274. "Surely the purpose for which Kappayana practiced the holy life was not in vain. Was he quenched or had he a residue remaining?[37] Let us hear in what way he was released."

1275. "He cut off craving here for mind-and-materiality", said the Fortunate One, "the stream of craving which for a long time had lain latent within him. He has crossed beyond birth and death completely." So spoke the Fortunate One, the foremost of the five.[38]

1276. "On hearing your word, O best of seers, I believe. My question was truly not in vain; the brahmin did not deceive me.

1277. "As he spoke, so he acted. He was a disciple of the Awakened One. He cut through the strong, spread-out net of Death the deceiver.

1278. "Kappiya saw the starting point of grasping, O Fortunate One. Kappayana has certainly gone beyond the realm of Death, so difficult to cross.

1279. "I pay homage to you, the god of gods,[39] and to your son, O best of bipeds, to the great hero born in your tracks, a naga, a true son of the naga."[40]