Canto 16: ārya-satya-vyākhyānaḥ
Exposition of the Noble Truths


Ārya-satya means noble truth or noble truths, and vyākhyāna is an -na neuter action noun from vy-ā-√khyā, which means to explain in detail, to tell in full, or to communicate. The importance of this Canto is indicated by its length: at 98 verses, it is comfortably the longest canto in Saundara-nanda. In it the Buddha tells Nanda that the birth of a sentient creature is the birth of suffering. This suffering has its cause in faults which the Buddha associates with progressive doing (pravṛtti), and with thirsting (tṛṣṇā). To eliminate the faults which are the cause of suffering is to eliminate suffering itself. As a practical means whereby Nanda might eliminate faults, then, the Buddha teaches him a noble eightfold path based on the integrity (śīla) praised in Canto 13, but including the meditative tranquillity (samādhi) indicated in Canto 15, and also comprising the crowning accomplishment of wisdom (prajñā), this wisdom being primarily a function of insight into the four noble truths themselves.

While the Canto thus has a practical emphasis, it also contains some especially memorable examples of Aśvaghoṣa’s poetry – like for example verse 4, verse 10, verses 28-29, verse 35, verse 42-43, verse 50, and verses 97-98.

In the end the present Canto is much more than a detailed explanation of the four noble truths, and much more than beautiful poetry. It is a call to action, in which the Buddha exhorts Nanda, following the example of many other individuals, energetically to clear his own path of śīla, samādhi and prajñā, for the ending of all faults, gross and subtle. The Canto title ārya-satya-vākhyāna like all of the other canto titles from Canto 12 onwards – is thus ultimately suggestive of sitting practice itself. In the final analysis, ārya-satya-vākhyāna may be understood as describing the very act of sitting in the lotus posture as the expression, or the communication, of the four noble truths.



evaṁ mano-dhāraṇayā krameṇa vyapohya kiṁ-cit samupohya kiṁ-cit /
dhyānāni catvāry adhigamya yogī prāpnoty abhijñā niyamena pañca // 16.1 //

Thus, by methodically taking possession of the mind, getting rid of something and gathering something together, / The practitioner makes the four dhyānas The four stages of sitting-meditation are described from SN17.42 to 17.55. See also Arāḍa’s description in BC Canto 12. 01 his own, and duly acquires the five powers of knowing: // 16.1 //

ṛddhi-pravekaṁ ca bahu-prakāraṁ parasya cetaś-caritāvabodham /
atīta-janma-smaraṇaṁ ca dīrghaṁ divye viśuddhe śruti-cakṣuṣī ca // 16.2 //

The principal transcendent power, Ṛddhi-pravekam. The meanings of ṛddhi include 1. increase, growth, prosperity, success; and 2. accomplishment, perfection, supernatural power [= abhijñā]. At the end of a compound, praveka means principal or chief. 02 taking many forms; The 1st pāda has been translated in such a way as to allow the reading that “taking many forms,” i.e. versatility or adaptability, is the principal transcendent power. EHJ translated “the most excellent magic powers of many kinds.” Cf. SN3.22. 03 then being awake to what others are thinking; / And remembering past lives from long ago; and divine lucidity of ear; and of eye. // 16.2 //

ataḥ paraṁ tattva-parīkṣaṇena mano dadhāty āsrava-saṁkṣayāya /
tato hi duḥkha-prabhṛtīni samyak catvāri satyāni padāny avaiti // 16.3 //

From then on, Ataḥ param, “from then on.” As EHJ wrote in his Introduction to Buddhacarita, this seems to accord with “the view generally prevailing in the schools... that the trances [dhyānas] are mastered in a preliminary stage before the process of bhāvanā begins.” The prevailing view, in other words, was that sitting-dhyāna was a mundane practice, associated with the five higher powers, but not with the sixth supramundane power, by which the pollutants are eradicated. But see note to SN17.56.04 through investigation of what is, Tattva-parīkṣaṇa, “investigation of reality,” may be taken as equivalent to the Pali vipassanā (see note to SN15.69). 05 he applies his mind to eradicating the polluting influences, An āsrava (lit. “influx”) is a polluting influence, or pollutant, or taint, that is said to tie us to existence in saṁsāra. Sometimes the āsravas are classified three ways as kāmāsrava (desire), bhavāsrava (becoming), and avidyāsrava (ignorance). Sometimes dṛṣṭy-āsrava (views) is included in a four-way classification. According to one explanation, the taint of views is ended through the supramundane path of stream-entry, the taint of desire through the supramundane path of non-returning, and the taints of becoming and ignorance through the supramundane path of arhathood. EHJ’s point, then, is that, in the conventional understanding, sitting-dhyāna is a mundane practice, and sometimes (as in the case of Arāḍa) a non-Buddhist practice, which precedes the supramundane efforts of the four kinds of noble ones to cleanse the mind of pollutants. EHJ queries why Aśvaghoṣa seems to go against this convention in his description of Nanda’s progress in SN Canto 17. (Again, see note to SN17.56.) 06 / For on this basis he fully understands suffering and the rest, the four true standpoints: // 16.3 //

bādhātmakaṁ duḥkham idaṁ prasaktaṁ duḥkhasya hetuḥ prabhavātmako ’yam /
duḥkha-kṣayo niḥsaraṇātmako ‘yaṃ trāṇātmako ‘yaṃ praśamāya mārgaḥ // 16.4 //

This is suffering, which is constant and akin to trouble; this is the cause of suffering, akin to starting it; / This is cessation of suffering, akin to walking away. And this, akin to a refuge, is a peaceable path. // 16.4 //

ity ārya-satyāny avabudhya buddhyā catvāri samyak pratividhya caiva /
sarvāsravān bhāvanayābhibhūya na jāyate śāntim avāpya bhūyaḥ // 16.5 //

Understanding these noble truths, by a process of reasoning, while getting to know the four as one, / He prevails over all pollutants, by the means of mental development, and, on finding peace, is no longer subject to becoming. // 16.5 //

abodhato hy aprativedhataś ca tattvātmakasyāsya catuṣṭasya /
bhavād bhavaṁ yāti na śantim eti saṁsāra-dolām adhiruhya lokaḥ // 16.6 //

For by failing to wake up and come round to this four, whose substance is the reality of what is, / Humankind goes from existence to existence without finding peace, hoisted in the swing of saṁsāra. // 16.6 //

tasmāj jarāder vyasanasya mūlaṁ samāsato duḥkham avaihi janma /
sarvauṣadhīnām iva bhūr bhavāya sarvāpadāṁ kṣetram idaṁ hi janma // 16.7 //

Therefore, at the root of a tragedy like growing old, see, in short, that birth is suffering. / For, as the earth supports the life of all plants, this birth is the field of all troubles. // 16.7 //

yaj janma-rūpasya hi sendriyasya duḥkhasya tan naika-vidhasya janma /
yaḥ saṁbhavaś cāsya samucchrayasya mṛtyoś ca rogasya ca saṁbhavaḥ saḥ // 16.8 //

The birth of a sentient bodily form, again, is the birth of suffering in all its varieties; / And he who begets such an outgrowth is the begetter of death and of disease. // 16.8 //

sad vāpy asadvā viṣa-miśram annaṁ yathā vināśāya na dhāraṇāya /
loke tathā tiryag-upary-adho vā duḥkhāya sarvaṁ na sukhāya janma // 16.9 //

Good food or bad food, if mixed with poison, makes for ruin and not for sustenance. / Likewise, whether in a world on the flat or above or below, all birth makes for hardship and not for ease. // 16.9 //

jarādayo naika-vidhāḥ prajānāṁ satyāṁ pravṛttau prabhavanty anarthāḥ /
pravātsu ghoreṣv api māruteṣu na hy aprasūtās taravaś calanti // 16.10 //

The many and various disappointments of men, like old age, occur as long as their doing goes on. / (For, even when violent winds blow, trees do not shake that never sprouted.) // 16.10 //

ākāśa-yoniḥ pavano yathā hi yathā śamī-garbha-śayo hutāśaḥ /
āpo yathāntar-vasudhā-śayāś ca duḥkhaṁ tathā citta-śarīra-yoni // 16.11 //

As wind is born from the air, as fire sleeps in the womb of śamī wood, / And as water gestates inside the earth, so does suffering spring from an expectant mind-and-body. // 16.11 //

apāṁ dravatvaṁ kaṭhinatvam urvyā vāyoś calatvaṁ dhruvam auṣṇyam agneḥ /
yathā sva-bhāvo hi tathā sva-bhāvo duḥkhaṁ śarīrasya ca cetasaś ca // 16.12 //

The fluidity of water, the solidity of earth, the motion of wind, and the constant heat of fire / Are innate in them; as also it is in the nature of both the body and the mind to suffer. // 16.12 //

kāye sati vyādhi-jarādi duḥkhaṁ kṣut-tarṣa-varṣoṣṇa-himādi caiva /
rūpāśrite cetasi sānubandhe śokārati-krodha-bhayādi duḥkham // 16.13 //

Insofar as there is a body, there is the suffering of sickness, aging and so on; and also of hunger and thirst, and of the rains, and summer heat and winter cold. / Insofar as a mind is bonded, tied to phenomena, there is the suffering of grief, discontent, anger, fear and so on. // 16.13 //

pratyakṣam ālokya ca janma duḥkhaṁ duḥkhaṁ tathātītam apīti viddhi /
yathā ca tad duḥkham idaṁ ca duḥkhaṁ duḥkhaṁ tathānāgatam apy avehi // 16.14 //

Seeing now before your eyes that birth is suffering, recognise that likewise in the past it was suffering. / And just as that was suffering and this is suffering, know that likewise in the future it will be suffering. // 16.14 //

bīja-svabhāvo hi yatheha dṛṣṭo bhūto ’pi bhavyo ’pi tathānumeyaḥ /
praty-akṣataś ca jvalano yathoṣṇo bhūto ’pi bhavyo ’pi tathoṣṇa eva // 16.15 //

For just as it is evident to us now what kind of thing a seed is, we can infer that it was so in the past and that it will be so in the future. / And just as fire burning before us is hot, so was it hot and so will it be hot. // 16.15 //

tan nāma-rūpasya guṇānurūpaṁ yatraiva nirvṛttir udāra-vṛtta /
tatraiva duḥkhaṁ na hi tad-vimuktaṁ duḥkhaṁ bhaviṣyaty abhavad bhaved vā // 16.16 //

In conformity with its kind, then, a distinguishable bodily form Nāmu-rūpa, as the 3rd of the 12 links in 12-fold dependent arising, can be understood to mean the psycho-physicality which arises out of divided consciousness, and which at the same time produces divided consciouness (see BC14.74). But the MW dictionary also defines nāma-rūpa as an individual being. EHJ translated nāma-rūpa in this instance as “corporeality.” 07 develops, wherein, O man of noble conduct, / Suffering exists, right there – for nowhere else will suffering exist or has it existed or could it exist. // 16.16 //

pravṛtti-duḥkhasya ca tasya loke tṛṣṇādayo doṣa-gaṇā nimittam /
naiveśvaro na prakṛtir na kālo nāpi svabhāvo na vidhir yadṛcchā // 16.17 //

And this, the suffering of doing, in the world, has its cause Here (as also in 12.39-40) nimittam is identified with kāraṇa, and means cause. 08 in clusters of faults which start with thirsting – / The cause is certainly not in God, nor in primordial matter, nor in time; nor either in the intrinsic existence of a thing, For detailed investigation of the meaning of svabhāva , existence of a thing as a thing unto itself, see Nāgārjuna's exposition of emptiness in MMK.07 nor in predestination or self-will. // 16.17 //

jñātavyam etena ca kāraṇena lokasya doṣebhya iti pravṛttiḥ /
yasmān mriyante sa-rajas-tamaskā na jāyate vīta-rajas-tamaskaḥ // 16.18 //

Again, you must understand how, due to this cause, because of men’s faults, the cycle of doing goes on, / So that they succumb to death who are afflicted by the dust of the passions and by darkness; but he is not reborn who is free of dust and darkness. // 16.18 //

icchā-viśeṣe sati tatra tatra yānāsanāder bhavati prayogaḥ /
yasmād atas tarṣa-vaśāt tathaiva janma prajānām iti veditavyam // 16.19 //

Insofar as the specific desire exists to do this or that, an action like going or sitting happens; / Hence, in just the same way, by the force of their thirsting living creatures are reborn – as is to be observed: // 16.19 //

sattvāny abhiṣvaṅga-vaśāni dṛṣṭvā svajātiṣu prīti-parāṇy atīva /
abhyāsa-yogād upapāditāni tair eva doṣair iti tāni viddhi // 16.20 //

See sentient beings in the grip of attachment, dead set on pleasure among their own kind; / And, from their habitual practice of faults, observe them presenting with those very faults. // 16.20 //

krodha-praharṣādibhir āśrayāṇām utpadyate ceha yathā viśeṣaḥ /
tathaiva janmasv api naika-rūpo nirvartate kleśa-kṛto viśeṣaḥ // 16.21 //

Just as the anger, lust, and so on of sufferers of those afflictions give rise in the present to a personality trait, / So too in new lives, in various manifestations, does the affliction-created trait develop: // 16.21 //

roṣādhike janmani tīvra-roṣa utpadyate rāgiṇi tīvra-rāgaḥ /
mohādhike moha-balādhikaś ca tad-alpa-doṣe ca tad-alpa-doṣaḥ // 16.22 //

In a life dominated by anger arises violent anger, EHJ followed Shastri in amending the two occurences in the 1st pāda of roṣa (anger) to doṣa. EHJ took doṣa (a fault) to represent specifically dveṣa, hatred. Hartmann’s later discovery of the Central Asian fragment, parts of which cover this verse, tended to confirm that the paper manuscript’s original roṣa had been correct. 09 in the lover of passion arises burning passion, / And in one dominated by ignorance arises overwhelming ignorance. In one who has a lesser fault, again, the lesser fault develops. // 16.22 //

phalaṁ hi yādṛk samavaiti sākṣāt tādātmyato bījam avaity atītam /
avetya bīja-prakṛtiṁ ca sākṣād anāgataṁ tat-phalam abhyupaiti // 16.23 //

Seeing what kind of fruit is before one’s eyes, one knows it was that kind of seed in the past. Originally I followed EHJ’s reading of the first word in the 2nd pāda as tad-āgamad, and translated “from past knowledge of that fruit.” But Hartmann’s fragment of Central Asian text has tadātmyato; this I have amended, following the conjecture of Harunaga Isaacson, to tādātmyato (= tādātmya + suffix -tas). Tādātmya, lit. “the state of having that as nature,” is given in the MW dictionary as: “sameness or identity of nature or character with.” Either way, the point is that, rather than discuss the principle of cause and effect in the abstract, here the Buddha speaks of seed and fruit. (Translation amended July 2012, after completion of the audio recording of this Saundara-nanda translation.) 10 / And having identified a seed before one’s eyes, one knows the fruit it may be in the future. // 16.23 //

doṣa-kṣayo jātiṣu yāsu yasya vairāgyatas tāsu na jāyate saḥ /
doṣāśayas tiṣṭhati yasya yatra tasyopapattir vivaśasya tatra // 16.24 //

In whichever realms of existence a man has ended faults, thanks to that dispassion he is not born in those realms. / Wherever he remains susceptible to a fault, that is where he makes his appearance, whether he likes it or not. // 16.24 //

taj janmano naika-vidhasya saumya tṛṣṇādayo hetava ity avetya /
tāṁś chindhi duḥkhād yadi nirmumukṣā kārya-kṣayaḥ kāraṇa-saṁkṣayādd hi // 16.25 //

So my friend, Hartmann’s fragment has samyak. Salomon points out that since samyak is a key word, repeated many times in this chapter, it might have been easy for the copyist to misread saumya as samyak. 11 with regard to the many forms of becoming, know their causes to be [the faults] that start with thirsting / And cut out those [faults], if you wish to be freed from suffering; for ending of the effect follows from eradication of the cause. // 16.25 //

duḥkha-kṣayo hetu-parikṣayāc ca śāntaṁ śivaṁ sākṣi-kuruṣva dharmaṁ /
tṛṣṇā-virāgaṁ layanaṁ nirodhaṁ sanātanaṁ trāṇam ahāryam āryam // 16.26 //

Again, the ending of suffering follows from the disappearance of its cause. Experience that reality for yourself as peace and well-being, / A place of rest, a cessation, an absence of the red taint of thirsting, a primeval refuge which is irremovable and noble, // 16.26 //

yasmin na jātir na jarā na mṛtyur na vyādhayo nāpriya-saṁprayogaḥ /
necchā-vipanna priya-viprayogaḥ kṣemaṁ padaṁ naiṣṭhikam acyutaṁ tat // 16.27 //

In which there is no being born, no aging, no dying, no illness, no being touched by unpleasantness, / No disappointment, and no separation from what is pleasant: It is an ultimate and indestructible step, in which to dwell at ease. // 16.27 //

dīpo yathā nirvṛtim abhyupeto naivāvaniṁ gacchati nāntarīkṣam /
diśaṁ na kāṁ-cid vidiśaṁ na kāṁ-cit sneha-kṣayāt kevalam eti śāntim // 16.28 //

A lamp that has gone out reaches neither to the earth nor to the sky, / Nor to any cardinal nor to any intermediate point: Because its oil is spent it reaches nothing but extinction. // 16.28 //

evaṁ kṛtī nirvṛtim abhyupeto naivāvaniṁ gacchati nāntarīkṣam /
diśaṁ na kāṁ-cid vidiśaṁ na kāṁ-cit kleśa-kṣayāt kevalam eti śāntim // 16.29 //

In the same way, a man of action who has come to quiet reaches neither to the earth nor to the sky, / Nor to any cardinal nor to any intermediate point: From the ending of his afflictions he attains nothing but extinction. // 16.29 //

asyābhyupāyo ’dhigamāya mārgaḥ prajñā-trikalpaḥ praśama-dvikalpaḥ /
sa bhāvanīyo vidhivad budhena śīle śucau tripramukhe sthitena // 16.30 //

A means for gaining that end is the path of threefold wisdom and twofold tranquillity. At the end of this line, the fragment first identified in a 1988 paper by Jens-Ewe Hartmann has praśamas trikalpa. Richard Salomon (1999) notes that this should probably be amended to praśama-trikalpa. Either way, there is a significant difference here between the Nepalese manuscript which EHJ based his text on, and the Central Asian manuscript to which Hartmann’s fragment belonged. In the Nepalese manuscript praśama-dvikalpaḥ indicates that tranquillity is twofold; in the Central Asian manuscript praśamas trikalpaḥ or praśama-trikalpaḥ indicates that tranquillity is threefold. If one accepts that tranquillity is threefold, then wisdom must be twofold. Therefore, though prajñā-dvikalpaḥ is missing from Hartmann’s original fragment, Salomon makes a case for reconstructing the verse as follows: asyābhyupāyo dhigamāya mārgaḥ prajñā-dvikalpaḥ praśama-trikalpaḥ / tau bhāvanīyau vidhivad budhena śīle śucau tripramukhe sthitena // 12 / It is to be cultivated In Hartmann’s fragment, tau bhāvanīyau means these two [wisdom and tranquillity] are to be cultivated. Thus: “A means for gaining that end is the path of twofold wisdom and threefold tranquillity. These two are to be cultivated by a wakeful person working to principle – abiding in untainted threefold integrity.” In some versions of the threefold categorization of the noble eightfold path, initiative/effort is indeed included not under the heading of wisdom (prajñā) but under the heading of tranquillity (samādhi), making wisdom twofold and tranquillity threefold, as per Salomon’s suggested reconstruction. 13 by a wakeful person working to principle – abiding in untainted threefold integrity. // 16.30 //

vāk-karma samyak saha-kāya-karma yathāvad ājīva-nayaś ca śuddhaḥ /
idaṁ trayaṁ vṛtta-vidhau pravṛttaṁ śīlāśrayaṁ dharma-parigrahāya // 16.31 //

Using the voice well and the body well in tandem, and making a clean living in a suitable manner: / These three, pertaining to conduct, are for the mastery, based on integrity, of one’s dharma-duty. EHJ’s preferred reading is karma-parigrahāya, “for the mastery of one’s karma-conduct.”14 // 16.31 //

satyeṣu duḥkhādiṣu dṛṣṭir āryā samyag-vitarkaś ca parākramaś ca /
idaṁ trayaṁ jñāna-vidhau pravṛttaṁ prajñāśrayaṁ kleśa-parikṣayāya // 16.32 //

Noble insight into suffering and the other truths, along with thinking straight, and initiative: / These three, pertaining to know-how, are for dissolution, based on wisdom, of the afflictions. In Salomon’s reconstruction, EHJ’s verse 32 becomes verse 33 and reads: satyeṣu duḥkhādiṣu dṛṣṭir āryā samyag-vitarkaś-ca ? ? ? ? ? ? / idaṃ dvayaṃ jñāna-vidhau pravṛttaṃ prajñāśrayaṃ kleśa-parikṣayāya // “Noble insight into suffering and the other truths, along with thinking straight, : These two, pertaining to know-how, are for dissolution, based on wisdom, of the afflictions.” 15// 16.32 //

nyāyena satyābhigamāya yuktā samyak smṛtiḥ samyag atho samādhiḥ /
idaṁ dvayaṁ yoga-vidhau pravṛttaṁ śamāśrayaṁ citta-parigrahāya // 16.33 //

True mindfulness, properly harnessed so as to bring one close to the truths; Nyāyena satyābhigamāya yuktā samyak smṛtiḥ. EHJ translated “Right attention used in accordance with the plan in order to approach the Truths.” LC translated “Right mindfulness conjoined to the plan for the discovery of the truth.” Whichever of many possible translations is preferred, the point is that true smṛti as the Buddha taught it is not bare attention divorced from any philosophical or developmental context; mindfulness is part of an eightfold means of going in a certain direction. 16 and true balance: / These two, pertaining to practice, are for mastery, based on tranquillity, of the mind. // 16.33 //

kleśāṅkurān na pratanoti śīlaṁ bījāṅkurān kāla ivātivṛttaḥ /
śucau hi śīle puruṣasya doṣā manaḥ sa-lajjā iva dharṣayanti // 16.34 //

Integrity no more propagates the shoots of affliction than a bygone spring propagates shoots from seeds. / The faults, as long as a man’s integrity is untainted, venture only timidly to attack his mind. // 16.34 //

kleśāṁs tu viṣkambhayate samādhir vegān ivādrir mahato nadīnām /
sthitaṁ samādhau hi na dharṣayanti doṣā bhujaṁgā iva mantra-baddhāḥ // 16.35 //

But balance casts off the afflictions like a mountain casts off the mighty torrents of rivers. / The faults do not attack a man who is standing firm in balanced stillness: like charmed snakes, they are spellbound. // 16.35 //

prajñā tv aśeṣeṇa nihanti doṣāṁs tīra-drumān prāvṛṣi nimnageva /
dagdhā yayā na prabhavanti doṣā vajrāgninevānusṛtena vṛkṣāḥ // 16.36 //

And wisdom destroys the faults without trace, as a mountain stream in the monsoon destroys the trees on its banks. / Faults consumed by it do not stand a chance, like trees in the fiery wake of a thunderbolt. // 16.36 //

triskandham etaṁ pravigāhya mārgaṁ praspaṣṭam aṣṭāṅgam ahāryam āryam /
duḥkhasya hetūn prajahāti doṣān prāpnoti cātyanta-śivaṁ padaṁ tat // 16.37 //

Giving oneself to this path with its three divisions and eight branches – this straightforward, irremovable, noble path – / One abandons the faults, which are the causes of suffering, and comes to that step which is total well-being. // 16.37 //

asyopacāre dhṛtir ārjavaṁ ca hrīr apramādaḥ praviviktatā ca /
alpecchatā tuṣṭir asaṁgatā ca loka-pravṛttāv aratiḥ kṣamā ca // 16.38 //

Attendant on it are constancy and straightness; modesty, attentiveness, and reclusiveness; / Wanting little, contentment, and freedom from forming attachments; no fondness for worldly activity, and forbearance. // 16.38 //

yāthātmyato vindati yo hi duḥkhaṁ tasyodbhavaṁ tasya ca yo nirodham /
āryeṇa mārgeṇa sa śāntim eti kalyāṇa-mitraiḥ saha vartamānaḥ // 16.39 //

For he who knows suffering as it really is, who knows its starting and its stopping: / It is he who reaches peace by the noble path – going along with friends in the good. // 16.39 //

yo vyādhito vyādhim avaiti samyag vyādher nidānaṁ ca tad-auṣadhaṁ ca /
ārogyam āpnoti hi so ’cireṇa mitrair abhijñair upacaryamāṇaḥ // 16.40 //

He who fully appreciates his illness, as the illness it is, who sees the cause Nidāna, cause, is as in the 12 nidāna which form the links in 12-fold dependent arising. 17 of the illness and its remedy: / It is he who wins, before long, freedom from disease – attended by friends in the know. // 16.40 //

tad vyādhi-saṁjñāṁ kuru duḥkha-satye doṣeṣv api vyādhi-nidāna-saṁjñām /
ārogya-saṁjñāṁ ca nirodha-satye bhaiṣajya-saṁjñām api mārga-satye // 16.41 //

So with regard to the truth of suffering, see suffering as an illness; with regard to the faults, see the faults as the cause of the illness; / With regard to the truth of stopping, see stopping as freedom from disease; and with regard to the truth of a path, see a path as a remedy. // 16.41 //

tasmāt pravṛttiṁ parigaccha duḥkhaṁ pravartakān apy avagaccha doṣān /
nivṛttim āgaccha ca tan-nirodhaṁ nivartakaṁ cāpy avagaccha mārgam // 16.42 //

Comprehend, therefore, that suffering is doing; witness the faults impelling it forward; / Realise its stopping as non-doing; and know the path as a turning back. // 16.42 //

śirasy atho vāsasi saṁpradīpte satyāvabodhāya matir vicāryā /
dagdhaṁ jagat satya-nayaṁ hy adṛṣṭvā pradahyate saṁprati dhakṣyate ca // 16.43 //

Though your head and clothes be on fire direct your mind so as to be awake to the truths. / For in failing to see the purport of the truths, the world has burned, it is burning now, and it will burn. // 16.43 //

yadaiva yaḥ paśyati nāma-rūpaṁ kṣayīti tad-darśanam asya samyak /
samyak ca nirvedam upaiti paśyan nandī-kṣayāc ca kṣayam eti rāgaḥ // 16.44 //

When a man sees psycho-physicality Nāma-rūpa is the 4th in the 12 links in the dependent arising of suffering. See BC Canto 14.17 as subject to dissolution, that insight of his is accurate; / In seeing accurately he is disenchanted, and from the ending of exuberance ends the red taint of passion. // 16.44 //

tayoś ca nandī-rajasoḥ kṣayeṇa samyag vimuktaṁ pravadāmi cetaḥ /
samyag vimuktir manasaś ca tābhyāṁ na cāsya bhūyaḥ karaṇīyam asti // 16.45 //

By the ending of the duality which is exuberance and gloom, I submit, his mind is fully set free. / And when his mind is fully liberated from that duality, there is nothing further for him to do. // 16.45 //

yathā-svabhāvena hi nāma-rūpaṁ tadd-hetum evāsta-gamaṁ ca tasya /
vijānataḥ pasyata eva cāhaṁ bravīmi samyak kṣayam āsravāṇām // 16.46 //

For in him who sees psycho-physicality as it is, and who sees its origin and passing away, / From the very fact of his knowing and seeing, I predict the complete eradication of the pollutants. // 16.46 //

tasmāt paraṁ saumya vidhāya vīryaṁ śīghraṁ ghaṭasv āsrava-saṁkṣayāya /
duḥkhān anityāṁś ca nirātmakāṁś ca dhātūn viśeṣeṇa parīkṣamāṇaḥ // 16.47 //

So my friend garner your energy greatly and strive quickly to put an end to polluting influences, / Examining in particular the elements – as suffering, as impermanent and as devoid of self. // 16.47 //

dhātūn hi ṣaḍ bhū-salilānalādīn sāmānyataḥ svena ca lakṣaṇena /
avaiti yo nānyam avaiti tebhyaḥ so ’tyantikaṁ mokṣam avaiti tebhyaḥ // 16.48 //

For in knowing the six elements of earth, water, fire and the rest, generically, and each as specific to itself, The sense of realizing elements “all together, and one after another” echoes SN16.5, as well as SN10.19. 19 / He who knows nothing else but those elements, knows total release from those elements. // 16.48 //

kleśa-prahāṇāya ca niścitena kālo ’bhyupāyaś ca parīkṣitavyaḥ /
yogo ’py akāle hy anupāyataś ca bhavaty anarthāya na tad-guṇāya // 16.49 //

One set on abandoning the afflictions, then, should attend to timing and method; / For even practice itself, done at the wrong time and relying on wrong means, makes for disappointment and not for the desired end. // 16.49 //

ajāta-vatsāṁ yadi gāṁ duhīta naivāpnuyāt kṣīram akāla-dohī /
kāle ’pi vā syān na payo labheta mohena śṛṅgād yadi gāṁ duhīta // 16.50 //

If a cow is milked before her calf is born, milking at the wrong time will yield no milk. / Or even at the right time no milk will be got if, through ignorance, a cow is milked by the horn. // 16.50 //

ārdrāc ca kāṣṭhāj jvalan-ābhikāmo naiva prayatnād api vanhim ṛcchet /
kāṣṭhāc ca śuṣkād api pātanena naivāgnim āpnoty anupāya-pūrvam // 16.51 //

Again, one who wants fire from damp wood, try as he might, will not get fire. / And even if he lays down dry wood, he won’t get fire from that, with bad bushcraft. // 16.51 //

tad-deśa-kālau vidhivat parīkṣya yogasya mātrām api cābhyupāyam /
balābale cātmani saṁpradhārya kāryaḥ prayatno na tu tad-viruddhaḥ // 16.52 //

Having given due consideration to the time and place as well as to the extent and method of one’s practice, / One should, reflecting on one’s own strength and weakness, persist in an effort that is not inconsistent with them. // 16.52 //

pragrāhakaṁ yat tu nimittam uktam uddhanyamāne hṛdi tan na sevyam /
evaṁ hi cittaṁ praśamaṁ na yāti [viś]vāyunā vahnir iveryamāṇaḥ // 16.53 //

That factor Paradoxically, nimittam means both 1. mark, target, object (see SN13.41 “objectified image”), and 2. cause (see SN16.17, 16.96), causal factor or stimulus (see SN16.72, 16.84). It also means 3. sign (see SN1.32; 5.10). In the series of verses from verses 53 to 67 dealing with the practice of mental development (bhāvanā), whose aim is the removal of polluting influences, primarily through the use of antidotes, nimitta might be understood as meaning 1. a target/area/subject [for development/ cultivation], or 2. a stimulus used in such practice (as in resort to a disagreeable or unpleasant stimulus; see verse 60), or indeed as both 1. and 2. together – insofar as a target is itself a kind of stimulus. Up to this point, Aśvaghoṣa has used nimitta in various distinct meanings; from here he seems to use nimitta in such a way that it cannot be definitively understood in any of these meanings – say, as cause/stimulus, or as target/object. “Factor” has therefore been selected as a translation of nimitta, in the hope that the meaning of “factor” might be broad enough not to rule anything definitively in or out. 20 said to be “garnering” does not serve when the emotions are inflamed, / For thus the mind does not come to quiet, like a fire being fanned by the wind. EHJ’s Sanskrit text has at the beginning of the 4th pāda * * * nā plus the following note: “I cannot solve the restoration of d, Evidently a four-syllable word meaning ‘wind’ in the instrumental is required.” Pra-vāyunā would fit, but the Monier-Williams dictionary gives no such word for wind as pra-vāyu. There is such a word as viś-vayu (air, wind), but its light 2nd syllable does not fit the metre. Viśvāyu with a long 2nd syllable means not “wind” but “all people” (viśva + āyu). Thus the 4th pāda as rendered here is not a satisfactory solution. Viśvāyunā vahnir iveryamāṇa literally means “like a fire fanned by all people.” 21 // 16.53 //

śamāya yat syān niyataṁ nimittaṁ jātoddhave cetasi tasya kālaḥ /
evaṁ hi cittaṁ praśamaṁ niyacchet pradīpyamāno ’gnir ivodakena // 16.54 //

A factor ascertained to be calming has its time when one’s mind is excited; / For thus the mind subsides into quietness, like a blazing fire [doused] with water. // 16.54 //

śamāvahaṁ yan niyataṁ nimittaṁ sevyaṁ na tac cetasi līyamāne /
evaṁ hi bhūyo layam eti cittam anīryamāṇo ’gnir ivālpa-sāraḥ // 16.55 //

A factor ascertained to bring calm does not serve when one’s mind is dormant; / For thus the mind sinks further into lifelessness, like a feeble fire left unfanned. // 16.55 //

pragrāhakaṁ yan niyataṁ nimittaṁ layaṁ gate cetasi tasya kālaḥ /
kriyā-samarthaṁ hi manas tathā syān mandāyamāno ’gnir ivendhanena // 16.56 //

A factor determined to be garnering, has its time when one’s mind is lifeless, / For thus the mind becomes fit for work, like a feebly-burning fire [plied] with fuel. // 16.56 //

aupekṣikaṁ nāpi nimittam iṣṭaṁ layaṁ gate cetasi soddhave vā /
evaṁ hi tīvraṁ janayed anartham upekṣito vyādhir ivāturasya // 16.57 //

Nor is equanimity As a noun from upa-√īkṣ, which means “to look on, overlook, disregard, neglect, leave be,” aupekṣika can be understood as 1. the practice of not interfering (cf. verse 65), or 2. “not minding” as the state of mind associated with such practice – in other words, “indifference,” or (as it is usually translated in the context of meditation) “equanimity” (SN17.54). 22 a valid factor when one’s mind is either lifeless or excited. EHJ’s original text, based on the palm-leaf manuscript, has soddhave (sa = possessive prefix + uddhava = sacrificial fire, festival, holiday, joy). Linda Covill has sodbhave (sa = possessive prefix + udbhava = springing up, growing, becoming visible). The meaning is not materially affected. EHJ translated as “excited” and LC as “over-excited.” 23 / For that might engender severe adversity, like the neglected illness of a sick man. // 16.57 //

yat syād upekṣā niyataṁ nimittaṁ sāmyaṁ gate cetasi tasya kālaḥ /
evaṁ hi kṛtyāya bhavet prayogo ratho vidheyāśva iva prayātaḥ // 16.58 //

A factor ascertained to conduce to equanimity “Cultivate development of the mind, Rāhula,” the Buddha tells his son in the Rāhula Sutta (MN62), “which is like earth... water... fire... wind... and space.” The Buddha goes on to explain that earth does not care what is thrown on it, water flows anywhere, fire does not mind what it burns, et cetera. 24 has its time when one’s mind is in its normal state; / For thus one may set about work to be done, like a wagon setting off with well-trained horses. // 16.58 //

rāgoddhava-vyākulite ’pi citte maitropasaṁhāra-vidhir na kāryaḥ /
rāgātmako muhyati maitrayā hi snehaṁ kapha-kṣobha ivopayujya // 16.59 //

Again, when the mind is filled with the red joys of passion, direction towards oneself The meanings of upasaṁhāra (from upa-saṁ-√hṛ, to draw together) include “drawing towards one’s self” and “bringing near.” See also note to verse 62. 25 of loving-kindness Maitra (or as per verse 59 maitrā and verse 62 maitrī), more literally means friendship or friendliness, being derived from mitra, friend. Other possible translations are goodwill, or benevolence. 26 is not to be practised; / For a passionate type is stupefied by love, like a sufferer from phlegm taking oil. // 16.59 //

rāgoddhate cetasi dhairyam etya niṣevitavyaṁ tv aśubhaṁ nimittam /
rāgātmako hy evam upaiti śarma kaphātmako rūkṣam ivopayujya // 16.60 //

Steadiness lies, when the mind is excited by ardour, in resorting to an unpleasant factor; Aśubhaṃ nimittam, “an unpleasant factor,” or “unattractive object,” is generally understood to refer to the so-called impurity meditation (which the striver seems to have in mind in Canto 8) whereby some unattractive or repulsive aspect of a human body is conjured up in the mind and contemplated. By the repeated use in verses 54 – 58 of the word niyatam (established, ascertained), however, the Buddha in this part seems to have emphasized that Nanda is to establish what kind of nimitta (cause or object or factor) works for him, on an individual basis. In the same way, in Canto 10 the Buddha himself intuited that what would work for Nanda was not, as the striver understood, meditation on the repulsive aspects of a female body. On the contrary, what really worked for Nanda was a plan that began with a kind of fantasy, or thought experiment, involving the most attractive of women in Indra’s paradise. 27 / For thus a passionate type obtains relief, like a phlegmatic type taking an astringent. // 16.60 //

vyāpāda-doṣeṇa manasy udīrṇe na sevitavyaṁ tv aśubhaṁ nimittam /
dveṣātmakasya hy aśubhā vadhāya pittātmanas tīkṣṇa ivopacāraḥ // 16.61 //

When the mind is wound up, however, with the fault of malice, unpleasantness is not the factor to be deployed; / For unpleasantness The use of aśubhā as a nominative feminine noun looks unusual here, but EHJ did not see it as calling for comment. EHJ translated as “that meditation,” referring back to the aśubhaṁ nimittam of the previous line. 28 is destructive to a hating type, as acid treatment is to a man of bilious nature. // 16.61 //

vyāpāda-doṣa-kṣubhite tu citte sevyā sva-pakṣopanayena maitrī /
dveṣātmano hi praśamāya maitrī pittātmanaḥ śīta ivopacāraḥ // 16.62 //

When the mind is agitated by the fault of malice, loving-kindness should be cultivated, by directing it towards oneself. Sva-pakṣa, lit. “one’s own wings,” means, in the first instance, one’s own self. But sva-pakṣa can also mean somebody on one’s own side, a friend. Meditators steeped in practice of loving-kindness meditation speak of starting with those to whom it is easy to feel goodwill, and moving outwards, so that goodwill might eventually be extended to everybody. 29 / For loving-kindness Maitrī (from mitra, friend) means friendship, friendliness, benevolence, goodwill. 30 is calming to a hate-afflicted soul, as cooling treatment is to the man of bilious nature. // 16.62 //

mohānubaddhe manasaḥ pracāre maitrāśubhā caiva bhavaty ayogaḥ /
tābhyāṁ hi saṁmoham upaiti bhūyo vāyv-ātmako rūkṣam ivopanīya // 16.63 //

When there is wandering of the mind, tied to delusion, both loving-kindness and unpleasantness are unsuitable, / For a deluded man is further deluded by these two, like a windy type given an astringent. // 16.63 //

mohātmikāyāṁ manasaḥ pravṛttau sevyas tv idam pratyayatā-vihāraḥ /
mūḍhe manasy eṣa hi śānti-mārgo vāyv-ātmake snigdha ivopacāraḥ // 16.64 //

When working of the mind is delusory, one should appreciate the causality therein; Sevyas... pratyayatā-vihāraḥ is lit. “taking-delight-in-causality is to be practised,” or “the pleasure-ground of causality is to be resorted to.” EHJ translated “the subject of reflection should be causality.” Aśvaghoṣa’s phrasing brings to mind the words of the 6th patriarch in China that when our minds are enlightened we turn the Flower of Dharma, and when our minds are deluded the Flower of Dharma turns. 31 / For this is a path to peace when the mind is bewildered, like treating a wind condition with oil. // 16.64 //

ulkā-mukha-sthaṁ hi yathā suvarṇaṁ suvarṇa-kāro dhamatīha kāle /
kāle pariprokṣayate jalena krameṇa kāle samupekṣate ca // 16.65 //

Holding gold in the mouth of a furnace, a goldsmith in this world blows it at the proper time, / Douses it with water at the proper time, and gradually, at the proper time, he leaves it be. // 16.65 //

dahet suvarṇaṁ hi dhamann akāle jale kṣipan saṁśameyed akāle /
na cāpi samyak paripākam enaṁ nayed akāle samupekṣamāṇaḥ // 16.66 //

For he might burn the gold by blowing at the wrong time, he might make it unworkable by plunging it into water at the wrong time, / And he would not bring it to full perfection if at the wrong time he were just to leave it be. // 16.66 //

saṁpragrahasya praśamasya caiva tathaiva kāle samupekṣaṇasya /
samyaṅ nimittaṁ manasā tv avekṣyaṁ nāśo hi yatno ’py anupāya-pūrvaḥ // 16.67 //

Likewise, for garnering as also for calming, as also when appropriate for leaving well alone, / One should readily attend to the appropriate factor; because even diligence is destructive when accompanied by a wrong approach.” // 16.67 //

ity evam anyāya-nivartanaṁ ca nyāyaṁ ca tasmai sugato babhāṣe /
bhūyaś ca tat-tac caritaṁ viditvā vitarka-hānāya vidhīn uvāca // 16.68 //

Thus, on retreat from muddling through, and on the principle to come back to, the One Who Went Well spoke to [Nanda]; / And knowing the varieties of behaviour, he detailed further the directions for abandoning ideas. // 16.68 //

yathā bhiṣak pitta-kaphānilānāṁ ya eva kopaṁ samupaiti doṣaḥ /
śamāya tasyaiva vidhiṁ vidhatte vyadhatta doṣeṣu tathaiva buddhaḥ // 16.69 //

Just as, for a disorder of bile, phlegm, or wind – for whatever disorder of the humours has manifested the symptoms of disease – / A doctor prescribes a course of treatment to cure that very disorder; so did the Buddha prescribe for the faults: // 16.69 //

ekena kalpena sacen na hanyāt sv-abhyasta bhāvād asubhān vitarkān /
tato dvitīyaṁ kramam ārabheta na tv eva heyo guṇavān prayogaḥ // 16.70 //

“It may not be possible, following a single method, to kill off bad ideas that habit has so deeply entrenched; / In that case, one should commit to a second course but never give up the good work. // 16.70 //

anādi-kālopacitātmakatvād balīyasaḥ kleśa-gaṇasya caiva /
samyak prayogasya ca duṣkaratvāc chettuṁ na śakyāḥ sahasā hi doṣāḥ // 16.71 //

Because of the instinct-led accumulation, Anādi-kālopacitātmakatvād = anādi (without beginning) + kāla (time) + upacita (heaped up) + ātmaka (inherently consisting of) + tvāt (ablative of the suffix tva, indicating state or condition). So ātmakatvāt more literally means something like “because of the being inherent.” Incidentally, upacitam (heaped up, accumulated, abundant) might conceivably be considered as a candidate for amending the closing words of SN Canto 18 – see note to SN18.64 on upakaram. 32 from time without beginning, of the powerful mass of afflictions, / And because true practice is so difficult to do, the faults cannot be cut off all at once. // 16.71 //

aṇvyā yathāṇyā vipulāṇir anyā nirvāhyate tad-viduṣā nareṇa /
tadvat tad evākuśalaṁ nimittaṁ kṣipen nimittāntara-sevanena // 16.72 //

Just as a deep splinter, by means of the point of another sharp object, is removed by a man skilled in that task, / Likewise an unpromising stimulus may be dispensed with through deployment of a different stimulus. In this particular context nimitta seems to invite the translation “stimulus.” 33 // 16.72 //

tavātha vādhyātma-nava-grahatvān naivopaśāmyed aśubho vitarkaḥ /
heyaḥ sa tad-doṣa-parīkṣaṇena sa-śvāpado mārga ivādhvagena // 16.73 //

There again, because of your personal inexperience, a bad idea might not give way. / You should abandon it by observing the fault in it, as a traveller abandons a path on which there is a wild beast. // 16.73 //

yathā kṣudh-ārto ’pi viśeṇa pṛktaṁ jijīviṣur necchati bhoktum annam /
tathaiva doṣāvaham ity avetya jahāti vidvān aśubhaṁ nimittam // 16.74 //

A man who wishes to live, even when starving, declines to eat poisoned food. / Likewise, observing that it brings with it a fault, a wise person leaves alone an unpleasant stimulus. Jahāti vidvān aśubhaṃ nimittam means “the wise one leaves the aśubhaṃ nimittam. Ostensibly this means that in particular circumstances, for example, when the mind is agitated by ill will (as in verse 61), the wise practitioner does not opt for “the impurity meditation.” Hence, EHJ: “the wise man abandons an impure meditation.” Below the surface, it may be that Aśvaghoṣa is circumspectly calling into question – not only in this verse, but in the way he tells Nanda’s whole story, especially in Cantos 8, 9 and 10 – the way that the Buddha’s original teaching of use of an aśubhaṃ nimittam, in specific circumstances, had come to be wrongly applied, on a general basis, by monks fixated on a mysoginist view. 34// 16.74 //

na doṣataḥ paśyati yo hi doṣaṁ kas taṁ tato vārayituṁ samarthaḥ /
guṇaṁ guṇe paśyati yaś ca yatra sa vāryamāṇo ’pi tataḥ prayāti // 16.75 //

When a man does not see a fault as a fault, who is able to restrain him from it? Again, the subtext might be that Aśvaghoṣa was aware that practice of “impurity meditation” – not as the Buddha had originally taught it (as in verse 60), but as monks who lacked the eyes to see a fault as a fault had come to practise it – was being practised with faulty understanding. 35 / But when a man sees the good in what is good, he goes towards it despite being restrained. // 16.75 //

vyapatrapante hi kula-prasūtā manaḥ-pracārair aśubhaiḥ pravṛtaiḥ /
kaṇṭhe manasvīva yuvā vapuṣmān acākṣuṣair aprayatair viṣaktaiḥ // 16.76 //

For those born into a noble house are ashamed of unpleasant occurrences going on in the mind, / As one who is bright, young and good-looking is ashamed of unsightly, ill-arranged [objects] hanging around his neck. // 16.76 //

nirdhūyamānās tv atha leśato ’pi tiṣṭheyur evākuśalā vitarkāḥ /
kāryāntarair adhyayana-kriyādyaiḥ sevyo vidhir vismaraṇāya teṣām // 16.77 //

If, though they are being shaken off, a trace persists of unhelpful thoughts, / One should resort to different tasks, such as study or physical work, as a means of consigning those thoughts to oblivion. // 16.77 //

svaptavyam apy eva vicakṣaṇena kāya-klamo vāpi niṣevitavyaḥ /
na tv eva saṁcintyam asan-nimittaṁ yatrāvasaktasya bhaved anarthaḥ // 16.78 //

A clear-sighted person should even sleep or resort to physical exhaustion, / But should never dwell on a bad stimulus, pending on which might be an adverse reaction. // 16.78 //

yathā hi bhīto niśi taskarebhyo dvāraṁ priyebhyo ’pi na dātum icchet /
prājñas tathā saṁharati prayogaṁ samaṁ śubhasyāpy aśubhasya doṣaiḥ // 16.79 //

For just as a man afraid of thieves in the night would not open his door even to friends, / So does a wise man withhold consent equally to the doing of anything bad or anything good that involves the faults. // 16.79 //

evaṁ-prakārair api yady upāyair nivāryamāṇā na parāṅmukhāḥ syuḥ /
tato yathā-śthūla-nibarhaṇena suvarṇa-doṣā iva te praheyāḥ // 16.80 //

If, though fended off by such means, [faults] do not turn back, / Then, eliminated in order of their grossness, they must be driven out like impurities The meanings of doṣāḥ include 1. faults like greed and anger; and 2. impurities in metal; as well as 3. diseases associated with imbalance of the humours, as alluded to from verse 59. 37 from gold. // 16.80 //

druta-prayāṇa-prabhṛtīṁś ca tīkṣṇāt kāma-prayogāt parikhidyamānaḥ /
yathā naraḥ saṁśrayate tathaiva prājñena doṣeṣv api vartitavyam // 16.81 //

Just as a man who feels depressed following a torrid love affair takes refuge in activities like quick marching, so should a wise person proceed with regard to the faults. // 16.81 //

te ced alabdha-pratipakṣa-bhāvān naivopaśāmyeyur asad-vitarkāḥ /
muhūrtam apy aprativadhyamānā gṛhe bhujaṁgā iva nādhivāsyāḥ // 16.82 //

If their counteragent cannot be found and unreal fancies do not subside, / They must not for a moment be left unchecked: no whiff of them should be tolerated, as if they were snakes in the house. // 16.82 //

dante ’pi dantaṁ praṇidhāya kāmaṁ tālv agram utpīḍya ca jivhayāpi /
cittena cittaṁ parigṛhya cāpi kāryaḥ prayatno na tu te ’nuvartyāḥ // 16.83 //

Grit tooth against tooth, if you will, press the tongue forward and up against the palate, / And grip the mind with the mind – make an effort, but do not yield to them. // 16.83 //

kim-atra citraṁ yadi vīta-moho vanaṁ gataḥ svastha-manā na muhyet /
ākṣipyamāṇo hṛdi tan-nimittair na kṣobhyate yaḥ sa kṛtī sa dhīraḥ // 16.84 //

Is it any wonder that a man without any delusions should not become deluded when he has contentedly repaired to the forest? / [But] a man who is not shaken when challenged to the core by the stimuli of the aforementioned [ideas, thoughts, and fancies]: Again Aśvaghoṣa seems to be playing with the multiplicity of possible meanings of nimitta, which cannot mean the same here as in the series of verses from 16.53. The evident difficulty of dealing with the ambiguity of nimitta caused LC to amend tan-nimittair to tad-vitarkair (“by such thoughts”). EHJ retained tan-nimittair, translating “before the onslaught of such ideas.” From 16.53, in contrast, EHJ translated nimitta as “subject of meditation.” 38 he is a man of action; he is a steadfast man. // 16.84 //

tad ārya-satyādhigamāya pūrvaṁ viśodhayānena nayena mārgam /
yātrā-gataḥ śatru-vinigrahārthaṁ rājeva lakṣmīm ajitāṁ jigīṣan // 16.85 //

So, in order to make the noble truths your own, first clear a path according to this plan of action, / Like a king going on campaign to subdue his foes, wishing to conquer unconquered dominions. // 16.85 //

etāny araṇyāny abhitaḥ śivāni yogānukūlāny ajaneritāni /
kāyasya kṛtvā praviveka-mātraṁ kleśa-prahāṇāya bhajasva mārgam // 16.86 //

These salubrious wilds that surround us are suited to practice and not thronged with people. / Furnishing the body with ample solitude, cut a path for abandoning the afflictions. // 16.86 //

kauṇḍinya-nanda-kṛmilāniruddhās tiṣyopasenau vimalo ’tha rādhaḥ /
bāṣpottarau dhautaki-moharājau kātyāyana-dravya-pilindavatsāḥ // 16.87 //

Kauṇḍinya, Kauṇḍinya (mentioned in SN3.13) was celebrated as one of the Buddha’s ten great disciples, as were Aniruddha and Kātyāyana. 39 Nanda, This Nanda – not the protagonist of Saundara-nanda – was formerly a cowherd.40 Kṛmila, Aniruddha, Tiṣya, Upasena, Vimala, Rādha, / Vāśpa, Uttara, Dhautaki, Moha-rāja, Kātyāyana, Dravya, Pilinda-vatsa, // 16.87 //

bhaddāli-bhadrāyaṇa-sarpadāsa-subhūti-godatta-sujāta-vatsāḥ /
saṁgrāmajid-bhadrajid-aśvajic ca śroṇaś ca śoṇaś ca sa-koṭikarṇaḥ // 16.88 //

Bhaddāli, A record of the Buddha’s teaching addressed to Baddhāli is preserved in Pali in the Baddhāli Sutta.41 Bhadrāyaṇa, Sarpa-dāsa, Subhūti, Subhūti was another of the Buddha’s ten great disciples. 42 Go-datta, Sujāta, Vatsa, / Saṁgrāmajit, Bhadrajit, Aśvajit, Śrona and Śona Koṭikarna, // 16.88 //

kṣemājito nandaka-nanda-mātāv upāli-vāgīśa-yaśo-yaśodāḥ /
mahāhvayo valkali-rāṣṭrapālau sudarśana-svāgata-meghikāś ca // 16.89 //

Kṣemā, Ajita, the mothers of Nandaka and Nanda, Upāli, Upāli was another of the Buddha’s ten great disciples. 43 Vāgīśa, Yaśas, Yaśoda, / Mahāhvaya, Valkalin, Rāṣṭra-pāla, Sudarśana, Svāgata and Meghika, // 16.89 //

sa kapphinaḥ kāśyapa auruvilvo mahā-mahākāśyapa-tiṣya-nandāḥ /
pūrṇaś ca pūrṇaś ca sa pūrṇakaś ca śonāparāntaś ca sa pūrṇa eva // 16.90 //

Kapphina, Kāśyapa of Uruvilvā, the great Mahā-kāśyapa, The repetition of the mahā (great) underlines the importance of Mahā-kāśyapa, whose pre-eminence even among the ten great disciples, at the time of the Buddha’s death, is described in the final Canto of Buddha-carita (i.e. BC Canto 28, extant only in Tibetan and Chinese, not in Sanskrit). 44 Tiṣya, Nanda, / Pūrṇa and Pūrṇa One of these two Pūrṇas is included in the list of the Buddha’s ten great disciples. 45 as well as Pūrṇaka and Pūrṇa Śonāparānta, // 16.90 //

śāradvatīputra-subāhu-cundāḥ kondeya-kāpya-bhṛgu-kuṇṭhadhānāḥ /
sa-śaivalau revata-kauṣṭhilau ca maudgalya-gotraś ca gavāṁpatiś ca // 16.91 //

The son of Śāradvatī, Subāhu, Cunda, Kondeya, Kāpya, Bhṛgu, Kuṇṭha-dhāna, / Plus Śaivala, Revata and Kauṣṭhila, and he of the Maudgalya clan Maudgalyāyana (he of the Maudgalya clan) was another of the Buddha’s ten great disciples. The two of the ten great disciples not mentioned on this list of 62 excellent individuals are Śāriputra and Ānanda. 46 and Gavām-pati – // 16.91 //

yaṁ vikramaṁ yoga-vidhāv akurvaṁs tam eva śīghraṁ vidhivat kuruṣva /
tataḥ padaṁ prāpsyasi tair avāptaṁ [sukhāvṛtais] tvaṁ niyataṁ yaśaś ca // 16.92 //

Be quick to show the courage that they have shown in their practice, working to principle. / Then you will assuredly take the step that they took and will realise the splendour that they realised. For the first five syllables of the 4th pāda, the palm-leaf manuscript has something like sakhācattais tvaṃ and the paper manuscript has sakhvācattais tva. EHJ admits that his restoration to sukhāvṛtais tvaṃ is little more than a stopgap. Taiḥ... sukhāvṛtaiḥ (= sukha + avṛtaiḥ) means something like “by those ease/happiness-filled ones.” EHJ noted “In any case it must, I think, be a four-syllable compound in the instrumental plural, of which the first member is probably sukha, sakhya, saṁkhya (‘reasoning power’) or satya.” At the translation stage, EHJ decided to omit the word altogether, the correct reading being “entirely uncertain.”47// 16.92 //

dravyaṁ yathā syat kaṭukaṁ rasena tac copayuktaṁ madhuraṁ vipāke /
tathaiva vīryaṁ kaṭukaṁ śrameṇa tasyārtha-siddhau madhuro vipākaḥ // 16.93 //

Just as a fruit may have flesh that is bitter to the taste and yet is sweet when eaten ripe, / So heroic effort, The meanings of vīrya, one of the six transcendent accomplishments (pāramitā), include manliness, valour, energy, and heroism. From here to the end of Canto 16, vīrya has been translated “directed energy.”48 through the struggle it involves, is bitter and yet, in accomplishment of the aim, its mature fruit is sweet. // 16.93 //

vīryaṁ paraṁ kārya-kṛtau hi mūlaṁ vīryād-ṛte kā-cana nāsti siddhiḥ /
udeti vīryād iha sarva-saṁpan nirvīryatā cet sakalaś ca pāpmā // 16.94 //

Directed energy is paramount: for, in doing what needs to be done, it is the foundation; without directed energy there is no accomplishment at all; / All success in this world arises from directed energy – and in the absence of directed energy wrongdoing is rampant. // 16.94 //

alabdhasyālābho niyatam upalabdhasya vigamaḥ
tathaivātmāvajñā kṛpaṇam adhikebhyaḥ paribhavaḥ /
tamo nis-tejastvaṁ śruti-niyama-tuṣṭi-vyuparamo
nṛṇāṁ nir-vīryāṇāṁ bhavati vinipātaś ca bhavati // 16.95 //

No gaining of what is yet to be gained, and certain loss of what has been gained, / Along with low self-esteem, wretchedness, the scorn of superiors, / Darkness, lack of spirit, and the breakdown of learning, restraint and contentment: / For men without directed energy a great fall awaits. // 16.95 //

nayaṁ śrutvā śakto yad ayam abhivṛddhiṁ na labhate
paraṁ dharmaṁ jñātvā yad upari nivāsaṁ na labhate /
gṛhaṁ tyaktvā muktau yad ayam upaśāntiṁ na labhate
nimittaṁ kausīdyaṁ bhavati puruṣasyātra na ripuḥ // 16.96 //

When a capable person hears the guiding principle but realises no growth, / When he knows the most excellent method but realises no upward repose, / When he leaves home but in freedom realises no peace: / The cause is the laziness in him and not an enemy. // 16.96 //

anikṣiptotsāho yadi khanati gāṁ vāri labhate /
prasaktaṁ vyāmathnan jvalanam araṇibhyāṁ janayati /
prayuktā yoge tu dhruvam upalabhante śrama-phalaṁ
drutaṁ nityaṁ yāntyo girim api hi bhindanti saritaḥ // 16.97 //

A man obtains water if he digs the ground with unflagging exertion, / And produces fire from fire-sticks by continuous twirling. / But those are sure to reap the fruit of their effort whose energies are harnessed to practice, / For rivers that flow swiftly and constantly cut through even a mountain. // 16.97 //

kṛṣṭvā gāṁ paripālya ca śrama-śatair aśnoti sasya-śriyaṁ
yatnena pravigāhya sāgara-jalaṁ ratna-śriyā krīḍati /
śatrūṇām avadhūya vīryam iṣubhir bhuṅkte narendra-śriyaṁ
tad vīryaṁ kuru śāntaye viniyataṁ vīrye hi sarva-rddhayaḥ // 16.98 //

After ploughing and protecting the soil with great pains, [a farmer] gains a bounteous crop of corn; / After striving to plumb the ocean’s waters, [a diver] revels in a bounty of coral and pearls; / After seeing off with arrows the endeavour Vīryam, means endeavor or, again, directed energy. A successful king uses his own vīryam to see off the vīryam of a rival. 49 of rival kings, [a king] enjoys royal dominion. / So direct your energy in pursuit of peace, for in directed energy, undoubtedly, lies all growth.” // 16.98 //

saundaranande mahākāvya ārya-satya-vyākhyāno nāma ṣoḍaśaḥ sargaḥ /
The 16th Canto in the epic poem Handsome Nanda, titled “Communicating the Noble Truths.” The title of each of the last seven cantos of Saundara-nanda is suggestive of sitting practice itself. Hence ārya-satya-vākhyāna may be understood as describing sitting practice itself as “expressing/communicating the noble truths.” 50