The video series “Dhammathreads” with Bhante Sujato & friends offers some discussions about the verses of the Elder monks, the Theragāthā, in Bhante Sujato’s new English translation. In case they are available, we are adding some illustrations by Ven. Yodha to the respective verses.
Thag 1.1: Subhūti
My little hut is roofed and pleasant,
Sheltered from the wind:
So rain, sky, as you please!
My mind is serene and freed,
I practice whole-heartedly: so rain, sky!
Thag 1.22: Cittaka
Crested peacocks with beautiful blue necks
Cry out in Karaṃvī.
Aroused by a cool breeze,
They awaken the sleeper to practice jhāna.
Thag 1.26: Abhaya
Having heard the wonderful words
Of the Buddha, the Kinsman of the Sun,
I penetrated the subtle truth,
Like a hair-tip with an arrow.
Thag 1.43: Sumaṅgala
Well freed! Well freed!
I’m very well freed from three crooked things:
My sickles, my ploughs, my little hoes.
Even if they were here, right here—
I’d be done with them, done!
Practice jhāna Sumaṅgala, practice jhāna Sumaṅgala!
Stay heedful, Sumaṅgala!
Thag 1.56: Kuṭivihāri
“Who is in this little hut?”
“A monk is in this little hut,
Free of lust, his mind serene in samādhi.
My friend, you should know this:
Your little hut wasn’t built in vain.”
Thag 1.120: Isidatta
The five aggregates are fully understood,
They remain, but their root is severed.
I have realized the end of suffering,
And attained the end of defilements.
Thag 2.10: Vasabha
First one kills oneself,
Then one kills others.
One kills oneself, really dead,
Like one who kills birds using a dead bird as a decoy.
A holy man’s color is not on the outside;
A holy man is colored on the inside.
Whoever does bad deeds
Such a one is truly dark, Sujampati.
Thag 2.16: Mahākāḷo
There’s a big black woman who looks like a crow.
She broke off thigh-bones, first one then another;
She broke off arm-bones, first one then another;
She broke off a skull like a curd-bowl, and then—
She assembled them all together, and sat down beside them.
When an ignorant person builds up attachments,
That idiot returns to suffering, again and again.
So let one who understands not build up attachments:
May I never again lie with a broken skull!
Thag 2.3: Valliya
A monkey went up to the little hut
With five doors.
He circles around, knocking
On each door, again and again.
Stand still monkey, don’t run!
Things are different now;
You’ve been caught by wisdom—
You won’t go far.
Thag 12.2: Sunīta
I was born in a low-class family,
Poor, with little to eat.
My job was lowly—
I threw out the old flowers.
Shunned by people,
I was disregarded and treated with contempt.
I humbled my heart,
And paid respects to many people.
Then I saw the Buddha,
Honoured by the Saṅgha of monks,
The great hero,
Entering the capital city of Magadhā.
I dropped my carrying-pole
And approached to pay respects.
Out of compassion for me,
The supreme man stood still.
When I had paid respects at the teacher’s feet,
I stood to one side,
And asked the most excellent of all beings
For the going-forth.
Then the teacher, being sympathetic,
And having compassion for the whole world,
Said to me, “Come, monk!”
That was my full ordination.
Staying alone in the wilderness,
I did what the teacher said,
As the conqueror had advised me.
In the first watch of the night,
I recollected my previous births.
In the middle watch of the night,
I purified the divine eye.
In the last watch of the night,
I tore apart the mass of darkness.
At the end of the night,
As the sunrise drew near,
Indra and Brahmā came
And paid homage me with hands in añjalī.
“Homage to you, thoroughbred among men!
Homage to you, supreme among men!
Your defilements are ended—
You, sir, are worthy of offerings.”
When he saw me honored
By the assembly of gods,
The teacher smiled,
And said the following:
“By austerity and by the holy life,
By restraint and by taming:
By this one is a holy man,
This is the supreme holiness.”
Thag 1.18: Siṅgālapitu
There was an heir of the Buddha,
A monk in Bhesakaḷā forest,
Who suffused the entire earth
With the perception of “bones”.
I think he will quickly abandon sensual desire.
Thag 1.38: Gavampati
His psychic power made the river Sarabhu stand still;
Gavampati is unbound and unperturbed.
The gods bow to that great sage,
Who has left behind all attachments,
And gone beyond rebirth in any state of existence.
Thag 1.39: Tissa
As if struck by a sword,
As if their head was on fire,
A monk should go forth mindfully,
To abandon desire for sensual pleasures.
Thag 1.104: Kithaka
Hey! My body is light,
Full of so much rapture and happiness.
My body feels like it’s floating,
Like cotton on the wind.
Thag 1.112: Vacchagotta
I have the three knowledges, I’m a great meditator,
Skilled in serenity of mind.
I’ve realized my own true goal,
And fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.
Thag 2.4: Gaṅgātīriya
My hut on the bank of the Ganges
Is made from three palm leaves.
My alms-bowl is a funeral pot,
My robe is castoff rags.
In my first two rainy seasons
I spoke only one word.
In my third rainy season,
The mass of darkness was torn apart.
Thag 2.15: Sabbamitta
People are attached to people;
People are dependent on people;
People are hurt by people;
And people hurt people.
What’s the point of people,
Or the things people make?
Go, leave these people,
Who’ve hurt so many people.
Thag 2.40: Kappaṭakura
This fellow, “Rag-rice”, he sure is a rag.
This place has been made for practising jhāna,
Like a crystal vase filled to the brim
With the nectar of the deathless,
Into which enough Dhamma has been poured.
Don’t nod off, Rag—
I’ll smack your ear!
Nodding off in the middle of the Saṅgha?
You haven’t learnt a thing.
Thag 4.5: Jambuka
For fifty-five years
I wore mud and dirt;
Eating one meal a month,
I tore out my hair and beard.
I stood on one foot;
I rejected seats;
I ate dried-out dung;
I didn’t accept food that had been set aside for me.
Having done many actions of this kind,
Which lead to a bad destination,
As I was being swept away by the great flood,
I went to the Buddha for refuge.
See the going for refuge!
See the excellence of the Dhamma!
I’ve attained the three knowledges,
And fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.