The Connection with Past Deeds Home PageNext Section
Why the Buddha Suffered
The Traditions I prefer this translation to other renderings such as legends (PED), stories (Rotman) or even achievements (SED), as it seems to me what we are dealing with, both with the material about the Worthy Disciples and the Buddha, are the traditions that were gradually being built up around these figures in the early Buddhist communities.1 about the Buddha
The Connection with Previous Deeds
Anotattasarāsanne, The text is reproduced word for word in the Udānaṭṭhakathā, being quoted from here. 2 ramaṇīye silātale,
While on the delightful rocky plateau near Lake Anotatta, One of the seven great lakes in the Himālaya, now identified with Lake Manasarovar, near Mt. Kailash. 3
Nānāratanapajjote, nānāgandhavanantare, 
Which shines with many jewels, and has many scents in the forest,
Mahatā bhikkhusaṅghena, pareto Lokanāyako,
The World-Leader, surrounded Comm: pareto parivuto.4 by a great Community of Monks,
Āsīno byākarī tattha pubbakammāni attano: 
While seated right there, explained his deeds which were done before (saying):
Suṇātha bhikkhavo mayhaṁ yaṁ kammaṁ pakataṁ mayā, Thai adds the following verse: Ekaṁ araññikaṁ bhikkhuṁ disvā dinnaṁ pilotikaṁ, patthitaṁ paṭhamaṁ Buddhaṁ Buddhattāya mayā tadā; Having seen one forest monk, I gave a rag-robe, the first wish for Buddhahood, was then (made) by me. Lines c & d hardly make sense in the Pāḷi, and I have omitted Buddhaṁ in the translation and added a word for made, perhaps we should read: patthitaṁ paṭhamaṁ kataṁ; which would give a Anuṭṭhubha variation.5
Listen to me, O monks, (explain) the deed that was performed by me,
Pilotikassa kammassa Buddhatte pi vipaccati. Thai adds these two verses: Gopālako pure āsiṁ gāviṁ pājeti gocaraṁ, Pivantiṁ udakaṁ āvilaṁ gāviṁ disvā nivārayiṁ; tena kammavipākena idha pacchimake bhave pipāsito yathicchakaṁ na hi pātuṁ labhāmahaṁ; before when I was a cow-herder I drove cows to their pasture, having seen a cow drink from clear water I prevented him; through that deed and its result here in my last existence (when) thirsty and desiring the same I did not get (anything) to drink.6 
And how the connection Pilotika is given in PED as: a small piece of cloth, a rag, a bandage; SED: ploti, f. thread, connection (in karma-p-) Divyâv[adāna, 150]; in BHSD, Edgerton says that in karmaploti: it means action (binding-)cord, and also gives connecting link, bond as translations. Masefield, however, translates as remnant, and has a note which says: The term seems to denote the minuscule remnant of an old garment and might therefore be taken as “karmic fluff” stemming from a deed whose major results have already been experienced. It seems to me in the contexts I have been able to find in Pāḷi and Sanskritised Prāk?t either translation would fit, but I have preferred the former.7 with that deed ripened even in Buddhahood. I present the verses first, without annotation or commentary as a translation of the latter follows.8
Munāḷi nāmahaṁ dhutto pubbe aññāsu jātisu,
In a previous life I was a scoundrel known as Munāḷi,
Paccekabuddhaṁ Surabhiṁ abbhācikkhiṁ adūsakaṁ; 
I slandered the innocent Independent Buddha Surabhi;
Tena kammavipākena Niraye saṁsariṁ ciraṁ,
Through that deed and through its result I long transmigrated through Hell,
Bahūvassasahassāni, dukkhaṁ vedesi' vedanaṁ. 
For many thousands of years I experienced unpleasant feeling.
Tena kammāvasesena, idha pacchimake bhave,
Through the remainder of that deed, here in my last existence,
Abbhakkhānaṁ mayā laddhaṁ, Sundarikāya kāraṇā. 
I received (much) slander myself, at the hands of Sundarikā.
Sabbābhibhussa Buddhassa Nando nāmāsi sāvako,
There was a disciple of Buddha Sabbābhibhu named Nanda,
Taṁ abbhakkhāya Niraye ciraṁ saṁsaritaṁ mayā, 
Through slandering him I transmigrated through Hell for a long time,
Dasavassasahassāni Niraye saṁsariṁ ciraṁ,
For ten thousand long years I transmigrated through Niraya hell,
Manussabhāvaṁ laddhāhaṁ, abbhakkhānaṁ bahuṁ labhiṁ, 
When I received an existence as man, I received much slander,
Tena kammāvasesena Ciñcamānavikā mamaṁ
Through the remainder of that deed the brahmin maiden named Ciñcā
Abbhācikkhi abhūtena janakāyassa aggato. 
Slandered me with lies at the head of an assembly of people.
Brāhmaṇo Sutavā āsiṁ ahaṁ sakkatapūjito,
As the brahmin Sutavā I was (greatly) honoured and worshipped,
Mahāvane pañcasate mante vācesi All texts are against this reading, but comm. is for it, and it fits better to have an aorist here, rather than a present tense.9 māṇave. 
I taught the mantras to my five hundred students in the Great Wood.
Tatthāgato isī Bhīmo, pañcābhiñño mahiddhiko,
The seer Bhīma who had five knowledges and great power came there,
Taṁ cāhaṁ āgataṁ disvā, abbhācikkhiṁ adūsakaṁ, 
And having seen him coming I slandered that innocent (seer),
Tatohaṁ avacaṁ sisse: 'Kāmabhogī ayaṁ isi'.
Thereupon I said to my pupils: 'This seer is a sensualist'.
Mayham-pi bhāsamānassa anumodiṁsu māṇavā. 
And (all) of the students rejoiced in that (unwholesome) speech of mine.
Tato māṇavakā sabbe bhikkhamānaṁ kulākule,
Thence all the students as they begged for alms from family to family,
Mahājanassa āhaṁsu: 'Kāmabhogī ayaṁ isi'; 
Said to the great (body) of people: 'This seer is a sensualist';
Tena kammavipākena pañcabhikkhusatā ime
Through that deed and through its result these monks (numbering) five hundred
Abbhakkhānaṁ labhuṁ sabbe Sundarikāya kāraṇā. 
All received (abundant) slander at the hands of Sundarikā.
Vemātubhātaraṁ PTS: Dvemātā-bhātaro; brothers of two mothers (and same father).10 pubbe dhanahetu haniṁ ahaṁ,
In the (distant) past I killed my half-brother for the sake of wealth,
Pakkhipiṁ giriduggasmiṁ, silāya ca apiṁsayiṁ, 
I threw him in an inaccessible mountain, and crushed him with a rock;
Tena kammavipākena Devadatto silaṁ khipi,
Through that deed and its result Devadatta threw a rock (at me),
Aṅguṭṭhaṁ piṁsayī pāde mama pāsāṇasakkharā. 
Which crushed the big toe on my foot with a shard which was made of stone.
Purehaṁ dārako hutvā, kīḷamāno mahāpathe,
In the past, having become a boy, while playing on the highway,
Paccekabuddhaṁ disvāna magge sakalikaṁ khipiṁ; 
Seeing an Independent Buddha on the road, I threw a stone;
Tena kammavipākena idha pacchimake bhave
Through that deed and through its result here in (this) my last existence
Vadhatthaṁ maṁ Devadatto abhimāre payojayi. 
Devadatta tried to kill me by employing evil bandits.
Hatthāroho pure āsiṁ. Paccekamunim-uttamaṁ
Before I was a mahout. While a supreme Independent Sage
Piṇḍāya vicarantaṁ taṁ, āsādesiṁ gajenahaṁ; 
Was wandering for his almsfood, I struck him with my elephant;
Tena kammavipākena bhanto Nāḷāgirī gajo
Through that deed and its result, elephant Nāḷāgiri, swaying
Giribbaje puravare dāruṇo maṁ upāgami. 
Violently rushed at me in the city of Giribbaja.
Rājāhaṁ pattiko āsiṁ sattiyā purise haniṁ;
(When) I was a King (going round) on foot I killed men with my sword;
Tena kammavipākena Niraye paccisiṁ bhusaṁ, 
Through that deed and its result I suffered much in Niraya hell,
Kammuno tassa sesena, idāni sakalaṁ mama
Through the remainder of that deed, at this time all the (unbroken)
Pāde chaviṁ pakappesi PTS: c'ādiṇṇaṁ sakalaṁ mama pāde chaviṁ pakopesi; he angrily cut the skin on my entire foot; BJT also reads: pakopesi, but then omits a word for cutting, which would seem to be required.11 – na hi kammaṁ vinassati. 
Skin on my foot was cut – deeds are never destroyed (without result).
Ahaṁ kevaṭṭagāmasmiṁ ahuṁ kevaṭṭadārako
(Before) I was a fisherman's son in a fisherman's village
Macchake ghātite disvā janayiṁ somanassakaṁ; 
Having seen fish being killed it produced a little happiness;
Tena kammavipākena sīsadukkhaṁ ahū mama,
Through that deed and through its result I had a (great) pain in my head,
Sabbe Sakkā ca haññiṁsu yadā hani Viḍūḍabho. PTS: Viḍuḍabho; ChS: Viṭaṭūbho; Thai: Viṭaṭubho; and similarly throughout. The correct form of the name, which is said to have formed through a confusion anyway, is lost now.12 
And all the Sakyans were killed when they were slain by Viḍūḍabha.
Phussassāhaṁ pāvacane sāvake paribhāsayiṁ:
I blamed the teachings and disciples of (Buddha) Phussa (saying):
“Yavaṁ khādatha bhuñjatha, mā ca bhuñjatha sālayo”; 
“You should eat and enjoy barley, you should not enjoy this fine rice;”
Tena kammavipākena temāsaṁ khāditaṁ yavaṁ
Through that deed and its result for three months I ate (only) barley
Nimantito brāhmaṇena Verañjāyaṁ vasiṁ tadā. 
When invited by the brahmin to dwell (three months) in Verañjā.
Nibbuddhe vattamānamhi mallaputtaṁ niheṭhayiṁ;
Once while I was wrestling I badly injured another wrestler;
Tena kammavipākena piṭṭhidukkhaṁ ahū mama. 
Through that deed and through its result I suffered a pain in my back.
Tikicchako ahaṁ āsiṁ seṭṭhiputtaṁ virecayiṁ;
At the time I was a physician I made a merchant's son purge;
Tena kammavipākena hoti pakkhandikaṁ mama. 
Through that deed and through its result I had amoebic dysentery.
Avacāhaṁ Jotipālo Sugataṁ Kassapaṁ tadā:
As Jotipāla I spoke to the Buddha Kassapa, (saying):
“Kuto nu Bodhi muṇḍassa? Bodhi paramadullabhā!” 
“Where is this shavelings' Awakening? Awakening is supremely rare!”
Tena kammavipākena acariṁ dukkaraṁ bahuṁ
Through that deed and its result I practiced many austerities
Chabbassān-Uruvelāyaṁ tato Bodhim-apāpuṇiṁ. 
For six years at Uruvelā, and then attained to Awakening.
Nāhaṁ etena maggena pāpuṇiṁ Bodhim-uttamaṁ,
I did not attain the supreme Awakening through this path (of pain),
Kummaggena gavesissaṁ pubbakammena vārito. 
I sought along the wrong path being obstructed by a past deed.
With merit and demerit destroyed, abstaining from all torment,
Asoko anupāyāso, nibbāyissam-anāsavo. 
Griefless, without despair, I will be released, without pollutants.
Evaṁ Jino viyākāsi bhikkhusaṅghassa aggato,
So the Victor explained at the head of the Community of monks,
Sabbābhiññābalappatto, Anotatte mahāsare.” ti 
The one with all knowledge and strength, at the great Lake Anotatta.”
Itthaṁ sudaṁ Bhagavā attano pubbacaritaṁ pubbakammapilotikaṁ
In this way, truly, the Gracious One spoke about the former connection with his previous lives
nāma Buddhāpadānaṁ Dhammapariyāyaṁ abhāsittha.
in what is known as the Dhamma Instruction in the Traditions about the Buddha.
Pubbakammapilotikaṁ nāma Buddhāpadānaṁ Samattaṁ
The Traditions about the Buddha
The Connection with Previous Deeds is Complete
The Connection with Past Deeds Home PageNext Section
last updated: February 2012