Why the Buddha Suffered

[11. Backache]


Ekādasamapañhe, piṭṭhidukkhan-ti piṭṭhi-ābādho.
In the eleventh enquiry, (called) backache, (we hear how he had) pain in the back.

Atīte kira Bodhisatto gahapatikule nibbatto
In the past, it seems, the Buddha-to-be was reborn in a householder's family

thāmasampanno, kiñci rassadhātuko ahosi.
and was endowed with strength, although somewhat short by nature.

Tena samayena eko mallayuddhayodho
At that time there was one wrestling-contest champion

sakala-Jambudīpe gāmanigamarājadhānīsu,
in the villages, towns and royal cities in the whole of the Rose-Apple Island who,

mallayuddhe vattamāne purise pātetvā, jayappatto,
after throwing men in a wrestling contest, achieved success,

kamena Bodhisattassa vasananagaraṁ patvā,
and by and by having arrived at the Buddha-to-be's residential town,

tasmim-pi jane pātetvā, gantum-āraddho.
and throwing people there, got ready to go.

Tadā Bodhisatto: “Mayhaṁ vasanaṭṭhāne esa jayaṁ patvā, gacchatī,” ti
Then the Buddha-to-be thinking: “Having achieved success in this my place of residence, he is going”,

tattha nagaramaṇḍalam-āgamma, appoṭetvā āgaccha,
coming right there to the town centre, and slapping his arms, This rare verb may means clapping his hands, but it occurs in other places in connection with wrestling, and may have been a way of brandishing one's strength.1

“Mayā saddhiṁ yujjhitvā, gacchā.” ti
said: “Come, after fighting with me, you can go.”

So hasitvā: “Ahaṁ mahante purise pātesiṁ!
After laughing: “I have thrown huge men!

Ayaṁ rassadhātuko vāmanako,
This dwarf, who is short by nature,

mama ekahatthassāpi nappahotī,” ti appoṭetvā naditvā āgañchi.
is not able (to fight) even with one of my hands,” and slapping his arms and roaring he came on.

Te ubho pi aññam-aññaṁ hatthaṁ parāmasiṁsu,
They both grabbed each other by the arm,

Bodhisatto taṁ ukkhipitvā ākāse bhamitvā,
and the Buddha-to-be after lifting him and swirling him around in the sky,

bhūmiyaṁ pātento khandhaṭṭhiṁ bhinditvā pātesi.
throwing him on the floor, threw him (again), breaking his back-bone.

Sakalanagaravāsino ukkuṭṭhiṁ karontā, SHB, PTS: ukkuṭṭhasaddaṁ karonto; making a sound of acclamation.2
All the town dwellers made acclamation,

appoṭetvā PTS: appoṭhetvā vaggantā; as above; SHB: appoṭhento vaggantā; slapping their arms and jumping.3 vatthābharaṇādīhi Bodhisattaṁ pūjesuṁ.
and after slapping their arms, they honoured the Buddha-to-be with clothes, decorations and so on.

Bodhisatto taṁ mallayodhaṁ ujuṁ sayāpetvā,
The Buddha-to-be, after laying that wrestler straight,

khandhaṭṭhiṁ ujukaṁ katvā,
and straightening his back-bone,

“Gaccha ito, paṭṭhāya evarūpaṁ mā karosī” ti vatvā uyyojesi.
dismissed him saying: “Go from here, and henceforth do not behave in this way.”


So tena kammavipākena,
Through that deed and its result,

nibbattanibbattabhave sarīrasīsādi dukkham-anubhavitvā,
after undergoing suffering in his body, head and so on, in rebirth after rebirth,

imasmiṁ pacchimattabhāve,
in this his last state of existence,

Buddhabhūto pi piṭṭhirujādidukkham-anubhosi.
having become a Buddha he also suffered with pain in the back and so on.

Tasmā kadāci piṭṭhidukkhe uppanne,
Therefore sometimes when his back pain arose,

Sāriputtamoggallāne: “Ito paṭṭhāya Dhammaṁ desethā” ti vatvā,
after saying to Sāriputta and Moggallāna: “Henceforth, please teach the Doctrine,”

sayaṁ Sugatacīvaraṁ paññāpetvā sayati:
and preparing the Fortunate One's robe he lay down:

kammapilotikaṁ nāma Buddham-api na muñcati.
the Buddha was surely not free from the connection with that deed.

So this was said:


Nibbuddhe vattamānamhi mallaputtaṁ niheṭhayiṁ; SHB, PTS: nisedhayiṁ; restrained, which doesn't seem strong enough. The word niheṭhayiṁ seems only to occur here and in parallel passages, I translate it as an emphatic of heṭhayiṁ, which makes sense contextually.4
Once while I was wrestling I badly injured another wrestler;

Tena kammavipākena piṭṭhidukkhaṁ ahū mamā. ti [90]
Through that deed and through its result I suffered a pain in my back.