Ja 9 The Story about King Makhadeva

In the present, after the Buddha’s Awakening the monks are discussing his Great Renunciation; the Buddha then tells the story of a previous life where upon the sight of just one grey hair, he renounced the world (full story).

1. Uttamaṅgaruhā mayhaṁ ime jātā vayoharā,
Pātubhūtā devadūtā, pabbajjāsamayo mamā ti.

These greying hairs growing on my head carry off my youthful life, divine messengers manifest, it is time for me to go forth.

In this connection, these greying hairs growing on my head means head hairs. Because there are hairs on all limbs, such as hands, feet, and so on, when growing on the head growing on the head is said.

Carry off my youthful life means: ‘Look, dear, the three ages of man are borne away by what is visibly grey,’ so, these greying hairs carry off my youthful life.

Manifest means appears.

Divine messengers, divine here is said to be death, the messengers of that means divine messengers. When grey hairs manifest on the head it is like the king of death is standing nearby, therefore they say grey hairs are messengers of the god of death. Like messengers who are divine, this also means divine messengers.

Like a decorated and adorned Devatā standing in the sky, saying: “On such and such a day you will die,” and having said that, it is simply the truth, so when grey hairs manifest on the head it is like an announcement by a Devatā, therefore greying hairs are similar to messengers from the divine is said.

Messengers from those divine through purity are also divine messengers. Therefore all the Bodhisattas, having seen ageing, sickness, death, and one gone forth, after arousing spiritual anxiety, depart and go forth themselves.

Just so this is said:

Seeing one aged, The first lines correspond to Thag 73ab, the last two lines are only found in the commentaries, although they seem to be quotes, probably of a form of the verse lost to the canon. suffering from sickness,
Seeing one dying, with his life force gone,
Seeing one gone forth dressed in yellow clothes,
Seeing these I therefore went forth, O king.

Through this means grey hairs are messengers of those divine through purity, and they say divine messengers.

It is time for me to go forth, through leaving the state of the householder going forth is said, it is the right time for my gaining the name of one who has taken hold of the signs of an ascetic life, this is the explanation.