Ja 201 The Story about the Prison

In the present some monks see prisoners bound tight in prison and ask the Buddha about fetters. The Buddha explains these are not the strongest fetters, that attachment to family and sense desire are even stronger, and explains that in the past some managed to break even these bonds, and tells a story about a previous life he had.

1. Na taṁ daḷhaṁ bandhanam-āhu dhīrā,
Yad-āyasaṁ dārujapabbajañ-ca,
Sārattarattā maṇikuṇḍalesu,
Puttesu dāresu ca yā apekkhā.

There is no bond stronger, so say the wise, whether made of iron, wood, or bulrush, an obsession for jewels and earrings, and the longing towards both sons and wives.

2. Etaṁ daḷhaṁ bandhanam-āhu dhīrā,
Ohārinaṁ sithilaṁ duppamuñcaṁ,
Etam-pi chetvāna vajanti dhīrā,
Anapekkhino kāmasukhaṁ pahāyā ti.

This bond is the stronger, so say the wise, dragging down, pliant, hard to get free from, having cut this also, the wise depart, indifferent, giving up sensual pleasure.

In this connection, wise means resolute, the wise who despise wickedness. Or, dhī is said to be wisdom, endowed with that wisdom, they are wise. The above two definitions play on the broad range of meanings that the word dhīra and its cognates have, including firmness, resoluteness, and also having wisdom, and courage. Buddhas, Independent Buddhas, Buddhas’ disciples and Bodhisattas: these are called wise.

Whether made of iron and so on, when what are reckoned as chains are produced from iron, they are iron chains, when what is reckoned as being bound in manacles it is made of wood, This sentence appears incomplete, especially compared with what follows and precedes. and when with bulrush grass or another fibre and so on, having made rope being bound by that rope, because that iron and so on has the nature of being possible to break, the wise do not say, do not speak, saying: ‘That is strong, solid.’

An obsession means having become obsessed, infatuated, filled with strong passion, this is the meaning.

For jewels and earrings means for jewels and earrings, or for jewelled earrings.

This bond is the stronger, whatever obsession there is for jewels and earrings, whoever has passion for these, the longing, craving for these sons and wives, this defiled bondage is stronger, more solid, so say the wise.

Dragging down, having pulled one down, falling into the four downfalls, he is carried away, he carries one below, so dragging down is said.

Pliant means in that state of bondage there is no cutting of outer or inner skin or flesh, no blood-letting, the state of bondage is not even known, it allows one to make deeds along the land-routes or sea routes, and so on, so it is pliant.

Hard to get free from, because of greed and craving, for even one time, arises the bonds of defilements, like a tortoise from the place where he bites it is hard to get free from, this is hard to get free from.

Having cut this also, thus having cut this strong bond of defilements with the sword of knowledge, having cut these iron chains, like a drunken elephant breaks the cage, the wise are like lion cubs, both the objects of sensuality and the defilements of sensuality, like dung on the floor, being disgusting, having become indifferent, giving up sensual pleasure, depart, leave, and after leaving they enter the Himālaya, go forth in the seers’ going forth, and pass their time in the happiness of absorption.