Ja 215 The Story about the (Talkative) Turtle

In the present Kokālika blames the two chief disciples, and because of what he says, falls into hell. The Buddha explains that it was ever so in the past, and tells a story of a turtle who was being carried to the Himālayas, but opened his mouth, lost his grip and fell to his death.

1. Avadhī vata attānaṁ kacchapo byāharaṁ giraṁ,
Suggahītasmiṁ kaṭṭhasmiṁ, vācāya sakiyāvadhi.

The turtle by letting out an utterance surely killed himself, while having a good grip on a stick, by speaking he killed himself.

2. Etam-pi disvā naraviriyaseṭṭha,
Vācaṁ pamuñce kusalaṁ nātivelaṁ,
Passasi bahubhāṇena, kacchapaṁ byasanaṁ gatan-ti.

Having seen this, chief of vigorous men, speak a word that is wholesome and concise. Lit: not excessive. You see, by talking much too much, the turtle came to disaster.

In this connection, surely killed means surely slaughtered.

While having a good grip on a stick, biting strongly with the mouth and gripping on the stick.

By speaking he killed himself, being very talkative, and uttering a word at the wrong time, having let go of the place where he bites, by his own words he killed, slaughtered himself. Like this he reached the destruction of his life, not in any other way.

Having seen this means having seen this cause.

Chief of vigorous men means the chief, the one with supreme vigor, the noble king amongst vigorous men.

Speak a word that is wholesome and concise, a wholesome word connected with truth and so on, a wise person should speak, should utter, this beneficial word at a suitable time, he should not speak excessively, exceeding the right time, without limits.

You see means surely you see through witnessing.

By talking much too much means by talking much too much. It appears -bhāṇena is written m.c.

The turtle came to disaster means this turtle reached the destruction of his life.