Why the Buddha Suffered

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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. 01
Which shines with many jewels, and has many scents in the forest,

The World-Leader, surrounded Comm: pareto parivuto.02 by a great Community of Monks,
While seated right there, explained his deeds which were done before saying:

Listen to me, O monks, explain the deed that was performed by me, Thai adds the following verse: Having seen one forest monk, I gave a rag-robe, the first wish for Buddhahood, was then (made) by me. 03
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.04 with that deed ripened even in Buddhahood. Thai adds these two verses: 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.05


In a previous life I present the verses first, without annotation or commentary as a translation of the latter follows.06 I was a scoundrel known as Munāḷi,
I slandered the innocent Independent Buddha Surabhi;

Through that deed and through its result I long transmigrated through Hell,
For many thousands of years I experienced unpleasant feeling.

Through the remainder of that deed, here in my last existence,
I received much slander myself, at the hands of Sundarikā.


There was a disciple of Buddha Sabbābhibhu named Nanda,
Through slandering him I transmigrated through Hell for a long time,

For ten thousand long years I transmigrated through Niraya hell,
When I received an existence as man, I received much slander,

Through the remainder of that deed the brahmin maiden named Ciñcā
Slandered me with lies at the head of an assembly of people.


As the brahmin Sutavā I was greatly honoured and worshipped,
I taught the mantras to my five hundred students in the Great Wood.

The seer Bhīma – who had five knowledges and great power – came there,
And having seen him coming I slandered that innocent seer,

Thereupon I said to my pupils: This seer is a sensualist.
And all of the students rejoiced in that unwholesome speech of mine.

Thence all the students as they begged for alms from family to family,
Said to the great body of people: This seer is a sensualist;

Through that deed and through its result these monks numbering five hundred
All received abundant slander at the hands of Sundarikā.


In the distant past I killed my half-brother Having the same Father but different Mothers.07 for the sake of wealth,
I threw him in an inaccessible mountain, and crushed him with a rock;

Through that deed and its result Devadatta threw a rock at me,
Which crushed the big toe on my foot with a shard which was made of stone.


In the past, having become a boy, while playing on the highway,
Seeing an Independent Buddha on the road, I threw a stone;

Through that deed and through its result here in this my last existence
Devadatta tried to kill me by employing evil bandits.


Before I was a mahout. While a supreme Independent Sage
Was wandering for his almsfood, I struck him with my elephant;

Through that deed and its result, elephant Nāḷāgiri, swaying
Violently rushed at me in the city of Giribbaja.


When I was a King going round on foot I killed men with my sword;
Through that deed and its result I suffered much in Niraya hell,

Through the remainder of that deed, at this time all the unbroken
Skin on my foot was cut – deeds are never destroyed without result.


Before I was a fisherman's son in a fisherman's village
Having seen fish being killed it produced a little happiness;

Through that deed and through its result I had a great pain in my head,
And all the Sakyans were killed when they were slain by Viḍūḍabha. There are some variations in the spelling of the name, but the correct form of the name, which is said to have formed through a confusion anyway, is lost now.08


I blamed the teachings and disciples of Buddha Phussa saying:
“You should eat and enjoy barley, you should not enjoy this fine rice;”

Through that deed and its result for three months I ate only barley
When invited by the brahmin to dwell three months in Verañjā.


Once while I was wrestling I badly injured another wrestler;
Through that deed and through its result I suffered a pain in my back.


At the time I was a physician I made a merchant's son purge;
Through that deed and through its result I had amoebic dysentery.


As Jotipāla I spoke to the Buddha Kassapa, saying:
“Where is this shavelings' Awakening? Awakening is supremely rare!”

Through that deed and its result I practiced many austerities
For six years at Uruvelā, and then attained to Awakening.

I did not attain the supreme Awakening through this path of pain,
I sought along the wrong path being obstructed by a past deed.

With merit and demerit destroyed, abstaining from all torment,
Griefless, without despair, I will be released, without pollutants.

So the Victor explained at the head of the Community of monks,
The one with all knowledge and strength, at the great Lake Anotatta.

In this way, truly, the Gracious One spoke about the former connection with his previous lives
in what is known as the Dhamma Instruction in the Traditions about the Buddha.

The Traditions about the Buddha
known as
The Connection with Previous Deeds is Complete