Why the Buddha Suffered
[7. The Elephant Nāḷāgiri]
Sattamapañhe, Nāḷāgirī ti Dhanapālako hatthī māraṇatthāya pesito.
In the seventh enquiry, (called) Nāḷāgiri, (we hear about how) the elephant Dhanapālaka was sent in order to kill (the Buddha).
Atīte kira Bodhisatto, hatthigopako hutvā,
In the past, it seems, the Buddha-to-be, after becoming an elephant’s groom,
nibbatto hatthiṁ āruyha,
rose onto an elephant,
vicaramāno mahāpathe Paccekabuddhaṁ disvā,
and after seeing an Independent Buddha walking on the Highway,
“Kuto gacchati ayaṁ muṇḍako?” ti
he said: “Where is this shaveling going?”
āhatacitto khilajāto taṁ hatthinā āsādesi.
being angry and stubborn he assaulted him with his elephant.
So tena kammena apāyesu anekavassasahassāni dukkhaṁ anubhavitvā,
Having undergone suffering in the lower realms for countless thousands of years through that deed,
pacchimattabhāve Buddho jāto.
he became a Buddha in his last state of existence.
Devadatto Ajātasatturājānaṁ sahāyaṁ katvā,
After Devadatta had become friends with King Ajātasattu,
“Tvaṁ, Mahārāja, Pitaraṁ ghātetvā Rājā hohi,
he said: “Great King, after killing your Father you will become King,
ahaṁ Buddhaṁ māretvā, Buddho bhavissāmī!” ti
and after murdering the Buddha, I will be the Buddha!”
Saññāpetvā ekadivasaṁ Rañño anuññātāya, hatthisālaṁ gantvā,
After having this thought, one day, with the King’s permission, after going to the elephant stall,
“Sve tumhe Nāḷāgiriṁ soḷasasurāghaṭe pāyetvā,
he gave this order to the elephant groom: “Tomorrow, after making Nāḷāgiri drink sixteen pots of liquor,
Bhagavantaṁ piṇḍāya caraṇavelāyaṁ pesethā!” ti hatthigopake āṇāpesi.
send him out during the time the Fortunate One is walking for alms!”
Sakalanagaraṁ mahākolāhalaṁ ahosi,
There was a great uproar in the whole town,
“Buddhanāgena hatthināgassa yuddhaṁ passissāmā!” ti
and they said: “We will see a battle between the noble
ubhato rājavīthiyaṁ mañcātimañcaṁ bandhitvā,
and having set up terraced stands on both sides along the royal highway,
pāto va sannipatiṁsu.
they assembled in the morning.
Bhagavā pi katasarīrapaṭijaggano,
The Fortunate One, after tending to his bodily needs,
Bhikkhusaṅghaparivuto Rājagahaṁ piṇḍāya pāvisi.
surrounded by the Community of monks entered Rājagaha for alms.
Tasmiṁ khaṇe vuttaniyāmeneva Nāḷāgiriṁ vissajjesuṁ.
At that time in accordance with the order that had been given Nāḷāgiri was released.
So vīthicaccarādayo vidhamento āgacchati.
He came making (all) scatter at the crossroads and so on.
Tadā ekā itthi dārakaṁ gahetvā, vīthito vīthiṁ gacchati,
Then a certain girl being seized (with fear) ran from street to street,
hatthī taṁ itthiṁ disvā, anubandhi.
and the elephant, A regular word for an elephant, it literally means, one with a hand(-like trunk). having seen that girl, pursued her.
Bhagavā: “Nāḷāgiri, na taṁ hanatthāya pesito, idhāgacchāhī!” ti āha.
The Fortunate One said: “Nāḷāgiri you were not sent to kill her, come here!”
So taṁ saddaṁ sutvā, Bhagavantābhimukho dhāvi.
Having heard that sound, he ran right at the Fortunate One.
Bhagavā aparimāṇesu cakkavāḷesu anantasattesu pharaṇārahaṁ mettaṁ
The Fortunate One suffused beings without end in the measureless universe with loving-kindness
ekasmiṁ yeva Nāḷāgirimhi phari.
and also suffused Nāḷāgiri.
So Bhagavatā mettāya phuṭo, nibbhayo hutvā,
Being suffused with loving-kindness by the Fortunate One, after losing his fear,
Bhagavato pādamūle nipati.
he threw himself at the feet Lit: the root of the feet, which is unidiomatic in English. of the Fortunate One.
Bhagavā tassa matthake hatthaṁ ṭhapesi.
The Fortunate One placed his hand on his head.
Tadā devabrahmādayo, acchariyabbhutajātacittā,
Then the gods, deities and so on, their minds marvelling and wondering,
worshipped him with fragrant powder and so on.
Sakalanagare jaṇṇukamattā dhanarāsayo ahesuṁ.
The whole city became filled with a heap of wealth knee-deep.
Rājā: “Pacchimadvāre dhanāni nagaravāsīnaṁ hontu,
The King had the drums beaten (and said): “The wealth up to the West gate is for the town-dwellers,
Puratthimadvāre dhanāni Rājabhaṇḍāgāre hontū!” ti bheriṁ carāpesi.
the wealth up to the East gate is for the King’s treasury!”
Sabbe tathā kariṁsu.
And they all did that.
Tadā Nāḷāgiri Dhanapālo nāma ahosi.
Then Nāḷāgiri gained the name Dhanapāla. Meaning Protector of the Wealth.
Bhagavā Veḷuvanārāmaṁ agamāsi.
And the Fortunate One returned to the Bamboo Monastery.
Therefore it is said:
Hatthāroho pure āsiṁ, Paccekamunim-uttamaṁ
Before I was a mahout. While a supreme Independent Sage
Piṇḍāya vicarantaṁ taṁ, āsādesiṁ gajenahaṁ; 
Was wandering for his almsfood, I struck him with my elephant;
Tena kammavipākena bhanto Nāḷāgirī gajo
Through that deed and its result, elephant Nāḷāgiri swaying
Giribbaje puravare dāruṇo maṁ upāgamī. ti 
Violently rushed at me in the city of Giribbaja. Another name for Rājagaha, the capital of Magadha.
last updated: February 2012