Verses of the Elder Monks
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
In a lowly family I was born,
poor, with next to no food.
My work was degrading:
I gathered the spoiled,
the withered flowers from shrines
and threw them away.
People found me disgusting,
despised me, disparaged me.
Lowering my heart,
I showed reverence to many.
Then I saw the One Self-awakened,
arrayed with a squadron of monks,
the Great Hero, entering the city,
supreme, of the Magadhans.
Throwing down my carrying pole,
I approached him to do reverence.
He -- the supreme man -- stood still
out of sympathy
After paying homage
to the feet of the teacher,
I stood to one side
& requested the Going Forth from him,
supreme among all living beings.
The compassionate Teacher,
sympathetic to all the world, said:
That was my formal Acceptance.
Alone, I stayed in the wilds,
I followed the Teacher's words,
just as he, the Conqueror, had taught me.
In the first watch of the night,
I recollected previous lives;
in the middle watch,
purified the divine eye;
in the last,
burst the mass of darkness.
Then, as night was ending
& the sun returning,
Indra & Brahma came to pay homage to me,
hands palm-to-palm at their hearts:
"Homage to you, O thoroughbred of men,
Homage to you, O man supreme,
whose fermentations are ended.
You, dear sir, are worthy of offerings."
Seeing me, arrayed with a squadron of devas,
the Teacher smiled & said:
"Through austerity, celibacy,
restraint, & self-control:
That's how one is a brahman.
He is a brahman supreme."