The Way to the Beyond | Pārāyanavagga


Pārāyana Vagga deals with 16 questions asked by 16 brāhmin youths while the Buddha is staying at Pāsānaka Shrine in the country of Magadha. The Buddha gives his answers to each of the questions asked by the youths.

Knowing the meaning of each question and of the answers given by the Buddha, if one practises the Dhamma as instructed in this sutta, one can surely reach the Other Shore, which is free from ageing and death. The Dhamma in this sutta is known as Parāyaṇā because it leads to the Other Shore, Nibbāna.

Pārāyana Vagga forms a part of the Sutta Nipāta, a sub-division of the Khuddhaka Nikāya of Pali Canon. It is among the earliest existing Buddhist literature. It is translated here from Pali to English by bhikku Ānandajoti Bhikkhu.

Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa
Reverence to him, The Gracious One, The Worthy One, The Perfect Sambuddha

The Way to the Beyond

Introductory Verses

Kosalānaṁ purā rammā   agamā Dakkhiṇāpathaṁ
From the delightful city of the Kosalans to the Southern lands went

ākiñcaññaṁ patthayāno   brāhmaṇo Mantapāragū. [1]
one who wanted to have no possessions, a brahmin perfect in the Vedas.

So Assakassa visaye,   Mūḷakassa samāsane,
In the locality of Assaka, and near to Mūḷaka,

vasi Godhāvarīkūle   uñchena ca phalena ca. [2]
close to the bank of the Godhāvari he lived on gleanings and fruit.

Tass' eva upanissāya   gāmo ca vipulo ahu,
In the vicinity (of the river) there was a large village,

tato jātena āyena   mahāyaññam-akappayi. [3]
and with the income that arose from that he offered a great sacrifice.

Mahāyaññaṁ yajitvāna   puna pāvisi assamaṁ,
When that great sacrifice had been given he entered his hermitage again,

tasmiṁ patipaviṭṭhamhi   añño āgañchi brāhmaṇo - [4]
and when he had re-entered it, another brahmin came along -

ugghaṭṭapādo tasito,   paṅkadanto rajassiro,
he had sore feet, and was thirsty, with dirty teeth, and dust on his head -

so ca naṁ upasaṅkamma,   satāni pañca yācati. [5]
and after approaching (the first brahmin), he begged for five hundred (coins).

Tam-enaṁ Bāvarī disvā   āsanena nimantayi,
After seeing him Bāvari invited him to take a seat,

sukhañ-ca kusalaṁ pucchi,   idaṁ vacanam-abravi: [6]
and he asked after his happiness and welfare, and this is the word he spoke:

“Yaṁ kho mamaṁ deyyadhammaṁ   sabbaṁ vissajjitaṁ mayā,
“Whatever kind of gift I had, all that has been given away by me,

anujānāhi me brahme,   n' atthi pañca satāni me.” [7]
please excuse me brahmin, I do not have the five hundred.”

“Sace me yācamānassa   bhavaṁ nānupadassati,
“If your honour will not give me what I am begging for,

sattame divase tuyhaṁ   muddhā phalatu sattadhā!” [8]
then within seven days may your head split into seven pieces!”

Abhisaṅkharitvā kuhako   bheravaṁ so akittayi.
Having made (a scene) the dishonest man proclaimed this fearful thing.

Tassa taṁ vacanaṁ sutvā,   Bāvarī dukkhito ahu. [9]
After hearing this word of his, Bāvari became miserable.

Ussussati anāhāro,   sokasallasamappito,
(Going) without food he dried up, and was affected by the dart of grief,

atho pi evaṁcittassa   jhāne na ramatī mano. [10]
and when his heart was like that his mind did not delight in meditation.

Utrastaṁ dukkhitaṁ disvā,   Devatā atthakāminī
Having seen him terrified and miserable, a God who desired his welfare,

Bāvariṁ upasaṅkamma,   idaṁ vacanam-abravi: [11]
approached Bāvari, and this is the word he spoke:

“Na so muddhaṁ pajānāti,   kuhako so dhanatthiko!
“He does not know the head - he is a dishonest man who wants wealth!

Muddhani muddhapāte vā,    ñāṇaṁ tassa na vijjati.” [12]
He does not have knowledge about the head or head-splitting.”

“Bhotī carahi jānāti!   Taṁ me akkhāhi pucchitā:
“But now your honour knows! Please explain this to me when asked:

muddhaṁ muddhādhipātañ-ca   taṁ suṇoma vaco tava.” [13]
the head and head-splitting, may we hear that word of yours.”

“Aham-p' etaṁ na jānāmi,   ñāṇaṁ m' ettha na vijjati.
“I also do not know about this, I do not have this knowledge here.

Muddhaṁ muddhādhipāto ca   Jinānaṁ h' eta' dassanaṁ.” [14]
The head and head-splitting! Indeed only Victors see this!”

“Atha ko carahi jānāti   asmiṁ puthavimaṇḍale
“Then who knows about the head and head-splitting

muddhaṁ muddhādhipātañ-ca?   Taṁ me akkhāhi Devate.” [15]
on the face of the earth? O God, please explain this to me.”

“Purā Kapilavatthumhā   nikkhanto lokanāyako,
“From out of the city of Kapilavatthu a world leader has renounced,

apacco Okkākarājassa   Sakyaputto Pabhaṅkaro. [16]
he is of king Okkāka's line, a Sakyan's son, a Light-Maker.

So hi brāhmaṇa Sambuddho,   sabbadhammāna' pāragū,
He is a Sambuddha, brahmin, in everything he is perfect,

Sabbābhiññābalappatto,   sabbadhammesu Cakkhumā
having attained all deep knowledges and strengths, endowed with Vision regarding all things,

Sabbakammakkhayam-patto   vimutto upadhikkhaye. [17]
he has come to the end of all actions, in the end of all clinging he is freed.

Buddho so Bhagavā loke,   Dhammaṁ deseti Cakkhumā,
He is the Buddha in the world, the Gracious One, the Visionary who teaches Teaching,

taṁ tvaṁ gantvāna pucchassu,   so te taṁ byākarissati.” [18]
after going there you can ask him about it, he will explain it to you.”

‘Sambuddho’ ti vaco sutvā,   udaggo Bāvarī ahu,
Having heard the word ‘Sambuddha’, Bāvari became elated,

sok' assa tanuko āsi   pītiñ-ca vipulaṁ labhi. [19]
then his grief became but little, and he received great happiness.

So Bāvarī attamano udaggo,
Bāvari, uplifted and elated,

taṁ Devataṁ pucchati vedajāto:
enthusiastically asked that God:

“Katamamhi gāme nigamamhi vā puna,
“In which village, or again in which town,

katamamhi vā janapade lokanātho?
in which country, is the lord of the world?

Yattha gantvā namassemu   Sambuddhaṁ Dipaduttamaṁ?” [20]
Where having gone to can we revere the Sambuddha, the Supreme Human Being?”

“Sāvatthiyaṁ Kosalamandire Jino,
“The Victor is in the Kosalan's city, Sāvatthī,

pahūtapañño varabhūrimedhaso,
he has much wisdom, excellent and great intelligence,

so Sakyaputto vidhuro anāsavo,
that Sakyan's son, who is free from burden and pollutant,

muddhādhipātassa vidū Narāsabho.” [21]
that Bull of a Man has understanding of head-splitting.”

Tato āmantayī sisse,   brāhmaṇo mantapārage:
So then the brahmin addressed his students, who were perfect in the the Vedas:

“Etha māṇavā akkhissaṁ   suṇotha vacanaṁ mama, [22]
“Come, young men, and I shall explain, please listen to this word of mine:

yass' eso dullabho loke   pātubhāvo abhiṇhaso,
He whose manifestation in the world is always exceptional,

svajja lokamhi uppanno,   ‘Sambuddho’ iti vissuto.
has now arisen in the world, renowned as one called a ‘Sambuddha’.

Khippaṁ gantvāna Sāvatthiṁ   passavho dipaduttamaṁ.” [23]
Having gone quickly to Sāvatthī, you can see the Supreme Human Being.”

“Kathañ-carahi jānemu   disvā ‘Buddho’ ti brāhmaṇa?
“Having seen him how will we know that he is the ‘Buddha’, O brahmin?

Ajānataṁ no pabrūhi,   yathā jānemu taṁ mayaṁ.” [24]
You must tell us who do not know, how we can know it is him.”

“Āgatāni hi mantesu   Mahāpurisalakkhaṇā,
“There has come down to us in the Vedas the marks of a Great Man,

dvattiṁsā ca byākhātā   samattā anupubbaso, [25]
they are explained as thirty-two, complete in regular order.

yass' ete honti gattesu   Mahāpurisalakkhaṇā,
For whoever has on his limbs the marks of a Great Man,

dve yeva tassa gatiyo,   tatiyā hi na vijjati, [26]
there can be just two destinies, for a third cannot be found:

sace agāraṁ āvasati   vijeyya paṭhaviṁ imaṁ,
If he lives in a house, when he has been victorious over this earth,

adaṇḍena asatthena   Dhammena-m-anusāsati. [27]
without a stick or a sword he will rule according to the Teaching.

Sace ca so pabbajati   agārā anagāriyaṁ
But if he goes forth from the house to the houseless life,

Vivaṭṭacchaddo Sambuddho   Arahā bhavati anuttaro. [28]
he becomes a Cover-Remover, a Sambuddha, a Worthy One, unexcelled.

Jātiṁ gottañ-ca lakkhaṇaṁ,   mante sisse punāpare,
About my birth, family, and marks; lore, students and other things,

muddhaṁ muddhādhipātañ-ca   manasā yeva pucchatha. [29]
about the head and head-splitting, you must ask in your mind.

Anāvaraṇadassāvī   yadi Buddho bhavissati,
If he should be a Buddha, one who sees without obstruction,

manasā pucchite pañhe   vācāya vissajessati.” [30]
the questions that are asked in your mind he will answer by way of speech.”

Bāvarissa vaco sutvā,   sissā soḷasa brāhmaṇā:
After hearing Bāvari's words, the sixteen brahmin students:

Ajito Tissametteyyo,   Puṇṇako atha Mettagū, [31]
Ajita, Tissa Metteyya, Puṇṇaka, also Mettagū,

Dhotako Upasīvo ca,   Nando ca atha Hemako,
Dhotaka, and Upasīva, Nanda, and also Hemaka,

Todeyya-Kappā dubhayo,   Jatukaṇṇī ca paṇḍito, [32]
the two: Todeyya and Kappa, and Jatukaṇṇī, the one who is wise,

Bhadrāvudho Udayo ca,   Posālo cāpi brāhmaṇo,
Bhadrāvudha and Udaya, and also the brahmin Posāla,

Mogharājā ca medhāvī,   Piṅgiyo ca mahā isi, [33]
Mogharāja, the intelligent one, and the great seer, Piṅgiya,

paccekagaṇino sabbe,   sabbalokassa vissutā,
each one with his own group, renowned throughout the whole world,

jhāyī jhānaratā dhīrā,   pubbavāsanavāsitā, [34]
meditators delighting in meditation, wise ones, influenced by their pre-dispositions,

Bāvariṁ abhivādetvā,   katvā ca naṁ padakkhiṇaṁ,
after worshipping Bāvari, and circumambulating him,

jaṭājinadharā sabbe   pakkāmuṁ uttarāmukhā: [35]
they all, wearing matted-hair and deer-skins, set out for the North:

Mūḷakassa Patiṭṭhānaṁ   purimaṁ Māhissatiṁ tadā,
From Mūḷaka to Patiṭṭhāna first, then on to Mahissati,

Ujjeniñ-cāpi Gonaddhaṁ   Vedisaṁ Vanasavhayaṁ, [36]
to Ujjenī, and Gonaddha, to Vedisa, and to the place called Vanasa,

Kosambiñ-cāpi Sāketaṁ,   Sāvatthiñ-ca puruttamaṁ,
to Kosambī, and Sāketa, and Sāvatthī, the city supreme,

Setabyaṁ Kapilavatthuṁ,   Kusinārañ-ca mandiraṁ, [37]
to Setabya, and Kapilavatthu, and to the city of Kusinārā,

Pāvañ-ca Bhoganagaraṁ,   Vesāliṁ Māgadhaṁ puraṁ,
to Pāvā, to Bhoganagara, to Vesālī, and to the Magadhan city (Rājagaha),

Pāsāṇakañ-cetiyañ-ca,   ramaṇīyaṁ manoramaṁ. [38]
and to the Pāsāṇaka shrine, delightful, it is the mind's delight.


Tasito v' udakaṁ sītaṁ,   mahālābhaṁ va vāṇijo,
Just like a thirsty man to cool water, or like a trader to great gain,

chāyaṁ ghammābhitatto va   turitā pabbatam-āruhuṁ. [39]
like one scorched by the heat to shade, quickly he climbed the mountain.

Bhagavā ca tamhi samaye   Bhikkhusaṅghapurakkhato,
Now at that time the Gracious One was in front of the community of monks,

bhikkhūnaṁ Dhammaṁ deseti   sīho va nadatī vane. [40]
teaching the Teaching to the monks, roaring like a lion in a forest,

Ajito addasa Sambuddhaṁ,   sataraṁsiṁ va bhānumaṁ,
Ajita saw the Sambuddha, brilliant like the hundred-rayed sun,

candaṁ yathā paṇṇarase   paripūrim-upāgataṁ, [41]
like the moon which has reached fullness on the fifteenth day of the month,

ath' assa gatte disvāna   paripūrañ-ca byañjanaṁ.
and after seeing on his limbs the characteristics in their fullness,

Ekam-antaṁ ṭhito haṭṭho   manopañhe apucchatha: [42]
standing cheerfully on one side he asked a question in his mind:

“Ādissa jammanaṁ brūhi,   gottaṁ brūhi salakkhaṇaṁ,
“Speak and point out his birth, speak of his family, and marks,

mantesu pāramiṁ brūhi,   kati vāceti brāhmaṇo?” [43]
speak of his perfection in the Vedas, how many does the brahmin school?”

“Vīsaṁvassasataṁ āyu,   so ca gottena Bāvari,
“One hundred and twenty years his age, his family is Bāvari,

tīṇ' assa lakkhaṇā gatte   tiṇṇaṁ Vedāna' pāragū. [44]
three marks are on his limbs, he is perfect in the three Vedas.

Lakkhaṇe itihāse ca,   sanighaṇḍusakeṭubhe,
In the marks, and the traditions, with the glossaries, and the ritual,

pañca satāni vāceti,   sadhamme pāramiṁ gato.” [45]
he schools five hundred, in his own teaching he is perfect.”

“Lakkhaṇānaṁ pavicayaṁ   Bāvarissa Naruttama
“(Your) investigation of Bāvari's marks, O One Supreme among Men,

taṇhacchida pakāsehi,   mā no kaṅkhāyitaṁ ahu.” [46]
O craving-cutter, make that clear, so that we are not left doubting.”

“Mukhaṁ jivhāya chādeti,   uṇṇ' assa bhamukantare,
“He can cover his face with his tongue, there is hair between his eyebrows,

kosohitaṁ vatthaguyhaṁ   evaṁ jānāhi māṇava.” [47]
what is covered by a cloth is ensheathed: know it is so young man.”

Pucchaṁ hi kiñci asuṇanto,   sutvā pañhe viyākate,
Not hearing any question, but having heard the questions answered,

vicinteti jano sabbo   vedajāto katañjali: [48]
all the people were enthusiastic, and raised their hands, thinking:

“Ko nu Devo va brahmā vā   Indo vā pi Sujampati,
“Now who was it, a God, or a Brahma, or Inda, the lord of Sujā,

manasā pucchi te pañhe?   Kam-etaṁ paṭibhāsati?” [49]
who asked those questions with the mind? To whom did he make reply?

 “Muddhaṁ muddhādhipātañ-ca,   Bāvarī paripucchati,
“About the head and head-splitting, Bāvari asks (this question),

byākarohi Bhagavā,   kankhaṁ vinaya no ise.” [50]
please explain that O Gracious One, please remove our doubts, O seer.”

“Avijjā muddhā ti jānāhi,   vijjā muddhādhipātinī,
"Know ignorance is called the head, and understanding is the head-splitter,

saddhāsatisamādhīhi,   chandaviri yena saṁyutā.” [51]
joined with confidence, mindfulness, concentration, desire, and energy.”

Tato vedena mahatā   santhambhitvāna māṇavo,
Then with great enthusiasm, being resolute, the young man,

ekaṁsaṁ ajinaṁ katvā,   pādesu sirasā pati: [52]
having put his deer-skin on one shoulder, fell placing his head at (the Buddha's) feet:

“Bāvarī brāhmaṇo bhoto,   saha sissehi mārisa,
“The honourable brahmin Bāvari, and his students, dear Sir,

udaggacitto sumano,   pāde vandati Cakkhuma.” [53]
elated in heart, and happy in mind, worships your feet, O Visionary One.”

“Sukhito Bāvarī hotu   saha sissehi brāhmaṇo!
“May the brahmin Bāvari, together with his students, be happy!

Tvañ-cāpi sukhito hohi   ciraṁ jīvāhi māṇava! [54]
And may you also be happy! May you live for a long time, young man!

Bāvarissa va tuyhaṁ vā   sabbesaṁ sabbasaṁsayaṁ,
All of the doubts that Bāvari, or you, or anyone else has,

katāvakāsā pucchavho   yaṁ kiñci manas' icchatha.” [55]
having received leave, ask whatever you long (to know) in the mind.”

Sambuddhena katokāso,   nisīditvāna pañjali,
Having received leave from the Sambuddha, sitting with hands raised in reverence,

Ajito paṭhamaṁ pañhaṁ   tattha pucchi Tathāgataṁ: [56]
Ajita asked the Realised One the first question in that place:

Vatthugāthā Niṭṭhitā
The Introductory Verses are Finished