Sakkapanha Sutta: Sakka’s Questions

This is a very interesting story. A Great God comes to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

But, today, that’s not what I’m interested in. This story is full of interesting sub-stories. There is a love song in here. The song is used by Pancasikha, the Gandhabba, to gently rouse the Buddha from his meditation. The song draws parallels between sensual love and the love of the Dhamma by the monks.

I was surprised to find it!

Walshe’s translation:

Then Sakka said: ‘Pancasikha, it is hard for the likes of us to get near the Tathágata when they are enjoying the bliss of meditation, and therefore withdrawn. But if you, Pancasikha, were first to attract the ear of the Blessed Lord, then we might afterwards be able to approach and see the Blessed Lord, the fully enlightened Buddha.’

‘Very good, Lord,’ Said Pancasikha and, taking his yellow beluva-wood lute, he approached the Indasala Cave. Thinking: ‘As far as this is neither too far nor too near to the Lord, and he will hear my voice,’ he stood to one side. Then, to the strains of his lute, he sang these verses extolling the Buddha, the Dharma, the Arahants, and love:

‘Lady, your father Timbaru greet,

Oh sunshine fair, I give him honor due,

By whom was sired a maid as fair as you

Who is the cause of my heart’s delight.

Delightful as the breeze to one who sweats,

Or as cooling draught to one who thirsts,

Your radiant beauty is to me as dear

As the Dhamma is to Arahants.

Just as medicine to him who’s ill,

Or nourishment to one who’s starving still,

Bring me, gracious lady, sweet release

With water cool from my consuming flames.

The elephant, oppressed by summer heat,

Seeks out a lotus-pool upon which float

Petals and pollen of that flower

So into your bosom sweet I’d plunge.

As an elephant, urged by the goad,

Pays no heed to pricks of lance and spear,

So I, unheeding, know not what I do,

Intoxicated by your beauteous form.

By you my heart is tightly bound in bonds,

All my thoughts are quite transformed, and I

Can no longer find my former course:

I’m like a fish that’s caught on baited hook.

Come, embrace me, maiden fair of thighs,

Seize and hold me with your lovely eyes,

Take me in your arms, it’s all I ask!

My desire was slight at first, O maid

Of waving tresses, but it grew apace,

As grow the gifts that Arahants receive.

Whatever merit I have gained by gifts

To those Noble ones, may my reward

When it ripens, be your love, my Sun!

Just as that Sage would be rejoiced, if he

Were to gain supreme enlightenment,

So I’d rejoice to be made one with you.

If Sakka, Lord of Three and Thirty Gods

Were perchance to grant a boon to me,

It’s you I’d crave, my love for you’s so strong.

Your father, maid so wise, I venerate

Like a sal-tree fairly blossoming,

For his offspring’s sake, so sweet and fair.’

When he heard this, the Lord said: ‘Pancasikha, the sound of your strings blends so well with your song, and your song with the strings, that neither prevails excessively over the other. When did you compose these verses on the Buddha, the Dharma, the Arahants, and love?’

‘Lord, it was when the Blessed Lord was staying on the bank of the river Neranjara, under the goatherd’s banyan-tree prior to his enlightenment. At that time I fell in love with the Lady Bhadda, bright as the sun, the Daughter of King Timbaru of the Gandhabbas. But the lady was in love with somebody else. It was Sikhaddi, the son of Matali the Charioteer, whom she favored. And when I found out that I could not win the lady by any manner of means, I took my yellow Beluva-wood lute and went to the home of King Timbaru of the Gandhabbas, and there I sang those verses. And, Lord, having heard the verses the Lady Bhadda Suriyavaccasa said to me: ‘Sir, I have not personally seen that blessed Lord, though I heard of him when I went to the Sudhamma Hall of the Thirty Three Gods to dance. And since, sir, you praise that Blessed Lord so highly, let us meet today.” And so, Lord, I met the Lady, not then but later.’

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