Ancient Buddhist Sensual Love Song

There is a love song in the Sakkapanha Sutta! I’ve noticed that this piece is missing from the translation of the Sakkapanha Sutta at (There are actually a few pieces missing.) Bummer.




The **whole** Sakkapanha Sutta is wonderful. I really enjoy a lot of the material at, but seeing how this Sutta has been sliced up makes me feel sad. This presentation feels incomplete (well… it is incomplete!).

It’d be nice if they could tell us why pieces are excluded.

Relevant piece

There is a lot to notice in this Sutta. But, I don’t want to talk about everything now.

Here’s the context of the piece relevant to my current noticing:

A Ghandhabba named Pancasikha (translated to “Five-crest”) sings a love song to rouse the Buddha from meditation so that Sakka, a King of Gods, can ask some questions.

Sensual love in the Sakkapanha Sutta!

Then said Sakka, the king of the gods, to Five-crest the Gandhabba—‘Difficult of approach, dear Five-crest, are Tathāgatas, to one like me, when they are rapt in the bliss of meditation, and for that purpose abiding in solitude. But if you were first to gain over the Exalted One [by your music] then might I afterwards come up and visit him, the Arahant, the Buddha supreme.’

‘So be it and good luck to you!’ consented Five-crest, and taking his lyre he went to the Indra-Sal tree-cave. On coming there he thought—‘Thus far will the Exalted One be neither too far from me nor too near to me, and he will hear my voice.’ And he stood on one side, and let his lyre be heard and recited these verses concerning the Awakened One and the Truth, the Arahants and Love—

‘Lady, thy father Timbaru I greet
With honour due, O Glory-of-the-Sun!
In that he wrought a thing so nobly fair
As thou, O fount divine of all my joy!

Sweet as the breeze to one foredone with sweat,
Sweet as a cooling drink to one athirst,
So dear art thou, O presence radiant!
To me, dear as to Arahants the Truth.

As medicine bringing ease to one that’s sick,
As food to starving man, so, lady, quench,
As with cool waters, me who am all a-flame.

E’en as an elephant with heat oppressed,
Hies him to some still pool, upon whose face
Petals and pollen of the lotus float,
So would I sink within thy bosom sweet.

E’en as an elephant fretted by hook,
Dashes unheeding curb and goad aside,
So I, crazed by the beauty of thy form,
Know not the why and wherefore of my acts.

By thee my heart is held in bonds, and all
Bent out of course; nor can I turn me back,
No more than fish, once he hath ta’en the bait.

Within thine arm embrace me, lady, me
With thy soft languid eyne embrace and hold,
O nobly fair! This I entreat of thee.

Scanty in sooth, O maid of waving locks,
Was my desire, but now it swelleth aye,
Indefinitely great, E’en as the gifts
Made by the faithful to the Arahants.

Whate’er of merit to such holy ones
I’ve wrought, be thou, O altogether fair,
The ripened fruit to fall therefrom to me.

Whate’er of other merit
I have wrought In the wide world, O altogether fair,
Be thou the fruit thereof to fall to me.

As the great Sakyan Seer, through ecstasy
Rapt and intent and self-possessed, doth brood
Seeking ambrosia, even so do I
Pursue the quest of thee, O Glory-of-the-Sun!

As would that Seer rejoice, were he to win
Ineffable Enlightenment, so I
With thee made one, O fairest, were in bliss.

And if perchance a boon were granted me
By Sakka, lord of Three-and-Thirty gods,
’Tis thee I’d ask of him, lady, so strong
My love. And for thy father, wisest maid—
Him as a sal-tree freshly burgeoning
I worship for such peerless offspring giv’n.’

When Five-crest had finished the Exalted One said to him—‘The sound of your strings, Five-crest, so harmonizes with that of your song, and the sound of your voice with that of the strings, that your lyre does not too much colour your song, nor your song too much colour your play. Where, Five-crest, did you learn these verses concerning the Awakened One and the Truth, the Arahants, and Love?’

‘The Exalted One, lord, was once staying at Uruvelā, on the bank of the Nerañjarā River, at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan tree before he attained to Enlightenment. Now at that time, lord, the lady called Bhaddā, in appearance as Sunshine, daughter of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas, was beloved by me. But that lady, lord, was in love with another—Sikhaddi, son of Matali the charioteer. And since I could not get the lady by any method whatever, I took my lyre of yellow Beluva wood, and going to the abode of Timbaru, king of the Gandhabbas, I played my lyre and recited these verses concerning the Awakened One, the Truth, the Arahants and Love— [And he repeats the verses as before].

‘And when I had finished, lord, the Lady Suriya-vaccasa said to me—

“That Blessed One, sir, I have not seen face to face, and yet I heard of him when I went to dance at the Sudhamma Hall of the Three-and-Thirty gods. Since you so extol the Blessed One, let there be a meeting between thee and me to-day. So, lord, I met that lady, not on that day but afterwards.”

Now Sakka, the king of the gods, thought—’ Five-crest and the Exalted One are in friendly converse.’ And he called to Five-crest and said—‘Salute the Exalted One for me, dear Five-crest, and tell him—“Sakka, lord, the ruler of the gods, with his ministers and suite, does homage at the foot of the Exalted One.” [And Five-crest did so.]

‘May good fortune, Five-crest, attend Sakka, ruler of gods, and his ministers and suite. For they desire happiness—those gods and men, Asūras, Nāgas, Gandhabbas, and whatever other numerous hosts there be!’

On this wise do the Tathāgatas salute these dignitaries. And so saluted by the Exalted One, Sakka, the king of the gods, entered the cave of Indra’s Sal-tree, and saluting the Exalted One stood on one side. Thus did also the Three-and-Thirty gods and Five-crest the Gandhabba.

Another translation of the love song.

Because that other one is pretty wild.

‘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.’


I guess it is pretty obvious why doesn’t include this (and other awesome parts of the Sakkapanha Sutta).. maybe.. kinda. It might be excluded because they are worried it will confuse people.

Pancasikha is here, saying all this wild stuff about his sensual desire, and then Buddha enjoys it! He comments how everything fits together so nicely. He inquires about when the love song was written. They enter into friendly conversation about it. Buddha doesn’t even come close to rebuking Pancasikha (“Five-crest the Ghandhabba”).

When Five-crest had finished the Exalted One said to him—‘The sound of your strings, Five-crest, so harmonizes with that of your song, and the sound of your voice with that of the strings, that your lyre does not too much colour your song, nor your song too much colour your play. Where, Five-crest, did you learn these verses concerning the Awakened One and the Truth, the Arahants, and Love?’

I don’t have any huge conclusions. All of this kind of stuff is just super interesting and relevant to my understanding of what exactly Buddha’s Dhamma entails.beautiful-male-peacock-2363750_1920.jpg.

Namo Buddha
Namo Dharma
Namo Sangha

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