Buddha on the Nature of the Body

Asubha

I am currently translating a section of the Anguttara Commentary telling the Lives of the Foremost Bhikkhunis. Sometimes in the texts there is reference to material which is not included directly.

In Ven Nandā’s story the Buddha is said to have given her two teachings, one from the Dhamma Verses (Dhammapada), and the other from the Discourse Collection (Suttanipāta). I include these teachings in the text itself, and give a preview below.

Note that Nandā was intoxicated with her own beauty and these teachings are meant to counter that. Following the teachings she became an Arahat.


Dhammapada 150

Aṭṭhīnaṁ nagaraṁ kataṁ, maṁsalohitalepanaṁ,
This citadel is made of bones, smeared over with flesh and blood,

yattha jarā ca maccu ca, māno makkho ca ohito.
where old age and death, conceit and anger are lying hidden.


Vijayasutta, Suttanipāta 1.11
The Discourse of Victory, from the Discourse Collection

Caraṃ vā yadi vā tiṭṭhaṃ, nisinno uda vā sayaṃ
Whether going or standing, whether sitting or lying,

samiñjeti pasāreti, esā kāyassa iñjanā.
it moves, it stretches, this is the movement of the body.

Aṭṭhinahārusaṃyutto, tacamaṃsāvalepano,
Bones and sinews conjoined, smeared with skin and flesh,

chaviyā kāyo paṭicchanno, yathābhūtaṃ na dissati.
the body is covered with skin, the reality is not seen.

Antapūro udarapūro, yakanapeḷassa, vatthino,
Full of intestines, full of undigested food, having a lumpy liver, a bladder,

hadayassa, papphāsassa, vakkassa, pihakassa ca;
heart, lungs, kidney and spleen;

siṅghāṇikāya kheḷassa, sedassa ca medassa ca,
mucus, spit, sweat and fat

lohitassa lasikāya, pittassa ca vasāya ca.
blood, synovial fluid, bile and grease.

Athassa navahi sotehi asucī savati sabbadā,
Always there are impurities flowing from its nine orifices,

akkhimhā akkhigūthako, kaṇṇamhā kaṇṇagūthako,
eye-defecation from the eyes, ear-defecation from its ears,

siṅghāṇikā ca nāsato, mukhena vamatekadā
mucus from the nose, from the mouth vomit is

pittaṃ semhañ-ca vamati, kāyamhā sedajallikā,
vomited, also bile and phlegm, perspiration from the body,

athassa susiraṃ sīsaṃ matthaluṅgassa pūritaṃ.
and its hollow head is filled with the brain.

Subhato naṃ maññati bālo avijjāya purakkhato,
A fool, honouring ignorance, thinks of it as beautiful,

yadā ca so mato seti, uddhumāto vinīlako,
but when it lies dead, bloated and discoloured,

apaviddho susānasmiṃ, anapekkhā honti ñātayo.
cast aside in the charnel ground, (even) his relatives have no further expectation (of it).

Khādanti naṃ suvānā ca siṅgālā vakā kimī,
Dogs, hyenas, wolfs and worms eat it,

kākā gijjhā ca khādanti, ye caññe santi pāṇino.
crows, vultures also eat, and whatever other breathing beings there are.

Sutvāna Buddhavacanaṃ, bhikkhu paññāṇavā idha,
Having heard the Word of the Buddha, the monk endowed with wisdom here,

so kho naṃ parijānāti, yathābhūtañ-hi passati.
he who understands it, sees as it really is.

‘Yathā idaṃ tathā etaṃ, yathā etaṃ tathā idaṃ,’
(Thinking:) ‘As is this, so is that, as it that, so is this,’

ajjhattañ-ca bahiddhā ca, kāye chandaṃ virājaye,
inside and outside, he should remove delight for the body,

chandarāgaviratto so, bhikkhu paññāṇavā idha,
having removed passion and delight, the monk endowed with wisdom here,

ajjhagā amataṃ santiṃ, Nibbānaṃ padam-accutaṃ.
has passed over to the deathless peace, the immovable state of Emancipation.

Dvipādakoyaṃ asuci duggandho parihārati,
He cares for this stinking, impure two legged (body),

nānākuṇapaparipūro vissavanto tato tato.
(but) it is full of various corpses flowing out from here and there.

Etādisena kāyena yo maññe uṇṇametave,
He who would think to be proud of such a body,

paraṃ vā avajāneyya, kim-aññatra adassanā? ti
or would despise another (because of theirs), what is this except a lack of insight?

 




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