Aṅgulimāla is one of the best known figures of the Buddhist scriptures. The dramatic story of his transformation from a serial killer into a peaceful and enlightened arahant is known to every child in Buddhist lands, and pregnant women look upon him almost as their own patron saint whose protective verse of blessing ensures a successful delivery. The Buddha had often warned his disciples not to judge others on the basis of their appearance and external behaviour. Only a Buddha, endowed with his unique faculties, can see into another’s heart with impeccable accuracy. In Aṅgulimāla’s case, the Buddha had seen his hidden potential to win freedom in this very life, not only from rebirth in the lower worlds but from all the suffering of the beginningless round of existence.
In Christianity, too, we find instances of a radical change in the moral character of people: there is the “thief on the cross” at Golgatha, whom Jesus promised would be with him in Paradise that same day; and the chief of a gang of robbers who was converted by St. Francis of Assisi and became a monk. Cases like these have always moved the hearts of the devout, but for the sceptical they raise the question how such changes are possible. Aṅgulimāla’s story might suggest an answer to that question. In the Buddha’s time there was a learned brahmin named Bhaggavā Gagga who served as the royal chaplain in the court of King Pasenadi of Kosala, one of the kingdom’s highest offices. One night his wife, Mantānī, gave birth to a son.
The father cast the boy’s horoscope and to his consternation found that his son was born under the “robber constellation,” indicating that the boy had an innate disposition to a life of crime. One can well imagine what the father must have felt when confronted with that shocking and unexpected revelation. In the morning the brahmin went to the palace as usual and asked the king how he had slept. “How could I have slept well?” replied the king. I woke up in the night and saw that my auspicious weapons lying at the end of my bed were sparkling brightly, so I was too frightened and perturbed to fall asleep again. Could this mean danger to the kingdom or my life?” The brahmin said: “Do not have any fear, O king. The same strange phenomenon has taken place throughout the city, and it does not concern you.
Last night my wife bore me a son, and unfortunately his horoscope has the robber constellation. This must have caused the weapons to sparkle.” “Will he be a lone robber or the chief of a gang?” “He will be a loner, your majesty. What if we were to kill him now and prevent future misdeeds?” “As he would be a loner, teacher, let him be raised and properly educated. Then, perhaps, he may lose his evil propensities.” The boy was named Ahiṃsaka, which means “Harmless.” The name was given to him with the hope it would plant in his mind an ideal toward which to strive. When he grew up he was physically strong and powerful, but he was also quite well behaved and intelligent. As he was diligent in his studies, his parents had good reason to think that his evil proclivities were being held in check by his education and by the religious atmosphere of their home. This, of course, made them very happy. In due course his father sent Ahiṃsaka to Takkasilā, the famous ancient university of India, to pursue his higher education. He was accepted by the foremost teacher at that seat of learning, and he continued to be so studious that he surpassed all his fellow students.
He also served his teacher so faithfully and humbly that he soon became his teacher’s favourite pupil. He even received his meals from his teacher’s family. This made his fellow students resentful and envious. They discussed the problem among themselves: “Since that young Ahiṃsaka came we are almost forgotten. We must put a stop to this and cause a break between him and the teacher.” The well-tried way of calumny was not easy, for neither Ahiṃsaka’s studiousness nor his conduct and noble ancestry gave an opportunity for denigrating him. “We have to alienate the teacher from him and thus cause a break,” they thought, and so they decided that three groups of people should approach the teacher at intervals. The first group of pupils went to the teacher and said, “Some talk is being heard around the house.” “What is it, my dears?” “We believe it is about Ahiṃsaka plotting against you.” Hearing this, the teacher became excited and scolded them: “Get away, you miserable lot! Do not try to cause dissension between me and my son!”
After some time, the second set of pupils spoke to him in a similar way. So also a third group, who added: “If our teacher does not trust us, he may investigate for himself.” Finally the poisonous seed of suspicion took root in his heart, and he came to believe that Ahiṃsaka, so strong in body and mind, actually wanted to push him out. Once suspicion is roused, one can always find something that seems to confirm it. So the teacher’s suspicion grew into conviction. “I must kill him or get him killed,” he thought. But then he considered: “It will not be easy to kill such a strong man. Besides, if he is slain while living here as my pupil, it will harm my reputation and students may no longer come to me. I must think of some other device to get rid of him as well as punish him.”
It happened that soon afterwards Ahiṃsaka’s course of studies had come to an end and he was preparing to go home. Then the teacher called him and said: “My dear Ahiṃsaka, for one who has completed his studies, it is a duty to give a gift of honour to his teacher. So give it to me!” “Certainly, master! What shall I give?” “You must bring me a thousand human little fingers of the right hand. This will then be your concluding ceremonial homage to the science you have learned.” The teacher probably expected that Ahiṃsaka, in his attempt to complete that deed, would either be killed himself or would be arrested and executed. Perhaps the teacher may also have secretly cast Ahiṃsaka’s horoscope, seen from it his latent propensity to violence, and now tried to incite it. Faced with such an outrageous demand, Ahiṃsaka first exclaimed: “O master! How can I do that? My family has never engaged in violence. They are harmless people.”
“Well, if the science does not receive its due ceremonial homage, it will yield no fruit for you.” So, after suitable persuasion, Ahiṃsaka finally consented. After worshipping his teacher, he left. The sources on which this present narrative is based do not tell us what had finally convinced Ahiṃsaka to accept his teacher’s macabre demand without any stronger protest. One of his motivations may have been the belief that an unquestioning obedience to the guru was the first duty of a pupil, this being an echo of the higher principles that governed his earlier life. But the stronger factor behind his decision was probably his innate disposition to violence. His teacher’s words may have aroused in him a strange attraction to a life of violent adventure, which he might also have seen as a challenge to his manly prowess. Tradition reports that in one of his former lives Ahiṃsaka had been a powerful spirit, a so-called yakkha, who used his superhuman strength to kill human beings to satisfy his appetite for human flesh. In all his past existences that are reported in the Jātakas, two traits are prominent in him: his physical strength and his lack of compassion. This was the dark heritage of his past which broke into his present life, submerging the good qualities of his early years.
So, in his final response to his teacher’s demand, Ahiṃsaka did not even think of the alternative: to gather the fingers from corpses thrown into India’s open charnel grounds. Instead he equipped himself with a set of weapons, including a large sword, and went into the wild Jālini forest in his home state, Kosala. There he lived on a high cliff where he could observe the road below. When he saw travelers approaching, he hurried down, slew them, and took one finger from each of his victims. First he hung the fingers on a tree where birds ate the flesh and dropped the bones. When he saw that the bones were rotting on the ground, he threaded the finger bones and wore them as a garland. From that he received the nickname Aṅgulimāla, “Finger Garland.”
AṄGULIMĀLA BECOMES A MONK
As Aṅgulimāla continued to launch his gory attacks, people shunned the forest and soon nobody dared to go there, not even the firewood gatherers. Aṅgulimāla now had to approach the outskirts of villages and, from a hiding place, attack people who passed, cutting off their fingers and threading them to his necklace. He even went so far as to enter houses at night, killing the inhabitants just to take their fingers. He did this in several villages. As no one could resist Aṅgulimāla’s enormous strength, people abandoned their homes and the villages became deserted. The homeless villagers, having trekked to Sāvatthī, camped outside the city and went to the royal palace where, weeping and lamenting, they told King Pasenadi of their plight.
Now the king saw that firm action was necessary and he had the drum of royal announcements beaten to proclaim: “Quickly, the robber Aṅgulimāla must be captured. Let an army detachment gather for instructions!” Apparently, Aṅgulimāla’s true name and descent had remained unknown, but his mother intuitively sensed that it could be none other than her son, Ahiṃsaka, who had never returned from Takkasilā. So, when she heard the public announcement, she was sure that he had fallen into those evil ways predicted by his horoscope. She went to her husband, the brahmin Bhaggavā, and said: “That fearful bandit is our son! Now soldiers have set out to capture him. Please, dear, go find him! Plead with him to change his way of life and bring him home. Otherwise the king will have him killed.”
But the brahmin replied, “I have no use for such a son. The king may do with him as he likes.” A mother’s heart, however, is soft, and out of love for her son she set out alone for the forest area where Aṅgulimāla was reported to have been hiding. She wanted to warn him and save him, and to implore him to renounce his evil ways and return with her. At that time Aṅgulimāla had already gathered 999 fingers, and only one more was needed to complete the target of a thousand set by his teacher. To bring his task to an end he may well have killed his mother, who was drawing ever closer along the road. But matricide is one of the five heinous offenses that produce, irreversibly, an immediate rebirth in hell. Thus, without knowing it, Aṅgulimāla was hovering close to the rim of hell. On just this occasion—it was the twentieth year of the Buddha’s teaching career—the Master, when surveying the world with great compassion, became aware of Aṅgulimāla.
To the Buddha, with his faculty of remembering former existences, this person was not unknown. In many lives they had met before, and often the Bodhisatta had conquered Aṅgulimāla’s strength of body by his strength of mind. Once Aṅgulimāla had even been the Bodhisatta’s uncle (J 513). Now, when their lives had crossed again and the Buddha saw the grave danger toward which Aṅgulimāla was heading, he did not hesitate to walk the thirty miles to save him from irreparable spiritual disaster. The Aṅgulimāla Sutta (MN 86) says:
Cowherds, shepherds, and ploughmen passing by saw the Blessed One walking along the road leading to Aṅgulimāla and told him: “Do not take that road, recluse. On this road is the bandit Aṅgulimāla, who is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Villages, towns, and districts have been laid waste by him. He is constantly murdering people and he wears their fingers as a garland. Men have come along this road in groups of ten, twenty, thirty, and even forty, but still they have fallen into Aṅgulimāla’s hands.” When this was said, the Blessed One went on in silence.
For a second time and a third time those people warned him, but still the Blessed One went on in silence. From his lookout Aṅgulimāla first saw his mother approaching. Though he recognized her, so steeped was his mind in the heartless thrill of violence that he still intended to complete the thousand fingers by killing the very woman who had brought him into this world. just at that moment the Buddha appeared on the road between Aṅgulimāla and his mother. Seeing him, Aṅgulimāla thought: “Why should I kill my mother for the sake of a finger when there is someone else? Let her live. I will kill the recluse and cut off his finger.”
The sutta continues: Aṅgulimāla then took up his sword and shield, buckled on his bow and quiver, and followed close behind the Blessed One. Then the Blessed One performed such a feat of supernormal power that the bandit Aṅgulimāla, though walking as fast as he could, could not catch up with the Blessed One, who was walking at his normal pace. Then the bandit Aṅgulimāla thought: “It is wonderful! It is marvelous! Formerly I could catch up even with a swift elephant and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift horse and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift chariot and seize it; I could catch up even with a swift deer and seize it. But now, though I am walking as fast as I can, I cannot catch up with this recluse who is walking at his normal pace.” He stopped and called out to the Blessed One, “Stop, recluse! Stop, recluse!” “I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla. You stop, too.”
Then the bandit Aṅgulimāla thought: “These recluses, followers of the Sakyan scion, speak truth, assert truth; but though this recluse is walking yet he says, ‘I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla. You stop, too.’ Suppose I question the recluse?” Then he addressed the Blessed One in stanzas thus: “While you are walking, recluse, you tell me you have stopped; But now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped. I ask you now, O recluse, what is the meaning of it; How is it that you have stopped and I have not?”
And the Blessed One replied: “Aṅgulimāla, I have stopped forever, I abstain from violence towards living beings; But you have no restraint towards things that breathe: So that is why I have stopped and you have not.” When Aṅgulimāla heard these words, a second and greater change of heart came over him. The suppressed current of his nobler and purer urges broke through the dam of hardened cruelty to which he had become habituated in all those last years of his life. He realized that the ascetic standing before him was no ordinary bhikkhu but the Blessed One himself, and he knew intuitively that the Master had come to the forest entirely on his account, to pull him back from the bottomless abyss of misery into which he was about to tumble.
Moved to the very roots of his being, he threw away his weapons and pledged himself to adopt a totally new way of life: “Oh, at long last this recluse, a venerated sage, Has come to this great forest for my sake. Having heard your stanza teaching me the Dhamma, I will indeed renounce evil forever.”
So saying, the bandit took his sword and weapons And flung them in a gaping chasm’s pit; The bandit worshiped the Sublime One’s feet, And then and there asked for the going forth.
The Enlightened One, the sage of great compassion, The teacher of the world with all its gods, Addressed him with the words “Come, bhikkhu, “ And that was how he came to be a bhikkhu.
Although none of the traditional sources gives us any insight into the inner side of Aṅgulimāla’s metamorphosis, we might suppose that the presence of the Buddha before him enabled him to see, in a flash, the unfathomable suffering in which his life had become enmeshed and the even graver misery that lay in store for him when his evil kamma would ripen. He must have realized how he had been victimized by his own blind ignorance, and it must have become clear to him that the only way he could escape the dark consequences that perpetually hung over him was to extricate the very root of all rebirth and suffering.
Seeing that there was no hope for him within the world, he had to entrust himself to the prospect of final deliverance from the world, by the conquest of his own self-delusion. This impelled him to take the radical step of complete renunciation by entering the Sangha and becoming a spiritual son of the Awakened One, his redeemer and refuge. Not long afterwards, the Buddha, together with a large number of monks and with Aṅgulimāla as his attendant monk, set out to wander to Sāvatthī, Aṅgulimāla’s home territory. They arrived there in stages. The people of Sāvatthī, however, did not yet know about Aṅgulimāla’s great transformation, and they complained that the king had hesitated too long in sending out troops to track down and capture the bandit.
Now King Pasenadi himself, at the head of a large unit of his best soldiers, set out toward Aṅgulimāla’s haunt, the Jālini forest. On his way he passed the Jetavana monastery where the Buddha had just arrived. Since for many years he had been a devoted follower of the Buddha, he stopped on his way to pay his respect to the Master. The Buddha, seeing the soldiers, asked King Pasenadi whether he had been attacked by a neighboring king and was going to war. The king said that there was no war; rather, along with his soldiers, he was after a single man, the murderous Aṅgulimāla. “But,” he added ruefully, “I shall never be able to put him down.”
Then the Blessed One said: “But, great king, suppose you were to see that Aṅgulimāla had shaved off his hair and beard, had put on the saffron robe, and had gone forth from the home life into homelessness; that he was abstaining from killing living beings, from taking that which is not given, and from false speech; that he was refraining from eating at night, ate only in one part of the day, and was celibate, virtuous, of good character. If you were to see him thus, how would you treat him?” “Venerable sir, we would pay homage to him, or rise up for him, or invite him to be seated; or we would invite him to accept the four requisites of a monk, and we would arrange for his lawful guarding, defense, and protection. But, venerable sir, he is an immoral man, one of evil character. How could he ever have such virtue and restraint?”
Then the Master extended his right arm and said to King Pasenadi: “Here, great king, this is Aṅgulimāla.” The king was now greatly alarmed and fearful, and his hair stood on end. He had entirely lost his composure, so terrifying was Aṅgulimāla’s reputation. But the Buddha said: “Do not be afraid, great king. There is nothing for you to fear.” When the king had regained his composure, he went over to the Venerable Aṅgulimāla and asked him for the clan name of his father and mother, thinking it unsuitable to address the monk by the name that was derived from his cruel deeds. On hearing that his father was a Gagga by clan and his mother a Mantāni, he was greatly surprised to find that this Aṅgulimāla was the son of his own royal chaplain, and he remembered well the strange circumstances of his birth. It moved him deeply that the Buddha had been able to turn this cruel man into a gentle member of the Sangha.
The king now offered to support “the noble Gagga Mantāniputta” with all the monk’s requisites, that is, robes, food, shelter, and medicine. But Aṅgulimāla had taken upon himself four of the strict ascetic observances (dhutaṅga): he was a forest dweller, lived on alms round, was a refuse-rag wearer, and restricted himself to one set of three robes. Hence he replied: “I have enough, great king, my triple robe is complete.” Then King Pasenadi turned again to the Buddha and exclaimed: “It is wonderful, venerable sir! It is marvellous how the Blessed One subdues the unsubdued, pacifies the unpeaceful, calms the uncalm. This one, whom we could not subdue with punishments and weapons, the Blessed One has subdued without punishments or weapons.”
As soon as Aṅgulimāla had taken up going on alms round people fearfully ran from him and closed their doors. So it was in the outskirts of Sāvatthī, where Aṅgulimāla had gone first, and it was the same in the city where Aṅgulimāla had hoped he would not be conspicuous. He could not get even a spoonful of food or a ladle of gruel during his alms round. The Vinaya (1:74) records that some people, seeing Aṅgulimāla in robes, resented it and said: “How can these recluses, the monks of the Sakyan scion, ordain a notorious criminal!” Monks who heard this told it to the Buddha, who then proclaimed the rule: “Monks, a notorious criminal should not be ordained. He who ordains such a one commits an offence of wrongdoing (dukkaṭa).”
The Buddha knew well that though he himself was able to perceive the potential for good in a criminal, those after him might not have that capacity nor the authority to carry out whatever they understood. An acceptance of former criminals might also have induced unrepenting criminals to use the Order as a sanctuary to escape arrest and punishment. A few people, trusting the Buddha’s judgment, may have changed their attitude and given alms to Aṅgulimāla when he stood before their door, but most were still hostile. Although Aṅgulimāla realized it was futile to walk on alms round in his home town, he continued the practice as a duty.
“BORN WITH THE NOBLE BIRTH”
Once, on his alms round, Aṅgulimāla saw a woman in labour who was having much difficulty in bringing forth her child. Compassion immediately arose in him and he thought: “How much do beings suffer! How much do they suffer!” On his return to the monastery he reported this to the Master, who told him: “Then go into Sāvatthī, Aṅgulimāla, and say to that woman: ‘Sister, since I was born, I do not recall that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life. By this truth may you be well and may your infant be safe!’”
But Aṅgulimāla protested: “By saying that, Lord, wouldn’t I be telling a deliberate lie? For I have intentionally deprived many living beings of life.” “Then, Aṅgulimāla, say to that woman: ‘Sister, since I was born with the noble birth, I do not recall that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life. By this truth may you be well and may your infant be safe!’” Aṅgulimāla had it announced to that woman that he would be coming. People put up a curtain in the woman’s room, and on the other side of the curtain a chair was placed on which the monk was to sit. When Aṅgulimāla arrived at the woman’s house, he made the “asseveration of truth” as instructed by the Buddha. His words were indeed true, for he had undergone a noble birth—a spiritual rebirth— when the Buddha ordained him as a monk. The conversion of the heart gave him a power to help and to heal even stronger than his previous power to hurt and destroy.
Thus, through the power of his asseveration, both mother and infant had a safe delivery. Generally, the Buddha did not engage in “raising the dead” or in “spiritual healing.” He knew that those revived would still one day die. He showed greater compassion when he taught beings about the true state of deathlessness and the way to acquire it. But why did the Buddha make an exception in the case of Aṅgulimāla and instruct him to use the power of truth for the purpose of healing? Here is a reflection by the teachers of old, recorded in the commentary to the Aṅgulimāla Sutta: There may be those who ask: “Why did the Blessed One make a monk do a physician’s work?” To that we answer: That is not what the Buddha did. An act of truth is not a medical function; it is done after reflecting on one’s own virtue.
The Blessed One knew that Aṅgulimāla had been short of alms-food because people became frightened when they saw him and ran away. To help him in that situation, he let Aṅgulimāla perform an act of truth. Thereby people would think: “Having aroused a thought of loving-kindness, the Elder Aṅgulimāla can now bring safety to people by an act of truth,” and they would no longer be afraid of him. Then Aṅgulimāla will not go short of alms-food and will be fit to do a monks work. Until then, Aṅgulimāla had not been able to focus his mind on his basic meditation subject.
Though he practiced day and night, always there would appear before his mind’s eye the place in the jungle where he had slain so many people. He heard their plaintive voices imploring him: “Let me live, my lord! I am a poor man and have many children!” He saw the frantic movements of their arms and legs when in fear of death. When he was faced with such memories, deep remorse gripped him and he could not remain sitting comfortably on his meditation seat. Therefore the Blessed One let him perform this act of truth about his noble birth. He wanted to make Aṅgulimāla consider his “birth” as a monk to be something very special, so that he would be inspired to strengthen his insight and attain arahantship. The episode proved to be of great help to Aṅgulimāla, and he showed his gratitude to his Master in the best way possible, namely, by perfecting the task set him by the Buddha: Before long, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Aṅgulimāla, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, here and now entered upon and dwelt in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which noble sons rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness. He knew directly: “Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more of this to come.” And the Venerable Aṅgulimāla became one of the arahants.
At last his earlier name, Ahiṃsaka, the Harmless One, fully befitted him. Since the episode with the ailing woman, most of the people had gained full confidence in his inner transformation and there was also no lack of support when he went on alms round in Sāvatthī. However, a resentful few could not forget that Aṅgulimāla the bandit was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Unable to win revenge through the law, they took matters into their own hands and attacked Aṅgulimāla with sticks and stones as he walked for alms. Their assault must have been quite brutal, for Aṅgulimāla returned to the Buddha seriously injured, with blood running from his head, with his bowl broken, and with his outer robe torn. The Master saw him coming and called out to him: “Bear it, brahmin! Bear it, brahmin! You are experiencing here and now the result of deeds on account of which you might have been tortured in hell for many years, for many hundreds of years, for many thousands of years.” Being an arahant, Aṅgulimāla remained firm and invulnerable in mind and heart. But his body, the symbol and fruit of previous kamma, was still exposed to the effects of his former evil deeds.
Even the Buddha himself, as a result of former deeds, had to suffer a slight injury at the hands of his evil cousin Devadatta. The two chief disciples also had to experience bodily violence: Sāriputta was hit on the head by a mischievous demon and Moggallāna was brutally murdered. If even these three great ones could not avoid bodily harm, how could Aṅgulimāla escape such a fate—he who in his present life had committed so much evil? Yet, it was only his body that received these blows, not his mind, which remained in inviolable equipoise. As an arahant, he was also in no need of consolation or encouragement. Hence we may understand the Buddha’s words to Aṅgulimāla as a reminder of the kammic concatenation of causes and effects, which still had to be endured, though greatly ameliorated by his inner metamorphosis.
There is no other record about the later period of Aṅgulimāla’s life than what he himself said in the verses from the Theragāthā that follow. These tell us that he lived in such solitary places as forests, caves, and mountains, and that, having finally made the right choice in his life, he spent his days in happiness.
Who once did live in negligence And then is negligent no more, He illuminates the world Like the moon freed from a cloud.
Who checks the evil deeds he did By doing wholesome deeds instead, He illuminates the world Like the moon freed from a cloud.
The youthful bhikkhu who devotes His efforts to the Buddha’s Teaching, He illuminates the world Like the moon freed from a cloud.
Let my enemies but hear discourse on the Dhamma, Let them be devoted to the Buddha’s Teaching, Let my enemies wait on those good people Who lead others to accept the Dhamma.
Let my enemies give ear from time to time And hear the Doctrine as told by men who preach forbearance, Of those who speak as well in praise of kindness, And let them follow up that Dhamma with kind deeds.
For surely then they would not wish to harm me, Nor would they think of harming other beings, So those who would protect all beings, frail or strong, Let them attain the all-surpassing peace.
Conduit-makers guide the water, Fletchers straighten out the arrow, Carpenters straighten out the timber, But wise men seek to tame themselves.
There are some that tame with beatings, Some with goads and some with whips; But I was tamed by such alone Who has no rod nor any weapon.
“Harmless” is the name I bear Who was dangerous in the past. The name I bear today is true: I hurt no living being at all. And though I once lived as a bandit With the name of “Finger-garland,” One whom the great flood swept along, I went for refuge to the Buddha.
And though I once was bloody-handed With the name of “Finger-garland,” See the refuge I have found: The bond of being has been cut. While I did many deeds that lead To rebirth in the evil realms, Yet their result has reached me now; And so I eat free from debt.
They are fools and have no sense Who give themselves to negligence; But those of wisdom guard diligence And treat it as their greatest good.
Do not give way to negligence Nor seek delight in sensual pleasures, But meditate with diligence So as to reach the perfect bliss.
So welcome to that choice of mine And let it stand, it was not ill made; Of all the Dhammas known to men, I have come to the very best.
So welcome to that choice of mine And let it stand, it was not ill made; I have attained the triple knowledge And done all that the Buddha teaches.
I stayed in forests, at the root of a tree, I dwelt in the mountain caves But no matter where I went I always had an agitated heart.
But now I rest and rise in happiness And happily I spend my life. For now I am free of Māra’s snares Oh! for the pity shown me by the Master!
A brahmin was I by decent, On both sides high and purely born. Today I am the Master’s son, My teacher is the Dhamma-king.
Free of craving, without grasping, With guarded senses, well restrained, Spewn forth have I the root of misery, The end of all taints have I attained.
The Master has been served by me full well, And all the Buddha’s bidding has been done. The heavy load was finally laid down; What leads to new becoming is cut off. (Th 871–891)
References: 1. The Great Disciples of The Buddha by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker 2. https://suttacentral.net/