[393. {396.}1 Bakkula2]

In the Himalayan region,
there’s a mountain named Sobhita.
My well-constructed hermitage
was built by [my] own students [there]. (1) [3758]

There were many canopies there,3
and flowering Chinese chaste trees.4
There were many wood-apple5 trees,6
and jīvajīvakas7 in bloom. (2) [3759]

There were many nigguṇḍi8 trees,9
jujube,10 also gooseberry,11
phārusaka12 and bottle-gourds13
and white lotus14 flowers in bloom. (3) [3760]

There was āḷakā and bel15 there,
plantain,16 and also citron17 trees;
there was lots of sugarcane18 there,
arjuna19 and piyaṅguka.20 (4) [3761]

Neem,21 salalā,22 yellow
cheesewoods,23 banyan,24 wood-apple trees,25
my hermitage was one like that;
I lived [there] with [my] students then. (5) [3762]

Anomadassi, Blessed One,
the Self-Become One, World-Leader,
looking for a secluded place,
[then] came up to my hermitage. (6) [3763]

When the Great Hero had approached,26
Anomadassi of Great Fame,
suddenly [some] internal pain,27
arose for the Lord of the World. (7) [3764]

Wandering in the hermitage,
I saw the Leader of the World.
Having approached the Sambuddha,
the Eyeful One, he of Great Fame,
and having seen his deportment,28
I diagnosed him at that time:
“without a doubt [some] illness has
been born [inside] of the Buddha.” (8-9) [3765-3766]
Wishing to practice medicine,
I ran back29 to the hermitage.
In the presence of my students,
I then addressed [all my] students. (10) [3767]

All the students were respectful;
having listened to what I said,
they assembled in one group for
me, who respected the Teacher. (11) [3768]

Having quickly scaled a mountain,
I fetched30 all of the healing herbs.31
Making [them] into a liquid,32
I gave [it] to the Best Buddha. (12) [3769]

When the Great Hero consumed33 [it],
the Omniscient One, World-Leader,
quickly [that] illness34 was suppressed35
for the Well-Gone-One, the Great Sage. (13) [3770]

Having seen [his] distress relieved,36
Anomadassi of Great Fame,
after sitting on his own seat,
spoke these verses [to us back then]: (14) [3771]

“This one who gave me medicine
and [thereby] relieved my disease,
I shall relate details of him;
[all of] you listen to my words: (15) [3772]

For one hundred thousand aeons
he’ll delight in the world of gods.
When instruments37 are sounded there,
this one constantly will be thrilled. (16) [3773]

Coming to the world of humans,
incited by [his] wholesome roots,
a thousand times he’ll be a king,
a king who turns the wheel [of law]. (17) [3774]

In the fifty-fifth aeon [hence]
he’ll be the king38 named Anoma,39
lord of the grove of rose-apples,40
victorious on [all] four sides.41 (18) [3775]

A wheel-turning king with great strength,
possessor of the seven gems,
he will exercise sovereignty,
making even the heavens shake.42 (19) [3776]

[Whether] born human or divine,
he’ll be one with little disease.
Throwing away [his] possessions,43
he’ll transcend44 illness in the world. (20) [3777]

Aeons beyond measure from now,
arising in Okkāka’s clan,
the one whose name is Gotama
will be the Teacher in the world. (21) [3778]

Worthy heir to that one’s Dhamma,
Dhamma’s legitimate offspring,
knowing well all the defilements,
he’ll reach nirvana, undefiled.” (22) [3779]

Burning up [all his] defilements
he will cross the flood of clinging.
He’ll be the Teacher’s follower,
[the monk] whose name is Bakkula. (23) [3780]

Having come to know all of this,
Gotama, Bull of the Śākyas,
seated in the monks’ Assembly
will place [him] in that foremost place.”45 (24) [3781]

Anomadassi, Blessed One,
the Self-Become One, World-Leader,
looking for a secluded place,
came to my hermitage [back then]. (25) [3782]

With all the healing herbs I served
the Great Hero who had approached,
Omniscient One, the World-Leader,
[feeling well-]pleased by [my] own hands. (26) [3783]

I can’t even [start] to spend the
harvest46 of that seed well-planted,47
that karma I did well for him,
well done by me so long ago.48 (27) [3784]

My gains were well-obtained be me
who saw the Leader [of the World];
through the remainder of that deed,
I realized the deathless state. (28) [3785]

Having come to know all of that,
Gotama, Bull of the Śākyas,
seated in the monks’ Assembly
[has] placed in that foremost place. (29) [3786]

In the vast number of aeons
since I did that karma back then,
I’ve come to know no bad rebirth:
that is the fruit of medicine. (30) [3787]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
All defilements are exhausted;
now there will be no more rebirth. (31) [3788]

My being in Buddha’s presence
was a very good thing for me.
The three knowledges are attained;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (32) [3789]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (33) [3790]

Thus indeed Venerable Bakkula Thera spoke these verses.

The legend of Bakkula Thera is finished.


  1. Apadāna numbers provided in {fancy brackets} correspond to the BJTS edition, which contains more individual poems than does the PTS edition dictating the main numbering of this translation.

  2. “Two-families Bi-Kin” (see DPPN II:261). Also spelled Bākula, Vakkula. A historical monk, renounced at the age of eighty and attained arahantship on the eighth day. As a child, swallowed by a fish and later recovered from its belly. Remembered for providing medicines to Buddhas and monks in previous lifetimes; named the best in good health by the Buddha of this era. Also remembered as a monk who practiced asceticism without preaching it to others. Subject of the Bakkula-sutta (M.iii.124ff), in which he describes his eighty years as a monk (he dies at the age of 160).

  3. reading tattha with BJTS for PTS tatthā (presumably a typo)

  4. sindhuvārita, Vitex negundo, a.k.a. Horshoe vitex, Five-leaved chaste tree

  5. reading kapitthā with BJTS for PTS kapiṭṭhaŋ, Feronia elephantum, Sinh. divul

  6. lit., “trees there,” reading tattha with BJTS for PTS tatthā (presumably a typo)

  7. at [3321] BJTS treats this as the name of a special type of jak-fruit. It means, “life-lifer,” also (as jivaṃjīvaka) the name of a bird (a type of pheasant, according to RD) whose call is similar to the sound “jīvaṃ jīvaṃ.”

  8. a kind of tree, Vitex nigunda. Sinh: nika

  9. lit., “trees there,” reading tattha with BJTS for PTS tatthā (presumably a typo)

  10. badarā, Zizyphus jujuba. RD: “not unlike a crabapple in appearance & taste, very astringent, used for medicine A i.130=Pug 32; A iii.76; Vin iv.76; J iii.21; DhsA 320 (cited among examples of acrid flavours); VvA 186.”

  11. reading badarāmalakāni with BJTS for PTS badarā malakāni. Āmalaka = Sinhala nelli, phyllanthus emblica, emblic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry.

  12. Sinh. boraḷu damanu, a species of Eugenia.

  13. alābū = Sinh. puhul (ash-pumpkin) or labu (gourd). Cone specifies that it is bottle-gourd, Lagenaria vulgaris. Also spelt alāpū

  14. puṇḍarīkā

  15. beluvā = Aegle marmelos, beli geḍiya, bael, bel, Bengal quince; bilva or vilva tree; billā

  16. kadali

  17. mātuluṅgakā, elsewhere mātuluṅgiya

  18. mahānāmā. Following BJTS Sinhala gloss as uk, sugarcane, Sacchcharum officinarum (Gram.)

  19. ajjuṇā (a.k.a. kakudha, Sinhala kumbuk gasa, kubuk, Terminalia arjuna) is an impressively large, shade-giving tree that thrives on the edges of tanks and lakes. PTS spells the term ajjunā.

  20. piyaṅgukā. RD: “[cp. Vedic priyangu] 1. panic seed, Panicum Italicum Vv 537; J i.39; PvA 283. Mixed with water and made into a kind of gruel (piyangûdaka) it is used as an emetic J i.419. See also kangu. — 2. a medicinal plant, Priyangu J v.420. BJTS glosses it puvaṅgu, Botanical dictionary = priyaṅgu = ruk gasa, Myristica Hersfieldia (Myris.), “a lofty tree…It produces fragrant flowers and seeds from its trunk.”

  21. PTS kosumbhā, BJTS kosambā, also spelt kosambhā; BJTS Sinh. gloss here = kohomba, neem or margosa tree, Azadirachta indica

  22. PTS salaḷā, BJTS salalā, BJTS Sinh.gloss = hora = “large timber tree yielding rezin and oil, Dipterocarpus zeylanicus (Dipterocarp.)” (Bot. dict.)

  23. nīpa = Sinhala kolom, nauclea orientalis; also called Leichhardt tree

  24. nigrodhā = Sinh. nuga, RD: the banyan or Indian fig-tree, Ficus Indica; Bot. dict.: milky fig tree, Ficus altissima (Urti.)

  25. kapitthanā = kapittha, kapiṭṭha (already mentioned in v. 2 [3759] above), Feronia elephantum, Sinh. divul

  26. reading upetamhi mahāvīre anomadassimahāyase, gen. abs. construction, with BJTS, for PTS upetañccha mahāvīram Anomadassi-mahāyasaŋ (accusatives, unclear how the grammar would then work unless we assume an accusative absolute construction)

  27. vātābādho, “a disease of the wind,” one of the three humors in classical Indian (including Buddhist) medical traditions.

  28. iriyañ cchāpi disvāna

  29. khippam assamam āgacchchiŋ, lit., “quickly I came to the hermitage”

  30. reading ahās’ ahaṃ (“ I fetched, gathered, took, killed,” ahāsi =1st person sing. aorist of harati) with BJTS for PTS akās’ ahaŋ, “I did,” “I made”

  31. sabbosadham. Though not stipulated, the sense may be “all the medicinal herbs required for the medicine I wished to make for the Buddha,” rather than every medicinal herb that exists, though either interpretation is possible and I have tried to leave the translation as open as the Pāli.

  32. pānīyayogaŋ katvāna, lit., something like “having prepared them through liquifaction” or “making them drinkable.” He takes the herbs and prepares them into a liquid medicine for the Buddha (presumably by cleaning, chopping, boiling, squeezing then filtering them).

  33. paribhutte, “was one who made use of,” i.e., who took the medicine.

  34. vāto, lit., “wind”. The term invokes the illness itself, “a disease of the wind,” which would involve an imbalance (usually an excess) of that humor over the other two (bile and phlegm). The cure would thus involve eliminating or “suppressing” vāta to restore the healthy balance of the three humors.

  35. vūpasami (fr. vūpasammati)

  36. PTS reads passaddhadarathaŋ disvā, BJTS reads passaddhaṃ darathaṃ disvā

  37. turiye, musical instruments

  38. lit., “kṣatriyan”

  39. “Not Inferior,” “Superior One”

  40. jambusaṇḍa = jambudīpa = India, the South Asian continent

  41. cchaturanto vijitāvi, “possessed of conquest of the four quarters,” a supreme imperial overlord

  42. reading tāvatiṃse pi khobetvā (lit., “having shaken the thirty-three gods/[those in] the tāvatiṃsa heaven”) with BJTS for PTS tāvatiŋse ‘to khobetvā (having shaken from [a starting point?] in Tāvatiŋsa”)

  43. pariggahaŋ vivajjetvā. Pariggaha can include, or specifically mean, not only his wealth, but also his wife.

  44. tarissati, lit., “get through” “overcome” “cross beyond”

  45. Bakkula was foremost among those of good health (DPPN II: 262, citing A.1.25; “for a problem connected with this, see Mil. 215ff.), and this verse apparently refers to that. Thus the “all of that” discerned by Gotama would be “all of that experience with medicine;” the “foremost place” would be “foremost among those of good health”

  46. lit., “success,” “achievement,”result”

  47. lit., “[planted] in a good field,” sukhette bījasampadā

  48. tadā, lit., “at that time”