[532. {535.}1 Kumāra-Kassapa2]

One hundred thousand aeons hence
the Leader arose [in the world],
the Hero, Friend of Every World,3
who name was Padumuttara. (1) [5811]

Being a brahmin at that time,
distinguished,4 a Vedic master,
wandering during siesta,
I saw the Leader of the World,
explaining the Four [Noble] Truths,
awakening the world with gods,
praising in the multitude the
top of those with varied discourse. (2-3) [5812-5813]

At that time, with a gladdened heart,
inviting [him], the Thus-Gone-One,
decorating a pavilion
with [bolts] of cloth diversely dyed,
lit up by various gemstones,
I fed [him] with the monks5 [in it].
Having fed [them all] for a week
diverse, foremost [and] tasty food,
worshipping6 [him] and followers
with flowers of various hues,
falling down in front of [his] feet,
I aspired [to attain] that place. (4-6) [5814-5816]

Then the Excellent Sage,7 Sole Hoard
of the Taste of Compassion,8 said:
“Look at that excellent brahmin,
[with] face and eyes [like] lotuses,
possessing much joy and delight,
[his] body hair growing upward,
[his] large eyes extremely mirthful,
greedy for my dispensation,
fallen down in front of my feet,
happily turned toward one [purpose:]9
he’s wishing for that [foremost] place
[of preachers with] varied discourse.10 (7-9) [5617-5819]

In one hundred thousand aeons,
arising in Okkāka’s clan,
the one whose name is Gotama
will be the Teacher in the world. (10) [5820]

Worthy heir to that one’s Dhamma,
Dhamma’s legitimate offspring,
named Kumāra-Kassapa, he
will be the Teacher’s follower. (11) [5821]

Through the power of that cloth with
varied flowers and gems [as well],
he will attain the foremost [place]
of [preachers] with varied discourse.” (12) [5822]

Due to that karma done very well,
with intention and [firm] resolve,
discarding [my] human body,
I went to Tāvatiṃsa [then]. (13) [5823]

Touring11 the space of existence
like an actor upon the stage,12
the son of a deer [named] Sākhā,13
I entered the womb of a doe. (14) [5824]

[And] then while I was in the womb,
[my mother’s] turn to die stood nigh.14
Turned out15 by Sākhā, my mother
went to Nigrodha for refuge. (15) [5825]

By that deer-king [Nigrodha], she
was released from [her pending] death.
Sacrificing his life [instead],
[Nigrodha] then advised me thus: (16) [5826]

“Only Nigrodha should be served;
don’t keep company with Sākhā.16
Better death in Nirodha[‘s care]
than life in [the care of] Sākhā.” (17) [5827]

Instructed by that advice of the deer[-king],
my mother and I, because of his advice,
to the delightful Tusitā heaven came17
as though [we] had gone abroad, taking [our] house. (18-19) [5828]18

Again, when Hero Kassapa’s
dispensation had reached [its] goal,
ascending to a mountain-top
engaged in the Victor’s teachings,19 (20) [5829]

now, in Rājagaha20 [city],
I was born in a wealthy21 clan.
My mother, with [me in her] womb,
had gone22 forth into homelessness. (21) [5830]

Finding out that [she] was pregnant,
they approached Devadatta23 then.
He said, “let all of you banish24
this Buddhist nun25 who is evil.” (22) [5831]

Now [she] too being shown mercy
by the Lord of Sages,26 Victor,
my mother’s [living] happily
in a convent for Buddhist nuns. (23) [5832]

Finding that out, the Kosala
earth-protector supported me,
with the care given to a prince,27
and by name I was “Kassapa.” (24) [5833]

Because there was “Great Kassapa,”
I [was known as] “Boy Kassapa.”
Hearing Buddha’s preaching that the
body’s the same as an anthill,28
because of that my mind was freed
from attachment altogether.
After taming King Pāyāsi,29
I [then] attained that foremost place. (25-26) [5834-5835]

My defilements are [now] burnt up;
all [new] existence is destroyed.
Like elephants with broken chains,
I am living without constraint. (27) [5836]

Being in Best Buddha’s presence
was a very good thing for me.
The three knowledges are attained;
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (28) [5837]

The four analytical modes,
and these eight deliverances,
six special knowledges mastered,
[I have] done what the Buddha taught! (29) [5838]

Thus indeed Venerable Kumāra-Kassapa Thera spoke these verses.

The legend of Kumāra-Kassapa 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. “Boy-Kassapa”

  3. sabbalokahito, or “Friendly to All Worlds”

  4. reading vissuto with BJTS for PTS va sato

  5. sasaṅghaŋ, lit., “with the assembly [of monks]”

  6. lit., “doing pūjā

  7. munivaro

  8. karuṇekarasāsayo, BJTS Sinhala gloss: karuṇā rasaṭa eka ma nidhāna vū (“who was the one [and only] treasure-trove for the taste of compassion”)

  9. ekāvatta-sumānasaŋ

  10. reading vicchittakathikattanaṃ (lit., “varied-discourse-ness”) with BJTS for PTS vicchittakathikatthadaŋ (“of giving meaning through varied discourse”)

  11. paribbhamaŋ bhavākāse

  12. raṅgamajjhe yathā naṭo

  13. “Branch”. RD says “branch-deer” (sākhā-miga) signifies a monkey at J ii.73; the compound translated here (sākhāmigatrajo) thus can also be read to mean “son of a monkey,” but the following lines make clear that the figures here are deer.

  14. reading vajjhavāro upatiṭṭho with BJTS (“the turn to die for was looked after ”[or “was served”]) for PTS vajjavāraŋ upatiṭhā (“she looked after [etc.] the time to die”).

  15. reading vattā with BJTS for PTS cchattā

  16. lit., “one should not keep company with Sākhā

  17. āgamma, lit., “having come”

  18. PTS treats this as two short verses; BJTS as a single verse in more elaborate metre (with 11-syllable feet rather than half-verses); I follow BJTS’s reading.

  19. jinasāsanaŋ, lit., “the Victor’s dispensation”

  20. modern Rajgir, in Bihar.

  21. seṭṭhi°, “a millionaire’s”

  22. lit., “went forth.” We are to understand that she did this unintentionally, i.e., unaware she was pregnant

  23. the Buddha’s cousin, who tries to rival the Buddha with increasing virulence and hatred until he is finally sucked into avīcchi hell. See #387 {390}, above.

  24. vināsetha, 2nd pers. pl., also “destroy” “ruin” “kill”

  25. bhikkhuniŋ

  26. munindena

  27. or “to the prince,” his own son?

  28. in the Vammikasutta, M i. 142ff, which is centered on Kumāra-Kassapa. A certain deity appears and tells him a riddle about a burning anthill; he reports this to the Buddha who solves the riddle by equating the anthill with the body. See DPPN II:832-833

  29. who maintained that karma bears no fruit. His famous dialogue about rebirth with Kumārakassapa is recounted in the Pāyāsisutta, D. ii. 316ff. See DPPN II:187-188