(v. 7) Mara: the Tempter in Buddhism, represented in the scriptures
as an evil-minded deity who tries to lead people from the
path to liberation. The commentaries explain Mara as the lord
of evil forces, as mental defilements and as death.
(v. 8) The impurities (asubha): subjects of meditation which
focus on the inherent repulsiveness of the body, recommended
especially as powerful antidotes to lust.
(v. 21) The Deathless (amata): Nibbana, so called because
those who attain it are free from the cycle of repeated birth
(v. 22) The Noble Ones (ariya): those who have reached any
of the four stages of supramundane attainment leading irreversibly
(v. 30) Indra: the ruler of the gods in ancient Indian mythology.
(v. 39) The Arahat is said to be beyond both merit and demerit
because, as he has abandoned all defilements, he can no longer
perform evil actions; and as he has no more attachment, his
virtuous actions no longer bear kammic fruit.
(v. 45) The Striver-on-the-Path (sekha): one who has achieved
any of the first three stages of supramundane attainment:
a Stream-enterer, Once-returner, or Non-returner.
(v. 49) The "sage in the village" is the Buddhist
monk who receives his food by going silently from door to
door with his alms bowls, accepting whatever is offered.
(v. 54) Tagara: a fragrant powder obtained from a particular
kind of shrub.
(v. 89) This verse describes the Arahat, dealt with more fully
in the following chapter. The "cankers" (asava)
are the four basic defilements of sensual desire, desire for
continued existence, false views and ignorance.
(v. 97) In the Pali this verse presents a series of puns,
and if the "underside" of each pun were to be translated,
the verse would read thus: "The man who is faithless,
ungrateful, a burglar, who destroys opportunities and eats
vomit he truly is the most excellent of men."
(v. 104) Brahma: a high divinity in ancient Indian religion.
(vv. 153-154) According to the commentary, these verses are
the Buddha's "Song of Victory," his first utterance
after his Enlightenment. The house is individualized existence
in samsara, the house-builder craving, the rafters the passions
and the ridge-pole ignorance.
(v. 164) Certain reeds of the bamboo family perish immediately
after producing fruits.
(v. 178) Stream-entry (sotapatti): the first stage of supramundane
(vv. 190-191) The Order: both the monastic Order (bhikkhu
sangha) and the Order of Noble Ones (ariya sangha) who have
reached the four supramundane stages.
(v. 202) Aggregates (of existence) (khandha): the five groups
of factors into which the Buddha analyzes the living being
-- material form, feeling, perception, mental formations,
(v. 218) One Bound Upstream: a Non-returner (anagami).
(vv. 254-255) Recluse (samana): here used in the special sense
of those who have reached the four supramundane stages.
(v. 283) The meaning of this injunction is: "Cut down
the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body."
(v. 339) The thirty-six currents of craving: the three cravings
for sensual pleasure, for continued existence, and
for annihilation -- in relation to each of the twelve bases
the six sense organs, including mind, and their corresponding
(v. 344) This verse, in the original, puns with the Pali word
vana meaning both "desire" and "forest".
(v. 353) This was the Buddha's reply to a wandering ascetic
who asked him about his teacher. The Buddha's answer shows
that Supreme Enlightenment was his own unique attainment,
which he had not learned from anyone else.
(v. 370) The five to be cut off are the five "lower fetters":
self-illusion, doubt, belief in rites and rituals, lust and
ill-will. The five to be abandoned are the five "higher
fetters": craving for the divine realms with form, craving
for the formless realms, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance.
Stream-enterers and Once-returners cut off the first three
fetters, Non-returners the next two and Arahats the last five.
The five to be cultivated are the five spiritual faculties:
faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. The
five bonds are: greed, hatred, delusion, false views, and
(v. 374) See note to v. 202.
(v. 383) "Holy man" is used as a makeshift rendering
for brahmana, intended to reproduce the ambiguity of the Indian
word. Originally men of spiritual stature; by the time of
the Buddha the brahmins had turned into a privileged priesthood
which defined itself by means of birth and lineage rather
than by genuine inner sanctity. The Buddha attempted to restore
to the word brahmana its original connotation by identifying
the true "holy man" as the Arahat, who merits the
title through his own inward purity and holiness regardless
of family lineage. The contrast between the two meanings is
highlighted in verses393
and 396. Those who led a contemplative life dedicated to gaining
Arahatship could also be called brahmins, as in verses 383,
389, and 390.
(v. 385) This shore: the six sense organs; the other shore:
their corresponding objects; both: I-ness and my-ness.
(v. 394) In the time of the Buddha, such ascetic practices
as wearing matted hair and garments of hides were considered
marks of holiness.