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उपस वम णव पच ।

Questions asked by the Br±hmaºa Upas²vam±ºava to Buddha


Chapter 7 of the P±r±yana Vagga of the Sutta Nip±ta

Sanskrit Equivalent and Translation

by

Narsing Rao
August, 2007
Introduction

The reader is assumed to be familiar with the teachings of the Buddha. If you are not,
and would like to be, please get in touch with the writer.

This short paper is a translation of a remarkable conversation between the Buddha


and a brahmin named Upas²va. The conversation, called Upas²vam±ºava
Pucch±, appears in an ancient Buddhist work called the Sutta Nip±ta.

The core of the teachings of the Buddha can be found in what is called the Pali canon
which was written down during the reign on Ashoka, around 250 B.C., though it was
committed to memory since the times of the Buddha, around 450 B.C. The canon is
divided into three Pitakas (baskets), namely:

● Vinaya Piμaka, consisting of rules for the monks of the Sangha


● Sutta Piμaka, consisting of discouses of and dialogs with the Buddha
● Abhidhamma Piμaka, containing further expositions of the teachings of the
Buddha

Therefore, the closest one can get to the original words of the Buddha is by reading
the Sutta Pitaka. Needless to say, it is voluminous. In turn, it is divided into five
Nik±yas (collections): D²gha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, and
Khuddaka.

The Khuddaka Nik±ya is a collection of various works, the most famous of which
is the Dhammapada. The Sutta Nipata, however, represents perhaps the earliest
teachings of the Buddha, as several scholars have shown.

The Sutta Nip±ta is divided into five vaggas (books): Uraga (Snake) Vagga,
C³la (Short) Vagga, Mah± (Large) Vagga, Aμμhaka (collection of octads)
Vagga, and P±r±yaºa (Way-across) Vagga. Each Vagga is in turn a
collection of Suttas, each Sutta represnting either a discourse or a dialog.

The Buddha encouraged questioning and discussion; hence most of the Suttas are in
the form of dialogs. These dialogs were probably remembered by monks who were
present and subsequently converted into a Sutta, some of them being in verse. The
P±r±yaºa Vagga is a collection of seventeen dialogs, each between the Buddha
and an earnest seeker. The subject matter of this paper is the seventh dialog of the
P±r±yaºa Vagga representing questions by the brahmin Upas²va.

Read on to get a flavor of what people in India were discussing around 500 B.C...
उपस वम णव पच ।

Pali Sanksrit
(इच यस उपस व ) (इत च आयष न उपत व )
एक अह सक महनम घम एक ऽह क मह नम घम
अतनत% न तवसह तम त& । अतनत' न तवषह तम त& म ।
आ&मण ब+तह समनचक आलमन ब+तह समनचक
य तनत% ओघतमम &1य ॥ १०७५ ॥ य तनत' ओघतमम &1य ॥

Upas²vam±ºava:
Alone am I, Lord, confused,
Unable to cross this great flood
All-seeing one! Tell me the support
Using which I may certainly cross this flood!

Note: समन = समक अन यत, all around, everywhere, completely

(उपस व त भगव ) (उपत व य इत भगव न)


आतकञञ प1कम न सत म आतकञन प1कम न सAत म न
नत त तन% य &% ओघ । न स त तनत'त &1: ओघ ।
क म1 पह य तव& कथ तह क म न तवह य तव& कथ भ
णहकय नतमह तभप% ॥ १०७६ ॥ ष
A कय अह & त1ऽतभपशय ॥

The Buddha:

Alert, focused on not posessing anything


Convinced that “there is nothing”, you will cross the flood
Abandoning desires and abstaining from gossip
Watch day and night for the ending of craving!

Notes: अतकञन = न तस तकञन यस, i.e. One who has nothing.


आतकञन = Having that quality
नतमह = night and day; in Sanskrit, it is more common to use अह & त1 ।
सब1स क म1स य व & ग सवQष क म1ष य व & ग
आतकञञ तनत% तहत मञ आतकञन तनत' तहत अन (?)
सञ तवम क1 प&म1 तवमत सज तवम क1 प&म1 तवमक
त ट1 न स त अन नय य ॥ १०७७ ॥ त ष1 न स त अन नय य ॥

Upas²vam±ºava:

The one who is free from desires and attachments


Firm in non-possession, abandoning all alse
Liberated in the supreme emancipation from consciousness
Not following anyone, will he remain in that state?

Notes: सज तवम क = complete freedom from congnition


अन नय य = One who does not follow (anyone)

सब1स क म1स य व & ग सवQष क म1ष य व & ग


आतकञञ तनत% तहत मञ आतकञन तनत' तहत अन (?)
सञ तवम क1 प&म1 तवमत सज तवम क1 प&म1 तवमक
त ट1 य न स त अन नय य ॥ १०७८ ॥ स सत न स त अन नय य ॥

Buddha:

The one who is free from desires and attachments


Firm in non-possession, abandoning all alse
Liberated in the supreme emancipation from consciousness
Not following anyone, will indeed remain in that state.

त ट1 च1 स त अन नय य त ष1 च1 स त अन नय य
प+गत[ व% न समनचक । प+ग अतप वष त\ ण समनचक
त1व स स त तसय तवमत त]व स षय (?) तवमक
चव1थ तवञ न थ तवध% ॥ १०७९ ॥ च 1 तवज न थ तवधस ॥

Upas²vam±ºava:
Not following anyone, if he remains in that state
All-seeing one, for several years
In that state, liberated from (the opposites of) heat and cold
Of such a one, will realization ever fall away?

अच यथ व व1गन1 तaत अतच\ यथ व व1गन1 तकप


अत पल1त न उप1त सङ । अस पल य 1 न उप1त सङ म
एव मन न मक य तवमत एव मतन न मक य तवमक
अत पल1त न उप1त सङ ॥ १०८० ॥ अस पल य 1 न उप1त सङ म

Buddha:

Just as a fire, uprooted by the force of the wind


Is exinguished (lit. runs towards setting),
and cannot be congized (or, is incapable of definition)
So the sage, free from name and form
Is extinguished, and cannot be congized.

Note: The root meaning of सङ is “that by which something is known correctly”


(समक ख य 1 अन1न). न उप1त सङ therefore means “ not available for congition”.

अतङ स उद व स नतत असङ स उ व स न तस


उद ह व1 स%त य अ& ग । उ ह व] श अ& ग ।
म1 मन स ध तवय & तह म1 मन 1 स ध तवज पय1तह
थ तह 1 तवतद एस धम ॥ १०८१ ॥ थ तह 1 तवतद एष धम\ ॥

Upas²vam±ºava:

The one who is extinguished, does he exist or not?


Do they say thay he is immortal and free from disease?
Sage! Explain this to me clearly
As this deep truth is known by you.

Notes: अस ग = Gone towards setting (as of the sun)


अतङ % न पम णमतत असङ स न पम णमतस
य1न न वज % नतत । य1न एन वक स न तस ।
सब1स धम1स सम ह स
1 सवQष धमQष सम+ह ष1
सम+ह व दपथ तप सब1 ’ त ॥ १०८२ ॥ सम+ह व दपन न: अतप सवQ इत ॥

Buddha:

There is no means of knowledge about the one that is extinguished


There is no (characteristic) by which he can be described
and cannot be congized (or, is incapable of definition)
On the ending of all phenomena
All discussions are also done away with.

Notes: पम णम = means of knowledge


व दपन न: = ways of speech.

Note on the metrical composition:

This entire composition is in the trishtubh metre, which uses 11 syllables in each foot
(प द). Trishtubh is widely used in the Rigveda, giving an indication of the antiquity
of this composition.

उपस वम णवपच छट तनतट ।