Tag Archives: Subhadra

Data mining the Asita-Subhadra connection: Progress Report 1

Out of 126 clusters, I have gone through the first 20, and found that 7 are chiasmically meaningful, which is much higher than I thought.

Even more surprisingly, the clusters threw up what I previously gleaned by reading and manually comparing those parts.

Here’s a preview of what I have gotten thus far.

ProgressReport1 - clusters

I understand that might not be all that intelligible, but here’s what I gleaned from those clusters.

ProgressReport1 - gleanings

In terms of providing different perspectives of what is chiasmic, I think this method is holding up very well so far, and has generated quite a few matches that I did not pick up on while reading these two sections. (what I did pick up on is briefly presented here)

The most interesting would probably be the one found in cluster 4 – the Buddha was born to end birth. How strange that seems! Have you ever heard of someone doing something in order to stop doing that very same action?

Discussion with Eric brought to my mind how eating can be considered an example of this. We eat to starve off hunger so that we do not have to eat further, but, as Eric quickly points out, that is only a temporary relief. Perhaps that’s the importance of the Buddha’s endeavour – it is said to be the ultimate relief.

What’s with Asita and Subhadra? 阿私陀和須跋陀羅的關係


So, why did I choose the story of Asita and Subhadra for our daily reading? Much because  they are chiasmically important. For one they occur at the start and end of the Buddhacarita, chapters 1 and 26 respectively. Of equal importance is that it they both reference the Enlightenment of Siddhartha, which occurs at the 14th chapter. If you recall the rough correspondence of the chapters of the Buddhacarita, the stories here figure into a triangle, as shown in the diagram below.

Preliminary Matching for Asita-Subhadra

And what does this chiasmic structure tell us about how to interpret the story? Think: what does Asita and Subhadra share? How do they differ?

Comparison Asita-Subhadra

Subhadra heard the teachings while Asita did not, and this enabled the former to quit samsaric (cyclical) existence despite both being extremely accomplished spiritual practitioners.

It might seem trivial to raise this point to any Buddhist, but this two sections quite clearly mirrors each other, and tells us what

changes the climax – the Enlightenment – brings about. And it should encourage us to see if similar discoveries can be made in other sections of the Buddhacarita.





Read with me! Subhadra becomes an Arhat and passes into Nirvana (23 Dec 2013) 須跋陀羅証阿羅漢即入涅槃

Chapter 26: Verses 20-24, on Subhadra’s attainment of Arhat and passing into Nirvana


(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

20. Hearing and accepting the Great Seer’s teaching, he thus gave up on the spot his former views; for he had formerly prepared himself, so that he quickly adhered to the good Law.

21. His mind was filled with faith and, obtaining the best, he reached the peaceful immutable stage; and therefore, as he gazed gratefully on the Sage lying there, be formed this resolution.

22. “It is not proper for me to stay and see the venerable excellent Lord enter Nirvana; I shall myself go straight to the final end, before the compassionate Master passes to Nirvana.”

23. Then he did obeisance to the Sage, and assuming a moveless posture snakewise, be passed in a moment into the peace of Nirvana, like a cloud dissipated by the wind.

24. Thereon the Sage, the Knower of rites, gave orders for the rite of his cremation, saying, “He has gone to the end, the last disciple of the Great Seer Who has noble disciples.”

p0047c17║ 宿命種善因,  聞法能即悟,
p0047c18║ 已得善寂滅,  清涼無盡處。
p0047c19║ 心開信增廣,  仰瞻如來臥,
p0047c20║ 不忍觀如來,  捨世般涅槃,
p0047c21║ 及佛未究竟,  我當先滅度。
p0047c22║ 合掌禮聖顏,  一面正基坐,
p0047c23║ 捨壽入涅槃,  如雨滅小火。
p0047c24║ 佛告諸比丘:  「我最後弟子,
p0047c25║ 而今已涅槃,  汝等當供養。」

Read with me! Subhadra considers the Buddha’s teachings (22 Dec 2013) 須跋陀羅受教

Chapter 26: Verses 9-19, on Subhadra’s consideration of the Buddha’s teachings


(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

9. Then he perceived that the final good was not obtained on the other paths he had previously followed, and winning to a path he had not seen before, he put away those other paths which are accompanied by darkness in the heart.

10. For in those paths, it is said, by obtaining darkness accompanied by passion, evil deeds are heaped up, while by passion associated with goodness, good deeds are extended.

11. With goodness increasing through learning, intelligence and effort, and by reason of the effect of the act being destroyed through the disappearance of darkness and passion, the effect of the act becomes exhausted; and that power of the act they postulate is said to be the product of nature.

12. For in the world they attribute darkness and passion, which delude the mind, to Nature. Since Nature is acknowledged to be permanent, those two equally do not cease to exist, being necessarily also permanent.

13. Even if by uniting oneself with goodness those two cease to exist, they will come into being again under the compulsion of time, just as water, which gradually becomes ice at night, returns to its natural state in the course of time.

14. Since goodness is permanent by nature, therefore learning, wisdom and effort have no power to increase it; and since it does not increase, the other two are not destroyed, and since they are not destroyed, there is no final peace.

15. Previously he had held birth to be by Nature, now he saw that there was no salvation in that doctrine; for since one exists by Nature, how can there be final release any more than a blazing fire can be stopped from giving out light?

16. Seeing the Buddha’s path to be the real truth, he held the world to depend on desire; if that is destroyed, there is religious peace, for with the destruction of the cause the result also is destroyed.

17. Previously he had held with respect to that which is manifested that the “self ” is other than the body and is not subject to change; now that he had listened to the Sage’s words he knew the world to be without “self” and not to be the effect of  “self.”

I8. Realising that birth depends on the interrelation of many elements and that nothing is self-dependent, he saw that the continuance of active being is suffering and that the cessation thereof is freedom from suffering.

19. Since he considered that the world is a product, he gave up the doctrine of annihilation, and since he knew that the world passes away, he speedily gave up without shrinking the view of its permanence.

p0047b16║ 覺知先所學,  非為究竟道,
p0047b17║ 即得未曾聞,  捨離於邪徑。
p0047b18║ 兼背癡闇障,  思惟先所習,
p0047b19║ 瞋恚癡冥俱,  長養不善業。
p0047b20║ 愛恚癡等行,  能起諸善業,
p0047b21║ 多聞慧精進,  亦由有愛生。
p0047b22║ 恚癡若斷者,  則離於諸業,
p0047b23║ 諸業既已除,  是名業解脫。
p0047b24║ 諸業解脫者,  不與義相應,
p0047b25║ 世間說一切,  悉皆有自性。
p0047b26║ 有愛瞋恚癡,  而有自性者,
p0047b27║ 此則應常存,  云何而解脫?
p0047b28║ 正使恚癡滅,  有愛還復生,
p0047b29║ 如水自性冷,  緣火故成熱,
p0047c01║ 熱息歸於冷,  以自性常故。
p0047c02║ 當知有愛性,  聞慧進不增,
p0047c03║ 不增亦不減,  云何是解脫?
p0047c04║ 先謂彼生死,  本從性中生,
p0047c05║ 今觀於彼義,  無得解脫者。
p0047c06║ 性者則常住,  云何有究竟?
p0047c07║ 譬如燃明燈,  何能令無光?
p0047c08║ 佛道真實義,  緣愛生世間,
p0047c09║ 愛滅則寂靜,  因滅故果亡。
p0047c10║ 本謂我異身,  不見無作者,
p0047c11║ 今聞佛正教,  世間無有我。
p0047c12║ 諸法因緣生,  無有自在故,
p0047c13║ 因緣生故苦,  因緣滅亦然。
p0047c14║ 觀世因緣生,  則滅於斷見,
p0047c15║ 緣離世間滅,  則離於常見;
p0047c16║ 悉捨本所見,  深見佛正法。

Read with me! Subhadra’s aspiration to learn the Dharma from the Buddha (21 Dec 2013) 須跋陀羅欲向佛請法

Chapter 26: Verses 1-8, on Subhadra’s aspiration to learn the Dharma from the Buddha


(A full list of topics can be found on my “Daily Readings” page;                                                  閲讀篇章全部收錄與 “Daily Readings” 頁面)

1. Then Subhadra, a holder of the triple staff, who was properly endowed with good virtue and did no hurt to any being, desired to see the Blessed One in order to obtain salvation as a mendicant. So he said to Ananda, the causer of universal delight:—

2. “I have heard that the Sage’s hour for entering Nirvana has come, and therefore I desire to see Him; for it is as hard in this world to see One Who has penetrated to the highest Law as it is to see the moon on the day it is new.

3. I desire to see your Teacher, Who is about to proceed to the end of all suffering; let Him not pass away without my seeing Him, like the sun setting in a sky veiled by clouds.”

4. Then Ananda’s mind was filled with emotion, for he thought the wandering ascetic had come in order to dispute under the pretext of a desire for the Law; and. with face covered with tears, he said “It is not the time.”

5. Then He, Who shone like the moon, knowing the dispositions of men, recognized that the ascetic’s eye was opening like a petal, and He said, “Do not hinder the twice-born, Ananda, since I was born for the good of the world.”

6. Thereat Subhadra, comforted and highly delighted, approached the Srighana, the Doer of the highest good; then, as befitted the occasion, in a quiet way he greeted Him and spoke these words: —

7. “It is said that You have gained a path of Salvation other than that of philosophers like myself; therefore explain it to me, for I wish to accept it. My desire to see You arises from affection, not from desire for disputation.”

8. Then the Buddha explained the Eightfold Path to the twice-born, who had come to Him; and he listened to it, like a man who has lost his way listens to the correct directions, and he … fully considered it.

p0047a19║ 爾時有梵志,  名須跋陀羅,
p0047a20║ 賢德悉備足,  淨戒護眾生。
p0047a21║ 少稟於邪見,  修外道出家,
p0047a22║ 欲來見世尊,  告語阿難陀:
p0047a23║「我聞如來道,  厥義深難測,
p0047a24║ 世間無上覺,  第一調御師。
p0047a25║ 今欲般涅槃,  難復可再遇,
p0047a26║ 難見見者難,  猶如鏡中月。
p0047a27║ 我今欲奉見,  無上善導師,
p0047a28║ 為求免眾苦,  度生死彼岸。
p0047a29║ 佛日欲潛光,  願令我暫見。」
p0047b01║ 阿難情悲感,  兼謂為譏論,
p0047b02║ 或欣世尊滅,  不宜令佛見。
p0047b03║ 佛知彼希望,  堪為正法器,
p0047b04║ 而告阿難言:  「聽彼外道前,
p0047b05║ 我為度人生,  汝勿作留難。」
p0047b06║ 須跋陀羅聞,  心生大歡喜,
p0047b07║ 樂法情轉深,  加敬至佛前。
p0047b08║ 應時隨順言,  軟語而問訊,
p0047b09║ 和顏合掌請:  「今欲有所問。
p0047b10║ 世有知法者,  如我比甚眾,
p0047b11║ 唯聞佛所得,  解脫異要道。
p0047b12║ 願為我略說,  沾潤虛渴懷,
p0047b13║ 不為論議故,  亦無勝負心。」
p0047b14║ 佛為彼梵志,  略說八正道,
p0047b15║ 聞即虛心受,  猶迷得正路。