DN21.1. Pañcasikha’s Song

Sakkapañha Sutta ("Sakka’s Questions")

Standing to one side, Pañcasikha played his arched harp, and sang these verses on the Buddha, the teaching, the Saṅgha, the perfected ones, and sensual love.

“My lady Suriyavaccasā, oh my Sunshine—
I pay homage to your father Timbaru,
through whom was born a lady so fine,
to fill me with a joy I never knew.

As sweet as a breeze to one who’s sweating,
or when thirsty, a sweet and cooling drink,
so dear is your shining beauty to me,
just like the teaching is to all the saints!

Like a cure when you’re struck by fever dire,
or food to ease the hunger pain,
come on, darling, please put out my fire,
quench me like water on a flame.

As elephants burning in the heat of summer,
sink down in a lotus pond to rest,
so cool, full of petals and of pollen—
that’s how I would plunge into your breast.

Like elephants bursting bonds in rutting season,
beating off the pricks of lance and pikes—
I just don’t understand what is the reason
I’m so crazy for your shapely thighs!

For you, my heart is full of passion,
I’m in an altered state of mind.
There is no going back, I’m just not able,
I’m like a fish that’s hooked up on the line.

Come on, my darling, hold me, fair of thighs!
Embrace me, with your so bashful eyes!
Take me in your arms, my lovely lady,
that’s all I’d ever want or could desire.

Ah, then my desire was such a small thing,
my sweet, with your curling wavy hair;
now, like to arahants an offering,
it’s grown so very much from there.

Whatever the merit I have forged
by giving to such perfected beings—
may that, my altogether gorgeous,
ripen in togetherness with you.

Whatever the merit I have forged
in this wide open land,
may that, my altogether gorgeous,
ripen in togetherness with you.

Absorbed, the Sakyan meditates,
unified, alert, and mindful,
the sage aims right at the deathless state—
like me, oh my Sunshine, aiming for you!

And just like the sage would be rejoicing,
were he to awaken to the truth,
so I’d be rejoicing, lady,
were I to end up as one with you.

If Sakka were to grant me just one wish,
as Lord of the holy Thirty-Three,
my darling, you’re the only one I’d wish for,
so strong is the love I hold for you.

Like a freshly blossoming sal tree
is your father, my lady so wise.
I pay homage to him, bowing down humbly,
to he whose daughter is of such a kind.”

When Pañcasikha had spoken, the Buddha said to him, “Pañcasikha, the sound of the strings and the sound of your voice blend well together, so that neither overpowers the other. But when did you compose these verses on the Buddha, the teaching, the Saṅgha, the perfected ones, and sensual love?”

“This one time, sir, when you were first awakened, you were staying near Uruvelā at the goatherd’s banyan tree on the bank of the Nerañjarā River. And at that time I was in love with the lady named Bhaddā Suriyavaccasā, the daughter of the fairy king Timbaru. But the sister desired another—it was Mātali the charioteer’s son named Sikhaḍḍī who she loved. Since I couldn’t win that sister by any means, I took my arched harp to Timbaru’s home, where I played those verses.

When I finished, Suriyavacchasā said to me, ‘Dear sir, I have not personally seen the Buddha. But I did hear about him when I went to dance for the gods of the Thirty-Three in the Hall of Justice. Since you extol the Buddha, let us meet up today.’ And that’s when I met up with that sister. But we have not met since.”

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