The Tens of Verses


X.2 Ekavihariya — “Dwelling Alone”
[Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]

This poem, which is attributed to King Asoka’s younger brother, falls into three parts: the first expresses his initial desire to leave the life of the palace and go into the forest; the second depicts his going forth; and the third announces his Awakening. Some scholars have suggested that many of the poems dealing with events in the lives of the early Buddhist monks and nuns may have originally been intended for dramatic performance, and this poem could easily have been written with that intent. The language of the original, with its heavy use of poetic terms, certainly indicates that the author had a literate background and was writing for a sophisticated audience. — TB

If, in front or behind,
there is no one else,
it’s extremely pleasant
for one staying alone
in the forest.

Come then! Alone
I will go to the wilderness
praised by the Awakened One
pleasant for a resolute monk
dwelling alone.

astute in my goal,
I’ll quickly enter the grove
giving rapture to meditators
the haunt of elephants in rut.

When the Cool Forest’s in full flower,
in a cool mountain gorge,
having bathed my limbs
I’ll walk back & forth.

Ah, when will I dwell,
alone and free from companions,
in the refreshing great forest
my task done,

As I desire to do this,
may my purpose succeed.
I myself will bring it about.
No one can do it
for anyone else.

I myself
bind on my armor.
I will enter the grove
and will not emerge
without having attained
fermentations’ end.

While soft breezes blow cool,
heavily, fragrantly scented
I’ll make ignorance burst,
as I sit on a mountaintop.

In the forest covered with blossoms
or perhaps on a cool hillside,
blessed with the bliss of release,
on Giribbaja I’ll delight. [1]

I am now he whose resolves are fulfilled
like the moon on a full-moon night.
With all fermenations totally ended,
there is now no further becoming.

Note 1. Giribbaja is the ring of mountains surrounding Vulture’s Peak.


X.5 — Kappa
[Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]

Full of the many clans of impurities,
the great manufacturer of excrement,
like a stagnant pool,
a great tumor,
great wound,
full of blood & lymph,
immersed in a cesspool,
trickling liquids, the body
is oozing foulness always.
Bound together with sixty sinews,
plastered with a stucco of muscle,
wrapped in a jacket of skin,
this foul body is of no worth at all.
Linked together with a chain of bones,
stitched together with tendon-threads,
it produces its various postures,
from being hitched up together.
Headed surely to death,
in the presence of the King of Mortality,
the man who learns to discard it right here,
goes wherever he wants.

Covered with ignorance,
the body’s tied down with a four-fold tie,[1]
sunk in the floods,[2]
caught in the net of latencies,[3]
conjoined with five hindrances,[4]
given over to thought,
accompanied with the root of craving,
roofed with delusion’s roofing.
That’s how the body functions,
compelled by the compulsion of kamma,
but its attainment ends in ruin.
Its many becomings go  to ruin.

These who hold to this body as mine
blind fools, people run-of-the-mill
fill the horrific cemetery,
taking on further becoming.
Those who stay uninvolved with this body
as they would with a serpent
smeared with dung
disgorging the root of becoming,[5]
from lack of effluent,
will be totally Unbound.



1. The four-fold tie: greed, ill will, attachment to precepts & practice, and dogmatic obsession with views.

2. Floods: passion for sensuality, becoming, views, and ignorance.

3. Latencies: pride, ignorance, lust, aversion, uncertainty, delusion, and craving for becoming.

4. Hindrances: sensual desire, ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.

5. The root of becoming: craving.