The Story of Citta and Sambhūta

Published: 09.09.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

This paper by Ludwig Alsdorf was published in Felicitas Volume presented to Prof. S.K. Belvalkar (Ed. By Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. S.K. De [et al.], Benares 1975, pp. 202-208). To make this online reissue citeable, the page numbers are added to the text (see squared brackets).

The Story of Citta and Sambhūta

[202] The tale of Citta and Sambhūta related in Jātaka No. 498 and chapter 13 of the Uttarajjhāyā is one of the most remarkable instances of the parallel treatment of one and the same legend in the old ascetic poetry of the Buddhists and Jainas. [1] It was first dealt with exhaustively by E. Leumann who, in the Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes vol. V (1891), pp. 111 ff., included in his comparison also the prose version of the Jaina kathānaka literature. In vol. VI of the same journal he was able to trace Brahmanical versions of the same legend in the Harivaśa, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaa. And lastly, J. Charpentier, in the commentary accompanying his edition of Utt., made a new attempt at reconstructing the old ballad of which obviously both the gāthās of Jātaka No. 498 and Utt. 13 are remodellings and amplifications. It is the aim of the present paper to show that not only do his results stand in need of correction but perhaps the critical interpretation and comparison of the Jāt. gāthās and and the Utt. chapter can be carried a step further.

The bulk of both these texts consists of Triṣṭubh verses, and it might be worthwhile to examine at the outset all the non-Triṣṭubh stanzas with a view to ascertain whether they are "original" or whether there are grounds to justify the natural suspicion that they are secondary additions. That the Āryās, Utt. 1-3, are a later introduction is quite obvious and was recognized by Leumann as well as by Charpentier. The former also stated that probably the ślok.a.s, Utt. 4-9, form a second introduction composed by the Jain redactor who, however, must have found at least one verse (No. 6) in the original, as it has a counterpart in gāthā 16 of the Jāt. We shall presently have to discuss this very important stanza in detail (p. 205) and shall therefore leave Utt. 4-9 aside for the moment. The ślok.a, Utt. 16, without counterpart in Jāt., is an oft quoted gnomic stanza (found e.g. in the Vasudevahiṇḍi p. 105) and thus without doubt a later insertion. The only two remaining non-Upajātis of Utt., viz. 28 and 29, were suspected by Leumann on the ground that the preceding and the following stanzas (27 and 30) correspond to two contiguous Jāt. Gāthās (28, 29). We may now add as further reasons for suspicion; first the metre: v. 28 is a mixture of Āryā (1st line) and ślok.a (2nd line), v. 29 a ślok.a; second the contents: these two stanzas bring in the typically Jaina nidāna motif which [202|203] figures prominently in the Jaina prose kathānaka but is found neither in the gāthās nor in the prose of the Jāt.

The Jāt. has 21 Upajātis and 7 ślok.a.s; at least five of the latter can safely be regarded as secondary additions or quotations from that vast store of "floating" stanzas and pādas which play such an important role in Jāt. poetry. G. 6: yojentu ve rāja-rathe sukate citta-sibbane / kaccha nāgāna bandhatha, gīveyya paimuñcatha, is indeed not traceable elsewhere but has nothing specific to connect it with this particular Jāt., and moreover it is entirely superfluous as the king's order to make the preparations for his visit to the ascetic is repeated in the very next stanza (cf. pāda b: sīghāni yānāni ca yojayantu!); obviously this latter stanza (g. 7) alone is original. The ślok.a g. 9: āsanam udaka pajja paigahātu no bhav.a, etc., is an invitation formula that might be used anywhere and is actually found again as g. 3 of Jāt. No. 508; in Jāt. No. 498, it could easily be missed. [2] G. 6 and g. 9 are rejected by Charpentier as well; but gg. 12-14 are an even clearer case. In g. 11, the ascetic has stated that his knowledge of the fruits of good and bad actions makes him restrain himself; he wants neither a son nor cattle nor wealth; in g. 15, he reminds the king how they have both, through their bad actions [sakehi kammehi supāpakehi), lived through a former birth as Caṇḍālas. The close connection between these two Triṣṭubhs is awkwardly broken by the commonplace expatiations of the ślok.a.s 12-14 on the short duration of human life and consequent advisability of indifference to worldly pleasures and wishes, etc. These three stanzas are palpably quotations; actually, 13-14 recur as gg. 115-116 of Jāt. No. 538. The insertion was no doubt made because the end of g. 11: na patthaye putta pasu dhana vā, reminded the redactor of 13 b: ki me puttehi dārehi.

Of the two remaining ślok.a.s, g. 16 has already been mentioned and will presently be dealt with. G. 28 is the very last gāthā of the Jāt.; it is introduced by the text itself as something akin to a quotation, the ascetic teaching this stanza to the king and asking him to remember it and recite it in public whenever pride should seize him. It reminds him of his miserable condition (in his youth or in a former existence?) and might be taken from an older version of this or from some other legend. Not only this gāthā, but also the preceding ones (25-27) have no counterpart in Utt.

As a matter of fact, it is only a small minority even of the Upajāti stanzas that is common to Jāt. and Utt., and only in a very few cases is there complete correspondence between two [203|204] stanzas; there are others which agree in one pāda only, while the rest is totally different. This can only be taken to mean that there was indeed an old poem in Upajāti metre which became the source of both the Jāt. and the Utt. ballad, but that both the Buddhist and the Jaina redactors, while keeping to the Upajāti metre, dealt with this old poem in the most arbitrary manner, feeling at liberty to make any number of alterations, additions and omissions. Under these circumstances, it is not quite so easy as Charpentier imagined to "piece together" out of Utt. XIII and Jāt. No. 498 "an accurate reproduction of the ancient legend". It will be wiser to be content with a critical comparison of the two versions. Before, however, we can attempt this comparison we shall now have to tackle the stanza Utt. v. 6 = Jāt. g. 16.

The latter version gives a short enumeration of the former births of Citta and Sambhūta: "We were Caṇḍālas in Avantī, deer on the (bank of the) Nerañjanā, sea-eagles on the bank of the Narmadā, and now we are (respectively) Brāhmaa and Kshatriya." To this correspond actually not merely Utt. v. 6. but vv. 5-7, where the king relates to the ascetic a slightly different list of five former births, adding that this is their sixth rebirth, in which (for the first time) they have been separated from one another. Now the prose of the Jāt. as well as the Jaina prose kathānaka agree in making the whole story hinge on the familiar motif that the king, suddenly remembering his former births, tries to find his former brother by composing a verse (or verses) to which only that brother can find the completion or answer. According to the Jāt., gg. 1 and 2 are the king's test verses; g. 3 is the brother's answer. All three stanzas begin with the statement (pādas a and b) that every good action will bear its fruit and that no action is done without consequences; in gg. 1 and 2, the king boasts that his present splendour is due to his former puya and asks Citta whether he can say the same of himself. In g. 3, Citta answers in the affirmative. According to the Jaina kathānaka, the king's test verse consists of the half-ślok.a.

āsva dāsau mgau hasau mātagau amarau taihā, which Citta completes by answering:

eā nau aṣṭikā jātir anyonyābhyā viyuktayo, which exactly corresponds to the 2nd half of Utt. v. 7: imā no chaṭṭhiyā jāī annamannea jā vinā.

If we compare the two versions represented by the Jāt. and the Jaina kathānaka, we cannot doubt for a moment that the latter is the original one. The only suitable, nay the only possible contents of the recognition stanza(s) - as is also borne out by the Harivaśa version, cf. W.Z.K.M. Vol. 6, p. 3f. - consist of a reference to an enumeration of the former births. And the most [204|205] natural, the most probable form of test verse and answer is the two hemistiches of one ślok.a, not two full Triṣṭubhs and a third Triṣṭubh. This is confirmed by the fact that g. 16 of the Jāt., too, gives the list of births in one stanza; the real counterpart of g.16 is not Utt. v.6 but the Sanskrit stanza of the kathānaka! Leumann as well as Charpentier took it for granted that the Jāt. preserves the original order of stanzas and that Utt. v. 6 "is wrongly placed". [3] We can now say with absolute certainty that on the contrary it is g. 16 that is "wrongly placed"; it ought to come at the very beginning instead of gāthās 1-3 which, as is shown by Utt., actually form the beginning of the dialogue between Citta and Sambhūta. And the reason of the confusion created in the Jāt. is quite obvious. Jāt. No. 498 and Utt. 13 agree in making the monk, in the course of their conversation, remind the king of their common birth as Candālas in order to account for his refusal to accept the palaces and (according to Jāt.) even share in the kingdom offered to him. To the later redactor, it seemed evident that this stanza, ending in Jāt. (g. 15) with the words Caṇḍāla-gabbhe avasimha pubbe, and the ślok.a beginning, Caṇḍālāhumha Avantīsu must belong together; so he inserted the ślok.a after g. 15 and substituted for it at its original place another question and answer of king and ascetic which ought to come much later after they have actually met.

Utt. 13, on the other hand, though preserving the original order, has made another and perhaps even more sweeping change. Following a tendency - observable in other chapters of Utt., too - to make of the verses a self-contained ballad more or less independent of the old prose tale, he dispenses with the motif of test verse and answer as a means of finding the former brother, and amplifies the old ślok.a into an introductory and more detailed account of the former births given by the king to his brother after having found him. At a still later stage, the process of creating an independent ballad is carried to its conclusion by the prefixing of vv. 1-3 which give, in the Āryā metre characteristic of the latest layer of the canon, the briefest possible extract from the prose tale furnishing just the most indispensable frame for the ensuing dialogue.

Deliberate concentration on this dialogue, the inclusion into it of the account of the former births originally given in the prose [205|206] tale, the omission of the motif of finding the brother by means of a test verse, further and logically also lead to the omission of the dialogue between king and messenger (Jāt. gāthās 4, 5) and the king's announcement of his intention to visit the ascetic Jāt. g. 7).

Thus we have in Utt. two introductions representing two different later stages in the history of the text (vv. 1-3 having been prefixed after vv. 4-9), while the old "original" poem begins only with v. 10. In Jāt., the original order of stanzas must have been: gg. 16; 4, 5, [6], 7; 1-3; 8 ff.

Jāt. gg. 1-3 and Utt. vv. 9-10 agree most closely, partly verbatim, with each other; yet neither text can be quite correct as it stands. The contents must undoubtedly be:

  1. statement: every good action will bear its fruit; there is no escape from karman;
  2. the king's boast: look how lucky I am through my puya in previous birth;
  3. his question: can you say the same of yourself?
  4. the monk's answer: I do see how lucky you are but I am just as lucky as you.

This is what we actually read in Utt.; but in the first part of (d): ahi Sabhūta mahāubhāga mahiḍḍhiya puṇṇa-phalovaveya; jāāhi does not make sense and must be corrected to jānāmi. This is confirmed by g.1, c: passāmi Sabhūta mahānubhāva, which, however, does not make sense in g. 1, spoken by the king, and must therefore be corrected to passāhi. Moreover, the threefold repetition of the quartrain (a) as the first half of each of the gāthās 1-3 is not borne out by Utt.; assuming it to be unoriginal, it is tempting to restore g. 3 as:

passāmi Sabhūta mahānubhāva / sakammanā puṇṇa-phalūpapanna;

Citta pi jānāhi tath'eva, deva: / iddho mano tassa yathāpi tuyha.

After v. 11, there follows in Utt. the difficult stanza v. 12 corresponding to Jāt. g. 8. Referring the reader to Charpentier's remarks on it, I merely wish to add that it is not necessary to change gāhāugīinto gāhā sugīon the strength of g. 8: gāthā sugītā; gāhāugīyā makes even better sense as the stanza is actually repeated (anu-gītā) in the king's palace hall by the messenger who had heard it sung by the ascetic.

There follows in both versions the king's invitation to the ascetic to share his worldly pleasures, Jāt. g. 10 being expanded into the two stanzas Utt. vv. 13-4. Utt. v. 15 forms a mere transition to the monk's answer such as would, in the old style, normally be given in prose; it is not surprising that this stanza lacks a counterpart in Jāt. The monk's refusal is given in both versions in entirely different stanzas, some of which (cf. above) are commonplace quotations inserted subsequently; but there is again a close correspondence and even partial identity when the [206|207] ascetic reminds his brother of the Caṇḍāla existence (g. 15 = Utt. v. 11). [4]

Utt. v. 19 is regarded as spurious by Leumann and Charpentier because it is nothing but a needless repetition of v. 18. There is no reason to dissent from this opinion; but why this needless repetition should have been composed and inserted remains inexplicable.

Utt. vv. 20-25 have no counterpart in Jāt. and should most probably, with Leumann, be regarded as a contribution of the Jain redactor. V. 26 corresponds to Jāt. g. 20, this latter stanza being only a slight modification of the three preceding stanzas (gg. 17-19) which are completely identical except the last word. Sequences of stanzas differing in one pāda or one word only are a common feature of Jātaka poetry. The question here is: has an original sequence of four stanzas (gg. 17-20) been condensed into the one stanza Utt. 26, or has, on the contrary, an original single stanza been expanded by introducing slight variations? Leumann, who believed Jāt. to be generally more faithful to the original than Utt., decided in favour of the former alternative; but his arguments are not decisive and convincing, and the parallel case of gg. 1-3 versus Utt. vv. 10 ff. (see p. 206) would rather seem to point to the contrary. There are other cases within Jāt. poetry where a secondary expansion of a similar kind can be proved, and Leumann's opinion of the general superiority of Jāt. as against Utt. is hardly any longer tenable.

Jāt. g. 21 = Utt. v. 27 is the beginning of the king's answer to the monk's exhortations to renounce the world: "I know full well that what you say is true, but for men in my position it is hard to give up enjoyments." Utt. 27 a, b: aha pi jāṇāmi jahêha sāhū ja me tuma sāhasi vakkam eya, is justly criticised by Leumann as rather imperfect and unsatisfactory, but he fails to make the comparison with Jāt. g. 21. There we read: addhā hi sacca vacana tavêta yathā isi bhāsasi eva eta. Now the pāda addhā hi sacca...recurs also in Jāt. No. 491, 11 and No. 509, 6; but much nearer to the Utt. pāda is a variant occurring twice, Jāt. No. 483, 12 and No. 545, 234; addhā pajanāmi ahampi eta. I consider it more than probable that aha pi jānāmi (where pi is logically superfluous!) is a distortion of an original addhā pajāāmi.

Utt. 27 c reads in our text: bhogā ime sangakarā havanti, "These enjoyments cause attachment", or, as Jacobi (SBE XLV [207|208] , p. 60) translates: "Pleasure will get a hold on men". What we miss in both these translations is an almost indispensable "but": "I know you are right, but pleasures..." Now Jāt. g. 21 c reads: kāmā ca me santi anapparūpā, and here ca must, of course, be translated (as so often in Pali) by "but". And as in Prakrit orthography the akara i is commonly written for ya (and vice versa), there can be no doubt that we have to read Utt. v. 27 c as: bhogā ya me sagakarā havanti, "but worldly pleasures are for me..."

We have (see p. 202) recognized Utt. v. 28f. as later interpolations. V. 30 is almost identical with g. 22 of the Jāt. The rest of the poem is totally different in the two versions except for, as Charpentier remarks, "a slight resemblance between v. 32 and g. 24." On the whole, Utt. vv. 31-35 and Jāt. gg. 23-28 must be taken as mutually independent contributions of the Jain and Buddhist redactors, and we can hardly say which conclusion of the poem is nearer to the original one. There is, however, one more Utt. Jāt. parallel noticed neither by Leumann nor by Charpentier. The latter observes on Utt. v. 31, accei kālo taranti rāio: "The metre of the first hemistich is not quite correct, but I do not know exactly how to amend it." This question is answered by the Pali pāda accenti kālā tarayanti rattiyo [5] which occurs not only in Jāt. No. 509, 24-26 but also Say. Nik. I., p. 3 and pp. 62 ff. [208].


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Felicitation Volume presented to Prof. S.K. Belvalkar (1957)

Edited & corrected version by HN4U

Compiled by PK

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