Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 193:
dullabho purisājañño na so sabbattha jāyati |
yattha so jāyati dhīro taṃ kūlaṃ sukhamedhati || 193 ||
193. Hard to find the pure and noble who isn’t born just anywhere, wherever one so wise is born that family thrives happily.
The Story of the Question Raised by Venerable Ānanda
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to the question raised by Venerable Ānanda.
One day, Venerable Ānanda pondered thus: “Our Teacher has told us that thoroughbreds of elephants are born only among Chaddanta and Uposatha breeds, that thoroughbreds of horses are born only among the Sindh breed, that thoroughbreds of cattle are born only among the Usabha breed. Thus, he had talked to us only about the thoroughbreds of elephants, horses and cattle, but not of the noblest of men (purisājanno).”
After reflecting thus, Venerable Ānanda went to the Buddha, and put to him the question of the nobles of men. To him, the Buddha replied,” Ānanda, the noblest of men is not born everywhere, he is born among Khattiyamahāsāla and Brahmanamahāsāla, the wealthy clans of Khattiya and Brahmana.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 193)
purisājañño dullabho, so sabbattha na jāyati
so dhīro yattha jāyati taṃ kulaṃ sukhaṃ edhati
purisājañño [purisājañña]: a noble being among men (a Buddha); dullabho [dullabha]: is rare; so: that kind of rare being; sabbattha: in all places; na jāyati: is not born; so dhīro [dhīra]: that noble and wise person; yattha: if in some place; jāyati: if born; taṃ kulaṃ [kula]: that family; sukhaṃ edhati: to happiness comes
The Buddha is rare indeed. Such a rare person is not born everywhere. If such a noble and wise person were born in a clan, that clan will reap happiness.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 193)
sabbattha na jāyati: not born everywhere. The reference is to the birth of the Buddha. The Buddha is not born just anywhere. The would-besage was in heaven when he was invited by the deities and brahmas to be born on Earth as the Buddha. But the Buddha, before assenting to their wish, made what is called the five great observations (pañca mahā-vilokana). He observed, namely, the time, the continent, the country, the family, and the mother and her span of life. In the first of these observations, he asked himself whether it was the right time or not. “It is not the right time when the length of men’s lives is more than a hundred thousand years. And why is it not the right time? For then the birth, ageing and dying of beings are not manifest, and there is no teaching of the Dhamma of Buddhas that is freed from the three characteristic marks, so that when they (Buddhās) are talking to these (people) about impermanence, anguish and no-self, they say, ‘Whatever is this they are talking about?’ and think it should neither be listened to nor believed. Consequently there is no penetration. This being so, it is a dispensation not leading out. Therefore, this is not the right time.” “Also, it is not the right time when men’s lives are less than a hundred years. And why is it not the right time? Then beings are abounding in defilements; and an exhortation given to those who are abounding in defilements makes no impression, but, like a mark drawn with a stick on the surface of the water, it immediately disappears. This, therefore, also is not the right time.”
But when the length of men’s lives is between a hundred years and a hundred thousand years, then it is the right time. Now at that time men’s lives were a hundred years; accordingly, the Buddha observed that it was the right time for his birth.
Next, he made the observation concerning the continent. Looking over the four continents with the surrounding islands, he reflected, “In three of the continents the Buddhas are never born; only in Jambudīpa are they born.” Thus, he decided on the continent. Next, he made the observation concerning the place. “The continent of Jambudīpa is large,” thought he, “being ten thousand leagues around. In which of its countries are the Buddhas born?” And, observing the region, he decided on the middle country in the city of Kapilavatthu.
Then he made the observation concerning the family. “The Buddhas,” thought he, “are never born either in a vessa (merchant) family or in suddha (labourer) family. But they are born either in a khattiya (noble) family or in a brāhmin (priest) family whichever is then of the higher repute in the world. At the present time the khattiya (noble) family is of the higher repute in the world. I will be born therein. The king named Suddhodana will be my father.” Thus, he decided on the family.
Then he made the observation concerning the mother. “The mother of a Buddha,” thought he, “is never a wanton, nor a drunkard, but is one who had fulfilled perfections through a hundred thousand cycles, and has kept the five precepts unbroken from the day of her birth. Now this queen named Mahāmāyā is such a one. She shall be my mother. But, what shall be her span of life?” And he perceived that it was to be ten months and seven days.
Having thus made the five great observations, he kindly promised the devas what they requested, saying, “Venerables, you are right. The time has come for my Buddhahood.” Then, surrounded by the devas of the Tusita heaven, and dismissing all the other devas, he entered the Nandana Grove of the Tusita heaven, for in each of the heavens there is a Nandana Grove. And here, the devatās said, “Attain in your next existence your high destiny,” and kept reminding him that he had already paved the way to it by his accumulated merit. Now it was while he was thus dwelling, surrounded by these deities, and continually reminded of his accumulated merit, that he died, and was conceived in the womb of queen Mahāmāyā. This event took place in the month of Esala (July, August), on the day of full-moon, early in the morning under the asterism (nekata) of Uttarasālha.