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 [Dhamma Talk]


SN 4.41.5

Citta gives his solution to a riddle posed by the Venerable Kamabhu.

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Index of Available translations: SN 4.41.5



Nelaṅgo setapa-c-chādo||
ekāro vattatī ratho||
Anīghaṃ passa āyantaṃ||
chinnasotaṃ abandhananti.
|| ||

My translation and solution:

Straight, transparent,
built here, rolling on —
the chariot —
see it smoothly guided
beyond the stream,

Straight = ethical,
transparent = without deceit, open, visible (covered in white would point to a layman which is unlikely),
built here = the set-up mind,
rolling on = saṅsara, but also rolling on to the ending of saṅsara,
chariot = the vehicle, the formerly own-made individuality,
smoothly guided = steered without the corrupting influences,
beyond the stream = with thirst cut off,
unbound = cut free of, loosed, released.

Since Citta's solution was not confirmed by the Buddha, and Kāmabhū may not have understood the solution himself (that is that he may have been asking Citta for a solution rather than posing the riddle (but see the next sutta [SN 4.41.6] where it appears that Kāmabhū is in fact a knowledgeable bhikkhu who is instructing Citta); — Kāmabhū does not actually say that Citta's solution is correct or in accordance with a solution given by the Buddha ... his remark to Citta may well have been a polite 'maybe.' Or it may be that Citta's solution, although not what he had in mind was nevertheless fair Dhamma and so he let it pass). I believe we are free to arrive at a different solution. My translation 'turns' on making the riddle both a description of the proper chariot and an instruction as to what to do with it. If 'ekāro' must be 'one-spoked' or 'one-wheeled' (a wheel-barow has but one wheel, but does not fit the description; perhaps some sort of wheeled chair?) we can hear in that the sound of one hand clapping and not be too upset. Nizamis' solution is as forced as mine but more academically couched. (There is no √ in Pāḷi; it would be √kar = 'make'. But there are those who believe Sanskrit to be the root language of Pāḷi. May they go in peace, make of it what they will.)(lidda didjadijajijjajok-khahaha)

See on this SN 1.1.4 where: straight = the name the road is called;
Free-from-fear = the destination;
'Silent Runner' = the name of the Chariot;
the wheel(s) = Righteous Effort;
the 'leaning board' = Conscience;
the drapery = Heedfulness;
the driver = the Dhamma;
those that run before = Right Views (important persons traveled with troops in front and in back; or again some sort of one-wheeled chair pulled along by a runner)

Again see SN 5.45.5 where the wheels are energy, the axle is enthusiasm (possibly the intent of ekāro, that is, one-axled); the drapery is desirelessness, and the car is 'built by self'.

There seems to be a great deal of flexibility in giving meanings to the components of the chariot.

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