I have finished reading Thag. I think the strangest verse is Thag 2.22 . It’s strange while another verse describe the release, this verse actually describes grandeur. I really dont know what this verse describes. Anyone can help me? Sorry for my bad English…
Here is a short summary about Bhaddahi. I’m afraid it’s not so clear!
Thanks… I’m waiting for better answer…
Making sense of it might require some careful study of the suttas and commentaries mentioned in the link I gave…
You are quite right, Thag 2.22 is one of the strangest and most difficult verses in the Theragāthā, or in the whole canon really. Here is my translation:
That king was named Panāda,
Whose sacrificial post was golden.
Its height was sixteen times its width,
And the top was a thousand-fold.
With a thousand panels, and a hundred ball-caps,
Adorned with banners, made of gold;
There, the seven times six hundred
Gods of music danced.
I spent a long time on this, and am reasonably happy with it, but no translation can claim certainty.
The basic idea concerns Vedic sacrifice. In their animal sacrifices, there would be a post, to which the sacrificial animals were tethered. This is the yūpa mentioned in the second line. The description is intended to exalt the magnificence of this pole, as a sign of the glory of king Panāda. The yūpa was used for the grandest of Vedic sacrifices, the horse sacrifice. This is glorified in the Brihadaranyaka as the ultimate source of sovereign power and authority for a ruler.
The earliest images of what a yūpa actually looked like seem to be in coins. These are, however, nearly a thousand years after the suttas, and even longer after the Vedas, so should be used with caution.
Samudragupta, gold dinar, c. 335-375 CE. Weight: 7.46 gm, Diameter: 21 mm. Sacrificial horse standing left, yupa (sacrificial post) before, circular Brāhmī legend around and si (for siddham) below horse / Queen standing left, holding towel in left hand, flywhisk in right over her shoulder, needle before, Brāhmī legend at right: Ashvamedhaparākrama. From Coinindia
Ujjain coin of sacrificial bull and yūpa
Gupta Empire, Samudragupta I (c.330-70), AV Dinar, 7.70g, Ashvamedha horse sacrifice type, horse standing right before yupa (sacrificial post) with streamers attached, letter si below, rajadhirajah prithivim [avijityva divam jayaty-ahritavajimedhah] around, rev. the chief queen (mahasi) standing left holding chowrie over shoulder asvamedha parakramah right. Source
In the last image you can see a flurry of streamers from the top of the post. I think this is the “thousand-fold” referred to in the text. The “ball caps” can be seen clearly in the top and bottom image: they are where the leash or streamers are attached to the post. I’m not entirely sure what the “panels” are, they don’t seem to be represented in the images. Probably they are small decorative sections, perhaps gold-plate or paintings; they could even be the decorative sections on the stand of the pole in the bottom image.
In any case, the description in the verse is recognizably similar to the images of yūpa, suitably magnified for mythic verse.
Notice the presence of the queen in the images of the horse sacrifice, rather than the king. The queen’s participation was required to complete the horse sacrifice. At the climax of the ceremony, after the stallion was killed, she was required to get “under the sheets” with the dead horse. She’d hold a bawdy and explicit ritualized conversation with the chief priest, all the while carrying out—or pretending to carry out?—the acts she was describing. No, really, it is exactly what you think!
The text is extremely unusual in that it doesn’t offer any “Buddhist” lesson. Normally, such a verse would be followed by the realization that such sacrifices were useless and harmful, and how much better it is to practice Dhamma. Clearly something is missing from the text, either extra verses, or a prose narrative background (which may or may not have originally been similar to the commentary.)
Thx for your answer Bhante…