I thought I would propose a discussion of the parallels of the Śariputra centred gāthā found in SN 1.48, SA 593, & SA-2 187 (incidentally, how does one have SA-2 citations become hyperlinks?).
I only really have a solid grasp on the parts that mirror closely the nikāya parallel (because I need to use it as a guide), but I’ll give a few thoughts on the potential context of some of the additional material we find in the āgama anyways, even though I am less sure of what this interpolated narrative between the verses in the āgama is talking about. There are people here far better than me at Classical Chinese so I am sure they will correct any really bad mistakes I make (hopefully!).
The āgama contains a lot of additional material. The language here is too complicated for me to navigate without the sutta-parallel as a guide. It seems to be an introductory narrative something about Anāthapiṇḍada that creates a prose-shell around each verse of the metered material.
It seems he might have been ill, or might have been about to die, or might have been very close to death. Next it says something about the Tuṣita Heaven, I think it might say that he (Anāthapiṇḍada) visited, went to, “attained”, or “cultivated” the Tuṣita Heaven, then it says something like “serving as” or “transforming into” a Tuṣita “master” or "one of the Tuṣita’s “clan”. Next it says a view or notion arose: [quote]「我不應久住於此，當往見世尊。」
“I not should [for a] long-time dwell in this, here-immediately [I] go [to] meet [the] Lord (Bhagavān).”[/quote]
Next it has Anāthapiṇḍada going to the Buddha and venerating him. The “Son of Heaven” then seems to perform a miracle, creating light from his body that illuminates all of Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park.
This is all very tentative. There is a key sequence of phrases that comes up again and again and I have no clue what it means. Its meaning could seriously affect what the above means. This sequence is this:
Creating this [a?] view thereafter, thus warrior bend extend arm qing (a qing is a (small?) unit of measurement***, in/at/to/from Tuṣita deva end, manifest to [the] Buddha [in] front, prostrate [to] Buddha feet
*** [this line is very very strange, I think it almost definitely has a foreign loanword in it rendered phonetically into Chinese characters irrespective of their Chinese meaning, but I do not yet know what this loanword would be. If we take a reconstruction of Middle Chinese phonetics, we get this as the rendering: “lɨk̚:d͡ʒɨ:kʰɨut̚:ɕiɪn:piᴇ:kʰwiᴇŋ” if that helps at all .] [/quote]“Creating this a view thereafter” could mean that all of this is a theoretical discourse of ideas in someone’s thinking. I don’t really know what it means, and so I am missing a big part of the puzzle.
It is also the case that the section starting at “creating this a view” might be a sudden repetition or repeated section, because after that the introduction retells itself in shorter form, leading up to the account of the miracle that illuminates Anāthapiṇḍada’s park.
The part that concerns us here is what follows:
At-that-time, Gěi Gū Dú (Anāthapiṇḍada) [to the?] son [of] heaven thus spoke[, a] gāthā speaking:
In these many great woods, immortal beings[, the] Saṃgha[,] dwell [in] śamatha,
[the] all [or “maniness,” perhaps] king also dwells here, augmenting me [in] joyful [oddly enough the word here is the same word as “Ānanda”] citta,
深 信淨戒業， 智慧為勝壽，
Profound śraddhā[,] pure precept karma (“actions”), wisdom[,] mati[,] changing [to] attain life [or “lifespan” or “long life”],
以 此淨眾生， 非族姓財物，
because [of] this[,] purification [of] all beings, not clan[,] wealth[, or] objects,
great wisdom Shè Lì Fú (Śariputra), samyak smṛti constantly tranquil[,] silent,
unoccupied dwells cultivating ascetic life, thereupon establishing karma [and] goodness [as] equal companions.[/quote]
For context, here is the gāthā from the nikāya-parallel, SN 1.48: [quote]“This indeed is that Jeta’s Grove,
The resort of the Order of seers,
Dwelt in by the Dhamma King,
A place that gives me joy.
“Action, knowledge, righteousness,
Virtue, an excellent life:
By this are mortals purified,
Not by clan or wealth.
“Therefore a person who is wise,
Out of regard for his own good,
Should carefully examine the Dhamma:
Thus he is purified in it.
“Sāriputta truly is endowed with wisdom,
With virtue and with inner peace.
Even a bhikkhu who has gone beyond
At best can only equal him.”[/quote]
Next we have an interpolation of prose material. 說此偈已，即沒不現。“Spoke this gāthā thereafter, at-that-time ending unmanifest(?)”
What follows seems to be an interlude where the Buddha, that night, crosses through the monks to centre of the Saṅgha. It appears to say that nuns (尼) then appraise merit (敷) to the master (師), who is on a platform (it is also possible, grammatically, that the nuns were on a platform and not the master, but that doesn’t make sense).
[quote]爾時，世尊其夜過已，入於僧中，敷尼師壇，於眾前坐，告諸比丘：「今此夜中，有一天子，容色絕妙，來詣我所，稽首我足，退坐一面。而說偈言：At-that-time. [the] Bhagavān that night crossed thereafter, [to] enter into [the] Saṃgha center, appraised merit [did] nuns [to the] master['s] platform, residing [near(?), a] great-crowd [in] front sat, [he] spoke [to the] myriad monks:
"Presently this night here, [there] exists one Son [of] Heaven, [of] countenance wondrous, come [to] accomplishment [have] I this, venerate [and] bow [to? at?] my attainment [or “feet”], withdraw [to] sit [at] one side. Thus say [I this] gāthā utterance:[/quote]Now, oddly enough, what happens here is the entire gāthā that Anāthapiṇḍada recited earlier is repeated with slight variations and different details/phrasing by the Buddha. After which: [quote]爾時，尊者阿難白佛言：
At that-time, honourable sir Ānanda addressed the Buddha saying:
Bhagavān! Thus I understand [the] Bhagavān this[-]expounding, Anāthapiṇḍada [is] born [in] this Heaven high (or “highest”), [/quote]
The next line is very obscure.[quote]
Like-that that Anāthapiṇḍada to-treat-generously honourable sir Śariputra exhaust saṃjñā venerate repeatedly."[/quote]I’ll need to look at that more.
It ends with the Buddha delivering a gāthā that I also can’t really make entire sense of yet. It starts like this:[quote]佛告阿難：「如是，如是。阿難！給孤獨長者生彼天上，來見於我。」
Buddha said [to] Ānanda: “Thus so, thus so. Ānanda! Anāthapiṇḍada [is] born in [this] heaven high, [he] comes [or “he came” or “he is coming” or “he will come”] [to] look at me.”
At that-time, [the] Bhagavān because-of honoured sir Śariputra, as-a-result spoke gāthā utterance:[/quote]And then comes the gāthā itself:
「一切世 間智， 唯除於如來，
"[Of] every[-]thing worldly instant wisdom, (this next five-character sequence of the line has the word Tathāgata, 如來, in it, but I can’t figure out what it says as a whole)
To-be-near Śariputra['s] wisdom, sixteen cannot best one.
Thus [is] Śariputra’s wisdom, Heaven['s] Son all equally,
To-be-near [the] Tathāgata['s] wisdom, sixteen cannot best one.[/quote]Interesting parallels.
What the āgama and nikāya seem to have in common is the attribution of this gāthā (or part of it) to Anāthapiṇḍada, and the subject of the gāthā appears to be praise of Śariputra.
The later additional gāthā by the Buddha, which is not accounted for in the nikāya-parallel also concerns Śariputra.
The BZA (SA-2) has three gāthā surrounded by prose interludes as well. I’ll look at them in a bit and see if I can add anything here.
This gāthā also appears numerous places in the Pāli Canon. Is it the same each time?