When Lady Luck comes to visit, don't push her away

The verses of Mahāpanthaka at Thag 8.2 open with his emotional recollection:

When I first saw the Teacher
who fears nothing from any quarter,
I was struck with awe,
seeing the supreme among men.

But the simple and inspiring opening verse continues with something that is more tricky to parse.

Siriṃ hatthehi pādehi,
yo paṇāmeyya āgataṃ
Etādisaṃ so satthāraṃ,
ārādhetvā virādhaye.

In Norman’s rendering, the verse loses the sense of wonder:

Would anyone transgress who bowed down his head with hands and feet, worshipping such a teacher when he came?

That seems oddly lame. Why would this be even a question? How could the act of revering an honored teacher be something that might even be thought of as a transgression. No; there’s something off here.

Norman addresses the many difficulties of these verses. In addition to the usual complexities of syntax and rare forms in verse (virādhaye is third person singular optative), part of the problem lies in the ambiguity of the terms. Rejecting the normal sense of ārādheti and virādheti as “win” and “lose”, he proposes that ārādheti means “honor”, a sense that must be derived from Sanskrit. Further, siriṁ (fortune, or personified as “Lady Luck”) is amended without textual support to siraṁ, “head”.

But Norman misses the crucial context, which is provided at MN 49. There we find the following warning not to overstep the word of Brahma:

If you do, then the consequence for you will be like that of a person who, when Lady Luck approaches, wards her off with a staff, or someone who shoves away the ground as they fall down the chasm into hell.
Sace kho tvaṃ, bhikkhu, brahmuno vacanaṃ upātivattissasi, seyyathāpi nāma puriso siriṃ āgacchantiṃ daṇḍena paṭippaṇāmeyya, seyyathāpi vā pana, bhikkhu, puriso narakappapāte papatanto hatthehi ca pādehi ca pathaviṃ virādheyya, evaṃ sampadamidaṃ, bhikkhu, tuyhaṃ bhavissati.

So this seems to be an idiom of sorts. If you have a good thing, but reject it, you’re like someone who is blessed by Lady Luck but pushes her away. Note that the language is virtually identical with the verse passage: paṇāmeyya in the sense of “push away”, Siri is said to have come (āgata), and she is pushed off by either a stick or hands and feet in instrumental.

So we can keep the normal sense of ārādheti and virādheti as “win” and “lose” and translate:

Anyone who, having found such a Teacher,
would lose them again,
is like someone who, when Lucky Luck comes to them,
would drive her away with hands and feet.


This is the biggest dilemma I have when the sales people and Johva witness knocking my door.
I don’t know whether to welcome them or chase them away.
Most of the time I welcome them and have a chat with them in case Lady Luck come to visit me.
So far I did not have any luck!


When people come selling, I apologize, saying that I believe in giving only to those who do not ask.
When people come sharing, I thank them and sometimes have tea with them as I can.
Either way, there is peace.

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With metta