Sunday, May 3, 2009

Love Song

Long time ago in ancient India, there was a heavenly musician named Pancasikha, who fell in love with another angel. But when he found out that she was in love with another, the heavenly musician composed a love song instead:

‘Lady, your father Timbaru greet,

Oh sunshine fair, I give him honor due,

By whom was sired a maid as fair as you

Who is the cause of my heart’s delight.

Delightful as the breeze to one who sweats,

Or as cooling draught to one who thirsts,

Your radiant beauty is to me as dear

As the Dhamma is to Arahants.

Just as medicine to him who’s ill,

Or nourishment to one who’s starving still,

Bring me, gracious lady, sweet release

With water cool from my consuming flames.

The elephant, oppressed by summer heat,

Seeks out a lotus-pool upon which float

Petals and pollen of that flower

So into your bosom sweet I’d plunge.

As an elephant, urged by the goad,

Pays no heed to pricks of lance and spear,

So I, unheeding, know not what I do,

Intoxicated by your beauteous form.

By you my heart is tightly bound in bonds,

All my thoughts are quite transformed, and I

Can no longer find my former course:

I’m like a fish that’s caught on baited hook.

Come, embrace me, maiden fair of thighs,

Seize and hold me with your lovely eyes,

Take me in your arms, it’s all I ask!

My desire was slight at first, O maid

Of waving tresses, but it grew apace,

As grow the gifts that Arahants receive.

Whatever merit I have gained by gifts

To those Noble ones, may my reward

When it ripens, be your love, my Sun!

Just as that Sage would be rejoiced, if he

Were to gain supreme enlightenment,

So I’d rejoice to be made one with you.

If Sakka, Lord of Three and Thirty Gods

Were perchance to grant a boon to me,

It’s you I’d crave, my love for you’s so strong.

Your father, maid so wise, I venerate

Like a sal-tree fairly blossoming,

For his offspring’s sake, so sweet and fair.’

Now if I were to read the lyrics of the song elsewhere other than the suttas, I would have shouted, "blasphemy!" But I am surprised to find this little story is found in the Sakkapanha Sutta / Discourses on Sakka's Questions, within the canon of the original teachings of the Buddha.

And here is the Buddha's response, after he heard the song:

‘Pancasikha, the sound of your strings blends so well with your song, and your song with the strings, that neither prevails excessively over the other. When did you compose these verses on the Buddha, the Dharma, the Arahants, and love?’

Often, most people unfamiliar with the Buddha will associate him as a very very strict teacher. I think so too because when I am still a child learning about this ancient philosophy, I used to think that the Buddha is a strict and no-nonsense teacher, and that wordly happiness has no place in his teachings. But as I discover more, I found out how wrong I am.

This little story from the sutta is but one of many. I may be wrong here but to me, this story from the sutta illustrates the Buddha's perfect wisdom and compassion. Here, the Buddha was able to appreciate the music and understand the wordly love the heavenly musician has. When we would have thought that it is sacrilegeous to even compare worldy love to the beauty of the Triple Gems,the Buddha displays his open-heart and mind and shows how us real and alive his love and wisdom is.

Maybe someday, a Buddhist band (Reaching Jhana???) will compose a music out to the lyrcis of Pancasikha's love song. But meanwhile, enjoy the beauty of it the lyrcis written.

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