Thag 10:2  Ekavihāriya—“Dwelling Alone”

This poem, which is attributed to King Asoka’s younger brother, falls into three parts: The first expresses his initial desire to leave the life of the palace and go into the forest; the second depicts his going forth; and the third announces his awakening. Some scholars have suggested that many of the poems dealing with events in the lives of the early Buddhist monks and nuns may have originally been intended for dramatic performance, and this poem could easily have been written with that intent. The language of the original, with its heavy use of poetic terms, certainly indicates that the author had a literary background and was writing for a sophisticated audience.

If, in front or behind,

there is no one else,

it’s extremely pleasant

for one staying alone

in the forest.

Come then! Alone

I will go to the wilderness

praised     by the Awakened One

pleasant     for a resolute monk

dwelling alone.


astute in my goal,

I’ll quickly enter the grove


giving rapture

to meditators—

the haunt

of elephants in rut.

When the Cool Forest’s in full flower,

in a cool mountain gorge,

having bathed my limbs

I’ll walk back & forth


Ah, when will I dwell,

alone and free from companions,

in the refreshing great forest—

my task done,


As I desire to do this,

may my purpose succeed.

I myself

will bring it about.

No one can do it

for anyone else.

* * *

I myself

bind on my armor.

I will enter the grove

and will not emerge

without having attained

the end of the effluents.

While soft breezes blow—


heavily, fragrantly scented—

I’ll make ignorance burst,

as I sit on a mountaintop.

In the forest covered with blossoms

or perhaps on a cool hillside,

blessed with the bliss of release,

on Giribbaja I’ll delight.1

* * *

I am now he

whose resolves are fulfilled

like the moon on a full-moon night.

With effluents all

totally ended,

there is now no further becoming.


1. Giribbaja is the ring of mountains surrounding Vulture’s Peak.