1. Now at that time a certain Bhikkhu died of the bite of a snake. They told the matter to the Blessed One.
'Now surely, that Bhikkhu, O Bhikkhus, had not let his love flow out over the four royal breeds of serpents! Had he done so, he would not die of the bite of a snake. And which are the four royal breeds of serpents? The Virûpakkhas are a royal breed. The Erâpathas are a royal breed. The Khabyâputtas are a royal breed. The Kanhâgotamakas are a royal breed. Now surely that Bhikkhu, O Bhikkhus, had not let his love flow out over the four royal breeds of serpents! Had he done so, he would not die of the bite of a snake. I allow you, O Bhikkhus, to make use of a safeguard for yourselves for your security and protection, by letting your love flow out over the four royal breeds of serpents. And thus, O Bhikkhus, are you to do so.
'"I love Virûpakkhas, the Erâpathas I love.
'"I love Khabyâputtas, the Kanhâgotamakas I love.
'"I love live things that have no feet, the bipeds too I love.
'"I love four-footed creatures, and things with many feet.
'"Let no footless thing do hurt to me, nor thing that has two feet.
'"Let no four-footed creature hurt, nor thing with many feet.
'"Let all creatures, all things that live, all beings of whatever kind,
'"Let all behold good fortune 1 and let none fall into sin.
'"Infinite is the Buddha, infinite the Truth, infinite the Order. Finite are creeping things; snakes, scorpions and centipedes, spiders and lizards, rats and mice.
'"Made is my safeguard, made my defence. Let living things retreat,
'"Whilst I revere the Blessed One, the Buddhas seven supreme 1."'
'I allow you, O Bhikkhus, to let blood 2.'
75:4 This ancient legend has been expanded into a Gâtaka story, under the title of Khandha-vatta Gâtaka, No. 203 in Professor Fausböll's edition (vol. ii, pp. 144-148), in which recur all the verses here given as a snake-charm. The names of the serpents are derived from the ancient mythology, and are not to be supposed to refer to actual breeds of real snakes. Below, Kullavagga VI, 2, 5, where a Bhikkhu is bitten by a snake, the simple precaution enjoined is the use of a higher bedstead.
76:1 This phrase occurs in the passage at Mahâ-parinibbâna Sutta I, 31, by which Buddhaghosa is so much perplexed.
77:1 This is only one of the many passages from which it is evident that in the oldest Buddhism only the seven Buddhas, from Vipassi down to Gotama inclusive, were known by name to the members of the Buddhist community. Compare Rh. D.'s 'Hibbert Lectures, 1881,' p. 142. It is nevertheless probable that, with their ideas as to the infinite number of worlds which had succeeded one another in the past, they considered that the number of previous Buddhas had also been infinite.
77:2 This last injunction, which comes in here so tamely, is omitted in the Gâtaka story, and is merely a hook on which to hang an excuse for introducing this ancient and evidently favourite prescription into the Vinaya. That it is quite out of place is sufficiently evident from the fact that it has already been laid down in identical terms in the Mahâvagga VI, 14, 4, where it is found in its natural connection.