Eko care khaggavisāṇakappo


Renderings: eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

eko care khaggavisāṇakappo: live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn

Renderings: carati

carati: to go

carati: to travel

carati: to walk

carati: to fare

carati: to wander

carati: to walk on almsround

carati: to undertake

carati: to graze

carati: to bring about

carati: to live

carati: to live the religious life

cārikaṃ caramāno: journeying on foot


Khaggavisāṇa means ‘rhinoceros horn’

Norman has carefully explained why khaggavisāṇa means ‘rhinoceros horn’ not ‘rhinoceros.’ He concludes that:

• ‘When the Pāli can be so translated, when the earliest interpretation takes it that way, and when the Indian rhinoceros is unique among animals in India in having only one horn, it seems certain to me that the reference is to the single horn, and I think that there is no problem if we translate: ‘Let him wander all by himself (eko adutiyo) having a resemblance to the rhinoceros horn, which is also eko adutiyo’ (GD p.154).

But Norman is not curious to understand why translators have persisted to render khaggavisāṇa as ‘rhinoceros,’ and why even today we find it as a meaning in the 2001 Dictionary of Pāli. So let us see why that is.

Persistently ‘rhinoceros’: the underlying problems

The continual refrain of the Khaggavisāṇa Sutta is eko care khaggavisāṇakappo, and many would agree with Norman when he says it means one should ‘wander solitary as a rhinoceros horn.’ But this is unconvincing for two reasons:

1) It is unconvincing because of the obvious fact that although rhinceroses wander, their horns really do not. But the impossible conception of ‘wandering horns’ is not the only problem of Norman’s translation.

2) Another problem of ‘wandering solitary as a rhinoceros horn’ is where the bhikkhu is in fact stationary. For example in verse in Sn.v.72 Norman says ‘one should resort to secluded abodes, one should wander solitary as a rhinoceros horn.’ And, even more problematic, in verse Sn.v.74, which apparently concerns the time of death, Norman says ‘not trembling at (the time of) the complete destruction of life, one should wander solitary as a rhinoceros horn.’

We translate the verses like this:

• Like a strong-toothed lion, the king of beasts, having overpowered (Māra), having overcome (the Destroyer), conducting oneself (in accordance with the teaching), one should make use of secluded abodes. One should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.
Sīho yathā dāṭhabalī pasayha rājā migānaṃ abhibhuyya cārī
Sevetha pantāni senāsanāni eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

• Having abandoned attachment, hatred, and undiscernment of reality, having slashed the ties to individual existence, being unterrified at the (imminent) destruction of one’s life, one should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.
Rāgañca dosañca pahāya mohaṃ sandālayitvāna saṃyojanāni
Asantasaṃ jīvitasaṅkhayamhi eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

Carati means brahmacariyaṃ carati

Both problems are resolved if we recognise eko care khaggavisāṇakappo as an abbreviation for eko brahmacariyaṃ care khaggavisāṇakappo ‘live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.’ The abbreviation of carati in this way occurs elsewhere in the scriptures, not only in the Khaggavisāṇa Sutta, but only in verses, and is therefore to be explained and excused on metrical grounds. See Illustrations below. In prose brahmacariyaṃ carati is common enough, but never abbreviated. Even in verse it is sometimes unabbreviated, for example:

• I am an arahant living the religious life.
arahaṃ ahaṃ brahmacariyaṃ carāmi (S.1.169).

• He would live the religious life vigorously applied (to the practice).
Ātāpiyo brahmacariyaṃ careyyā ti (Ud.48).


That kappo means ‘like’ or ‘resembling,’ see Group of Discourses p.154.


We first illustrate the meanings of carati, then afterwards deal with eko care khaggavisāṇakappo.

Illustrations: carati

Illustration: carāmi, go

Seeing that the body subsists on food, I go searching
Āhāraṭṭhitiko samussayo iti disvāna carāmi esanaṃ

Illustration: carantu, go

Go, sirs. The religious life is lived under the ascetic Gotama
carantu bhonto samaṇe gotame brahmacariyavāso (M.1.524).

Illustration: carāmi, travel

I travel the whole world on my own earnings
Nibbiṭṭhena carāmi sabbaloke (Sn.v.25).

Illustration: carāmi, wander

I wander in the world, a sage, liberated from the perception of existence.
akiñcano manta carāmi loke (Sn.v.455).

Illustration: caraṃ, walking

• Whether walking, standing, sitting, or reclining
Caraṃ vā yadi vā tiṭṭhaṃ nisinno uda vā sayaṃ (It.117).

Illustration: cārikaṃ, caramāno, journeying

Journeying by stages he arrived at Kapilavatthu.
Anupubbena cārikaṃ caramāno yena kapilavatthu tadavasari (Vin.1.82).

Illustration: caritvāna, walked

Having walked on almsround
piṇḍacāraṃ caritvāna (Sn.v.414).

Illustration: caritvāna, fare

Whoever formerly fared alone who then pursues sexual intercourse, in the world is called a ‘lurching vehicle,’ ‘contemptible,’ a ‘common man.’
Eko pubbe caritvāna methunaṃ yo nisevati
Yānaṃ bhantaṃ va taṃ loke hīnamāhu puthujjanaṃ

Illustration: carati, fare

He in this world who lives the religious life having spurned (the accumulating of) merit and demerit, who fares in the world with reflectiveness, he is truly called a bhikkhu.
Yodha puññañca pāpañca bāhetvā brahmacariyavā
Saṅkhāya loke carati sa ve bhikkhū ti vuccati

Illustration: carantaṃ, walking on almsround

Walking on almsround in such unsuitable alms resorts (that would make his knowledgeable companions in the religious life suspect him of unvirtuous ways of conduct)
yathārūpe agocare carantaṃ (M.1.10-11).


An incoming bhikkhu should ask about suitable and unsuitable alms resorts, called gocara and agocara
Gocaro pucchitabbo agocaro pucchitabbo (Vin.2.208).

Illustration: caraṃ, walk on almsround

Walk on almsround through the streets,
visikhantare caraṃ (Th.v.1119).

Illustration: careyya, walk (for alms)

He should walk on almsround in the village at the right time. Bonds (to individual existence) bind one who walks on almsround at the wrong time.
Gāmañca piṇḍāya careyya kāle
Akālacāriṃ hi sajanti saṅgā

Illustration: caranti, graze

The cows are grazing in the water-meadow where the grass grows lush
kacche rūḷhatiṇe caranti gāvo (Sn.v.20).

Illustration: caritvā, undertake

Having undertaken many bad deeds
Bahuni ca duccaritāni caritvā (Sn.v.665).

Illustration: carati, conduct oneself

He conducts himself rightly by way of body, speech, and mind.
☸ So kāyena sucaritaṃ carati vācāya sucaritaṃ carati manasā sucaritaṃ carati (A.3.386).

Illustration: carati, conduct oneself

One who is attached, overpowered, and overcome by attachment, misconducts himself by way of body, speech, and mind.
Ratto kho āvuso rāgena abhibhūto pariyādinnacitto kāyena duccaritaṃ carati vācāya duccaritaṃ carati manasā duccaritaṃ carati (A.1.216).

Illustration: carimha, bring about

We have brought about your death, sensuous yearning
Vadhaṃ carimha te kāma (Th.v.138).

Illustration: cariṃsu, live

For forty-eight years they lived the religious life as virgins.
Aṭṭhacattārīsaṃ vassāni komāraṃ brahmacariyaṃ cariṃsu te (Sn.v.289).

Illustration: carāmase, live

Because we have not known the true teaching we’ve been living miserably mother.
addhammassa anaññāya amma dukkhaṃ carāmase (S.1.210).

Illustration: brahmacariyaṃ caritvā, live the religious life

Lived the religious life under the Blessed One Vipassī
vipassimhi bhagavatī brahmacariyaṃ caritvā (D.2.50).

Illustration: brahmacariyamacariṃsu, live the religious life

They lived the religious life under the one of excellent wisdom.
☸ Brahmacariyamacariṃsu varapaññassa santike (Sn.v.1128).

Illustration: brahmacariyaṃ carati, live the religious life

He lives the celibate life disgruntled
anabhirato ca brahmacariyaṃ carati (A.3.69).

Illustration: carassu brahmacariyaṃ, live the religious life

Live the religious life under that Blessed One
carassu tasmiṃ bhagavati brahmacariyaṃ (Sn.v.696).

Illustration: caraṃ, live the religious life

And I would take delight in that supreme teaching, great Seer, understanding which, one living the religious life, one who is mindful, would overcome attachment to the world (of phenomena).
Tañcāhaṃ abhinandāmi mahesi dhammamuttamaṃ
Yaṃ viditvā sato caraṃ tare loke visattikaṃ

Illustration: carāmi, live the religious life

Clad in robes, I live the religious life without a home, with a shaven head, with ego completely extinguished.
Saṅghāṭivāsī agaho carāmi nivuttakeso abhinibbutatto (Sn.v.456).

Illustration: carantaṃ, live the religious life

The world (of beings) with its devas does not despise the sage living the religious life, free of craving.
Taṃ taṃ nittaṇhaṃ muniṃ carantaṃ
Nāvajānāti sadevako pi loko ti

Ireland: the world with its devas does not despise that cravingless sage as he fares along.

Illustration: carantaṃ, live the religious life

A sage, living the religious life, abstaining from sexual intercourse,
Muniṃ carantaṃ virataṃ methunasmā (Sn.v.220).

Illustration: caranti, live the religious life

Everything is unlasting. Having understood this, the wise live the religious life.
sabbamaniccaṃ evaṃ samecca caranti mutattā (Th.v.1215).

Illustration: caranti, live the religious life

Those who live the religious life without confrontation, rid of spiritual defilement, free of expectations, I call them sages.
Visenikatvā anīghā nirāsā caranti ye te munayo ti brūmi (Sn.v.1078).

Illustration: carissasi, live the religious life

Let wither what is past. Let there not be for you anything at all (hoped for) in the future. If you do not grasp at what is in between you will live the religious life inwardly at peace.
Yaṃ pubbe taṃ visosehi pacchā te māhu kiñcanaṃ
Majjhe ce no gahessasi upasanto carissasi

Illustrations: eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

Illustration: care, live the religious life

Having renounced violence towards all creatures, not harming any of them, one should not wish for a son, let alone a companion. One should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.
Sabbesu bhūtesu nidhāya daṇḍaṃ aviheṭhayaṃ aññatarampi tesaṃ
Na puttamiccheyya kuto sahāyaṃ eko care khaggavisāṇakappo

Illustration: care, live the religious life

(People) consort and associate (with others) for the sake of selfish advantage. Nowadays friends without selfish motives are hard to find. Men who are wise as to selfish benefits are foul. One should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.
Bhajanti sevanti ca kāraṇatthā nikkāraṇā dullabhā ajja mittā
Attaṭṭhapaññā asucī manussā eko care khaggavisāṇakappo