1. Now at that time the Khabbaggiya Bhikkhus used to sing the Dhamma with the abrupt transitions of song-singing.
The people murmured, were annoyed, and became indignant, saying, 'How can the Sakyaputtiya Samanas [do so]?' The Bhikkhus heard (&c., as usual, down to) he addressed the Bhikkhus, and said:
'These five dangers, O Bhikkhus, befall him who sings the Dhamma with the abrupt 1 transitions of song-singing.--He himself becomes captivated with respect to the sound thereof.--Other people become captivated with respect to the sound thereof.--The laymen are shocked.--The meditation of one who strains after accuracy in the sound is broken.--The common people fall into heresy 2.--These five dangers, O Bhikkhus, befall him who sings the Dhamma with the abrupt transitions of song-singing. The Dhamma is not, O Bhikkhus, to be sung [in that manner]. Whosoever does so, shall be guilty of a dukkata.'
2. Now at that time the Bhikkhus were afraid to make use of intoning 3. They told this matter to the Blessed One.
'I allow you, O Bhikkhus, to intone.'
72:1 Âyatakena gîta-ssarena. Compare âyataken’ eva papâto at Kullavagga IX, 1, 3.
72:2 Probably this is supposed to result because dhamma being sung and not said is not intelligible to them--a complaint often made against the singing of prayers among Protestant Christians. On pakkhimâ ganatâ, compare the closing words of V, 21, 2; and on the rest of the phrase, Puggala III, 10, 14 The translation of sarakuttim is also very doubtful.
72:3 Sara-bhaññam. So in the Mahâvagga we hear that Sona p. 73 intoned before the Buddha a chapter from the Sutta Nipâta. The expression there used is sarena abhâsi, of which our word is used as the verbal noun, the roots bhan and bhâs being not only synonymous but interchangeable. (See, for instance, Vin. Pit. vol. iv, p. 353.) Perhaps 'recitative' would be a good rendering. I have several times heard the Dhamma thus recited by living Buddhists in accordance with the traditional interpretation of this passage, and their Sara-bhaññam was precisely like the intoning of prose passages as practised in our cathedral churches (Rh. D.).