The Story of Donna
The composer found inspiration in one video recording of the late Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Thera entitled “The Power of the Mind” in which the late Venerable spoke about the very nature of the Buddha. The late Venerable noted that till today, many people misconstrued the Buddha as a highly God-like personality while others thought that He was a normal human being. This song, with cleverly inserted snippets of the talk, weaves the story on how the Buddha explained this very highly developed nature in a simple manner.
The Story of Dona derived from Dona Sutta (Anggutara Nikaya) unfolded with the Brahmin Dona trailing the Buddha who was walking mindfully from Ukkhatta to Setabya. The Brahmin was awed by the thousand-spokes-wheel imprint found in the Buddha’s footprints and became extremely curious about it. At the rest area, the Brahmin approached the calmly seated Buddha and enquired if He is a god, celestial minstrel, nature spirit or just a plain human being. The Buddha denied categorically He is any of the beings mentioned as He has discarded the very roots of rebirth as any of these beings (or for that matter any other beings as well). The Buddha likened Himself as a lotus blooming out of the muddy world and is unsoiled by the very nature of this world of rebirth. Thus He has ‘Awakened’ or attained ‘Buddha-state’.
However, the path towards this state seems arduous and long but not unattainable. The Buddha spent countless eons mindfully cultivating all the perfections and worked tirelessly to eliminate fetters that kept Him within this cycle of rebirth. Through His selfless compassion, He did not only inform us that we too can be an ‘Awakened One’ but shared the information on how we can release ourselves from this cycle. The Buddha has given us the first step by showing us the way. Now it is up to us to follow.
The Story of Dona (Lyrics)
Leonard Tan/Leonard Tan
One day along the road to the city of Setavya
The Brahmin Dona met the Buddha
From His footprints, he knew this is not an ordinary man
So he walked up to the Buddha and asked Him thus
Are you a deva? Are you a gandhabba?
Are you a yakkha? Are you a manussa?
And the Buddha says
He understands everything in this world
Perfected all the ten perfections
Eradicated all the fetters inside
Therefore He is called the Buddha
AN 4.36 PTS: A ii 37
Dona Sutta: With Dona
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu © 2005–2012
“Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as ‘awakened.’