An udæna is an utterance mostly in metrical form inspired by a particularly intense emotion. This treatise is a collection of eighty joyful utterances made by the Buddha on unique occasions of sheer bliss; each udæna in verse is accompanied by an account in prose of the circumstances that led to their being uttered.
For example, in the first Bodhivagga Sutta are recorded the first words spoken aloud by the newly Enlightened Buddha in three stanzas beginning with the famous opening lines: “Yadæ have pætubhavanti dhammæ, Ætæpino jhæyato bræhma¼assa.”
For seven days after his Enlightenment, the Buddha sat at the foot of the Bodhi tree feeling the bliss of liberation. At the end of seven days, he emerged from this (Phala Samæpatti) sustained absorption in Fruition-Mind, to deliberate upon the principle of Dependent Origination: When this is, that is (Imasmiµ sati, idaµ hoti); this having arisen, that arises (Imassuppædæ, idaµ uppajjati); when this is not, that is not (Imasmiµ asati, idaµ na hoti); this having ceased, that ceases (Imassa nirodhæ, idaµ nirujjhati).
In the first watch of the night, when the principle of the origin of the whole mass of suffering was thoroughly grasped in a detailed manner in the order of arising, the Buddha uttered the first stanza of joy:
“When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then all his doubts vanish, because he understands what that nature is as well as its cause.”
In the second watch of the night, his mind was occupied with the principle of Dependent Origination in the order of ceasing. When the manner of cessation of suffering was thoroughly understood, the Buddha was moved again to utter the second stanza of jubilation:
“When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then all his doubts vanish, because he perceives the cessation of causes.”
In the third watch of the night, the Buddha went over the detailed formula of the principle of Dependent Origination, Paticca Samuppæda, in both the orders of arising and ceasing. Then having mastered the doctrine of Dependent Origination very thoroughly, the Buddha uttered the third stanza of solemn utterance:
“When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then like the sun that illumines the sky, he stands repelling the dark hosts of Mæra.”