Ko nu hāso kimānando, niccaṃ pajjalite sati Andhakārena onaddhā, padīpaṃ na gavesatha
What is laughter, what is delight, when the world is ever burning? Shrouded in darkness, why not seek the light?
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 146 : Companions of Visakha
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 146 with reference to companions of Visakha. Five hundred men from Savatthi, wishing to make their wives to be generous, kind-hearted and virtuous like Visakha, sent them to Visakha to be her constant companions. During a bacchanalian festival which lasted for seven days, the wives of those men took all the drinks left by their husbands and got drunk in the absence of Visakha. For this misbehavior they were beaten by their husbands. On another occasion, saying that they wished to listen to the Buddha's discourse, they asked Visakha to take them to the Buddha and secretly took small bottles of liquor hidden in their clothes.
On arrival at the monastery, they drank all the liquor they had brought and threw away the bottles. Visakha requested the Buddha to teach them the Dhamma. By that time, the women were getting intoxicated and felt like singing and dancing. Mara, taking this opportunity made them bold and shameless, and soon they were boisterously singing, dancing, clapping and jumping about in the monastery.
The Buddha saw the hand of Mara in the shameless behaviour of these women and said to himself, "Mara must not be given the opportunity." So, the Buddha sent forth dark-blue rays from his body and the whole room was darkened; the women were frightened and began to get sober. Then, the Buddha vanished from his seat and stood on top of Mount Meru, and from there he sent forth white rays and the sky was lit up as if by a thousand moons.
After manifesting his powers, the Buddha said to those five hundred women, "You ladies should not have come to my monastery in this unmindful state. Because you have been negligent Mara has had the opportunity to make you behave shamelessly, laughing and singing loudly, in my monastery. Now, strive to put out the fire of passion (raga) which is in you". In other words, one should not seek sensual pleasures which do not bring happiness. But one should seek the light and move out of the darkness.
Look at this dressed up body, a mass of sores, sickly and full of cravings. Indeed, that body is neither permanent nor enduring.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 147: Sirima the courtesan While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 147 with reference to Sirima the courtesan.
Once, there lived in Rajagaha, a very beautiful courtesan by the name of Sirima. Every day Sirima offered alms-food to eight bhikkhus. One of these bhikkhus happened to mention to other bhikkhus how beautiful Sirima was and also that she offered very delicious food to the bhikkhus every day. On hearing this, a young bhikkhu fell in love with Sirima even without seeing her.
The next day, the young bhikkhu went with the other bhikkhus to the house of Sirima. Sirima was not well on that day, but since she wanted to pay obeisance to the bhikkhus, she was carried to their presence. The young bhikkhu, seeing Sirima, thought to himself, "Even though she is sick, she is very beautiful !" And he felt a strong desire for her.
That very night, Sirima died. King Bimbisara went to the Buddha and reported to him that Sirima, the sister of Jivaka, had died. The Buddha told King Bimbisara to take the dead body to the cemetery and keep it there for three days without burying it, but to have it protected from crows and vultures. The king did as he was told.
On the fourth day, the dead body of the beautiful Sirima was no longer beautiful or desirable; it got bloated and maggots came out from the nine orifices. On that day, the Buddha took his bhikkhus to the cemetery to observe the body of Sirima. The king also came with his men. The young bhikkhu, who was so desperately in love with Sirima, did not know that Sirima had died. When he learnt that the Buddha and the bhikkhus were going to see Sirima, he joined them. At the cemetery, the corpse of Sirima was surrounded by the bhikkhus headed by the Buddha, and also by the king and his men.
The Buddha then asked the king to get a town crier announce that Sirima would be available on payment of one thousand in cash per night. But no body would take her for one thousand, or for five hundred, or for two hundred and fifty, or even if she were to be given free of charge.
Then the Buddha said to the audience, "Bhikkhus! Look at Sirima. When she was living, there were many who were willing to give one thousand to spend one night with her; but now none would take her even if given without any payment. The body of a person is subject to deterioration and decay."
In other words, no matter how beautiful the body is now it will be subjected to aging and death as every phenomenon is impermanent.
This body is worn out-with age, a nest of disease and perishable. The putrid body disintegrates: death is the end of life.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 148: Theri UttaraWhile residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 148 with reference to Theri Uttara.
Nun Uttara, who was 120 years old, was one day returning from her alms-round when she met a bhikkhu and requested him to accept her offering of alms-food. The inconsiderate bhikkhu accepted all her alms-food; so she had to go without food for that day. The same thing happened on the next two days.
Thus Nun Uttara was without food for three successive days and she was feeling weak. On the fourth day, while she was on her alms-round, she met the Buddha on the road where it was narrow. Respectfully, she paid obeisance to the Buddha and stepped back. While doing so, she accidentally stepped on her own robe and fell on the ground, injuring her head. The Buddha went up to her and said, "Your body is getting very old and infirm, it is ready to crumble, it will soon perish." In other words, our body is subjected to sickness and aging. Eventually we will die.
Verse 149 What Delight is there in Seeing White Bones?
Yānimāni apatthāni, alābūn’eva sārade Kāpotakāni aṭṭhīni, tāni disvāna kā rati
Just like gourds in autumn, these dove-grey bones lie here discarded, what pleasure can one has in looking at them?
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 149: Adhimanika Bhikkhus While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 149 with reference to some bhikkhus who over-estimated themselves.
500 bhikkhus, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went into the woods. There, they practiced meditation ardently and diligently and soon attained deep mental absorption (jhana) and they thought that they were free from sensual desires and had attained arahatship. Actually, they were over-estimated themselves. Then, they went to the Buddha, with the intention of informing the Buddha about what they thought was their attainment of arahatship. When they arrived at the outer gate of the monastery, the Buddha said to the Venerable Ananda, "Those bhikkhus will not benefit much by coming to see me now; let them go to the cemetery to meditate first and come to see me only afterwards."
The Venerable Ananda then delivered the message of the Buddha to those bhikkhus, and they reflected, "The Enlightened One knows everything; he must have some reason in making us go to the cemetery first." So they went to the cemetery. There, when they saw the putrid corpses they could look at them as just skeletons, and bones, but when they saw some fresh dead bodies they realized, with horror, that they still had some sensual desires awakening in them.
The Buddha saw them from his perfumed chamber and sent forth the radiance; then he appeared to them and said, "Bhikkhus! Seeing these bleached bones, is it proper for you to have any sensual desire in you?" In other words, when one dies the bones lay there discarded just like any discarded items. Thus there should not be any delight or sensual pleasures looking at them.
Verse 150 The body is a city of bones
Aṭṭhīnaṃ nagaraṃ kataṃ, maṃsalohitalepanaṃ Yattha jarā ca maccū ca, māno makkho ca ohito
The body is a city built of bones and plastered with flesh and blood, wherein lie concealed decay and death, pride and hypocrisy.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 150 Theri Rupananda (Janapadakalyani)
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 150 with reference to Janapadakalyani.
Princess Janapadakalyani was the daughter of Gotami, the step-mother of Gotama the Buddha; because she was very beautiful she was also known as Rupananda. She was married to Nanda, a cousin of the Buddha. One day she pondered, "My elder brother who could have become a Universal Monarch has renounced the world to become a bhikkhu; he is now a Buddha. Rahula, the son of my elder brother, and my own husband Prince Nanda have also become bhikkhus. My mother Gotami has also become a bhikkhuni, and I am all alone here!"
So she went to the monastery of some bhikkhunis and became a bhikkhuni herself. Thus, she had become a bhikkhuni not out of faith but only because she felt lonely and wanted to follow others to go forth. Rupananda had heard from others that the Buddha often taught about the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality of the khandhas. So she thought he would talk deprecatingly about her good looks if he should see her; and thus thinking, she kept away from the Buddha.
But other bhikkhunis coming back from the monastery, kept talking in praise of the Buddha; so, one day, she decided to accompany other bhikkhunis to the monastery.
The Buddha saw her and reflected, "A thorn can only be taken out with a thorn; Rupananda being very attached to her body and being very proud of her beauty, I must take the pride and attachment out of her through beauty." So, with his super-normal power, he caused an image of a very beautiful lady of about sixteen years of age to be seated near him, fanning him. This young girl was visible only to Rupananda and the Buddha. When Rupananda saw the girl, she realized that compared to that girl, she herself was just like an old, ugly crow compared to a beautiful white swan. Rupananda had a good look at the girl and she felt that she liked her very much.
Then, she looked again and was surprised to find that the girl had grown to the age of about twenty. Again and again, she looked at the figure beside the Buddha and every time she noticed that the girl had grown older and older. Thus, the girl turned into a grown-up lady, then into a middle-aged lady, an old lady, a decrepit and a very old lady successively. Rupananda also noticed that with the arising of a new image, the old image disappeared, and she came to realize that there was a continuous process of change and decay in the body.
With the coming of this realization, her attachment to the body diminished. Meanwhile, the figure near the Buddha had turned into an old, decrepit lady, who could no longer control her bodily functions, and was rolling in her own excreta. Finally, she died, her body got bloated, pus and maggots came out of the nine openings and crows and vultures were trying to snatch at the dead body.
Having seen all these, Rupananda pondered, "This young girl has grown old and decrepit and died in this very place under my own eyes. In the same way, my body will also grow old and wear out; it will be subject to disease and I will also die." Thus, she came to perceive the true nature of the khandhas (aggregates). At this point, the Buddha talked about the impermanence, the unsatisfactoriness and the insubstantiality of the khandhas, and Rupananda attained Sotapatti Fruition.
In other words, the body made of bones, flesh and blood will age, get sick and decay. One should realize the impermanence of youth and beauty.
Verse 151 Buddha's teachings never decay Jīranti ve rājarathā sucittā, atho sarīram pi jaraṃ upeti. Satañca dhammo na jaraṃ upeti, santo have sabbhi pavedayanti
Even the richly decorated royal chariots wear out; likewise the body also perishes. But the dhamma does not perish, thus indeed, say the Virtuous among themselves.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 151: Queen Mallika
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 151 with reference to Mallika, queen of King Pasenadi of Kosala.
One day, Mallika went into the bathroom to wash her face, hands and feet. Her pet dog also came in; as she was bending to wash her feet, the dog tried to misbehave with her, and the queen appeared to be amused and somewhat pleased.
The king saw this strange incident through the window from his bedroom. When the queen came in, he said angrily to the queen, "Oh, you wicked woman! What were you doing with that dog in the bathroom? Do not deny what I saw with my own eyes." The queen replied that she was only washing her face, her hands and her feet, and so was doing nothing wrong.
Then she continued, "But, that room is very strange. If anyone went into that room, to one looking from this window there would appear to be two. If you do not believe me, O King, please go into that room and I will look through this window." So, the king went into the bathroom. When he came out, Mallika asked the king why he misbehaved with a she-goat in that room. The king denied it, but the queen insisted that she saw them with her own eyes. The king was puzzled, but being dim-witted, he accepted the queen's explanation, and concluded that the bath room was, indeed, very strange.
From that time, the queen was full of remorse for having lied to the king and for having brazenly accused him of misbehaving with a she-goat. Thus, even when she was approaching death, she forgot to think about the great charities she had shared with her husband and only remembered that she had been unfair to him. As a result of this, when she died she was reborn in niraya (hell). After her burial, the king intended to ask the Buddha where she was reborn. The Buddha wished to spare his feelings, and also did not want him to lose faith in the Dhamma. So he willed that this question should not be put to him, and King Pasenadi forgot to ask the Buddha.
However, after seven days in niraya, the queen was reborn in the Tusita deva world. On that day, the Buddha went to King Pasenadi's palace for alms-food; he indicated that he wished to rest in the coach-shed where the royal carriages were kept. After offering alms-food, the king asked the Buddha where queen Mallika was reborn and the Buddha replied, "Mallika has been reborn in the Tusita deva world."
Hearing this the king was very pleased, and said, 'Where else could she have been reborn? She was always thinking of doing good deeds, always thinking what to offer to the Buddha on the next day. Venerable Sir! Now that she is gone, I, your humble disciple, hardly know what to do." To him the Buddha said, "Look at these carriages of your father and your grandfather; these are all worn down and lying useless; so also is your body, which is subject to death and decay. Only the Dhamma of the Virtuous is not subject to decay." In other words, inanimate things will wear off just like the body which will also decay. Only Buddha's teachings (dhamma) will not decay.
Verse 152: One with little learning lacks wisdom Appassutāyaṃ puriso, balibaddo’va jīrati Maṃsāni tassa vaḍḍhanti, paññā tassa na vaḍḍhati
The man of little learning grows old like an ox. His flesh grows; but his wisdom does not.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 152: Thera LaludayiWhile residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 152 with reference to Laludayi, a thera with little intelligence.
Laludayi was a bhikkhu who was dim-witted and very absent-minded. He could never say things which were appropriate to the occasion, although he tried hard. Thus, on joyful and auspicious occasions he would talk about sorrow, and on sorrowful occasions he would talk about joy and gladness.
Besides, he never realized that he had been saying things which were inappropriate to the occasion. When told about this, the Buddha said, "One like Laludayi who has little knowledge is just like an ox." In other words, one with little wisdom grows bigger like an ox but his wisdom does not.
Verse 153 -154 (Craving is the builder of this house)
154 Gahakāraka diṭṭho’si, puna gehaṃ na kāhasi: Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā, gahakūṭaṃ visaṅkhataṃ Visaṅkhāragataṃ cittaṃ, taṇhānaṃ khayam ajjhagā.
Through many births I wandered in saṃsāra, seeking, but not finding, the builder of this house. Painful is repeated birth
O house-builder, now you are seen. You will build no house again. All your rafters are broken. Your ridge-pole is shattered. My mind has gone to the unconditioned, the end of craving has been achieved.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 153-154 : "Words of Exultation of the Buddha"
These two verses are expressions of intense and sublime joy felt by the Buddha at the moment of attainment of Supreme Enlightenment (Bodhi nana or Sabbannuta nana). These verses were repeated at the Jetavana monastery at the request of the Venerable Ananda.
Prince Siddhattha, of the family of Gotama, son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of the kingdom of the Sakyans, renounced the world at the age of 29 and became an ascetic in search of the Dhamma (Truth). For six years, he wandered about the valley of the Ganges, approaching famous religious leaders, studying their doctrines and methods.
He lived austerely and submitted himself strictly to rigorous ascetic discipline; but he found all these traditional practices to be unproductive. He was determined to find the Truth in his own way, and by avoiding the two extremes of excessive sensual indulgence and self-mortification, he found the Middle Path which would lead to Perfect Peace, Nibbana. This Middle Path (Majjhimapatipada) is the Noble Path of Eight Components: Right view, Right thought, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness and Right concentration.
Thus one evening, seated under a Bo tree on the bank of the Neranjara river, Prince Siddhattha Gotama attained Supreme Enlightenment (Bodhi nana or Sabbannuta nana) at the age of thirty-five. During the first watch of the night, the prince attained the power of recollection of past existences (Pubbenivasanussati-nana) and during the second watch he attained the divine power of sight (Dibbacakkhu nana). Then, during the third watch of the night he contemplated the Doctrine of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) in the order of arising (anuloma) as well as in the order of cessation (patiloma). At the crack of dawn, Prince Siddhattha Gotama by his own intellect and insight fully and completely comprehended the Four Noble Truths.
The Four Noble Truths are: The Noble Truth of Dukkha (Dukkha Ariya Sacca), the Noble Truth of the Cause of Dukkha (Dukkha Samudaya Ariya Sacca), the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha (Dukkha Nirodha Ariya Sacca), and The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Dukkha (Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada Ariya Sacca). There also appeared in him, in all their purity. The knowledge of the nature of each Noble Truth (Sacca nana), knowledge of the performance required for each Noble Truth (Kicca nana), and the knowledge of the completion of the performance required for each Noble Truth (Kata nana); and thus, he attained the Sabbannuta nana (also called Bodhi nana) of a Buddha. From that time, he was known as Gotama the Buddha.
In this connection, it should be noted that only when the Four Noble Truths, under their three aspects (therefore, the twelve modes), had become perfectly clear to him that the Buddha acknowledged in the world of Men, the world of Devas and that of Brahmas that he had attained the Supreme Enlightenment and therefore had become a Buddha.
In other words these two verses are said by the Buddha the moment he achieved enlightenment.
Verse 155 -156 (The negligent are later remorseful)
156 Acaritvā brahmacariyaṃ, aladdhā yobbane dhanaṃ Senti cāpātikhīnā’va, purāṇāni anutthunaṃ. They who in youth have neither led the holy life, nor acquired wealth, brood over the past like old herons at a pond without fish.
They who in youth have neither led the holy life, nor acquired wealth, lie like worn-out bows, lamenting over the past.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 155-156: Son of Mahadhana
While residing at the Migadaya wood, the Buddha uttered Verses 155 and 156 with reference to the son of Mahadhana, a rich man from Baranasi.
The son of Mahadhana did not study while he was young; when he came of age he married the daughter of a rich man, who, like him, also had no education. When the parents on both sides died, they inherited wealth from each side and so were very rich. But both of them were ignorant and knew only how to spend money and not how to keep it or to make it grow. They just ate and drank and had a good time, squandering their money.
When they had spent all, they sold their fields and gardens and finally their house. Thus, they became very poor and helpless; and because they did not know how to earn a living they had to go begging. One day, the Buddha saw the rich man's son leaning against a wall of the monastery, taking the leftovers given him by the samaneras; seeing him, the Buddha smiled.
The Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha why he smiled, and the Buddha replied, "Ananda, look at this son of a very rich man; he had lived a useless life, an aimless life of pleasure. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the first stage of his life he would have been a top-ranking rich man; or if he had become a bhikkhu, he could have been an arahant, and his wife could have been an anagami. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the second stage of his life he would have been a second rank rich man, or if he had become a bhikkhu he could have been an anagami, and his wife could have been a sakadagami. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the third stage of his life he would have been a third rank rich man, or if he had become a bhikkhu he could have been a sakadagami, and his wife could have been a sotapanna. However, because he had done nothing in all the three stages of his life he had lost all his worldly riches, he had also lost all opportunities of attaining any of the Maggas and Phalas." In other words, those who squandered their life away without practicing will only lament over the past and not attain any attainment.