Happily we live without hate among the hateful; amidst hateful men we dwell without hating. Happily we live in good health among the ailing; amidst ailing men we dwell in good health. Happily we live without yearning among those who yearn; among people who yearn we dwell without yearning.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 197-199: Pacification of the Relatives of the Buddha
The Buddha uttered Verse 197 to 199 with reference to his relatives who were quarreling over the use of the water from the Rohini river.
Kapilavatthu the town of the Sakyans and Koliya the town of the Kolyans were situated on either side of the Rohini river. The cultivators of both towns worked the fields watered by the Rohini river. One year, they did not have enough rain and finding that the paddy and other crops were beginning to shrivel up, cultivators on both sides wanted to divert the water from the Rohini river to their own fields.
Those living in Koliya said that there was not enough water in the river for both sides, and that if only they could channel the water just once more to their fields that would be enough for the paddy to mature and ripen. On the other hand, people from Kapilavatthu argued that, in that case, they would be denied the use of the water and their crops would surely fail, and they would be compelled to buy from other people. They said that they were not prepared to go carrying their money and valuables to the opposite bank of the river in exchange for food.
Both sides wanted the water for their own use only and there was much ill will between them due to abusive language and accusations on both sides. The quarrel that started between the cultivators came to the ears of the ministers concerned, and they reported the matter to their respective rulers, and both sides prepared to go to war.
The Buddha, surveying the world with his supernormal powers, saw his relatives on both sides of the river coming out to meet in battle and he decided to stop them. All alone, he went to them by going through the sky, and stopped immediately above the middle of the river. His relatives seeing him, powerfully and yet peacefully sitting above them in the sky, hid aside all their weapons and paid obeisance to the Buddha.
Then, the Buddha said to them, "For the sake of some water, which is of little value, you should not destroy your lives which are of so much value and priceless. Why have you taken this stupid action? If I had not stopped you today, your blood would have been flowing like a river by now. You live hating your enemies, but I have none to hate; you are ailing with moral defilements, but I am free from them; you are striving to have sensual pleasures, but I do not strive for them."
In other words, do not hate, abandon defilements and sensual pleasures then happiness will arise.
Happily we live, we who have no impediments, Feeders on joy shall we be like the gods of the Radiant Realm.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 200: MaraThe Buddha uttered Verse 200 with reference to Mara.
On one occasion, the Buddha saw in his vision that five hundred maidens from Pancasala village were due to attain Sotapatti Fruition. So he went to stay near that village. The five hundred maidens went to the riverside to have a bath; after the bath they returned to the village fully dressed up, because it was a festival day. About the same time, the Buddha entered Pancasila village for alms-food but none of the villagers offered him anything because they had been possessed by Mara. On his return the Buddha met Mara, who promptly asked him whether he had received much alms-food.
The Buddha saw the hand of Mara in his failure to get any alms-food on that day and replied, "You wicked Mara! It was you who turned the villagers against me. Because they were possessed by you they did not offer any alms-food to me. Am I not right ?" Mara made no reply to that question, but he thought that it would be fun to entice the Buddha back to the village and get the villagers to insult the Buddha by making fun of him. So he suggested, "O Buddha, why don't you go back to the village again? This time, you are sure to get some food."
Just then, the five hundred village maidens arrived on the scene and paid obeisance to the Buddha. In their presence, Mara taunted the Buddha, "O Buddha, since you received no alms-food this morning, you must be feeling the pangs of hunger!" To him the Buddha replied, "O wicked Mara, even though we do not get any food, like the Abhassara brahmas who live only on the delightful satisfaction (piti) and bliss (sukha) of jhana, we shall live on the delightful satisfaction and bliss of the Dhamma."
At the end of the discourse, the five hundred maidens attained Sotapatti Fruition.
Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. The peaceful live happily having renounced conquest and defeat.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 201: Defeat of the King of Kosala
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 201 with reference to the King of Kosala who was defeated in battle by Ajatasattu, his own nephew.
In fighting against Ajatasattu, the King of Kosala was defeated three times. Ajatasattu was the son of King Bimbisara and Queen Vedehi, the sister of the King of Kosala. The King of Kosala was ashamed and very much depressed over his defeat. Thus his lamentation: "What a disgrace! I cannot even conquer this boy who still smells of mother's milk. It is better that I should die."
Feeling depressed and very much ashamed, the king refused to take food, and kept to his bed. The news about the king's distress spread like wild fire and when the Buddha came to learn about it, he said, "Bhikkhus! In one who conquers, enmity and hatred increase; one who is defeated suffers pain and distress."
In other words, The Buddha commented on the evil consequences of both defeat and victory, uttering the above verse.
There is no fire like lust, no crime like hate. There is no ill like the body, no bliss higher than Peace (nibbāna).
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 202: Young Bride
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 202 at the house of a lay-disciple, with reference to a young bride.
On the day a young woman was to be wedded to a young man, the parents of the bride invited the Buddha and eighty of his disciples for alms-food. Seeing the girl as she moved about the house, helping with the offering of alms-food, the bridegroom was very much excited by lust, and he could hardly attend to the needs of the Buddha and the other bhikkhus. The Buddha knew exactly how the young bridegroom was feeling and also that time was ripe for both the bride and the bridegroom to attain Sotapatti Fruition. By his supernormal power, the Buddha willed that the bride would not be visible to the bridegroom. When the young man could no longer see the young woman, he could pay full attention to the Buddha, and his love and respect for the Buddha grew stronger in him.
Then the Buddha said to the young man, "O young man, there is no fire like the fire of passion; there is no evil like anger and hatred; there is no ill like the burden of the five aggregates of existence (khandhas); there is no bliss like the Perfect Peace of Nibbana."
Verse 203 Hunger is the Greatest Disease Jighacchā paramā rogā, saṅkhārā paramā dukkhā Etaṃ ñatvā yathābhūtaṃ, nibbānaṃ paramaṃ sukhaṃ
Hunger is the greatest disease. Aggregates are the greatest ill. Knowing this as it really is, (the wise realise) nibbāna, bliss supreme.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 203: Lay-Disciple
The Buddha uttered Verse 203 at the village of Alavi, with reference to a lay-disciple.
One day, the Buddha saw in his vision that a poor man would attain Sotapatti Fruition at the village of Alavi. So he went to that village, which was thirty yojanas away from Savatthi. It so happened that on that very day the man lost his ox. So, he had to be looking for the ox. Meanwhile, alms-food was being offered to the Buddha and his disciples in a house in the village of Alavi. After the meal, people got ready to listen to the Buddha's discourse; but the Buddha waited for the young man. Finally, having found his ox, the man came running to the house where the Buddha was. The man was tired and hungry, so the Buddha directed the donors to offer food to him. Only when the man had been fed, the Buddha gave a discourse, expounding the Dhamma step by step and finally leading to the Four Noble Truths. The lay-disciple attained Sotapatti Fruition at the end of the discourse.
Afterwards, the Buddha and his disciples returned to the Jetavana monastery. On the way, the bhikkhus remarked that it was so surprising that the Buddha should have directed those people to feed the young man before he gave the discourse. On hearing their remarks, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! What you said is true, but you do not understand that I have come here, all this distance of thirty yojanas, because I knew that he was in a fitting condition to take in the Dhamma. If he were feeling very hungry, the pangs of hunger might have prevented him from taking in the Dhamma fully. That man had been out looking for his ox the whole morning, and was very tired and also very hungry. Bhikkhus, after all, there is no ailment which is so difficult to bear as hunger.
Verse 204 Health is paramount Ārogyaparamā lābhā, santuṭṭhi paramaṃ dhanaṃ Vissāsaparamā ñātī, nibbānaṃ paramaṃ sukhaṃ.
Health is the highest gain. Contentment is the greatest wealth. The trustworthy are the best kinsmen. Nibbāna is the highest bliss.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 204: King Pasenadi of Kosala
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 204 with reference to King Pasenadi of Kosala. One day, King Pasenadi of Kosala went to the Jetavana monastery after having his full morning meal. It was said that the king had eaten one quarter basket (about half a bushel) of rice with meat curry on that day; so while listening to the Buddha's discourse he felt very sleepy and was nodding most of the time. Seeing him nodding, the Buddha advised him to take a little less rice everyday and to decrease the amount on a sliding scale to the minimum of one-sixteenth part of the original amount he was taking. The king did as he was told and found that by eating less he became thin, but he felt very much lighter and enjoyed much better health. When he told the Buddha about this, the Buddha said to him, "O king! Health is a great boon; contentment is a great wealth; a close and trusted friend is the best relative; Nibbana is the greatest bliss."
Verse 205 Who Tastes the Dhamma is Sorrowless Pavivekarasaṃ pitvā, rasaṃ upasamassa ca Niddaro hoti nippāpo, dhammapītirasaṃ pivaṃ
Having tasted the flavor of seclusion and appeasement, He becomes free from sorrow and stain, one enjoys the rapturous flavor of the Dhamma.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 205: Thera Tissa
The Buddha uttered Verse 205 with reference to Thera Tissa.
When the Buddha declared that in four months' time he would realize parinibbana, many puthujjana bhikkhus were apprehensive. They were at a loss and did not know what to do, and so they kept close to the Buddha. But Thera Tissa, having resolved that he would attain arahatship in the life-time of the Buddha did not go to him, but left for a secluded place to practise meditation. Other bhikkhus, not understanding his behaviour, took him to the Buddha and said, "Venerable Sir, this bhikkhu does not seem to cherish and honor you; he only keeps to himself instead of coming to your presence." Thera Tissa then explained to them that he was striving hard to attain arahatship before the Buddha realized parinibbana, and that was the only reason why he had not come to see the Buddha.
Having heard his explanation, the Buddha said to the bhikkhus, "Bhikkhus! Those who love and respect me should act like Tissa. You are not paying homage to me by just offering me flowers, perfumes and incense. You pay homage to me only by practicing the Lokuttara Dhamma, i.e., Insight Meditation."
Verse 206-208 (Pleasant meetings, Happy company , The good and the wise) Sāhu dassanam ariyānaṃ, sannivāso sadā sukhā Adassanena bālānaṃ, niccam eva sukhī siyā
Blessed is the sight of the Noble Ones: their company is ever happy. Not seeing fools is also always a pleasure.
Therefore, with the intelligent, the wise, the learned, the enduring, the dutiful, and the Noble Ones — with a man of such virtue and intellect should one associate, as the moon (follows) the starry path
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 206-208 : Sakka
While residing at the village of Veluva, the Buddha uttered Verses 206, 207 and 208 of this book, with reference to Sakka, king of the devas.
About ten months before the Buddha realized parinibbana, the Buddha was spending the vassa at Veluva village near Vesali. While he was staying there, he suffered from dysentery. When Sakka learned that the Buddha was ailing, he came to Veluva village so that he could personally nurse the Buddha during his sickness. The Buddha told him not to worry about his health as there were many bhikkhus near him; but Sakka did not listen to him and kept on nursing the Buddha until he recovered. The bhikkhus were surprised and awe-struck to find Sakka himself attending on the Buddha. When the Buddha heard their remarks he said, "Bhikkhus! There is nothing surprising about Sakka's love and devotion to me. Once, when the former Sakka was growing old and was about to pass away, he came to see me. Then, I expounded the Dhamma to him. While listening to the Dhamma, he attained Sotapatti Fruition; then he passed away and was reborn as the present Sakka. All these happened to him simply because he listened to the Dhamma expounded by me. Indeed, bhikkhus, it is good to see the Noble Ones (ariyas); it is a pleasure to live with them; to live with fools is, indeed, painful."