Verse 256-257 : The just make a thorough investigation
Na tena hoti dhammaṭṭho, yen’atthaṃ sāhasā1 naye yo ca atthaṃ anatthañca, ubho niccheyya paṇḍito.256 Asāhasena dhammena, samena nayatī pare Dhammassa gutto medhāvī, ‘dhammaṭṭho’ti pavuccati. 257 He is not just if he decides a case arbitrarily; the wise man should decide after considering both what is right and what is wrong. The wise man who decides not arbitrarily but in accordance with the law is one who safeguards the law; he is to be called 'one who abides by the law (dhammattho).'
Story related to DhammapadaVerse256-257: the Judge
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses256 and 257 with reference to some judges who were corrupt.
One day, some bhikkhus were returning from their round of alms-food when it rained and they went into a law court to take shelter. While they were there, they found out that some judges, having taken bribes, were deciding cases arbitrarily. They reported the matter to the Buddha and the Buddha replied, "Bhikkhus! In deciding cases, if one is influenced by affection or by monetary consideration, he cannot be called 'the just', or 'a judge who abides by the law.' If one weighs the evidence intelligently and decides a case impartially, then he is to be called, 'the just' or 'a judge who abides by the law.'"
Verse 258: Those who speak a lot is not necessarily wise
Na tena paṇḍito hoti, yāvatā bahu bhāsati Khemī averī abhayo, ‘paṇḍito’ti pavuccati
One is not wise merely because one speaks much. He who is secure, without hate, and fearless is called ‘wise.’
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 258: Group of Six Bhikkhus
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 258 with reference to a group of six bhikkhus. Once, there was a group of six bhikkhus who made trouble at the place of eating either in the monastery or in the village. One day, while some samaneras were having their alms-food, the group of six bhikkhus came in and said boastfully to the samaneras, "Look! We only are the wise." Then they started throwing things about, leaving the place of eating in disorder. When the Buddha was told about this, he said, "Bhikkhus! I do not say that one who talks much, abuses and bullies others is a wise man. Only he who is free from hatred, and harms no one is a wise man."
Verse 259 One Versed in Dhamma does not speak much Na tāvatā dhammadharo, yāvatā bahu bhāsati Yo ca appam pi sutvāna, dhammaṃ kāyena passati Sa ve dhammadharo hoti, yo dhammaṃ nappamajjati
One is not versed in the Dhamma merely because one speaks a lot. He who hears little and sees the Dhamma within, and who does not neglect the Dhamma, he is versed in the Dhamma.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 259: Ekudana the Arahat
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 259 with reference to a bhikkhu who was an arahat.
This bhikkhu lived in a grove near Savatthi. He was known as Ekudana, because he knew only one stanza of the teachings by heart. But the thera fully understood the meaning of the Dhamma as conveyed by the stanza. On each Uposatha day, he would exhort others to listen to the Dhamma, and he himself would recite the one stanza he knew.
Every time he had finished his recitation, the devas of the forests praised him and applauded him resoundingly. On one uposatha day, two learned theras, who were well-versed in the Tipitaka, accompanied by five hundred bhikkhus came to his place. Ekudana asked the two theras to preach the Dhamma. They enquired if there were many who wished to listen to the Dhamma in this out of the way place. Ekudana answered in the affirmative and also told them that even the devas of the forests usually came, and that they usually praised and applauded at the end of discourses.
So, the two learned theras took turns to preach the Dhamma, but when their discourses ended, there was no applause from the devas of the forests. The two learned theras were puzzled; they even doubted the words of Ekudana. But Ekudana insisted that the guardian spirits used to come and always applauded at the end of each discourse. The two theras then pressed Ekudana to do the preaching himself. Ekudana held the fan in front of him and recited the usual stanza. At the end of the recitation, the guardian spirits applauded as usual. The bhikkhus who had accompanied the two learned theras complained that the devas inhabiting the forests were very partial. They reported the matter to the Buddha on arrival at the Jetavana monastery. To them the Buddha said. "Bhikkhus! I do not say that a bhikkhu who has learnt much and talks much of the Dhamma is one who is versed in the Dhamma, (Dhammadhara)." One who has learnt very little and knows only one stanza of the Dhamma, but fully comprehends the Four Noble Truths, and is ever mindful is the one who is truly versed in the Dhamma."
Verse 260- 261 Grey hair does not make an elder Na tena thero so hoti,2 yen’assa Pāḷitaṃ siro Paripakko vayo tassa, ‘moghajiṇṇo’ti vuccati.260 Yamhi saccañca dhammo ca, ahiṃsā saṃyamo damo Sa ve vantamalo dhīro, ‘thero’ iti pavuccati. 261
He is not an elder just because his hair is grey; he who is ripe only in years is called "one grown old in vain". Only a wise man who comprehends the Four Noble Truths and the Dhamma, who is harmless and virtuous, who restrains his senses and has rid himself of moral defilements is indeed called a thera.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse260-261: Thera Bhaddiya
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses260 and 261 with reference to Thera Bhaddiya. He was also known as Lakundaka Bhaddiya because he was very short in stature.
One day, thirty bhikkhus came to pay homage to the Buddha. The Buddha knew that time was ripe for those thirty bhikkhus to attain arahantship. So he asked them whether they had seen a thera (elder) as they came into the room. They answered that they did not see a thera but they saw only a young samanera as they came in. Whereupon, the Buddha said to them, "Bhikkhus! That person is not a samanera, he is a senior bhikkhu although he is small-built and very unassuming. I do say that one is not a thera just because he is old and looks like a thera; only he who comprehends the Four Noble Truths and does not harm others is to be called a thera."
Verse 262-263 : Eloquence does not make a gentleman Na vākkaraṇamattena, vaṇṇapokkharatāya vā Sādhurūpo naro hoti, issukī maccharī saṭho. 262 Yassa c’etaṃ samucchinnaṃ, mūlaghaccaṃ samūhataṃ Sa vantadoso medhāvī, ‘Sādhurūpo’ti vuccati.263
Not by mere eloquence, nor by handsome appearance, does one become a gentleman, if he is jealous, selfish, and deceitful. However, in whom these are wholly cut off, uprooted and extinct, that wise man who is purged of hatred is called a gentleman.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse262-263: Some Bhikkhus
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses262 and 263 with reference to some bhikkhus who were very envious of other bhikkhus.
At the monastery, young bhikkhus and samaneras were in the habit of attending to older bhikkhus who were their teachers. They washed and dyed the robes, or else performed other small services for their teachers. Some bhikkhus noticing these services envied those senior bhikkhus, and so they thought out a plan that would benefit them materially. Their plan was that they would suggest to the Buddha that young bhikkhus and samaneras should be required to come to them for further instruction and guidance even though they had been taught by their respective teachers. When they went to the Buddha with this proposal, the Buddha, knowing full well their motive, turned it down. To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus I do not say that you are good-hearted just because you can talk eloquently. Only he who has got rid of covetousness and all that is evil by means of Arahatta Magga is to be called a good-hearted man."
Verse 264-265: A shaven head doesn't make a monk
Na muṇḍakena samaṇo, abbato alikaṃ bhaṇaṃ Icchālobhasamāpanno, samaṇo kiṃ bhavissati.264 Yo ca sameti pāpāni, aṇuṃ thūlāni sabbaso Samitattā hi pāpānaṃ, ‘samaṇo’ti pavuccati.265
Not by a shaven head does a man become a monk, if he lacks morality and austere practices and tells lies. How could he who is full of covetousness and greed be a monk? He who has totally subdued all evil, great and small, is called a monk because he has overcome all evil.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse264-265: Bhikkhu Hatthaka
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses264 and 265 with reference to a bhikkhu named Hatthaka. Bhikkhu Hatthaka was in the habit of challenging ascetics of non-Buddhist faiths to meet him in a certain place to debate on religious matters. He would then go out by himself to the self-appointed place. When nobody appeared he would boast, "Look, those wandering ascetics dare not meet me, they have been beaten by me!", and such other things. The Buddha called Hatthaka to him and said, "Bhikkhu! Why do you behave in this way? One who says such things cannot become a samana in spite of his shaven head. Only one who has rid himself of all evil is to be called a samana."
Verse 266-267: Begging does not make a monk
Na tena bhikkhu so hoti, yāvatā bhikkhate pare Vissaṃ dhammaṃ samādāya, bhikkhu hoti na tāvatā 266 Yo’dha puññañca pāpañca, bāhetvā brahmacariyavā Saṅkhāya loke carati, sa ce ‘bhikkhū’ti vuccati 267
He does not become a bhikkhu merely because he stands at the door for alms. He cannot become a bhikkhu because he acts according to a faith which is not in conformity with the Dhamma. In this world, he who lays aside both good and evil, who leads the life of purity, and lives meditating on the khandha aggregates is indeed called a bhikkhu.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse266-267: Brahmin
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses266 and 267 with reference to a brahmin. Once, there was a brahmin who was in the habit of going round for alms. One day, he thought, "Samana Gotama has declared that one who lives by going round for alms is a bhikkhu. That being so, I should also be called a bhikkhu." So thinking, he went to the Buddha and said to him that he (the brahmin) should also be called a bhikkhu, because he also went round for alms-food.
To him the Buddha replied, "Brahmin, I do not say that you are a bhikkhu simply because you go round for alms-food. One who professes a wrong faith and acts accordingly is not to be called a bhikkhu. Only he who lives meditating on the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and insubstantiality of the aggregates is to be called a bhikkhu."
Verse 268-269: Silence alone does not make a sage Na monena muni hoti, mūḷharūpo aviddasu Yo ca tulaṃ ’va paggayha, varam ādāya paṇḍito.268 Pāpāni parivajjeti, sa munī tena so munī Yo munāti ubho loke, ‘munī’ tena pavuccati.269
Not by silence (alone) does he who is dull and ignorant become a sage; but a wise man, as if holding a pair of scales, selects only the best. He who shuns evil, is for that reason a sage. He who understands both worlds, is called a sage.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 268-269: Followers of Non-Buddhist Doctrines
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 268 and 269 with reference to some non-Buddhist ascetics.
To those who offered them food or other things, those ascetics would say words of blessing. They would say, "May you be free from danger, may you prosper and get rich, may you live long," etc. At that time, the followers of the Buddha did not say anything after receiving something from their lay-disciples.
This was because during the first twenty years after the Buddha's attainment of Buddhahood they were instructed to remain silent on receiving offerings. Since the followers of the Buddha were silent when ascetics of other doctrines were saying things which were pleasing to their disciples, people began to compare the two groups. When the Buddha heard about this, he permitted the bhikkhus to say words of blessing to their disciples after receiving offerings. As a result of that, more and more people invited the followers of the Buddha for alms. Then, the ascetics of other doctrines remarked with disdain: "We adhere to the practice of the muni and keep silent, whereas the followers of Samana Gotama go about talking exuberantly in the eating places." On hearing those disparaging remarks, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! There are some who keep silent because they are ignorant and timid, and some who keep silent because they do not want to share their profound knowledge with others. Only one who has overcome evil is to be called a muni."