Verse 21 Appamādo amatapadaṃ, pamādo maccuno padaṃ Appamattā na mīyanti, ye pamattā yathā matā Mindfulness is the way to the Deathless (Nibbana); heedlessness is the way to Death. Those who are mindful do not die; those who are heedless are as if already dead.
Verse 22 Evaṃ1 visesato ñatvā, appamādamhi paṇḍitā Appamāde pamodanti, ariyānaṃ gocare ratā Fully comprehending this, the wise who are mindful, rejoice in being mindful and find delight in the realm of the Noble Ones (Ariyas).
Verse 23 Te jhāyino sātatikā, niccaṃ daḷhaparakkamā Phusanti dhīrā nibbānaṃ, yogakkhemaṃ anuttaraṃ The ever steadfast wise ones are mindful and constantly meditate. They realize the bond-free, supreme nibbāna.
Related story : Samavati and Māgaṇḍiyā
While residing at the Ghosita monastery near Kosambi, the Buddha uttered Verses 21-23, with reference to Samavati, one of the chief queens of Udena, King of Kosambi.
Samavati had a maid servant called Khujjuttara. The maid had to buy flowers for Samavati from the florist Sumana everyday. On one occasion, Khujjuttara had the opportunity to listen to a religious discourse delivered by the Buddha and she attained Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment). She repeated the discourse of the Buddha to Samavati and the 500 maids-of-honour, and they also attained Sotapatti Fruition. From that day, Khujjuttara did not have to do any menial work, but took the place of mother and teacher to Samavati. She listened to the discourses of the Buddha and repeated them to Samavati and her maids. In course of time, Khujjuttara mastered the Tipitaka.
Samavati and her maids wished to see the Buddha and pay obeisance to him but they were afraid the king might be displeased. So, they made holes in the walls of their palace and looked through them to pay homage to the Buddha everyday. At that time, King Udena had also another chief queen by the name of Magandiya. She was the daughter of a brahmin. The brahmin thought the Buddha was the only person who was worthy of his very beautiful daughter. So, he hurriedly went off to fetch his wife and daughter and offered to give his daughter in marriage to the Buddha. Turning down his offer, the Buddha said, "Even after seeing Tanha (craving), Arati (aversion) and Raga (lust), the daughters of Mara, I felt no desire in me for sensual pleasures; after all, what is this which is full of urine and filth and which I don't like to touch even with my foot."
On hearing those words of the Buddha, both the brahmin and his wife attained Anagami Magga and Phala (third stage of enlightenment). They entrusted their daughter in the care of her uncle and they themselves joined the Order. Eventually, they attained arahatship. However, the daughter Magandiya became very bitter and sore. She vowed to take revenge when an opportunity arose.
Later, her uncle presented Magandiya to King Udena and she became one of his chief queens. Magandiya came to learn about the arrival of the Buddha in Kosambi so, she planned to take her revenge on the Buddha and to harm Samavati and her maids who were ardent devotees of the Buddha. Magandiya told the king that Samavati and her maids had made holes in the walls of their living quarters, they were making contacts outside and were disloyal to the king. King Udena knew the truth behind the holes and wasn't angry with Samavati.
Magandiya wanted the King to believe that Samavati wanted to harm and kill him so she planted a snake when the King visited Samavati. When the king saw the snake he believed Magandiya's words that Samavati was trying to kill him. The king was furious. He commanded Samavati to stand and all her ladies to line up behind her, he tried to shoot them with arrows dipped with poison. As Samavati and her ladies bore no ill wills towards the king and through the power of goodwill (metta), the arrow turned back. Then, the king realized the innocence of Samavati and he gave her permission to invite the Buddha and his disciples to the palace for alms-food and for delivering discourses.
Magandiya realizing her plans had failed, she made a final infallible plan. She sent a message to her uncle with full instructions to go to Samavati's place and burn down the building with all the women inside. As the house was burning, Samavati and her maids-of-honour kept on meditating. Thus, some of them attained Sakadagami Fruition (second stage of enlightenment), and the rest attained Anagami Fruition (third stage of enlightenement).
The king rushed to the scene, but it was too late to save them. He suspected that it was done at the instigation of Magandiya. He said on purpose "While Samavati was alive I had been fearful of beiong harmed by her but now she's gone i will be at peace. Who could have done this? It must have been done only by someone who loves me very dearly." Hearing this, Magandiya promptly admitted that it was she who had instructed her uncle to do it. The king pretended to be very pleased and asked her to invite her relatives here to be honored. On arrival at the palace, all of them, including Magandiya, were seized and burnt in the palace court yard, by the order of the king. When the Buddha was told about these two incidents, he said that those who are mindful do not die; but those who are negligent are as good as dead even while living.
In other words, the heedful , diligent and wise ones will practice and strive on to achieve nibbana. whereas those who are heedless, not mindful will not attain and live as if like the dead.
Verse 24 (The energetic prosper)
Uṭṭhānavato satīmato,2 sucikammassa nisammakārino Saññatassa ca dhammajīvino, appamattassa yaso’bhivaḍḍhati Whoever is energetic, pure in conduct, considerate, self-restrained, leading a righteous life and mindful; the fame and fortune of him increases steadily.
Related story: The Millionaire Kumbhaghosaka
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 24 with reference to Kumbhaghosaka, the banker. At one time, a plague epidemic broke out in the city of Rajagaha. In the house of the city banker, the servants died on account of this disease. The banker and his wife were also attacked by the same disease and told their young son Kumbhaghosaka to leave them and flee from the house. They also told him where they had buried a treasure worth forty crores. The son left the city and stayed in a forest for twelve years before going back to the city.
By that time, he was quite a grown up youth and nobody in the city recognized him. He went to the place where the treasure was hidden and found it was quite intact. As nobody could identify him, if he were to unearth the buried treasure and make use of it people might think a young poor man had accidentally come upon buried treasure and report it to the king. In that case, his property would be confiscated and he might be put in captivity. So he concluded that it was not yet time to unearth the treasure and he must find work for his living first. Dressed in old clothes Kumbhaghosaka looked for work. He was given the work of waking up and rousing the people to get up early in the morning and of going round announcing that it was time to prepare food, time to fetch carts and yoke the bullocks, etc.
One morning, King Bimbisara heard him and commented: "This is the voice of a man of great wealth." A maid, hearing the king's remark, sent someone to investigate. He reported that the youth was only a laborer. Despite this report the king repeated the same remark on two subsequent days. Again, enquiries were made but with the same result. The maid thought that this was very strange, so she asked the king to give her permission to go and investigate personally.
The maid and her daughter disguised themselves as travelers and asked for shelter in the house of Kumbhaghosaka just for one night. They managed to prolong their stay there. During that period, twice the king proclaimed that a certain ceremony must be performed in the locality of the laborers and that every household must make contributions. Kumbhaghosaka had no ready cash so he was forced to get some coins (Kahapanas) from his treasure. As these coins were handed over to the maid, she substituted them with her money and sent the coins to the king. After some time, she sent a message to the king asking him to send some men and summon Kumbhaghosaka to the court. Kumbhaghosaka, very reluctantly, went along with the men.
At the palace, the king told Kumbhaghosaka to speak out the truth and gave him assurance that he would not be harmed on this account. Kumbhaghosaka then admitted that those Kahapanas were his and also that he was the son of the city banker from Rajagaha, who died in the plague epidemic twelve years ago. He further revealed the place where the treasure was hidden. Subsequently, all the buried treasure was brought to the palace; the king made him a banker and gave his daughter in marriage to him.
Afterwards, taking Kumbhaghosaka along with him, the king went to the Buddha at the Veluvana monastery and told him how the youth, though rich, was earning his living as a hireling of the labourers, and how he had appointed the youth a banker. That's when Buddha uttered this Verse 24.
In other words, if someone perseveres, does a right livelihood and stays mindful of his speech and actions then he will be rewarded one day.
Verse 25 (The Wise Protect Themselves)
Uṭṭhānenappamādena, saṃyamena damena ca Dīpaṃ kayirātha medhāvī, yaṃ ogho n’ābhikīrati
Through his earnestness, mindfulness, discipline in terms of moral precepts and self-restraint, let the wise man make (of himself) an island which no flood can overwhelm.
Related Story: The Elder Cūḷapanthaka
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 25 with reference to Culapanthaka, a grandson of a banker of Rajagaha.
The banker had two grandsons, named Mahapanthaka and Culapanthaka. Mahapanthaka, being the elder, used to accompany his grandfather to listen to religious discourses. Later, Mahapanthaka joined the monks Order and in due course became an arahat. Culapanthaka followed his brother and became a bhikkhu (monk). But because of a previous existence, Culapanthaka had made fun of a monk being dull hence in this present existence he was very dull. He could not even memorize one verse in four months. Mahapanthaka was very disappointed with his younger brother and even told him to leave the Order.
One day, Jivaka invited the Buddha and the resident bhikkhus to his house for a meal. Mahapanthaka, who was then in charge of assigning the bhikkhus to meal invitations, left out Culapanthaka from the list. Culapanthaka felt very frustrated and decided that he would return to the life of a householder. Knowing his intention, the Buddha took him along and made him sit in front of the Gandhakuti hall. He then gave a clean piece of cloth to Culapanthaka and told him to sit there facing east and rub the piece of cloth. At the same time he was to repeat the word "Rajoharanam", which means "taking on impurity."
Meanwhile, Culapanthaka went on rubbing the piece of cloth, all the time muttering the word "Rajoharanam". Very soon, the cloth became soiled. Seeing this change in the condition of the cloth, Culapanthaka realized the impermanent nature of all conditioned things. From the house of Jivaka, the Buddha learnt about the progress of Culapanthaka. He sent forth his radiance to Culapanthaka and the Buddha appeared to be sitting in front of him, saying: "It is not the piece of cloth alone that is made dirty by the dust; within oneself also there exist the dust of lust (raga), the dust of ill will (dosa), and the dust of ignorance (moha), i.e., the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. Only by removing these could one achieve one's goal and attain arahatship". Culapanthaka got the message and kept on meditating and in a short while attained arahantship, together with Analytical Insight.
At the house of Jivaka, they were about to pour libation water as a mark of donation; but the Buddha covered the bowl with his hand and asked if there were any bhikkhus left at the monastery. On being answered that there were none, the Buddha replied that there was one and directed them to fetch Culapanthaka from the monastery. When the messenger arrived at the monastery he found not only one monk, but a thousand identical monks which were created by Culapanthaka by his supernormal powers The messenger was baffled and hereported the matter to Jivaka. The messenger was sent to the monastery for the second time and was instructed to say that the Buddha summoned the bhikkhu by the name of Culapanthaka. But when he delivered the message, a thousand voices responded, "I am Culapanthaka." Again baffled, he turned back for the second time. Then he was sent to the monastery, for the third time. This time, he was instructed to get hold of the bhikkhu who first said that he was Culapanthaka. As soon as he got hold of that bhikkhu all the rest disappeared and Culapanthaka accompanied the messenger to the house of Jivaka. After the meal, as directed by the Buddha, Culapanthaka delivered a religious discourse confidently and bravely, roaring like a young lion.
Later, when the subject of Culapanthaka cropped up among the bhikkhus, the Buddha said that monk was diligent and steadfast in his striving would certainly attain arahatship.
In other words, if one is diligent and disciplined, through one's own effort, one can achieve enlightenment.
The foolish and the ignorant ones indulge in heedlessness; the wise man guards mindfulness as the chief treasure.
Mā pamādamanuyuñjetha, mā kāmaratisanthavaṃ Appamatto hi jhāyanto, pappoti vipulaṃ sukhaṃ.
Therefore one should not be heedless and should not be addicted to sensual pleasures. One who is established in mindfulness, through his cultivation of Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice will experience supreme happiness. (Nibbana)
Related Story: The Balanakkhatta Festival
White residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 26 and 27, in connection with the Balanakkhatta festival.
At one time, the Balanakkhatta festival was being celebrated in Savatthi. During the festival, many young men will do foolish acts like smearing themselves with ashes and cow-dung while roaming about the city shouting and making themselves a nuisance to the public. They would also stop at the doors of others and will not leave until they are given some money.
At that time there were many lay disciples of the Buddha, living in Savatthi. On account of these foolish young hooligans, they sent word to the Buddha, requesting him to stay put at the monastery and not to enter the city for 7 days. They sent alms-food to the monastery and they themselves stayed in their own houses. On the 8th day after the festival was over, the Buddha and his disciples were invited into the city for alms-food and other offerings. On being told about the vulgar and shameful behaviour of the foolish young men during the festival, the Buddha commented that it was in the nature of the foolish and the ignorant ones to behave shamelessly whereas the wise will be mindful and heedful. In other words, we should not be addicted to our sensual pleasures and desires. But instead we should be mindful at all times and cultivate ourselves spiritually.
Just like a mountaineer in the mountains looks down on those who live in the valley, The wise one dispels headlessness by means of mindfulness He is free from sorrow and ascends to the Tower of Wisdom, He looks down at the foolish and the ignorant (worldlings) below.
Related story: The Elder Mahākassapa
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 29 with reference to Thera Mahakassapa. On one occasion, while Thera Mahakassapa was staying at Pipphali cave, he spent his time using his Divine Vision to comprehend the birth and death of beings who were mindful and beings who were negligent, also those who were about to die and those who were about to be born.
From his monastery, the Buddha saw what Thera Mahakassapa was doing and wanted to warn him that he was wasting his time. So he sent forth his radiance and appeared seated before the Mahakassapa and exhorted him thus: "My son Kassapa, the number of births and deaths of beings is innumerable and cannot be counted. It is not your concern to count them; it is the concern only of the Buddhas." (only a Buddha who could comprehend the totality of existences). In other words, the wise ones being mindful and heedful, gains wisdom and is free from suffering unlike the ignorant ones.
The mindful one is awake whereas the heedless is sleeping, The wise man forges ahead like a swift horse outdistancing a feeble hack.
Related story: Two Companion Bhikkhus (Monks)
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha mentioned Verse 29 with reference to two bhikkhus, who were friends.
Two bhikkhus, after obtaining a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went to a monastery in the forest. One of them, being negligent, spent his time warming himself by the fire. talking to young novices and generally idling away his time. The other one faithfully performed the duties of a bhikkhu. He did walking meditation during the first watch, rested during the second watch and again meditated during the last watch of the night. The second bhikkhu attained arahatship (enlightenment) within a short time because he is diligent and mindful.
At the end of the rainy season (vassa) both of them went to pay obeisance to the Buddha, and the Buddha asked them how they had spent their time during the vassa. The lazy and negligent bhikkhu replied that the other bhikkhu had been idling away his time, just lying down and sleeping. The Buddha then asked, "But, what about you?" His reply was that he generally sat warming himself by the fire during the first watch of the night and then sat up without sleeping. But the Buddha knew very well how the two bhikkhus had spent their time, so he said to the idle one: "Though you are lazy and negligent but you claim to be diligent and ever mindful. You accused the other bhikkhu is lazy and negligent though he is diligent and mindful. You are like a weak and slow horse compared to him who is like a strong, fleet-footed horse."
In other words, those who are diligent and mindful are the wise ones who progresses far better than those who are negligent and idle. Strive on practicing.
Through mindfulness, Maghava attained became the king of the devas. Mindfulness is always praised whereas un-mindfulness is always blamed.
Related story: How the Youth Magha Became Sakka
While residing at the Kutagara monastery near Vesali, the Buddha uttered Verse 30 with reference to Sakka, king of the devas.
On one occasion, a Licchavi prince, named Mahali, came to listen to Sakkapanha Sutta given by the Buddha. Mahali wondered if Buddha had personally met Sakka before so he asked the Buddha and the latter replied, "Mahali, I do know Sakka; I also know what has made him a Sakka."
He then told Mahali that Sakka, king of the devas, was in a previous existence a young man by the name of Magha, in the village of Macala. The youth Magha and his thirty-two companions went about building roads and rest houses for other fellow beings. Magha took upon himself also to observe seven obligations throughout his life. They are (1) supporting his parents; (2) respect the elders ; (3) use gentle speech; (4) avoid slander (5)not avaricious but would be generous in giving alms (6) speak the truth (7) restrain himself from losing his temper.
It was because of his good deeds and right conduct in that existence that Magha was reborn as Sakka, king of the devas along with his 32 companions, and their realm was thus known as the heaven of the Thirty-three (Tāvatiṃsa). In other words, if one is mindful and do good deeds, they will be praised and will be rewarded for their virtuous conduct.
A monk who takes delight in mindfulness and sees danger in negligence, advances like fire, burning up all fetters, great and small.
Related story: story of a certain monk
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 31 of this book, with reference to a certain bhikkhu (monk).
A certain bhikkhu, after obtaining a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went to the forest to meditate. Although he tried very hard, he made very little progress. As a result, he became very depressed and frustrated.
He decided to get further instructions from the Buddha who was at the Jetavana monastery. On his way, he came across a big blazing fire. He ran up to the top of a mountain and observed the fire from there. As the fire spread, it suddenly occurred to him that just as the fire burnt up everything, so also does the heat of the Noble eightfold path will burn up all fetters of life, big and small.
Meanwhile from the Gandhakuti hall in the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha was aware of what the monk was thinking. So he transmitted his radiance, appeared before the bhikkhu and spoke to him. "My son," he said, "you are on the right line of thought; keep it up. All beings must burn up all fetters of life with Noble eightfold path's insight."
In other words, one who is always mindful and following the noble eightfold path , will be able to progress further and eliminate all fetters of life.
The monk who delights in mindfulness, who regards heedlessness with fear is not liable to regression He is near to nibbāna.
Related story: Thera Nigamavasitissa
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 32 with reference to Thera Nigamavasitissa.
Nigamavasitissa was born and brought up in a small market town near Savatthi. After becoming a monk he lived a very simple life, with very few wants. For alms-food, he used to go to the village where his relatives were staying and took whatever they offered to him. He kept away from big occasions. Even when Anathapindika and King Pasenadi of Kosala made offerings on a grand scale, the monk did not go.
Some bhikkhus thought that he was still attached to his relatives. When the Buddha was told about this, he sent for the thera and asked him. The thera respectfully explained to the Buddha that it was true he frequently went to his village but it was only to get alms-food, when he had received enough food, he did not go any further, and he never cared whether the food was delicious or not.
Instead of reprimanding him, Buddha praised him for his conduct in the presence of the other bhikkhus (monks). He told them that to live contentedly with only a few wants is in conformity with the practice of the Buddha and the Noble Ones (Ariyas) and encourage them to follow the great example of Thera Tissa.
In this connection, he further related the story of the king of the parrots. Once upon a time, the king of the parrots lived in a grove of fig trees on the banks of the Ganges river, with a large number of his followers. When the fruits were eaten, all the parrots left the grove, except the parrot king, who was well contented with whatever was left in the tree where he dwelt, be it shoot or leaf or bark.
Sakka (king of gods) after knowing this, he wanted to test the virtue of the parrot king. Then, assuming the form of geese, Sakka and his queen, Sujata, came to where the parrot king was and asked him why he did not leave the old withered tree as the others had done and why he did not go to other trees which were still bearing fruits.
The parrot king replied, "Because i have a feeling of gratitude towards the tree so I did not leave and as long as I could get just enough food to sustain myself. It would be ungrateful for me to desert this tree even though it has withered."
Impressed by his reply, Sakka revealed himself. He took water from the Ganges and poured it over the withered fig tree and instantly, it was rejuvenated; with branches lush and green, and fully decked with fruits. Thus, the wise even as animals are not greedy; they are contented with whatever is available.
In other words, one who is mindful, diligent in his practice, virtuous and contented will be on the right track to enlightenment (Nibbana).