Verse273: Of paths, the Path of Eight Constituents is the noblest; of truths, the Four Noble Truths are the noblest; of the dhammas, the absence of craving (i.e., Nibbana) is the noblest; of the two-legged beings, the All-Seeing Buddha is the noblest. Verse 274: This is the only Path, and there is none other for the purity of vision. Follow this Path; it will bewilder Mara. Verse 275: Following this Path, you will make an end of dukkha. Having myself known the Path which can lead to the removal of the thorns of moral defilements, I have shown you the Path. Verse 276: You yourselves should make the effort; the Tathagatas (Buddhas) only can show the way. Those who practise the Tranquillity and Insight Meditation are freed from the bond of Mara.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse273-276: Five Hundred Bhikkhus
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses273 to 276 with reference to five hundred bhikkhus.
Five hundred bhikkhus, after accompanying the Buddha to a village, returned to the Jetavana monastery. In the evening they talked about the trip, especially the nature of the land, whether it was level or hilly, clayey or stony, etc. The Buddha came to them in the midst of their conversation and said to them, "Bhikkhus, the path you are talking about is external to you; a bhikkhu should only be concerned with the path of the Noble Ones (ariyas) and strive to do what should be done for the attainment of the Ariya Path (Magga) that leads to the realization of the Perfect Peace (Nibbana)."
Verse277-279 All conditions are impermanent, unsatisfactory and and non-self “Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā”ti, yadā paññāya passati Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā" “Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā”ti, yadā paññāya passati Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā." “Sabbe dhammā1 anattā”ti, yadā paññāya passati Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā"
All conditioned things are impermanent.’ When one sees this with insight (panna) one becomes weary of suffering. This is the Way to Purity.
‘All conditioned things are unsatisfactory.’ When one sees this with insight (panna) one becomes weary of suffering. This is the Way to Purity.
“All phenomena are not-self:” when one sees this with insight (panna) one is disenchanted with suffering; this is the path to purity.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse277-279: Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses277, 278 and 279 with reference to three groups of five hundred bhikkhus each.
On Impermanence (Anicca) Five hundred bhikkhus, after receiving their subject of meditation from the Buddha, went into the forest to practise meditation, but they made little progress. So, they returned to the Buddha to ask for another subject of meditation which would suit them better. On reflection, the Buddha found that those bhikkhus had, during the time of Kassapa Buddha, meditated on impermanence. So, he said, "Bhikkhus, all conditioned phenomena are subject to change and decay and are therefore impermanent." Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows: Verse277: "All conditioned phenomena are impermanent"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.At the end of the discourse those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahantship.
On Dukkha The story is the same as the story on Anicca. Here, the Buddha on reflection found that another group of five hundred bhikkhus had meditated on dukkha. So, he said, "Bhikkhus, all khandha aggregates are oppressive and unsatisfactory; thus all khandhas are dukkha." Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows: Verse 278: "All conditioned phenomena are dukkha"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.At the end of the discourse those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahantship. On Insubstantiality or Non-Self (Anatta) The story is the same as the stories on Anicca and Dukkha. Here, the Buddha on reflection found that still another group of five hundred bhikkhus had meditated on insubstantiality or non-self (anatta). So, he said, "Bhikkhus, all khandha aggregates are insubstantial; they are not subject to one's control." Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows: Verse 279: "All phenomena (dhammas) are without Self"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.At the end of the discourse all those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahantship.
The idler who does not strive when he should be striving, who though young and strong is given to idleness, whose thoughts are weak and wandering, does not by wisdom realise the Path.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse280: Thera Tissa the Idle One
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse280, with reference to Tissa, a lazy bhikkhu.
Once, five hundred young men were admitted into the Order by the Buddha in Savatthi. After receiving a subject of meditation from the Buddha, all the new bhikkhus except one went to the forest to practise meditation. They practised zealously and vigilantly so that in due course all of them attained arahantship. When they returned to the monastery to pay homage to him, the Buddha was very pleased and satisfied with their achievement. Bhikkhu Tissa who stayed behind did not try hard and therefore achieved nothing.
When Tissa found that the relationship between the Buddha and those bhikkhus was very cordial and intimate, he felt rather neglected, and regretted that he had wasted all that time. So he resolved to practise meditation throughout the night. As he was doing walking meditation that night, he slipped and broke a thigh bone. Other bhikkhus hearing his cry went to help him.
On hearing about the above incident the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, one who does not strive when he should be striving but idle away his time will not attain mental absorption (jhana) and Magga Insight."
Guarded in speech, as well as controlled in mind, let one do no (ethically) unskilful thing with the body. Purifying these three avenues of action, let him attain the Way made known by the sages.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse281: Swine-Peta
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse281 with reference to a swine-peta.
Once Thera Maha Moggallana was coming down the Gijjhakuta hill with Thera Lakkhana when he saw a miserable, ever-hungry peta, with the head of a swine and the body of a human being. On seeing the peta, Thera Maha Moggallana smiled but did not say anything. Back at the monastery, Thera Maha Moggallana, in the presence of the Buddha, talked about the swine-peta with its mouth swarming with maggots.
The Buddha also said that he himself had seen that very peta soon after his attainment of Buddhahood, but that he did not say anything about it because people might not believe him and thus they would be doing wrong to him. Then the Buddha proceeded to relate the story about the swine-peta.
During the time of Kassapa Buddha, this particular peta was a bhikkhu who often expounded the Dhamma. On one occasion, he came to a monastery where two bhikkhus were staying together. After staying with those two for some time, he found that he was doing quite well because people liked his expositions. Then it occurred to him that it would be even better if he could make the other two bhikkhus leave the place and have the monastery all to himself. Thus, he tried to set one against the other. The two bhikkhus quarrelled and left the monastery in different directions. On account of this evil deed, that bhikkhu was reborn in Avici Niraya and he was serving out the remaining part of his term of suffering as a swine-peta with its mouth swarming with maggots. Then the Buddha exhorted, "A bhikkhu should be calm and well-restrained in thought, word and deed."
From meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes. Knowing this twofold path of gain and loss, let one so conduct oneself so that wisdom increases.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse282: Thera Potthila
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse282, with reference to Thera Potthila. Potthila was a senior bhikkhu who knew the Pitaka well and was actually teaching the Dhamma to five hundred bhikkhus. Because he knew the Pitaka, he was also very conceited. The Buddha knew his weakness and wanted him to mend his ways and put him on the right path. So, whenever Potthila came to pay obeisance, the Buddha would address him as 'Useless Potthila'.
When Potthila heard these remarks, he pondered over those words of the Buddha and came to realize that the Buddha had made those unkind remarks because he, Potthila, had not made any serious effort to practise meditation and had not achieved any of the Maggas or even any level of mental absorption (jhana).
Thus, without telling anyone Thera Potthila left for a monastery at a place twenty yojanas away from the Jetavana monastery. At that monastery there were thirty bhikkhus. First, he went to the most senior bhikkhu and humbly requested him to be his mentor; but the thera, wishing to humble him, asked him to go to the next senior bhikkhu, who in his turn sent him on to the next. In this way, he was sent from one to the other until he came to a seven year old arahat samanera.
The young samanera accepted him as a pupil only after ascertaining that Potthila would obediently follow his instructions. As instructed by the samanera, Thera Potthila kept his mind firmly fixed on the true nature of the body; he was very ardent and vigilant in his meditation.
The Buddha saw Potthila in his vision and through supernormal power made Potthila feel his presence and encouraged him to be steadfast and ardent. At the end of the discourse Potthila attained arahatship.
Verse283-284 Be without attachment Vanaṃ chindatha mā rukkhaṃ, vanato jāyati bhayaṃ Chetvā vanañca vanathañca, nibbanā hotha bhikkhavo
Yāva hi vanatho na chijjati, aṇumatto’pi narassa nārisu Paṭibaddhamano1 tāva so, vaccho khīrapako’va mātari.
Verse283: O bhikkhus, cut down the forest of craving, not the real tree; the forest of craving breeds danger (of rebirth). Cut down the forest of craving as well as its undergrowth and be free from craving. Verse 284: So long as the craving of man for woman is not cut down and the slightest trace of it remains, so long is his mind in bondage as the calf is bound to its mother.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse283-284: Five Old Bhikkhus
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses283 and 284 with reference to five old bhikkhus.
Once, in Savatthi, there were five friends who became bhikkhus only in their old age. These five bhikkhus were in the habit of going together to their old homes for alms-food. Of the former wives of those five, one lady in particular, by the name of Madhurapacika was a good cook and she looked after them very well. Thus, the five bhikkhus went mostly to her house. But one day, Madhurapacika fell ill and died suddenly. The old bhikkhus felt their loss very deeply and together they cried praising her virtues and lamenting their loss. The Buddha called those bhikkhus to him and said, "Bhikkhus! You all are feeling pain and sorrow because you are not free from greed, hatred, and ignorance (raga, dosa, moha), which are like a forest. Cut down this forest and you will be freed from greed, hatred and ignorance."
Verse 285 Path to peace Ucchinda sineham attano, kumudaṃ sāradikaṃ ’va [pāṇinā] Santimaggam eva brūhaya, nibbānaṃ sugatena desitaṃ
Cut off your craving as one plucks an autumn lily with the hand. Nibbana has been expounded on by the Buddha; cultivate that Path which leads to it.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse285: Thera who had been a Goldsmith
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse285 with reference to a bhikkhu, a pupil of Thera Sariputta.
Once, a young, handsome son of a goldsmith was admitted into the Order by Thera Sariputta. The young bhikkhu was given loathsomeness of the dead body as the subject of meditation by Thera Sariputta. After taking the subject of meditation he left for the forest and practised meditation there; but he made very little progress. So he returned twice to Thera Sariputta for further instructions. Still, he made no progress. So Thera Sariputta took the young bhikkhu to the Buddha, and related everything about the young bhikkhu.
The Buddha knew that the young bhikkhu was the son of a goldsmith, and also that he had been born in the family of goldsmiths during his past five hundred existences. Therefore the Buddha changed the subject of meditation for the young bhikkhu; instead of loathsomeness, he was instructed to meditate on pleasantness. With his supernormal power, the Buddha created a beautiful lotus flower as big as a cart-wheel and told the young bhikkhu to stick it on the mound of sand just outside the monastery. The young bhikkhu, concentrating on the big, beautiful, fragrant lotus flower, was able to get rid of the hindrances. He was filled with delightful satisfaction (piti), and step by step he progressed until he reached as far as the fourth level of mental absorption (jhana). The Buddha saw him from his perfumed chamber and with his supernormal power made the flower wither instantly. Seeing the flower wither and change its colour, the bhikkhu perceived the impermanent nature of the flower and of all other things and beings. That led to the realization of the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and the insubstantiality of all conditioned things. At that instant, the Buddha sent forth his radiance and appeared as if in person to the young bhikkhu and instructed him to get rid of craving (tanha).
"Here will I live in the rainy season; here will I live in the cold season and the hot season", so imagines the fool, not realizing the danger (of approaching death).
Story related to Dhammapada Verse286: Mahadhana, a Merchant
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 286 with reference to Mahadhana, a merchant from Baranasi.
Once, a merchant from Baranasi came to a festival in Savatthi with five hundred carts fully loaded with textiles and other merchandise. When he reached a river bank near Savatthi the river was in spate; so he could not cross the river. He was held up for seven days as it was raining hard and the water did not subside. By that time, he was already late for the festival, and there was no need for him to cross the river.
Since he had come from a long distance he did not want to return home with his full load of merchandise. So he decided to spend the rainy season, the cold season and the hot season in that place and said so to his assistants. The Buddha while going on an alms-round knew the decision of the merchant and he smiled.
Ananda asked the Buddha why he smiled and the Buddha replied, "Ananda, do you see that merchant? He is thinking that he would stay here and sell his goods the whole year. He is not aware that he would die here in seven days' time. What should be done should be done today. Who would know that one would die tomorrow? We have no date fixed with the King of Death. For one who is mindful by day or by night, who is not disturbed by moral defilements and is energetic, to live for just one night is a well-spent life."
Then the Buddha sent Ananda to Mahadhana, the merchant. Ananda explained to Mahadhana that time was running out for him, and that he should practise mindfulness instead of being negligent. On learning about his impending death, Mahadhana was alarmed and frightened. So, for seven days, he invited the Buddha and other bhikkhus for alms-food. On the seventh day, the Buddha expounded a discourse in appreciation (anumodana). At the end of the discourse Mahadhana the merchant attained Sotapatti Fruition. He followed the Buddha for some distance and returned. On his return, he had a severe headache and passed away soon after. Mahadhana was reborn in the Tusita deva world.
That infatuated man whose delight is in offspring and cattle, death goes and carries him off as a great flood (sweeps away) a sleeping village.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse287: Kisagotami
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse287 with reference to Kisagotami, the daughter of a rich man from Savatthi. Kisagotami came to the Buddha as she was stricken with grief due to the death of her only son. To her the Buddha said, "Kisagotami, you think you are the only one who has lost a son. Death comes to all beings; before their desires are satiated Death takes them away."
Verse 288 - 289 No protection at the moment of death Na santi puttā tāṇāya, na pitā na’pi bandhavā Antakenādhipannassa, natthi ñātisu tāṇatā
Etam atthavasaṃ ñatvā, paṇḍito sīlasaṃvuto Nibbānagamanaṃ maggaṃ, khippam eva visodhaye.
Not sons, nor parents, nor close relatives can protect one assailed by Death; indeed, neither kith nor kin can give protection.
Realising this fact, let the virtuous and wise person swiftly clear the way that leads to nibbāna.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse288-289: Patacara While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses288 and 289 with reference to Patacara, the daughter of a rich man from Savatthi. As Patacara had lost her husband and her two sons, as well as her parents and three brothers almost at the same time, she was driven to near insanity. When she approached the Buddha, he said to her, "Patacara, sons and daughters cannot look after you; so even if they are alive they do not exist for you. The wise man observes morality (sila) and clears (the obstacles to) the Path leading to Nibbana."