Taṃ vo vadāmi bhaddaṃ vo, yāvant’ettha samāgatā Taṇhāya mūlaṃ khanatha, usīrattho’va bīraṇaṃ Mā vo naḷaṃ ’va soto’va, māro bhañji punappunaṃ.337 The craving of one who lives heedlessly grows like a creeper. He jumps from life to life like a monkey seeking fruits in the forest.
Whomsoever craving overcomes in this world, his sorrows flourish like well-watered bīraṇa grass.
Whoever overcomes this unruly craving in this world, his sorrows fall away like water-drops from a lotus-leaf.
I say this to you: Good luck to all who have assembled here! Dig up the root of craving like one in quest of bīraṇa’s sweet root. Do not let Māra crush you again and again as a flood (crushes) a reed.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 334-337: Kapila the Fish
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 334, 335, 336 and 337 of this book, with reference to a fish with a lovely, golden color and a stinking mouth. During the time of Kassapa Buddha, there was a bhikkhu named Kapila, who was very learned in the Pitakas. Because of his great learning he gained much fame and fortune; he also became very conceited and was full of contempt for other bhikkhus. When other bhikkhus pointed out to him, what was proper or not proper he invariably retorted, "How much do you know?" implying that he knew much more than those bhikkhus.
In course of time, all good bhikkhus shunned him and only the bad ones gathered round him. On one sabbath day, while the bhikkhus were reciting the Fundamental Precepts for the bhikkhus (i.e., the Patimokkha) Kapila said, "There is no such thing as Sutta, Abhidhamma, or Vinaya. It makes no difference whether you have a chance to listen to the Patimokkha or not, " etc., and left the congregation of the bhikkhus. Thus, Kapila was a hindrance to the development and growth of the Teaching (Sasana).
For this evil deed, Kapila had to suffer in niraya(hell) between the time of Kassapa Buddha and Gotama Buddha. Later, he was reborn as a fish in the Aciravati River. That fish, as mentioned above, had a very beautiful golden body, but his mouth had a very horrid, offensive smell. One day, that fish was caught by some fishermen, and because it was so beautiful, they took it in a boat to the king.
The king, in his turn took the fish to the Buddha. When the fish opened its mouth, the horrid and offensive smell spread all around. The king then asked the Buddha why such a beautiful fish should have such a horrid and offensive smell. To the king and the audience, the Buddha explained, "O king! During the time of Kassapa Buddha there was a very learned bhikkhu who taught the Dhamma to others. Because of that good deed, when he was reborn in another existence, even as a fish, he was endowed with a golden body. But that bhikkhu was very greedy, proud and very contemptuous of others; he also disregarded the Disciplines and abused other bhikkhus. For these evil deeds, he was reborn in niraya, and now, he has become a beautiful fish with a mouth that stinks." The Buddha then turned to the fish and asked whether it knew where it would be going in its next existence. The fish answered that it would have to go again to niraya and it was filled with great despair. As predicted, on its death the fish was reborn in niraya, to undergo another term of continuous torment.
All those present hearing about the fish got alarmed. To then, the Buddha gave a discourse on the benefits of combining learning with practice.
Just as a tree with roots unharmed and firm, though hewn down, sprouts again, even so while latent craving is not rooted out, this sorrow springs up again and again.
If in anyone the thirty-six streams (of craving) that rush towards pleasurable thoughts are strong, such a deluded person, torrential thoughts of lust carry off.
The streams (craving) flow everywhere. The creeper (craving) sprouts and stands. Seeing the creeper that has sprung up, with wisdom cut off root.
In beings there arise pleasures that rush (towards sense-objects) and (such beings) are steeped in craving. Bent on happiness, they seek happiness. truly, such men come to birth and decay.
Folk enwrapt in craving are terrified like a captive hare. Held fast by fetters and bonds, for long they come to sorrow again and again.
Folk, enwrapt in craving, are terrified like a captive hare. Therefore a monk who desires dispassion should discard craving.
Story related to dhammapada verse 338-343: Young Sow
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 338) to 343 with reference to a young sow. On one occasion, while the Buddha was on an alms-round at Rajagaha, he saw a young dirty sow and smiled. When asked by the Venerable Ananda, the Buddha replied, "Ananda, this young sow was a hen during the time of Kakusandha Buddha. As she was then staying near a refectory in a monastery she used to hear the recitation of the sacred text and the discourses on the Dhamma. When she died she was reborn as a princess. On one occasion, while going to the latrine, the princess noticed the maggots and she became mindful of the loathsomeness of the body, etc. When she died she was reborn in the Brahma realm as a puthujjana brahma but later due to some evil kamma, she was reborn as a sow. Ananda! Look, on account of good and evil kamma there is no end of the round of existences."
Verse 344 Returning to Lay Life is Foolish
Yo nibbanatho vanadhimutto vanamutto vanameva dhavati tam puggalametha passatha mutto bandhanameva dhavati. Whoever with no desire (for the household) finds pleasure in the forest (of asceticism) and though freed from desire (for the household), (yet) runs back to that very home. Come, behold that man! Freed, he runs back into that very bondage
Story related to dhammapada verse 344: Ex-Bhikkhu
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 344 with reference to a bhikkhu who was a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa. As a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa, this bhikkhu had achieved the four mental absorptions (jhanas). But one day, as he went for alms-food to his uncle's house, he saw a woman and felt a great desire to have her. Then he left the Order of the bhikkhus. As a layman, he was a failure as he did not work hard.
So, his uncle drove him out of the house, and subsequently he became mixed up with some thieves. All of them were caught by the authorities and were taken to the cemetery to be executed. The Venerable Mahakassapa saw his pupil as he was being led out and said to him, "My pupil, keep your mind steadfastly on a subject of meditation."
As instructed, he concentrated and let himself be established in deep mental absorption. At the cemetery, while the executioners were making preparations to kill him, the ex-bhikkhu was very much composed and showed no signs of fear or anxiety. The executioners and the onlookers were awe-struck and very much impressed by the man's courage and composure and they reported about him to the king and also to the Buddha. The king gave orders to release the man. The Buddha on hearing about the matter sent his radiance and appeared to the thief as if in person. At the end of the discourse, the thief who was steadfastly keeping his mind on the arising and perishing of the aggregates discerned the impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self nature of all conditioned things and soon attained Sotapatti Fruition. Later, he went to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery where he was again admitted to the Order by the Buddha and he instantly attained arahatship.
Verse 345-346: Attachment is Stronger Than Chains
Na taṃ daḷhaṃ bandhanam āhu dhīrā, yadāyasaṃ dārujapabbajañca Sārattarattā maṇikuṇḍalesu, puttesu dāresu ca yā apekhā 345
That which is made of iron, wood or hemp, is not a strong bond, say the wise; the longing for jewels, ornaments, children, and wives is a far greater attachment .
That bond is strong, say the wise. It hurls down, is supple, and is hard to loosen. This too the wise cut off, and leave the world, with no longing, renouncing sensual pleasures.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 345-346: Imprisonment
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 345 and 346 with reference to some thieves who were kept in chains.
One day, thirty bhikkhus came into Savatthi for alms-food. While they were on their alms-round, they saw some prisoners being brought out with their hands and legs in chains. Back at the monastery, after relating what they had seen in the morning, they asked the Buddha whether there were any other bonds stronger than these.
To them the Buddha answered, "Bhikkhus! These bonds are nothing compared to those of craving for food and clothing, for riches and for family. Craving is a thousand times, a hundred thousand times stronger than those chains, hand-cuffs and cages. That is the reason why the wise cut off craving and renounce the world and enter the Order of the bhikkhus."
Verse 347 : The Lustful Are Caught in Their Own Web Ye rāgarattānupatanti sotaṃ, sayaṃ kataṃ makkaṭako’va jālaṃ Etam pi chetvāna vajanti dhīrā, anapekkhino sabbadukkhaṃ pahāya
Those who are infatuated with lust fall back into the stream as (does) a spider into the web spun by itself. This too the wise cut off and wander, with no longing, released from all sorrow.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 347: Theri Khema
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 347 with reference to Queen Khema. Queen Khema was the chief queen of King Bimbisara. She was very beautiful and also very proud. The king wanted her to go to the Veluvana monastery and pay homage to the Buddha. But she had heard that the Buddha always talked disparagingly about beauty and she therefore tried to avoid seeing the Buddha. The king understood her attitude towards the Buddha; he also know how proud she was of her beauty. So the king ordered his minstrels to sing in praise of the Veluvana monastery, about its pleasant and peaceful atmosphere, etc. Hearing them, Queen Khema became interested and decided to set out for the Veluvana monastery.
When Queen Khema arrived at the monastery, the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma to an audience. By his supernormal power, the Buddha made a very beautiful young lady appear, sitting not far from him, and fanning him. When Queen Khema came to the audience hall, she alone saw the beautiful young lady. Comparing the exquisite beauty of the young lady to that of her own, Khema realised that her beauty was much inferior to that of the young lady. As she looked again intently at the young lady her beauty began to fade gradually. In the end, she saw before her eyes an old decrepit being, which again changed into a corpse, her stinking body being attacked by maggots. At that instant, Queen Khema realized the impermanence and worthlessness of beauty.
The Buddha knowing the state of her mind remarked, "O Khema! Look carefully at this decaying body which is built around a skeleton of bones and is subject to disease and decay. Look carefully at the body which is thought of so highly by the foolish. Look at the worthlessness of the beauty of this young girl." After hearing this, Queen Khema attained Sotapatti Fruition.
At the end of the discourse Queen Khema attained arahantship and was admitted to the Order and became the Chief Female Disciple of the Buddha.
Verse 348 : Let Go Muñca pure muñca pacchato, majjhe muñca bhavassa pāragū Sabbattha vimuttamānaso, na puna jātijaraṃ upehisi.
Let go of the past. Let go of the future. Let go of the present. Crossing to the farther shore of existence, with mind released from everything, do not again undergo birth and decay.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 348: Uggasena
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 348 with reference to Uggasena, a rich man's son who fell in love with a dancer.
Once, a wandering theatrical troupe consisting of five hundred dancers and some acrobats came to Rajagaha and performed on the grounds of the palace of King Bimbisara for seven days. There, a young dancer who was the daughter of an acrobat sang and danced on top of a long bamboo pole. Uggasena, the young son of a rich man, fell desperately in love with this dancer and his parents could not stop him from marrying her. He married the young dancer and followed the troupe. As he was not a dancer nor an acrobat, he was not of much use to the party. So, as the party moved from place to place, he had to help carry boxes, to drive the carts, etc.
In course of time, a son was born to Uggasena and his wife, the dancer. To this child, the dancer would often sing a song which ran thus: "O you, son of the man who keeps watch over the carts; the man who carries boxes and bundles! O , you, son of the ignorant one who can do nothing!" Uggasena heard the song; he knew that his wife was referring to him and he was very much hurt and depressed. So he went to his father-in-law, the acrobat, and requested him to teach him acrobatics. After a year's training, Uggasena became a skilful acrobat.
Then, Uggasena went back to Rajagaha, and it was proclaimed that Uggasena would publicly demonstrate his skill in seven days' time. On the seventh day, a long pole was put up and Uggasena stood on top of it. At a signal given from below he somersaulted seven times on the pole. At about this time, the Buddha saw Uggasena in his vision and knew that time was ripe for Uggasena to attain arahantship. So, he entered Rajagaha and willed that the audience should turn their attention to him instead of applauding Uggasena for his acrobatic feats. When Uggasena saw that he was being neglected and ignored, he just sat on top of the pole, feeling very discontented and depressed. The Buddha then addressed Uggasena, "Uggasena, a wise man should abandon all attachment to the khandha aggregates and strive to gain liberation from the round of rebirths." At the end of the discourse Uggasena, who was still on top of the pole, attained arahatship. He came down and was soon admitted to the Order by the Buddha
Vitakkūpasame ca yo rato, asubhaṃ bhāvayate sadā sato Esa kho byantikāhati, esa checchati mārabandhanaṃ.350
In a man who is disturbed by (sensual) thoughts, whose passions are strong, and who keeps seeing objects as being pleasant, craving grows more and more. Indeed, he makes his bondage strong.
He who delights in subduing (evil) thoughts, who meditates on “the loathesomeness” (of the body) who is ever mindful — he will make an end (of craving). He will sever Māra’s bond.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 349-350: Culadhanuggaha, the Skilful Archer
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 349 and 350, with reference to a young bhikkhu, who was a skillful archer in one of his previous existences.
Once a young bhikkhu took his alms-food in one of the shelters specially built for bhikkhus in town. After his meal he felt like drinking water. So he went to a house and asked for some drinking water, and a young woman came out to give him some water. As soon as this young woman saw the young bhikkhu she fell in love with him. Wishing to entice him, she invited the young bhikkhu to come to her house whenever he felt thirsty.
After some time, she invited him to her house for alms-food. On that day, she told him that they had everything they could wish for in the house, but that there was no male to look after their affairs, etc. Hearing those words, the young bhikkhu took the hint and he soon found himself to be more and more attached to the young, attractive woman. He became very much dissatisfied with his life as a bhikkhu and was getting thin. Other bhikkhus reported about him to the Buddha.
The Buddha called the young bhikkhu to his presence and said to him, "My son, listen to me. This young woman will be your undoing just as she had been to you in a previous existence. In one of your previous existences you were a very skillful archer and she was your wife. On one occasion, while the two of you were travelling, you came upon a gang of highwaymen. She fell in love with the gang leader. So, while you and the gang leader were engaged in fighting and you called out to her to give you the sword, she gave the sword to the robber who promptly killed you. Thus, she was the cause of your death. Now, too, she will be the cause of your ruin if you go after her and leave my Order for her sake." At the end of the discourse, the young bhikkhu attained Sotapatti Fruition.
Verse 351-352: Who Has Reached the Goal is Fearless
Niṭṭhaṅgato asantāsī, vītataṇho anaṅgaṇo Acchindi bhavasallāni, antimo’yaṃ samussayo.351 Vītataṇho anādāno, niruttipadakovido Akkharānaṃ sannipātaṃ, jaññā pubbaparāni ca Sa ve “antimasārīro, mahāpañño mahāpuriso”ti vuccati. 352 He who has attained arahatship is free from fear, free from craving, and free from moral defilements. He has cut off the thorns of existence (such as lust). This is the last existence (for him).
Who is without craving and grasping, who is skilled in ethmology and terms, who knows the grouping of letters and their sequence — he is called the bearer of the final body, one of profound wisdom, a great man.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 351-352: Mara
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 351 and 352, with reference to Mara who had come to frighten Samanera Rahula, son of Gotama Buddha.
On one occasion, a large number of bhikkhus arrived at the Jetavana monastery. To put up the guest bhikkhus, Samanera Rahula had to go and sleep near the door, just outside the chamber of the Buddha. Mara, wanting to annoy the Buddha through his son, took the form of an elephant and encircling the head of the samanera with his trunk made an alarming noise hoping to frighten him. But Rahula was unmoved. The Buddha, from his chamber, knew what was happening, and said, "O wicked Mara! Even a thousand such as you would not be able to frighten my son. My son has no fear, he is free from craving, he is vigilant, he is wise." Hearing the above words, Mara realized that the Buddha knew about his tricks and instantly disappeared.
Verse 353 The Omniscient One Has No Teacher
Sabbabhibhu sabbaviduhamasmi sabbesu dhammesu anupalitto sabbanjaho tanhakkhaye vimutto sayam abhinnaya kamuddiseyyam. I have overcome all, I know all, I am detached from all, I have given up all; I am liberated from moral defilements having eradicated craving, (i.e., I have attained arahatship). Having comprehended the Four Noble Truths by myself, whom should I point out as my teacher?
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 353: Upaka
The Buddha uttered Verse 353, in answer to the question put up by Upaka, a non-Buddhist ascetic, while the Buddha was on his way to the Deer Park (Migadaya) where the Group of Five Bhikkhus (Panca Vaggis) were staying.
The Buddha was going there to expound the Dhamma cakkappavattana Sutta to the Panca Vaggis, his old associates, viz., Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Assaji, and Mahanama. When Upaka saw Gotama Buddha, he was very much impressed by the radiant countenance of the Buddha and so said to him, "Friend, you look so serene and pure; may I know who your teacher is?" To him, the Buddha replied that he had no teacher. At the end of the discourse Upaka expressed neither approval nor disapproval but just nodded a few times and went on his way.
The gift of the Dhamma surpasses all gifts. The taste of the Dhamma surpasses all tastes. Delight in the Dhamma surpasses all delights. The destruction of craving overcomes all suffering.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 354: Questions Raised by Sakka While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 354 with reference to four questions raised by Sakka, king of the devas. On one occasion, at a meeting of the devas in the Tavatimsa realm, four questions were raised, but the devas failed to get the correct answers. Eventually, Sakka took these devas to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. After explaining their difficulty, Sakka presented the following four questions: (a) Among gifts, which is the best? (b) Among tastes, which is the best? (c) Among delights, which is the best? (d) Why is the eradication of craving said to be the most excellent? To these questions, the Buddha replied, "Oh Sakka, the Dhamma is the noblest of all gifts, the best of all tastes and the best of all delights. Eradication of Craving leads to the attainment of arahatship and is, therefore, the greatest of all conquests." At the end of the discourse, Sakka said to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, if the gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts, why are we not invited to share the merit whenever gifts of the Dhamma are made? Venerable Sir! I pray that, from now on, we may be given a share in the merit of good deeds". Then the Buddha asked all the bhikkhus to assemble and exhorted them to share the merit of all their good deeds with all beings. Since then, it has become a custom to invite all beings from the thirty-one realms (bhumis) to come and share merit whenever a good deed is done.
Verse 355 Riches ruin the fool
Hananti bhogā dummedhaṃ, no ve pāragavesino Bhogataṇhāya dummedho, hanti aññe’va attanā
Wealth destroys the foolish; but it cannot destroy those who seek Nibbana. By his craving for wealth the fool destroys himself, as he would destroy others.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 355: Childless Rich Man
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 355 with reference to a childless rich man.
On one occasion, King Pasenadi of Kosala came to pay homage to the Buddha. He explained to the Buddha that he was late because earlier that day a rich man had died in Savatthi without leaving any heirs, and so he had to confiscate all that man's property. Then, he proceeded to relate about the man, who, although very rich, was very stingy. While he lived, he did not give away anything in charity. He was reluctant to spend his money even on himself, and therefore, ate very sparingly and wore cheap, coarse clothes only.
On hearing this the Buddha told the king and the audience about the man in a past existence. In that existence also he was a rich man. One day, when a paccekabuddha came and stood for alms at his house, he told his wife to offer something to the paccekabuddha. His wife thought it was very rare that her husband gave her permission to give anything to anybody. So, she filled up the alms-bowl with good food.
The rich man again met the paccekabuddha on his way home and he had a look at the alms-bowl. Seeing that his wife had offered a substantial amount of good food, he thought, "Oh, this bhikkhu would only have a good sleep after a good meal. It would have been better if my servants were given such good food; at least, they would have given me better service." In other words, he regretted that he had asked his wife to offer food to the paccekabuddha.
This same man had a brother who also was a rich man. His brother had an only son. Coveting his brother's wealth, he had killed his young nephew and had thus wrongfully inherited his brother's wealth on the latter's death. Because the man had offered alms-food to the paccekabuddha he became a rich man in his present life; because he regretted having offered food to the paccekabuddha he had no wish to spend anything even on himself. Because he had killed his own nephew for the sake of his brother's wealth he had to suffer in niraya for seven existences. His bad kamma having come to an end he was born into the human world but here also he had not gained any good kamma. The king then remarked, "Venerable Sir! Even though he had lived here in the lifetime of the Buddha himself, he had not made any offering of anything to the Buddha or to his disciples. Indeed, he had missed a very good opportunity; he had been very foolish."
Verse 356-359: Blemishes of mankind Tiṇadosāni khettāni, rāgadosā ayaṃ pajā Tasmā hi vītarāgesu, dinnaṃ hoti mahapphalaṃ.356 Tiṇadosāni khettāni, dosadosā ayaṃ pajā Tasmā hi vītadosesu, dinnaṃ hoti mahapphalaṃ.357 Tiṇadosāni khettāni, mohadosā ayaṃ pajā Tasmā hi vītamohesu, dinnaṃ hoti mahapphalaṃ.358 Tiṇadosāni khettāni, icchādosā ayaṃ pajā Tasmā hi vigaticchesu, dinnaṃ hoti mahapphalaṃ.359
Weeds damage fields; lust spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from lust yields great benefits. Weeds damage fields; ill will spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from ill will yields great benefit. Weeds damage fields; ignorance spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from ignorance yields great benefit. Weeds damage fields; covetousness spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from covetousness yields great benefit.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 356-359: Deva Ankura
While on a visit to the Tavatimsa deva realm, the Buddha uttered Verses 356 to 359 with reference to a deva named Ankura.
The Buddha visited the Tavatimsa deva realm to expound the Abhidhamma to Deva Santusita, who had been his mother. During that time, there was a deva named Indaka in Tavatimsa. Indaka, in his last existence as a man, had offered a little alms-food to Thera Anuruddha. As this good deed was made to a thera within the period of the Buddha's Teaching he was amply rewarded for it. Thus, on his death he was reborn in the Tavatimsa realm and was lavishly bestowed with the luxuries of the deva world.
At that time, there was also another deva by the name of Ankura in Tavatimsa who had given much in charity; in fact, many times more than what Indaka had given. But his charity was made outside the period of the Teaching of any of the Buddhas. So, in spite of his lavish and grand charities, he was enjoying the benefits of the life of a deva on a much smaller scale than Indaka, who had offered very little. As the Buddha was then at Tavatimsa, Ankura asked him the reason for the discrepancy in gaining the benefits. To him the Buddha answered, "O deva! When giving charities and donations you should choose whom you give, for acts of charities are just like seeds. Seeds put into fertile soil will grow into strong, vigorous plants or trees and will bear much fruit; but you have sown your seed in poor soil, so you reap poorly.