A trained disciple shall conquer the earth, Realm of Death and the devas. A trained disciple shall discern the well-taught Verses of Truth just like an expert florists picks flowers.
Story related : Five Hundred Bhikkhus While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 44 and 45 with reference to 500 bhikkhus (monks). Five hundred bhikkhus, after accompanying the Buddha to a village, returned to the Jetavana monastery. In the evening, while the bhikkhus were talking about the trip, especially the condition of the land they traveled on. They discussed whether the land was level or hilly, or whether the soil was clayey or sandy, red or black etc. The Buddha came to know the subject of their talk and said to them, "Bhikkhus, the earth you are talking about is external to the body; it is better to examine your own body and make preparations (for meditation practice) instead." Then Buddha uttered verse 44-45. At the end of the discourse those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahantship. In other words, instead of thinking of worldly things, a disciple should contemplate the teachings, comprehend and penetrate the verses of truth. Then the fruit of the path will be more beneficial.
Knowing this body is impermanent just like bubbles, thoroughly comprehending its mirage-nature, One should destroy the flower shafts of Mara and pass beyond the sight of king of death.
Story related: the Bhikkhu who Contemplates the Body as a Mirage
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse46 with reference to a certain bhikkhu. On one occasion, a monk after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went to the forest. He tried hard but he made little progress in his meditation so he decided to go back to the Buddha for further instructions. On his way back he saw a mirage, which was only an illusive appearance of a sheet of water. At that moment he realized that the body also was insubstantial just like a mirage. Keeping his mind on the insubstantiality of the body he came to the bank of the river Aciravati. While sitting under a tree, he saw big froths breaking up and he realized the impermanent nature of the body.
Buddha read his thoughts and appeared before him, he told the monk:"Just as you have realized, this body is impermanent like froth and insubstantial like a mirage."
In other words, if one sees the impermanent nature of the body then one can destroys the defilements.
The man who gathers flowers of sensual pleasure, his mind is distracted. He will be carried away by death just like how a great flood sweeps away a sleeping village.
Story related : Vengence of King Vitatubha
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse47 with reference to Vitatubha, son of King Pasenadi of Kosala.
King Pasenadi of Kosala, wishes to marry into the clan of the Sakyans hence he sent some emissaries to Kapilavatthu with a request for the hand of one of the Sakyan princesses. Not wishing to offend King Pasenadi, the Sakyan princes replied that they would comply but instead of a Sakyan princess they sent a very beautiful girl born of King Mahanama and a slave woman.
King Pasenadi made that girl one of his chief queens and subsequently she gave birth to a son named Vitatubha. When the prince was 16, he visited King Mahanama and the Sakyan princes. There he was received with some hospitality but all the Sakyan princes who were younger than Vitatubha were sent away to a village so that they would not have to pay respect to Vitatubha. After staying a few days in Kapilavatthu, Vitatubha and his company left for home. Soon after they left, a slave girl was washing the seat where Vitatubha had sat and was cursing him, shouting, "This is the place where that son of a slave woman had sat". At that time, a member of Vitatubha's entourage returned and heard what the slave girl said. The slave girl then told him that Vitatubha's mother, Vasabhakhattiya, was the daughter of a slave girl belonging to Mahanama.
When Vitatubha knew of his birth mother was actually a slave, he became wild with rage and declared that one day he would wipe out the whole clan of the Sakyans. When Vitatubha became king, he marched on the Sakyan clan and massacred them all with the exception of a few who were with Mahanama and some others. On their way home, Vitatubha and his army encamped on the sandbank in the river Aciravati. As heavy rain fell in the upper parts of the country on that very night, the river swelled and rushed down with great force carrying away Vitatubha and his army into the ocean. After hearing these two tragic incidents, the Buddha explained to the monks that the Sakyan princes had such a outcome was because in one of their previous existences, they had put poison into the river killing the fishes. Then referring to the incident about Vitatubha and his army, the Buddha said, "As a great flood sweeps away all the villagers in a sleeping village, so does Death carries away all the creatures hankering after sensual pleasures."
In other words, we should not be driven by our sensual pleasures as death will will soon sweeps us away.
Just like one who picks and chooses flowers he desires, A man whose mind is attached to sensual pleasures and is in-satiated in them will be over powered by Death.
Story related to DhammapadaVerse48: Patipujika Kumari
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse48 with reference to Patipujika Kumari. Patipujika Kumari was a lady from Savatthi. She was married at the age of sixteen and had four sons. She was a virtuous and generous lady who loved to make offerings of food and other requisites to the monks. She would often go to the monastery and clean up the premises and perform other services. Patipujika also possessed Jatissara Knowledge through which she remembered that in her previous existence she was one of the numerous wives of Malabhari, in the deva world of Tavatimsa. She also remembered that she had passed away from there when all of them were out in the garden enjoying themselves, plucking and picking flowers. So, every time she made offerings to the monk or when she performed any other meritorious act, she would pray that she will be reborn in the Tavatimsa realm as a wife of Malabhari, her previous husband.
One day, Patipujika fell ill and passed away that same evening. As she ardently wished for she was reborn in Tavatimsa deva world as a wife of Malabhari. As 100 years in the human world is equivalent to just one day in Tavatimsa world, Malabhari and his other wives were still in the garden enjoying themselves and Patipujika was barely missed by them. She was only missing a few hours in the Tavatimsa time zone. So when she rejoined them, Malabhari asked her where she had been the whole morning. She then told him about her passing away from Tavatimsa, her rebirth in the human world, her marriage to a man, her passing away from there and finally her return to Tavatimsa.
When the monks learned about the death of Patipujika, they were stricken with grief. They went to the Buddha and reported that Patipujika had passed away. Buddha replied that the life of beings was very brief and that before they could be satiated in their sensual pleasures, they were overpowered by Death. In other words, those who have cravings for sensual pleasures die before they can fulfill all their cravings and be satiated.
Verse 49 (The Monk in the village)
Yathipi bhamaro puppham, vannagandhamahethayam paleti rasamadaya, evam game muni care
Just like a bee without harming the flower, its color or scent, it flies away collecting only the honey, even so should the monk wander in the village without affecting the villagers.
Story related: Kosiya, the Miserly Rich Man
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse49 with reference to the Chief Disciple Maha Moggallana and the miserly rich man, Kosiya.
In the village of Sakkara, near Rajagaha, there lived a miserly rich man by the name of Kosiya, who was very reluctant to give away anything belonging to him. One day, to avoid sharing with others, the rich man and his wife were making some pancakes in the uppermost story of their house, where no one would see them.
Early in the morning, on that day, the Buddha through his supernormal power, saw the rich man and his wife in his vision and knew that both of them would soon attain Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment). So he sent his Chief Disciple Maha Moggallana to the house of the rich man, with instructions to bring the couple to the Jetavana monastery in time for the midday meal.
The rich man saw Maha Moggallana and asked him to leave but the latter just stood there without saying anything. In the end, Kosiya said to his wife, "Make a very small pancake and give it to the monk." So she took just a little amount of dough and put it in the pan and the cake filled up the whole pan. Kosiya thought his wife must have put in too much, so he took just a pinch of dough and put it into the pan but his pancake also swelled into a big one. So however little dough they might put in, they were unable to make small pancakes. At last, Kosiya asked his wife to offer one from the basket to the monk.
When she tried to take out one from the basket it would not come off because all the pancakes were sticking together and could not be separated. By this time Kosiya has all of his appetite for pancakes and offered the whole basket of pancakes to Maha Moggallana. The Chief Disciple then delivered a discourse on charity to the rich man and his wife. He also told the couple about how the Buddha was waiting with five hundred bhikkhus at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, forty-five yojanas away from Rajagaha.
Maha Moggallana then took both Kosiya and his wife together with their basket of pancakes to see the Buddha. There they offered the pancakes to the Buddha and the five hundred bhikkhus. At the end of the meal, the Buddha delivered a discourse on charity and both Kosiya and his wife attained Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment).
Next evening, while the monks were talking in praise of Maha Moggallana, the Buddha told them, "Bhikkhus, you should also dwell and act in the village like Maha Moggallana, receiving the offerings of the villagers without affecting their faith and generosity, or their wealth." In other words, a monk should wander about in the village without affecting the welfare of the villagers just like how a bee collects honey without destroying the flower.
Verse 50 (Disregard the faults of others)
Na paresaṃ vilomāni, na paresaṃ katākataṃ Attano’va avekkheyya, katāni akatāni ca
Disregard the faults of others, what they have done and not done. Rather should one examine the things that one has done and not done.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 50 : Ascetic Paveyya
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 50, with reference to the ascetic Paveyya and a rich lady.
A rich lady of Savatthi had adopted Paveyya, an ascetic, as a son and was looking after his needs. When she heard praises of the Buddha, she wished to invite him to her house to offer him alms-food. So, the Buddha was invited and choice food was offered.
As the Buddha was expressing appreciation (anumodana), Paveyya, who was in the next room, fumed with rage. He blamed and cursed the lady for venerating the Buddha. The lady heard him cursing and shouting and felt so ashamed that she could not concentrate on what the Buddha was saying. The Buddha told her not to be concerned about those curses and threats, but to concentrate only on her own good and bad deeds.
In other words, instead of fault-finding others' doing we should instead self-reflect on our own deeds.
Verse 51-52 (Good words attract and profit only those who practice)
52. Like a gorgeous flower, beautiful and scented, even so the well-preached words of Buddha will benefit one who practise the dhamma.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 51-52: Chattapani, a Lay Disciple
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 51 and 52 of this book, with reference to the lay disciple Chattapani and the two queens of King Pasenadi of Kosala.
A lay disciple named Chattapani who was an anagami (non-returner , third stage of enlightenment), well versed in the Tipitaka, lived in Savatthi. On one occasion, Chattapani was with the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery respectfully and attentively listening to the discourse. When King Pasenadi also came to the Buddha, Chattapani did not stand up because he thought it's disrespectful to the Buddha. The king took that as an insult and was very much offended.
The Buddha knew how the king was feeling so he spoke in praise of Chattapani, who was well-versed in the Dhamma and had also attained the Anagami Fruition. On hearing this, the king was impressed and favorably inclined towards Chattapani.
When the king next met Chattapani he said, "You are so learned; could you please come to the palace and give lessons of the Dhamma to my two queens?" Chattapani declined but he suggested that the king should request the Buddha to assign a monk for this purpose. So, the king approached the Buddha who asked Venerable Ananda to go regularly to the palace and teach the Dhamma to Queen Mallika and Queen Vasabhakhattiya.
After some time, the Buddha asked the Venerable Ananda about the progress of the two queens. Venerable Ananda answered that Mallika was learning the Dhamma seriously but Vasabhakhattiya was not paying proper attention. On hearing this the Buddha said that the Dhamma could be of benefit only to those who learn it seriously with due respect and proper attention and then practice diligently what was taught. In other words, one should practice the teachings conscientiously and diligently if not it will not benefit them.
As many garlands are made from a heap of flowers by an expert florist, so one who is a mortal born in this world should perform many ethically good deeds.
Story related to dhammapada verse 53: Visakha (Migara's mother)
While residing at the Pubbarama monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verse 53 with reference to Visakha, the famous donor of the Pubbarama monastery.
Visakha was the daughter of a rich man of Bhaddiya, named Danancaya. When Visakha was seven years old, the Buddha came on a tour to Bhaddiya. On that occasion, Mendaka (her grandfather) took Visakha and her five hundred companions with him to pay homage to the Buddha. After hearing the discourse given by the Buddha, Visakha, her grandfather and all her five hundred companions attained Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment). When Visakha came of age, she married Punnavadahana, son of Migara, a fairly rich man from Savatthi. Migara was a supporter of the naked ascetics, when he offered alms to the naked ascetics he called on his new daughter-in-law to come and pay respects to the “Arahants.” Upon seeing the naked ascetics, Visakha thought, “Surely, these shameless men are not Arahants” so she left. Migāra was offended but forgave her as she was still young. One day, while Migara was having his meal, a monk stopped for alms at his house but Migara completely ignored the bhikkhu. Upon seeing this, Visakha said to the monk: "I am sorry, your reverence, my father-in-law only eats leftovers." Upon hearing this, Migara flew into a rage and told her to leave his house. But Visakha said she was not going away and that she would send for eight elderly rich men to decide whether she was guilty or not. When the elders came, Migara said to them, "While I was having my rice-with-milk in a golden bowl, Visakha said that I was taking only dirt and filth. For this offence, I'm sending her away."
Visakha explained as follows: "When I saw my father-in-law completely ignoring the monk who came for alms-food, I thought to myself that my father-in-law was not doing any meritorious deed in this existence. He was only eating the fruits of his past good deeds (past kamma). So, I said, 'My father-in-law only eats leftovers.' Now Sirs, do you think I am guilty?" The elders decided that Visakha was not guilty. Visakha then said she had absolute and unshakable faith in the Teaching of the Buddha and she could not stay where the monks were not welcome. Also if she was not given permission to invite the monks to the house to offer alms-food and make other offerings, she would leave the house. So permission was granted to her to invite the Buddha and his monks to the house.
The next day, the Buddha and his disciples were invited to the house of Visakha. When alms-food was about to be offered, she asked her father-in-law to join her but he did not come. When the meal was over, she requested her father-in-law to join her to hear the discourse that would soon be given by the Buddha. Her father-in-law felt that he should not refuse for a second time. But his ascetic teachers, the Niganthas, would not let him go. But they conceded that he could listen from behind a curtain. After hearing the Buddha's discourse Migara attained Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment). He felt very thankful to the Buddha and also to his daughter-in-law. Being so thankful, he declared that henceforth Visakha would be like a mother to him, and Visakha came to be known as Migaramata.
Visakha gave birth to ten sons and ten daughters and numerous grand-children and great-grandchildren. Visakha possessed an immensely valuable gem-encrusted cloak given by her father as a wedding present. One day, Visakha went to the Jetavana monastery with her entourage and her maid absentmindedly left it at the monastery. It was the custom for the Venerable Ananda to look after the things left by any one of the lay disciples. Visakha sent the maid back to the monastery saying, "Go and look for the bejeweled cloak, but if the Venerable Ananda had already found it and kept it in a place do not bring it back; I donate the bejeweled cloak to the Venerable Ananda." But Venerable Ananda did not accept her donation. So Visakha decided to sell the bejeweled cloak and donate the sale proceeds. But there was no one who could afford to buy that bejeweled cloak. So Visakha bought it back and with this money, she built a monastery known as Pubbarama on the eastern side of the city.
After the libation ceremony she called all her family to her and on that night she told them that all her wishes had been fulfilled and that she had nothing more to desire. Then reciting five verses of exultation she went round and round the monastery. The monks thought she lost her mind and reported to the Buddha. To this question, the Buddha replied, "Today, Visakha had all her wishes of the past and present existences fulfilled and on account of that sense of achievement, she was feeling elated and contented. Visakha was just reciting some verses of exultation and she was not insane. Throughout her previous existences, she had always been a generous donor and an ardent promoter of the Doctrine of successive Buddhas. She was most strongly inclined to do good deeds and had done much good in her previous existences, just as an expert florist that makes many garlands from a collection of flowers."
In other words, we should do as many good deeds as possible in one's lifetime.
Verse 54-55 (Fragrance of virtue is the sweetest smell that spreads everywhere)
Na pupphagandho paṭivātam eti na candanaṃ tagaramallikā Satañca gandho paṭivātam eti sabbā disā sappuriso pavāyati
The fragrance of flowers donot go against the wind, whereas the reputation of the good does go against the wind The virtuous man pervades every direction. (54)
There are the scents of sandalwood, rhododendron, lotus and jasmin but the scent of virtue surpasses all scents. (55)
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 54-55 : Question Raised by the Venerable Ananda While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 54 and 55 of this book, with reference to a question raised by the Venerable Ananda. While the Venerable Ananda was sitting by himself one evening, the problem relating to scents and perfumes came to his mind and he pondered: "The scent of wood, the scent of flowers and the scent of roots all spread with the current of wind but not against it. Is there no scent which would spread with the current of wind as well as against it? Is there no scent which would pervade every part of the world?" Venerable Ananda approached the Buddha and asked him that question he had in mind. The Buddha said, "Ananda, if one takes refuge in the Three Gems (the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Samgha), observes the five moral precepts, practice generosity and is not avaricious; then such a man is truly virtuous and truly worthy of praise. The reputation (fragrance) of that virtuous one would spread far and wide, and bhikkhus, brahmins and laymen all alike would speak in praise of him, wherever he lives." In other words, when one is morally virtuous then his good reputation will spread far and wide.
Verse 56 (Morality is the best fragrance)
Appamatto ayaṃ gandho, yvāyaṃ tagaracandanaṃ Yo ca sīlavataṃ gandho, vāti devesu uttamo
The scents of resin and of sandal wood are very faint but the scent (reputation) of the virtuous is the strongest; it spreads even to the abodes of the deva.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 56: Thera Mahakassapa
While residing at the Veluvana monastery in Rajagaha, the Buddha uttered Verse 56, with reference to Thera Mahakassapa. Arising from meditation, Thera Mahakassapa entered a poor section of the city of Rajagaha for alms-food. His intention was to give a poor man an opportunity of gaining great merit as a result of offering alms-food to one who had just come out of deep meditation. Sakka, king of the devas, wishing to take the opportunity of offering alms-food to Thera Mahakassapa, assumed the form of a poor old weaver and came to Rajagaha with his wife Sujata in the form of an old woman.
Thera Mahakassapa stood at their door and the poor old weaver took the bowl from the thera and filled up the bowl with rice and curry. The delicious smell of the curry spread throughout the city, then it occurred to the thera that this person must be no ordinary human being. He came to realize that this must be Sakka himself. Sakka admitted the fact and claimed that he too was poor because he had had no opportunity of offering anything to anyone during the time of the Buddhas. Sakka and his wife Sujata left the thera after paying due respect to him.
The Buddha saw Sakka and Sujata leaving and told the monks about Sakka offering alms-food to Thera Mahakassapa. The monks wondered how Sakka knew that Thera Mahakassapa had just come out of deep meditation and that it was the right and auspicious time for him to make offerings to the thera. Buddha answered, "Monks, the reputation of a virtuous one, Thera Mahakassapa, spreads far and wide such that it even reaches the deva world. On account of his good reputation, Sakka himself has come to offer alms-food to him." In other words, the reputation of a morally virtuous person will spread far and wide.
Verse 57 (Death cannot trace the path of Arahats)
Tesaṃ sampannasīlānaṃ, appamādavihārinaṃ Sammadaññāvimuttānaṃ, māro maggaṃ na vindati
Mara cannot find the path of those who are virtuous, who live mindfully and who have been freed from moral defilements by Right Knowledge.
Story related to Dhamapada Verse 57 : Thera Godhika
While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 57 with reference to Thera Godhika. On one occasion, Thera Godhika was diligently practising Tranquillity and Insight Development, on a stone slab on the side of Isigili mountain in Magadha. When he had achieved one-pointedness of the mind (jhana) he became very ill and that impaired the effectiveness of his practice. In spite of his sickness, he kept on striving hard but every time he was making some progress he was overcome by sickness. Finally, he made up his mind to overcome all obstacles and attain arahantship even if he were to die. He continued to practice diligently; in the end impeded by disease he decided to give up his life by cutting his throat. However at the point of death he gained insight and attained arahantship. (This story suggests that the Thera monk strive on despite his illness to reach final enlightenment near death BUT it DOES NOT implicate or suggest suicide. ) When Mara (the evil one) learned that Thera Godhika had died, he tried to find out where the thera was reborn but failed to find him. Mara approached the Buddha and inquired where Thera Godhika was. The Buddha replied to him, "It will be of no benefit to you to learn of the destination of Thera Godhika; for he having been freed of moral defilements he became an arahant. Mara despite all of your power, you will not be able to find out where such arahants go after death." In other words, those who are virtuous, who are mindful and have eradicated all defilements i.e. enlightened beings; their paths/outcome cannot be traced by the Mara (the evil one).
Just like how a fragrant beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, even so among worthless beings there may appear a disciple of the Buddha that outshines ignorant worldlings in his wisdom.
Story related to Dhammapada Verse 58-59 : Garahadinna
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 58 and 59 with reference to a rich man named Garahadinna and the miracle of the lotus flowers.
There were two friends named Sirigutta and Garahadinna in Savatthi. Sirigutta was a follower of the Buddha and Garahadinna was a follower of the Niganthas, the naked ascetics. Garahadinna often said to Sirigutta, "What benefit do you get by following the Buddha? Come, be a follower of my teachers." Sirigutta asked Garahadinna, "Tell me, what do your teachers know?" To this, Garahadinna replied that his teachers knew everything; with their great power they knew the past, the present and the future and also the thoughts of others. So, Sirigutta invited the Niganthas to his house for alms-food in order to find out the truth about the Niganthas, whether they really possessed the power of knowing other people's thoughts etc.
So he made a long, deep trench and filled it up with excreta and filth. Seats were then placed precariously over the trench. He also brought in big empty pots covered up with cloth and banana leaves to make as if they were full of rice and curries. When the Niganthas arrived, they were requested to enter one by one, to stand near their respective seats and to sit down simultaneously. When they sat down, the flimsy strings broke and the Niganthas fell into the filthy trench. Then Sirigutta taunted them, "Why don't you know the past, the present and the future? Why don't you know the thoughts of others?" All the Niganthas then fled in terror.
Garahadinna was furious with Sirigutta and refused to talk to him for two weeks. Then he decided that he would have his revenge on Sirigutta. He pretended that he was no longer angry, and asked Sirigutta to invite on his behalf, the Buddha and his five hundred disciples for alms-food. So Sirigutta went to the Buddha and invited him to the house of Garahadinna. At the same time, he told the Buddha about what he had done to the Niganthas. He expressed his fear that this invitation might be a reprisal and so the invitation should be accepted only after due consideration.
The Buddha with his super-normal power knew that this would be the occasion for the two friends to attain Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenment) and therefore accepted the invitation. Garahadinna made a trench filled it with live coals and covered it with mats. He also kept some empty pots covered with cloth and banana leaves to make them appear as if filled with rice and curries.
The next day the Buddha came with five hundred monks in single file. When the Buddha stepped on the mat over the trench, the mat and live coals miraculously disappeared and five hundred lotus flowers each as large as a cart wheel, sprang up for the Buddha and his disciples to sit upon. Seeing this miracle, Garahadinna was very much alarmed and he said to Sirigutta, "Help me, dear friend. Out of my desire for revenge, I have done great wrong and had bad designs on your Teacher. The pots in my kitchen are all empty. Please help me." Sirigutta then told Garahadinna to go and look at the pots. When Garahadinna was astounded to find the pots filled with food.
After the meal, the Buddha expressed his appreciation of the meritorious act and then he said, "Ignorant worldlings, lacking in knowledge, do not know the unique qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha and so they are like the blind; but the wise, having knowledge, are like people with sight." In other words, among all beings there will arise one disciple of Buddha whose wisdom outshines all.