Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā Manasā ce paduṭṭhena, bhāsati vā karoti vā Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti, cakkaṃ ’va vahato padaṃ
Mind is the chief forerunner of all evil states. Experiences are led by and produced chiefly by the mind. If one speaks or acts with a corrupted impure mind, Suffering will follows just like the wheel of an ox-cart when the ox pulls.
Related story: The Elder Cakkhupāla
Once there was a monk called Cakkhupāla who was determined not to lie down for the entire Rains Retreat. He developed an eye infection for which he need to lie down to take the medicine. But he refused to lie down, so the disease got worse and he became blind although he attained Arahantship, from his training.
As he was pacing up and down, he unintentionally killed many insects. The visiting monks noticed the quite a number of insects were killed on the elder’s walking meditation path and told they told Buddha. about it. The Buddha explained that the monk had killed them unintentionally and that he was an Arahant. (Intentional volition constitutes kamma whereas unintentional/involuntary/unconscious volition does not constitute kamma)
The monks then asked Buddha why he became blind? Buddha narrated how in a previous life as a doctor, Cakkhupala treated a poor woman’s eyes. She promised to become his servant if her eyesight came back but did not kept her promise when she regained her eyesight. So the doctor retaliated by giving her another medicine, which blinded her. Due to that evil action Cakkhupāla became blind.
The cause and effect of intentional speech, thoughts and action will result in kammic effects waiting to take effect in time.
Verse 2 ( Happiness is mind-made) Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā Manasā ce pasannena, bhāsati vā karoti vā Tato naṃ sukhamanveti, chāyā’va anapāyinī.
Mind is the chief forerunner of all good states. Experiences are led by and produced by the mind. If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, Happiness will follow along just like one's shadow that never departs.
Related Story: The Miser Adinnapubbaka
The only son of a miserly millionaire ( Adinnapubbaka ) was on the verge of death because his father was too stingy to call a doctor. He tried to treat his son (Maṭṭhakuṇḍalī) himself. With his Divine Eye, Buddha saw the plight of the dying boy and he stood outside his house during alms round. The boy saw the Buddha; he was very weak and could only profess his faith mentally. Dying with a mind full of faith in the Buddha, the son was reborn in the Tāvatiṃsa celestial realm.
After his son’s death, the millionaire was grief-sicken. From his celestial abode the young Matthakundali saw his father mourn over him at the cemetery so he appeared in front of him in a form in the likeness of his old self. He told his father about his rebirth in the Tavatimsa world and urged him to approach and invite the Buddha to a meal. At the house of Adinnapubbaka the question of whether one could or could not be reborn in a celestial world simply by mentally professing profound faith in the Buddha, without giving charity or observing the moral precepts, was brought up.
Buddha willed Matthakundali who was fully decked with celestial ornaments to appear in person to explain his rebirth in the Tavatimsa world. Then only, the audience became convinced that the son of Adinnapubbaka by simply devoting his mind to the Buddha had attained much glory and had a good rebirth. At the end of the teaching, Matthakundali and his father, Adinnapubbaka, attained first stage of enlightenment. Adinnapubbaka then donated almost all his wealth to the cause of the Buddha's Teaching.
In other words good begets good, the result of good thoughts , words and deeds will be happiness.
Verse 3-4 (Hatred is never appeased by hatred)
3. Akkocchi maṃ avadhi maṃ, ajini maṃ ahāsi me Ye ca taṃ upanayhantim, veraṃ tesaṃ na sammati
4. Akkocchi maṃ avadhi maṃ, ajini maṃ ahāsi me Ye ca taṃ na upanayhanti, veraṃ tesūpasammati
Those who harbors and entertains thoughts like" He has abused, beaten, ill-treated and robbed me", Will not appease the hatred in them. Those who doesn't harbors and entertains thoughts like" He has abused, beaten, ill-treated and robbed me", Will appease the hatred in them.
Related story: Venerable Tissa
Venerable Tissa, was proud to be a cousin of Buddha. He became a monk only in his old age. He did not pay respect to other senior monks. Should anyone rebuke him on account of his behaviour he would go complaining to the Buddha.
The Buddha urged him to apologize, but Tissa was stubborn and he refused. Buddha then related a story to show how Tissa had been just as obstinate in a previous life. In the end Tissa asked for forgiveness from the senior monks.
In other words, when we harbor hatred, the anger and hate will grow and never cease. We should learn to forgive, let go and move on, only then the hate and anger will cease.
Verse 5 (Hatred is overcome only by Love)
Na hi verena verāni, sammantī’dha kudācanaṃ Averena ca sammanti, esa dhammo sanantano
Hatred is never appeased by Hatred. Only through LOVE alone, hate ceases. This is the eternal law.
Related story: Story of Kalayakkhini
Once there was a man who had two wives, one infertile and the other fertile. Out of jealousy, the infertile wife put a drug in her rival’s food and caused two successive abortions. On the third occasion the potion caused the death of both mother and child.The dying woman vowed to take revenge, and fulfilled her resolve. In next two rebirths, the two women were reborn as a hen and a cat; a doe and a leopardess; they revenged each other in those two lives.
In the third rebirth finally one rebirth as the daughter of a nobleman in Savatthi and the other as an ogress named (Kalayakkhini). The ogress was chasing the lady with the baby, when the latter learned that the Buddha was nearby at the Jetavana monastery. She fled to him and placed her son at his feet for protection. The ogress was stopped at the door by the guardian spirit of the monastery and was refused admission.
The Ogress was later called in together with the lady by the Buddha. The Buddha told them about their past feuds as rivals for a few past lives and advised them to stop retaliating. They were made to see that hatred could only cause more hatred, and that hatred only cease through friendship, understanding and goodwill. In other words, hatred fuels more hatred. Only love heals and extinguishes the hate.
Verse 6 (Recollection of death brings peace)
Pare ca na vijānanti, mayamettha yamāmase Ye ca tattha vijānanti, tato sammanti medhagā
The unwise does not realize the reality of impermanence and death, They engaged in endless quarrels and fights, The wise who realizes that we do not live forever, They stopped fruitless quarrels and seek peace instead.
Related story:The Dispute at Kosambī There are two groups of monks staying at Kosambī, one teaching Dhamma and the other teaching Vinaya. They were constantly quarreling among themselves. Even the Buddha could not stop them from quarreling; so he left them and spent the rainy retreat, all alone in Rakkhita Grove near Palileyyaka forest.
The lay disciples of Kosambi upon knowing the departure of the Buddha, stopped their offerings to the remaining monks. This made them realize their mistakes for quarreling and so they reconciled. But the lay disciples would not treat them as respectfully as before, until they owned up their fault and apologize to the Buddha. However as Buddha was away during the rainy retreat; the monks of Kosambi spent the vassa (rainy retreat) in misery and in hardship. At the end of the vassa (rainy retreat), the Venerable Ananda and five hundred monks approached the Buddha and passed the message from Annathapindika and other lay disciples to ask for his return. When Buddha returned to the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the monks fell down at his feet, confessed their mistake for quarreling and asked for forgiveness. The Buddha told them to remember that they must all die some day and hence they must stop their quarrels to seek peace and must not act as if they would never die.
In other words, we do not have eternity; should we spend our lifetime fighting and quarreling till we die then we are wasting our time on anger. When we realize our impermanence; knowing we will die one day then we will not waste time on endless quarrels and instead we seek peace.
Asubhānupassiṃ viharantaṃ, indriyesu susaṃvutaṃ Bhojanamhi ca mattaññuṃ, saddhaṃ āraddhavīriyaṃ Taṃ ve nappasahati māro, vāto selaṃ ’va pabbataṃ
Just as the wind blows down a weak tree, Mara (defilements) overthrows one whose senses are unrestrained, who is over-indulged in pleasant things, lazy and lacking in vigor.
Just as the wind does not blow down a rocky mountain peak, so Mara does not overthrows one whose senses are well- restrained, lives in moderation and is full of faith and vigor.
Related story: The Elders Mahākāḷa and Cūḷakāḷa
Mahakala and Culakala were two merchant brothers from the town of Setabya. While on business trip, they had a chance to listen to a discourse given by the Buddha. After hearing the discourse Mahakala gained faith and became a monk. Culakala also joined the Monks Order with the intention to convince his brother to disrobe and go back to business. Mahakala attained arahatship while meditating seriously at the cemetery. Tempted by sensual pleasures after seeing his former wives, Culakala disrobed and left monkshood. The next day, the wives of Mahakala hoped to tempt him the same way the wives of Culakala did.
Buddha let Mahakala stayed back at his old residence and the other monks were afraid that he may disrobe due to cravings for sensual pleasures. But Buddha replied that the two brothers were not alike. Culakala indulged in sensual pleasures and was lazy and weak; he was just like a weak tree. Whereas Mahakala, on the other hand, was diligent, steadfast and strong in his faith of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha; he was like a mountain of rock hence he would not be tempted by these sensual desires.
The eight former wives of Mahakala thought they would be able to entice him to disrobe and leave monkshood, but he escaped by using his psychic powers and appeared before the Buddha. He remained as a monk.
In other words, one who guards his sense doors, will not be tempted by their sensual desires and will not be defeated by the mental defilements (Mara). Whereas those who self-indulge, does not guard their cravings for sensual desires will fall at the hands of temptation.
Verse 9-10 (The impure is not worthy of the robe)
Anikkasāvo kāsāvaṃ, yo vatthaṃ paridahissati Apeto damasaccena, na so kāsāvam arahati
Yo ca vantakasāv’assa, sīlesu susamāhito Upeto damasaccena, sa ve kāsāvam arahati
He who is not free from taints of moral defilements, lacking in truthfulness and self-restraints, is NOT worthy of the yellow robe.
He who has discarded all moral defilements, well established in virtuous conduct (sila), endowed with self-restraint and truth, is worthy of the yellow robe.
Relatyed story: The Wicked Monk Devadatta
Once the two Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sariputta and the Venerable Maha Moggallana, went from Savatthi to Rajagaha. During that time, someone handed over a very expensive piece of cloth to the organizers of the alms-giving ceremony. He instructed them to pffer it to any monk they deem fit if there were no shortage of funds. Since there was no shortage of anything, the cloth was offered to Devadatta, who was a permanent resident of Rajagaha instead of Sariputta and Moggallana who seldom visit Rajagaha. Devadatta promptly made the cloth into robes and showed off his new robe. Then a monk from Rajagaha came to Savatthi to pay homage to the Buddha and told him about Devadatta and the rob. Buddha then said that it was not the first time that Devadatta was wearing robes that he did not deserve and he related the following story. Devadatta was an elephant hunter in one of his previous past live. One day, the hunter noticed that these elephants knelt down to the paccekabuddhas* (an enlightened one that can't teach others) on seeing them. Having observed that, the hunter stole an upper part of a yellow robe and covered his body and hand with it. Then, holding a spear in his hand, he waited for the elephants on their usual route and killed the elephants one by one as they pay respect to the paccekabuddhas. The Bodhisatta (the Buddha-to-be) was then the leader of the herd. Noticing the dwindling number of his elephants, he decided to investigate and followed his herd. He was alert, and was therefore able to evade the spear. He caught hold of the hunter in his trunk and was about to attack him when he saw the yellow robe and decided to spare the hunter's life. The hunter was criticized for trying to kill under the cover of the yellow robe and for committing such a wicked act. The hunter clearly does not deserve the yellow robe. In other words, those who can don on the robe and be a monk must be have good moral conduct, truthful and endowed with self-restraints then he is worthy to wear the robe. Those who are corrupted in the mind and actions are not worthy to wear the robe.
Verse 11-12 (Right thought leads to realization)
Asāre sāramatino, sāre cāsāradassino Te sāraṃ nādhigacchanti, micchāsaṅkappagocarā Sārañca sārato ñatvā, asārañca asārato Te sāraṃ adhigacchanti, sammā saṅkappagocarā
Those who take the untruth for truth, take truth for the untruth, These people hold wrong views and will not attain and realize the truth.
Those who take the truth for truth, the untruth for untruth, These people hold right views and will attain and realize the truth.
Related story: Venerable Sariputta While residing at Veluvana, the Bamboo Grove monastery in Rajagaha, the Buddha uttered Verses 11-12, with reference to Sanjaya, a former teacher of the Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sariputta and the Venerable Moggallana. Upatissa (Sariputta) and Kolita (Moggallana) were friends who realized impermanence of self-indulgence while looking at a show. They decided to search for the way to liberation/enlightenment. First, they approached Sanjaya. the wandering ascetic at Rajagaha, but they were not satisfied with his teachings. So they decided to search for someone who can teach them the truth. One day, Upatissa (Sariputta) saw Venerable Assaji (one of the first 5 disciples of Buddha) and learned from him "everything subject to a cause is also subject to cessation." Upon listening to these, Sariputta was established in Stream-entry (first stage of enlightenment). He told Kolita (Moggallana) the phrase and Kolita is also become established in stream-entry.
They went to Sanjaya (their former teacher) and said to him, "We have found Buddha who could point out the Path to enlightenment. Come, let us go to the Teacher." But Sanjaya refused to join them to meet the Buddha to learn more of the teachings. Sanjaya had said, "I have been a teacher to so many pupils, for me to become his pupil would be like a jar turning into a drinking cup. Besides, only few people are wise and the majority are foolish; let the wise go to the wise Gotama, the foolish would still come to me. Go your way, my pupils."
So Upatissa and Kolita told Buddha about their former teacher Sanjaya, who refused to accompany them. Then Buddha pointed out that Sanjaya's false pride and ego was preventing him from seeing truth as truth; he was seeing untruth as truth and would never arrive at the real truth. In other words, those who holds strongly to their own wrong views, will see the real truth as untruth and the unreal things as real. This will hinder right learning and understanding which will hinder the path to enlightenment.
Just as rain penetrates a badly-thatched house, likewise lust (raga) penetrates a mind that is not cultivated in Tranquility and Insight (Samatha and Vipassana).
Just as rain cannot penetrate a well-thatched house,likewise lust cannot penetrate a mind well-cultivated in Tranquility and Insight.
Related story : Prince Nanda
While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verses 13 & 14 with reference to Thera Nanda, a step-brother of the Buddha.
Once the Buddha was at Kapilavatthu (his hometown), he was invited to attend the pre-nuptial wedding feast of Prince Nanda. After the meal, the Buddha left his alms bowl in the hands of Prince Nanda and returned to the monastery. The young prince was obliged to follow him all the way back to return the almsbowl. Then Buddha asked Nanda if he would go forth as a monk. Out of respect for the teacher, Nanda was obliged to say yes. So he was ordained.
But he was constantly thinking of his fiancée, Nanda was very dissatisfied and thought of disrobing. Knowing this, Buddha used his psychic powers to take him to the Tāvatiṃsa heaven, where he showed him the beautiful female celestial devas. Buddha promised Nanda that he could get these nymphs if he meditated well. Nanda no longer thought about his fiancée, but meditated diligently in the hope of acquiring the beautiful celestial devas.
He strove hard in his meditation in seclusion and soon attained Arahantship. As an arahant his mind was totally released from all attachments and lust, and Buddha was also released from his promise to Nanda. All this had been foreseen by the Buddha right from the very beginning.
The Buddha compared his former lustful state of mind to an badly-thatched house and his newly acquired mental purity to a well-thatched house that cannot be penetrated by lust.
In other words, a well-cultivated and restrained mind cannot be tempted by lust.
Verse 15 ( sorrow springs from evil deed)
Idha socati pecca socati, pāpakārī ubhayattha socati So socati so vihaññati, disvā kammakiliṭṭham attano
He grieves "here", he grieves "there", An evil-doer grieves in both worlds. He suffers and torments himself seeing his own foul deeds.
Related story: Cunda the Pork-butcher
While residing at the Veluvana monastery in Rajagaha, the Buddha uttered this Verse 15. Once, in a village not far away from the Veluvana monastery, there lived a very cruel pork-butcher, by the name of Cunda. Cunda was a pork-butcher for over fifty-five years; all this time he had not done a single meritorious deed. Before he died, he was in such great pain and agony he went mad and crawled on the floor squealing like a pig for seven whole days. His wife shuttered all the doors and windows, but his cries still disturbed the neighbors day and night. After his death he was reborn in hell. Thus, the evil-doer must always suffer for the evil deeds done by him; he suffers in this world as well as in the next.
In other words, those who do evil deeds will experience grief and suffers upon seeing the consequences of what they did.
Verse 16 (Good Deeds Bring Happiness)
Idha modati pecca modati, katapuñño ubhayattha modati So modati so pamodati, disvā kammavisuddhim attano
Here he rejoices, hereafter he rejoices. One who performed meritorious deeds rejoices in both worlds. He rejoices and is glad seeing his own pure deeds.
Related Story: Dhammika Upasaka a devout Lay Supporter
While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered this Verse 16. Once there lived in Savatthi, a lay disciple by the name of Dhammika, who was virtuous and very fond of giving in charity. He generously offered food and other requisites to the bhikkhus (monks) regularly. When Dhammika was very ill and was on his death-bed, he made a request to the Sangha to come to him and recite the sacred texts by his bedside. While the monks were reciting the Maha satipatthana Sutta, six decorated chariots from six celestial worlds arrived to invite him to their respective worlds. Dhammika told them to wait for a while for fear of interrupting the recitation of the Sutta. The monks thought he was speaking to them, so they stopped reciting and returned to the monastery.
A little while later, Dhammika told his children about the six decorated chariots waiting for him. Then and there he decided to choose the chariot from the Tusita world and asked one of his children to throw a garland on to it. Then he passed away and was reborn in the Tusita world. Thus, the virtuous man rejoices in this world as well as in the next. In other words, when we do good deeds and lead a virtuous life, we will be happy and joyous in this life and the next.
Here he torments, hereafter he torments. In both states the evil-doer laments. He laments “I have done evil”. He's even more tormented when he is reborn in one of the lower worlds.
Related story: Devadatta causes a schism
While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verse 17 with reference to Devadatta.
Devadatta was residing with the Buddha in Kosambi when he realized that the Buddha was receiving much respect and honor as well as offerings. He envied the Buddha and aspired to head the Order of the bhikkhus. One day, while the Buddha was preaching at the Veluvana monastery in Rajagaha, he approached the Buddha and suggested that the Order be entrusted to his care since Buddha has aged. The Buddha rejected his offer and rebuked him.
Devadatta felt aggrieved and vowed vengeance against the Buddha. Three times, he attempted to kill the Buddha: first, by employing some archers; secondly, by climbing up the Gijjhakuta hill and rolling down a big piece of rock on to the Buddha; and thirdly, by causing the elephant Nalagiri to attack the Buddha. The hired assassins returned after being established in first stage of enlightenment, without harming the Buddha. The big piece of rock rolled down by Devadatta hurt the big toe of the Buddha a little bit, and when the Nalagiri elephant rushed at the Buddha, it was made docile by the Buddha.
Since Devadatta failed to kill the Buddha, he tried another tactic. He tried to break up the Order of the bhikkhus by taking away some newly admitted bhikkhus with him to Gayasisa; however, most of them were brought back by Venerable Sariputta and Venerable Maha Moggallana.
Before he died he repented and wished to see the Buddha, but while being carried to see the Buddha, he was swallowed up by the earth, and was reborn in hell. Devadatta did not have the opportunity to see the Buddha because of the wicked deeds he had done to the Buddha.
In other words, one who does evil deeds will be tormented and be reborn in a woeful realm.
Here he is happy, hereafter he is happy; one who performs meritorious deeds is happy in both existences. Thinking of the good he has done, he is happy. He is happier still when he is reborn in a blissful state.
Related story: Sumanadevi
While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verse 18, with reference to Sumanadevi, the youngest daughter of Anathapindika. Three daughters of Anathapindika served food daily to the monks, the two elder daughters attained Sotapatti Fruition (first stage of enlightenement) by listening to the Dhamma. Sumanadevi, the youngest daughter of Anathapindika did even better and she attained Sakadagami Fruition (second stage of enlightenment).
Later, Sumanadevi fell ill and on her death-bed she asked for her father. when her father came, she addressed her father as "younger brother" (Kanittha bhatika) and passed away soon after.was upset to think that his daughter was speaking incoherently at the time of her death.So, he approached the Buddha and reported to him about his daughter, Sumanadevi. Then the Buddha told the noble rich man that his daughter was in her right senses at the time of her passing away. The Buddha also explained that Sumanadevi had addressed her father as "younger brother" because her attainment of Magga (the path of enlightenment) and Phala (fruits of enlightenment) was higher than that of her father's. She was a Sakadagami (once-returner) whereas her father was only a Sotapanna (stream-entry). Anathapindika was also told that Sumanadevi was reborn in the Tusita deva world (blissful state due to her meritorious acts). In other words, one who does meritorious good deeds will be happy in this life and the next when he/she is reborn in a blissful state.
Verse 19-20 : Learning Without Practice is No Use
19. Bahum pi ce saṃhita bhāsamāno, na takkaro hoti naro pamatto Gopo’va gāvo gaṇayaṃ paresaṃ, na bhāgavā sāmaññassa hoti
20. Appam pi ce saṃhita bhāsamāno, dhammassa hoti anudhammacārī Rāgañca dosañca pahāya mohaṃ, sammappajāno suvimuttacitto Anupādiyāno idha vā huraṃ vā, sa bhāgavā sāmaññassa hoti.
19. Although he recites many sacred texts (Tipitaka), But is negligent and does not practise according to the Dhamma. Hence he is like a heedless cowherd who counts the cattle of others, He has no share in the benefits of the life of a bhikkhu (an ascetic).
20. Although he recites little of sacred texts (Tipitaka) But he practices according to the Dhamma, eradicating craving, ill-will and ignorance, He possessed the right knowledge, with his mind well-freed, clinging to nothing in this or next world. He shares the benefits of the life of a bhikkhu (An ascetic)
Related story: The Two Friends While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses 19 and 20, with reference to two bhikkhus who were friends.
Once there were two monks who were friends from Savatthi. One of them learned the Tipitaka (teachings of Buddha) and was very proficient in reciting and preaching the sacred texts but did not practice meditation. He taught 500 monks and became the instructor of 18 groups of bhikkhus. The other monk striving diligently and ardently in the course of Insight Meditation attained arahantship (enlightenment) together with Analytical Insight. On one occasion, both of them came to the Jetavana monastery, the two bhikkhus met. The master of the Tipitaka did not realize that the other had already become an arahat (enlightened one). He looked down on the other, thinking that this old monk knew very little of the sacred texts, so he wanted to embarass him by asking him questions in front of Buddha. Buddha knew about his unkind intention and he knew that as a result of giving trouble to such a noble disciple, the learned bhikkhu would be reborn in a lower world.
So, out of compassion, the Buddha visited the two bhikkhus to prevent the scholar from questioning the other bhikkhu. Buddha himself did the questioning. Buddha asked some practical questions about the Dhamma. The Arahant answered them all from his personal experience, but the learned monk could not, as he had not attained anything.Buddha praised the Arahant who had practised and understood the Dhamma well.
The resident disciples could not understand why the Buddha had words of praise for the old bhikkhu and not for their learned teacher. So Buddha explained that although the learned monk knows a great deal but he does not practice in accordance with the Dhamma. So he is like a cowherd, who looks after the cows for wages, while the one who practises in accordance with the Dhamrna is like the owner who enjoys the five kinds of produce of the cows. Hence the learned monk could not enjoy the benefits of Magga-phala (fruits of enlightenment). Whereas the other bhikkhu who has attained enlightenment, truly shares the benefits of Magga-phala.
In other words, even if someone studies the teachings by heart but do not practice what they have learnt, they will not attain and will not enjoy the fruits of enlightenment. Whereas for another who may not know all of the teachings but practices in accordingly and having understood the meaning behind the teachings, will attain and enjoy the fruits of enlightenment. We must learn and practice at the same time.