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Buddhist Wisdom Verses
Pāli verses with English translation in this collection of 551 wisdom verses and their background stories from the Pāli canon (with an embedded reading of the text).
The Most Venerable
Rerukane Candavimala Mahanāhimi
(Former Mahānāyaka of the Sri Lankan Svejin Nikāya)
(first published, February 2011)
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After hearing the Dhamma people understand what is good and bad,
After hearing these verses my mind delights in the Dhamma.
from the Sutasomajātakaṁ
The following work is based on a book known under its Sinhala title as the Buddha Nīti Saṅgrahaya of Ven. Rerukane Candavimala, the former Mahānāyaka of the Swejin Nikāya in Sri Lanka, which is my ordination sect.
Ven. Rerukane Candavimala, who passed away in 1999 just short of his 100th brithday, was one of the foremost scholars in Sri Lanka in the 20th century, and his works, which cover the whole range of Buddhist studies, including Vinaya, Discourses, Abhidhamma and Meditation, are all still standard works of reference in the country.
Unfortunately his impact has been limited to the Sinhala speaking peoples, as only one of his many works (there are more than 30) has so far been translated into English: Analysis of Perfections (BPS, Kandy 2003), original title (Paramatthaprakaranaya).
I hope the present work, which has been a long-cherished project, will go some way to making his name better known in the English-speaking world, and it is offered as a small tribute to the Venerable Monk's life and work.
* * *
In preparing this volume for publication I have made a number of changes which seemed necessary during the course of my working on the text.
The most obvious of these is the division of the verses into chapters, whereas in the original they were organised into hundreds (sataka). This original structure remains intact, and can be seen in the end-titles of each section, but I have de-emphasised it in favour of the chapter arrangement.01 I feel this helps to identify the sections and makes it easier for people to access relevant material also. The chapters are each around 20 verses long, so another advantage is they become easy enough to read and digest a chapter at a time.
I have also added in a short synopsis of the story that forms the basis for the verses, as in many cases it was difficult or even impossible to make sense of the verse without it, especially when there were references to characters in the verses that appeared in the stories; and I have further pointed out the moral of the verses. This was also done in the original text, but I have not followed that schema here, preferring to summarise it myself. 02 In a few cases, where I felt that some verses contained matter that is offensive to our modern sensibilities, I have replaced them with verses which I deem to be more appropriate. This only effects the following verses: 228-230 (replaced with verses from the Tesakuṇajātakaṁ); 475-478 (replaced with verses from the Vessantarajātakaṁ) both from the infamous Kuṇālajātakaṁ.03
It has proved necessary to re-establish the texts that were used. I was not intending to do this, but the fact of the matter is the original publication contains many mistakes in the printing, and in checking these it also became clear that there were many readings that could be adopted that would make better sense than the ones the text employed. I therefore eventually checked the text (Text) against the Sinhalese Buddha Jayanti (BJT) edition, the Burmese Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana (ChS) and the Royal Thai (Thai) editions also.
I have also added in better references than were given in the original, where it would only say something like: Saṁyutta Nikāya; or Dh. Malavagga; or 30 Ni. Mahākapi Jā; and so on. Here I give more exact references: SN 1.1.76 Najīratisuttaṁ; Dhp 246-7 Pañca-Upāsakavatthu (the title coming from the commentary); Jā 516 Mahākapijātakaṁ. I have included some cross-references when they came to my notice, though I would have liked to have been more thorough about this.
I have divided the text into 3 editions so that readers can find the most appropriate one for their reading. The first is in Pāḷi-only, which shows the complete framework for the establishment of the text, including all the metrical information that helped in choosing the readings. I have also read in the text and am making it available as mp3 files, so that students can hear what the text and the metres sound like.
The Text and Translation edition on the other hand leaves out all the metrical information, and presents the text with the Pāḷi and the translation line by line, and gives a translation of the alternative readings, whenever they differed from the adopted text. This is useful for students, who want to gain access to the original language, but for whom a translation is still a necessary help.
The English edition is for those who simply want to read and understand the teachings that are contained in the verses, or are seeking advice on the best way of living their everyday lives.
I have included the Pāḷi in this edition, but I have deliberately avoided annotation here so that the message can be better conveyed, and also because this section is being published as audio .mp3 files, where annotation is superfluous. This edition is also available in .epub and .mobi formats for your eReader.
I have complemented the various editions by adding in various hyperlinked indexes that help access the material, and that are contained in the most relevant edition. There are also separate introductions to the different versions, giving extra and relevant information.
last updated: February 2011