a collection of
Buddhist Wisdom Verses

9: Kataññutāvaggo
Gratefulness

Jā 429 Mahāsukajātakaṁ
The Parrot

Faithfulness in Friendship

Sakka, to try the contentment of a parrot, dries up the tree he lives on, all the other birds desert it but the parrot stays on. Sakka, taking the form of a goose, engaged in this dialogue.

160. “Dumo yadā hoti phalūpapanno
“When a tree is possessed of fruit

Bhuñjanti naṁ vihagā sampatantā.
Birds who fly through the sky will eat from it.

Khīṇan-ti ñatvāna dumaṁ phalaccaye,
(But) having understood: Perished is the tree, devoid of fruit,

Disodisaṁ yanti tato vihaṅgamā.
That flock of birds will flee from there in all directions.

161. Cara cārikaṁ Lohitatuṇḍa mā mari, BJT: mā cari; [but] please don't wander?01
Go on a journey, Red-Beak, but please do not die,

Kiṁ tvaṁ suva sukkhadumamhi jhāyasi?
Why do you, parrot, waste away in this dry (old) tree?

Tad-iṅgha maṁ brūhi, Vasantasannibha,
Please tell this to me, One who resembles the Spring,

Kasmā suva sukkhadumaṁ na riñcasi?”
Why, O parrot, do you not abandon this dry (old) tree?”

162. “Ye ve sakhīnaṁ sakhāro bhavanti,
“We are those who are comrades with a comrade,

Pāṇaccaye dukkhasukhesu Haṁsa,
For as long as breath lasts, Goose, through pain and pleasure,

Khīṇaṁ akhīṇan-ti na taṁ jahanti,
Whether perished or not I will not give it up,

Santo sataṁ Dhammam-anussarantā.
(So thinks) the virtuous, mindful one, remembering the Dhamma.

163. Sohaṁ sataṁ aññatarosmi Haṁsa,
I also for certain, Goose, am mindful,

Ñātī ca me hoti sakhā ca rukkho.
The tree to me is (like) a relative and comrade.

Taṁ nussahe jīvikattho pahātuṁ,
I am unable, for sake of life, to abandon it,

Khīṇan-ti ñatvāna, na hesa Dhammo.”
(Though) having understood: It has perished, for this is not Dhamma.”

Jā 430 Cullasukajātakaṁ
The Parrot

Faithfulness in Friendship

Sakka, to try the contentment of a parrot, dries up the tree he lives on, all the other birds desert it but the parrot stays on. Sakka, taking the form of a goose, engaged in this dialogue.

164. “Santi rukkhā haritapattā, dumā nekaphalā bahū,
“There are many green-leaved trees, trees which have many fruits,

Kasmā nu sukkhe koḷāpe suvassa nirato mano?”
Why in this dry and hollow tree does the parrot's mind find delight?”

165. “Phalassa upabhuñjimhā nekavassagaṇe bahū,
“For many years the flock (of birds) ate many of the fruits,

Aphalam-pi viditvāna sāva metti yathā pure.”
Although having understood: It is fruitless, (still) there is love for it, I don't understand sāva, I read it as though it were a contraction from saha va, which appears to be the meaning in the Comm.: saddhiṁ metti, sāva metti. 02 as in the past.”

166. “Sukkhañ-ca rukkhaṁ koḷāpaṁ, opattam-aphalaṁ dumaṁ,
“This dried-up tree is dead, it is a tree without leaves or fruit,

Ohāya sakuṇā yanti, kiṁ dosaṁ passase Thai: maññase; [what wrong...] are you thinking? 03 dija?”
Having given it up the birds departed, what wrong, twice-born one, A bird is born once in an egg, and again when he breaks out, therefore he is known as twice-born. 04 do you see?”

167. “Ye phalatthā sambhajanti, aphalo ti jahanti naṁ,
“Those who loved it for its fruit (alone), now fruitless abandon it,

Attatthapaññā dummedhā, te honti pakkhapātino.”
The unintelligent, wise only in their own benefit, have flown away (from their friend).” Comm: mittapakkhaṁ pātenti nāsenti; thrown off, destroyed their association with their friend. 05

Jā 44 Makasajātakaṁ
The Mosquito

Understanding Consequences

To rid his father of a mosquito that has landed on his head a son takes an axe and slaughters both the mosquito and his father with one blow. cf. 440 below, in which a maid kills her Mother in much the same way. 06

168. Seyyo amitto matiyā upeto
Better a foe endowed with wisdom

Na tveva mitto mativippahīno,
Than a friend lacking in wisdom,

Makasaṁ vadhissan-ti hi eḷamūgo
* Thinking: I will kill a mosquito, the foolish

Putto pitū abbhidā uttamaṅgaṁ.
Son broke asunder his Father's head. Lit: supreme limb = head. 07

Jā 522 Sarabhaṅgajātakaṁ
Bodhisatta Sarabhaṅga

Qualities Esteemed in the World

Sakka asks the Bodhisatta for a definition of the Good Person (Sappurisa)

169. Yo ve kataññū katavedi Dhīro,
That Wise One who is grateful and thankful,

Kalyāṇamitto daḷhabhattī ca hoti,
That spiritual friend who has firm devotion,

Dukhitassa sakkacca karoti kiccaṁ,
Respectfully does his duty for one in pain,

Tathāvidhaṁ Sappurisaṁ vadanti.
(Therefore) such a one is called a Good Person.

SN 1.11.11 Vatapadasuttaṁ
The (Seven) Vows

The Qualities of a Good Person

The Buddha explains that Sakka, the Lord of the Gods, received his position after undertaking seven vows, which are outlined here.

170. Mātāpettibharaṁ jantuṁ, kule jeṭṭhāpacāyinaṁ,
The being who supports Mother and Father, and is respectful to elders in the family,

Saṇhaṁ sakhilasambhāsaṁ, pesuṇeyyappahāyinaṁ,
Gentle and kindly in speech, abandoning slanderous speech,

171. Maccheravinaye yuttaṁ, saccaṁ, kodhābhibhuṁ naraṁ:
Engaged in the restraint of selfishness, the person who is truthful, having overcome anger:

Taṁ ve Devā Tāvatiṁsā āhu Sappuriso iti.
The Gods of Tāvatiṁsa say: that one is a Good Person.

Jā 72 Sīlavanāgarājajātakaṁ
The Virtuous Dragon-King

Greed brings Dire Consequences

A forester, lost in the forest, is saved by the Bodhisatta, a King of the Elephants. Later he returns and asks for the Bodhisatta's tusks, which he readily gives. But not satisfied he returns again and demands the roots of the tusks. While leaving the earth opens up and swallows him.

172. Akataññussa posassa niccaṁ vivaradassino,
The ungrateful man is always on the look-out for an opening,

Sabbañ-ce pathaviṁ dajjā, neva naṁ abhirādhaye.
(But) even given the whole world, he still wouldn't be satisfied.

Jā 73 Saccaṁkirajātakaṁ
Asservation of Truth

The Power of Truth

The Bodhisatta saves a wicked prince who, when later he has ascended the throne, seeing him in the capital, has him flogged and taken out for execution. The Bodhisatta doesn't get upset but repeats this verse. The people set him free, and kill the wicked King instead.

173. Saccaṁ kir-evam-āhaṁsu narā ekacciyā idha:
This truth it seems was known Lit: heard. 08 by some people here:

Kaṭṭhaṁ niplavitaṁ seyyo na tvevekacciyo naro.
A floating log is (much) better than some people.

Jā 150 Sañjīvajātakaṁ
The Brahmin Youth Sañjīva

Unexpected Consequences

The Bodhisatta teaches a brahmin youth a spell for restoring life to the dead. Thoughtlessly the youth uses it on a tiger who then kills and eats him.

174. Asantaṁ yo pagaṇhāti, asantañ-cūpasevati,
He who favours the bad, and mixes with the bad,

Tam-eva ghāsaṁ kurute, vyaggho Sañjīvako yathā.
Makes fodder of himself, like Sañjīvaka (and) the tiger.

Jā 302 Mahā-assārohajātakaṁ See above 137, 138, for the first two of the verses in this Jātaka. 09
The Great Horseman

The Reward for Good Actions

A royalist treats with kindness a great horseman – the King himself – who has been defeated in battle. The great horseman tells him if he comes to the city he will receive his reward. One day the man comes and the King gives him half his kingdom.

175. Saṁyogasambhogavisesadassanaṁ
Whatever good he sees in association or living together

Anariyadhammesu saṭhesu nassati,
Goes to waste on the ignoble and treacherous,

Katañ-ca Ariyesu ca añjasesu, ChS: ajjavesu; [But whatever is done] that is Noble and upright. 10
But whatever is done along the Noble way,

Mahapphalaṁ Text: Mahapphalo; but phala is normally neuter. 11 hoti aṇum-pi tādisu.
Even if it is a small thing it has great fruit.

176. Yo pubbe katakalyāṇo, akā loke sudukkaraṁ,
He who has done good in the past, who has done what is very difficult to do in the world,

Pacchā kayirā na vā kayirā, accantaṁ pūjanāraho.
In the future whether doing (good) or not doing, he is worthy of endless veneration. Paraphrase: whether he does something good in the future or not, he is still worthy of veneration. 12

Jā 445 Nigrodhajātakaṁ
The Bodhisatta Nigrodha

Deeds are Seeds

Three boys receive an education, two rich, one poor, whose fees are paid for by the first of the boys. Later the poor boy finds out how to become King, but bestows it on his benefactor, and the second boy becomes the Commander-in-Chief. Later the latter abuses and disowns him, but the King (the Bodhisatta) rebukes the Commander-in-Chief, and utters these verses.

177. Yathā pi bījam-aggimhi ḍayhati na virūhati,
Just as a seed burned in a fire does not produce fruit,

Evaṁ kataṁ asappurise nassatī na virūhati.
Even so what is done for the bad person is wasted and does not produce (good) fruit.

178. Kataññumhi ca posamhi, sīlavante ariyavuttine,
But for the grateful person, virtuous, of noble conduct,

Sukhette viya bījāni, kataṁ tamhi na nassati.
These are like good seeds, there is no waste in what is done.

Jā 90 Akataññujātakaṁ
Ungratefulness

The Reciprocity of Deeds

A merchant sends a caravan to Sāvatthī and is helped by Anāthapiṇḍika; later the latter sends a caravan back to the merchant, but they are rebuked; when they come again to Sāvatthī and are robbed they are left with no one to help them.

179. Yo pubbe katakalyāṇo katattho nāvabujjhati,
He who doesn't acknowledge a good deed that was done in the past,

Pacchā kicce samuppanne kattāraṁ nādhigacchati.
When a need arises in the future finds no one comes to help.

Jā 409 Daḷhadhammajātakaṁ
Steadiness

Remembering Service Rendered

An elephant renders great service to the King, but once grown old is neglected and scorned. The Bodhisatta admonishes the King with these verses.

180. Yo pubbe katakalyāṇo katattho nāvabujjhati,
He who doesn't acknowledge a good deed that was done in the past,

Atthā tassa palujjanti, ye honti abhipatthitā.
Whatever his gains, so desired, they will (surely) decrease.

181. Yo pubbe katakalyāṇo katattho-m-anubujjhati, Text: katattham-anubujjhati. In the text there is an unusual sandhi consonant, which doesn't normally occur after long vowels; I would prefer to leave it out, and read: katattho anubujjhati. 13
He who does acknowledge a good deed that was done in the past,

Atthā tassa pavaḍḍhanti, Text: pavaḍḍhati; singular where plural is required. 14 ye honti abhipatthitā.
Whatever his gains, so desired, they will (surely) increase.

AN 3.26 Sevitabbasuttaṁ
To Be Associated With

Who to Follow?

The Buddha explains to the monks the three types of person in the world and what their attitude should be towards them, and summarises the teaching with a verse.

182. Nihiyati puriso nihīnasevī,
A person is brought low by mixing with the lowly,

Na ca hāyetha kadāci tulyasevī,
By mixing with equals he is never brought down,

Seṭṭham-upanamaṁ udeti khippaṁ,
By inclining to the best he quickly rises up,

Tasmā attanŏ uttariṁ bhajetha.
Therefore he should keep company with those better than himself.

Jā 308 Javasakuṇajātakaṁ
The Swift Bird

Abandoning an Ingrate

A bird helps a lion by removing a bone stuck in its throat, but when asked to requite he haughtily refuses.

183. Akataññum-akattāraṁ, katass' appaṭikārakaṁ,
An ingrate is one who does not requite whatever has been done (for him),

Yasmiṁ kataññutā natthi, niratthā tassa sevanā.
There is no point in mixing with him is whom gratitude is not found.

184. Yassa Thai: Yattha; I would have expected a variant with an ablative tasmā which is what is required by the sense. 15 sammukhaciṇṇena mittadhammo na labbhati,
From that one in whom friendliness is habitually lacking,

Anusūyam-anakkosaṁ, saṇikaṁ tamhā apakkame.
Without jealousy or insult, he should gently depart.