a collection of
Buddhist Wisdom Verses

16: Vāyāmavaggo
Effort

Jā 539 Mahājanakajātakaṁ These verses also occur in Jā 483 Sarabhamigajātakaṁ.1
Bodhisatta Mahājanaka

Never give up Hope

A King, while enjoying the royal festivities, reflects on how he strove when he was lost in the ocean, never giving up hope of claiming his throne.

301. Vāyametheva Puriso, na nibbindeyya Paṇḍito,
A Wise Person should endeavour, never wearying,

Passāmi vohaṁ attānaṁ yathā icchaṁ tathā ahu.
I see this for myself, he is like one who has (good) desire.

302. Vāyametheva Puriso, na nibbindeyya Paṇḍito,
A Wise Person should endeavour, never wearying,

Passāmi vohaṁ attānaṁ, udakā thalam-ubbhataṁ.
I see this for myself, (like) one pulled from water to land.

303. Dukkhūpanīto pi Naro Sapañño,
The Wise Person brought into suffering,

Āsaṁ na chindeyya sukhāgamāya,
Will not cut off his hope of approaching happiness,

Bahū hi phassā ahitā hitā ca,
There are many contacts, both beneficial and unbeneficial,

Avitakkitā Maccum-upabbajanti.
(But) without a thought they go to meet Death.

SN 1.2.8 Tāyanasuttaṁ These two verses = Dhp 313-314. 2
The Godly Son Tāyana

Wrong-Doing and the Well-done

This is the teaching of the Godly Son (Devaputta) Tāyana, which was confirmed by the Buddha, and recommended to the monks.

304. Kayirā ce kayirāthenaṁ, daḷham-enaṁ parakkame,
If he would do what should be done, he should be firm in (his) effort,

Sithilo hi paribbājo bhiyyo ākirate rajaṁ.
For the wanderer who is lax spreads a lot of impurity.

305. Akataṁ dukkataṁ seyyo, pacchā tappati dukkataṁ,
Better undone is a wrong-doing, a wrong-doing one later regrets.

Katañ-ca sukataṁ seyyo, yaṁ katvā nānutappati.
Better done is what is well-done, which when done one does not regret.

MN 131 Text wrongly attributes this gāthā to the Maggavagga of the Dhammapada. It is quoted in the Dhammapadaṭṭhakathā, but it is from Majjhimanikāya. 3 Bhaddekarattasuttaṁ
One Fortunate Night

The Need to Act Today

One of the verses spoken by the Buddha that were later analysed by the Buddha and, in separate discourses, by three of his monks.

306. Ajjeva kiccam-ātappaṁ, ko jaññā? maraṇaṁ suve,
Today exertion should be made, who knows? (maybe) death tomorrow,

Na hi no saṅgaraṁ tena mahāsenena Maccunā.
There is no bribing Comm: Saṅgaro ti hi mittasanthavākāralañjānuppadānabalarāsīnaṁ nāmaṁ; bribery means the state of handing over a massive bribe to one's friends and companions. 4 of Death and his great armies with (promises). Comm: katipāhaṁ tāva āgamehi yāvāhaṁ Buddhapūjādiṁ attano avassayakammaṁ karomi; (saying): give me a few days more while I worship the Buddha by giving him support. 5

Iti 78 Dhātusosandanasuttaṁ
Flowing from the Elements

Shunning the Indolent

The Buddha teaches how like attracts like: if one mixes with the indolent one becomes lazy; if one mixes with the energetic, one will make a good effort.?

307. Parittaṁ dārum-āruyha yathā sīde mahaṇṇave,
Like one who has mounted a little piece of wood will sink in the great ocean,

Evaṁ kusītam-āgamma sādhujīvī pi sīdati,
So owing to the indolent the one who lives well will sink,

Tasmā taṁ parivajjeyya kusītaṁ hīnavīriyaṁ.
Therefore one should shun that indolent one with poor energy.

Jā 71 Varaṇajātakaṁ
The Varaṇa Tree

Doing one's Duties on Time

A brāhman student sleeps under a tree when he is supposed to be collecting wood. Being woken up he quickly climbs the tree and grabs some green wood. The following day the cook cannot cook with it, everyone is delayed, and they miss their lunch.

308. Yo pubbe karaṇīyāni, pacchā so kātum-icchati,
One who in the past had duties, and in the future (still) wishes to do (them),

Varuṇakaṭṭhabhañjo va, sa pacchā anutappati.
Like the one who broke the Varuṇa branch, regrets it in the future.

DN 31 Sigālasuttaṁ
Advice to Sigāla

He who Does his Duty

More advice to Sigāla on how to put aside his comfort and do his duty.

309. Atisītaṁ ati-uṇhaṁ, atisāyam-idaṁ ahu,
It is too cold, it is too hot, it is too late, is what they say,

Iti vissaṭṭhakammante, atthā accenti, māṇave.
Speaking like this, they leave off work, Comm: evaṁ vatvā pariccattakammante. 6 until the chance has passed, young man.

310. Yodha sītañ-ca uṇhañ-ca tiṇā bhiyyo na maññati,
The person who gives no more thought to cold and to heat than to grass here,

Karaṁ purisakiccāni, sa pacchā Thai: so sukhā; [in the future does not lose his] happiness. 7 na vihāyati. Text: nānutappati; does not regret it later. 8
The person who does his duty, does not undergo loss later.

Jā 49 Nakkhattajātakaṁ
Lucky Stars

Taking one's Opportunity

A marriage has been arranged, but an angry ascetic prevents one party from going, saying it is not auspicious. When they go the next day the girl has already been married off to another.

311. Nakkhattaṁ paṭimānentaṁ attho bālaṁ upaccagā,
While waiting on (your) lucky stars a good thing passes the fool by,

Attho atthassa nakkhattaṁ, kiṁ karissanti tārakā?
Good (itself) is good's lucky star, what can constellations achieve?

Jā 4 Cullaseṭṭhijātakaṁ
The Junior Merchant

Rags to Riches

A young man, starting with a dead mouse, is careful in his trading and in making friends, and so by and by he makes his fortune.

312. Appakena pi medhāvī pābhatena Vicakkhaṇo,
Even with a little, an intelligent and Wise One, by virtue of a (good) present,

Samuṭṭhāpeti attānaṁ, aṇuṁ aggiṁ va sandhamaṁ.
Can raise himself up, like a small wind (can raise) a fire.

Jā 284 Sirijātakaṁ
Good Luck

Fortune sides with the Meritorious

A wood-collector has the chance of good luck, but looses it to an elephant-trainer, who by evening is raised to King of the country.

313. Yaṁ ussukā saṅgharanti alakkhikā bahuṁ dhanaṁ,
Whatever effort the unlucky make in accumulating great wealth,

Sippavanto asippā ca, lakkhī va tāni bhuñjare. Text, BJT, ChS: bhuñjati; singular form where a plural is required. 9
Endowed with a craft or not, the fortunate ones will enjoy.

314. Sabbattha katapuññassa, aticcaññeva pāṇino,
For the one who has merit in every way, having overcome (other) creatures,

Uppajjanti bahū bhogā, appanāyatanesu pi.
Great riches arise, even when making little effort.

Jā 152 Sigālajātakaṁ
The Jackal

Acting without Consideration

A pack of lions, wanting to avenge the insult on their sister, pounce on what looks like a jackal, but it is in fact only a reflection. They all die apart from the Bodhisatta who understands the situation and speaks these words.

315. Asamekkhitakammantaṁ turitābhinipātinaṁ,
Those who undertake work without consideration quickly fall away,

Tāni kammāni tappenti, Tappati is being used here in the sense of anutappati. 10 uṇhaṁ vajjhohitaṁ Parse: va + ajjhohitaṁ. 11 mukhe.
They regret those works, like (they would) something hot crammed into the mouth.

Jā 505 Somanassajātakaṁ
Bodhisatta Somanassa

Inconsiderate and Considerate Action

A false ascetic is scolded by a Prince for his loose ways. The ascetic lies to the King and tries to get the Prince killed, but he defends himself successfully before retiring to the Himālayas.

316. Anisamma kataṁ kammaṁ, anavatthāya cintitaṁ,
A deed done inconsiderately, without balanced thinking, Comm: anavatthapetvā atuletvā atīretvā cintitaṁ. This word is not listed in PED under this form, but see vavatthapeti. 12

Bhesajjasseva BJT: Bhesappasseva? here and below; = Bhesajjassa + iva. 13 vebhaṅgo, vipāko hoti pāpako.
As with a failure in treatment, the result is (bound to be) bad.

317. Nisamma ca kataṁ kammaṁ, sammāvatthāya cintitaṁ,
A deed done considerately, with good and balanced thinking,

Bhesajjasseva sampatti, vipāko hoti bhadrako.
As with with success in treatment, the result is (bound to be) good.