Buddhist Wisdom Verses

8: Vacanavaggo

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Not Listening to Divisive Speech

Jā 361 Vaṇṇārohajātakaṁ

A jackal tries to divide a lion and a tiger by sowing dissension so he can eat their flesh. They remain friends and the jackal flees.

141. Yo paresaṁ vacanāni saddahetha yathātathaṁ,
Khippaṁ bhijjetha mittasmiṁ, verañ-ca pasave bahuṁ.

He who listens to another,
Accepting his words as true,
Will quickly break off with his friend,
Bringing a great deal of hatred.

142. Na so mitto yo sadā appamatto,
Bhedāsaṅkī randham-evānupassī,
Yasmiñ-ca seti urasīva putto,
Sa ve mitto so abhejjo parehi.

A friend should always be heedful,
Not seeking dissession or fault,
Like a child lying on the breast,
A friend should not cut off his friends.

Reconciliation and Responsibility

Jā 312 Kassapamandiyajātakaṁ

A father and a younger brother argue along the road, and the Bodhisatta reproves them with these words.

143. Sace pi santo vivadanti, khippaṁ sandhīyare puna,
Bālā pattā va bhijjanti, na te samatham-ajjhagū,
144. Ete bhiyyo samāyanti sandhi tesaṁ na jīrati.

If good people quarrel, they should
Quickly join together again,
Making a strong, undecaying bond,
Only fools, like broken bowls,
Do not come to a settlement.

Yo cādhipannaṁ jānāti, yo ca jānāti desanaṁ,
145. Eso hi uttaritaro bhāravaho dhurandharo,
Yo paresādhipannānaṁ sayaṁ sandhātum-arahati.

He who understands the problem,
He who understands the teaching,
Is a brother who bears his duties,
He is surely worthy to be
A conciliator of others.

Friendship is more Valuable than Wealth

Jā 131 Asampadānajātakaṁ

A rich man gives half his wealth to one fallen on hard times; but when he is in need himself the other offers him only rice gruel. He accepts it so as not to rebuff the obligations of friendship. Later the King hears about it and restores his wealth.

146. Asampadānenitarītarassa,
Bālassa mittāni kalībhavanti,
Tasmā harāmi bhusaṁ aḍḍhamānaṁ,
Mā me mitti jīyittha sassatāya.

To that fool having no understanding,
Friends are considered to be distressful,
Therefore I take his half-measure of chaff,
May I not be deprived of his friendship.

Who to Keep Company With

Dhp 78 Channattheravatthu

The monk Channa is always abusing Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna. When the Buddha finds out he admonishes him thus.

147. Na bhaje pāpake mitte, na bhaje purisādhame,
Bhajetha mitte kalyāṇe, bhajetha purisuttame.

One should not keep company with those wicked friends,
One should not keep company with the ignoble,
You should keep company with spiritual friends,
You should keep company with those superior.

True Friends

Jā 528 Mahābodhijātakaṁ

The Bodhisatta is an ascetic who is invited by the King to stay in his park. After some time the King plots to kill him, and he decides to leave. When questioned why he is going this is his reply.

148. Vītasaddhaṁ na seveyya, udapānaṁ va nodakaṁ,
Sace pi naṁ anukhaṇe, vārikaddamagandhikaṁ.

One should not mix with the faithless,
They are like wells without water,
Even if you dig out the well,
The water will still smell of mud.

149. Pasannam-eva seveyya, appasannaṁ vivajjaye,
Pasannaṁ payirupāseyya, rahadaṁ vodakatthiko.

One should mix with the faithful one,
And avoid the one without faith,
One should gather round the faithful,
Like one thirsty goes to a lake.

150. Bhaje bhajantaṁ purisaṁ, abhajantaṁ na bhajjaye,
Asappurisadhammo so yo bhajantaṁ na bhajjati.

One should love the lovely person,
And not love those who aren’t lovely,
That’s a bad person’s policy:
He who does not love the lovely.

151. Yo bhajantaṁ na bhajati, sevamānaṁ na sevati,
Sa ve manussapāpiṭṭho, migo sākhassito yathā.

He who does not love the lovely,
Nor associate with true friends,
Is one who enjoys wickedness,
Like a monkey hanging from branch.

Deeds not Words Measure a Friend

Jā 476 Javanahaṁsajātakaṁ

A King of the geese is invited by the King of men to stay with him, but he declines with these words.

152. Suvijānaṁ sigālānaṁ sakuntānañ-ca vassitaṁ,
Manussavassitaṁ Rāja dubbijānataraṁ tato.

The cry of jackals and of birds
Can be easily understood,
But the cry and speech of humans
Is much harder to understand.

153. Api ce maññati poso: Ñāti mitto sakhā ti vā,
Yo pubbe sumano hutvā, pacchā sampajjate diso.

Although a person thinks: He is
My relative and my comrade,
He who made him happy before
In the future becomes his foe.

154. Yasmiṁ mano nivisati avidūre sahāpi so,
Santike pi hi so dūre yasmiṁ vivasate mano.

In whomever the mind is pleased
He is not far away, he’s near,
But in whom the mind is not pleased
Although near he is far indeed.

155. Anto pi so hoti pasannacitto,
Pāraṁ samuddassa pasannacitto;
Anto pi so hoti paduṭṭhacitto,
Pāraṁ samuddassa paduṭṭhacitto.

The one whose mind is purified,
Still has pure mind across the sea;
The one whose mind is corrupted,
Still has corrupt mind across the sea.

The Consequences of Listening to Slander

Jā 349 Sandhibhedajātakaṁ

A jackal using slander sets two friends fighting, a bull and a lion, and eventually they kill each other. The jackal then eats their flesh. The King of men, the Bodhisatta, reflects on it in these verses addressed to his charioteer.

156. Neva itthīsu sāmaññaṁ nāpi bhakkhesu, Sārathī,
Athassa sandhibhedassa passa yāva sucintitaṁ.

Neither in females nor in food
Had they anything in common,
See how far this was well thought-out
To break apart their common bond.

157. Asi tikkho va maṁsamhi, pesuññaṁ parivattati,
Yatthūsabhañ-ca sīhañ-ca bhakkhayanti migādhamā.

As sharp as a sword in the flesh,
Slander surely turns them around,
The bull and lion were eaten
By the meanest of animals.

158. Imaṁ so sayanaṁ seti, sa-y-imaṁ passasi, Sārathī,
Yo vācaṁ sandhibhedassa pisuṇassa nibodhati.

He lies there brought down to the ground,
This is the fate of anyone
Who attends to a slanderer,
To the one who breaks bonds apart.

159. Te janā sukham-edhanti, narā Saggagatā-r-iva,
Ye vācaṁ sandhibhedassa nāvabodhanti, Sārathī.

Those people will gain happiness,
Like those people gone to Heaven,
Who do not attend to the word
Of that one who breaks bonds apart.