Buddhist Wisdom Verses

15: Kammavaggo

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Deeds and their Results

Dhp 127 Suppabuddhasakyavatthu

Three different groups of monks see a crow die, a woman drowned and themselves buried alive on their way to the Buddha. They decide to ask him why it happened, and he explains there is nowhere to escape from the results of bad actions.

274. Na antalikkhe, na samuddamajjhe,
Na pabbatānaṁ vivaraṁ pavissa:
Na vijjatī so jagatippadeso,
Yatthaṭṭhito muccĕyya pāpakammā.

Neither in the sky, nor in the ocean,
Nor after entering a mountain cleft:
There is no place found on this earth where one
Is free from the results of wicked deeds.

The Revolution of Deeds

SN 1.3.15 Dutiyasaṅgāmasuttaṁ

King Pasenadi defeats King Ajātasattu in battle, takes his four-fold army from him, and, showing mercy, releases him with his life.

275. Hantā labhati hantāraṁ, jetāraṁ labhate jayaṁ,
Akkosako ca akkosaṁ, rosetārañ-ca rosako,
Atha kammavivaṭṭena, so vilutto vilumpati.

The killer finds one who kills him,
The victor will find a victor,
The abuser an abuser,
The wrathful finds one full of wrath,
So too as deeds return to one,
The robber will find himself robbed.

Offending the Inoffensive

Dhp 125 Kokasunakhaluddakavatthu

A hunter blames a monk for his failure to catch game and he sets his dogs on him, chasing him up a tree. The monk’s robe falls over the hunter and the dogs devour him instead.

276. So appaduṭṭhassa narassa dussati,
Suddhassa posassa anaṅgaṇassa,
Tam-eva bālaṁ pacceti pāpaṁ,
Sukhumo rajo paṭivātaṁ va khitto.

One offends against the inoffensive,
A purified and passionless person,
That wicked deed then returns to the fool,
Like fine dust that is thrown against the wind.

The Fruit of Unjust Punishment

Dhp 137-140 Mahāmoggallānattheravatthu

Being fooled by his wife a young man, who was faithfully performing his duty before, murders his parents.

277. Yo daṇḍena adaṇḍesu appaduṭṭhesu dussati,
Dasannam-aññataraṁ ṭhānaṁ khippam-eva nigacchati:

Whoever offends with a stick
Those who are inoffensive and
Harmless will quickly fall into
One of the following ten states:

278. Vedanaṁ pharusaṁ, jāniṁ, sarīrassa ca bhedanaṁ,
Garukaṁ vāpi ābādhaṁ, cittakkhepaṁ va pāpuṇe,

Harsh feelings and loss of his wealth,
And the break-up of the body,
Or even heavy affliction,
Or surely he will lose his mind,

279. Rājato vā upassaggaṁ, abbhakkhānaṁ va dāruṇaṁ.
Parikkhayaṁ va ñātīnaṁ, bhogānaṁ va pabhaṅguraṁ,

There may be danger from the King,
Or slander that is terrible,
He may suffer from loss of kin,
Or from the destruction of wealth,

280. Atha vāssa agārāni aggi ḍahati pāvako,
Kāyassa bhedā duppañño Nirayaṁ so upapajjati.

Also his houses may be consumed
By flames and fire, and at the death
Of the body that foolish one
Will arise in the underworld.

Do not Despise Wickedness

Dhp 121 Asaññataparikkhārabhikkhuvatthu

A monk refuses to look after his requisities, thinking them not worth the trouble. The Buddha admonishes him.

281. Māpamaññetha pāpassa: Na maṁ taṁ āgamissati,
Udabindunipātena udakumbho pi pūrati,
Bālo pūrati pāpassa, thokaṁ thokam-pi ācinaṁ.

One should not despise wickedness
Thinking: it will not come to me,
Through the falling of water drops
The water-pot is quickly filled,
The fool, gathering bit by bit,
Soon becomes full of wickedness.

The Ripening of Wickedness

Dhp 69 Uppalavaṇṇattherīvatthu

A cousin of the nun Uppalavaṇṇā hides in her forest dwelling and rapes her when she returns. This is told to the Buddha.

282. Madhuvā maññati bālo, yāva pāpaṁ na paccati,
Yadā ca paccati pāpaṁ, bālo dukkhaṁ nigacchati.

The fool thinks it sweet, as long as
The wicked deed does not ripen,
But when the wicked deed ripens,
The fool undergoes suffering.

Deeds do not Ripen at Once

Dhp 71 Ahipetavatthu

A man burns down the hut of a Paccekabuddha and eventually is reborn as a snake-ghost, burning the whole length of his long body. He is seen by Ven. Mahāmoggallāna, who relates it to the Buddha.

283. Na hi pāpaṁ kataṁ kammaṁ, sajju khīraṁ va muccati,
Ḍahantaṁ bālam-anveti, bhasmacchanno va pāvako.

A wicked deed that has been done,
Like milk, does not turn all at once,
Smouldering, it follows the fool,
Like a fire covered with ashes.

Avoiding Wickedness

Dhp 123 Mahādhanavāṇijavatthu

A merchant sets out with 500 wagons but learns there are thieves ahead and thieves behind, and so stays put in a village. This is told to the Buddha who draws the lesson therefrom.

284. Vāṇijo va bhayaṁ maggaṁ, appasattho mahaddhano,
Visaṁ jīvitukāmo va, pāpāni parivajjaye.

Like a merchant on fearful path,
With few friends and great wealth, as one
Loving life would avoid poison,
So should one avoid wicked deeds.

Experiencing the Results of Deeds

SN 1.2.22 Khemasuttaṁ

285. Caranti bālā dummedhā amitteneva attanā,
Karontā pāpakaṁ kammaṁ yaṁ hoti kaṭukapphalaṁ.

Foolish, unintelligent folk
Behave like their own enemies,
Doing deeds full of wickedness
That have painful consequences.

286. Na taṁ kammaṁ kataṁ sādhu, yaṁ katvā anutappati,
Yassa assumukho rodaṁ vipākaṁ paṭisevati.

That deed is not a deed well done,
Which having done he will regret,
For he cries with a tearful face
When the result returns to him.

287. Tañ-ca kammaṁ kataṁ sādhu, yaṁ katvā nānutappati,
Yassa patīto sumano vipākaṁ paṭisevati.

But that deed is a deed well done, which
Having done he will not regret,
He is delighted and happy
When the result returns to him.

288. Paṭikacceva taṁ kayirā, yaṁ jaññā hitam-attano,
Na sākaṭikacintāya Mantā Dhīro parakkame.

Cautiously he will do his deeds,
Knowing what benefits himself,
Not with thoughts wrongly directed
Should the Wise One make his effort.

289. Yathā sākaṭiko mattaṁ samaṁ hitvā mahāpathaṁ,
Visamaṁ maggam-āruyha, akkhacchinno ’vajhāyati,

For the drunken carter who has
Abandoned the even highway
And mounted an uneven road,
Will brood on his broken axle,

290. Evaṁ Dhammā apakkamma, adhammam-anuvattiya,
Mando Maccumukhaṁ patto, akkhacchinno va jhāyati.

So too the one who leaves the Dhamma,
And follows what is not Dhamma,
Falls into Death’s mouth, like the one
Brooding on his broken axle.

The Result of not Keeping the Precepts

Dhp 246-7 Pañca-Upāsakavatthu

Laymen are arguing as to which of the precepts is hardest to keep. The Buddha tells them they all are hard, but explains further.

291. Yo pāṇam-atipāteti, musāvādañ-ca bhāsati,
Loke adinnaṁ ādiyati, paradārañ-ca gacchati,

292. Surāmerayapānañ-ca yo naro anuyuñjati,
Idhevam-eso lokasmiṁ, mūlaṁ khaṇati attano.

The one who kills living beings,
And speaks a word that is not true,
Who takes what is not given here,
And who goes to another’s wife,
That person who is devoted
To a drink of liquor, beer and wine,
Digs up his own root in the world.

Rejoicing Here and Hereafter

Dhp 16 Dhammika-Upāsakavatthu

A layman who has long been a supporter lies dying and the monks go to chant for him. Seeing celestial chariots coming to take him away he asks them to wait until the monks finish chanting, but the monks think he is asking them to stop and go away. Later the Buddha explains.

293. Idha modati, pecca modati,
Katapuñño ubhayattha modati,
So modati, so pamodati,
Disvā kammavisuddhim-attano.

Here he rejoices, after death he rejoices,
The righteous one rejoices in both places,
He rejoices, he greatly rejoices,
Seeing the purity of his own deeds.

Holding Oneself Dear

SN 1.3.4 Piyasuttaṁ

King Pasenadi reflects that if one holds oneself dear he would not engage in what is wrong but do what is right. The Buddha concurs.

294. Attānañ-ce piyaṁ jaññā na naṁ pāpena saṁyuje,
Na hi taṁ sulabhaṁ hoti sukhaṁ dukkatakārinā.

If one holds oneself dear one should
Not engage in a wicked deed,
For joy is not easily gained
By those who do that which is wrong.

Fortune and Misfortune

Jā 382 Sirikālakaṇṇijātakaṁ

Two Goddesses, who cannot decide precedence, vie with each other for lying on a virtuous householder’s couch. The one who is even more virtuous than the householder wins.

295. Attanā kurute lakkhiṁ, alakkhiṁ kurutattanā,
Na hi lakkhiṁ alakkhiṁ vā añño aññassa kārako.

By oneself is one’s fortune made,
Misfortune is made by oneself,
No one can make for another
Their fortune or their misfortune.

Consequences of Indulgence and Duty

Jā 537 Mahāsutasomajātakaṁ

Yet more verses by which the Bodhisatta eventually persuades the man-eating King to give up his bad habit.

296. Yo ve Piyaṁ me ti piyānurakkhī,
Attaṁ niraṁkacca, piyāni sevati,
Soṇḍo va pitvā visamissapānaṁ,
Teneva so hoti dukkhī parattha.

He who, being attached to what he craves,
And disregards his true self-interest,
Like a drunkard who has drunk some poison,
Will be the one who suffers hereafter.

297. Yo cīdha saṅkhāya piyāni hitvā,
Kicchena pi sevati Ariyadhammaṁ,
Dukhito va pitvāna yathosadhāni,
Teneva so hoti sukhī parattha.

He who, having abandoned what he likes,
And with difficulty does the right thing,
Like one sick who has drunk the medicine,
Hereafter will be the one who rejoices.

Protecting Life First

Jā 386 Kharaputtajātakaṁ

A King is willing to give up a charm to his wife even though it will cost his life. The Bodhisatta as Sakka, in the form of a goat, persuades him not to be so foolish.

298. Na ve Piyaṁ me ti Janinda tādiso,
Attaṁ niraṅkatvā piyāni sevati.
Attā va seyyo: paramā va seyyo?
Labbhā piyā ocitatthena pacchā.

O King, do not think: It is dear to me,
You should not do what is pleasing to you.
Understanding one’s own interest is best,
Later one gains what is truly pleasing.

Good is hard to Do

Dhp 163 Saṅghabhedaparisakkanavatthu

Devadatta causes a split in the Community and informs Ānanda. The Buddha explains how easy it is to do what is wrong.

299. Sukarāni asādhūni, attano ahitāni ca,
Yaṁ ve hitañ-ca sādhuñ-ca taṁ ve paramadukkaraṁ.

Easily done are things not good,
Unbeneficial for oneself,
But that which is beneficial
Is exceedingly hard to do.

The Good Easily Do Good

Ud 5.8 Ānandasuttaṁ

Devadatta causes a split in the Community and informs Ānanda. The Buddha explains how easy it is to do what is wrong.

300. Pāpaṁ pāpena sukaraṁ, pāpam-ariyehi dukkaraṁ.
Sukaraṁ sādhunā sādhu, sādhu pāpena dukkaraṁ.

Done with ease by the good is good,
But the bad find good hard to do,
Bad is done by the bad with ease,
But the good find bad hard to do.

The Third Hundred