Buddhist Wisdom Verses

17: Dhanavaggo

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The Wise do not Panic

Jā 322 Daddabhajātakaṁ

A hare hears the noise of a fruit falling and thinking it omens the end of the world he starts to run which panics all the other animals who also flee. The Bodhisatta finds out the cause and calms them down.

318. Beluvaṁ patitaṁ sutvā daddabhan-ti saso javi,
Sasassa vacanaṁ sutvā santattā migavāhinī.

Hearing the sound of the fruit fall
The scared hare ran away afraid,
Having heard the cry of the hare
Many animals were alarmed.

319. Appatvā padaviññāṇaṁ, paraghosānusārino,
Panādaparamā bālā te honti parapattiyā.

Without having cognised the truth,
They listened to another’s word,
Those fools surely relied upon
The great noise made by another.

320. Ye ca sīlena sampannā, paññāyūpasame ratā,
Ārakā viratā dhīrā, na honti parapattiyā.

But those endowed with strong virtue,
Who take delight in wisdom’s calm,
The ones who are firm keep away,
They don’t rely upon others.

Keeping to one’s own Habitat

Jā 204 Vīrakajātakaṁ

A city crow named Saviṭṭhaka (Devadatta) has to leave his home and finds a water crow to serve. Thinking he can swim like his master he attempts to dive for fish, but dies in the attempt.

321. Udakathalacarassa pakkhino,
Niccaṁ āmakamacchabhojino:
Tassānukaraṁ Saviṭṭhako
Sevāle paḷiguṇṭhito mato.

That bird at home on water and on land,
Who constantly enjoys fresh fish to eat:
Through imitating him the city crow
Died caught up in the lakeside weeds.

Knowing one’s Strengths

Jā 335 Jambukajātakaṁ

A jackal (Devadatta) who lives on the food left over by a Lion decides to act like a lion himself and against all good advice attacks an elephant, only to be slaughtered on the spot.

322. Asīho sīhamānena, yo attānaṁ vikubbati,
Koṭṭhū va gajam-āsajja, seti bhūmyā anutthunaṁ.

The one who, though not a lion,
Assumes the pride of a lion,
Like the jackal and elephant,
Will end up groaning on the floor.

323. Yasassino uttamapuggalassa,
Sañjātakhandhassa mahabbalassa,
Asamekkhiyā thāmabalūpapattiṁ,
Sa seti nāgena hato va jambuko.

He may be famous, considered supreme,
He may have bodily power and strength,
But being hasty he will be slaughtered
By the powerful, just like the jackal.

324. Yo cīdha kammaṁ kurute pamāya,
Thāmabbalaṁ attani saṁviditvā,
Jappena mantena subhāsitena,
Parikkhavā so vipulaṁ jināti.

But having the measure of his deeds here,
Understanding his own power and strength,
Listening to good advice, well-spoken,
Being discrete, he will succeed.

Acting at the Right Time and Speed

Jā 345 Gajakumbhajātakaṁ

A King is very slothful so the Bodhisatta shows him a tortoise and explains its characteristics. The King understands the lesson and reforms his ways.

325. Yo dandhakāle tarati, taraṇīye ca dandhati,
Sukkhapaṇṇaṁ va akkamma, atthaṁ bhañjati attano.

Being quick when he should take care,
Taking care when he should be quick,
He will destroy his own welfare
Like a leaf trodden under foot.

326. Yo dandhakāle dandheti, taraṇīye ca tārayi,
Sasīva rattiṁ vibhajaṁ, tassattho paripūrati.

Taking care when he should take care,
Being quick when he should be quick,
He will fulfil his own welfare
Like the moon that will soon be full.


Jā 183 Vālodakajātakaṁ

Horses that have been in battle are given fine wine but remain sober; while the strained leftovers are fed to the donkeys – who all become drunk on it.

327. Vālodakaṁ apparasaṁ nihīnaṁ,
Pitvā mado jāyati gadrabhānaṁ.
Imañ-ca pitvāna rasaṁ paṇītaṁ
Mado na sañjāyati sindhavānaṁ.

Having drunk this despicable liquor,
The donkeys became intoxicated.
Whereas after drinking this fine liquor
Thoroughbred horses were not affected.

328. Appaṁ pivitvāna nihīnajacco
So majjatī tena Janinda puṭṭho.
Dhorayhasīlo ca, kulamhi jāto,
Na majjatī aggarasaṁ pivitvā.

After drinking something poor the low man
Will soon become drunk, O Leader of Men.
But the virtuous one, after drinking
Even the best liquor does not get drunk.

Protecting Good Fortune

Jā 291 Bhadraghaṭajātakaṁ

A worthless fellow is given a jar that will provide him with all he needs, but being dissolute he uses it to get drunk, breaks it and is reduced to poverty once again.

329. Sabbakāmadadaṁ kumbhaṁ, kuṭaṁ laddhāna’ dhuttako,
Yāva so anupāleti, tāva so sukham-edhati.

A fool received a water-pot,
Which gave everything he wished for,
While he looked after it, he was
Successful in his happiness.

330. Yadā matto ca ditto ca pamādā kumbham-abbhidā,
Tadā naggo ca pottho ca, pacchā bālo vihaññati.

But when he got drunk and heedless
He dropped and broke that water-pot,
Then naked and miserable,
He afterwards suffered hardship.

331. Evam-eva yo dhanaṁ laddhā, amattā paribhuñjati,
Pacchā tappati dummedho, kuṭaṁ bhinno va dhuttako.

Just so, the one who receives wealth,
But uses it without measure,
That fool suffers greatly later,
Like the scoundrel who broke the jar.

Wrong Means

Jā 48 Vedabbhajātakaṁ

A brāhman called Vedabbha is captured by thieves and brings down a shower of jewels to pay his ransom, but he is killed, and the thieves fight over the treasure until they also are all killed.

332. Anupāyena yo atthaṁ icchati so vihaññati,
Cetā haniṁsu Vedabbhaṁ, sabbe te vyasanam-ajjhagū.

He who by the wrong means wishes
For his welfare suffers hardship,
The thieves killed the young man,
And they all came to destruction.

Arrogance is a Give-Away

Jā 39 Nandajātakaṁ

A servant knows where his late Master’s treasure was hidden, but when he takes the Son to the place he becomes arrogant because of his knowledge, abuses him and refuses to reveal it. The Bodhisatta explains.

333. Maññe sovaṇṇayo rāsi, soṇṇamālā ca Nandako
Yattha dāso āmajāto ṭhito thullāni gajjati!

I think the gold-store is buried
Where Nandaka, the servant born
To a slave, stands and loudly roars!

The Reward of Using Wealth Wisely

SN 1.3.19 Paṭhama-aputtakasuttaṁ

A rich merchant dies after living like a pauper. The Buddha explains that when a man of low character obtains wealth he is unable to enjoy it.

334. Amanussaṭṭhāne udakaṁ va sītaṁ
Tad-apeyyamānaṁ parisosameti,
Evaṁ dhanaṁ kāpuriso labhitvā
Nevattanā bhuñjati no dadāti.

Just as cool water in an empty place
Will evaporate without being drunk,
So the wealthy but despicable man
Won’t use it himself, nor give to others.

335. Dhīro ca viññū adhigamma bhoge,
Yo bhuñjatī kiccakaro ca hoti,
So ñātisaṅghaṁ nisabho bharitvā,
Anindito Saggam-upeti ṭhānaṁ.

But the Wise One, having obtained riches,
Both enjoys his wealth, and does his duties,
The blameless men supports his relatives,
And later goes to a Heavenly state.

Wealth that goes to Waste

Jā 390 Mayhakajātakaṁ

Out of greed a man kills his brother’s son. The brother who is the Bodhisatta exhorts him with these words.

336. Sakuṇo Mayhako nāma, girisānudarīcaro,
Pakkaṁ pipphalim-āruyha, Mayhaṁ mayhan!-ti kandati.

There is a selfish bird named Mine,
Who lives in a mountain-cave,
Having landed on a fig-tree,
He cries out loud: This is mine, mine!

337. Tassevaṁ vilapantassa dijasaṅghā samāgatā,
Bhutvāna pipphaliṁ yanti, vilapatveva so dijo.

A great flock of birds assembled
Round him while he was lamenting,
And while that bird was lamenting,
They ate the figs, and went away.

338. Evam-eva idhekacco, saṅgharitvā bahuṁ dhanaṁ,
Nevattano na ñātīnaṁ yathodhiṁ paṭipajjati.

So it is for some people here,
They collect a great deal of wealth,
But they do not spend those riches
On themselves or their relatives.

339. Na so acchādanaṁ bhattaṁ na mālaṁ na vilepanaṁ
Anubhoti sakiṁ kiñci, na saṅgaṇhāti ñātake.

Neither clothing, food or ointments
Does he ever enjoy himself,
Nor does he treat his relatives.

340. Tassevaṁ vilapantassa, Mayhaṁ mayhan!-ti rakkhato,
Rājāno atha vā corā, dāyādā ye ca appiyā,
Dhanam-ādāya gacchanti, vilapatveva so naro.

This is mine, mine! he cries out loud,
But while he is still lamenting,
Either kings, thieves, or those disliked,
Take his wealth and then go away,
Leaving that man to his lament.

341. Dhīro bhoge adhigamma, saṅgaṇhāti ca ñātake,
Tena so kittiṁ pappoti, pecca Sagge pamodati.

The Wise, having gathered riches,
Treat themselves and their relatives,
By that they will attain renown,
And later rejoice in Heaven.

Seven True Treasures

AN 7.5 Saṅkhittadhanasuttaṁ

A short discourse listing the seven true treasures.

342. Saddhādhanaṁ sīladhanaṁ, hiri-ottappiyaṁ dhanaṁ,
Sutadhanañ-ca cāgo ca paññā: ’me sattamaṁ dhanaṁ.

The treasures of shame, conscience, faith,
Virtue, learning, giving, wisdom:
These are the seven real treasures.

343. Yassa ete dhanā atthi, itthiyā purisassa vā,
Adaḷiddo ti taṁ āhu, amoghaṁ tassa jīvitaṁ.

Whoever has these real treasures,
Whether female or male, is not poor,
Their life is surely not futile.