Buddhist Wisdom Verses

18: Vasanavaggo

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Live not with Enemies

Jā 103 Verījātakaṁ

The Bodhisatta escapes some robbers and reflects on this back at home.

344. Yattha verī nivisati, na vase tattha Paṇḍito,
Ekarattaṁ dvirattaṁ vā dukkhaṁ vasati verisu.

Wherever enemies reside,
There the Wise do not like to live,
Those who even for a short time
Dwell amongst enemies suffer.

Wise Discrimination

Jā 379 Nerujātakaṁ

Two golden geese fly to Mount Neru and find to their surprise that even crows glowed golden in its shadow, and determine not to live in such an undiscriminating place.

345. Amānanā yattha siyā santānaṁ vā vimānanā,
Hīnasammānanā vā pi, na tattha vasatiṁ vase.

In that place where good people find
Disrespect, little respect, or
Respect indiscriminately,
You most certainly should not dwell.

346. Yatthālaso ca dakkho ca, sūro bhīru ca pūjiyā,
Na tattha santo vasanti, avisesakare nare.

Where both the lazy and clever,
Heroes and cowards are worshipped,
There the good do not dwell, because
Everyone is treated alike.

Non-Attachment to Home

Jā 178 Kacchapajātakaṁ

A turtle stays behind in the mud when a drought threatens and is killed by someone digging there. As he dies he utters these words.

347. Janittaṁ me bhavittaṁ me, iti paṅke avassayiṁ,
Taṁ maṁ paṅko ajjhabhavi, yathā dubbalakaṁ tathā.

Here is the place of my birth and
Where I grew up, I lived on this mud,
And on this mud I will now die,
Just like one who is defenceless.

348. Taṁ taṁ vadāmi, Bhaggava, suṇohi vacanaṁ mama:
Gāme vā yadi vāraññe, sukhaṁ yatrādhigacchati,

349. Taṁ janittaṁ bhavittañ-ca purisassa pajānato
Yamhi jīve tamhi gacche, na niketahato siyā.

This, I say, listen to my word:
Whether in the villages or wilds –
Wherever he finds happiness –
Although knowing his place of birth,
He should live wherever he can,
Without attachment to his home.

Having Forbearance when Unknown

Jā 304 Daddarajātakaṁ

Two nāgas are exiled from their rich home and have to live on a dunghill where they are abused. The elder speaks these cautionary words.

350. Sakā raṭṭhā pabbājito, aññaṁ janapadaṁ gato,
Mahantaṁ koṭṭhaṁ kayirātha duruttānaṁ nidhetave.

Being exiled from his kingdom,
And entering another country,
He should make much room in his heart
For the abuse he will endure.

351. Yattha posaṁ na jānanti, jātiyā vinayena vā,
Na tattha mānaṁ kayirātha, vasam-aññātake jane.

In that place where they know him not –
Neither his birth or his virtue –
He should not be proud or haughty
As he dwells unknown with strangers.

352. Videsavāsaṁ vasato, jātavedasamena pi,
Khamitabbaṁ sapaññena, api dāsassa tajjitaṁ.

While dwelling in a foreign land,
He should dwell like a light,
If he is wise he ought to be
Patient, having a servant’s care.

The Strength of Being on Home Grounds

Jā 168 Sakuṇagghijātakaṁ

A quail fools a hawk into attacking him on his home ground and dodges aside at the last moment leaving the hawk to plunge to his death.

353. Seno balasā patamāno lāpaṁ gocaraṭhāyinaṁ,
Sahasā ajjhappatto va, maraṇaṁ tenupāgami.

A hawk diving with force
On a quail in its home,
Approached with violence,
And died because of that.

354. Sohaṁ nayena sampanno, pettike gocare rato,
Apetasattu modāmi, sampassaṁ attham-attano.

Having devised a clever plan,
I delight in my parents’ grounds,
Now rid of my foe I rejoice,
Considering my own welfare.


Jā 32 Naccajātakaṁ

The King of the Golden Mallards holds a festival so his daughter can pick a spouse. She likes the peacock best – until he exposes himself while dancing in joy.

355. Rudaṁ manuññaṁ rucirā ca piṭṭhi,
Veḷuriyavaṇṇūpanibhā ca gīvā.
Vyāmamattāni ca pekhuṇāni:
Naccena te dhītaraṁ no dadāmi.

You have a pleasing voice, a brilliant back,
A neck coloured like lapis lazuli.
You have tail-feathers a fathom in length:
But because of your indiscrete dancing,
I cannot give you my precious daughter.

Excess leads to Loss

Jā 59 Bherivādajātakaṁ

A drummer earns money at a festival, but his son through too much drumming attracts thieves who beat and rob them.

356. Dhame dhame nātidhame, atidhantaṁ hi pāpakaṁ,
Dhantena hi sataṁ laddhaṁ, atidhantena nāsitaṁ.

Play, play, but don’t play too much, for
Only the bad play in excess,
Through playing a hundred was gained,
And through excess playing was lost.

Knowing Proper Limits

Jā 116 Dubbacajātakaṁ

An acrobat knows the four-javelin dance, but when he is drunk one day, despite being warned by his pupil, he tries to extend it to five, and is impaled.

357. Atikaram-akar’ Ācariya, mayham-petaṁ na ruccati,
Catutthe laṅghayitvāna, pañca-m-āyasi āvuto.

Too much you tried to do, Teacher,
Such as was against my wishes,
Having jumped over four javelins,
On the fifth one you were impaled.