Buddhist Wisdom Verses

27: Ovādavaggo

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Friendship with the Wise

Jā 537 Mahāsutasomajātakaṁ

More of the conversation with the man-eating King by which the Bodhisatta persuades him to give up his evil inclination.

512. Yasmā hi Dhammaṁ puriso vijaññā
Ye cassa kaṅkhaṁ vinayanti santo,
Taṁ hissa dīpañ-ca parāyaṇañ-ca,
Na tena mittiṁ jirayetha Pañño.

Because people living by Dhamma know
That good people can dispel all their doubt,
He will take that as refuge and support,
The friendship of the Wise does not decay.

Truth knows no Caste

Jā 474 Ambajātakaṁ

A young brāhman learns a charm for producing mangoes out of season from an outcaste, the Bodhisatta, who warns him not to deny him or his charm would disappear. Nevertheless, ashamed, he does deny him, loses his charm and dies forlorn.

513. Eraṇḍā Pucimandā vā, atha vā Pāḷibhaddakā,
Madhuṁ madhutthiko vinde, so hi tassa dumuttamo.

Ugly Castor, bitter Margosa
Or the beautiful Palasa,
Wherever he finds the honey,
For him that tree will be supreme.

514. Khattiyā brāhmaṇā vessā, suddā caṇḍālapukkusā,
Yasmā Dhammaṁ vijāneyya, so hi tassa naruttamo.

Noble, brāhman, merchant, farmer,
The outcaste and the garbage man,
From whomever he learns Dhamma,
For him that man will be supreme.

Welcoming Correction

Dhp 76 Rādhattheravatthu

A poor brāhman ordains with Ven. Sāriputta and proves to be amenable to correction. In no long time he attains Awakening.

515. Nidhīnaṁ va pavattāraṁ, yaṁ passe vajjadassinaṁ,
Niggayhavādiṁ medhāviṁ tādisaṁ paṇḍitaṁ bhaje,
Tādisaṁ bhajamānassa seyyo hoti na pāpiyo.

One should see one who shows your faults
Just like one who points out treasure,
One should keep company with such
A sagacious, learned person;
Keeping company with such is
Surely better for you, not worse.

The Good like those who Advise

Dhp 77 Assajipunabbasukavatthu

Some monks are behaving badly, the Buddha sends the two Chief Disciples to reprove them; some amend their ways and some leave the Community.

516. Ovadeyyānusāseyya, asabbhā ca nivāraye,
Sataṁ hi so piyo hoti, asataṁ hoti appiyo.

One should both advise and instruct,
And forbid whatever is vile,
For he is dear to the good,
But he is not dear to the bad.

Following Good Advice

Jā 43 Veḷukajātakaṁ

A student, against the advice of his teacher, the Bodhisatta, keeps a viper named Bamboo as a pet. One day the snake gets angry and kills him.

517. Yo atthakāmassa hitānukampino,
Ovajjamāno na karoti sāsanaṁ,
Evaṁ so nihato seti, Veḷukassa yathā Pitā.

He who does not follow the teaching
Of those who truly desire his welfare,
Will soon be destroyed, like the snake’s Father.

Heeding Good Advice

Jā 196 Valāhassajātakaṁ

Some merchants are shipwrecked and seduced by demonesses (rakkhasī). The Bodhisatta is a cloud-horse and offers to carry them away. Half agree and are taken to safety, half stay behind and are devoured.

518. Ye na kāhanti ovādaṁ narā Buddhena desitaṁ,
Vyasanaṁ te gamissanti, rakkhasīhīva vāṇijā.

Those people who do not follow
Advice given by the Buddha,
Will go to their own destruction,
Like the merchants with the demons.

519. Ye ca kāhanti ovādaṁ narā Buddhena desitaṁ,
Sotthiṁ pāraṁ gamissanti, valāheneva vāṇijā.

But those people who do follow
Advice given by the Buddha,
Will cross over unto safety,
Like the merchants with the cloud-horse.

Giving Advice Carefully

Jā 376 Avāriyajātakaṁ

An ascetic gives advice on controlling one’s anger to a King and the King rewards him royally; he gives the same advice to a boatman and gets thumped in the mouth!

520. Yā yeva anusāsaniyā, Rājā gāmavaraṁ adā,
Tā yeva anusāsaniyā, nāviko paharī mukhaṁ.

For the advice given, a King
Gave him the boon of a village,
For exactly the same advice,
The boatman hit him on the mouth.

Practicing before Teaching

Dhp 158 Upanandasakyaputtattheravatthu

A monk is very good at preaching, but is greedy and doesn’t follow his own advice. The Buddha reproves him.

521. Attānam-eva paṭhamaṁ patirūpe nivesaye,
Athaññam-anusāseyya, na kilisseyya Paṇḍito.

First one should establish oneself
In what is suitable, then one
Can advise another, the wise one
Should not have any defilement.

Paying Homage to Elders

Jā 37 Tittirajātakaṁ

An elephant, a monkey and a partridge find out who is the elder amongst them and pay him due homage.

522. Ye vuddham-apacāyanti narā Dhammassa kovidā,
Diṭṭhe va dhamme pāsaṁsā, samparāye ca Suggati.

People who are skilled in the Dhamma
Pay their respects to their elders,
They are praised in this very life,
In the next they go to Heaven.

People follow their Leaders

Jā 334 Rājovādajātakaṁ

A King rules justly and travels incognito through his Kingdom to find out if anyone blames him. He meets the Bodhisatta, an ascetic, who explains that when the King rules justly everyone follows suit.

523. Gavaṁ ce taramānānaṁ jimhaṁ gacchati puṅgavo,
Sabbā gāvī jimhaṁ yanti, nette jimhaṁ gate sati.

If a bull while crossing a stream
Goes on a crooked, rambling course,
All the cows also go crooked,
Led by one who goes crookedly.

524. Evam-eva manussesu, yo hoti seṭṭhasammato,
So ce adhammaṁ carati, pageva itarā pajā,
Sabbaṁ raṭṭhaṁ dukhaṁ seti, Rājā ce hoti adhammiko.

Even so with men, if the King,
Who is agreed upon as best,
Lives contrary to the Dhamma,
Much more so will other people,
The whole of the country suffers,
If the King does not have Dhamma.

525. Gavaṁ ce taramānānaṁ ujuṁ gacchati puṅgavo,
Sabbā gāvī ujuṁ yanti, nette ujuṁ gate sati.

If a bull while crossing a stream
Goes on a straight and steadfast course,
The other cows also go straight,
Being led by one who goes straight.

526. Evam-eva manussesu, yo hoti seṭṭhasammato,
So ce pi Dhammaṁ carati, pageva itarā pajā,
Sabbaṁ raṭṭhaṁ sukhaṁ seti, Rājā ce hoti Dhammiko.

Even so with men, if the King,
Who is agreed upon as best,
Lives in accordance with Dhamma,
Much more so will other people,
The whole country will be happy,
If the King accords with Dhamma.

Enquiring before Punishment

Jā 472 Mahāpadumajātakaṁ

The King goes to quell a disturbance at the borders leaving the Bodhisatta to rule in his absence. The Queen, his step-mother, tries and fails to seduce him. When the King returns she makes false allegations and the Bodhisatta is taken out for execution.

527. Na diṭṭhā parato dosaṁ aṇuṁthūlāni sabbaso,
Issaro na paṇaye daṇḍaṁ, sāmaṁ appaṭivekkhiya.

When not seeing another’s faults,
Whether they are small or are great,
The Lord should not give punishment,
Without first investigating.

528. Yo ca appaṭivekkhitvā, daṇḍaṁ kubbati Khattiyo,
Sakaṇṭakaṁ so gilati jaccandho va samakkhikaṁ.

That King who punishes others,
Without first investigating,
Is like a blind man who swallows
Both his food, thorns and flies alike.

529. Adaṇḍiyaṁ daṇḍayati, daṇḍiyañ-ca adaṇḍiyaṁ,
Andho va visamaṁ maggaṁ, na jānāti samāsamaṁ.

He who punishes the harmless,
And doesn’t punish the guilty,
Like a blind man on uneven path,
Does not know the just and unjust.

530. Yo ca etāni ṭhānāni aṇuṁthūlāni sabbaso,
Sudiṭṭhaṁ cānusāseyya, sa ve vohārikuttamo.

He who sees the reasons in things,
Whether they are small or are great,
He should give advice to others,
He is surely the judge supreme.

531. Nekantamudunā sakkā, ekantatikhiṇena vā,
Attaṁ mahante ṭhapetuṁ, tasmā ubhayam-ācare.

While not being totally soft
Or totally harsh, but able,
Setting aside his own greatness,
He can then practice correctly.

532. Paribhūto mudu hoti, atitikkho ca veravā,
Etañ-ca ubhayaṁ ñatvā, anumajjhaṁ samācare.

Always soft he will be despised,
Always harsh he makes enemies,
But understanding both of these,
He should practice the middle way.