Dhamma Verses

1. The Chapter about the Pairs

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No escape from bad deeds

The monk Cakkhupāla determined to fulfil his practice even at the cost of his eyes and eventually he attained Awakening; the Buddha explained the deed he did in the past which caused his loss of sight in the present, and he summarised the teaching with this verse.

1. Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā,
manasā ce paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā,
tato naṁ dukkham-anveti cakkaṁ va vahato padaṁ.

Mind precedes thoughts, mind is their chief,
their quality is made by mind,
if with base mind one speaks or acts
through that suffering follows one
like a wheel follows ox’s foot.

The reward of good deeds

Maṭṭhakuṇḍali, the son of a miser, died after paying his respects to the Buddha and was reborn in Heaven; later he came and showed his father the reward of good deeds, and his father was converted; the Buddha explained the matter with this verse.

2. Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā, manoseṭṭhā manomayā,
manasā ce pasannena bhāsati vā karoti vā,
tato naṁ sukham-anveti chāyā va anapāyinī.

Mind precedes thoughts, mind is their chief,
their quality is made by mind,
if with pure mind one speaks or acts
through that happiness follows one
like shadow which does not depart.

Hatred is not overcome by dwelling on it

Tissa, an older relative of the Buddha ordained and was vain and obstinate; the Buddha showed how he was also obstinate in a previous life and almost lost his head, and then he taught the monks with these verses.

3. “Akkocchi maṁ, avadhi maṁ, ajini maṁ, ahāsi me”,
ye ca taṁ upanayhanti, veraṁ tesaṁ na sammati.

“He abused me, he struck at me,
he overcame me, he robbed me,”
those who bear ill-will towards this,
their hatred is never appeased.

4. “Akkocchi maṁ, avadhi maṁ, ajini maṁ, ahāsi me”,
ye taṁ na upanayhanti, veraṁ tesūpasammati.

“He abused me, he struck at me,
he overcame me, he robbed me,”
those who bear not ill-will towards this,
their hatred is surely appeased.

Hatred is overcome by kindness

A barren woman brings home a young woman for her husband, but every time the young wife conceives the barren wife contrives an abortion; through life after life they consume each other’s children, until brought to the Buddha, who taught them with this verse.

5. Na hi verena verāni sammantīdha kudācanaṁ,
averena ca sammanti, esa dhammo sanantano.

For not by hatred do hatreds
cease at any time in this place,
they only cease with non-hatred,
this truth is surely eternal.

One should listen to admonition

The followers of two monks of Kosambi fell into a dispute and despite the Buddha’s admonitions, refused to be reconciled; the Buddha retired to Pārileyyaka forest and was served by an elephant and a monkey; meanwhile the lay people refused to attend on the monks till they came to their senses; eventually they asked for forgiveness and the Buddha taught them with this verse.

6. Pare ca na vijānanti mayam-ettha yamāmase,
ye ca tattha vijānanti tato sammanti medhagā.

The others do not understand
that we should restrain ourselves here,
but for those who do understand,
through that, their dissensions do cease.

Seek for what is profitable

Two brothers, Cullakāla and Mahākāla, ordained and one went to a cemetery to practice and soon overcame the defilements and attained Awakening; the other, however, did not work at his practice and was soon enticed back to the lay life by his former wives; the Buddha spoke these verses about these two.

7. Subhānupassiṁ viharantaṁ, indriyesu asaṁvutaṁ,
bhojanamhi amattaññuṁ, kusītaṁ hīnavīriyaṁ –
taṁ ve pasahati Māro vāto rukkhaṁ va dubbalaṁ.

Contemplating what is pleasant,
with sense faculties uncontrolled,
not knowing the limit in food,
indolent, low in energy –
Māra surely o’erthrows that one,
like wind overthrows a weak tree.

8. Asubhānupassiṁ viharantaṁ, indriyesu susaṁvutaṁ,
bhojanamhi ca mattaññuṁ, saddhaṁ āraddhavīriyaṁ –
taṁ ve nappasahati Māro vāto selaṁ va pabbataṁ.

Contemplating the unpleasant,
with their sense faculties controlled,
and knowing the limit in food,
faithful, with energy aroused –
Māra does not o’erthrow that one,
just as wind does not overthrow
a mountain made of solid rock.

Being worthy of the robe

Ven. Sāriputta preached on generosity and people decided to give alms; one man gave a robe, which they decided to give to Ven. Devadatta; when the Buddha heard about it he related a Jātaka about Devadatta, who, as an elephant hunter, disguised himself as a Paccekabuddha in order to kill his prey, and then spoke these verses about him.

9. Anikkasāvo kāsāvaṁ yo vatthaṁ paridahessati,
apeto damasaccena na so kāsāvam-arahati.

The one who, while he’s still impure,
would wear the renunciant’s robe,
unendowed with restraint and truth,
he is not worthy of that robe.

10. Yo ca vantakasāvassa, sīlesu susamāhito,
upeto damasaccena sa ve kāsāvam-arahati.

The one who, steady in virtue,
throws out any impurity,
endowed with both restraint and truth,
is indeed worthy of that robe.

Discerning the truth

The future Sāriputta and Moggallāna retired from the world under Sañjaya, but attained no great distinction; then they heard a summary of the Buddha’s teaching and were converted; they tried to bring Sañjaya to the Buddha but he would not go, his disciples left him and he died unconverted; the Buddha spoke these verses showing the difference between them.

11. Asāre sāramatino, sāre cāsāradassino,
te sāraṁ nādhigacchanti, micchāsaṅkappagocarā.

Finding the essential in the unessential,
seeing the unessential in the essential,
they do not understand what is the essential,
and resort to wrong intention.

12. Sārañ-ca sārato ñatvā, asārañ-ca asārato,
te sāraṁ adhigacchanti, sammāsaṅkappagocarā.

Knowing the essential in what is essential,
and the unessential in the unessential,
they come to understand what is the essential,
and resort to right intention.

Skilful means

The Buddha’s half-brother Nanda ordained, but yearned for the lay-life; the Buddha promised him celestial sprites as a reward for his efforts in the spiritual life; Nanda put forth effort and became an Arahat, and the Buddha was released from his promise; these verses were spoken about him.

13. Yathā agāraṁ ducchannaṁ vuṭṭhī samativijjhati,
evaṁ abhāvitaṁ cittaṁ rāgo samativijjhati.

Just as the rain can penetrate
a house with thatching that is poor,
so also passion penetrates
a mind that is undeveloped.

14. Yathā agāraṁ succhannaṁ vuṭṭhī na samativijjhati,
evaṁ subhāvitaṁ cittaṁ rāgo na samativijjhati.

Just as rain does not penetrate
a house with thatching that is good,
so passion cannot penetrate
a mind that is well-developed.

The wicked will lament

Cunda was a cruel pig butcher who cared not for the suffering he inflicted, and did no good deeds at all; before he died he started behaving like a pig himself, and later fell into Avīci, the hell of relentless suffering; the Buddha summarised the events with this verse.

15. Idha socati, pecca socati,
pāpakārī ubhayattha socati,
so socati, so vihaññati,
disvā kammakiliṭṭham-attano.

Here he laments, after death he laments,
the wicked one laments in both places,
he laments and he suffers vexation,
seeing the defilement of his own deeds.

The good rejoice

Dhammika, a good supporter, lay dying and he requested the monks to chant the Mindfulness discourse for him; seeing celestial chariots coming to take him away, he asked them to wait until the monks finished chanting, but the monks thought he was asking them to stop and go away; later the Buddha explained Dhammika was reborn in the Tusita Heaven and he spoke this verse about him.

16. 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.

The wicked suffer

Devadatta grew jealous and plotted to kill the Buddha, when that failed he tried to cause a schism; eventually he wished to seek for forgiveness, but before he reached the Buddha he fell into Avīci, the hell of relentless suffering; the Buddha summarised the events with this verse.

17. Idha tappati, pecca tappati,
pāpakārī ubhayattha tappati,
“Pāpaṁ mĕ katan”-ti tappati,
bhiyyo tappati duggatiṁ gato.

Here he suffers, after death he suffers,
the wicked one suffers in both places,
he suffers, thinking: “I have done evil,”
gone to a bad fate, he suffers much more.

The good take delight

The lay supporter Anāthapiṇḍika had three daughters; the youngest, after calling her father ‘younger brother’, died; the Buddha explained that Anāthapiṇḍika was her junior in the Dhamma, as she had attained the second stage of Awakening, and had been reborn in the Tusita Heaven, and he spoke this verse about her.

18. Idha nandati, pecca nandati,
katapuñño ubhayattha nandati,
“Puññaṁ mĕ katan”-ti nandati,
bhiyyo nandati suggatiṁ gato.

Here she’s happy, after death she’s happy,
the righteous one’s happy in both places,
she’s happy, thinking: “I have done merit,”
gone to a good fate, she’s happy much more.

Practice what you have learned

Two friends ordained, one followed the path of practice and soon attained; the other the path of study and became puffed up with pride; the Buddha showed how the one who attained could answer his questions much better than the one who studied, and he spoke these verses about them.

19. Bahum-pi ce sahitaṁ bhāsamāno,
na takkaro hoti naro pamatto,
gopo va gāvo gaṇayaṁ paresaṁ,
na bhāgavā sāmaññassa hoti.

Even though reciting abundant scriptures
the heedless one, who does not what they say,
like a cowboy counting other’s cattle,
does not partake of the ascetic life.

20. Appam-pi ce sahitaṁ bhāsamāno,
Dhammassa hoti anudhammacārī,
rāgañ-ca dosañ-ca pahāya mohaṁ,
sammappajāno suvimuttacitto,
anupādiyāno idha vā huraṁ vā,
sa bhāgavā sāmaññassa hoti.

Even though reciting only few scriptures,
but living in accordance with Dhamma,
abandoning greed, hate and delusion,
understanding aright, with mind released,
that one, unattached here and hereafter,
surely partakes of the ascetic life.

Yamakavaggo Paṭhamo
The Chapter about the Pairs, the First