Dhamma Verses

10. The Chapter about the Stick

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Comparing oneself with others

The group of six monks fought with and chased off the group of seventeen monks, and took their rooms; the Buddha laid down a rule against violence and spoke the following verse.

129. Sabbe tasanti daṇḍassa, sabbe bhāyanti maccuno,
attānaṁ upamaṁ katvā, na haneyya na ghātaye.

Everyone trembles at the stick,
everyone is in fear of death,
comparing oneself with others,
one should not hurt or have them hurt.

Comparing oneself with others

The group of six monks fought with and chased off the group of seventeen monks, and took their rooms, which caused the latter to threaten them; the Buddha laid down a rule against threatening, and spoke this verse.

130. Sabbe tasanti daṇḍassa, sabbesaṁ jīvitaṁ piyaṁ,
attānaṁ upamaṁ katvā, na haneyya na ghātaye.

Everyone trembles at the stick,
for all of them their life is dear,
comparing oneself with others,
one should not hurt or have them hurt.

The desire for happiness

As the Buddha went on his almsround he saw a group of boys who were beating a snake to ward it off; he admonished them not to hurt other beings with this verse.

131. Sukhakāmāni bhūtāni yo daṇḍena vihiṁsati,
attano sukham-esāno, pecca so na labhate sukhaṁ.

One who harms with a stick beings
who also desire happiness,
while seeking happiness himself,
won’t find happiness after death.

132. Sukhakāmāni bhūtāni yo daṇḍena na hiṁsati,
attano sukham-esāno, pecca so labhate sukhaṁ.

One who harms not with a stick those
who also desire happiness,
while seeking happiness himself,
will find happiness after death.

Do not retaliate

Ven. Kuṇḍadhāna was followed round by a goddess due to his behaviour in a previous existence, and the monks, thinking he was breaking his vow of chastity, incited the King to drive him out; the King believed in his innocence though and gave him an invitation; the monks blamed Ven. Kuṇḍadhāna and he, unjustly, blamed them in return; the Buddha admonished him thus.

133. Māvoca pharusaṁ kañci, vuttā paṭivadeyyu’ taṁ,
dukkhā hi sārambhakathā, paṭidaṇḍā phuseyyu’ taṁ.

Don’t say anything harsh, spoken
to they might answer back to you,
arrogant talk brings misery,
and they might strike you with a stick.

134. Sace neresi attānaṁ kaṁso upahato yathā,
esa pattosi Nibbānaṁ, sārambho te na vijjati.

If you make no sound like a gong
that is broken, you are like
one who has attained Nibbāna,
contention is not to be found.

Life is driven out by old age and death

The great lay supporter Visākhā asked five hundred women why they observed the fast-day; they answered they did so because they want a husband, children, release from their husbands or Heaven; the Buddha explained that despite all their suffering most beings still only desire rebirth, and then he spoke this verse.

135. Yathā daṇḍena gopālo gāvo pāceti gocaraṁ,
evaṁ jarā ca maccu ca āyuṁ pācenti pāṇinaṁ.

Like a cowherd with stick
drives cattle to pasture,
so do old age and death
drive life out of beings.

The fool suffers through his deeds

A leading supporter of the Buddha Kassapa recognised a thief as such, and the scoundrel conceived a grudge which led him to commit many wicked deeds, including burning his fields and burning down the Perfumed Cottage; he went to hell and was later reborn in the world of the ghosts where Ven. Moggallāna saw him; the Buddha explained how he got there, and spoke this verse.

136. Atha pāpāni kammāni karaṁ bālo na bujjhati,
sehi kammehi dummedho aggidaḍḍho va tappati.

The fool does not yet understand
the wicked deeds he is doing,
the stupid one is consumed by
his deeds as by a burning fire.

The fruit of unjust punishment

Ven. Moggallāna was murdered by brigands acting on behalf of the naked ascetics; the Buddha explained that in a past life, being swayed by his wife he had murdered his parents, which was why he died in this way in the present life, and then he spoke these verses.

137. 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:

138. vedanaṁ pharusaṁ, jāniṁ, sarīrassa ca bhedanaṁ,
garukaṁ vā pi 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,

139. 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,

140. 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.

Asceticism is not enough

A householder went forth, but first has a cottage built for himself, with provisions stored up, slaves and many requisites so as to live comfortably; the monks complained to the Buddha who reproved the monk; in a tiff the monk threw off his robe and out of spite declared he would go around half-naked; the Buddha reproved him yet again with this verse.

141. Na naggacariyā na jaṭā na paṅkā,
nānāsakā thaṇḍilasāyikā vā,
rājo ca jallaṁ ukkuṭikappadhānaṁ,
sodhenti maccaṁ avitiṇṇakaṅkhaṁ.

Not nakedness, matted hair, mud,
fasting, lying on stony ground,
dust, dirt, or striving while squatting,
can purify a mortal who
has not removed uncertainty.

Character is all important

The minister Santati was given a rich reward by the King, including a dancing girl, but later she died; distressed, Santati went to the Buddha who gave him a teaching whereby he attained Nibbāna and soon after passed away still dressed in his finery; the monks asked whether he can be considered a brahmin or an ascetic, and the Buddha confirmed his status with this verse.

142. Alaṅkato ce pi samaṁ careyya,
santo danto niyato brahmacārī,
sabbesu bhūtesu nidhāya daṇḍaṁ,
so brāhmaṇo so samaṇo sa bhikkhu.

Even if he were to adorn himself,
but is peaceful, trained, settled, spiritual,
and has put aside the stick, he is a
brahmin, an ascetic, a monastic.

The restrained are aware of their faults

The poor man Pilotika was ordained by Ven. Ānanda, grew fat and discontented, and thought to return to the lay life; but finding his previous rags he took them as a meditation subject and soon became an Arahat; the Buddha confirmed his status to the monks and spoke these verses.

143. Hirīnisedho puriso koci lokasmi’ vijjati,
yo nindaṁ appabodhati, asso bhadro kasām-iva.

Whatever person in the world
is restrained by conscience, and is
aware of his fault, is like a
good horse that is restrained by whip.

144. Asso yathā bhadro kasāniviṭṭho,
ātāpino saṁvegino bhavātha.
Saddhāya sīlena ca vīriyena ca,
samādhinā Dhammavinicchayena ca.
Sampannavijjācaraṇā patissatā,
pahassatha dukkham-idaṁ anappakaṁ.

Like a good horse restrained by whip,
you should be ardent and intense.
Having faith, virtue, energy,
concentration, investigation.

One who has understanding and
good conduct, also mindfulness,
will surely abandon this not
insignificant suffering.

The mild straighten themselves out

The novice Sukha saw that irrigators, fletchers and carpenters mastered the objects they worked with, and realised if they can master unconscious things, he could master his mind; he asked his teacher Ven. Sāriputta to bring his food, and by striving alone he became an Arahat; the Buddha then spoke this verse about him.

145. Udakaṁ hi nayanti nettikā,
usukārā namayanti tejanaṁ,
dāruṁ namayanti tacchakā,
attānaṁ damayanti subbatā.

Course-makers lead water,
fletchers straighten arrows,
carpenters straighten wood,
the mild master themselves.

Daṇḍavaggo Dasamo
The Chapter about the Stick, the Tenth