Dhamma Verses

18. The Chapter about Stains

Take provisions on the journey

An old man had never done any works of merit so his sons sent for him and made offerings to the Buddha and the Saṅgha in his name on two successive days; on the first the Buddha advised him with the first two verses, and on the second with the last two.

235. Paṇḍupalāso va dāni ’si,
Yamapurisā pi ca taṁ upaṭṭhitā,
uyyogamukhe ca tiṭṭhasi,
pātheyyam-pi ca te na vijjati.

You are now like a withered leaf,
Yama’s men stand waiting for you,
you stand at decay’s door, with no
provisions for the journey found.

236. So karohi dīpam-attano,
khippaṁ vāyama paṇḍito bhava,
niddhantamalo, anaṅgaṇo,
dibbaṁ ariyabhūmim-ehisi.

One should make an island oneself,
soon should the wise one endeavour,
removing the stain, blemishless,
you will go to the noble realm.

237. Upanītavayo ca dāni ’si,
sampayāto ’si Yamassa santike,
vāso pi ca te natthi antarā,
pātheyyam-pi ca te na vijjati.

You are now quite advanced in age,
you have come to Yama’s presence,
there is nowhere to dwell, with no
provisions for the journey found.

238. So karohi dīpam-attano,
khippaṁ vāyama paṇḍito bhava,
niddhantamalo anaṅgaṇo,
na punaṁ jātijaraṁ upehisi.

One should make an island oneself,
soon should the wise one endeavour,
removing the stain, blemishless,
you will not come to birth again.

The gradual purification

A brahmin saw the monks waiting to go for alms, and each day improved the conditions where they gathered, until eventually he built a hall for them, and invited the Buddha and the monks for a meal; when the Buddha heard of his endeavours he spoke this verse.

239. Anupubbena medhāvī, thokathokaṁ khaṇe khaṇe,
kammāro rajatasseva, niddhame malam-attano.

The sage gradually, gradually,
little by little, moment by moment,
should surely remove the stain from himself,
like a smith removes the stain from silver.

One’s own deeds lead one on

A monk was so attached to his robes that when he died he was reborn as a louse in them; the monks went to divide his things, but the Buddha asked them to wait; after the monk was reborn again the Buddha told the monks to divide the robes, explained what had happened, and spoke this verse.

240. Ayasā va malaṁ samuṭṭhitaṁ,
taduṭṭhāya tam-eva khādati,
evaṁ atidhonacārinaṁ –
sakakammāni nayanti duggatiṁ.

As a rust stain arises from iron,
and arisen it then eats it away,
so with one who is overindulgent –
his deeds lead him to a bad destiny.

What brings about ruination

Ven. Lāḷudāyi was jealous of the Chief Disciples and declared himself also a Dhamma teacher; but when asked he didn’t know even one verse; when the Buddha found out he related a previous life story in which Lāḷudāyi also promoted himself unjustly and then he spoke this verse.

241. Asajjhāyamalā mantā, anuṭṭhānamalā gharā,
malaṁ vaṇṇassa kosajjaṁ, pamādo rakkhato malaṁ.

Lack of repetition is the ruin of chants,
a lack of maintenance is the ruin of homes,
indolence is the ruin of one’s appearance,
heedlessness is the ruin of the one on guard.

The greatest stain

A youth got married but his wife was given to adultery and put the young man to shame; when he met the Buddha the latter reminded him that in a previous existence also he was betrayed by his wife, and then he taught him with this verse.

242. Malitthiyā duccaritaṁ, maccheraṁ dadato malaṁ,
malā ve pāpakā dhammā asmiṁ loke paramhi ca.

Bad conduct is a woman’s stain,
stinginess is a giver’s stain,
wicked actions are indeed stains
both in this world and in the next.

243. Tato malā malataraṁ, avijjā paramaṁ malaṁ,
etaṁ malaṁ pahatvāna, nimmalā hotha, bhikkhavo!

A stain that is worse than that stain,
ignorance is the supreme stain,
after abandoning that stain,
be without stains, O monastics!

Life is hard when seeking purity

Ven. Culla Sāri gave medical treatment to others in exchange for a portion of food, which is against the right ways of earning his livelihood as laid down by the Buddha; when the Buddha heard of his behaviour he gave the teaching in these verses.

244. Sujīvaṁ ahirikena, kākasūrena dhaṁsinā,
pakkhandinā pagabbhena, saṅkiliṭṭhena jīvitaṁ.

Life is light for one without shame,
with the bold courage of a crow,
living a life with backbiting,
recklessness, and with defilements.

245. Hirīmatā ca dujjīvaṁ, niccaṁ sucigavesinā,
alīnenāpagabbhena, suddhājīvena passatā.

Life is hard when endowed with shame,
for the one seeking purity,
for one sincere, and not reckless,
looking for purity of life.

The result of not keeping the precepts

Some laymen were arguing as to which of the precepts is the hardest to keep; the Buddha told them they are all hard to keep, and explained the matter further with these verses.

246.247. Yo pāṇam-atipāteti, musāvādañ-ca bhāsati,
loke adinnaṁ ādiyati, paradārañ-ca gacchati,
surāmerayapānañ-ca yo naro anuyuñjati,
idhevam-eso lokasmiṁ mūlaṁ khaṇati attano.

The one who kills living beings,
and speaks a word that is not true,
who takes what is not given here,
and who goes to another’s wife,
that person who is devoted
to a drink of liquor, beer and wine,
digs up his own root in the world.

248. Evaṁ bho purisa jānāhi, pāpadhammā asaññatā,
mā taṁ lobho adhammo ca ciraṁ dukkhāya randhayuṁ.

Know it thus, dear sir, a lack of
restraint is a bad thing, let not
greed and corruption oppress you
with suffering for a long time.

How to attain concentration

The novice Tissa was always finding fault with the almsgiving of Anāthapiṇḍaka, Visākhā and other faithful disciples, and boasted his family gave better alms than they did; the monks found out he was the son of a lowly gate-keeper; the Buddha showed the monks how he tried to fool people in a previous life too, and taught them with this verse.

249. Dadāti ve yathāsaddhaṁ, yathāpasādanaṁ jano,
tattha yo maṅku bhavati paresaṁ pānabhojane
na so divā vā rattiṁ vā, samādhiṁ adhigacchati.

The people give according to faith,
according to their confidence,
the one who is dejected through
food and drink given to others,
does not, either by day or night,
attain to good concentration.

250. Yassa cetaṁ samucchinnaṁ, mūlaghaccaṁ samūhataṁ,
sa ve divā vā rattiṁ vā, samādhiṁ adhigacchati.

For the one in whom dejection
is cut off, destroyed at the root,
dug up, does, by day and by night,
attain to good concentration.

The great defilements

While the Buddha was preaching the Dhamma, one lay follower fell asleep, another scratched the earth, one shook a tree, another looked at the sky and only one listened attentively; the Buddha explained they were a snake, an earthworm, a monkey, an astrologer and a student of the Vedas in their previous births and behave accordingly now, and then he spoke this verse.

251. Natthi rāgasamo aggi, natthi dosasamo gaho,
natthi mohasamaṁ jālaṁ, natthi taṇhāsamā nadī.

There is no fire quite like passion,
nothing that takes hold like hatred,
there is no snare like delusion,
and there is no flood like craving.

Seeing one’s own faults

The merchant Meṇḍaka wanted to see the Buddha when he was passing through, but the outside ascetics tried to persuade him not to by telling him falsely that he teaches there is no result of actions; Meṇḍaka went anyway and the Buddha taught him with this verse.

252. Sudassaṁ vajjam-aññesaṁ, attano pana duddasaṁ,
paresaṁ hi so vajjāni opuṇāti yathā bhusaṁ,
attano pana chādeti, kaliṁ va kitavā saṭho.

Easy to see are others’ faults,
but one’s own fault is hard to see,
for one sifts other peoples’ faults
like chaff, but conceals one’s own faults,
like a cheat conceals his defeat.

The fate of a fault-finder

Ven. Ujjhānasaññī was always finding fault with the others, so the monks asked the Buddha about it; he remarked that one who is scrupulous is doing well, but one who enjoys finding fault makes no progress, and he taught them with this verse.

253. Paravajjānupassissa niccaṁ ujjhānasaññino,
āsavā tassa vaḍḍhanti, ārā so āsavakkhayā.

One who looks for another’s faults,
who is an abject complainer,
for him the pollutants increase,
he is far from their destruction.

The Buddhas are free from disturbance

Because of past deeds the wanderer Subhadda did not go to meet the Buddha until the latter was on his death-bed; Ven. Ānanda wanted to stop him, but the Buddha allowed him to approach, and he asked three questions, the verses here being the reply; Subhadda was the last person ordained while the Buddha yet lived and he soon became an Arahat.

254. Ākāse va padaṁ natthi, samaṇo natthi bāhire,
papañcābhiratā pajā, nippapañcā Tathāgatā.

There is no footprint in the sky,
no ascetic on the outside,
folk delight in impediments,
the Realised are free of them.

255. Ākāse va padaṁ natthi, samaṇo natthi bāhire,
saṅkhārā sassatā natthi, natthi Buddhānam-iñjitaṁ.

There is no footprint in the sky,
no ascetic on the outside,
there are no constant conditions,
no disturbance for the Buddhas.

Malavaggo Aṭṭhārasamo
The Chapter about Stains, the Eighteenth