Dhamma Verses

Nirayavaggo
22. The Chapter about the Underworld

The fate of those who speak falsely

The wandering nun Sundarī was used to try and set up the Buddha and the Saṅgha and then murdered by the sectarians; when people started falsely accusing the Saṅgha members of her murder the Buddha taught the monastics to recite this verse, and soon the matter was settled and the truth was revealed.

306. Abhūtavādī nirayaṁ upeti,
yo vāpi katvā ‘Na karomī’ ti cāha,
ubho pi te pecca samā bhavanti
nihīnakammā manujā parattha.

The one who speaks falsely goes to
the underworld, and he who says:
‘I did not do’ what he has done,
both of these are just the same when
they have gone to the hereafter,
they are humans who did base deeds.

The wicked have a bad destination

Ven. Moggallāna saw a spirit dressed as a monk flying through the air with body all on fire and reported it to the Buddha, who told that previously the spirit had been a monk under Buddha Kassapa, but had not lived accordingly, and then he spoke this verse.

307. Kāsāvakaṇṭhā bahavo pāpadhammā asaññatā,
pāpā pāpehi kammehi nirayaṁ te upapajjare.

Many wearing the robe around
their necks are wicked, unrestrained,
the wicked through their wicked deeds
re-arise in the underworld.

Taking almsfood unworthily

The Vaggumudātīriya monks went around praising each other and saying they had attained states they had not in order to get better almsfood; the Buddha restrained those monks and spoke this verse.

308. Seyyo ayoguḷo bhutto tatto, aggisikhūpamo,
yañ-ce bhuñjeyya dussīlo raṭṭhapiṇḍaṁ asaññato.

It’s better to eat a glowing
iron ball, like a flame of fire,
than that the monastic who is
unrestrained and unvirtuous
should enjoy the country’s almsfood.

One should not dally with other men’s wives

One of the merchant Anāthapiṇḍika’s nephews, Khema, was so handsome all the women fell in love with him, and he was frequently caught in adultery; the King didn’t punish Khema, due to his affection for his uncle, so Anāthapiṇḍika took his nephew to the Buddha who taught him in these verses the destiny of those who dally with other men’s wives.

309. Cattāri ṭhānāni naro pamatto,
āpajjatī paradārūpasevī:
apuññalābhaṁ, nanikāmaseyyaṁ,
nindaṁ tatīyaṁ, nirayaṁ catutthaṁ.

There are four states the man who is heedless,
the man who consorts with other men’s wives,
undergoes: demerit, a rough bed, blame,
and rebirth in the underworld as fourth.

310. Apuññalābho ca gatī ca pāpikā,
bhītassa bhītāya ratī ca thokikā,
rājā ca daṇḍaṁ garukaṁ paṇeti,
tasmā naro paradāraṁ na seve.

Gaining demerit, a bad destiny,
and only the very small delight of
a scared man with a scared woman, and kings
who apply heavy punishment – a man
should not consort with another man’s wife.

A monastic should not be lax

A monk broke off the tip of a blade of grass and was worried whether he had broken a rule, so he asked another monk who told him it was of no account as he could confess his fault, and to emphasise his point he broke off a clump of grass; the Buddha strongly rebuked them both with these verses.

311. Kuso yathā duggahito hattham-evānukantati,
sāmaññaṁ dupparāmaṭṭhaṁ nirayāyupakaḍḍhati.

As jagged grass, wrongly grasped,
cuts into the hand, so does the
ascetic life, wrongly grasped,
drag one down to the underworld.

312. Yaṁ kiñci sithilaṁ kammaṁ saṅkiliṭṭhañ-ca yaṁ vataṁ,
saṅkassaraṁ brahmacariyaṁ na taṁ hoti mahapphalaṁ.

Whatever lax deed there is and
that vow which is defiled, know that
a holy life that is doubtful
does not have great fruit for that one.

313. Kayirañ-ce kayirāthenaṁ, daḷham-enaṁ parakkame,
saṭhilo hi paribbājo bhiyyo ākirate rajaṁ.

If he would do what should be done,
he should be firm in his effort,
for the wanderer who is lax
spreads a lot of impurity.

Do what is well-done

A jealous woman found out her husband had been unfaithful with one of their female slaves, and had her nose and ears cut off, threw her into a dungeon and then went to listen to the Dhamma; one of her relatives discovered the matter and informed the Buddha, who gave the teaching in this verse.

314. Akataṁ dukkataṁ seyyo, pacchā tapati dukkataṁ,
katañ-ca sukataṁ seyyo, yaṁ katvā nānutappati.

Better undone is wrong-doing,
wrong-doing one later regrets,
better done is what is well-done,
which, when done, one does not regret.

Watch over oneself carefully

Some monks spent the Rains Retreat in the border country, but after some time the village was attacked and the inhabitants had to spend all their time reinforcing the village, and did not look after the monks well; later they reported the matter to the Buddha, who taught them with this verse.

315. Nagaraṁ yathā paccantaṁ guttaṁ santarabāhiraṁ,
evaṁ gopetha attānaṁ, khaṇo vo mā upaccagā,
khaṇātītā hi socanti nirayamhi samappitā.

As a border town is guarded
on the inside and the outside,
so one should watch over oneself,
and should not let the moment pass,
for when the chance has passed they grieve,
when consigned to the underworld.

Wrong views lead to a bad destiny

Some monks saw the Nigaṇṭhas and spoke of them as having some modesty as they wear a small covering at the front, the Nigaṇṭhas however declared they do so not out of modesty, but to protect the lives of dust-beings; when reported to the Buddha he spoke this verse about them.

316. Alajjitāye lajjanti, lajjitāye na lajjare,
micchādiṭṭhisamādānā sattā gacchanti duggatiṁ.

Ashamed of what is not shameful,
not ashamed of what is shameful,
undertaking wrong views, beings
will go to a bad destiny.

317. Abhaye bhayadassino, bhaye cābhayadassino,
micchādiṭṭhisamādānā sattā gacchanti duggatiṁ.

Seeing fear in what’s not fearful,
not seeing fear in what’s fearful,
undertaking wrong views, beings
will go to a bad destiny.

Knowing what is blameable and blameless

Some children of the families of unbelievers were forbidden to go to Jetavana, but when thirst overtook them one day they went anyway; the Buddha gave them an appropriate teaching and they converted; later they went to the monastery to ordain and the Buddha taught them with these verses.

318. Avajje vajjamatino, vajje cāvajjadassino,
micchādiṭṭhisamādānā sattā gacchanti duggatiṁ.

Finding blame in what is blameless,
not seeing blame in what is blamed,
undertaking wrong views, beings
will go to a bad destiny.

319. Vajjañ-ca vajjato ñatvā, avajjañ-ca avajjato,
sammādiṭṭhisamādānā sattā gacchanti suggatiṁ.

Knowing blame in the blameable,
and no blame in what is blameless,
undertaking right views, beings
will go to a good destiny.

Nirayavaggo Dvāvīsatimo
The Chapter about the Underworld, the Twenty-Second