Dhamma Verses

Brāhmaṇavaggo
26. The Chapter about Brahmins

Striving for Nibbāna

The brahmin Pasādabahula heard the Buddha teach and became a devotee; he used to invite monks to his house for meals and would always address them as Arahat, which nobody was happy about; the Buddha advised him with this verse to strive to become an Arahat himself.

383. Chinda sotaṁ parakkamma, kāme panuda, brāhmaṇa,
saṅkhārānaṁ khayaṁ ñatvā, akataññūsi, brāhmaṇa.

Strive and cut off the stream, remove
desire, brahmin, knowing the
destruction of the conditioned,
know that which is not made, brahmin.

Developing calm and insight

During a visit by thirty monks who had come in from the countryside, Ven. Sāriputta, believing they were ready to become Arahats, asked the Buddha to explain what were the two things he had heard spoken about, and the Buddha told they were calm and insight, and exhorted the monks with this verse.

384. Yadā dvayesu dhammesu pāragū hoti brāhmaṇo,
athassa sabbe saṁyogā atthaṁ gacchanti jānato.

When a brahmin has, through
two things, crossed over, then
for one who knows, all
fetters are laid to rest.

Beyond the near and far shore

Māra disguised himself and approached the Buddha asking about the far shore; the Buddha recognised and rebuked him, and then spoke this verse.

385. Yassa pāraṁ apāraṁ vā pārāpāraṁ na vijjati,
vītaddaraṁ visaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For whom the near shore, the far shore
or both do not exist, free of
anxiety, being detached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one without pollutants

A brahmin by birth noticed that the Buddha referred to his disciples as brahmins, and thought he should apply the title to him also; the Buddha explained that he used the word not because of birth, but only for one who was an Arahat, and then he spoke this verse.

386. Jhāyiṁ virajam-āsīnaṁ, katakiccaṁ anāsavaṁ,
uttamatthaṁ anuppattaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

The meditator sitting down,
the one who’s dustless, who has done
his duty, without pollutants,
who has reached the ultimate good,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The Buddha is radiant

One day Ven. Ānanda saw the sun set, the moon rise, the King in his mantle, Ven. Kāḷudāyi meditating and the Buddha, who outshone them all; the Teacher explained that Buddhas outshine the others both by day and by night, and spoke this verse.

387. Divā tapati ādicco, rattiṁ ābhāti candimā,
sannaddho khattiyo tapati, jhāyī tapati brāhmaṇo,
atha sabbam-ahorattiṁ Buddho tapati tejasā.

The sun shines by day, the moon shines by night,
the accoutred noble is radiant,
the meditating brahmin’s radiant,
then every day and night the Buddha
is radiant through his shining power.

The true meaning of words

A brahmin who ordained in an outside sect noticed that the Buddha referred to his disciples as ones who had gone forth, and thought he should apply the title to him also; the Buddha explained that he used the word not of one who had left home, but only of one who had driven out the defilements, and then he spoke this verse.

388. Bāhitapāpo ti brāhmaṇo,
samacariyā samaṇo ti vuccati,
pabbājayam-attano malaṁ
tasmā pabbajito ti vuccati.

Warding wickedness one’s called a brahmin,
an austere one is called an ascetic,
because of driving forth all stain from oneself
one is said to be one who has gone forth.

A brahmin should be restrained

A brahmin thought Ven. Sāriputta didn’t get angry because he had never been tested, so he walked up behind him and landed a great blow on his back; Ven. Sāriputta was unperturbed, the brahmin asked forgiveness and asked him to accept a meal, which he did; the Buddha commented on the incident as follows.

389. Na brāhmaṇassa pahareyya, nāssa muñcetha brāhmaṇo,
dhī brāhmaṇassa hantāraṁ, tato: dhī yassa muñcati.

A brahmin shouldn’t hit a brahmin
and nor should he abandon him,
woe to one who strikes a brahmin,
woe to one who abandons him.

390. Na brāhmaṇass’ etad-akiñci seyyo:
yadā nisedho manaso piyehi,
yato yato hiṁsamano nivattati,
tato tato sammati-m-eva dukkhaṁ.

It is no little good for the brahmin:
when the mind is held back from what is dear,
whenever mind turns back from violence,
then there is a calming of suffering.

Restraint in three ways

After Ven. Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī was ordained by the acceptance of the eight serious rules, the other nuns were ordained by the monks; later they were in doubt about her ordination and reported the matter to the Buddha who confirmed her ordination, and rebuked the nuns with this verse.

391. Yassa kāyena vācāya manasā natthi dukkataṁ,
saṁvutaṁ tīhi ṭhānehi, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For whom there is no wrong-doing
by body, by voice or by mind,
being restrained in these three things,
that one I say is a brahmin.

Paying respects to one’s teacher

Ven. Sāriputta would always bow in the direction where he knew his first Dhamma teacher Ven. Assajī was living; the monks thought he was worshipping the cardinal points and reported the matter to the Buddha who explained the situation, and then taught them with this verse.

392. Yamhā Dhammaṁ vijāneyya Sammāsambuddhadesitaṁ,
sakkaccaṁ taṁ namasseyya, aggihuttaṁ va brāhmaṇo.

That one from whom one learned Dhamma
taught by the Perfect Sambuddha,
with respect bow down to him, like
brahmin bows at fire-sacrifice.

The one who has truth and Dhamma

A brahmin by birth noticed that the Buddha referred to his disciples as brahmins, and thought he should apply the title to him also; the Buddha explained that he used the word not because of matted hair, family or birth, but only of one who had penetrated the truth, and then he spoke this verse.

393. Na jaṭāhi na gottena, na jaccā hoti brāhmaṇo,
yamhi saccañ-ca Dhammo ca, so sucī so va brāhmaṇo.

Not because of matted hair, family
or birth is one a true brahmin,
in whom there is truth and Dhamma,
that one is pure, and a brahmin.

Appearance is not enough

An ascetic was given lizard meat one day as his alms-food and developed a craving for it; when the king of lizards came to pay his respects the ascetic tried to kill him; the lizard escaped however and blamed the attacker for not being a true ascetic, saying he only had the appearance, not the true qualities, of an ascetic; the Buddha summed it up in this verse.

394. Kiṁ te jaṭāhi dummedha, kiṁ te ajinasāṭiyā?
Abbhantaraṁ te gahanaṁ, bāhiraṁ parimajjasi.

Why do you have your hair matted,
stupid one, and why your deer-skin?
Within you there is a jungle,
you only polish the outside.

The meditator is a true brahmin

One day Sakka visited the Buddha to listen to his teachings, and at that time Ven. Kisā Gotamī came flying through the air to pay her respects to the Buddha, and quickly departed; Sakka asked who it was, and the Buddha told him and spoke this verse about her.

395. Paṁsukūladharaṁ jantuṁ, kisaṁ dhamanisanthataṁ,
ekaṁ vanasmiṁ jhāyantaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

That one who wears discarded clothes,
who is lean with protruding veins,
who meditates in the forest,
that one I say is a brahmin.

Being unattached to anything

A brahmin by birth noticed that the Buddha referred to his disciples as brahmins, and thought he should apply the title to him also; the Buddha explained that he used the word not because of matted hair, family or birth, but only of one who was unattached, and then he spoke this verse.

396. Na cāhaṁ brāhmaṇaṁ brūmi yonijaṁ mattisambhavaṁ,
bhovādī nāma so hoti sace hoti sakiñcano;
akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

I do not call one a brahmin
because of being born from a
certain womb, that one is just one
who says ‘bho’ if he is attached;
having nothing and unattached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

Cutting off all fetters

The merchant’s son Uggasena fell in love with an acrobat whom he saw performing, but her father would only give her to him if he joined them, which he readily agreed to do; later, after he had ordained and become an Arahat, the monks thought he was falsely claiming to be without fear, but the Buddha confirmed his attainment with this verse.

397. Sabbasaṁyojanaṁ chetvā yo ve na paritassati,
saṅgātigaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever has cut off all the
fetters surely does not tremble,
surmounting attachments, detached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

Cutting off the obstacle

Two brahmins were trying to find out who had the strongest ox by making them carry heavy loads, but their thongs broke as they tried; the monks reported the matter to the Buddha, who said that thongs breaking was natural, but they should strive to cut the thongs of anger and the strap of craving, and taught them with this verse.

398. Chetvā naddhiṁ varattañ-ca, sandānaṁ sahanukkamaṁ,
ukkhittapalighaṁ buddhaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever has cut off the thong,
the strap, the rope, together with
the bridle, who has thrown off the
obstacle and is awakened,
that one I say is a brahmin.

(Commentarial interpretation:
Whoever has cut off hatred,
craving and the sixty-two views
together with the tendencies,
and also thrown off ignorance,
that one I call a brahmin.)

The strength of forbearance

A brahmin was angry because his wife constantly called on the Buddha, so he went and abused the Awakened One, but the Buddha converted him with his wisdom; later the exact same scene unfolded with regard to his three brothers; the monks spoke about it, and the Buddha explained that he possessed the power of endurance with this verse.

399. Akkosaṁ vadhabandhañ-ca aduṭṭho yo titikkhati,
khantībalaṁ balānīkaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever, being pure, forbears
with punishment, bondage, abuse,
having the strength of endurance,
and having an army of strengths,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one in his last body

When Ven. Sāriputta was in his village he went to his own home and was offered almsfood by his mother, who roundly abused him for being a beggar; however, the elder did not get angry or say a word, after this was reported to the Buddha, he spoke this verse.

400. Akkodhanaṁ vatavantaṁ, sīlavantaṁ anussutaṁ,
dantaṁ antimasārīraṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever is controlled of mind,
dutiful, virtuous, taint-free,
well-trained and in his last body,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who is unsmeared

After the rape of Ven. Uppalavaṇṇā the monks were discussing whether those who had become an Arahat still enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh; when this was reported to the Buddha he said it was not so, and – affirming her purity of mind – he spoke this verse explaining the situation.

401. Vāri pokkharapatte va, āragge-r-iva sāsapo,
yo na lippati kāmesu, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Like water on the lotus leaf,
like a mustard seed on needle,
he who is unsmeared by desires,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who put down the burden

Before the rule against ordaining runaway slaves was promulgated one slave ran away from his brahmin master, ordained and soon became an Arahat; when the brahmin came looking for him the Buddha explained he had already put down the burden, and then spoke this verse.

402. Yo dukkhassa pajānāti idheva khayam-attano,
pannabhāraṁ visaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever knows here and now the
destruction of his suffering,
putting down the burden, detached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one skilled in the path

One day Sakka visited the Buddha to listen to his teachings, and at that time Ven. Khemā came flying through the air to pay her respects to the Buddha, and quickly departed; Sakka asked who it was, the Buddha told him and spoke this verse about her.

403. Gambhīrapaññaṁ medhāviṁ, maggāmaggassa kovidaṁ,
uttamatthaṁ anuppattaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

The deeply wise sagacious one,
skilled in what is path and not path,
who has reached the ultimate good,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one with few desires

Ven. Pabbhāravāsī Tissa retired to a certain rock cave in order to forward his meditation; the deity residing there moved out and tried to slander the elder; recalling his own virtue, however, the elder soon became an Arahat; the monks could not believe he had not got angry with the deity, but the Buddha confirmed his purity with this verse.

404. Asaṁsaṭṭhaṁ gahaṭṭhehi anāgārehi cūbhayaṁ,
anokasāriṁ appicchaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever does not mix with
the householders or the houseless,
wand’ring homeless, with few desires,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who neither hurts nor kills

A monk was given a subject of meditation, went to the forest, and became an Arahat; as he was travelling a woman who had quarrelled with her husband followed close behind; when the husband saw them he thrashed the monk; the monks could not believe he had not got angry with the man, but the Buddha confirmed his purity with this verse.

405. Nidhāya daṇḍaṁ bhūtesu tasesu thāvaresu ca,
yo na hanti na ghāteti, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever has laid down the stick
used against fearful and fearless
beings, who neither hurts nor kills,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who is unattached

A brahmin’s wife sought for four brahmins to give a meal to and was sent the four Arahat novices Saṁkicca, Paṇḍita, Sopāka and Revata, whom she sat on the floor and would not serve; being alerted, Sakka came and convinced her to serve them; the monks could not believe the novices had not got angry with the woman, but the Buddha confirmed their purity with this verse.

406. Aviruddhaṁ viruddhesu, attadaṇḍesu nibbutaṁ,
sādānesu anādānaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Being friendly with the hostile,
calm amongst those holding a stick,
not attached amongst those attached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who has thrown off defilements

When Ven. Cullapanthaka could not remember even four lines of verse even after three months of trying, and his elder brother, Ven. Mahāpanthaka, asked him to leave the monastery, the monks could not believe Ven. Mahāpanthaka had not been angry with his brother, but the Buddha confirmed his purity with this verse.

407. Yassa rāgo ca doso ca māno makkho ca pātito,
sāsapo-r-iva āraggā, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever has dropped off passion
and hatred, conceit and anger,
like mustard seed from a needle,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who speaks the truth

Ven. Pilindavaccha used to speak to everyone using abusive words which offended many of the monks; they asked the Buddha about it, and he understood that Ven. Pilindavaccha was not angry, but was speaking like that habitually because he had been a brahmin in five hundred previous existences; and then he spoke this verse about him.

408. Akakkasaṁ viññapaniṁ giraṁ saccaṁ udīraye,
yāya nābhisaje kañci, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever speaks a word of truth
that is informed and is not coarse,
through which no one would be angry,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who does not take what is not given

A certain monk picked up a cloth one day thinking it was discarded, only to be accosted by its owner to whom he straightaway gave the cloth back; when the monks heard about it they teased him and reported it to the Buddha who confirmed he did not take what was not given as he was without attachments, and then spoke this verse about him.

409. Yodha dīghaṁ va rassaṁ vā aṇuṁ-thūlaṁ subhāsubhaṁ,
loke adinnaṁ nādiyati, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever here does not take what
is not given, long, short, small, large,
attractive or unattractive,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one without longings

After Ven. Sāriputta had spent the Rains Retreat with five hundred monks the lay people still hadn’t donated the requisites; as he was leaving he asked for the requisites to be sent on, or that he be told; the monks reported it to the Buddha who explained it was concern for the donors and the young monks that made him ask so, and not craving, and then spoke this verse about the one without craving.

410. Āsā yassa na vijjanti asmiṁ loke paramhi ca,
nirāsayaṁ visaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For the one who has no longings
in this world or in the next world,
being without longings, detached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one without desires

After Ven. Moggallāna had spent the Rains Retreat with five hundred monks the lay people still hadn’t donated the requisites; as he was leaving he asked for the requisites to be sent on, or that he be told; the monks reported it to the Buddha who explained it was concern for the donors and the young monks that made him ask so, and not craving, and then spoke this verse about the one without craving.

411. Yassālayā na vijjanti, aññāya akathaṅkathī,
amatogadhaṁ anuppattaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For the one who has no desires,
who, through knowledge, is without doubt,
who has reached unto the deathless,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who has overcome merit and demerit

Ven. Sāriputta’s youngest brother Revata escaped from the household life and became a monk, and soon after became an Arahat; after the Rains Retreat the Buddha visited him, and by magic power Ven. Revata transformed the thorn thickets he lived in into something well-equipped and quite delightful; the monks proclaimed his merit, but the Buddha explained the elder has overcome all merit and demerit and spoke this verse.

412. Yodha puññañ-ca pāpañ-ca ubho saṅgaṁ upaccagā,
asokaṁ virajaṁ suddhaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever here has overcome
clinging to merit, demerit,
who is griefless, dustless and pure,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who no longer rejoices in life

Because of a past deed a light shone from the torso of the boy Candābha and he was taken round the country giving blessings; when he entered into the presence of the Buddha, however, the light disappeared; he then ordained and soon became an Arahat; the monks doubted his attainment and asked the Buddha, who spoke this verse about him.

413. Candaṁ va vimalaṁ suddhaṁ, vippasannam-anāvilaṁ,
nandībhavaparikkhīṇaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever just like the moon is
stainless, pure, clear, undisturbed, and
has destroyed joy in existence,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who crossed over

Suppavāsā carried her child Sīvali for seven years in her womb and took seven days to deliver him; later he ordained and became an Arahat; one day the monks discussed how much suffering he had been through, and the Buddha confirmed he was now free of suffering and spoke this verse.

414. Yo imaṁ palipathaṁ duggaṁ saṁsāraṁ moham-accagā,
tiṇṇo pāragato jhāyī, anejo akathaṅkathī,
anupādāya nibbuto, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

He who has crossed the difficult
path through births, deaths and delusion,
the meditator, crossed over
to the further shore, free of lust
and doubt, unattached and cooled down,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who gave up pleasures and existence

Sundarasamudda retired from the world and gave himself up to the ascetic life; his mother sent a courtesan to try and win him back to the house-life; she set herself up on the street he normally went on almsround and enticed him inside the house; the Buddha sent an image of himself and taught him with this verse.

415. Yodha kāme pahatvāna anāgāro paribbaje,
kāmabhavaparikkhīṇaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever, giving up desires,
would wander homeless in the world,
destroying desires, existence,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who gave up craving and existence

Because of their deeds in a previous existence, the merchants Jaṭila and Jotika were extremely rich; after they retired from the world and became Arahats the monks feared they were longing for their previous wealth; the Buddha explained that they had given up all craving, and spoke this verse about those who have attained.

416. Yodha taṇhaṁ pahatvāna, anāgāro paribbaje,
taṇhābhavaparikkhīṇaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever, giving up craving,
would wander homeless in this world,
destroying craving, existence,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one unattached to yokes

One monk who was previously a dancer soon became an Arahat; when a troupe of dancers passed through, the monks asked whether he still craved for his previous life, and he answered he did not; the monks asked the Buddha about it, who confirmed the monk had overcome all yokes, and spoke this verse.

417. Hitvā mānusakaṁ yogaṁ, dibbaṁ yogaṁ upaccagā,
sabbayogavisaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Abandoning the human yoke,
overcoming the divine yoke,
being unattached to all yokes,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who abandoned delight and hate

One monk who was previously a dancer soon became an Arahat; when a troupe of dancers passed through, the monks asked whether he still craved for his previous life, and he answered he did not; the monks asked the Buddha about it, and he confirmed the monk had overcome all delight and hatred, and spoke this verse.

418. Hitvā ratiñ-ca aratiñ-ca, sītibhūtaṁ nirūpadhiṁ,
sabbalokābhibhuṁ vīraṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Abandoning delight and hate,
cooled off and free from all cleaving,
a hero who vanquished the world,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one whose destiny is unknown

The youth Vaṅgīsa could tell where anyone had been reborn by knocking on their skulls; the Buddha set out the skull of an Arahat before him and he was unable to see where he had been reborn, so he ordained to learn about it; soon he became an Arahat himself and the Buddha confirmed he now knew all about the rebirth of beings.

419. Cutiṁ yo vedi sattānaṁ upapattiñ-ca sabbaso,
asattaṁ sugataṁ buddhaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever knows in ev’ry way
beings’ passing and their rebirth,
unattached, happy and awake,
that one I say is a brahmin.

420. Yassa gatiṁ na jānanti devā gandhabbamānusā –
khīṇāsavaṁ Arahantaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For the one whose destiny is
unknown to gods, gandhabbas, men –
pollutant-free, an Arahat,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who is unattached

The merchant Visākha attained the third stage of Awakening, and his wife Ven. Dhammadinnā became an Arahat; later he questioned her about the Dhamma and she answered everything well, but told him to seek an answer from the Buddha for his last question; the Buddha confirmed all of the elder’s answers, and then spoke this verse.

421. Yassa pure ca pacchā ca majjhe ca natthi kiñcanaṁ,
akiñcanaṁ anādānaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

For whom there is nothing in the
past, the future or the present,
having nothing and unattached,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who has been cleansed

King Pasenadi gave gifts beyond compare to a Saṅgha of five hundred monks with the Buddha at its head, and placed elephants holding parasols over all but one of them; there were only rogue elephants left, and the King had one of them hold his parasol over Ven. Aṅgulimāla, whose presence tamed him; the monks thought the elder must have been afraid when the elephant was brought, but the Buddha said he was not, and spoke this verse.

422. Usabhaṁ pavaraṁ vīraṁ, mahesiṁ vijitāvinaṁ,
anejaṁ nhātakaṁ buddhaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

A noble leader, heroic,
a great seer, victorious,
free of lust, cleansed and awakened,
that one I say is a brahmin.

The one who is accomplished

When the Buddha was ill one time he asked for hot water from the brahmin Devahita who readily gave it; the brahmin then asked to whom alms were best given, and the Buddha explained that his alms had great fruit, and then spoke the following verse about the true brahmin.

423. Pubbenivāsaṁ yo vedī, saggāpāyañ-ca passati,
atho jātikkhayaṁ patto, abhiññāvosito muni,
sabbavositavosānaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.

Whoever knows their former lives,
and sees heaven and the downfall,
and has attained birth’s destruction,
the sage, accomplished in knowledge,
who is accomplished in all things,
that one I say is a brahmin.

Brāhmaṇavaggo Chabbīsatimo
The Chapter about Brahmins, the Twenty-Sixth

Dhammapadaṁ Niṭṭhitaṁ
Dhamma Verses is Finished