a collection of
Buddhist Wisdom Verses

8: Vacanavaggo

Jā 361 Vaṇṇārohajātakaṁ

Not Listening to Divisive Speech

A jackal tries to divide a lion and a tiger by sowing dissension so he can eat their flesh. They remain friends and the jackal flees.

141. Yo paresaṁ vacanāni saddahetha yathātathaṁ,
He who listens to the words of another, taking them as true,

Khippaṁ bhijjetha mittasmiṁ, verañ-ca pasave bahuṁ.
Will quickly break off with his friend, bringing a great deal of hate.

142. Na so mitto yo sadā appamatto,
He who is a friend should always be heedful,

Bhedāsaṅkī randham-evānupassī,
Not suspecting dissension, or looking for fault, These two lines are rather poorly composed in the Pāḷi, as having the negative at the beginning of the first line makes it look like they should be read in the opposite manner to what commonsense dictates.

Yasmiñ-ca seti urasīva putto,
Wherefore, like a child lying on (Mother’s) breast,

Sa ve mitto so abhejjo parehi.
A friend should not be cut off from the others.

Jā 312 Kassapamandiyajātakaṁ
Stupid Kassapa

Reconciliation and Responsibility

A father and a younger brother argue along the road, and the Bodhisatta reproves them with these words.

143. Sace pi santo vivadanti, khippaṁ sandhīyare puna,
If good people quarrel, they should quickly join together again,

Bālā pattā va bhijjanti, na te samatham-ajjhagū,
(Only) fools, like broken bowls, do not come to a settlement,

144. Ete bhiyyo samāyanti sandhi tesaṁ na jīrati.
They should join together a strong bond that does not decay. Evidently this is two verses, not three, but the text counts them as three, but I cannot change it without putting the numbering out of sequence.

Yo cādhipannaṁ jānāti, yo ca jānāti desanaṁ,
He who understands the conflict, he who understands the teaching,

145. Eso hi uttaritaro bhāravaho dhurandharo,
Is a superior brother who bears his duties,

Yo paresādhipannānaṁ sayaṁ sandhātum-arahati.
He is himself worthy to be a conciliator of others in conflict.

Jā 131 Asampadānajātakaṁ
Without Reason

Friendship is more Valuable than Wealth

A rich man gives half his wealth to one fallen on hard times; but when he is in need himself the other offers him only rice gruel. He accepts it so as not to rebuff the obligations of friendship. Later the King hears about it and restores his wealth.

146. Asampadānenitarītarassa,
To that one having no understanding,

Bālassa mittāni kalībhavanti,
To a fool friends are (considered) distressful, A very difficult pair of lines: Comm: Tattha asampadānenā ti ... aggahaṇenā ti attho; itarītarassā ti yassa kassaci lāmakālāmakassa; bālassa mittāni kalībhavantī ti dandhassa apaññassa mittāni kalīni kāḷakaṇṇisadisāni honti bhijjantī ti attho; Herein, having no understanding means having no grasp; to whoever, to whoever, inferior or superior; to a fool ... friends are (seen) as being unlucky means to a slow-witted one, devoid of wisdom, friends (are seen) as being unlucky and inauspicious, they are broken, is the meaning.

Tasmā harāmi bhusaṁ aḍḍhamānaṁ,
Therefore I will take his half-measure of chaff,

Mā me mitti jīyittha Thai: bhijjittha; [Let not my friendship] be broken [forever]. sassatāya. BJT, ChS, Thai: sassatāyaṁ; that would appear to be a wrong form for the feminine though.
Do not let me be deprived of friendship forever.

Dhp 78 Channattheravatthu
The Elder Channa

Who to Keep Company With

The monk Channa is always abusing Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna. When the Buddha finds out he admonishes him thus.

147. Na bhaje pāpake mitte, na bhaje purisādhame,
One should not keep company with wicked friends, one should not keep company with the ignoble,

Bhajetha mitte kalyāṇe, bhajetha purisuttame.
You should keep company with spiritual friends, you should keep company with superior people.

Jā 528 Mahābodhijātakaṁ
Bodhisatta Mahābodhi

True Friends

The Bodhisatta is an ascetic who is invited by the King to stay in his park. After some time the King plots to kill him, and he decides to leave. When questioned why he is going this is his reply.

148. Vītasaddhaṁ na seveyya, udapānaṁ va nodakaṁ,
One should not mix with the faithless one, who is like a well without water,

Sace pi naṁ anukhaṇe, vārikaddamagandhikaṁ.
Even if you dig out (the well), the water will still smell of mud.

149. Pasannam-eva seveyya, appasannaṁ vivajjaye,
One should mix with the one with confidence, and avoid the one with no confidence,

Pasannaṁ payirupāseyya, rahadaṁ vodakatthiko.
One should gather round the one with confidence, like one needing water to a lake.

150. Bhaje bhajantaṁ purisaṁ, abhajantaṁ na bhajjaye,
One should love the lovely person, and not love those who aren't lovely, Comm: paccatthikaṁ, with those who oppose.

Asappurisadhammo so yo bhajantaṁ na bhajjati.
That is a bad person’s policy: he who does not love the lovely.

151. Yo bhajantaṁ na bhajati, sevamānaṁ na sevati,
He who does not love the lovely, nor mix with associates,

Sa ve manussapāpiṭṭho, migo sākhassito yathā.
He is a human being who enjoys wickedness, like an animal who hangs from a branch. I.e. like a monkey. Although it should be said that some of the monkeys in this collection are more noble than many of the men they encounter.

Jā 476 Javanahaṁsajātakaṁ
The Swift Goose

Deeds not Words Measure a Friend

A King of the geese is invited by the King of men to stay with him, but he declines with these words.

152. Suvijānaṁ sigālānaṁ sakuntānañ-ca vassitaṁ,
Easily understood is the cry of jackals and the cry of birds,

Manussavassitaṁ Rāja dubbijānataraṁ tato.
(But) the cry of humans, King, is harder to understand than that.

153. Api ce maññati poso: Ñāti mitto sakhā ti vā,
Although a person thinks: (He is my) relative, friend and comrade,

Yo pubbe sumano hutvā, pacchā sampajjate diso.
He who had made him happy before, in the future becomes his foe.

154. Yasmiṁ mano nivisati avidūre sahāpi so,
In whomever the mind is pleased Lit: settled (with love, adds the comm.), but idiomatically we have to say pleased here. he is not so far, he’s near,

Santike pi hi so dūre yasmiṁ Text, BJT, Thai: yasmā, which doesn't give the needed locative meaning. vivasate ChS: nāvisate; [although near] he does not approach? mano.
But in whom the mind is not pleased although near he is far indeed.

155. Anto pi so Thai: ce; If [he is of corrupted mind inside]; but compare below. hoti pasannacitto,
He who has a mind that is internally purified,

Pāraṁ samuddassa pasannacitto;
Across the sea (still) has a mind that is purified;

Anto pi so hoti paduṭṭhacitto,
He who has a mind that is internally corrupt,

Pāraṁ samuddassa paduṭṭhacitto.
Across the sea (still) has a mind that is corrupt.

Jā 349 Sandhibhedajātakaṁ
A Breaker of Bonds

The Consequences of Listening to Slander

A jackal using slander sets two friends fighting, a bull and a lion, and eventually they kill each other. The jackal then eats their flesh. The King of men (the Bodhisatta) reflects on it in these verses addressed to his charioteer.

156. Neva itthīsu sāmaññaṁ nāpi bhakkhesu, Sārathī,
Neither in females nor in food had they (anything) in common, Charioteer,

Athassa sandhibhedassa passa yāva sucintitaṁ.
See how far this was well thought-out to break apart their (common) bond.

157. Asi tikkho va maṁsamhi, pesuññaṁ parivattati,
As sharp as a sword in the flesh, slander (surely) turns them around,

Yatthūsabhañ-ca sīhañ-ca bhakkhayanti migādhamā.
Where bull and lion were eaten by the meanest of animals. The jackal.

158. Imaṁ so sayanaṁ seti, sa-y-imaṁ passasi, Sārathī,
He lies (brought down) to the ground, see you this, Charioteer,

Yo vācaṁ sandhibhedassa pisuṇassa nibodhati.
Whoever attends to the word of a slanderer, one who breaks apart bonds.

159. Te janā sukham-edhanti, narā Saggagatā-r-iva,
Those people gain happiness, like people who have gone to Heaven,

Ye BJT: Yo; where a plural is needed for agreement with the verb. vācaṁ sandhibhedassa nāvabodhanti, Text, BJT: nāvabodhenti; causative form, which seems out of place here. Sārathī.
Who do not attend to the word of one who breaks apart bonds, Charioteer.