4. The Chapter about Flowers

Kŏ imaṁ paṭhaviṁ vicessati
Who will know Often translated as overcome, or conquer, as far as I can see the word is unattested with that meaning, unless it be here. Comm: attano ñāṇena vicinissati vijānissati, paṭivijjhissati, sacchikarissati; note the similarity in meaning to pacessati below. this earth

yamalokañ-ca imaṁ sadevakaṁ?
and the lower realm, Comm: Yamalokañ-cā ti catubbidhaṃ apāyalokaṁ; Yama’s realm means the fourfold lower realm. together with the gods? The sentence is evidently meant to encompass the three realms of existence. Norman’s translation here: this world of Yama with its gods is wrong, as there are no gods in the lower realms of course.

Ko dhammapadaṁ sudesitaṁ
Who (will reflect) Many times translated as gather or pluck, the commentary defines it with: vicinissati vijānissati upaparikkhissati paṭivijjhissati, sacchikarissati. on the well-taught verse of Dhamma

kusalo puppham-ivappacessati? [44]
as a good man reflects on a flower?


Sekho paṭhaviṁ vicessati
The trainee Sekha is a technical term meaning one who is training, having attained at least to Stream-Entry, but not yet to the final stage of Awakening. will know this earth

yamalokañ-ca imaṁ sadevakaṁ.
and the lower realm, together with the gods.

Sekho dhammapadaṁ sudesitaṁ
The trainee (will reflect) on the well-taught verse of Dhamma

kusalo puppham-ivappacessati. [45]
as a good man reflects on a flower.


Pheṇūpamaṁ kāyam-imaṁ viditvā,
Knowing that this body is just like froth, The emphasis is on its unsubstantiality.

marīcidhammaṁ abhisambudhāno,
understanding it has the nature of a mirage, The point here is the illusory nature of permanence.

chetvāna Mārassa papupphakāni,
cutting off Māra’s flower-tipped (arrows), Or, we might say, Māra’s temptations.

adassanaṁ Maccurājassa gacche. [46]
one should go beyond the King of Death’s sight. That is, to Nibbāna, which is something beyond the ken of Māra who is the king of death.


Pupphāni heva pacinantaṁ byāsattamanasaṁ naraṁ,
* Death takes up and carries away the one whose mind is attached to collecting flowers, Here metaphorical for the strands of sense-pleasures (kāmaguṇa). Comm: evaṃ pañcakāmaguṇasaṅkhātāni pupphāni eva pacinantaṃ ... kāmaguṇe byāsattamanasaṃ naraṃ.

suttaṁ gāmaṁ mahogho va, maccu ādāya gacchati. [47]
like a great flood (carries off) a sleeping village.


Pupphāni heva pacinantaṁ byāsattamanasaṁ naraṁ,
* The End-Maker Antaka, another name for Māra. takes control of the one whose mind is attached to collecting flowers,

atittaṁ yeva kāmesu Antako kurute vasaṁ. [48]
even though he is unsated with sense pleasures.


Yathā pi bhamaro pupphaṁ vaṇṇagandhaṁ aheṭhayaṁ
Just as a bee, without hurting the flower, its colour or scent,

paḷeti rasam-ādāya, evaṁ gāme munī care. [49]
gathers its nectar and escapes, An interesting choice of words, implying I think that the muni should not only be harmless, but also escape engagement in the village. so should the seer roam in the village.


Na paresaṁ vilomāni, na paresaṁ katākataṁ
Not the wrongs of others, or what others have done or have not done

attano va avekkheyya, katāni akatāni ca. [50]
one should consider, but what has been done and not done by oneself. This verse has no mention of flowers, or anything similar, and also does not seem to be connected by word collocation, so its inclusion here is rather a mystery.


Yathā pi ruciraṁ pupphaṁ vaṇṇavantaṁ agandhakaṁ,
Just like a beautiful flower, which has colour, but lacks fragrance, Gandha, fragrance, is connected to virtue, so the implication is that one who lacks virtue lacks fragrance.

evaṁ subhāsitā vācā aphalā hoti akubbato. [51]
so are well-spoken words fruitless for the one who acts not (on them).


Yathā pi ruciraṁ pupphaṁ vaṇṇavantaṁ sagandhakaṁ,
Just like a beautiful flower, which has colour, and has fragrance,

evaṁ subhāsitā vācā saphalā hoti pakubbato. [52]
so are well-spoken words fruitful for the one who does act (on them).


Yathā pi puppharāsimhā kayirā mālāguṇe bahū,
Just as from a heap of flowers one might make a lot of garlands,

evaṁ jātena maccena kattabbaṁ kusalaṁ bahuṁ. [53]
so should many good deeds be done by one who is born a mortal.


Na pupphagandho paṭivātam-eti,
The fragrance of flowers goes not against the wind,

na candanaṁ tagaramallikā vā,
nor does sandalwood or pinwheel or white jasmine,

satañ-ca gandho paṭivātam-eti,
but the fragrance Meaning his virtue. of the good goes against the wind,

sabbā disā sappuriso pavāyati. [54]
the true person’s (fragrance) permeates all directions.


Candanaṁ tagaraṁ vā pi, uppalaṁ atha vassikī,
Sandalwood, pinwheel, then water lily and striped jasmine,

etesaṁ gandhajātānaṁ sīlagandho anuttaro. [55]
amongst these kinds of fragrance virtue’s fragrance is unsurpassed.


Appamatto ayaṁ gandho yāyaṁ tagaracandanī,
Pinwheel and sandalwood fragrance are insignificant,

yo ca sīlavataṁ gandho vāti devesu uttamo. [56]
but the fragrance of one who has virtue flutters Vāti means both blow, flutter and weave, and in the commentarial story Sakka takes the form of a weaver. supreme amongst the gods.


Tesaṁ sampannasīlānaṁ, appamādavihārinaṁ,
* Māra cannot find the path This is a common simile in the discourses also, as Māra can only find what is still inside the rounds of birth and death. of those endowed with virtue, who live heedfully,

sammad-aññāvimuttānaṁ, Māro maggaṁ na vindati. [57]
and who are freed through complete and deep knowledge. Again this verse has no connection to flowers, there may be word-collocation on sīla in the previous verse attracting into this position.


Yathā saṅkāradhānasmiṁ ujjhitasmiṁ mahāpathe
Just as in a forsaken and discarded heap along the highway

padumaṁ tattha jāyetha, sucigandhaṁ manoramaṁ, [58]
a lotus might arise Jāyetha is 3rd singular optative in the middle voice. in that place, with a pure fragrance, delighting the mind,

evaṁ saṅkārabhūtesu, andhabhūte puthujjane
* so amongst the forsaken, the Perfect Sambuddha’s disciple

atirocati paññāya Sammāsambuddhasāvako. [59]
outshines the blind and ordinary folk through his wisdom. The verse lacks the symmetry we might expect.

Pupphavaggo Catuttho
The Chapter about Flowers, the Fourth


Related Verse from the Dhammapada

Vassikā viya pupphāni maddavāni pamuñcati,
Just as striped jasmine casts off its withered flowers,

evaṁ rāgañ-ca dosañ-ca vippamuñcetha bhikkhavo. [377]
so, monastics, cast off (all) passion and hatred.