11. The Chapter about Old Age

Ko nu hāso, kim-ānando, niccaṁ pajjalite sati,
Why this laughter, why this joy, when the world is constantly burning,

andhakārena onaddhā, padīpaṁ na gavesatha? [146]
why, when enveloped by darkness, do you not seek for a light?


Passa cittakataṁ bimbaṁ, arukāyaṁ samussitaṁ,
See this beautified manikin, a heap of sores that is raised up,

āturaṁ bahusaṅkappaṁ, yassa natthi dhuvaṁ ṭhiti. [147]
sick, imagined in many ways, It is very unclear how we should read this, as we are talking about the body it seems translations indicating it has many intentions are incorrect. The comm. says: mahājanena bahudhā saṅkappaṁ, which I follow. which has nothing stable or firm.


Parijiṇṇam-idaṁ rūpaṁ, roganīḷaṁ pabhaṅguraṁ,
This body is worn out, a nest of disease, perishing,

bhijjati pūtisandeho, maraṇantaṁ hi jīvitaṁ. [148]
the putrid body comes to destruction, for life ends in death.


Yānimāni apatthāni alāpūneva sārade
Like discarded white gourds The comm. positions the Buddha as pointing out discarded corpses as he says this; the word specifically means white gourds. thrown away in autumn

kāpotakāni aṭṭhīni, tāni disvāna kā rati? [149]
are these grey bones; seeing them, why is there delight?


Aṭṭhīnaṁ nagaraṁ kataṁ,
This fortress is made out of bones,

plastered over with flesh and blood,

yattha jarā ca maccu ca,
but hidden within lie old age,

māno makkho ca ohito. [150]
death, also conceit and anger. It seems strange to say that the mental states of conceit and anger lie hidden in the body here.


Jīranti ve rājarathā sucittā,
Decorated royal chariots decay,

atho sarīram-pi jaraṁ upeti,
and the body also decays,

satañ-ca Dhammo na jaraṁ upeti,
but the good Dhamma does not decay,

santo have sabbhi pavedayanti. [151]
the good surely pass it on to the good.


Appassutāyaṁ puriso balivaddo va jīrati,
The person of little learning increases in age like an ox,

maṁsāni tassa vaḍḍhanti, paññā tassa na vaḍḍhati. [152]
(for although) his flesh does increase, his wisdom does not increase.


Anekajātisaṁsāraṁ sandhāvissaṁ anibbisaṁ
Through the round of countless births and deaths I have wandered without finding

gahakārakaṁ gavesanto: dukkhā jāti punappunaṁ. [153]
the housebuilder I was seeking: born and suffering once again.

Gahakāraka diṭṭhosi! Puna gehaṁ na kāhasi:
O housebuilder, now you are seen! You will not build the house again:

sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā, gahakūṭaṁ visaṅkhitaṁ,
all your rafters have been broken, and the ridgepole has been destroyed,

visaṅkhāragataṁ cittaṁ, taṇhānaṁ khayam-ajjhagā. [154]
my mind has reached the unconditioned, and craving’s end has been achieved.


Acaritvā brahmacariyaṁ, aladdhā yobbane dhanaṁ,
Not having lived the holy life, not having gained wealth in their youth,

jiṇṇakoñcā ca jhāyanti khīṇamacche va pallale. [155]
they waste away like herons in a small lake devoid of fish.


Acaritvā brahmacariyaṁ aladdhā yobbane dhanaṁ
Not having lived the holy life, not having gained wealth in their youth,

senti cāpātikhittā va, purāṇāni anutthunaṁ. [156]
they lie like (shafts) shot from a bow, wailing about things in the past.

Jarāvaggo Ekādasamo
The Chapter about Old Age, the Eleventh


Related Verses from the Dhammapada

Yathā daṇḍena gopālo gāvo pāceti gocaraṁ,
Like a cowherd with a stick drives cattle to pasture,

evaṁ jarā ca maccu ca āyuṁ pācenti pāṇinaṁ. [135]
so do old age and death drive life out of beings.


Sukhaṁ yāva jarā sīlaṁ, sukhā saddhā patiṭṭhitā,
Virtuous conduct till old age is good, the establishing of faith is good,

sukho paññāya paṭilābho, pāpānaṁ akaraṇaṁ sukhaṁ. [333]
the acquisition of wisdom is good, doing nothing wicked is good.