18. The Chapter about Stains

Paṇḍupalāso va dāni ’si,
You are now like a withered leaf,

Yamapurisā pi ca taṁ upaṭṭhitā,
Yama’s men Yama is the god of death in traditional Indian lore, his men escort one to the other world. stand waiting for you,

uyyogamukhe ca tiṭṭhasi,
you stand at decay’s door,

pātheyyam-pi ca te na vijjati. [235]
with no provisions Comm: kusalapātheyyaṁ; provisions of wholesome deeds. for the journey found.


So karohi dīpam-attano,
One should make an island for oneself,

khippaṁ vāyama paṇḍito bhava,
soon the wise one should endeavour,

niddhantamalo, anaṅgaṇo,
removing the stain, blemishless,

dibbaṁ ariyabhūmim-ehisi. [236]
you will go to the divine and noble realm. Comm: pañcavidhaṁ Suddhāvāsabhūmiṁ; the fivefold realm of the Pure Lands, which is where anagāmī-s are reborn, which is why it is called noble.


Upanītavayo ca dāni ’si,
You are now advanced in age,

sampayāto ’si Yamassa santike,
you have come to Yama’s presence,

vāso pi ca te natthi antarā,
there is nowhere to dwell in between,

pātheyyam-pi ca te na vijjati. [237]
with no provisions for the journey found.


So karohi dīpam-attano,
One should make an island for oneself,

khippaṁ vāyama paṇḍito bhava,
soon the wise one should endeavour,

niddhantamalo anaṅgaṇo,
removing the stain, blemishless,

na punaṁ jātijaraṁ upehisi. [238]
you will not come to birth and old age again.


Anupubbena medhāvī, thokathokaṁ khaṇe khaṇe,
The sage gradually, little by little, moment by moment,

kammāro rajatasseva, niddhame malam-attano. [239]
should remove the stain from himself, like a smith (removes the stain) from silver.


Ayasā va malaṁ samuṭṭhitaṁ,
As a (rust) stain arises from iron,

taduṭṭhāya tam-eva khādati,
and arisen from that, it eats it away,

evaṁ atidhonacārinaṁ –
so with one who is overindulgent The commentary says it means being indulgent in regard to the four requisites.

sakakammāni nayanti duggatiṁ. [240]
his deeds lead him to a bad destiny.


Asajjhāyamalā mantā, anuṭṭhānamalā gharā,
Lack of repetition is the ruin Mala, the same word is translated as stain elsewhere, but here the only translation I feel that works throughout the verse is ruin. of chants, a lack of maintenance is the ruin of homes,

malaṁ vaṇṇassa kosajjaṁ, pamādo rakkhato malaṁ. [241]
indolence is the ruin of one’s appearance, heedlessness is the ruin of the one on guard.


Malitthiyā duccaritaṁ, maccheraṁ dadato malaṁ,
Bad conduct is a woman’s stain, stinginess is a giver’s stain,

malā ve pāpakā dhammā asmiṁ loke paramhi ca. [242]
wicked actions are indeed stains both in this world and in the next.

Tato malā malataraṁ, avijjā paramaṁ malaṁ,
A stain that is worse than that stain, ignorance is the supreme stain,

etaṁ malaṁ pahatvāna, nimmalā hotha, bhikkhavo! [243]
after abandoning that stain, be without stains, Note that this is the last mention of stains (mala) in this chapter, although related themes make up the rest of the chapter. O monastics!


Sujīvaṁ ahirikena, kākasūrena dhaṁsinā,
Life is light for one without shame, with the bold courage of a crow,

pakkhandinā pagabbhena, saṅkiliṭṭhena jīvitaṁ. [244]
living a life with backbiting, recklessness, and defilements.


Hirīmatā ca dujjīvaṁ, niccaṁ sucigavesinā,
Life is hard when endowed with shame, for the one constantly seeking purity,

alīnenāpagabbhena, suddhājīvena passatā. [245]
for one sincere, and not reckless, looking for purity of life.


Yo pāṇam-atipāteti, musāvādañ-ca bhāsati,
Whoever kills a living being, and speaks a word that is not true,

loke adinnaṁ ādiyati, paradārañ-ca gacchati, [246]
takes what is not given here, and goes to another’s wife,

surāmerayapānañ-ca yo naro anuyuñjati,
that person who is devoted to a drink of liquor and wine, It is interesting that all of these deeds are in the singular, where we would more naturally use a plural. This happens in many places, but in such a long list it stands out here.

idhevam-eso lokasmiṁ mūlaṁ khaṇati attano. [247]
digs up his own root right here in the world.


Evaṁ bho purisa jānāhi, pāpadhammā asaññatā,
Know it thus, dear sir, a lack of restraint is a bad thing,

mā taṁ lobho adhammo ca ciraṁ dukkhāya randhayuṁ. [248]
let not greed and corruption oppress you with suffering for a long time.


Dadāti ve yathāsaddhaṁ, yathāpasādanaṁ jano,
The people give according to faith, according to their confidence,

tattha yo maṅku bhavati paresaṁ pānabhojane
herein the one who becomes dejected because of food and drink (given) to others Meaning, broadly, others’ gains.

na so divā vā rattiṁ vā, samādhiṁ adhigacchati. [249]
he does not, either by day or nigh attain to (good) concentration.


Yassa cetaṁ samucchinnaṁ, mūlaghaccaṁ samūhataṁ,
For the one in whom this (dejection) is cut off, destroyed at the root, dug up,

sa ve divā vā rattiṁ vā, samādhiṁ adhigacchati. [250]
does, by day and night, attain to (good) concentration.


Natthi rāgasamo aggi, natthi dosasamo gaho,
There is no fire that is like passion, there is nothing that takes a hold like hatred,

natthi mohasamaṁ jālaṁ, natthi taṇhāsamā nadī. [251]
there is no snare like delusion, there is no flood like craving.


Sudassaṁ vajjam-aññesaṁ, attano pana duddasaṁ,
Easy to see are others’ fault, but one’s own is hard to see,

paresaṁ hi so vajjāni opuṇāti yathā bhusaṁ,
for one sifts other peoples’ faults like they were chaff,

attano pana chādeti, kaliṁ va kitavā saṭho. [252]
but conceals one’s own (faults), like a crafty cheat (conceals) his defeat. The commentary explains this last line differently, saying that saṭha means a hunter who conceals his body (kali) in order to catch his prey. I know of nowhere else that saṭha means a hunter, or kali means a body; if it were correct then we could translate: like a hunter (conceals) his body.


Paravajjānupassissa niccaṁ ujjhānasaññino,
The one who constantly looks for another’s fault, who is an abject complainer,

āsavā tassa vaḍḍhanti, ārā so āsavakkhayā. [253]
for him the pollutants increase, he is far from their destruction.


Ākāse va padaṁ natthi, samaṇo natthi bāhire,
There is no footprint in the sky, there is no ascetic on the outside, Meaning: in outside sects.

papañcābhiratā pajā, nippapañcā Tathāgatā. [254]
folk greatly delight in impediments, the Realised Ones are free of impediments.


Ākāse va padaṁ natthi, samaṇo natthi bāhire,
There is no footprint in the sky, there is no ascetic on the outside,

saṅkhārā sassatā natthi, natthi Buddhānam-iñjitaṁ. [255]
there are no constant conditions, there is no disturbance for the Buddhas.

Malavaggo Aṭṭhārasamo
The Chapter about Stains, the Eighteenth


Related Verse from the Dhammapada

Bāhitapāpo ti brāhmaṇo,
Warding off wickedness one is called a brahmin,

samacariyā samaṇo ti vuccati,
one living austerely is said to be an ascetic,

pabbājayam-attano malaṁ
* because of driving forth (all) stain from oneself

tasmā pabbajito ti vuccati. [388]
one is said to be one who has gone forth.