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Khuddaka Nikaya

The Dhammapada Stories

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association (1986)

Source: http://www.nibbana.com

Chapter: XXIV The Craving (Tanhavagga)


Verses 334-337

The Story of Kapila the Fish

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (334), (335), (336) and (337) of this book, with reference to a fish with a lovely, golden colour and a stinking mouth.

During the time of Kassapa Buddha, there was a bhikkhu named Kapila, who was very learned in the Pitakas. Because of his great learning he gained much fame and fortune; he also became very conceited and was full of contempt for other bhikkhus. When other bhikkhus pointed out to him, what was proper or not proper he invariably retorted, "How much do you know?" implying that he knew much more than those bhikkhus. In course of time, all good bhikkhus shunned him and only the bad ones gathered round him. On one sabbath day, while the bhikkhus were reciting the Fundamental Precepts for the bhikkhus (i.e., the Patimokkha) Kapila said, "There is no such thing as Sutta, Abhidhamma, or Vinaya. It makes no difference whether you have a chance to listen to the Patimokkha or not, " etc., and left the congregation of the bhikkhus. Thus, Kapila was a hindrance to the development and growth of the Teaching (Sasana).

For this evil deed, Kapila had to suffer in niraya between the time of Kassapa Buddha and Gotama Buddha. Later, he was reborn as a fish in the Aciravati River. That fish, as mentioned above, had a very beautiful golden body, but his mouth had a very horrid, offensive smell. One day, that fish was caught by some fishermen, and because it was so beautiful, they took it in a boat to the king. The king, in his turn took the fish to the Buddha. When the fish opened its mouth, the horrid and offensive smell spread all around. The king then asked the Buddha why such a beautiful fish should have such a horrid and offensive smell. To the king and the audience, the Buddha explained, "O king! During the time of Kassapa Buddha there was a very learned bhikkhu who taught the Dhamma to others. Because of that good deed, when he was reborn in another existence, even as a fish, he was endowed with a golden body. But that bhikkhu was very greedy, proud and very contemptuous of others; he also disregarded the Disciplines and abused other bhikkhus. For these evil deeds, he was reborn in niraya, and now, he has become a beautiful fish with a mouth that stinks." The Buddha then turned to the fish and asked whether it knew where it would be going in its next existence. The fish answered that it would have to go again to niraya and it was filled with great despair. As predicted, on its death the fish was reborn in niraya, to undergo another term of continuous torment.

All those present hearing about the fish got alarmed. To then, the Buddha gave a discourse on the benefits of combining learning with practice.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 334. In a man who is unmindful craving grows like a creeper. He runs from birth to birth, like a monkey seeking fruits in the forest.

Verse 335. In this world, sorrow grows in one who is overwhelmed by this vile craving that clings to the senses, just as well-watered birana grass grows luxuriantly.

Verse 336. In this world, sorrow falls away from one who overcomes this vile craving that is difficult to get rid of, just as water drops fall away from a lotus leaf.

Verse 337. Therefore, I will deliver this worthy discourse to all of you who have assembled here. Dig up the root of craving just as one who wishes to have the fragrant root digs up the birana grass. Do not let Mara destroy you again and again, as the flood destroys the reed.

Verses 338-343

The Story of a Young Sow

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (338) to (343) of this book, with reference to a young sow.

On one occasion, while the Buddha was on an alms-round at Rajagaha, he saw a young dirty sow and smiled. When asked by the Venerable Ananda, the Buddha replied, "Ananda, this young sow was a hen during the time of Kakusandha Buddha. As she was then staying near a refectory in a monastery she used to hear the recitation of the sacred text and the discourses on the Dhamma. When she died she was reborn as a princess. On one occasion, while going to the latrine, the princess noticed the maggots and she became mindful of the loathsomeness of the body, etc. When she died she was reborn in the Brahma realm as a puthujjana brahma but later due to some evil kamma, she was reborn as a sow. Ananda! Look, on account of good and evil kamma there is no end of the round of existences."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 338. Just as a tree with roots undamaged and firm grows again even though cut down, so also, if latent craving is not rooted out, this dukkha (of birth, ageing and death) arises again and again.

Verse 339. That man of wrong views, in whom the thirty-six streams (of craving) that flow towards pleasurable objects are strong, is carried away by his many thoughts connected with passion.

Verse 340. The stream of craving flows towards all sense objects; the creeper of craving arises (at the six sense-doors) and fixes itself (on the six sense objects). Seeing that creeper of craving growing, cut off its roots with Magga Insight.

Verse 341. In beings, there flows happiness that is smeared with craving; those beings attached to pleasure and seeking pleasure are, indeed, subject to birth and ageing.

Verse 342. People beset with craving are terrified like a hare caught in a snare; held fast by fetters and bonds they undergo dukkha (round of rebirths) again and again, for a long time.

Verse 343. People beset with craving are terrified like a hare caught in a snare. Therefore, One who wishes to free himself from craving should eradicate craving.

Verse 344

The Story of an Ex-Bhikkhu

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (344) of this book, with reference to a bhikkhu who was a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa.

As a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa, this bhikkhu had achieved the four mental absorptions (jhanas). But one day, as he went for alms-food to his uncle's house, he saw a woman and felt a great desire to have her. Then he left the Order of the bhikkhus. As a layman, he was a failure as he did not work hard. So, his uncle drove him out of the house, and subsequently he became mixed up with some thieves. All of them were caught by the authorities and were taken to the cemetery to be executed. The Venerable Mahakassapa saw his pupil as he was being led out and said to him, "My pupil, keep your mind steadfastly on a subject of meditation." As instructed, he concentrated and let himself be established in deep mental absorption. At the cemetery, while the executioners were making preparations to kill him, the ex-bhikkhu was very much composed and showed no signs of fear or anxiety. The executioners and the onlookers were awe-struck and very much impressed by the man's courage and composure and they reported about him to the king and also to the Buddha. The king gave orders to release the man. The Buddha on hearing about the matter sent his radiance and appeared to the thief as if in person.

Then the Buddha spoke to him in verse as follows:

Verse 344. Having left the forest of desire (i.e., the life of a householder), he takes to the forest of the practice (i.e., the life of a bhikkhu); but when he is free from the forest of desire he rushes back to that very forest. Come, look at that man who having become free rushes back into that very bondage.

At the end of the discourse, the thief who was steadfastly keeping his mind on the arising and perishing of the aggregates discerned the impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self nature of all conditioned things and soon attained Sotapatti Fruition. Later, he went to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery where he was again admitted to the Order by the Buddha and he instantly attained arahatship.

Verses 345-346

The Story on Imprisonment

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (345) and (346) of this book, with reference to some thieves who were kept in chains.

One day, thirty bhikkhus came into Savatthi for alms-food. While they were on their alms-round, they saw some prisoners being brought out with their hands and legs in chains. Back at the monastery, after relating what they had seen in the morning, they asked the Buddha whether there were any other bonds stronger than these. To them the Buddha answered, "Bhikkhus! These bonds are nothing compared to those of craving for food and clothing, for riches and for family. Craving is a thousand times, a hundred thousand times stronger than those chains, hand-cuffs and cages. That is the reason why the wise cut off craving and renounce the world and enter the Order of the bhikkhus."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verses 345, 346. The wise do not say that bonds made of iron, of wood, and of hemp are strong bonds; they say that only passionate attachment to and care for gems and jewelry, children and wives are strong bonds. These drag one down (to lower planes of existence) and although they seem yielding are difficult to unfasten. The wise, cutting off this bond (of craving) and resolutely giving up sensual pleasures, renounce the world.

Verse 347

The Story of Theri Khema

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (347) of this book, with reference to Queen Khema.

Queen Khema was the chief queen of King Bimbisara. She was very beautiful and also very proud.

The king wanted her to go to the Veluvana monastery and pay homage to the Buddha. But she had heard that the Buddha always talked disparagingly about beauty and she therefore tried to avoid seeing the Buddha.

The king understood her attitude towards the Buddha; he also know how proud she was of her beauty. So the king ordered his minstrels to sing in praise of the Veluvana monastery, about its pleasant and peaceful atmosphere, etc. Hearing them, Queen Khema became interested and decided to set out for the Veluvana monastery.

When Queen Khema arrived at the monastery, the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma to an audience. By his supernormal power, the Buddha made a very beautiful young lady appear, sitting not far from him, and fanning him. When Queen Khema came to the audience hall, she alone saw the beautiful young lady. Comparing the exquisite beauty of the young lady to that of her own, Khema realised that her beauty was much inferior to that of the young lady. As she looked again intently at the young lady her beauty began to fade gradually. In the end, she saw before her eyes an old decrepit being, which again changed into a corpse, her stinking body being attacked by maggots. At that instant, Queen Khema realized the impermanence and worthlessness of beauty.

The Buddha knowing the state of her mind remarked, "O Khema! Look carefully at this decaying body which is built around a skeleton of bones and is subject to disease and decay. Look carefully at the body which is thought of so highly by the foolish. Look at the worthlessness of the beauty of this young girl." After hearing this, Queen Khema attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 347. Beings who are infatuated with lust, fall back into the Stream of Craving they have generated, just as a spider does in the web it has spun. The Wise, cutting off the bond of craving, walk on resolutely, leaving, all ills (dukkha) behind.

At the end of the discourse Queen Khema attained arahatship and was admitted to the Order and became the Chief Female Disciple of the Buddha.

Verse 348

The Story of Uggasena

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (348) of this book, with reference to Uggasena, a rich man's son who fell in love with a dancer.

Once, a wandering theatrical troupe consisting of five hundred dancers and some acrobats came to Rajagaha and performed on the grounds of the palace of King Bimbisara for seven days. There, a young dancer who was the daughter of an acrobat sang and danced on top of a long bamboo pole. Uggasena, the young son of a rich man, fell desperately in love with this dancer and his parents could not stop him from marrying her. He married the young dancer and followed the troupe. As he was not a dancer nor an acrobat, he was not of much use to the party. So, as the party moved from place to place, he had to help carry boxes, to drive the carts, etc.

In course of time, a son was born to Uggasena and his wife, the dancer. To this child, the dancer would often sing a song which ran thus: "O you, son of the man who keeps watch over the carts; the man who carries boxes and bundles! O , you, son of the ignorant one who can do nothing!" Uggasena heard the song; he knew that his wife was referring to him and he was very much hurt and depressed. So he went to his father-in-law, the acrobat, and requested him to teach him acrobatics. After a year's training, Uggasena became a skilful acrobat.

Then, Uggasena went back to Rajagaha, and it was proclaimed that Uggasena would publicly demonstrate his skill in seven days' time. On the seventh day, a long pole was put up and Uggasena stood on top of it. At a signal given from below he somersaulted seven times on the pole. At about this time, the Buddha saw Uggasena in his vision and knew that time was ripe for Uggasena to attain arahatship. So, he entered Rajagaha and willed that the audience should turn their attention to him instead of applauding Uggasena for his acrobatic feats. When Uggasena saw that he was being neglected and ignored, he just sat on top of the pole, feeling very discontented and depressed. The Buddha then addressed Uggasena, "Uggasena, a wise man should abandon all attachment to the khandha aggregates and strive to gain liberation from the round of rebirths."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 348. Give up the past, give up the future, give up the present. Having reached the end of existences, with a mind freed from all (conditioned things), you will not again undergo birth and decay.

At the end of the discourse Uggasena, who was still on top of the pole, attained arahatship. He came down and was soon admitted to the Order by the Buddha.

Verses 349-350

The Story of Culadhanuggaha, the Skilful Archer

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (349) and (350) of this book, with reference to a young bhikkhu, who was a skilful archer in one of his previous existences.

Once a young bhikkhu took his alms-food in one of the shelters specially built for bhikkhus in town. After his meal he felt like drinking water. So he went to a house and asked for some drinking water, and a young woman came out to give him some water. As soon as this young woman saw the young bhikkhu she fell in love with him. Wishing to entice him, she invited the young bhikkhu to come to her house whenever he felt thirsty. After some time, she invited him to her house for alms-food. On that day, she told him that they had everything they could wish for in the house, but that there was no male to look after their affairs, etc. Hearing those words, the young bhikkhu took the hint and he soon found himself to be more and more attached to the young, attractive woman. He became very much dissatisfied with his life as a bhikkhu and was getting thin. Other bhikkhus reported about him to the Buddha.

The Buddha called the young bhikkhu to his presence and said to him, "My son, listen to me. This young woman will be your undoing just as she had been to you in a previous existence. In one of your previous existences you were a very skilful archer and she was your wife. On one occasion, while the two of you were travelling, you came upon a gang of highwaymen. She fell in love with the gang leader. So, while you and the gang leader were engaged in fighting and you called out to her to give you the sword, she gave the sword to the robber who promptly killed you. Thus, she was the cause of your death. Now, too, she will be the cause of your ruin if you go after her and leave my Order for her sake."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 349. In a man who is disturbed by (sensual) thoughts, whose passions are strong, and who keeps seeing objects as being pleasant, craving grows more and more. Indeed, he makes his bondage strong.

Verse 350. A man who takes delight in calming (sensual) thoughts, who is ever mindful, and meditates on the impurity (of the body, etc.) will certainly get rid (of craving); this man will cut the bond of Mara.

At the end of the discourse, the young bhikkhu attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Verse 351-352

The Story of Mara

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (351) and (352) of this book, with reference to Mara who had come to frighten Samanera Rahula, son of Gotama Buddha.

On one occasion, a large number of bhikkhus arrived at the Jetavana monastery. To put up the guest bhikkhus, Samanera Rahula had to go and sleep near the door, just outside the chamber of the Buddha. Mara, wanting to annoy the Buddha through his son, took the form of an elephant and encircling the head of the samanera with his trunk made an alarming noise hoping to frighten him. But Rahula was unmoved. The Buddha, from his chamber, knew what was happening, and said, "O wicked Mara! Even a thousand such as you would not be able to frighten my son. My son has no fear, he is free from craving, he is vigilant, he is wise."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 351. He who has attained arahatship is free from fear, free from craving, and free from moral defilements. He has cut off the thorns of existence (such as lust). This is the last existence (for him).

Verse 352. He who is free from craving and from attachment, who is skilled in the knowledge of the significance of terms, who knows the grouping of letters and their sequence is indeed called "one who has lived his last, a man of great wisdom, a great man."

Hearing the above words, Mara realized that the Buddha knew about his tricks and instantly disappeared.

Verse 353

The Story of Upaka

The Buddha uttered Verse (353) of this book, in answer to the question put up by Upaka, a non-Buddhist ascetic, while the Buddha was on his way to the Deer Park (Migadaya) where the Group of Five Bhikkhus (Panca Vaggis) were staying. The Buddha was going there to expound theDhamma cakkappavattana Suttato the Panca Vaggis, his old associates, viz., Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Assaji, and Mahanama. When Upaka saw Gotama Buddha, he was very much impressed by the radiant countenance of the Buddha and so said to him, "Friend, you look so serene and pure; may I know who your teacher is?" To him, the Buddha replied that he had no teacher.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 353. I have overcome all, I know all, I am detached from all, I have given up all; I am liberated from moral defilements having eradicated craving, (i. e., I have attained arahatship). Having comprehended the Four Noble Truths by myself, whom should I point out as my teacher?

At the end of the discourse Upaka expressed neither approval nor disapproval but just nodded a few times and went on his way.

Verse 354

The Story of the Questions Raised by Sakka

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (354) of this book, with reference to four questions raised by Sakka, king of the devas.

On one occasion, at a meeting of the devas in the Tavatimsa realm, four questions were raised, but the devas failed to get the correct answers. Eventually, Sakka took these devas to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. After explaining their difficulty, Sakka presented the following four questions:

(a) Among gifts, which is the best?
(b) Among tastes, which is the best?
(c) Among delights, which is the best?
(d) Why is the eradication of craving said to be the most excellent?

To these questions, the Buddha replied, "Oh Sakka, the Dhamma is the noblest of all gifts, the best of all tastes and the best of all delights. Eradication of Craving leads to the attainment of arahatship and is, therefore, the greatest of all conquests."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 354. The gift of tile Dhamma excels all gifts; the taste of the Dhamma excels all tastes; delight in the Dhamma excels all delights. The eradication of Craving (i.e., attainment of arahatship) overcomes all ills (samsara dukkha).

At the end of the discourse, Sakka said to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, if the gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts why are we not invited to share the merit whenever gifts of the Dhamma are made? Venerable Sir! I pray that, from now on, we may be given a share in the merit of good deeds". Then the Buddha asked all the bhikkhus to assemble and exhorted them to share the merit of all their good deeds with all beings.

Since then, it has become a custom to invite all beings from the thirty-one realms (bhumis) to come and share merit whenever a good deed is done.

Verse 355

The Story of a Childless Rich Man

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (355) of this book, with reference to a childless rich man.

On one occasion, King Pasenadi of Kosala came to pay homage to the Buddha. He explained to the Buddha that he was late because earlier that day a rich man had died in Savatthi without leaving any heirs, and so he had to confiscate all that man's property. Then, he proceeded to relate about the man, who, although very rich, was very stingy. While he lived, he did not give away anything in charity. He was reluctant to spend his money even on himself, and therefore, ate very sparingly and wore cheap, coarse clothes only. On hearing this the Buddha told the king and the audience about the man in a past existence. In that existence also he was a rich man.

One day, when a paccekabuddha came and stood for alms at his house, he told his wife to offer some thing to the paccekabuddha. His wife thought it was very rarely that her husband gave her permission to give anything to anybody. So, she filled up the alms-bowl with some choice food. The rich man again met the paccekabuddha on his way home and he had a look at the alms-bowl. Seeing that his wife had offered a substantial amount of good food, he thought, "Oh, this bhikkhu would only have a good sleep after a good meal. It would have been better if my servants were given such good food; at least, they would have given me better service." In other words, he regretted that he had asked his wife to offer food to the paccekabuddha. This same man had a brother who also was a rich man. His brother had an only son. Coveting his brother's wealth, he had killed his young nephew and had thus wrongfully inherited his brother's wealth on the latter's death.

Because the man had offered alms-food to the paccekabuddha he became a rich man in his present life; because he regretted having offered food to the paccekabuddha he had no wish to spend anything even on himself. Because he had killed his own nephew for the sake of his brother's wealth he had to suffer in niraya for seven existences. His bad kamma having come to an end he was born into the human world but here also he had not gained any good kamma. The king then remarked, "Venerable Sir! Even though he had lived here in the lifetime of the Buddha himself, he had not made any offering of anything to the Buddha or to his disciples. Indeed, he had missed a very good opportunity; he had been very foolish."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 355. Wealth destroys the foolish; but it cannot destroy those who seek the other shore (i.e., Nibbana). By his craving for wealth the fool destroys himself, as he would destroy others.

Verse 356-359

The Story of Deva Ankura

While on a visit to the Tavatimsa deva realm, the Buddha uttered Verses (356) to (359) of this book, with reference to a deva named Ankura.

The Buddha visited the Tavatimsa deva realm to expound the Abhidhamma to Deva Santusita, who had been his mother. During that time, there was a deva named Indaka in Tavatimsa. Indaka, in his last existence as a man, had offered a little alms-food to Thera Anuruddha. As this good deed was made to a thera within the period of the Buddha's Teaching he was amply rewarded for it. Thus, on his death he was reborn in the Tavatimsa realm and was lavishly bestowed with the luxuries of the deva world. At that time, there was also another deva by the name of Ankura in Tavatimsa who had given much in charity; in fact, many times more than what Indaka had given. But his charity was made outside the period of the Teaching of any of the Buddhas. So, in spite of his lavish and grand charities, he was enjoying the benefits of the life of a deva on a much smaller scale than Indaka, who had offered very little. As the Buddha was then at Tavatimsa, Ankura asked him the reason for the discrepancy in gaining the benefits. To him the Buddha answered, "O deva! When giving charities and donations you should choose whom you give, for acts of charities are just like seeds. Seeds put into fertile soil will grow into strong, vigorous plants or trees and will bear much fruit; but you had sown your seed in poor soil, so you reap poorly."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 356. Weeds damage fields; lust spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from lust yields great benefit.

Verse 357. Weeds damage fields; ill will spills all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from ill will yields great benefit.

Verse 358. Weeds damage fields; ignorance spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from ignorance yields great benefit.

Verse 359. Weeds damage fields; covetousness spoils all beings. Therefore, giving to those free from covetousness yields great benefit.

End of Chapter 24


Chapter XXV: The Bhikkhu (Bhikkhuvagga)


Verses 360-361

The Story of Five Bhikkhus

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (360) and ( 361) of this book, with reference to five bhikkhus.

Once there were five bhikkhus in Savatthi. Each of them practised restraint of just one out of the five senses and each of them claimed that what he was practising was the most difficult. There were some heated arguments over this and they could not come to an agreement. Finally, they went to the Buddha to ask for his decision. The Buddha said to them, "Each of the senses is just as difficult to control as the other; but all bhikkhus must control all the five senses and not just one. Only those who control all the senses would escape from the round of rebirths."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 360. Restraint in the eye is good, good is restraint in the ear; restraint in the nose is good, good is restraint in the tongue.

Verse 361. Restraint in body is good, good is restraint in speech; restraint in mind is good, good is restraint in all the senses. A bhikkhu restrained in all the senses is freed from all ills (Samsara dukkha).

Verse 362

The Story of a Bhikkhu Who Killed a Swan (Hamsa)

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (362) of this book, with reference to a bhikkhu who killed a swan.

Once there was a bhikkhu who was very skilful in throwing stones; he could even hit fast-moving objects without fail. One day, while sitting with another bhikkhu after having their bath in the Aciravati River, he saw two swans flying at some distance. He told his friend that he would get one of the swans by throwing a stone at it. At that instant, the swan, hearing voices, turned its neck and the bhikkhu threw a pebble at the bird. The pebble went through one eye and came out of the other eye of the bird. The bird cried out in pain and agony and dropped dead at the feet of the young bhikkhu.

Other bhikkhus seeing the incident took the young bhikkhu to the Buddha. The Buddha reprimanded him and said, "My son, why have you killed this bird? Why especially you, a member of my Order, who should be practising loving-kindness to all beings and who should be striving ardently for liberation from the round of rebirths? Even during the period outside the Teaching, the wise practised morality and observed the precepts. A bhikkhu must have control over his hands, his feet and his tongue."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 362. He who controls his hand, controls his foot, controls his speech, and has complete control of himself; who finds delight in Insight Development Practice and is calm; who stays alone and is contented;— him they call a bhikkhu.

Verse 363

The Story of Bhikkhu Kokalika

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (363) of this book, with reference to Bhikkhu Kokalika.

Bhikkhu Kokalika had abused the two Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sariputta and the Venerable Maha Moggallana. For this evil deed Kokalika was swallowed up by the earth and had to suffer in Paduma Niraya. Learning about his fate, the bhikkhus remarked that Kokalika had to suffer grievously because he did not control his tongue. To those bhikkhus, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! A bhikkhu must have control over his tongue; his conduct must be good; his mind must be calm, subdued and not flitting about as it pleases."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 363. The bhikkhu who controls his mouth (speech) who speaks wisely with his mind composed, who explains the meaning and the text of the Dhamma ,— sweet are the words of that bhikkhu.

Verse 364

The Story of Thera Dhammarama

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (364) of this book, with reference to Thera Dhammarama.

When it was made known to the disciples that the Buddha would realize Parinibbana in four months' time, most of the puthujjana bhikkhus (i.e., those who had not attained any of the Maggas) felt extremely depressed and were at a loss and did not know what to do. They just stayed close to the Buddha, hardly ever leaving his presence. However, there was a bhikkhu by the name of Dhammarama who kept to himself and did not go near the Buddha. His intention was to strive most ardently to attain arahatship before the passing away of the Buddha. So he strove hard in Insight Meditation Practice. Other bhikkhus, not understanding his attitude and his noble ambition, misunderstood his behaviour.

Those bhikkhus took Dhammarama to the Buddha and said to the Enlightened One, "Venerable Sir! This bhikkhu does not seem to have any affection or regard or reverence for you; he has been staying by himself while all the time other bhikkhus are staying close to Your Venerable presence." When other bhikkhus had said everything they wanted to say, Dhammarama respectfully explained to the Buddha why he had not come to see the Buddha and also reported that he had been striving his utmost in Insight Meditation Practice.

The Buddha was satisfied and was very pleased with the explanation and conduct of Dhammarama and he said, "My son, Dhammarama, you have done very well. A bhikkhu who loves and respects me should act like you. Those who made offerings of flowers, scents and incense to me are not really paying me homage. Only those who practise the Dhamma are the ones who truly pay homage to me."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 364. The bhikkhu who abides in the Dhamma, who delights in the Dhamma, who meditates on the Dhamma, and is ever mindful of the Dhamma, does not fall away from the Dhamma of the virtuous.

At the end of the discourse Thera Dhammarama attained arahatship.

Verse 365-366

The Story of a Bhikkhu Who Associated With a Follower of Devadatta

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (365) and (366) of this book, with reference to a bhikkhu who was on friendly terms with a follower of Devadatta.

Once, a bhikkhu disciple of the Buddha, being very friendly with a follower of Devadatta, paid a visit to the monastery of Devadatta and stayed there for a few days. Other bhikkhus reported to the Buddha that he had been mixing with the followers of Devadatta and that he had even gone to the monastery of Devadatta, spent there a few days, eating, sleeping and apparently enjoying the choice food and the comforts of that monastery. The Buddha sent for that bhikkhu and asked him whether what he had heard about his behaviour was true. The bhikkhu admitted that he had gone to the monastery of Devadatta for a few days, but he told the Buddha that he had not embraced the teaching of Devadatta.

The Buddha then reprimanded him and pointed out that his behaviour made him appear like a follower of Devadatta. To him the Buddha said, "My son, even though you have not embraced the doctrine of Devadatta, you are going about as if you were one of his followers. A bhikkhu should be contented with what he gets and should not covet other people's gains. A bhikkhu who is filled with envy at the good fortune of others will not attain concentration (samadhi), or Insight, or the Path that leads to Nibbana (Magga). Only the bhikkhu who is contented with whatever he gets will be able to attain concentration, Insight and the Path."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 365. One should not despise what one has received (by proper means), nor should one envy others their gains. The bhikkhu who envies others cannot attain Concentration (Samadhi).

Verse 366. Though he receives only a little, if a bhikkhu does not despise what he has received (by proper means), the devas will surely praise him who leads a pure life and is not slothful.

Verse 367

The Story of the Giver of the First-Fruits of His Labour

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (367) of this book, with reference to a brahmin who was in the habit of making five offerings of first-fruits in charity. The first-fruits here refer to the first-fruits of the field. The first-fruits of the field are given in charity at the time of harvesting, at the time of threshing, at the time of storing, at the time of cooking and at the time of filling the plate.

One day, the Buddha saw the brahmin and his wife in his vision and knew that time was ripe for the couple to attain Anagami Fruition. Accordingly, the Buddha set out for their house and stood at the door for alms food. The brahmin who was then having his meal, facing the interior part of the house, did not see the Buddha. His wife who was near him saw the Buddha, but she was afraid that if her husband saw the Buddha standing at the door for alms-food, he would offer all his rice in the plate and, in that case, she would have to cook again. With this thought in her mind, she stood behind her husband so that he would not see the Buddha; when she quietly stepped backwards and slowly came to where the Buddha was standing, and whispered to him, "Venerable Sir! We do not have any alms-food for you today." But the Buddha had decided not to leave the house; he just shook his head. Seeing this gesture, the brahmin's wife could not control herself and she burst out laughing.

At that instant, the brahmin turned round and saw the Buddha. At once he knew what his wife had done, and he cried out, "O you, my wretched wife! You have ruined me." Then, taking up his plate of rice, he approached the Buddha and apologetically requested, "Venerable Sir! Please accept this rice which I have partly consumed." To him the Buddha replied, "O brahmin! Any rice is suitable for me, whether it is not yet consumed, or is partly consumed, or even if it is the last remaining spoonful." The brahmin was very much surprised by the Buddha's reply; at the same time, it made him happy because his offer of rice was accepted by the Buddha, The brahmin next asked the Buddha by what standard a bhikkhu was judged and how a bhikkhu was defined. The Buddha knew that both the brahmin and his wife had already learned something about mind and body (nama-rupa); so he answered, "O brahmin! One who is not attached to mind and body is called a bhikkhu."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 367. He who does not take the mind-and-body aggregate (nama-rupa) as "I and mine", and who does not grieve over the dissolution (of mind and body) is, indeed, called a bhikkhu.

At the end of the discourse both the brahmin and his wife attained Anagami Fruition.

Verses 368-376

The Story of a Great Many Bhikkhus

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (368) to (376) of this book, with reference to nine hundred bhikkhus.

Once there was a very rich lady in the town of Kuraraghara, about one hundred and twenty yojanas from Savatthi. She had a son who had become a bhikkhu; his name was Sona. On one occasion, Bhikkhu Sona passed through his home town. On his return from the Jetavana monastery his mother met him and organized a grand charity in his honour. Having heard that Bhikkhu Sona could expound the Dhamma very well she also requested him to expound the Dhamma to her and other people of the home town. Bhikkhu Sona complied with her request. So a pavilion was built and a meeting was organized for Bhikkhu Sona to give a discourse. There was a large gathering at the pavilion; the mother of the bhikkhu also went to listen to the Dhamma expounded by her son. She took all the members of her household with her leaving only a maid to look after the house.

While the lady was away, some thieves broke into the house. Their leader, however, went io the pavilion where the mistress of the house was, sat down near her and kept an eye on her. His intention was to get rid of her should she return home early on learning about the theft at her house. The maid seeing the thieves breaking into the house went to report the matter to her mistress, but the lady only said, "Let the thieves take all my money, I don't care; but do not come and disturb we while I am listening to the Dhamma. You'd better go back." So the maid went home.

There the girl saw the thieves breaking into the room where her mistress kept all her silverware. Again she went to the pavilion where her mistress was and reported to her that the thieves were taking away her silverware, but she was given the same answer as before. So she had to go back to the house. There she saw the thieves breaking into the room where her mistress kept her gold and she reported the matter to her mistress. This time, her mistress shouted at her, "O dear! Let the thieves take whatever they wish to take; why do you have to come and worry me again when I am listening to a discourse on the Dhamma? Why did you not go back when I told you to? Don't you dare come near me again and say things about the theft or the thieves."

The leader of the gang of thieves who was close at hand heard everything the lady had said and he was extremely surprised. Her words also kept him thinking, "If we take away the property of this wise and noble person, we will surely be punished; we might even be struck by lightning and our heads broken into many pieces." The leader got alarmed over this possibility and he hurried back to the house of the lady and made his followers return all the things they had taken. He then took all his followers to where the mistress of the house was; she was still at the pavilion, listening attentively to the Dhamma.

Thera Sona finished his exposition on the Dhamma with the crack of dawn and came down from the dais from where he had expounded the Dhamma. The leader of the thieves approached the rich, noble lady, paid respect to her and revealed his identity to her. He also related to her how they had plundered her house and also that they had returned all her property on hearing her words to her maid, who reported the theft to her during the night. Then, the leader and all the thieves asked the lady to forgive them for having wronged her. Then, they asked Thera Sona to admit them to the Order of bhikkhus. After the admission, each one of the nine hundred bhikkhus took a subject of meditation from Thera Sona and went to the nearby forest to practise meditation in seclusion.

From a distance of one hundred and twenty yojanas, the Buddha saw those bhikkhus and sent forth his radiance to them so that he seemed to be sitting in their midst.

Then noticing their individual dispositions, the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 368. The bhikkhu who lives exercising loving-kindness and is devoted to the Teaching of the Buddha will realize Nibbana—the Tranquil, the Unconditioned, the Blissful.

Verse 369. O bhikkhu, bale out the water (of wrong thoughts) from this boat (your body); when empty it will sail swiftly; having cut off passion and ill will you will realize Nibbana.

Verse 370. Cut off the five (the lower five fetters) give up the five (the upper five fetters); and develop the five (controlling faculties). The bhikkhu who has freed himself of the five bonds (passion, ill will, ignorance, pride and wrong view) is called "One who has crossed the flood (of samsara)."

Verse 371. O Bhikkhu, mediate, and do not be unmindful; do not let your mind rejoice in sensual pleasures. Do not be unmindful and swallow the (hot) lump of iron; as you burn (in niraya) do not cry, "This, indeed, is suffering."

Verse 372. There can be no concentration in one who lacks wisdom; there can be no wisdom in one who lacks concentration. He who has concentration as well as wisdom is, indeed, close to Nibbana.

Verse 373. The bhikkhu who goes into seclusion (to meditate), whose mind is tranquil, who clearly perceives the Dhamma, experiences the joy which transcends that of (ordinary) men.

Verse 374. Every time he clearly comprehends the arising and the perishing of the khandhas, he finds joy and rapture. That, to the wise, is the way to Nibbana (the Deathless).

Verse 375. For a wise bhikkhu in this Teaching, this is the beginning (of the practice leading to Nibbana): control of the senses, contentment, and restraint according to the Fundamental Precepts.

Verse 376 Associate with good friends, who are energetic and whose livelihood is pure; let him be amiable and be correct in his conduct. Then, (frequently) feeling much joy he will make an end of dukkha (of the round of rebirths).

At the end of each verse, one hundred out of the nine hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.

Verse 377

The Story of Five Hundred Bhikkhus

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (377) of this book, with reference to five hundred bhikkhus.

Five hundred bhikkhus from Savatthi, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, set out for the forest to practise meditation. There, they noticed that the jasmin flowers which bloomed in the early morning dropped off from the plants onto the ground in the evening. Then the bhikkhus resolved that they would strive hard to free themselves from all moral defilements even before the flowers were shed from the plants. The Buddha, through his supernormal power, saw them from his Perfumed Chamber. He therefore sent forth his radiance to them and made them feel his presence. To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! As the withered flower is shed from the plant, so also, should a bhikkhu strive to free himself from the round of rebirths."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 377. O bhikkhus! As the jasmin (vassika) plant sheds its withered flowers, so also, should you shed passion and ill will.

At the end of the discourse the five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.

Verse 378

The Story of Thera Santakaya

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (378) of this book, with reference to Thera Santakaya.

There was once a Thera named Santakaya, who had been a lion in his past existence. It is said that lions usually go out in search of food one day and then rest in a cave for the next seven days without moving. Thera Santakaya, having been a lion in his last existence, behaved very much like a lion. He moved about very little; his moments were slow and steady; and he was usually calm and composed. Other bhikkhus took his behaviour to be very queer and they reported about him to the Buddha. After hearing the account given by the bhikkhus, the Buddha said to all of them "Bhikkhus! A bhikkhu should be calm and composed; he should behave like Santakaya."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 378 The bhikkhu who is calm in body, calm in speech, and calm in mind, who is well-composed and has given up (lit., vomited) worldly pleasures, is called a "Tranquil One".

At the end of the discourse Thera Santakaya attained arahatship.

Verse 379-380

The Story of Thera Nangalakula

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (379) and (380) of this book, with reference to Thera Nangala.

Nangala was a poor field labourer in the service of a farmer. One day, a bhikkhu, seeing him ploughing a field in his old clothes, asked him if he would like to become a bhikkhu. When he replied in the affirmative, the bhikkhu took him along to the monastery and made him a bhikkhu. After the admission to the Order, as instructed by his teacher, he left his plough and his old clothes in a tree not far away from the monastery. Because the poor man had left his plough to join the Order, he was known as Thera Nangala (nangala = plough). Due to better living conditions at the monastery, Thera Nangala became healtheir and soon put on weight. However, after some time, he grew tired of the life of a bhikkhu and often felt like returning to home-life. Whenever this feeling arose in him, he would go to the tree near the monastery, the tree where he had left his plough and his old clothes. There he would reproach himself saying, "O you shameless man! Do you still want to put on these old rags and return to the hard, lowly life of a hired labourer ?" After this, his dissatisfaction with the life of a bhikkhu would disappear and he would go back to the monastery. Thus, he went to the tree at an interval of every three or four days, to remind himself of the wretchedness of his old life.

When other bhikkhus asked him about his frequent visits to the tree, he replied, "I have to go to my teacher." In course of time, he attained arahatship and he stopped going to the tree. Other bhikkhus, noticing this, asked him teasingly, "Why don't you go to your teacher now?" To those bhikkhus, he replied, "I used to go to my teacher because I had need of him; but now, I have no need to go to him." The bhikkhus understood what he meant by his answer and they went to the Buddha and reported, "Venerable Sir! Thera Nangala claims to have attained arahatship. It cannot be true; he must be boasting, he must be telling lies."To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! Do not say so; for Nangala is not telling lies. My son Nangala, by reproaching himself and correcting himself, has indeed attained arahatship."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 379: O bhikkhu, by yourself exhort yourself, and examine yourself; thus guarding yourself and being mindful, you will live in peace.

Verse 380: One indeed is one's own refuge, (how could anyone else be one's refuge?) One indeed is one's own heaven; therefore, look after yourself as a horse dealer looks after a thoroughbred.

Verse 381

The Story of Thera Vakkali

While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (381) of this book, with reference to Thera Vakkali.

Vakkali was a brahmin who lived in Savatthi. One day when he saw the Buddha going on an alms-round in the city, he was very much impressed by the noble appearance of the Buddha. At the same time, he felt much affection and great reverence for the Buddha and asked permission to join the Order just to be near him. As a bhikkhu, Vakkali always kept close to the Buddha; he did not care much about other duties of a bhikkhu and did not at all practise concentration meditation. So, the Buddha said to him, "Vakkali, it will be of no use to you by always keeping close to me, looking at my face. You should practise concentration meditation; for, indeed, only the one who sees the Dhamma sees me. One who does not see the Dhamma does not see me. So, you must leave my presence." When he heard those words Vakkali felt very depressed. He left the Buddha as ordered, and climbed the Gijjhakuta hill with the intention of committing suicide by jumping down from the peak.

The Buddha, knowing full well the extent of Vakkali's grief and despondency, reflected that because of his great sorrow and despondency Vakkali might miss the chance of attaining the Maggas. Accordingly, he sent forth his radiance to Vakkali, made him feel his presence and appeared as if in person to Vakkali. With the Buddha near him, Vakkali soon forgot all his sorrow; he became cheerful and very much heartened.

To him the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 381:.The bhikkhu who frequently feels joy and is devoted to the Teaching of the Buddha will realize Nibbana— the Tranquil, the Unconditioned, the Blissful.

At the end of the discourse Vakkali attained arahatship.

Verse 382

(12) The Story of Samanera Sumana

While residing at the Pubbarama monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (382) of this book, with reference to Samanera Sumana.

Samanera Sumana was a pupil of Thera Anuruddha. Although he was only seven years old he was an arahat, endowed with supernormal powers. Once, when his teacher Anuruddha was ill at a monastery in a forest of the Himalayas, he fetched water from the Anotatta lake which was five hundred yojanas away from the monastery. The journey was made not by land but by air through his supernormal power. Later, Thera Anuruddha took Samanera Sumana to the Buddha, who was then sojourning at Pubbarama, the monastery donated by Visakha.

There, other young bhikkhus and samaneras teased him by patting his head, or pulling his ears, nose and arms, and jokingly asked him if he was not feeling bored. The Buddha saw them and thought that he would make those young bhikkhus see the rare qualities of young Samanera Sumana. So it was made known by the Buddha that he wanted some samanera to get a jar of water from the Anotatta lake. The Venerable Ananda searched among the bhikkhus and samaneras of the Pubbarama monastery, but there was none who was able to undertake the job. finally, the Venerable Ananda asked Samanera Sumana who readily agreed to fetch water from the Anotatta lake. He took a big golden jar front the monastery and soon brought the water from the Anotatta lake for the Buddha. As before, he went to the Anotatta lake and came back by air through his supernormal power.

At the congregation of the bhikkhus in the evening, the bhikkhus told the Buddha about the wonderful trip made by Samanera Sumana. To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, one who practises the Dhamma vigilantly and zealously is capable of attaining supernormal powers, even though he is young."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 382. A bhikkhu who, though young, devotes himself to the Teaching of the Buddha lights up the world, as does the moon freed from a cloud.

End of Chapter Twenty-five: The Bhikkhus



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updated: 18-03-2002