Commentaries on the Dhammapada

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The monks therefore openly expressed the opinion that Maha Kala would succumb to their wiles. The Teacher, however, told them that they were wrong ; and compar- ing Cula Kala to a feeble tree standing on the edge of a precipice, and Maha Kala to a rocky mountain, pronounced Stanzas Maha Kala escaped from the clutches of his wives by soaring through the air. At the conclusion of the stanzas, the assembled monks were established in the Fruits. Story 7. One day the Venerable Sariputta preached a sermon on the two-fold duty of giving alms and urging others to do likewise.

Thereupon a lay brother invited him to bring his retinue of a thousand monks and take a meal with him. Sariputta accepted the invitation ; and the lay brother, with the assistance of the inhabitants of Rajagaha, each of whom responded to his request to give alms according to his ability, entertained the monks handsomely. It turned out that there was an ample supply of food, and the question arose what to do with the robe. The lay brother sub- mitted the question to popular vote, with the result that as between Sariputta and Devadatta there was a majority of four in favor of the latter.

But as soon as Devadatta put on the robe everybody remarked that it was not at all becoming to him, and would have suited Sari- putta much better. This incident was reported to the Teacher, who replied that it was not the first time Devadatta had worn unbecoming robes, and then told the following story of the past : The Elephant Hunter and the Noble Elephant.

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta reigned at Benares, there lived an elephant hunter who made his living by killing elephants and selling their tusks. One day he saw thousands of elephants go into a forest and fall on their knees before some Private Buddhas. The elephants, supposing that he was a Private Buddha, made obeisance to him and went on their way.

The last elephant to come he killed with a thrust of his spear ; then, removing the tusks, he buried the rest of the carcass, and departed.

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The hunter was still engaged in his nefarious business. The noble creature, observing the diminution of his herd, and suspecting who was at the bottom of it, sent the other elephants on ahead and brought up the rear himself, walking with a long, slow stride. The hunter threw his spear at him and darted behind a tree. The elephant re- sisted the temptation to encircle man and tree with his trunk and crush the offender, and contented himself with saying, " Why did you commit so grievous a sin?

You have put on robes suited to those that are free from the Depravities, but unbecoming to you. This is not the first time he has worn unbecoming robes. The Chief Disciples. The Future Buddha, after receiving recognition at the hands of twenty-four Buddhas beginning with Dlpankara, and after fulfilling the Perfections, was reborn in the Tusita heaven. Urged by the deities to save the world, he made the Five Great Observations, was born of Queen Maya, passed his youth in the enjoyment of great magnificence in three mansions suited to the three seasons, beheld the Four Omin- ous Sights, resolved to become a monk, renounced son and wife, was greeted by Kisa Gotaml, made the Great Retirement and the Great Struggle, defeated the hosts of Mara, and attained omniscience under the Bo-tree.

At the request of Brahma he proclaimed the Law and converted the Five Monks, Yasa and Fifty-four Companions, the Thirty Young Nobles, and the Three Brothers ; after which he visited King Bimbisara and accepted from him the grant of Bamboo Grove monas- tery, where he took up his abode and Saripntta and Moggallana came to him. They acquired a sense of the impermanence of things while witnessing Mountain-top festivities, and were for a time disciples of Safijaya.

Desiring something more than he could give them, they travelled about India listening to vari- ous teachers, and were converted to the religion of Buddha by Assaji. After making an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Safijaya to accom- pany them, they went to the feet of Buddha, who admitted and pro- fessed them as members of the Order and made them his chief disciples. Buddha denies the charge and declares that it is his wont to bestow on every man that for which he has made his wish.


By way of illustra- tion he relates the following stories of the past : Maha Kala and Cula Kaia. Annakondafina in his existence as Cula Kala bestowed the gift of first-fruits nine times on the Buddha Vipassi and for seven days bestowed great largess on the Buddha Padumuttara, making the wish that he might be the first to compre- hend the Law.

The fact of his attaining this distinction was no proof of favoritism, but rather the fruit of that earnest wish. Yasa and his Fifty-four Companions performed many meritorious deeds in the dispensation of a previous Buddha, making the wish that they might thereby attain Arahatship. In a later dispensation they banded themselves together for the performance of good works, and went about caring for the dead bodies of paupers. One day they came upon the dead body of a pregnant woman. They carried the body to the cemetery, Yasa and four others undertook the duty of cremating it, and the rest returned to the village.

While Yasa was engaged in turning the body over and over, he acquired a sense of the impurity of the body. This he communicated to the four others, who in turn communicated it to the rest. Yasa also went and communicated it to his mother, his father, and his wife. It was due entirely to this that Yasa obtained in the women's apartments, the disposition of mind re- quisite to Conversion and that he and the others developed Specific Attainment.

In a later dis- pensation they gave themselves up to the pleasures of sense, but on hearing the admonition addressed to Tundila they kept'the Five Precepts for seventy thousand years. After undergoing rebirth as gods during ninety-two cycles of time, they obtained the fulfilment of their wish.

Translation of Books 3–12

At that time Bimbisara was their superintendent, the lay brother Visakha their steward, and the three ascetics with matted locks were the three royal princes. Their serving men had a very different experience. The latter diverted to their own use the food they had been ordered to bestow in alms. After undergoing rebirth as ghosts during four Buddha-intervals, they came and begged food and drink of the Buddha Kakusandha, who referred them to the Buddha Konagamana, who referred them to the Buddha Kassapa, who com- forted them with the assurance that, in the dispensation of his suc- cessor Gotama, their kinsman Bimbisara would be king, and would obtain relief for them by transferring to them the merit he would earn by giving alms to the Teacher.

Thus at last they obtained celestial food, drink, and robes, and became gods. Sariputta and Moggallana were born as Sarada and Sirivaddha respectively at the time when the Buddha Anomadassi appeared in the world. Upon receiv- ing assurance that his wish would be fulfilled, he sent word to Siri- vaddha to make his wish for the place of second disciple.

The Dhammapada | with Commentary

Thereupon Sirivaddha entertained AnomadassI and made his wish. So what Sariputta and Moggallana obtained was only that for which they had made their wish under AnomadassI. Buddha then contrasted the attitude of Safijaya with that of his own faithful followers, and pronounced Stanzas , at the conclusion of which many of his hearers were established in the Fruits. Story 9. Nanda, Elder. After the events related in the last story, Buddha visited his father Suddh'odana and established him in the Fruits of the First Two Paths by pronouncing Stanzas On the following day, while the fes- tivities connected with Nanda's marriage were going on, Buddha went into the house to collect alms, placed his bowl in Nanda's hands, wished him happiness, and then went out without taking the bowl.

So profound was Nanda's reverence for the Teacher that he did not dare ask him to take the bowl ; but, expecting that the Teacher would ask for it sooner or later, he followed him first to the head of the stairs, then to the foot of the stairs, then to the court-yard. Here Nanda wished to turn back. But the Teacher went straight ahead, and Nanda, much against his will, followed. When Nanda's bride, Country Beauty, learned what had happened, she ran after him as fast as she could, with tears streaming down her face and hair half combed, and begged him to return.

This caused a quaver in Nanda's heart, but the Teacher still gave no indication that he wished to have the bowl returned, and Nanda kept right on. Nanda had become thoroughly dissatisfied with the Eeligious Life, and one day he told his brethren that he was going to return to the World. When this was reported to the Teacher, he asked Nanda what was the matter.

Nanda told him that he was so deeply in love with Country Beauty that he could not keep his mind on his re- ligious duties. The Teacher, taking him by the arm, led him to a burnt field, and showed him a singed monkey that had lost ears, nose, and tail, sitting on a charred stump ; then, by his supernatural power, conducting him to the world of the Thirty-three, he showed him five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs. Then said the Teacher : " Nanda, which do you regard as being the more beautiful, Country Beauty or these five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs 1" Nanda replied : " Venerable sir, Country Beauty is as far inferior to these nymphs as she is superior to that singed monkey.

In a short time he at- tained Arahatship; whereupon he went to the Teacher and said, "Venerable sir, I release the Exalted One from his promise. The monks reported this statement to the Teacher, who compared Nanda's former state to that of an ill-thatched house, and his latter state to that of a well- thatched house, and pronounced Stanzas , at the conclusion of which many of his hearers were established in Fruits. But the Teacher said : " This is not the first time Nanda has been won to obedience by the lure of the opposite sex.

The same thing happened once before. Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta reigned at Benares, there lived in that city a merchant named Kap- pata; and he had a donkey. Every day the merchant loaded the donkey down with pottery and made him go at least seven leagues. One day he made a trip to Takkasila ; and while he was engaged in disposing of his wares, he let the donkey run loose. The donkey, see- ing a female of his species, went up to her. As the result of her talk, he became dissatisfied with his job.

After the merchant had disposed of his wares, he returned to the donkey, and said, " Come, Jack, let 's be off. Then he changed his tactics and said, " If you will go with me, I will bring you home a mate like that. In former times, too, Nanda was won to obedience by the lure of the female sex. Story Cunda, the Pork-butcher.

Cunda, the pork-butcher, was a selfish, brutal, irreligious man.

After a course of evil conduct lasting fifty-five years, he was attacked by a frightful disease, and while he yet lived, the Avici hell yawned before him. His kins- men ran out of the house, barricaded the doors, and mounted guard. After he had raved for seven days he died, and was reborn in the Avici hell. The latter told them the real facts of the case, remarked that the irreligious man sorrows both here and here- after, and pronounced Stanza 15, at the end of which many were established in the Fruits. The Faithful Lay Brother.

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A certain lay brother distinguished for his benefactions and religious zeal, was attacked by mortal illness, and desiring to hear the Law, re- quested the Teacher to send him some monks. Just as the monks were beginning the recitation, a host of deities drove up in their chari- ots and said, " We would take you with us.

The layman's children, to whom the deities were invisible, began to weep ; whereupon the lay- man, to confirm their faith, performed a miracle, urged them to follow the example he had set in performing good works, and then, stepping into a celestial chariot, was reborn as a deity. The story of Devadatta from the time he retired from the world to the time he was swallowed up by the earth is related in detail in the Jatakas ; 23 the following is an abridgment of it : When the Future Buddha lived at Anupiya Mango-grove, eighty thousand kinsmen observed on his person the marks and characteristics of a Tathagata, and each dedicated a son to his service.


In the course of time, all of these young men became monks, with the exception of Bhaddiya, Anuruddha, Ananda, Bhagu, Kimbila, and Devadatta. One day Anuruddha's brother Mahanama went to Anuruddha and said, " There is n't one of our family that has become a monk ; you become a monk, and I '11 follow your example. Once the six princes engaged in a game of ball, wagering a cake on the result. Anuruddha lost and sent word to his mother to send him a cake, which she did. This happened three times. The fourth time his mother sent word: "There isn't cake to send.

The tutelary deities of the city filled the bowl with celestial cakes.

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  4. The mother found out what had happened, and thereafter, whenever her son sent for cakes, sent him an empty bowl, which the deities filled with celestial cakes. How could a youth who was ignorant of the meaning of the word is n't, be expected to know the meaning of monk 1 Anuruddha replied to Mahanama : " What does this word monk mean?

    Anuruddha replied that he was too delicate to become a monk. Once a discussion arose among the three princes Kimbila, Bhaddiya, and Anuruddha, as to where rice comes from.

    Commentaries on the Dhammapada
    Commentaries on the Dhammapada
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    Commentaries on the Dhammapada
    Commentaries on the Dhammapada
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