Dhammapada | 19. Dhammattha Vagga
19. Dhammattha Vagga
The Just Make A Proper Investigation
1. Na tena hoti dhammaṭṭho, yen’atthaṁ sāhasā naye
yo ca atthaṁ anatthañca, ubho niccheyya paṇḍito.
2. Asāhasena dhammena, samena nayatī pare
Dhammassa gutto medhāvī, “dhammaṭṭho”ti pavuccati.
1. He is not thereby just because he hastily arbitrates cases.
The wise man should investigate both right and wrong.
2. The intelligent person who leads others not falsely, but lawfully and impartially,
who is a guardian of the law, is called one who abides by the law.
Some monks took shelter from a sudden shower of rain in a court, and while there they noticed that certain judges accepted bribes and decided cases unjustly.
When they reported this to the Buddha, he uttered the above verses.
One is Not Wise Because of Speaking Much
3. Na tena paṇḍito hoti, yāvatā bahu bhāsati
Khemī averī abhayo, “paṇḍito”ti pavuccati.
3. One is not wise merely because one speaks much.
He who is secure, without hate, and fearless is called “wise.”
The Group of Six Monks
The group of six monks called themselves wise and created disorder, bullying other monks and novices. When this was reported to the Buddha he uttered this verse in explanation.
One Versed in Dhamma Does Not Speak Much
4. Na tāvatā dhammadharo, yāvatā bahu bhāsati
Yo ca appam pi sutvāna, dhammaṁ kāyena passati
Sa ve dhammadharo hoti, yo dhammaṁ nappamajjati.
4. One is not versed in the Dhamma merely because one speaks too much. He who hears little and sees the Dhamma within his own body, and who1 does not neglect the Dhamma, he is versed in the Dhamma.
The Elder Ekudāna
An Arahant who knew only one verse lived in a certain forest. When he recited the verse on Uposatha days the deities applauded him.
One day, two learned elders came there.
The Arahant invited them to preach the Dhamma, saying that deities usually came to listen, but when the two monks preached there was no applause from the deities.
Doubting what the resident monk had said, they invited him to preach the Dhamma. When he recited his single verse, the deities applauded as usual.
Displeased at this apparent partiality of the deities, they reported these events to the Buddha. The Buddha uttered the above verse in explanation.
Grey Hair Does Not Make An Elder
5. Na tena thero hoti, yen’assa Pāḷitaṁ siro2
Paripakko vayo tassa, “moghajiṇṇo”ti vuccati.
6. Yamhi saccañca dhammo ca, ahiṁsā saṁyamo damo
Sa ve vantamalo dhīro, “thero” iti pavuccati.
5. He is not thereby an elder merely because his head is grey.
Ripe is he in age. “Old-in-vain” is he called.
6. In whom are truth, virtue, harmlessness, restraint and control,
that wise man who is purged of impurities is called an elder.
The Elder Lakuṇḍakabhaddiya’s Story
Thirty forest monks who came to see the Buddha saw this young novice leaving. The Buddha asked them whether they had seen an elder. They replied that they had only seen a young novice.
The Buddha explained that one who understands the Four Noble Truths is an elder while someone, though with grey hairs, who doesn’t understand the essence is called “old in vain.”
Then he uttered the above verse, and the thirty forest monks gained Arahantship.
Eloquence Does Not Make A Gentleman
7. Na vākkaraṇamattena, vaṇṇapokkharatāya vā
Sādhurūpo naro hoti, issukī maccharī saṭho.
8. Yassa c’etaṁ samucchinnaṁ, mūlaghaccaṁ samūhataṁ
Sa vantadoso medhāvī, “Sādhurūpo”ti vuccati.
7. Not by mere eloquence, nor by handsome appearance, does one become
a gentleman, if he is jealous, selfish, and deceitful.
8. But in whom these are wholly cut off, uprooted and extinct,
that wise man who is purged of hatred is called a gentleman.
The Story of Many Monks
Many young monks and novices showed their respect towards their teachers by performing the duties for them such as dyeing robes.
Some elderly monks who were skilled preachers were jealous.
With a base motive they approached the Buddha and suggested that he advise those young monks not to rehearse the Dhamma without being corrected by them. Understanding their base intentions, the Buddha uttered the above verses.
A Shaven Head Does Not Make A Monk
9. Na muṇḍakena samaṇo, abbato alikaṁ bhaṇaṁ
Icchālobhasamāpanno, samaṇo kiṁ bhavissati.
10. Yo ca sameti pāpāni, aṇuṁ thūlāni sabbaso
Samitattā hi pāpānaṁ, “samaṇo”ti pavuccati.
9. Not by a shaven head does an undisciplined man, who utters lies, become
a monk. How will one who is full of desire and greed be a monk?
10. He who wholly subdues evil deeds both small and great is called a monk
because he has overcome all evil
When defeated in argument, Hatthaka would invite his opponent to meet him at a certain place at an appointed time to resume the discussion.
He would then go there before the appointed time and declare that the absence of the opponent meant acknowledgment of defeat.
When this matter was reported to the Buddha he questioned Hatthaka and explained the attitude of a true monk, uttering the above verses.
Begging Does Not Make A Monk
11. Na tena bhikkhu so hoti, yāvatā bhikkhate pare
Vissaṁ dhammaṁ samādāya, bhikkhu hoti na tāvatā.
12. Yo’dha puññañca pāpañca, bāhetvā brahmacariyavā
Saṅkhāya loke carati, sa ce “bhikkhū”ti vuccati.
11. He is not a monk merely because he begs from others; by following the whole code (of morality) one certainly becomes a monk and not (merely) by such begging.
12. Herein he who has transcended both good and evil, whose conduct is sublime, who lives with understanding in this world, he is called a monk.
A Certain Brahmin’s Story
A Brahmin retired from the world and was living the life of an ascetic begging food.
He saw the Buddha and requested him to address him as monk as he also was begging food. The Buddha answered that one does not become a monk merely by begging food.
Silence Alone Does Not Make A Sage
13. Na monena muni hoti, mūḷharūpo aviddasu
Yo ca tulaṁ ’va paggayha, varam ādāya paṇḍito.
14. Pāpāni parivajjeti, sa munī tena so munī
Yo munāti ubho loke, “munī” tena pavuccati.
13. Not by silence (alone) does he who is dull and ignorant become a sage;
but a wise man, as if holding a pair of scales, selects only the best.
14. He who shuns evil, is for that reason a sage.
He who understands both worlds, is called a sage.
The Non-Buddhist Ascetics
After finishing a meal, non-Buddhist ascetics used to offer merit to the donors, but the Buddha’s disciples used to depart in silence. People were offended by this seeming discourtesy.
The Buddha thereupon enjoined the monks to offer merit. Then the ascetics were silent, but found fault with the monks for discoursing at length. The Buddha explained the attitude of a true sage.
By Harmlessness One Becomes A Noble One
15. Na tena ariyo hoti, yena pāṇāni hiṁsati
Ahiṁsā sabbapāṇānaṁ, “ariyo”ti pavuccati.
15. He is not a Noble One if he harms living beings;
By harmlessness towards all beings he is called “Noble.”
The Fisherman’s Story
A man named “Ariya” was a fisherman. Knowing that he was ready to attain Stream-winning, the Buddha went to where he was fishing. Seeing the Buddha and the Saṅgha coming, he laid aside his fishing tackle, and stood up.
The Buddha asked the leading elders their names, and they replied, “I am Sāriputta,” “I am Moggallāna,” and so on. Then the Buddha asked the fisherman, who replied, “I am Ariya, Venerable sir.”
The Buddha said that one is not a Noble One who harms living beings, uttering the above verse. On the conclusion of the verse, the fisherman gained Stream-winning, thus becoming a true Noble One (Ariya).
A Monk Should Not Stop Halfway
16. Na sīlabbatamattena, bāhusaccena vā pana
Atha vā samādhilābhena, vivitta sayanena vā.
17. Phusāmi nekkhammasukhaṁ, aputhujjanasevitaṁ
Bhikkhu vissāsam āpādi, appatto āsavakkhayaṁ.
16-17. Not by mere morality and austerities, nor by much learning, nor by developing concentration, nor by secluded lodging, (thinking) “I enjoy the bliss of renunciation not resorted to by the worldlings” should you rest content without reaching the extinction of the corruptions.
The Monks Endowed with Lesser Attainments
Some monks who had attained varying degrees of spiritual progress did not strive to become Arahants, thinking that they could become Arahants at any time.
Knowing the thoughts in their minds, the Buddha admonished them not to be complacent, advising them that even a little bit of becoming was suffering, just as even a little excrement was of bad smell.
On hearing the above verse, the monks attained Arahantship.