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The Dhammapada | with Commentary

The Dhammapada | with Commentary

The Dhammapada — The Path to Truth — is an excellent book to keep in one’s pocket and refer to at leisure. The Dhammapada' is a collection of the Buddha's words or basic and essential principles of the Buddha's Teaching.

It consists of 423 verses arranged according to topics in twenty-six vaggas or chapters. The meaning of the verses is greatly clarified by the stories from the commentaries, which put them into context.

Dhammapada is a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya of Suttanta Pitaka, a division of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism, which is popular and well-known not only in Buddhist countries but also elsewhere.

Verse 183 gives the teachings of the Buddha in a nutshell: Abstain from all evil; Promote (develop) what is good and purify your mind.

Each stanza is packed with the essence of Truth which illumines the path of a wayfarer. Many are the Dhammapada verses which find their way into the writings and everyday speech of the Buddhists.

One can get much sustenance and encouragement from the Dhammapada not only for spiritual development but also for everyday living.

The Dhammapada describes the path which a wayfarer should follow:

It states (in verses 277, 278 and 279) that all conditioned things are transitory and impermanent; that all conditioned things are subject to suffering; and that all things (dhammas) are insubstantial, incapable of being called ones own.

When one sees the real nature of things with (vipassanā) insight, one becomes disillusioned with the charms and attractions of the Five Aggregates. Such disillusionment constitutes the path of purity (Nibbāna).

Verse 243 defines the highest form of impurity as ignorance (avijjā) and states that the suffering in the world can be brought to an end only by the destruction of craving or hankering after sensual pleasures.

Greed, ill will and ignorance are described as dangerous as fire and unless they are held under restraint, a happy life is impossible both now and thereafter.

Avoiding the two extremes, namely, indulgence in a life of sensuous pleasures and the practice of self-mortification, one must follow the Middle Path, the Noble Path of Eight Constituents to attain perfect Peace, Nibbāna.

Attainment to the lowest stage (Sotāpatti Magga) on this Path shown by the Buddha is to be preferred even to the possession of the whole world (V. 178).

The Dhammapada emphasizes that one makes or mars oneself, and no one else can help one to rid oneself of impurity. Even the Buddhas cannot render help; they can only show the way and guide; a man must strive for himself.

The Dhammapada recommends a life of peace and non-violence and points out the eternal law that hatred does not cease by hatred, enmity is never overcome by enmity but only by kindness and love (V.5).

It advises to conquer anger by loving-kindness, evil by good, miserliness by generosity, and falsehood by truth.

The Dhammapada contains gems of literary excellence, replete with appropriate similes and universal truths and is thus found appealing and edifying by readers all the world over.

Dhammapada serves as a digest of the essential principles and features of the Buddha Dhamma as well as of the wisdom of all the ages.

Chapters of Dhammapada:

  1. Yamaka Vagga | The Twin Verses
  2. Appamāda Vagga | Heedfulness
  3. Citta Vagga | The Mind
  4. Puppha Vagga | Flowers
  5. Bāla Vagga | Fools
  6. Pandita Vagga | The Wise
  7. Arahanta Vagga | The Worthy
  8. Sahassa Vagga | Thousands
  9. Pāpa Vagga | Evil
  10. Daṇḍa Vagga | Punishment
  11. Jarā Vagga | Old Age
  12. Atta Vagga | The Self
  13. Loka Vagga | The World
  14. Buddha Vagga | The Buddha
  15. Sukha Vagga | Happiness
  16. Piya Vagga | Affection
  17. Kodha Vagga | Anger
  18. Mala Vagga | Stains
  19. Dhammattha Vagga | The Righteous
  20. Magga Vagga | The Path
  21. Pakinnaka Vagga | Miscellaneous
  22. Niraya Vagga | Hell
  23. Nāga Vagga | The Tusker
  24. Taṇhā Vagga | Craving
  25. Bhikkhu Vagga | The Monk
  26. Brāhmaṇa Vagga | The Saint