The Dhammapada: A Collection of Verses

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Item Code: NAC394
Author: F. Max Muller
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 9788120801110
Pages: 385
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 540 gm
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Book Description

It has been a great and unexpected pleasure to me to have to bring out a new, the third edition of my translation of the Dhammapada. The first was published in 1870, the second in 1881. I cannot indeed pretend to have improved the present edition very much, for I have not had any time left during the last few years to continue my study of Pall. Nor has Pali ever been more than a parergon to me. I began it in 1845 during my stay at Paris with l3urnouf, who was then almost the only scholar who could read Pali texts, and I still have a letter of his in which he apologises for his imperfect knowledge of the language. At that time Pali scholarship had not yet became a special and independent study, but it was a kind of annexe to Sanskrit. Men like Bopp and Burnouf were expected to teach not only Sanskrit and Comparative Philology, but at the same time, Zend, the Prakrit dialects, and, as one of them, Pali. Dough’s Pali Grammar (Colombo, 1824 and 1832) and Tumour’s Mahavanso (1837) were all that we had to depend on. Some advance was made by Spiegel and Westergaard, but the real impulse to an independent and scholar like study of Pill literature came from my friend Childers, the author of the first Pall Dictionary, published in 1875. Before that time the only names to be mentioned iii Pall scholarship were those of James D’Alwis, Spence Hardy, Spiegel, E. Kuhn, Minayeff, Senart, Weber, and last, not least, Fausboll. After the publication of Childers’ Dictionary, the progress of Pall scholarship has been very rapid, and the number of ‘Pall texts and translations has increased very considerably. As the most active among the new generation of Pali scholars deserve to be mentioned Rhys Davids, the founder of the Pall Text Society, Oldenberg, the editor of the Vinaya-pitaka, Trenckner, E. Senart, Feer, Morris and the translators of the Gataka, Professor E. B. Cowell, Messrs. R. Chalmers, W. H. D. Rouse, H. T. Francis, and R. H. Neil.

The most favourite Pali text seems to have been the Dhammapada. It is certainly a most interesting collection of verses, giving a trustworthy picture of Buddhist thought, particularly in its practical and moral character. Consisting of short sentences it seems at first an easy book to translate, but the very fact that these versus memoriales stand by themselves without any context to throw light on them creates a peculiar difficulty, much the same as that with which the readers of another elementary book, the Hitopadesa, are well acquainted. Like the Hitopadesa, the Dhammapada also may be called an easy and at the same time a very difficult book. The verses being often torn from the context to which they originally belonged, may indeed be rendered word by word, but they leave us often in the dark, particularly where two readings are possible, which of the two we ought to choose; while if we knew what preceded and followed them in their original context, we should find our choice much easier. Though many difficult and obscure passages in the Dhammapada have now by a succession of translators and commentators been elucidated, many more still remain which require renewed study. It may seem strange to outsiders that there should still be so much uncertainty as to the exact meaning of many Pali words. The meaning of the very title of our book, the Dhammapada, is still contested. I have produced whatever arguments I could collect in support of the meaning of ‘Path of Virtue’ or ‘Path of the Law.’ But Jam far from saying that the translation ‘Collection of Texts of the Law: ‘Worte der Wahrheit,’ is impossible. What we want to settle the point is some ancient Buddhist authority to tell us with what intention this title was originally given. For titles are often fanciful, and mere scholarship is not sufficient to enable us to speak with magisterial assurance.

Let us take another instance. One of the commonest words in Buddhist philosophy is sankharo. It corresponds to Sanskrit samskara. The meanings of the Sanskrit word are difficult enough. It means the forming of matter, it can mean refining, polishing, embellishing, also the preparing of food and the moulding of clay. Purifying rites also are called samskara and the impressions of the mind as well as the result of them, the dispositions, tastes, talents or inclinations, may go by the same name. In Pali, however, the growth of the meanings of sankharo becomes far more complicated. It means there also preparing, but the Buddhist, as if remembering that samskara meant etymologically putting together, and then what has been put together, uses sankharo in the sense of anything that has been made and will therefore perish. According to Hindu philosophy whatever has been put together or made can be put asunder or unmade, and thus sankharo came to be used not only for what we should call the created or material world, but for anything in it that is anitya or perishable. Thus sankharo may sometimes be rendered by matter in general, though chiefly by organised or living matter, except that sankharo includes what we should call attributes also. Lastly, like samskara, sankharo may mean the impressions left on the mind, and the resulting states of the mind predispositions, talents or character, in which sense it is often used by the Sankhya philosophers. If then we read v. 368 that the quiet place or Nirvana is sankharupasamam sukham or happiness arising from the quieting of the sankharas, we may translate either ‘from the cessation of all existing things: or ‘from the calming of all desires or affections.’ Hence Fausboll translates ‘naturarum sedatio;’ Weber, ‘wo aufhoren die Einkleidungen’ Gray, ‘life-ending;’ Hu, ‘oucessent les existences;’ v. Schroeder,’ wo alles Ding zur Rube kommt,’ whereas I prefer to take upasama in the sense of calming, and sankharo in the sense of all states of the mind, more particularly the calming of all desires and affections.

If such a verse occurred in a text treating either of the end of the world and all created things or of the subduing of all affections or passions, we should know at once which meaning to choose, while in our case we may, I think, allow ourselves to be guided by the word sukha, happiness, which seems to point to the quieting of the affections of the mind rather than to the destruction of the world.

In looking at the literature devoted to the Dhammapada, we may read very clearly the steady progress of Pali scholarship. Fausboll’s edition of the text with a Latin translation, and with extracts from the native commentary, which was published in 1855, marked indeed an epoch, if we may use such a hackneyed expression of a work of real importance and permanent value. It was indeed a work sui generis, and there was no other scholar living at the time who would have ventured on such new ground as that chosen by that young Danish scholar. It ought never to be forgotten that the publication of an Oriental text never published before, and the translation of an Oriental text never translated before, requires a kind of scholarship quite different from that of the patient follower who is satisfied with jurare in verba magistri. There is between a scholar such as Fausboll and the ordinary scholars who can read what has been read and translated before, about the same difference as between a Stanley exploring the darkest Africa and a tourist who now goes to Egypt personally conducted by Messrs. Cook & Co. Naturally the pioneer is apt to lose his way and to make mistakes. These very mistakes, however, are sometimes most creditable, just as the bold adventures of those who did not discover the sources of the Nile have often required greater efforts and entailed more severe sufferings than the successful discoveries of later corners. But be that as it may, no true NH scholar wilt ever forget what we owe to Fausboll’s adventurous daring, no one pointing out improvements in his text and translation would not feel ashamed to blame or to ridicule him. In that respect Pali scholarship may indeed be proud for having always preserved the temper of the true Buddhist or the gentleman, and it seems almost as if the best Pall scholars had been those who were most thoroughly imbued with the true spirit of Buddha himself, and to whom nothing seemed so offensive as pharusham, which—sit venia—One might almost translate by langage farouche ou grossier.

After the first editor and translator followed—but longo intervallo—those who for the first time translated the text into a new language, whether German, English or French. To this class belong the translations of Weber (German), myself (English), Hu (French). No one who has not himself tried to translate Oriental thought into any European language can have any idea of the almost impossible task of finding words in any of these modern languages exactly corresponding to the ancient terms of Eastern religion or philosophy. To find terms exactly corresponding to the varied terminology of Buddhism is simply impossible. They do not exist, as little as there are modern coins corresponding exactly to a karshapana. Here nothing remains but to use terms of more general meaning which at all events are not wrong, and which, though they do not exactly cover the Pall terms, yet include them. This is the rule I have tried to follow throughout. It is not very satisfactory, but it is better at all events than to use a word which is actually wrong or covers but a small segment of the original term.

In some cases the native commentary is of great help, and scholars who formerly despised the help of native interpreters, such as Sayana or Buddhaghosa, are now agreed that they form a sine qua non in a critical study of ancient texts. How, for instance, should we - know the right meaning of such a verse as 353, where we read:

‘I have conquered all, I know all, in all conditions of life I am free from taint; I have left all, and through the destruction of thirst I arc free; having learnt myself whom should I teach?’

It is true we know now, and might have known before, that Pali uddis is not used in the sense of teaching, but means pointing towards a person or a thing. In Sanskrit also upadis means teaching (anweisen), but not uddis, which means to point to. A very similar verse occurs in the Suttanipata 210:

Sabbabhibhum sabbavidum sumedham
Sabbesu dhammesu anupalittam
Sabbangaham tamhakkhaya vimuttam
Tam vapi dhira munim vedayanti,

Which Fausboll translates: ‘The man who has overcome everything, who knows everything, who is possessed of a good understanding, undefiled in all things (dhamma), abandoning all things, liberated in the destruction of desire (nibbana), him the wise style a Muni.’

Here all traces of the event which gave rise to the utterance of the verse have disappeared. But the commentator tells us that it was uttered originally by Buddha when on his way’ to Benares he met an Upagivaka who asked him who it was that ordained him, and who was the teacher whose doctrine he taught. It was then that Buddha declared that he could point to no one as his teacher, but that he was his own teacher. After this all becomes clear, and we see that the verb uddis is the right verb to use for pointing out. We have only to refer to the Lalita-vistara XXVI, to see the story of the native commentator confirmed. Here kasmin Gautama brahmakaryam ukyate corresponds to kam uddissa pabbagito, that is, who gave thee leave to become a bhikshu or a pabbagita?

I subjoin a list of books containing translations or notes on the Dhammapada, published after the publication of my own translation, so far as they have become known to me:

(I) Le Dhammapada, par Fernand Hu, Pads, 1878.
(2) The Dhammapadam or Scriptural Texts translated from Bali on the basis of Burmese MSS., by James Gray, i88x ; sec. ed. Calcutta, 1887.
(3) Das Dhammapadam, Ein Vers. sammlung, aus der Englischen Ubersetztung von Professor M. M.: metrisch ins Deutsch ubersetzt, Leipzig, 1885.
(4) Der Wahrheitsphad, ubersetzt von K. E. Neumann, 3893.
(5) A translation from a Chinese translation of the Dhammapada by Samuel Beal was published in 1878, and is useful sometimes by the subjoined narratives.

Difficult passages have been discussed not only by Childers in his Dictionary and in his ‘Notes on the Dhammapada,’ but likewise by Morris in his valuable contributions to the Journal of the Pali Text Society, by Kern in his Bijdrage tot de Verklaring van eenige woorden in Pali-geschriften voorkomende (Verhandelingen der Kon. Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam, 1886), and by Fausboll in his Nogle Bemerkninger om enkelte vanskelige Pali-Ord i Jataka-Bogen, 1888.

I have also to thank Prof. Fausboll, as formerly Childers, for help given me in my translation. What I said in my introduction to my former edition, that ‘I can claim for myself no more than the name of a very humble gleaner in this field of Bali literature,’ applies with equal truth to the new edition. I have gleaned whatever grains seemed to me valuable in these later publications, and have consulted several of the translators whenever there seemed to be some points left that required to be cleared up.



The Dhammapada, A Canonical Book.

The Dhammapada forms part of the Pall Buddhist canon, though its exact place varies according to different authorities, and we have not as yet a sufficient number of complete MSS. of the Tipitaka to help us to decide the question’.

Those who divide that Canon into three Pitakas or baskets, the Vinaya-pitaka, Sutta-pitaka, and Abhidhamma-pitaka, assign the Dhammapada to the Sutta-pitaka. That Pitaka consists of five Nikayas: the Digha-nikaya, the Magghima-nikaya, the Samyutta-nikaya, the Anguttara-nikaya, and the Khuddaka-nikâya. The fifth, or Khuddaka-nikaya, comprehends the following works: 1. Rhuddakapatha; 2. Dhammapada; 3. Udana; 4. ltivuttaka; 5. Suttanipata; 6. Vimnavatthu; 7. Petavatthu; 8. Theragatha; 9. Therigatha; 10. Gataka; 11. Niddesa; 12. Patisambhida; 13. Apadana; 14. Buddhavamsa; 15. Kariya-pitaka.

According to another division2, however, the whole Buddhist canon consists of five Nikayas: the Digha-nikaya, the Magghima-nikaya, the Samyutta-nikaya, the Anguttara-nikaya, and the fifth, the Khuddaka-nikâya, which Khuddaka-nikaya is then made to comprehend the whole of the Vinaya (discipline) and Abhidhamma (metaphysics). Together with the fifteen books beginning with the Khuddaka-patha.

The order of these fifteen books varies, and even, as it would seem, their number. The Dighabhanaka School admits twelve books only, and assigns them all to the Abhidhamma, while the Magghimabhanakas admit fifteen books, and assign them to the Sutta-pitaka. The order of the fifteen book is: 1. Gataka [10]; 2. Mahaniddesa [11]; 3. Kullaniddesa [11]; 4. Patisambhidamagga [12]; 5. Sutta-nipata [5]; 6. Dhammapada [2]; 7. Udana [3]; 8. Itiyuttaka [4]; 9. Vimanavatthu [6]; 10. Petavatthu [7]; 11. Theragatha [8]; 12. Therigatha [9]; 13. Kariya-pitaka [15]; 14. Apadana [13]; 15. Buddhavamsa [14].

There is a commentary on the Dhammapada in Pali, and supposed to be written by Buddhaghosa, in the first half of the fifth century A.D. In explaining the verses of the Dhammapada, the commentator gives for every or nearly e very verse a parable to illustrate its meaning, which is likewise believed to have been uttered by Buddha in his intercourse with his disciples, or in preaching to the multitudes that came to hear him.




  Preface to new Edition ix-xv
  Introduction to the Dhammapada xvii-lxiii
1. The Twin-verses 3
2. On Earnestness 9
3. Thought 12
4. Flowers 16
5. The Fool 20
6. The Wise Man (Pandita) 23
7. The Venerable (Arhat) 27
8. The Thousands 31
9. Evil 34
10. Punishment 36
11. Old Age 41
12. Self 45
13. The World 47
14. The Buddha (the Awakened) 50
15. Happiness 54
16. Pleasure 57
17. Anger 59
18. Impurity 61
19. The Just 65
20. The Way 68
21. Miscellaneous 71
22. The Downward Course 75
23. The Elephant 78
24. Thirst 81
25. The Bhikshu (Mendicant) 86
26. The Brahmana (Arhat) 90
  Index 97
  Transliteration of Oriental Alphabets adopted for the Translations of the Sacred Books of the East (see the end of this volume) 209
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