Dhammapada is one of the best known
books of the Pitaka. It is a collection of the
teachings of the Buddha expressed in clear,
pithy verses. These verses were culled
from various discourses given by the
Buddha in the course of forty five years of
his teaching, as he travelled the valley of
the Ganges and the sub-mountain tract of
the Himalayas. Each verse contains a truth
(dhamma), an exhortation, a piece - of
The present book is divided into two
parts. Part 1 is the translation of the verses.
The present translation of verses is
from Pali into English: The Pali text used is
the Dhammapada Pali approved by the
Sixth International Buddhist Synod. When
there is any doubt in the interpretation the
dhamma concept of the verses or when the
literal meaning is vague or inintelligible,
the translator has refered to the
Commentary (in Pali) and the Burmese
translation of the Commentary by the
Nyaunglebin Sayadaw, a very learned
thera. The second part of the book contains
summaries of the Dhammapada stories as
it is generally believed that the
Dhammapada commentary written by’
Buddhaghosa is a great help towards a
better understanding of the Dhammapada.
Three hundred .and five stories are
included in the commentary. A translation
of the verses is given at the end of each
In the end book contains glossary of the
terms and an index of the words.
Dhammapada is one of the best known books of
the Pitaka. It is a collection of the teachings of the
Buddha expressed in clear, pithy verses. These verses
were culled from various discourses given by the
Buddha in the course of forty-five years of his teaching, as he travelled in the valley of the Ganges (Ganga)
and the sub-mountain tract of the Himalayas. These
verses ate often terse, witty and convincing. Whenever
similes are used, they are those that are easily under-
stood even bya child, e.g., the cart’s wheel, a man’s
shadow, a deep pool, flowers. Through these verses, the
Buddha exhorts one to achieve that greatest of all
conquests, the conquest of self; to escape from the
evils of passion, hatred and ignorance; and to strive
hard to attain freedom from craving and freedom from
the round of rebirths. Each verse contains a truth
(dhamma), an exhortation, a piece of advice.
Dhammapada verses are often quoted by many in
many countries of the world and the book has been
translated into many languages. One of the earliest
translations into English was made by Max Muller in
1870. Other translations that followed are those by F.L.
Woodward in 1921, by Wagismara and Saunders in
1920, and by A.L. Edmunds (Hymns of the Faith) in
1902. Of the recent translations, that by Nadareda
Mahathera is the most widely known. Dr. Walpola
Rahula also has translated some selected verses from
the Dhammapada and has given them at the end of his
book ‘‘What the Buddha Taught," revised edition. The
Chinese translated the Dhammapada from Sanskrit. The
Chinese version of the Dhammapada was. translated
into English by Samuel Beal (Texts from the Buddhist
Canon known as Dhammapada) in 1878.
In Burma, translations have been made into
Burmese, mostly in prose, some with paraphrases,
explanations and abridgements of stories relating to the
verses. In recent years, some books on Diammapada
with both Burmese and English translations, together
with Pali verses, have also been published.
The Dhammapada is the second book of the
Khuddaka Nikaya of the Suttanta Pitaka, consisting of
four hundred and twenty-three verses in twenty-six chapters
arranged under various heads. In the Dhammapada
are enshrined the basic tenets of the Buddha’s Teaching.
Verso (21) which begins with "Appamado
amatapadam" meaning "Mindfulness is the way to
Nibbina, the Deathless," 1s a very important and
significant verse. Mindfulness is the most important
element in Tranquillity and Insight Meditation. The last
exhortation of the Buddha just before he passed away
was also to be mindful and to endeavour diligently
(to complete the task of attaining freedom from the
round of rebirths thronga Magga and Phala). It is
generally accepted that it was on account of this verse
on mindfulness that the Emperor Asoka of India and
King Anawrahta of Burma" became converts to
Buddhism. Both kings had helped greatly in the
propagation of Buddhism in their respective countries.
In verse (29) the Buddha has coupled his call for
mindfulness. with a sense of urgency. The verse runs:
"Mindful amongst the negligent, highly vigilant amongst
the drowsy, the wise man advances like a race-horse,
leaving the jade behind."
Verses (1) and (2) illustrate the immutable law of
Kamma, under which every deed, good or bad, comes
back to the doer. Here, the Buddha emphasizes the
importance of mind in all our actions and speaks of
the inevitable consequences of our deeds, words and
Verses (153) and (154) are expressions of sublime
and intense joy uttered by the Buddha at the very
moment of his Enlightenment. These two verses give us
a graphic account of the culmination of the Buddha’s
search for Truth. They tell us about the Buddha finding
the ‘house-builder,’ Craving, the cause of repeited
births in Samsire. Having rid of Craving, for him no
more houses (khiudhas) shall be built by Craving, and
there will be no more rebirths.
Verses (277), (278) and (279) are also important
as they tell us about the impermanent, unsatisfactory
and the non-self nature of all conditioned things. It is
very important that one should perceive the true nature
of ali conditioned things and become weary of the
khandhas, for this is the Path to Purity.
Then the Buddha shows us the Path leading to.
the liberation from round of rebirths, i.e., the Path with
eight constituents (Atthangiko Maggo) in Verse (273).
Further, the Buddha exhorts us to make our own
effort in Verse (276) saying, "You yourselves should
make the effort, the Tathagatas only show the way."
Verse (183) gives us the teaching of the Buddhas. It
says, "Do no evil, cultivate merit, purify one’s mind;
this is the teaching of the Buddhas."
In Verse (24) the Buddha shows us the way to
success in life, thus: "If a person is energetic, mindful,
pure in thought, word and deed, if he does everything
with care and consideration, restrains his senses, earns
his living according to the Dhamma and is not
unheedful, then, the fame and fortune of that. mindful
These are some of the examples of the gems to be
found in the Dhammapada. Dhammapada is, indeed, a
philosopher, guide and friend to all.
This translation of verses is from Pali into English.
The Pali text used is the Dhammapada Pali approved
by the Sixth International Buddhist Synod. We have
tried to make the translation as close to the text as
possible, but sometimes it is very difficult, if not
impossible, to find an English word that would exactly
correspond to a Pali word. For example, we cannot
yet find a single English word that can convey the real
meaning of the word ‘"‘dukkha" used in the exposition
of the Four Noble Truths. In this translation, wherever
‘he term "dukkha" carries the same meaning as it does
in the Four Noble Truths, it is left untranslated, but
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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