As far as I can recall, in my boyhood I had the opportunity of reading a Bengali translation of Dhammapada. Though my boyish mind was too immature to grasp the deep meaning of its contents, yet I found the book interesting. The same appeared entirely new, when in my youth I had to go through it in Pali original. Since then the more I read it, the more it reveals its new charms. I, therefore, feel inclined to bring out an edition of Dhammapada with its translation and annotation under the caption "The Eternal Message of Lord Buddha."
Needless to say, the Dhammapada contains the essence of teachings of the Buddha compiled in the Tipitaka-Buddhist scriptures. Its language is so simple and sweet that one can easily understand it, but the thoughts underlying are as deep as the fathomless ocean revealing new facets of truth. Strictly speaking it is the treasure-house of truth which appeals to the minds of all seekers, irrespective of creed and clime. In fact, it has been through the ages inspiring the masses both at home and abroad with aspirations for attaining the supreme goal of life.
When in the dim past Buddhism in India was in its pristine glory, for centuries the Dhammapada remained as an indispensable hand-book extant in three ancient Indian languages, viz. Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit for the followers. With the exit of Buddhism from the land of its birth the Dhammapada in Sanskrit and Prakrit passed into oblivion, though their Chinese and Tibetan translations maintained their glorious position all through in those countries. But its Pali version was in the safe custody of Sri-Lanka enjoying the popularity in all the Theravada Buddhist countries. However, sometime back the Sanskrit and Prakrit versions have also been unearthed from the ruins of monasteries in Central Asia and brought to light. The Sanskrit Dhammapada was known as Udanavarga.
It would not be out of place to mention that the present day popularity of Dhammapada in the Western world dates back to the day when in 1884 its translation into Latin by Dr. Fausball came out to be greeted with warm welcome from European scholars of the time. Thereafter translations into various other European languages appeared steadily. Dr. Max Muller is credited with its first English translation in 1889. Since then various other English translations have followed one after another. Its popularity still demands many more editions. The present one is endowed with an annotation to enable the readers to understand better the sublime teachings of the Master contained in the Dhammapada. As it would appear, the annotation is not on the strict lines of explanation of its commentary "Dhammapadatthakatha" but deals with the theme in the light of an extensive and intensive study of Pali texts and commentaries. If it serves the purpose meant for, I shall deem the labour undertaken as justified.
With a sense of deep gratitude I must confess that my beloved nephew Sri Milon Kanti Choudhuri, a selfless social worker, whose keen interest made this publication possible spared no pains to see it through the press. I cannot but gratefully acknowledge the kind help extended to me by Ven. Dharmapal Mahasthavir, Principal Sri P. K. Banerjee and others.
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