ReadingFaithfully.org icon Facebook icon Reddit icon Tumblr icon Mastodon icon RSS icon

Thag 1.71 Vacchapālattheragāthā: Vacchapāla

For one who sees the meaning so very subtle and fine;
who is skilled in thought and humble in manner;
who has cultivated mature ethics,
it’s not hard to gain extinguishment.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.71 Vacchapālattheragāthā: Vacchapāla by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Bahasa Indonesia, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 12.1 Sīlavattheragāthā: Sīlava

One should train just in ethical conduct,
for in this world, when ethical conduct is
cultivated and well-trained,
it provides all success.

Wishing for three kinds of happiness—
praise, prosperity,
and to delight in heaven after passing away—
the wise would take care of their ethics.

The well-behaved have many friends,
because of their self-restraint.
But one lacking ethics, of bad conduct,
drives away their friends.

A person whose ethics are bad has
ill-repute and infamy.
A person whose conduct is ethical always has
a good reputation, fame, and praise.

Ethical conduct is the starting point and foundation;
the mother at the head
of all good things:
that’s why you should purify your ethics.

Ethics provide a boundary and a restraint,
an enjoyment for the mind;
the ford where all the Buddhas cross over:
that’s why you should purify your ethics.

Ethics are the matchless power;
ethics are the ultimate weapon;
ethics are the best ornament;
ethics are a marvelous coat of armor.

Ethics are a mighty bridge;
ethics are the unsurpassed scent;
ethics are the best perfume,
that float from place to place.

Ethics are the best provision;
ethics are the unsurpassed supply for a journey;
ethics are the best vehicle
that take you from place to place.

In this life they’re criticized;
after departing they grieve in a lower realm;
a fool is unhappy everywhere,
because they are unsteady in ethics.

In this life they’re renowned;
after departing they’re happy in heaven;
a wise one is happy everywhere,
because they are steady in ethics.

Ethical conduct is best in this life,
but one with wisdom is supreme.
Someone with both virtue and wisdom
is victorious among men and gods.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 12.1 Sīlavattheragāthā: Sīlava Sīlavattheragāthā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Bahasa Indonesia, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.37 Kumāputtasahāyakattheragāthā: Kumāputtasahāyaka

Some travel to different countries,
wandering undisciplined.
If they lose their meditation,
what will such rotten conduct achieve?
So you should dispel pride,
practicing absorption undistracted.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.37 Kumāputtasahāyakattheragāthā: Kumāputtasahāyaka by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.83 Sīhattheragāthā: Sīha

Meditate diligently, Sīha,
tireless all day and night.
Develop skillful qualities,
and quickly discard this bag of bones.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.83 Sīhattheragāthā: Sīha by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 15.1 From… Aññāsikoṇḍaññattheragāthā: Koṇḍañña Who Understood

…Just as a rain cloud would settle
the dust blown up by the wind,
so thoughts settle down
when seen with wisdom.

All conditions are impermanent—
when this is seen with wisdom
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.

All conditions are suffering—
when this is seen with wisdom
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.

All things are not-self—
when this is seen with wisdom
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.…”


Read the entire translation of Theragāthā 15.1 Aññāsikoṇḍaññattheragāthā: Koṇḍañña Who Understood by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, Italiano, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 10.6 Vaṅgantaputtaupasenattheragāthā: Upasena son of Vaṅgantā

In order to go on retreat,
a monk should stay in lodgings
that are secluded and quiet,
frequented by beasts of prey.

Having gathered scraps from rubbish heaps,
cemeteries and streets,
and making an outer robe from them,
one should wear that coarse robe.

Humbling their heart,
a mendicant should walk for alms
from family to family indiscriminately,
with sense doors guarded, well-restrained.

They should be content even with coarse food,
not hoping for lots of flavors.
The mind that’s greedy for flavors
doesn’t enjoy absorption.

With few wishes, content,
a sage should live secluded,
mixing with neither
householders nor the homeless.

They should present themselves
as if stupid or dumb;
an astute person would not speak overly long
in the midst of the Saṅgha.

They would not insult anyone,
and would avoid causing damage.
Restrained in the monastic code,
they would eat in moderation.

Expert in the arising of thought,
they would grasp well the pattern of the mind.
They would be devoted to practicing
serenity and discernment at the right time.

Though endowed with energy and perseverance,
and always devoted to meditation,
a wise person would not be too sure of themselves,
until they have attained the end of suffering.

For a mendicant who meditates in this way,
longing for purification,
all their defilements wither away,
and they realize quenching.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 10.6 Vaṅgantaputtaupasenattheragāthā: Upasena son of Vaṅgantā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.36 Kumāputtattheragāthā: Kumāputta

Learning is good, living well is good,
the homeless life is always good.
Questions on the meaning, actions that are skillful:
this is the ascetic life for one who has nothing.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.36 Kumāputtattheragāthā: Kumāputta by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 3.11: The Verses of Arahant Upāli (249-251)

A newly ordained monk who entered the Buddha’s path out of faith, abandoning the home life, should practice right livelihood. He should be energetic and associate with noble friends.

A newly ordained monk who entered the Buddha’s path out of faith, abandoning the home life, should live in the midst of monks. He should learn the code of conduct well.

A newly ordained monk who entered the Buddha’s path out of faith, abandoning the home life, should be skilled in recognising what is allowable and unallowable. He should live without focusing on craving.

These verses were said by Arahant Upāli.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 3.11: The Verses of Arahant Upāli (249-251) by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

You can find the entire translation of the Theragāthā: Verses of Arahant Monks available on SuttaFriends.org.

Thag 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla

[Note: We can find the context for these verses in the Middle Length Discourses sutta MN 82 On Raṭṭhapāla. If you have time, it is a wonderful story and helps to illuminate the verses.]

Look at the image beautified,
a heap of festering wounds, shored up:
ill, but the object
     of many resolves,
where there is nothing
     lasting or sure.

Look at the form beautified
with earrings & gems:
          a skeleton wrapped in skin,
          made attractive with clothes.

Feet reddened with henna,
a face smeared with powder:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Hair plaited in eight pleats,
eyes smeared with unguent:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Like a newly painted unguent pot—
a putrid body adorned:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

The hunter set out the snares,
but the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to weep.

The hunter’s snares are broken;
the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to grieve.

* * *


I see in the world
     people with wealth
who, from delusion,
     don’t make a gift
     of the treasure they’ve gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean’s near shore,
     longs for the ocean’s
     far shore as well.

Kings & others
     —plenty of people—
go to death with craving
     unabated. Unsated,
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world’s sensual pleasures.

One’s relatives weep
& pull out their hair.
‘Oh woe, our loved one is dead,’ they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
     on a pyre,
     then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died—
     not relatives,
     friends,
     or companions.

Heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one—
     not children, wives,
     dominion, or riches.

Long life
can’t be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing—
     impermanent,
     subject to change.

The rich & the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish & wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don’t tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth—
for those who haven’t reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
     out of delusion,
     doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
& to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
     —one thing
     after another—
while those of weak discernment,
     trusting in one,
also go to a womb
& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
     is destroyed
     by his own act,
so evil people
—after dying, in the next world—
     are destroyed
     by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures—
     variegated,
     enticing,
     sweet—
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that’s why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
     —young & old—
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
     I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
          for sure.

* * *

     Out of conviction,
     I went forth
equipped with the Victor’s message.
Blameless was my going-forth:
Debtless I eat my food.

Seeing sensuality as burning,
          gold as a knife,
     pain in the entry into the womb
     & great danger in hells—
seeing this peril, I was then dismayed—
pierced (with dismay),
then calmed
on attaining the end of the effluents.
The Teacher has been served by me;
the Awakened One’s bidding,
               done;
the heavy load,       laid down;
the guide to becoming,   uprooted.

And the goal for which I went forth
from home life into homelessness
I’ve reached:
               the end
               of all fetters.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, or SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, Italiano, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.93 Erakattheragāthā: Eraka

Sensual pleasures are suffering, Eraka!
Sensual pleasures aren’t happiness, Eraka!
One who enjoys sensual pleasures
enjoys suffering, Eraka!
One who doesn’t enjoy sensual pleasures
doesn’t enjoy suffering, Eraka!


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.93 Erakattheragāthā: Eraka by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Français, Indonesian, Italiano, 日本語, Norsk, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.35 Sāmaññakānittheragāthā: Sāmaññakāni

Seeking happiness, they find it through this practice.
They get a good reputation and grow in fame,
those who develop the direct route:
the noble eightfold path to realize the deathless.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.35 Sāmaññakānittheragāthā: Sāmaññakāni by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 16.3 Telakānittheragāthā: Telakāni

Note: In these verses the monk Telākani relates his struggles on the path to enlightenment using beautiful similes and metaphors. You may find that the translation on SuttaFriends.org gives more information on the meaning behind them. The Buddha is the teacher he talks about as the one who truly offers him help.


For a long time, sadly,
though I keenly contemplated the teaching,
I gained no peace of mind.
So I asked this of ascetics and brahmins:

“Who has crossed over the world?
Whose attainment culminates in the deathless?
Whose teaching do I accept
to understand the ultimate goal?

I was hooked inside,
like a fish gulping bait;
bound like the demon Vepaciti
in Mahinda’s trap.

Dragging it along, I’m not free
from grief and lamentation.
Who will free me from bonds in the world,
so that I may know awakening?

What ascetic or brahmin
points out what is frail?
Whose teaching do I accept
to sweep away old age and death?

Tied up with uncertainty and doubt,
secured by the power of pride,
stiff as a mind beset by anger;
the arrow of covetousness,

propelled by the bow of craving,
is stuck in my twice-fifteen ribs—
see how it stands in my breast,
breaking my strong heart.

Speculative views are not abandoned,
they are sharpened by memories and intentions;
and pierced by this I tremble,
like a leaf blowing in the wind.

Having arisen within,
what belongs to me burns quickly,
in that place where the body always heads
with its six sense-fields of contact.

I don’t see a healer
who can pull out my dart of doubt
without a lance
or some other blade.

Without knife or wound,
who will pull out this dart
that’s stuck inside me,
without harming any part of my body?

He really would be the Lord of the Dhamma,
the best one to cure the damage of poison;
when I have fallen into deep waters,
he would give me his show me the shore.

I’ve plunged into a lake,
and I can’t wash off the mud and dirt.
It’s full of fraud, jealousy, pride,
and dullness and drowsiness.

Like a thunder-cloud of restlessness,
like a rain-cloud of fetters;
lustful thoughts are winds
that sweep off a person with bad views.

The streams flow everywhere;
a weed springs up and remains.
Who will block the streams?
Who will cut the weed?”

“Venerable sir, build a dam
to block the streams.
Don’t let your mind-made streams
cut you down suddenly like a tree.”

That is how the teacher whose weapon is wisdom,
surrounded by the Saṅgha of seers,
was my shelter when I was full of fear,
seeking the far shore from the near.

As I was being swept away,
he gave me a strong, simple ladder,
made of the heartwood of Dhamma,
and he said to me: “Do not fear.”

I climbed the tower of mindfulness meditation,
and checked back down
at people delighting in identity,
as I’d obsessed over in the past.

When I saw the path,
as I was embarking on the ship,
without fixating on the self,
I saw the supreme landing-place.

The dart that arises in oneself,
and that which stems from the conduit to rebirth:
he taught the supreme path
for the canceling of these.

For a long time it had lain within me;
for a long time it was fixed in me:
the Buddha cast off the knot,
curing the damage of poison.


Note: “Deathless” is a term for Nibbāna. SN 11.4 Vepacitti tells the story of the asura being captured by Sakka (Mahinda)

Read this translation of Theragāthā 16.3 Telakānittheragāthā: Telakāni by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 1.86 Nāgitattheragāthā: Arahant Nāgita

Elsewhere there are many other doctrines;
those paths don’t lead to quenching like this one does.
For the Buddha himself instructs the Saṅgha;
the Teacher shows the palms of his hands.


Note: Showing “the palms of his hands” refers to the fact that the Buddha did not have hidden teachings. See also Iti 100. “Lead to quenching” is a translation of the Pāli “nibbānagamo.”

Read this translation of Theragāthā 1.86 Nāgitattheragāthā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, Italiano, 日本語, Norsk, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 7.5 Sarabhaṅgattheragāthā: Sarabhaṅga

I broke the reeds off with my hands,
made a hut, and stayed there.
That’s how I became known
as “Reed-breaker”.

But now it’s not appropriate
for me to break reeds with my hands.
The training rules have been laid down for us
by Gotama the renowned.

Previously, I, Sarabhaṅga,
didn’t see the disease in its entirety.
But now I have seen the disease,
as I’ve practiced what was taught
     by he who is beyond the gods.

Gotama traveled by that straight road;
the same path traveled by Vipassī,
by Sikhī, Vessabhū,
Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa.

These seven Buddhas have plunged into the ending,
free of craving, without grasping,
having become Dhamma, poised.
They have taught this Dhamma

out of compassion for living creatures—
suffering, origin, path,
and cessation, the ending of suffering.
In these four noble truths,

the endless suffering of transmigration
finally comes to an end.
When the body breaks up,
and life comes to an end,
there are no future lives;
I’m everywhere well-freed.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 7.5 Sarabhaṅgattheragāthā: Sarabhaṅga by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Indonesian, 日本語, Norsk, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Thag 6.12 Brahmadattattheragāthā: Brahmadatta

From where would anger come for one free of anger,
tamed, living justly,
freed by right knowledge,
peaceful and poised?

When you get angry at an angry person
you just make things worse for yourself.
When you don’t get angry at an angry person
you win a battle hard to win.

When you know that the other is angry,
you act for the good of both
yourself and the other
if you’re mindful and stay calm.

People unfamiliar with the teaching
consider one who heals both
oneself and the other
to be a fool.

If anger arises in you,
reflect on the simile of the saw;
if craving for flavors arises in you,
remember the simile of the child’s flesh.

If your mind runs off
to sensual pleasures and future lives,
quickly curb it with mindfulness,
as one would curb a greedy cow eating grain.


NOTE: The simile of the saw can be found at the very end of the MN 21 Kakacūpama Sutta. The simile of the child’s flesh can be found at SN 12.63 Puttamaṁsasutta.

Read this translation of Theragāthā 6.12 Brahmadattattheragāthā: Brahmadatta by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 21.1 From… Vaṅgīsattheragāthā: Vaṅgīsa

“Speak only such words
that do not hurt yourself
nor harm others;
such speech is truly well spoken.

Speak only pleasing words,
words gladly welcomed.
Pleasing words are those
that bring nothing bad to others.

Truth itself is the undying word:
this is an eternal truth.
Good people say that the teaching and its meaning
are grounded in the truth.

The words spoken by the Buddha
for realizing the sanctuary, extinguishment,
for making an end of suffering:
this really is the best kind of speech.”


Read the entire translation of Theragāthā 21.1 Vaṅgīsattheragāthā: Vaṅgīsa by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 16.4 From… Raṭṭhapāla Theragāthā

…A king who conquered the earth by force,
ruling the land from sea to sea,
unsatisfied with the near shore of the ocean,
would still yearn for the further shore.

Not just the king, but others too,
reach death not rid of craving.
They leave the body still wanting,
for in this world sensual pleasures never satisfy.

Relatives lament, their hair disheveled,
saying ‘Ah! Alas! They’re not immortal!’
They take out the body wrapped in a shroud,
heap up a pyre, and burn it there.

It’s poked with stakes while being burnt,
in just a single cloth, all wealth gone.
Relatives, friends, and companions
can’t help you when you’re dying.

Heirs take your riches,
while beings fare on according to their deeds.
Riches don’t follow you when you die;
nor do children, wife, wealth, nor kingdom.

Longevity isn’t gained by riches,
nor does wealth banish old age;
for the wise say this life is short,
it’s perishable and not eternal.

The rich and the poor feel its touch;
the fool and the wise feel it too.
But the fool lies stricken by their own folly,
while the wise don’t tremble at the touch.

Therefore wisdom’s much better than wealth,
since by wisdom you reach consummation in this life.
But if because of delusion you don’t reach consummation,
you’ll do evil deeds in life after life.…


Read the entire translation of Theragāthā 16.4 Raṭṭhapālattheragāthā: Raṭṭhapāla by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 3.7 Vāraṇattheragāthā: Vāraṇa

Anyone among men
who harms other creatures:
that person will fall
both from this world and the next.

But someone with a mind of love,
compassionate for all creatures:
a person like that
makes much merit.

One should train in following good advice,
in attending closely to ascetics,
in sitting alone in hidden places,
and in calming the mind.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 3.7 Vāraṇattheragāthā: Vāraṇa by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 14.1 Khadiravaniyarevatattheragāthā: Khadiravaniyarevata

Since I’ve gone forth
from the lay life to homelessness,
I’m not aware of any intention
that is ignoble and hateful.

“May these beings be killed!
May they be slaughtered! May they suffer!”—
I’m not aware of having any such intentions
in all this long while.

I have been aware of loving-kindness,
limitless and well-developed;
gradually consolidated
as it was taught by the Buddha.

I’m friend and comrade to all,
compassionate for all beings!
I develop a mind of love,
always delighting in harmlessness.

Unfaltering, unshakable,
I gladden the mind.
I develop the divine meditation,
which sinners do not cultivate.

Having entered a meditation state without thought,
a disciple of the Buddha
is at that moment blessed
with noble silence.

As a rocky mountain
is unwavering and well grounded,
so when delusion ends,
a monk, like a mountain, doesn’t tremble.

To the man who has not a blemish
who is always seeking purity,
even a hair-tip of evil
seems as big as a cloud.

As a frontier city
is guarded inside and out,
so you should ward yourselves—
don’t let the moment pass you by.

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
like a worker waiting for their wages.

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
aware and mindful.

I’ve served the teacher
and fulfilled the Buddha’s instructions.
The heavy burden is laid down,
the conduit to rebirth is eradicated.

I’ve attained the goal
for the sake of which I went forth
from the lay life to homelessness—
the ending of all fetters.

Persist with diligence:
this is my instruction.
Come, I’ll be fully extinguished—
I’m liberated in every way.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 14.1 Khadiravaniyarevatattheragāthā: Khadiravaniyarevata by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 3.14 Gotamattheragāthā: Gotama (2nd)

Transmigrating, I went to hell,
and to the ghost realm time and again.
Many times I dwelt long
in the animal realm, so full of pain.

I was also reborn as a human,
and from time to time I went to heaven.
I’ve stayed in realms of form and formlessness,
among the neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient, and the non-percipient.

I know well these states of existence are worthless—
conditioned, unstable, always in motion.
When I understood this self-made chain,
mindful, I found peace.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 3.14 Gotamattheragāthā: Gotama (2nd) by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 7.2 Lakuṇḍakabhaddiyattheragāthā: Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya

Bhaddiya has plucked out craving, root and all,
and in a jungle thicket
on the far side of the Wild Mango Monastery,
he practices absorption; he is truly well-favoured.

Some delight in clay drums,
in arched harps, and in cymbals.
But here, at the foot of a tree,
I delight in the Buddha’s teaching.

If the Buddha were to grant me one wish,
and I were to get what I wished for,
I’d choose for the whole world
constant mindfulness of the body.

Those who’ve judged me on appearance,
and those swayed by my voice,
are full of desire and greed;
they don’t know me.

Not knowing what’s inside,
nor seeing what’s outside,
the fool shut in on every side,
gets carried away by a voice.

Not knowing what’s inside,
but seeing what’s outside,
seeing the fruit outside,
they’re also carried away by a voice.

Understanding what’s inside,
and seeing what’s outside,
of unobstructed vision,
they don’t get carried away by a voice.


The Buddha praised this monk in SN 21.6: Lakuṇḍakabhaddiyasutta

Read this translation of Theragāthā 7.2 Lakuṇḍakabhaddiyattheragāthā: Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 19.1 Tālapuṭattheragāthā: Tālapuṭa

[NOTE: Today will be the last very long selection for the month. Unlike the deep confidence that was shown by yesterday’s elder, Arahant Sumedhā, here we see the tremendous struggle that many disciples have faced when trying to practice the Dhamma to the end goal.]


Oh, when will I stay in a mountain cave,
alone, with no companion,
discerning all states of existence as impermanent?
This hope of mine, when will it be?

Oh, when will I stay happily in the forest,
a sage wearing a torn robe, dressed in ocher,
unselfish, with no need for hope,
with greed, hate, and delusion destroyed?

Oh, when will I stay alone in the wood,
fearless, discerning this body as impermanent,
a nest of death and disease,
oppressed by death and old age; when will it be?

Oh, when will I live, having grasped the sharp sword of wisdom
and cut the creeper of craving that tangles around everything,
the mother of fear, the bringer of suffering?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I, seated on the lion’s throne,
swiftly grasp the sword of the sages,
forged by wisdom, of fiery might,
and swiftly break Māra and his army? When will it be?

Oh, when will I be seen striving in the assemblies
with those who are virtuous, poised, respecting the Dhamma,
seeing things as they are, with faculties subdued?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I focus on my own goal at the Mountainfold,
free of oppression by laziness, hunger, thirst,
wind, heat, insects, and reptiles?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I, serene and mindful,
understand the four truths,
that were realized by the great hermit,
and are so very hard to see? When will it be?

Oh, when will I, devoted to serenity,
see with understanding the infinite sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts
as burning? When will it be?

Oh, when will I not be distraught
because of criticism,
nor elated because of praise?
When will it be?

Oh when will I discern the aggregates
and the infinite varieties of phenomena,
both internal and external, as no more than
wood, grass, and creepers? When will it be?

Oh, when will the rain clouds in season
freshly wet me in my robe in the forest,
walking the path trodden by the sages?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I rise up, intent on attaining the deathless,
hearing, in the mountain cave,
the cry of the crested peacock in the forest?
When will it be?

Oh, when will I cross the Ganges, Yamunā,
and Sarasvatī rivers, the Pātāla country,
and the dangerous Baḷavāmukha sea,
by psychic power unimpeded? When will it be?

Oh, when will I be devoted to absorption,
rejecting entirely the signs of beauty,
splitting apart desire for sensual stimulation,
like an elephant that wanders free of ties? When will it be?

Oh, when will I realize the teaching of the great hermit
and be content, like a poor person in debt,
harassed by creditors, who finds a hidden treasure?
When will it be?

For many years you begged me,
“Enough of living in a house for you!”
Why do you not urge me on, mind,
now that I’ve gone forth as an ascetic?

Didn’t you entice me, mind:
“On the Mountainfold, the birds with colorful wings,
greeting the thunder, Mahinda’s voice,
will delight you as you meditate in the forest?”

In my family circle, friends, loved ones, and relatives;
and in the world, sports and play, and sensual pleasures;
all these I gave up when I entered this life:
and even then you’re not content with me, mind!

This is mine alone, it doesn’t belong to others;
when it is time to don your armor, why lament?
Observing that all this is unstable,
I went forth, seeking the deathless state.

The methodical teacher, supreme among people,
great physician, guide for those who wish to train, said:
“The mind fidgets like a monkey,
so it’s very hard to control if you are not free of lust.”

Sensual pleasures are diverse, sweet, delightful;
an ignorant ordinary person is bound to them.
Seeking to be reborn again, they wish for suffering;
led on by their mind, they’re relegated to hell.

“Staying in the grove resounding with cries
of peacocks and herons, and adorned by leopards and tigers,
abandon concern for the body, without fail!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Develop the absorptions and spiritual faculties,
the powers, awakening factors, and immersion;
realize the three knowledges in the teaching of the Buddha!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Develop the eightfold path for realizing the deathless,
emancipating, plunging into the end of all suffering,
and cleansing all defilements!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Reflect properly on the aggregates as suffering,
and abandon that from which suffering arises;
make an end of suffering in this very life!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Properly discern that impermanence is suffering,
that emptiness is non-self, and that misery is death.
Uproot the wandering mind!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Bald, unsightly, accursed,
seek alms amongst families, bowl in hand.
Devote yourself to the word of the teacher, the great hermit!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Wander the streets well-restrained,
unattached to families and sensual pleasures,
like the full moon on a bright night!”
So you used to urge me, mind.

“Be a wilderness-dweller and an alms-eater,
one who lives in charnel grounds, a rag-robe wearer,
one who never lies down, always delighting in ascetic practices.”
So you used to urge me, mind.

Mind, when you urge me to the impermanent and unstable,
you’re acting like someone who plants trees,
then, when they’re about to fruit,
wishes to cut down the very same trees.

Incorporeal mind, far-traveler, lone-wanderer:
I won’t do your bidding any more.
Sensual pleasures are suffering, painful, and very dangerous;
I’ll wander with my mind focused only on quenching.

I didn’t go forth due to bad luck or shamelessness,
or due to a whim or banishment,
nor for the sake of a livelihood;
it was because I agreed to the promise you made, mind.

“Having few wishes, abandoning disparagement,
the stilling of suffering: these are praised by good people.”
So you used to urge me, mind,
but now you keep on with your old habits!

Craving, ignorance, the loved and unloved,
pretty sights, pleasant feelings,
and the delightful kinds of sensual stimulation:
I’ve vomited them all, and I won’t swallow them back.

I’ve done your bidding everywhere, mind!
For many births, I’ve done nothing to upset you,
yet this self-made chain is your show of gratitude!
For a long time I’ve transmigrated in the suffering you’ve created.

Only you, mind, make a brahmin;
you make an aristocrat or a royal hermit.
Sometimes we become traders or workers;
and life as a god is also on account of you.

You alone make us demons;
because of you we’re born in hell.
Then sometimes we become animals,
and life as a ghost is also on account of you.

Come what may, you won’t betray me again,
dazzling me with your ever-changing display!
You play with me like I’m mad—
but how have I ever failed you, mind?

In the past my mind wandered
how it wished, where it liked, as it pleased.
Now I’ll carefully guide it,
as a trainer with a hook guides a rutting elephant.

The teacher willed that this world appear to me
as impermanent, unstable, insubstantial.
Mind, let me leap into the victor’s teaching,
carry me over the great flood, so hard to pass.

Things have changed, mind!
Nothing could make me return to your control!
I’ve gone forth in the teaching of the great hermit,
those like me don’t come to ruin.

Mountains, oceans, rivers, the earth;
the four quarters, the intermediate directions, below and in the sky;
the three realms of existence are all impermanent and troubled—
where can you go to find happiness, mind?

Mind, what will you do to someone who has made the ultimate commitment?
Nothing could make me a follower under your control, mind;
there’s no way I’d touch a bellows with a mouth open at each end;
curse this mortal frame flowing with nine streams!

You’ve ascended the mountain peak, full of nature’s beauty,
frequented by boars and antelopes,
a grove sprinkled with fresh water in the rains;
and there you’ll be happy in your cave-home.

Peacocks with beautiful necks and crests,
colorful tail-feathers and wings,
crying out at the resounding thunder:
they’ll delight you as you meditate in the forest.

When the sky has rained down, and the grass is four inches high,
and the grove is full of flowers like a cloud,
in the mountain cleft, like the fork of a tree, I’ll lie;
it will be as soft as cotton-buds.

I’ll act as a master does:
let whatever I get be enough for me.
And that’s why I’ll make you as supple
as a tireless worker makes a cat-skin bag.

I’ll act as a master does:
let whatever I get be enough for me.
I’ll control you with my energy,
as a skilled trainer controls an elephant with a hook.

Now that you’re well-tamed and reliable,
I can use you, like a trainer uses a straight-running horse,
to practice the path so full of grace,
cultivated by those who take care of their minds.

I shall strongly fasten you to a meditation subject,
as an elephant is tied to a post with firm rope.
You’ll be well-guarded by me, well-developed by mindfulness,
and unattached to rebirth in all states of existence.

You’ll use understanding to cut the follower of the wrong path,
curb them by practice, and settle them on the right path.
And when you have seen the cause of suffering arise and pass away,
you’ll be an heir to the greatest teacher.

Under the sway of the four distortions, mind,
you dragged me around like a bull in a pit;
but now you won’t associate with the great sage of compassion,
the cutter of fetters and bonds?

Like a deer roaming free in the colorful forest,
I’ll ascend the lovely mountain wreathed in cloud,
and rejoice to be on that hill, free of folk—
there is no doubt you’ll perish, mind.

The men and women who live under your will and command,
whatever pleasure they experience,
they are ignorant and fall under Māra’s control;
loving life, they’re your disciples, mind.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 19.1 Tālapuṭattheragāthā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Thag 10.2 Ekavihāriyattheragāthā: Ekavihāriya


If no-one else is found
in front or behind,
it’s extremely pleasant
to be dwelling alone in a forest grove.

Come now, I’ll go alone
to the wilderness praised by the Buddha.
It’s pleasant for a mendicant
to be dwelling alone and resolute.

Alone and self-disciplined,
I’ll quickly enter the delightful forest,
which gives joy to meditators,
and is frequented by rutting elephants.

In Sītavana, so full of flowers,
in a cool mountain cave,
I’ll bathe my limbs
and walk mindfully alone.

When will I dwell alone,
without a companion,
in the great wood, so delightful,
my task complete, free of defilements?

This is what I want to do:
may my wish succeed!
I’ll make it happen myself,
for no-one can do another’s duty.

Fastening my armor,
I’ll enter the forest.
I won’t leave
without attaining the end of defilements.

As the cool breeze blows
with fragrant scent,
I’ll split ignorance apart,
sitting on the mountain-peak.

In a forest grove covered with blossoms,
in a cave so very cool,
I take pleasure in the Mountainfold,
happy with the happiness of freedom.

I’ve got all I wished for
like the moon on the fifteenth day.
With the utter ending of all defilements,
now there’ll be no more future lives.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 10.2 Ekavihāriyattheragāthā: Ekavihāriya by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

Thag 7.4 Sopākattheragāthā: Sopāka (2nd)

I saw the supreme person
walking mindfully in the shade of the terrace,
so I approached,
and bowed to the supreme among men.

Arranging my robe over one shoulder
and clasping my hands together,
I walked alongside that stainless one,
supreme among all beings.

The wise one, expert in questions,
questioned me.
Brave and fearless,
I answered the teacher.

When all his questions were answered,
the Realized One congratulated me.
Looking around the mendicant Saṅgha,
he said the following:

“It is a blessing for the people of Aṅga and Magadha
that this person enjoys their
robe and almsfood,
requisites and lodgings,
their respect and service—
it’s a blessing for them,” he declared.

“Sopāka, from this day on
you are invited to come and see me.
And Sopāka, let this
be your ordination.”

At seven years old
I received ordination.
I bear my final body—
oh, the excellence of the teaching!


“Supreme person,” “the supreme among men,” “stainless one,” etc are all names of the Buddha.

There is a great story involving Ven. Sopāka and three other seven year old arahants in the background story to Dhammapada verse 406.

For thoughts on young people with wisdom, read SN 3.1, Dahara Sutta.

Read this translation of Theragāthā 7.4 Sopākattheragāthā: Sopāka (2nd) by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

Thag 17.1 Phussattheragāthā: Phussa


(Note: the weekend selections may be longer this month)

Seeing many who inspire confidence,
evolved and well-restrained,
the hermit Paṇḍarasagotta
asked the one known as Phussa:

“In future times,
what desire and motivation
and behavior will people have?
Please answer my question.”

“Listen to my words,
Paṇḍarasa the hermit,
and remember them carefully,
I will describe the future.

In the future many will be
angry and hostile,
offensive, stubborn, and devious,
jealous, holding divergent views.

Imagining they understand the depths of the teaching,
they remain on the near shore.
Superficial and disrespectful towards the teaching,
they lack respect for one another.

In the future
many dangers will arise in the world.
Idiots will defile
the Dhamma that was taught so well.

Though bereft of good qualities,
unlearned prattlers, too sure of themselves,
will become powerful
in running Saṅgha proceedings.

Though possessing good qualities,
the conscientious and unbiased, acting in the proper spirit,
will become weak
in running Saṅgha proceedings.

In the future, fools will accept
money, gold, and silver,
fields and land, goats and sheep,
and bonded servants, male and female.

Fools looking for fault in others,
but unsteady in their own ethics,
will wander about, insolent,
like cantankerous beasts.

They’ll be arrogant,
wrapped in robes of blue;
deceivers and flatterers, pompous and fake,
they’ll wander as if they were noble ones.

With hair sleeked back with oil,
fickle, their eyes painted with eye-liner,
they’ll travel on the high-road,
wrapped in robes of ivory color.

The deep-dyed ocher robe,
worn without disgust by the free,
they will come to loathe,
besotted by white clothes.

They’ll want lots of possessions,
and be lazy, lacking energy.
Weary of the forest,
they’ll stay within villages.

Being unrestrained, they’ll keep company with
those who get lots of stuff,
and who always enjoy wrong livelihood,
following their example.

They won’t respect those
who don’t get lots of stuff,
and they won’t associate with the wise,
even though they’re very amiable.

Disparaging their own banner,
which is dyed the color of copper,
some will wear the white banner
of those who follow other paths.

Then they’ll have no respect
for the ocher robe.
The mendicants will not reflect
on the nature of the ocher robe.

This awful lack of reflection
was unthinkable to the elephant,
who was overcome by suffering,
injured by an arrow strike.

Then the six-tusked elephant,
seeing the deep-dyed banner of the perfected ones,
straight away spoke these verses
connected with the goal.

One who, not free of stains themselves,
would wear the robe stained in ocher,
bereft of self-control and truth:
they are not worthy of the ocher robe.

One who’s purged all their stains,
steady in ethics,
possessing truth and self-control:
they are truly worthy of the ocher robe.

Devoid of virtue, unintelligent,
wild, doing what they like,
their minds astray, indolent:
they are not worthy of the ocher robe.

One accomplished in ethics,
free of greed, serene,
their heart’s intention pure:
they are truly worthy of the ocher robe.

The conceited, arrogant fool,
who has no ethics at all,
is worthy of a white robe—
what use is an ocher robe for them?

In the future, monks and nuns
with corrupt hearts, lacking regard for others,
will disparage those
with hearts of loving-kindness.

Though trained in wearing the robe
by senior monks,
the unintelligent will not listen,
wild, doing what they like.

With that kind of attitude to training,
those fools won’t respect each other,
or take any notice of their mentors,
like a wild colt with its charioteer.

Even so, in the future,
this will be the practice
of monks and nuns
when the latter days have come.

Before this frightening future arrives,
be easy to admonish,
kind in speech,
and respect one another.

Have hearts of love and compassion,
and please do keep your precepts.
Be energetic, resolute,
and always staunchly vigorous.

Seeing negligence as fearful,
and diligence as a sanctuary,
develop the eightfold path,
realizing the deathless state.”


The Buddha also makes an important reference to the time when the Sangha will be corrupted in this passage in MN 142: Dakkhiṇāvibhaṅgasutta, where he says that even a gift given to the Sangha at that time will be fruitful.

Read this translation of Theragāthā 17.1 Phussattheragāthā: Phussa by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

There are two stories where an elephant recites the two verses mentioned above. They are verses 9 & 10 in the Dhammapada. The first, and shorter of the two, can be found in the commentary to those verses. The second is found in the commentary to Ja 514, The Story about (Lake) Chaddanta,

Thag 6.5 Mālukyaputtattheragāthā: Māluṅkyaputta (1st)

When a person lives heedlessly,
craving grows in them like a parasitic creeper.
They jump from life to life, like a monkey
greedy for fruit in a forest grove.

Whoever is beaten by this wretched craving,
this attachment to the world,
their sorrow grows,
like grass in the rain.

But whoever prevails over this wretched craving,
so hard to get over in the world,
their sorrows fall from them,
like a drop from a lotus-leaf.

I say this to you, good people,
all those who have gathered here:
dig up the root of craving,
as you’d dig up the grass in search of roots.
Don’t let Māra break you again and again,
like a stream breaking a reed.

Act on the Buddha’s words,
don’t let the moment pass you by.
For if you miss your moment
you’ll grieve when sent to hell.

Negligence is always dust;
dust follows right behind negligence.
Through diligence and knowledge,
pluck out the dart from yourself.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 6.5 Mālukyaputtattheragāthā: Māluṅkyaputta (1st) by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

Thag 6.9 Purohita Putta Jentattheragāthā: Jenta, the High Priest’s Son

I was drunk with the pride of birth
and wealth and authority.
I wandered about intoxicated
with my own gorgeous body.

No-one was my equal or my better—
or so I thought.
I was such an arrogant fool,
stuck up, waving my own flag.

I never paid homage to anyone:
not even my mother or father,
nor others esteemed as respectable.
I was stiff with pride, lacking regard for others.

When I saw the foremost leader,
the most excellent of charioteers,
shining like the sun,
at the fore of the mendicant Saṅgha,

I discarded conceit and vanity,
and, with a clear and confident heart,
I bowed down with my head
to the most excellent of all beings.

The conceit of superiority and the conceit of inferiority
have been given up and eradicated.
The conceit “I am” is cut off,
and every kind of conceit is destroyed.


To learn about a prince who didn’t overcome his pride, read Pv 4.7 Rājaputta Sutta: The Son of a King from the Petavatthu.

Read this translation of Theragāthā 6.9 Purohitaputtajentattheragāthā: Jenta, the High Priest’s Son by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

Thig 12.1: The Verses of Arahant Nun Puṇṇā

[Maid Puṇṇā:] I am a maid who carries water. Fearing punishment and the insults of my house owner, I have always gone down to the river to get water, even in the coldest of weather. I didn’t want to get blamed for any error.

But, Brāhmin, who do you fear that makes you go down to the river every morning and evening? It’s so cold that your body shivers.

[Brāhmin:] Puṇṇā, why do you ask me this when you already know the answer? When I’m at the river, I am washing away evil and performing wholesome deeds.

Whoever young or old has committed any evil action is able to be freed from evil by bathing in water.

[Maid Puṇṇā:] Brāhmin, you have no idea about the results of kamma. Who is the ignorant person who taught that you can be freed from evil by bathing in water? He doesn’t know and doesn’t see the results of kamma.

Now listen. If your opinion is true, then all frogs, turtles, alligators, crocodiles and all water creatures will absolutely go to heaven.

If your opinion is true, then all sheep butchers, pig butchers, fishermen, animal abusers, thieves, executioners, and other evil doers are all able to be freed from their evil actions by bathing in water.

If these rivers wash away the evil you previously did, then won’t it wash away your merit too? In that case you would be without merit too!

Brāhmin, every day you go down to the river fearing evil, don’t you? In that case, just don’t do bad things. Don’t let the cold strike your skin!

[Brāhmin:] Oh wise girl! I had entered upon the wrong path, but you have guided me onto the noble path by rescuing me from this pointless bathing. I will give you this piece of cloth as a gift.

[Puṇṇā:] Keep the piece of cloth for yourself. I don’t want it. If you are afraid of suffering, if suffering is unpleasant to you, do not commit evil actions either openly or in secret. But if you commit or will commit evil actions, then there is no escape from suffering, even if you try to run away and hide from the result. If you are afraid of suffering, if suffering is unpleasant for you, then go for refuge to the Buddha who has an unshaken mind, the Dhamma and the Saṅgha. Observe the precepts. These will definitely lead to your well-being.

[Brāhmin:] I will go for refuge to the Buddha who has an unshaken mind, the Dhamma and the Saṅgha. I will observe the precepts. These will definitely lead to my well-being.

Previously, I was called Brahmabandhu because I was born into the clan of Brāhmins. But now I am truly a Brāhmin. I attained the Triple Knowledge. I achieved Nibbāna. I entered wholesomeness and I am washed clean.

These verses were said by Arahant nun Puṇṇā.


Read this translation of Therīgāthā 12.1: The Verses of Arahant Nun Puṇṇā (236-251) by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net by Bhikkhu Sujato or Bhikkhuni Soma. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.

You can find the entire translation of the Therīgāthā: Verses of Arahant Nuns available on SuttaFriends.org.

Thag 18.1 From… Mahākassapattheragāthā: Mahākassapa

“You shouldn’t live for the adulation of a following;
it turns your mind, making it hard to get immersion.
Seeing that popularity is suffering,
you shouldn’t consent to a following.

A sage should not visit respectable families;
it turns your mind, making it hard to get immersion.
If you’re eager and greedy for flavors,
you’ll miss the goal that brings such happiness.

They know it really is a bog,
this homage and veneration in respectable families.
Honor is a subtle dart, hard to extract,
and hard for a sinner to give up.”

“I came down from my lodging
and entered the city for alms.
I courteously stood by
while a leper ate.

With his putrid hand
he offered me a morsel.
Putting the morsel in my bowl,
his finger dropped off right there.

Sitting by a wall,
I ate that lump of rice.
I did not feel any disgust
while eating or afterwards.

Anyone who makes use of
leftovers for food,
fermented urine as medicine,
the root of a tree as lodging,
and cast-off rags as robes,
is at ease in any quarter.”

“Where some have fallen to ruin
while climbing the mountain,
there Kassapa ascends;
an heir of the Buddha,
aware and mindful,
owing to his psychic powers.

Returning from almsround,
Kassapa ascends the mountain,
and practices absorption without grasping,
with fear and dread given up.

Returning from almsround,
Kassapa ascends the mountain,
and practices absorption without grasping,
quenched amongst those who burn.

Returning from almsround,
Kassapa ascends the mountain,
and practices absorption without grasping,
his task completed, free of defilements.”

“Strewn with garlands of the musk-rose tree,
these regions are so delightful, so lovely,
echoing with the trumpeting of elephants:
these rocky crags delight me!

Glistening, they look like blue storm clouds,
with waters cool and streams so clear,
and covered all in ladybugs:
these rocky crags delight me!

Like the peak of a blue storm cloud,
or like a fine bungalow, lovely,
echoing with the trumpeting of elephants:
these rocky crags delight me!

The rain comes down on the lovely flats,
in the mountains frequented by hermits.
Echoing with the cries of peacocks,
these rocky crags delight me!

It’s enough for me,
who loves absorption and is resolute, to be mindful.
It’s enough for me,
a resolute monk who loves the goal.

It’s enough for me,
a resolute monk who loves comfort.
It’s enough for me,
resolute and poised, loving meditation.

Covered with flowers of flax,
like the sky covered with clouds,
full of flocks of many different birds,
these rocky crags delight me!

Empty of householders,
frequented by herds of deer,
full of flocks of many different birds,
these rocky crags delight me!

The water’s clear and the rocks are broad,
monkeys and deer are all around;
festooned with dewy moss,
these rocky crags delight me!”

“Even the music of a five-piece band
can never give such pleasure
as when, with unified mind,
you rightly discern the Dhamma.”

“Don’t get involved in lots of work,
avoid people, and don’t try to acquire things.
If you’re eager and greedy for flavors,
you’ll miss the goal that brings such happiness.

Don’t get involved in lots of work,
avoid what doesn’t lead to the goal.
The body gets worn out and fatigued,
and when you ache, you won’t find serenity.”

“You won’t see yourself
by merely reciting words,
wandering stiff-necked
and thinking, ‘I’m better than them.’

The fool is no better,
but they think they are.
The wise don’t praise
pompous people.

Whoever is not affected
by the modes of conceit—
‘I am better’, ‘I’m not better’,
‘I am worse’, or ‘I am the same’—

with such understanding, poised,
steady in ethics,
and devoted to serenity of mind:
that is who the wise praise.”

“Whoever has no respect
for their spiritual companions
is as far from the true teaching
as the earth is from the sky.

Those whose conscience and shame
are always rightly established,
thrive in the spiritual life;
for them, there are no future lives.

When a mendicant who is haughty and fickle
wears rags from the rubbish-heap,
that doesn’t make them shine:
they’re like a monkey in a lion skin.

But if they are steady and stable,
alert, with senses restrained,
then, wearing rags from the rubbish-heap, they shine
like a lion in a mountain cave.” …


To learn more about the dangers of honour and praise, the suttas in the Lābhasakkārasaṁyutta are useful, especially SN 17.3: Kummasutta and SN 17.5: Mīḷhakasutta.

Legend says that Arahant Mahākassapa loved to live on Gurpa Hill, about 16km from Bodhgaya. That might be the place he is talking about in these verses. If you ever go on pilgrimage in India, it is a less popular, but very inspiring, place to visit.

Read the entire translation of Theragāthā 18.1 Mahākassapattheragāthā: Mahākassapa by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net.