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Dhp 320–333 Nāgavagga: Elephants

I–like an elephant in battle,
enduring an arrow shot from a bow–
will endure a false accusation,
for the mass of people
have no     principles.

The tamed is the one
they take into assemblies.
The tamed is the one
the king mounts.
The tamed who endures
a false accusation
is, among human beings,
     the best.

Excellent are tamed mules,
     tamed thoroughbreds,
     tamed horses from Sindh.
Excellent, tamed tuskers,
great elephants.
But even more excellent
are those     self-tamed.

For not by these mounts could you go
to the land unreached,
as the tamed one goes
by taming, well-taming, himself.

The tusker, Dhanapalaka,
deep in rut, is hard to control.
Bound, he won’t eat a morsel:
the tusker misses
the elephant wood.

When torpid & over-fed,
a sleepy-head lolling about
like a stout hog, fattened on fodder:
a dullard enters the womb
     over &
     over again.

Before, this mind went wandering
     however it pleased,
     wherever it wanted,
     by whatever way that it liked.
Today I will hold it aptly in check–
as one wielding a goad, an elephant in rut.

Delight in heedfulness.
Watch over your own mind.
Lift yourself up
from the hard-going way,
like a tusker sunk in the mud.

If you gain a mature companion–
a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–
overcoming all dangers
     go with him, gratified,

If you don’t gain a mature companion–
a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–
go alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

Going alone is better.
There’s no companionship with a fool.
     Go alone,
doing no evil, at peace,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds.

A blessing:   friends when the need arises.
A blessing:   contentment with whatever there is.
Merit at the ending of life is a blessing.
A blessing:   the abandoning of all suffering
          & stress.

A blessing in the world:   reverence to your mother.
A blessing:   reverence to your father as well.
A blessing in the world:   reverence to a contemplative.
A blessing:   reverence for a brahman, too.

A blessing into old age is virtue.
A blessing:   conviction established.
A blessing:   discernment attained.
The non-doing of evil things is
     a blessing.

Read this translation of Dhammapada XXIII . Elephants by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on Or read a different translation on,, or Or explore the Pali on

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