(Text and Translation by Ven. Nàrada)
BE QUICK IN DOING GOOD; SUPPRESS EVIL
A husband and wife had only one under garment each and only one upper garment between the two of them. One day the husband heard the Dhamma from the Buddha and desired to offer to Him his only upper garment, but selfishness overcame him. Throughout the night he battled with his selfishness. Finally he offered the garment and exclaimed, “I have won! I have won!” Hearing his story, the king rewarded him handsomely.
DO NO EVIL AGAIN AND AGAIN
2. Should a person commit evil, he should not do it again and again; he should not find pleasure therein: painful is the accumulation of evil. 117.
A monk used to commit a wrong act again and again. The Buddha reproved him and uttered this stanza.
DO GOOD AGAIN AND AGAIN
3. Should a person perform a meritorious action, he should do it again and again; he should find pleasure therein: blissful is the accumulation of merit. 118.
A poor but devout woman offered some food to an Arahant. Bitten by a serpent, she died and was born in a heavenly state. As a goddess she came early in the morning to clean the premises of the Arahant to increase her good fortune. The Arahant prevented her from doing so. She was grieved. The Buddha perceived her sad state of mind and advised her.
4. Pàpo’ pi passati bhadra§ Þ
yàva pàpa§ na paccati
Yadà ca paccati pàpa§ Þ
atha pàpo pàpàni passati. 119.
5. Bhadro’ pi passati pàpa§ Þ
yàva bhadra§ na paccati
Yadà ca paccati bhadra§ Þ
atha bhadro bhadràni passati. 120.
BY ITS EFFECTS EVIL IS KNOWN
BY ITS EFFECTS GOOD IS KNOWN
4. Even an evil-doer sees good as long as evil ripens not; but when it bears fruit, then he sees the evil results. 4 119.
5. Even a good person sees evil so long as good ripens not; but when it bears fruit then the good one sees the good results. 5 120.
Anàthapiõóika very generously supported the Sangha and lost the greater part of his fortune. He was criticised for his extravagant almsgiving. But ignoring all criticism, he continued his generous acts. Appreciating his generosity, the Buddha uttered these verses to show the results of both good and bad.
6. Màvama¤¤etha 6 pàpassa Þ
na ma§ ta§ àgamissati.
udakumbho’ pi pårati
Pårati bàlo pàpassa Þ
thokathokam pi àcina§. 121.
THINK NOT LIGHTLY OF EVIL
6. Do not disregard evil, saying, “It will not come nigh unto me”; by the falling of drops even a water-jar is filled; likewise the fool, gathering little by little, fills himself with evil. 121.
A monk was indifferent to a slight wrong which he was continually doing. As he would not give heed to the advice of the other monks the matter was reported to the Buddha. In the presence of the Buddha too he remarked that one should not be so much concerned with such a slight wrong. The Buddha advised him not to disregard even a slight wrong.
THINK NOT LIGHTLY OF GOOD
7. Do not disregard merit, saying “It will not come nigh unto me”; by the falling of drops even a water-jar is filled; likewise the wise man, gathering little by little, fills himself with good. 122.
A wise man, hearing the Buddha preach on the giving of alms, induced a whole village to give alms to the Buddha and the Sangha according to their means. When he went collecting provisions a rich man, misconstruing his motive, contributed a very small amount. While thanks were being offered to the various donors the rich man went there with the object of killing the wise man if he should speak disparagingly of him. The wise man on the contrary thanked all equally and wished them a great reward. The rich man felt remorse and sought his pardon.
Hearing the story, the Buddha discoursed on the value of even a small gift.
SHUN EVIL LIKE A PERILOUS PATH
8. Just as a merchant, with a small escort and great wealth, avoids a perilous route, just as one desiring to live avoids poison, even so should one shun evil things. 123.
A merchant, accompanied by many monks, set out with a caravan. Some robbers tried to waylay him but failed in their attempt. The monks left the merchant and went to the Buddha and told Him of the attempt of the robbers. Thereupon the Buddha uttered this verse.
NO EVIL TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO BAD INTENTION
9. If no wound there be in one’s hand, one may carry poison in it. Poison does not affect one who has no wound. There is no ill for him who does no wrong. 7 124.
A rich man’s daughter, who was a Stream-Winner, fell in love with a hunter owing to past association, and eloped with him. She gave birth to several sons. The wife, although a Sotàpanna, was in the habit of giving bows and arrows to the husband to go hunting. Amongst the monks a question arose whether she committed an evil by doing so. The Buddha explained that she was blameless as she did so in obedience to her husband and having no evil intention.
WHO HARMS THE INNOCENT COMES TO GRIEF
10. Whoever harms a harmless person, one pure and guiltless, upon that very fool the evil recoils like fine dust thrown against the wind. 125.
A hunter went hunting with his dogs. On the way he met a monk. The hunter could not bag any game. While returning he met the same monk. He thought that his failure to bag any game was due to having met the monk. So he set his dogs upon him. The innocent monk climbed a tree to save himself. The hunter pierced his soles with his arrows. As the monk was struggling in pain his robe fell upon the hunter, covering him. The dogs; thinking that it was the monk that had fallen, bit him to death. The monk approached the Buddha and wished to know whether he had done any wrong. The Buddha cleared his doubts and described the evil consequences that accrue to one who harms an innocent person.
BIRTH DEPENDS ON ACTIONS
Daily a monk used to visit the house of a lapidary, whose wife prepared alms for him. One day in the presence of the monk a bird that was being reared in the house swallowed a gem when the lapidary had gone inside. The lapidary, not finding the gem, inquired about it of the monk, who denied having taken it. But the lapidary, suspected the monk and mercilessly tortured him. Blood flowed from his body. The bird came to drink the blood. The lapidary kicked the bird and it died. Then the monk revealed what had happened. The lapidary ripped up the stomach of the bird and discovered the gem. He begged pardon from the monk. When the monks inquired the Buddha stated that actions determine birth.
NOBODY IS EXEMPT FROM THE EFFECTS OF EVIL KAMMA
12. Not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where abiding one may escape from (the consequences) of one’s evil deed. 12 127.
Three groups of monks went to see the Buddha. On their way one group saw a flying crow being burnt to death. Another group saw a woman being drowned in mid-ocean. The other group saw seven monks imprisoned in a cave for seven days. All of them wanted to know from the Buddha the reason for these occurrences. The Buddha related that the crow, as a farmer in a previous birth, had burnt a lazy ox to death, the woman had drowned a dog, and the monks, as cowherds in a previous life, had imprisoned an iguana in an anthill for seven days. The Buddha added that no one is exempt from the consequences of his or her past evil deeds.
DEATH CANNOT BE OVERCOME
13. Not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where abiding one will not be overcome by death. 128.
King Suppabuddha, princess Yasodharà’s father, being angry with the Buddha for having renounced his daughter started harassing him. The Buddha predicted that Suppabuddha would meet with a tragic death. Suppabuddha tried to avert it, but died as predicted by the Buddha.
1 There should be no delay in doing good deeds. One must avail oneself of every opportunity to do good. Such good actions redound to one’s eternal happiness. Every effort also should be made to control the mind as it is prone to evil. The impure mind rejoices in evil thoughts.
2 Pàpa, evil, is that which defiles one’s mind. It is that which leads to woeful states. “Sin”, purely a Christian term is not a good English equivalent for pàpa. What is associated with the three immoral roots such as lust (ràga), anger (dosa), and delusion (moha) is evil. There are ten kinds of evil. They are killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct (which are committed by deed); lying, slandering, harsh speech, and frivolous talk (which are committed by word); and covetousness, ill-will, and false views (which are committed by mind).
3 Pu¤¤a, merit is that which cleanses the mind. Kusala is another term for pu¤¤a. There are ten kinds of meritorious deeds. See notes on vv. 42, 43.
4 A wicked person may lead a prosperous life as the result of his past good deeds. He will experience happiness owing to the potentiality of his past good over the present evil, a seeming injustice which often prevails in this world. When once, according to the inexorable law of kamma, his evil actions fructify, then he perceives the painful effects of his wickedness.
5 A virtuous person, as often happens, may meet with adversity owing to the potentiality of his past evil actions over his present good acts. He is convinced of the efficacy of his present good deeds only when, at the opportune moment, they fructify, giving him abundant bliss. The fact that at times the wicked are prosperous and the virtuous are unfortunate is itself strong evidence in support of the belief in kamma and rebirth.
6 Màppama¤¤etha in most texts.
7 That is, for one who has no evil intention.
8 According to Buddhism there are four kinds of birth – namely: egg-born (aõóaja), womb-born (jalàbuja), moisture-born (sa§sedaja) and spontaneous birth (opapàtika).
9 Niraya = ni + aya = devoid of happiness. There are four kinds of niraya – namely: woeful state (apàya), the animal kingdom (tiracchànayoni), the plane of Petas (petayoni) and the plane of Asura-demons (asurayoni).
None of these states is eternal. According to their evil kamma beings may be born in such woeful states. Departing from those states they may be born in blissful states according to their past good kamma.
10 Sagga = su + agga = full of happiness. In the sense-sphere (kàmaloka) the human plane and the six celestial planes are regarded as blissful states. They too are not eternal.
11 Arahants, after death, are not born any more, but attain Parinibbàna.
12 The Buddhist law of moral causation cannot be bribed, nor can one escape the evil consequences of kamma by seeking refuge in any place on earth. No god, not even a Buddha, can intervene in the operation of kamma.