View Full Version : Chapter XXIV. Thirst

June 24th, 2008, 01:26 AM


334. The thirst of a thoughtless man grows like a creeper; he runs from life to life, like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest.

335. Whomsoever this fierce thirst overcomes, full of poison, in this world, his sufferings increase like the abounding Bīrana grass.

336. He who overcomes this fierce thirst, difficult to be conquered in this world, sufferings fall off from him, like water-drops from a lotus leaf.

337. This salutary word I tell you, 'Do ye, as many as are here assembled, dig up the root of thirst, as he who wants the sweet-scented Usīra root must dig up the Bīrana grass, that Māra (the tempter) may not crush you again and again, as the stream crushes the reeds.'

338. As a tree, even though it has been cut down, is firm so long as its root is safe, and grows again, thus, unless the feeders of thirst are destroyed, the pain (of life) will return again and again.

339. He whose thirst running towards pleasure is exceeding strong in the thirty-six channels, the

[334. This is explained by a story in the Chinese translation. Beal, Dhammapada, p. 148.

335. Bīrana grass is the Andropogon muricatum, and the scented root of it is called Usīra (cf. verse 337).

338. On Anusaya, i.e. Anusaya (Anlage), see Wassiljew, Der Buddhismus, p. 240 seq.

339. The thirty-six channels, or passions, which are divided by the commentator into eighteen external and eighteen internal, are explained by Burnouf (Lotus, p. 649), from a gloss of the Gina-alankāra 'L'indication précise des affections dont un Buddha acte indépendant, affections qui sont au nombre de dix-huit, nous est fourni par la glose d'un livre appartenant aux Buddhistes de Ceylan,' &c. Subhūti gives the right reading as manāpassavanā; cf. Childers, Notes, p. 12.

Vāhā, which Dr. Fausböll translates by 'equi,' may be vahā, 'undae.' Cf. Suttanipāta, v. 1034 (http://sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1037.htm#pp_1034).] waves will carry away that misguided man, viz. his desires which are set on passion.

340. The channels run everywhere, the creeper (of passion) stands sprouting; if you see the creeper springing up, cut its root by means of knowledge.

341. A creature's pleasures are extravagant and luxurious; sunk in lust and looking for pleasure, men undergo (again and again) birth and decay.

342. Men, driven on by thirst, run about like a snared hare; held in fetters and bonds, they undergo pain for a long time, again and again.

343. Men, driven on by thirst, run about like a snared hare; let therefore the mendicant drive out thirst, by striving after passionlessness for himself.

344. He who having got rid of the forest (of lust) (i.e. after having reached Nirvāna) gives himself over to forest-life (i.e. to lust), and who, when removed from the forest (i.e. from lust), runs to the forest (i.e. to lust), look at that man! though free, he runs into bondage.

[344. This verse seems again full of puns, all connected with the twofold meaning of vana, 'forest and lust.' By replacing 'forest' by 'lust,' we may translate: 'He who, when free from lust, gives himself up to lust, who, when removed from lust runs into lust, look at that man,' &c. Nibbana, 'though with a short a, may be intended to remind the hearer of Nibbāna. The right reading is nibbanatho; see Childers, Notes, p. 8.]

345. Wise people do not call that a strong fetter which is made of iron, wood, or hemp; far stronger is the care for precious stones and rings, for sons and a wife.

346. That fetter wise people call strong which drags down, yields, but is difficult to undo; after having cut this at last, people leave the world, free from cares, and leaving desires and pleasures behind.

347. Those who are slaves to passions, run down with the stream (of desires), as a spider runs down the web which he has made himself; when they have cut this, at last, wise people leave the world free from cares, leaving all affection behind.

348. Give up what is before, give up what is behind, give up what is in the middle, when thou goest to the other shore of existence; if thy mind is altogether free, thou wilt not again enter into birth and decay.

349. If a man is tossed about by doubts, full of strong passions, and yearning only for what is delightful, his thirst will grow more and more, and he will indeed make his fetters strong.

350. If a man delights in quieting doubts, and, always reflecting, dwells on what is not delightful

[345. Apekhā, apekshā, 'care;' see Manu VI, 41, 49; Suttanipāta, v. 37 (http://sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1005.htm#pp_37); and Gātaka, vol. ii. p. 140.

346. Paribbag, i.e. parivrag ; see Manu VI, 41.

347. The commentator explains the simile of the spider as follows: 'As a spider, after having made its thread-web, sits in the middle, and after killing with a violent rush a butterfly or a fly which has fallen in its circle, drinks its juice, returns, and sits again in the same place, in the same manner creatures who are given to passions, depraved by hatred, and maddened by wrath, run along the stream of thirst which they have made themselves, and cannot cross it,' &c.]

(the impurity of the body, &c.), he certainly will remove, nay, he will cut the fetter of Māra.

351. He who has reached the consummation, who does not tremble, who is without thirst and without sin, he has broken all the thorns of life: this will be his last body.

352. He who is without thirst and without affection, who understands the words and their interpretation, who knows the order of letters (those which are before and which are after), he has received his last body, he is called the great sage, the great man.

353. 'I have conquered all, I know all, in all conditions of life I am free from taint; I have left all, and through the destruction of thirst I am free; having learnt myself, whom shall I teach?'

354. The gift of the law exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of the law exceeds all sweetness; the delight in the law exceeds all delights; the extinction of thirst overcomes all pain.

355. Pleasures destroy the foolish, if they look not for the other shore; the foolish by his thirst for pleasures destroys himself, as if he were his own enemy.

[352. As to nirutti, and its technical meaning among the Buddhists, see Burnouf, Lotus, p. 841. Fausböll translates 'niruttis vocabulorum peritus,' which may be right, if we take nirutti in the sense of the language of the Scriptures. See note to verse 363 (http://sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1027.htm#pp_363). Could not sannipāta mean samhitā or sannikarsha? Sannipāta occurs in the Sākala-prātisākhya, but with a different meaning.

353. Cf. Suttanipāta, v. 210 (http://sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1018.htm#pp_210).

354. The dhammadāna, or 'gift of the law,' is the technical term for instruction in the Buddhist religion. See Buddhaghosha's Parables, p. 160, where the story of the Sakkadevarāga is told, and where a free rendering of our verse is given.]

356. The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by passion: therefore a gift bestowed on the passionless brings great reward.

357. The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by hatred: therefore a gift bestowed on those who do not hate brings great reward.

358. The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by vanity: therefore a gift bestowed on those who are free from vanity brings great reward.

359. The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by lust: therefore a gift bestowed on those who are free from lust brings great reward.